The NFL is back. There are 13 games Sunday, and two on Monday, and we all saw the Falcons melt down in the red zone Thursday night in their loss in Philadelphia. With the gambling gold rush happening in sports media right now, here are my five best bets for Week 1.
Houston +6.5 at New England: I’ve never made money betting against Belichick and Brady, but this is a bet on the Texans, who were a scoring machine with Watson (overs were 5-1 in games he started). The problem was the injury-plagued defense, which gave up 36 to New England, 42 to Kansas City and 41 to Seattle. No team last year had more player contracts on the bench with injuries (Watson, Watt, Mercilus, etc).
Tampa Bay +9.5 at New Orleans: Even if you hate trends, you can take something out of this: All favorites of more than a touchdown in Week 1 have gone 19-36 (35%). Also, and you may notice a bit of a trend here, I’m going with three underdogs in Week 1 going against overvalued teams that made the playoffs last year. But then …
Minnesota -6 vs San Francisco: I’m going against the logic laid out in the Tampa game, it just feels like there’s value in a) The Vikings were a cover machine (11-4-1 ATS) last year and now upgraded at QB and have Dalvin Cook back, b) Mike Zimmer is a monster in September at home (7-1 ATS) in recent years, and c) the public loves San Francisco based on what they saw at the end of last season.
Denver -3 vs Seattle: The Broncos have a massive home field advantage in the first few weeks of the season, and have been dominant in home openers regardless of who their coach or QB is since 2000 (7-2-1 ATS). And at QB Case Keenum is a significant upgrade from Brock Osweiler/Paxton Lynch last year. Seattle, meanwhile, is 2-10 ATS in week 1 road openers since 2000, and 1-4 ATS in road openers under Pete Carroll.
NY Giants +3 vs Jacksonville: Two things jump out – the Jags inability to stop the run (26th last year, now going against a potential star in Saquon Barkley), and what happens if Blake Bortles falls behind. Jacksonville was 10-2 last year when scoring first; just 2-5 when they don’t.