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Some of the sharper sportsbooks have priced the Steelers a half-point ahead of the trending market figure of -3.5 which says to us that a bounce-back seems to be on the horizon for the Black and Yellow. However, it is hard to imagine that Pittsburgh does not respond to their Week One debacle as they are captained by one of the most consistent coaches in the NFL, Mike Tomlin. Though Pittsburgh missed the post-season in 2018, the Steelers have been the model of consistency as they have never won less than eight games under his tenure since he took the reins in 2007. I like Mike to circle the wagons here and get Pittsburgh back on track. I think the defenses will control this game for the most part, but I see that playing into Pittsburgh's hands with thousands of Terrible Towels waving in their support. A late touchdown will send Pittsburgh takers to the window as I have the Steelers winning this game by at least six points.
Dallas is the better team here, playing on the road, where the spread isn't as prohibitive as it would be if this game were being played down at JerryWorld. So we're giving the points with the Cowboys for our free NFL pick.
Last season the home team took both matches straight up and against the number with the smallest margin of victory being 7. I could make an argument for taking the Panthers here especially after watching Jameis Winston try to play QB. I like the total better. The Bucs defense played well holding the 49ers offense to approx. 250 yards and 17 points. The Panthers gave up a lot of yardage on the ground, but I expect them to have more success against the Bucs running game. The O/U line is a generous 50 points, and I'm calling for a 24-14 type game giving us lots of room on the UNDER.
Many signs here point toward Minnesota; Cook is back, the defense will again be tough, and the Vikes own a tremendous home-field advantage. However, we expect Atlanta to be improved on defense and in the running game, and we'll give the Falcons the edge in the quarterback comparison. So we're taking Atlanta and the points for our free NFL pick here.
I don't know, will the calls go the Saints way after last season's NFC championship game debacle? Houston played everyone tough last season after Week 3 winning nine straight and 11 of their last 14 (two losses were by three or fewer points) and may be improved over last season. The Saints are dealing with some defensive injuries.
Early action on the Broncos as a 2.5-point underdog would suggest that there are some individuals that saw the equity in Denver's tag even before the pending Brown suspension. With or without AB lining up split wide, this is a much better Denver team up against a Raiders squad that still has yet to find its feet under John Gruden. I don’t expect anything to change other than Oakland’s cover streak coming to an end. I have Denver winning this one by double digits.
The Jets will be rocking some new jerseys in New Jersey in this NFL opening game. I like the prospect of the Jets, making those jerseys look extra sharp when their offense finally gets firing on all cylinders. Quarterback Sam Darnold is back under center with a year of experience under his belt, and he returns two wide-receivers in Quincy Enunwa and Robbie Anderson that both have 1,000-yard/10-touchdown capability if Darnold can get the ball to them. With Bell and Bilal Powell both available to keep opposing defenses honest, we will see a much different Jets team than we did it in its previous edition. I like the Jets to cover this number easy and win against their divisional nemesis by at least a touchdown. Lay the field goal with confidence.
It's hard to tell how the Elliot situation will affect Dallas; he could come out gangbusters and carry this team, or he could play sparingly and/or be ineffective. We just don't know. But we do know that New York was a better team last year than its record would indicate, and it played the Cowboys tough twice last season. We expect this one to be close, too, so we're taking the Giants and the points for our free NFL pick.
The Bears have the defense, and they won the NFC North last season, but the Packers have Rodgers. I think Green Bay is in for a big-time rebound season and that will begin in this game, Even in the Windy City and with the D, the Bears have the Packers are the pick in this game. Rodgers will get some help in the run game, and he will do the rest while the Green Bay defense will have a good season-opening showing. The Packers will cover the spread and not only that, but I am taking them to win the game outright.
Both these teams will probably play many starters for at least a half, including the quarterbacks. And yet both are getting good play out of their back-ups QBs. We're not sure who's going to win this game, but we do expect some points to be scored. So we're going with the over here for our free NFL pick.
Oakland without Carr might be a better team than Green Bay without Rodgers. The Packers, as usual, are having trouble running the ball, and their defense has allowed 755 yards through two exhibition games. Meanwhile, Coach Gruden is apparently trying to use these games to instill a winning atmosphere. We like the Raiders here, and we'll play them for the win on the NFL money line.
New England is just the better, deeper team here. The Patriots should possess a lead when Brady leaves the game, and then they still own the better back-up quarterback situation. In fact, we're surprised they're not favored by more than three points.
Baltimore seems to take these exhibition games more seriously than most. Also, Green Bay got out-played last week. Also, the Ravens own the better and deeper defense. We're betting Baltimore here.
Ryan playing a couple of series could mean 3-10 points to Atlanta, and the Falcons backup QBs have looked good so far. Meanwhile, the New York defense gave up a bunch of yards through the air last week. We like Atlanta here at home giving a short spread.
Motivation means a ton when it comes to handicapping these pre-season games, and in this spot, Washington needs a better showing more than Cleveland. Plus, the Redskins should give Haskins some work, and they might own the better defense. We'll take Washington.
Like what we have seen in both conference championship matches, this game will also likely be settled on the final possession. This contest may have shades of the first meeting between these two sides in 2002 with a late New England field goal deciding the outcome. Either way, Brady gets his sixth ring, and the Patriots cover while he does so.
The Patriots get the automatic edge betting the side in this game given their experience on the NFL’s biggest stage. However, the big question when it comes to the total line is will the game turn into a shootout as the current 56.5-point betting line suggests.
Even after shutting out the high-powered Chiefs in the first half of AFC title game, the Patriots gave up 31 points. I think it is going to take more than 30 points to beat the Rams this Sunday in a game that once again goes OVER.