I had a decent season betting against the spread in the NFL last season (133-95-10). Any year you hit nearly 60% of the NFL games against the spread is a damn good year. I hope to keep it going in 2014.
Going into Week 1, you should take what you learned in the preseason with a grain of salt. The players who played the most, probably won’t be huge factors this week. There is a reason they felt comfortable having them play a lot in meaningless games. Just look at the stats in the first and second quarter when looking at preseason box scores.
We pick every NFL game against the spread and throw out a few upsets in Week 1 of the 2014 NFL season.
Buffalo Bills at Chicago Bears (-6.5) – My pick is Chicago Bears
I love Jay Cutler this year. I just think it’s impossible for him to have a bad year with all the weapons he has catching balls. The Bears defense isn’t great, but the Bills offense shouldn’t beat them up too bad. The Bears covering is nearly a lock.
Washington Redskins at Houston Texans (-2.5) – My pick is Houston Texans
I’ve went back and forth with this pick. I would avoid this game unless you’re absolutely desperate. The Redskins looked like garbage this preseason and I have no idea what to expect with Ryan Fitzpatrick. Is Fitz going to be the quarterback that played well with Buffalo and earned him a decent contract or the Fitz that flamed out immediately after signing that contract? I like Adrian Foster and J.J. Watt more than I like RGIII and Desean Jackson right now. I think the Texans will squeak out a cover.
Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens (-2.5) – My pick is Cincinnati Bengals
The Ravens are without Ray Rice (suspended for being an uber bag of douche) and I like the Bengals this year. I might not be in love with Andy Dalton, but I’m a fan of the rest of team. I think Baltimore’s best days are behind them. I’m not liking their future. It could be a long season, especially if they start off slow. Give me Cincinnati all day.
New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins (+5) – My pick is New England Patriots
I haven’t liked Miami for a few years, but they are looking better. Ryan Tannehill looked pretty damn good this preseason. His play will swing my Miami game picks in the future, but not this week. New England is a better team and I like them to win by more than a touchdown on Sunday.
Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs (-6) – My pick is Kansas City Chiefs
This line jumped nearly 3 points since it opened. It should have opened at six or seven points, but that’s just my opinion. I don’t like Tennessee and think they could end up picking in the top-five in the 2015 NFL Draft (they’re bad). The Chiefs are a playoff team and will cover in their home opener.
New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons (pk) – My pick is New Orleans Saints
Every team that appears on HBO’s ‘Hard Knocks’ ends up overvalued in their first game. It’s just something I have noticed over the years. People become enamored with players and want them to succeed, thus affecting betting patterns early in the year. The Falcons are a good team, but it’s hard to bet against New Orleans in a dome. The Saints are in for another monster year.
Minnesota Vikings at St. Louis Rams (-6) – My pick is St. Louis Rams
Even though Sam Bradford is out for the year, this line still went in the Rams favor after it opened. The public knows Shaun Hill could be an upgrade (just look at his stats when he filled in for Matthew Stafford in Detroit). Also, the public knows Minnesota is pretty bad. If you take away Adrian Peterson, they could be the consensus worst team in the NFL.
Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers (-6) – My pick is Pittsburgh Steelers
This game made my brain hurt. I know Brian Hoyer is starting, but I expect Johnny Manziel to be in there for some packages. Pittsburgh’s defense is getting long in the tooth, but I need to see Cleveland’s offense more before I pick them. If they double-team Jordan Cameron, I don’t see any other playmaker doing anything for Cleveland. I like Steelers to win by touchdown or more.
Oakland Raiders at New York Jets (-5.5) – My pick is New York Jets
I didn’t have a good feel for the Jets all last season. They struggled to string together back-to-back victories. Geno Smith had a nice preseason and their defensive front is elite (can’t say the same for their banged-up secondary though). Oakland signed a bunch of veterans on defense and added Maurice Jones-Drew to their backfield. Rookie Derek Carr is the lone rookie starting Week 1. I don’t like Oakland traveling to the East Coast. It has never worked out in the past and I don’t see it working out on Sunday.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Philadelphia Eagles (-11) – My pick is Philadelphia Eagles
Jacksonville was a double-digit underdog in many games last season and only a few were able to cover. The Jaguars did improve their roster and played better down the stretch. The Eagles high-octane offense can cover an eleven point spread easier than the teams that failed against the Jags last year. I wouldn’t hit this one hard since it is the NFL and double-digit spreads have a high degree of difficulty.
San Francisco 49ers at Dallas Cowboys (+5) – My pick is San Francisco 49ers
The Dallas Cowboys had the worst defense statistically in the history of the NFL. Unfortunately for them, they didn’t do much to improve their defense. I expect Colin Kaepernick to have a field day at Jerry World and make all his fantasy owners extremely happy. The Niners will win by more than a touchdown.
Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+1) – My pick is Carolina Panthers
Carolina will miss Steve Smith this season and their defense will be the reason they do anything in the league this season. I like them this week on the road and they will need to rely heavily on Cam Newton’s arm and legs.
Indianapolis Colts at Denver Broncos (-7.5) – My pick is Indianapolis Colts
I’m a Colts fan, but I’m usually a pessimist when it comes to betting on them against the spread. I have to feel really confident to pick them and I like them this week against Denver. The Colts will be without Robert Mathis on defense and Denver will miss Wes Welker, both out due to suspension. Those two guys cancel each other out. I love Hakeem Nicks in this game. He had a nice preseason and think he will be the x-factor. Denver may win the game, but that extra half-point could be huge for Indy.
New York Giants at Detroit Lions (-4) – My pick is Detroit Lions
Detroit desperately needed a new coach. The players were no longer responding to Jim Schwartz. Jim Caldwell is more even-tempered and he will have a positive effect on Detroit. Peyton Manning had one of his most productive offensive seasons in Indianapolis when Caldwell was the head coach. Could Stafford take a leap in that direction this season? I think the Lions will cover the spread this week and could string together a few wins in a row to begin the season.
San Diego Chargers at Arizona Cardinals (-3.5) – My pick is San Diego Chargers
San Diego and Arizona were two of the hottest teams to close out the 2013 regular season. San Diego had big wins on the road against Philadelphia, Denver and Kansas City. They travel well and I expect a close game late Monday night. Arizona will be good this year, but I don’t think they will cover against San Diego.
Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks (-5.5) – My pick is Green Bay Packers
I love both teams this year. This one was difficult to pick. The officials killed defensive backs all preseason for penalties. If they keep that up, Seattle will be the team that is most hurt. I know 5.5 points isn’t a huge margin, especially since it is being played in Seattle, but I think pass interference and defensive holding flags will be a factor. I’m taking the points and picking Green Bay.
*These picks are for entertainment purposes
Sweetbob was 133-95-10 against the spread in NFL games last season.
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob