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Burrow is miles ahead of Lawrence in the adjustment to professional football, and Cincinnati owns the better defense. Also, the Bengals beat Jacksonville last year 33-25, and they're a better team now than they were that day, while the Jags probably aren't. Finally, while we usually consider Cincinnati a candidate for a letdown following a big rivalry win on the road, Jacksonville just doesn't have enough to make that happen. We're betting the Bengals here, minus the points.
The Eagles have a certain understated effectiveness. Hurts is underrated. They're a little stronger in the trenches than some think. And Dallas is seeing key pieces either drop or damaged. Even so, I'm not so sure the Philly pass-resistance is as good as it's been made to look for the past two weeks, something Prescott and his remaining weapons can still exploit. I think the effectiveness we saw last week from the Dallas "D" will manifest again this week in their home opener, where they should be fired up and ready to go. To top it off, while you'd suspect the Eagles to be getting better value in a spot like this, the spread doesn't seem that tough on Dallas. This is the NFC East where you can only feel so confident, but I like Dallas on MNF. I'm taking the Cowboys.
A cross-country trip on the short week raises some red flags, as does the unevenness seen through two games with the Packers. I just question whether the San Francisco offense can keep pace with a big part of their offense in limbo with all the running back injury setbacks. Green Bay's secondary hasn't been tip-top, but they're good enough to put a crimp into what might be San Francisco's best chance to gain an offensive foothold. Against a San Fran team that might have to change up what they do best on offense, I think taking the points in this spot seems like the good move. I'll take Green Bay.
The Saints laid a stinky egg last week against Carolina, but in our minds, that just sets them up for a bounce-back performance this week. The Patriots, on the other hand, took advantage of the Jets and their young quarterback last week but probably won't receive that many gifts this week. We like New Orleans here and won't be surprised if they win this game outright.
It comes down to protection and the Falcons don't have any.
Carolina gets our NFL handicapping check-mark in the quarterback comparison and owns the better defense. Plus, the Panthers are now in their second season under Coach Rhule, while Houston is playing just its third game under Coach Culley. We like Carolina here, minus the points.
Using what happened last week with the Packers and trying to use it as fuel against the Lions could backfire. Maybe I’m not acknowledging what my eyes saw on Sunday or even how well a down Lions team has matched up with the Packers over the last few years, usually keeping it pretty close. I just see the Packers not taking this lightly in any way. It looks to be setting up for a thorough Packers’ win on Sunday. I’ll take Green Bay.
Baltimore may be hurting for running backs but still managed to rush for 189 yards last week. The Ravens also own the better run defense in this match-up. Also, the previous three meetings between these two teams played close; two were decided by three points (in overtime) and five points, and the other was a seven-point game midway through the fourth quarter. We see another close game here, so we're taking the Ravens plus the points.
It's a dangerous spot for an Arizona squad that isn't quite “there” yet. There are a lot of bumps on the long road back toward respectability. And an on-again/off-again team with a wide range like Minnesota is the perfect candidate to exploit an off-target Arizona bunch. I just see the back-to-back road spots being tough on the Vikings. A high-energy Cardinals team in their home-opener will do enough to edge the cover in a good game.
On paper this is a blowout and that's the way I'm going to play it. Expect the Buccaneers to cruise to an easy victory!
While 4 may seem a little high on the surface, it makes sense. True, the Raiders are at home in the beginning of a crucial season with a lot on the line. It’s just that with the deficiencies they face along both lines of scrimmage, I see what they’re trying to do not sticking as well this week as it might in others. Defensively, I see them having a hard time stopping a fresh Ravens’ offense, while the Ravens’ offense should encounter less resistance. In the end, I think that shakes out to a better than 5-point win in week one. I’ll take the Ravens.
Granted, it seems counterintuitive to lay a number like this against a team that plays defense as good as the Bears do, especially when you're working in a new quarterback. For however much flack the Bears have caught the last few seasons, they have still managed to remain a .500 team, not just some conference doormat. It's just hard imagining this Chicago offense managing to thrive in this road spot. While their defense could make this a close game where having this many points feels like a luxury, I see their own offense as facing an even more uphill battle where points might be few and far between. I'll take the Rams in Week 1 -7.5 at Bovada.
Cleveland out-rushed opponents last year by a 148-111 per-game margin, and teams that win the ground battles cover the spread about 65 percent of the time. The Browns also gave Kansas City all it could handle in that playoff game last January and covered the spread. Yes, Mahomes is great, and he's got an array of weapons to work with, but he doesn't play defense. We expect a close game here, and while the Chiefs will probably win outright, we're taking the Browns and the points for our free NFL betting pick.
Obviously, there is no such thing as a sure bet, especially in a Week 1 match-up where expectations are volatile. Not to mention, Atlanta still has undeniable concerns on the defensive side of the football. However, Philadelphia has those same concerns on defense, where they have declined every year since their 2017 Super Bowl run. Purely from a match-up standpoint, the Eagles' biggest weakness is over the middle of the field where the Falcons like to attack. The linebackers are a complete mess, and there is minimal confidence in the secondary. All of these factors lead me to believe the Falcons will move the football and scrap away at conversions to create scoring opportunities. I just don't see Philadelphia replicating that formula on the other side of the football. If Hurts turns the ball over, things could get ugly as well.
Sure he's the favorite, but Mohomes stands out as my top play.