Written by Jordan Jensen
Welcome one and all to the first week of the NFL! If you’re like me you try to watch as many professional football games as possible Thursday, Sunday and Monday nights and the rest of the week is just preparation for the Thursday night game. While the love of the game can provide all the incentive you need to watch, at least at the beginning of the year, some just need that extra little nudge to make sure they have a rooting interest. That’s where sports betting comes in. Each week we’ll analyze the newest NFL betting lines (using mybookie.ag) and help you get over your team falling 21-20 Thursday night with a little extra coin for your week. So without further ado, I bring to you…
Green Bay at Chicago
Line: Bears -3
The NFL decided to hit the gates running with this rivalry matchup in Chicago and Vegas is liking Chicago to start the season. I respectfully...agree. Green Bay is bringing new head coach Matt LaFleur into the mix and while he’s a good bet to reignite a powerful Packers offense lead by a now healthy Aaron Rodgers it’s also likely that his offense takes a little while to install in full. The Bears also have a stacked defense lead by who many consider to be the best defensive player in the NFL in Khalil Mack. While Vic Fangio did leave for Denver and the Bears hired Chuck Pagano, which is a downgrade, it’s going to be tough for Chicago to take a giant leap in the wrong direction on the defensive side with their personnel.
The Packers defense and Bears offense match up fairly evenly but the edge has to be given to Chicago. Green Bay added a pair of pass rushing outside linebackers during the offseason that should perform better than their predecessors but it won’t be enough throughout the game to take pressure off of the Packer secondary and home field advantage from Chicago. Chicago also added a bit of thunder to their lineup in David Montgomery who will have too solid of a rookie debut for the Packers to pull it out. Normally I would caution against betting against #12 in or away from Chicago but the new offense gets off to a slow start this week so if you’re betting this game, take the Bears.
Prediction: Bears cover
Confidence level: 5/10
Atlanta at Minnesota
Line: Vikings -4
This is a circumstance where a team on the upswing meets a team on the downswing at the point of intersection. Minnesota has been steadily improving for the last few years and boasts a fantastic defense that, despite playing well, actually underperformed last season (9th in points allowed). They’ll be hungry to prove they still have the it factor in an opening home game against a Falcon’s offense that stays largely the same as last season. The Falcons hold arguably the best receiver in the NFL in Julio Jones but Jones will be shadowed by Xavier Rhodes and points will be hard to come by in the matchup. All respect due to Mohamed Sanu, who is a particularly athletic veteran for this stage in his career, and dynamic second year player Calvin Ridley but they won’t be good enough to force Minnesota into many zone schemes. Meanwhile Devonta Freeman is coming off a major injury and Tevin Coleman is now in San Francisco which means Ito Smith will be taking on backup duties. Advantage goes to Minnesota defense in this matchup.
The other side of the ball is more difficult to predict as the Falcons were riddled with injuries on the defensive side of the ball last season. They should return to form now that they’re healthy but they are up against an improved offensive line, two of the best receivers in football today (Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs), and a finally healthy Dalvin Cook who will be hungry enough for a contract extension next year that he lays it all on the line this season. I’m not a huge believer in quarterback Kirk Cousins but I also think JaMarcus Russel could find these receiving options.
Prediction: Vikings cover
Washington at Philadelphia
Line: Philadelphia -9.5
This is a trickier game to predict than one would think. I almost never advise betting on the favored team with a spread this large in an NFL game; there is simply too much parody in the National Football League. This is a little bit different. No, the Redskins will not be good this season and yes, the Eagles will be improved from last season. However, covering over nine points is a lot to ask of a team in the NFL opening week. Many teams will be shaking the rust off and fine tuning their attention to detail. The Eagles are no different. This is all stated under the assumptions that the Redskins will only be bad but the Redskins won’t just be bad, they’ll be atrocious. I’m not nearly as high on Philadelphia as the rest of America. They’ll be exceptional on the offensive side of the ball as Carson Wentz fully comes back to form this season and Doug Pederson is undoubtedly one of the better offensive minds in the league but I have question marks all over their defense as their depth is not what it once was and they lack outstanding players. That opinion won’t be proven in week 1 as the Redskins will struggle to score on any team while the Eagles dominate the offensive side of the ball.
Prediction: Eagles cover
Buffalo at New York Jets
Line: Jets -3
Bills mafia travels to New York this week in a matchup against the Jets in what should be a nailbiter. Aside from a high upside second year quarterback the Jets do have an improved offense with the additional of Le’Veon Bell, one of the best and most difficult to duplicate runners the game has ever seen but the Bills defense is underrated and should be better with the addition of Oliver who is as sure of a thing as it gets in the NFL today. Meanwhile the Bills have their own second year quarterback eager to improve in Josh Allen who Buffalo gave more weapons to work with this season than the last. This will be a back and forth dog fight but if you’re looking to make a wager go with the home field advantage in this one.
Prediction: Jets cover
Baltimore at Miami
Line: Ravens -7
Anytime a head coach, especially one as well respected as John Harbaugh, says their offense has the potential to revolutionize the NFL some eyebrows start to rise. I’ll stop short of believing Harbaugh, the NFL has tried to duplicate Michael Vick for years and nobody has been able to withstand the beating that comes with playing in the National Football League and make dynamic runs from the quarterback position. That does not mean they don’t have the firepower to outgun a team that lacks just that. Miami is without a truly proven running back or wide receiver and, really, tight end which leaves them one of, if not the, poorest teams in the league even if Fitzmagic has something up his sleeve. Baltimore likes to run the ball though which eats clock and will make it tough to blow teams out; the Ravens win this game but the Dolphins beat the spread in a low scoring week 1 in Miami.
Prediction: Miami beats
San Francisco at Tampa Bay
This is a game that nobody is betting on and I don’t understand why, to be honest with you. I understand Jimmy Garoppolo is a wild, and potentially a trump card entering this contest but he showed nothing in the preseason to indicate he’ll be any good any time soon and Bruce Arians is running the Tampa Bay offense at this point which many are bringing up but not really giving any credence to. Famous Jameis also has a very good receiver in Mike Evans who enters the season healthy and fresh. The 49ers have a slight edge on the defensive side of the ball but not by enough. I take Tampa Bay to cover this spread and the 50 point over/under is a pretty large number for recently installed offenses as well. You should be able to parlay this one if you’re feeling lucky.
Prediction: Tampa Bay beats
Kansas City at Jacksonville
Line: Chiefs -4
I can’t tell you how excited I am to watch this game, this is one game that you don’t have to bet on in order to be on the edge of your seat; but I’m going to bet anyway. Not only is the Patrick Mahomes led Chiefs team one of the most exciting offenses to ever play but they collide with an excellent defensive team in week 1. Sure the Jags had a disappointing year in 2018 but they still own the rights to one of the top cover corners in the NFL and a stellar pass rushing sprinting directly into a buzzsaw. Mahomes, Kelce, Hill, Watkins and, new addition, Mecole Hardman are too good to be stopped on a normal day. Against this kind of offense most teams will run a lot of zone defense to try and keep up. This proved deadly in 2018 as the Jaguars fell behind early and struggled to get back into the game with Blake Bortles at the helm, eventually losing 14 to 30. Nick Foles is a slight upgrade to Bortles but not a huge one as he has his own accuracy inconsistencies. If the Jaguars manage to cover this spread it will be on the legs of Leonard Fournette who hopes to perform this year after an injury plagued 2018. I will say that the Jacksonville Jaguars are better than they played a season ago. Their defense is not to be trifled with. Chiefs cover this spread but fall short of the over as the Jaguars try to grind out a low scoring affair.
Prediction: Chiefs cover
Confidence: 8/10 (line), 6/10 (over/under)
Tennessee at Cleveland
Line: Browns -5.5
If the Cleveland offense sold stock I’d be a heavy investor, I’d be completely bought in. Alas, all I can do is select OBJ, Nick Chubb and/or Jarvis Landry in as many fantasy leagues as I can and bet on the Browns to cover spreads until the lines start to adjust properly. The only worrying aspect of this side of the line is the Titans pace of play which is Dechambeau level slow. They enjoy pounding the rock and when they do throw it’s typically a short pass with a deep ball thrown in every once in awhile just to keep the defense on their toes. Fortunately for the Browns, their defense houses a ton of first round talent (10 first round draft picks, 4 of which were in the top 10 according to Pro Football Reference) highlighted by a near perfect pick in Myles Garrett. Key here is that Tennessee won’t be able to move the ball with consistency while the Browns scamper down the field over and over again.
Prediction: Browns Cover
Los Angeles Rams at Carolina Panthers
Line: Rams -2.5
How quickly we forget. Last year the Los Angeles Rams lit the NFL on fire with one high scoring game after another until eventually running into injury/depth problems in the playoffs. It’s part of the game and you can’t be anything more than disappointed by it if you’re a Rams fan but it’s also no longer the case. This is still a Sean McVay offense that had success with CJ Anderson in the backfield even if Gurley is not at full strength every game (the Rams had the luxury of fixing that depth problem in the offseason by the way). I like the Panthers this year but with a leg injury so recent for Cam Newton as he was heading into the season I can see him being slowed. Newton relies on the threat of running too heavily to lose that advantage in a game like this. Even with Curtis Samuel and D.J. Moore, who will have much better seasons this year, ready to go the Panthers won’t be able to beat this line.
Prediction: LAC covers
Detroit at Arizona
Line: Lions -2.5
This is a tougher one to bet on than a lot of the people I’ve been talking to are giving it credit for. There are quite a few people telling me the Lions are going to be too good on the offensive side for the Cardinals to put up too much of a fight. The Lions do bring an especially good skill position depth chart to the table with Kerryon Johnson, Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones and rookie TJ Hockenson (Last first round tight end the Lions selected was Eric Ebron who had a horrible career with Detroit but has been productive in Indianapolis) but the Cardinals are at home and are hungry to improve from a dismal season last year. Arizona also has some rookies that might make a splash this year, Kyler Murray rings a bell for some reason. The Cardinals are bad on paper as their best receiver turned 36 this year and their stud running back had a down year in 2018 but they rebound in 2019.
Prediction: Arizona beats
Over/under: no bet
Cincinnati at Seattle
Line: Seattle -9.5
One of the poorest teams on paper got even worse when they lost AJ Green for the foreseeable future but Joe Mixon is no slouch and Seattle likes to run the ball which will eat clock. This line is too large to not take the Bengals even though Seattle handles them with relative ease.
Prediction: Cincinnati covers
Indianapolis at Los Angeles Chargers
Line: Chargers -6.5
I’m sorry for the quality of this joke but...Indianapolis’ luck has run out. Without Andrew Luck teams will be able to stack the box more often which will allow them to stuff the run and pressure Brissett into more mistakes than they would have been able to do with Andrew Luck; it will be a common theme for the Colts this year who took a major step back with an untimely retirement. Hopefuls believe the depth chart is good enough on the offensive side that the damage can be minimized. Take it from a Packer fan, it’s pretty difficult to replace a franchise quarterback. Unless Brissett proves that he’s matured into truly startable quarterback they won’t have the firepower to take on The Chargers who have one of the best quarterbacks in the league. The only problem I have with this line is it may be a bit large, I just don’t have any confidence in the Colts anymore. I’m taking the Chargers on this line.
Prediction: Chargers cover
New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys
Line: Cowboys -7
Now that Zeke is back this game just got a lot more interesting. It’ll be intriguing to see if he shows up in shape and can handle a workload but I doubt he gets the opportunity this week as the Cowboys run away with this one regardless of who they start at running back. There’s no pressure to rush Zeke back in a game that I can see a 50/50 split as Zeke gets re-acclimated with the team. The Cowboys win this game but seven points is a lot to cover. Saquon can keep them closer than that especially after he scampers in for a garbage time touchdown to beat this spread.
Prediction: Giants beat
Pittsburg at New England
Line: Patriots -5.5
Tommy terrific knows how and where to throw a football. Ben Roethlisberger knows to throw a football...at some point...usually after a tackler hits him and bounces off like an acorn blown into an oak tree. In all seriousness this line is very good and could go either way. I’m going to avoid betting this game for sure. If you need to make a bet, it’s never foolish to go with the Patriots to cover a line. The Patriots like to rack up points on teams early have initial momentum to carry them into a long season as it gets more difficult to score in New England during the winter months. The Patriots schedule is also very, very easy this year. Look to bet on them often, I just avoid them against a capable Steelers team.
Prediction: New England covers
Confidence: 4/10 (line) 6/10 (over/under)
Houston at New Orleans
Line: Saints -7
This line is screaming Houston to me. Both teams have very good offenses and can put up points in droves. I have Houston as a 50/50 bet to win the game outright, let alone beat a large spread. It’s true that teams who can score points this easily tend to have larger lines and they can really go either way but the Saints defense will not be as good as they’re projected to be and Houston’s will not regress as far as they’re projected to. JJ Watt still exists after all and, even though he’s getting up there in age, his body can still take a beating for a single game. I’m riding Houston to the bank in this matchup.
Prediction: Houston beats
Denver at Oakland
Line: Broncos -1
These teams are pretty evenly matched, it’ll come down to Vic Fangio’s supreme defensive mind vs Jon Gruden’s...fiery spirit? I’m a huge believer in Antonio Brown, his route running, speed, versatility and exception hands make him a deadly threat if he’s able to stay on his feet. I expect there to be some rust though as he adjusts to playing with Derek Carr and may even still be dealing with some residual frostbite on his feet. He won’t be enough to get passed a Denver defense that is going to kick it up a notch in 2019. Take Denver in this game.
Prediction: Denver covers
Confidence: 8/10 (line) 6/10 (over/under)