The two most difficult weeks in the football season for picking bets is Week 1 and Week 17. Week 17 is tough because there are so many games that aren’t competitive, so you can’t even touch those. They’re sitting guys because they’re out of the playoffs, or they’re sitting guys because they’re resting for the playoffs.
But Week 1 is so hard because you never know how a new players and systems are going to work. The pre-season is completely meaningless. Weather is usually not a factor, but home field advantage is key.
One thing that my mama always told me was “If you can’t bet for your team to win or cover, then it’s best not to bet on them at all.” Ok, maybe she really said something like “If you can’t say something nice about someone, then don’t say nothing at all.” But my mind works in the sports book, and I think it translates very well.
With my team being the New England Patriots, I never bet against them. And I am always cautious about betting on them to cover (because let’s face it, they’re always favored), because I need to make sure I’m betting with my brain, and not with my heart.
The week is really about getting lucky and getting the most value. Week 1 is also a great week for upset potential, so I like to take advantage of the tasty money lines that are out there.
Here are Mike’s Week 1 NFL Bets:
Houston Texans (-1) over Kansas City Chiefs for $110
This is basically picking Houston to win, which is as good as a money line bet, except you don’t get the value. If Houston somehow wins by 1, then it’s a push. So the question is, can Kansas City win this game? No, so let’s bet it.
Arian Foster is out. No doubt that is huge!
But that defense? Holy crap! JJ Watt is arguably the best player in the league. I mean, he was in the conversation for MVP last season, as a linebacker. Jadeveon Clowney is back from an injury and they picked up Vince Wilfork at nose tackle.
That offense is the wildcard. Who’s there quarterback? Oh, that guy who got benched in Cleveland for Johnny Maziel. The bar to perform in Cleveland at quarterback is set pretty low. Plus they lost Andre Johnson. The bright spot is DeAndre Hopkins at receiver. It will be interesting to see what happens with Brian Hoyer at quarterback, a backup running back, and unknown receivers. Maybe we’ll see JJ Watt line up.
Kansas City won’t score many points. Stop Jamaal Charles and you win.
The under might be a good bet too, but I think that Houston offense can surprise us.
Atlanta Falcons (+135) over Philadelphia Eagles, Money Line for $100
The narrative had been that Atlanta can’t be beat at home. Was that thanks to Noisegate, or was it because Matt Ryan to Julio Jones indoors was a guarantee? Who knows for sure, but those two know each other and get another year to put up stats together.
But the Falcons defense was pretty terrible regardless of how many decibels they pumped into the Georgia Dome. That explains the pickup of Dan Quinn from the Seattle Seahawks at defensive coordinator. If he can do anything to improve that defense to give the offense the chance it didn’t have the past two years, then Atlanta has a chance.
This isn’t really picking the Falcons to win, but more like picking the Eagles to lose. They put up points last year. But what did it get them? Exactly.
Is Chip Kelly a genius, or is he a loose f*cking cannon? He made some bold moves this off-season, so it will be interesting to see how that all works out. I’m betting on it not working out.
At running back, he basically swapped LeSean McCoy for DeMarco Murray and Ryan Matthews. What??? Matthews is a heck of a backup for Murray. But Murray proved in Dallas that he doesn’t need, want, or enjoy the thought of coming out of a game. If he doesn’t get his touches, Chip Kelly will have a lot of babysitting to do. Unfortunately, you have Ryan Matthews sitting on the bench, which he had to be ok with when he was injured in San Diego last year, but he’s a stud too. And they still have Darren Sproles! Ok, the Eagles can run, everyone is going to prove they should get the rock, but there will be fireworks in Philly.
Sam Bradford. Who is going to be the Eagles quarterback in Week 2? That’s all I need to say.
Indianapolis Colts (-3 EV) over Buffalo Bills for $100
Or should I make it $1000? I’ll keep it at $100, because like I said, the beginning of the season has surprises.
The Colts are a baby version of the Patriots. With Andrew Luck, they are going to be consistent 10 game winners. And at a field goal, this is easy money. Worst case is a push, but Indy is going to blow out the Bills.
So they go in Ralph Wilson stadium which has some of the most hard core fans in all of the NFL. But that’s not enough to contain the Colts. And neither are the Bills.
The Bills picked up Rex Ryan this offseason, keeping him in the AFC East. You think he cares about the Colts? He is already game planning for Week 2 against the Patriots. Beating the Patriots is the only thing that he and the city of Buffalo care about. Well that and women’s feet, but I digress.
Rexy brought LeSean McCoy with him. But he’s coming into his 7th year as a beast of running back. Can he do it again in 2015? We’ll see.
Who is Buffalo’s QB? Exactly.
Minnesota Vikings (-2.5) over San Francisco 49ers for $110
Adrian Peterson. He has something to prove. And he’s fresh.
Teddy Bridgewater. One of the best quarterbacks of last year’s draft with a season under his belt. This will be his breakout year. You heard it here.
But the 49ers. Oh, what happened?
You couldn’t do anything about Patrick Willis and Justin Smith. They were retiring and that’s it. Maybe they saw the future and thought this was a good time to get out.
Let’s start with the losses: Jim Harbaugh, Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree, Mike Iupati, Aldon Smith, Chris Borland, and the list goes on. That is the type of core that Jacksonville Jaguars salivate over. And the Niners lost them in one offseason. Oh the humanity!
They did pick up Reggie Bush and Torrey Smith. But Colin Kaepernick is showing signs that his 2012 and 2013 were a fluke. Sure, his numbers in 2014 were pretty decent, but even my niece could tell that Kaepernick couldn’t manage a game last year compared to ’12, when he led them to the Super Bowl off the bench, and ’13.
Look, they finished 8-8 last year. They did nothing this off-season to make them better. In fact, they lost a lot of talent, and I think they are now considered in “rebuilding” mode.
Denver Broncos (-4.5) over Baltimore Ravens for $110
Because Denver has Peyton Manning. Enough said. Oh and I don’t like any Harbaugh family member and the Ravens are a bunch of thugs so I never bet on them.
New Orleans Saints (+120) over Arizona Cardinals, Money Line for $100
This is kind of a hard one because I know that Arizona is favored, but I like the Saints and I think that it will be a close game – under the spread if Arizona wins or the Saints will win. I do really like both teams and found myself rooting for Arizona last year. I thought it would be cool to see them play the Super Bowl in their own house.
Seattle Seahawks (-4) over St. Louis Rams for $110
One phrase: Legion of BOOM. Game over.
Kansas City Chiefs (-1) over Houston Texans for $110
One point margin? I’m guessing these teams are well matched. I do think Kansas City will pull it out though. I’m on the Kansas City train this year – Go Chiefs and GO Royals!