I’ve went 414-311-28 combined in the past three years picking NFL games against the spread. I’ve been posting my picks for the last six or sevenyears, but really only kept a running total in recent years.
Week 1 is a tricky betting week. You can watch all the preseason football games you want and never get a feel for what the team will look like in their first regular season game.
We pick every NFL game against the spread and throw out a few upsets in Week 1 of the 2016 NFL season.
Carolina Panthers at Denver Broncos (+3) – My pick is Carolina Panthers
The Super Bowl rematch takes place this Thursday without two familiar faces. Former Denver quarterback Peyton Manning retired after leading the Broncos to a championship and former Carolina cornerback Josh Norman is now much, much richer in Washington. Denver replaced Manning with a young quarterback that was the last quarterback taken in the 2015 NFL Draft. Trevor Siemian has huge shoes to fill while he keeps the seat warm for future starter Paxton Lynch. Carolina replaced Norman with a few rookie corners that will be targets in every game. Can Siemian take advantage of Carolina’s young corners? The real battle of the game will be between Carolina’s offense and Denver’s defense. Cam Newton has a crucial weapon back on offense (Kelvin Benjamin) and will squeak out a cover on the road.
Cincinnati Bengals at New York Jets (+2.5) – My pick is New York Jets
Cincinnati was one of the best teams in the NFL last year, so teams raided their coaches. The biggest loss this season is former offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, who is now the head coach for the Cleveland Browns. The Bengals also lost some personnel on offense like wide receivers Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu. We all know A.J. Green is a stud, but he needs help. It also doesn’t help that tight end Tyler Eifert is ruled out for the game. Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis may not be as dominant as he once was, but he will help keep Green in check. I believe the Jets have a shot at winning this game, so I’m taking the points.
Cleveland Browns at Philadelphia Eagles (-4) – My pick is Cleveland Browns
It’s rare to see this bad of a potential match-up in the first week of the season. Philadelphia will be starting the #2 overall pick quarterback Carson Wentz, who may or may not be running for his life. The Browns should be able to get some decent pressure on him. The Eagles have depth on the offensive line, but I wouldn’t categorize their line as being great. I wouldn’t say that I’m predicting a career resurrection for Cleveland quarterback Robert Griffin III, but he will be better than anything you saw from him the last few years in Washington. I’m going to take the points until I see more from Wentz.
Oakland Raiders at New Orleans Saints (-1) – My pick is Oakland Raiders
The New Orleans Saints had one of the worst secondaries in the NFL the last few years. They got rid of some dead weight towards the end of last season and throughout the offseason. They also added a few new weapons on offense like tight end Coby Fleener. The Saints will be better than they were last year, but I just love the Raiders this season. It may only take an upset or two for them to contend for the AFC West title. It will be a close race and I like them on the road in the Big Easy.
Minnesota Vikings at Tennessee Titans (+3) – My pick is Tennessee Titans
We all heard about Minnesota quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s tragic injury and it will be a difficult season for the Vikings. I expect new quarterback Shaun Hill or Sam Bradford to hand off to Adrian Peterson quite a bit. Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer still hasn’t made up his mind who will start. Hill has a proven cannon for an arm, but I also could see how he could pick Bradford. The Titans have made some upgrades through free agency and the draft this offseason. They are still a couple seasons away from contending in the improved AFC South, but I’m expecting a big jump from quarterback Marcus Mariota this season. I’m taking the points.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons (-3) – My pick is Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs swept the Falcons last season. Both games were within four points and one went into overtime. I expect another tight game and think Tampa Bay could be a nice moneyline. The Bucs could be a darkhorse wild card team if a few balls bounce their way this season. I’m taking the points.
Buffalo Bills at Baltimore Ravens (-2.5) – My pick is Buffalo Bills
Both teams come into this season with chips on their shoulders. They came into last season with playoff aspirations, but fell short. The Bills finished 8-8, but expectations were much higher due to Rex Ryan’s rhetoric and expectations of young wide receiver Sammy Watkins. The Ravens fell short in just about every aspect last season and picked in the top-ten for the first time since 2003. The Bills come into this game a little more healthier than the Ravens. I think that will end up being a huge factor, the Ravens will especially miss defensive beast Elvis Dumervil. I’m taking the points.
Chicago Bears at Houston Texans (-5.5) – My pick is Houston Texans
The Texans were quite good last year, but they needed consistency (and good health) from their quarterback. They backed up the money truck to Brock Osweiler’s house and secured him for the foreseeable future. It’s a risky move since he sat on the bench backup up Peyton Manning for most of his career. He did see action in nearly half of Denver’s games last season. He had and accurate arm, poise in the pocket and scrambling ability. As long as he isn’t careless with the ball, Houston’s defense should be able to keep him in every game. I don’t like Chicago’s defense and think Houston will be able to cover at home.
San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs (-7) – My pick is Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs return nearly every impact player from last season, yet it seems like we are all sleeping on them. I know Alex Smith is quite vanilla when it comes to flash and excitement, but they are extremely efficient. They will battle Denver and Oakland for the AFC West title and they shouldn’t have many issues with San Diego, who could be in for a long year.
Green Bay Packers at Jacksonville Jaguars (+4) – My pick is Jacksonville Jaguars
I almost talked myself out of picking the Jaguars…just because they are the Jaguars. I loved their draft this year. They added so much depth and think a few of those guys will be impact players for them this season. Green Bay come into this season with all of Aaron Rodgers’ weapons, most importantly Jordy Nelson. They missed him like crazy last year. The Jags may not win this game, but I expect they will give the Packers a tough game. I’m taking the points.
Miami Dolphins at Seattle Seahawks (-7.5) – My pick is Seattle Seahawks
I fell into Miami’s trap a few too many times last season. I’m not a huge fan of the ‘improvements’ they made this offseason. Playing in Seattle is always a difficult task, especially during Kickoff Weekend. I’m taking the Seahawks to cover at home.
Detroit Lions at Indianapolis Colts (-5.5) – My pick is Indianapolis Colts
The Detroit Lions have had some variety of ‘buzz’ coming into nearly every season the last four or five seasons. A lot of the hype was due to Calvin Johnson suiting up for Detroit. I’ve been watching the NFL for as long as I can remember and he is probably one of the top-five best mismatches, on offense or defense, that I have ever witnessed. He could be double-teamed and he might still have a slight advantage. Well, Johnson retired after last season (and will now be on ‘Dancing with the Stars’), so there is a huge void on offense. This year’s Colts team also doesn’t have as much hype surrounding them. The team doesn’t have as much depth as in the past and the season could very well depend on the health of Andrew Luck. I’m not too confident the Colts will cover many spreads more than a field goal this season, but they should cover at home this weekend.
New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys (+1) – My pick is Dallas Cowboys
Losing Tony Romo for an extended period of time is a huge blow to the Dallas Cowboys. They are lucky that they were able to draft running back Ezekiel Elliott and quarterback Dak Prescott. They will be able to possibly flourish thanks to the Cowboys elite offensive line. I don’t trust the New York Giants defense to be able to penetrate in the trenches. This game will be close, so I’m taking the home team.
New England Patriots at Arizona Cardinals (-6) – My pick is Arizona Cardinals
It’s kind of nuts that the Patriots are nearly touchdown underdogs, but I think it is a just line. New England are missing quarterback Tom Brady, running back Dion Lewis and defensive end Rob Ninkovich due to suspensions and injuries. Their replacements are unproven and will be facing a playoff contender on the road. This is a lofty spread to cover, but I think the Cardinals have it in them.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Washington Redskins (+3) – My pick is Pittsburgh Steelers
This game is worth the price of admission just to watch Antonio Brown face Josh Norman. The Redskins looked great at times last season, but were wildly inconsistent until the last handful of games. They just weren’t consistent on the ground, but did start to string together some games and found themselves in the playoffs. They lost in the Wild Card round, but it was a good start for a team with some young impact players. The Steelers are perennial contenders and have legitimate Pro Bowlers at nearly ever area of the field. They will be a tough opponent for the Redskins. I’m taking the Steelers to cover on the road.
Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers (+2.5) – My pick is Los Angeles Rams
The Niners and Rams split their games last season, but there was a huge difference in one of the games…Todd Gurley didn’t play in the game the Rams lost. Gurley will be a huge factor in the game. The Rams will cover on the road thanks to their ground game.
*These picks are for entertainment purposes
Sweetbob’s NFL picks against the spread record in previous seasons:
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