Jun 21st, 2015, 18 comments
Massive NFL and horse racing fan, more likely to discuss NFL and happy to share my thoughts.
It’s finally here! After seven long months of waiting the NFL is back! We’ve had the Thursday Night Season Kickoff game to wet our appetites but this is the main course...the feast...what every NFL fan lives for. Opening Sunday!
As the NFL is back, so are the OLBG Experts Panel, ready to offer more words of wisdom and selections (or educated guesses!) in order to give readers a feeling for each game and hopefully deliver on some consensus bets and accumulators.
Week 1 is always exciting but is also a tricky betting proposition. There'll be plenty of thrills and spills and almost certainly a few surprises. Can we point out the potential banana skins and avoid them? What clues can we learn from this week going forward? Read on as the panel go through all 15 remaining games on the Week 1 schedule to find out.
***Please note: All odds/spreads/totals quoted are correct at time of publishing.***
Handicap: Bills -9.5
Total Points: 40
Jets - 7/2 with Coral
Bills - 1/4 with BetVictor
CONSENSUS: 5-2 BILLS
Gman84: We start with the two teams that finished 32nd and 31st respectively in the inaugural OLBG (Preseason) Power Rankings! Both have spent the offseason dumping talent and trying to acquire future considerations. But, someone needs to win here and start the year off 1-0! This comes down to the offense that makes the least mistakes and whilst the Bills offense doesn’t fill me with confidence it has RB Shady McCoy and looks a lot healthier than what the Jets are offering up although I fancy Jets RB Bilal Powell to quietly put together a big season. The spread is massive though and given Buffalo’s possible QB issues I wouldn’t put anyone off taking on such a big line. Pick: BILLS
Jim Brown: Most definitely not the game of the week - I think that's fair to say. I really have no idea which way this could go. Both look to be basement teams this season and in the case of the Bills there's wholesale changes in the way the team plays. At a push, and that's what it's going to have to be I'm afraid - I'll side with the Bills, but no bets will be made on this game! Pick: BILLS
undertherobe: Otherwise known as the Sam Darnold Bowl, this has the potential to be one of the worst NFL games in history. The Jets have sucked for some time, and despite two young QBs on the roster, they’ve put their trust in 38 year old journeyman Josh McCown. McCown isn’t very good and with a distinct lack of decent targets to throw to, don’t expect great things. The Bills have had a bit of a fire sale in recent weeks and Anquan Boldin retired just so he didn’t have to play in Buffalo. But when it comes down to it, their QB Tyrod Taylor, has a greater ability than McCown to make a key play when it matters. Pick: BILLS
Lazarus76: This one looks to be a real basement battle. The Jets and Bills could be in for a tough time of things this season but there has to be a winner although to be honest I don’t think the Bills are as bad many make out. RB LeSean McCoy is arguably the best RB in the league and he will be heavily relied upon this season for the Bills this season and I can see him running the Bills to a win here. Pick: BILLS
toadie21: The Jets enter this season as favourites for the number 1 draft pick in 2018 and are ranked dead last at 32 in the OLBG Power Rankings. Just above them is the Bills! I'm not expecting much from either team this year but the Jets did do the double over the Bills last season and that's what tips it for me and if they are going to win a game somewhere, most likely it’s against a weak divisional rival. With the spread available at +9 I’ll take the New Jersey team over the New York one. Pick: JETS
Arniehi: Not really a game that excites, and it could well be a tossup here. Both teams will likely keep the ball on the ground - particularly the Jets who look like they'll rely on Matt Forte/Bilal Powell combination to put up the yards. The Jets have the edge on defense - especially the strong D-line - and the Bills don't look good coming into this. The Jets swept the series last season and I'll take them extend the streak here. Pick: JETS
TouchdownTips: Wow. What is there to say here?! McCoy and Taylor remain at the Bills who will be a run first offence. Shady is the entire team now. New WR Jordan Matthews and Zay Jones pairing both have a lot to prove if the Bills are to threaten through the air. The Jets start veteran Josh McCown at QB, he’s adequate which is more than can be said about Christian Hackenberg who was their only other choice with Bryce Petty injured. They’ve ditched everyone with more than 2 days’ experience other than McCown who brings the average age of the rookie filled squad to roughly 47 by himself. They have a good-looking defence on paper as well and I wouldn’t be shocked to see Robbie Anderson score a 4th quarter consolation TD for the Jets but despite both sides looking like 2017 will be a struggle, I’ll take the Bills to start positively. Pick: BILLS
ATLANTA FALCONS AT CHICAGO BEARS
The Bears lead the all-time head-to-head 14-12 and have won the last two meetings between the teams. This will be the first time the teams have matched-up since October 2014.
The Falcons have not won in Chicago since the opening day of the 1983 season. They have lost six straight in Chicago. All 3 of the Bears victories in 2016 came on their own turf. The Falcons have a better road record (6-2) than home record (5-3) in the 2016 regular season.
Handicap: Bears +6.5
Total Points: 48.5
Falcons - 1/3 with most firms
Bears - 5/2 with SkyBet
CONSENSUS: 7-0 FALCONS ***Consensus Pick***
Gman84: The Falcons aren’t going to be allowed to forget their Super Bowl collapse in a hurry but here they have a chance to remind us all why they got their in the first place against a Bears team that will be hoping to show signs of improvement but looks more likely to be spending this season giving experience to its young talent. How long do we wait for a Mitch Trubisky sighting? The Falcons D will load the box to stop the run and dare the Bears to pass. Whoever is the Bears QB hasn’t got great options to throw to. Can WR Kevin White finally show why he was a first round pick? Pick: FALCONS (NAP)
Jim Brown: How do the Falcons recover from that demoralising Super Bowl defeat? They were the best team for the regular season, play-offs, and for three quarters of the Super Bowl, before the hands started slipping off the Vince Lombardi trophy. They should recover, they should be at least as strong as last season, and they should be right there in the mix for the playoffs again. The Bears are on the rebuild and this is a tough ask despite being at home. It'll take a huge step up to take this from Atlanta. Pick: FALCONS
undertherobe: The Falcons had a stunning 2016, culminating in reaching the Super Bowl. Unfortunately for Atlanta, it all went south very quickly as they gave up 31 unanswered points from 28-3 up and they’ve continued to blow big leads in the preseason. This is the real stuff now and they’ll be desperate to get that first win of the season as quickly as possible to put last year to bed Luckily for them, they haven’t been given too tricky a start as the Bears have lost last year’s top receiver, Cameron Meredith. I just feel that this franchise has been in too much of a mess in recent years to trouble the best teams in the league. Pick: FALCONS
Lazarus76: The Falcons have got a perfect chance to get their Super Bowl hangover out of their system against what was a poor Bears side last season. The fact that the Bears have finally got rid of QB Jay Cutler will help them this season but I don’t see them having enough to keep pace with the Falcons high-powered offence. Pick: FALCONS
toadie21: The Falcons took the league by storm last season, the offence was incredible with the defense stepping up with big plays at times. They could suffer from the dreaded Super Bowl hangover and there has been changes in both offence and defensive coordinators. I can see the Bears improving this season but this is a tough game to start for them, even at home. Pick: FALCONS
Arniehi: The Falcons should still be reeling after throwing away the Super Bowl last year and I expect them to come out strong this time around with a commanding win against a poor Chicago team. I ranked the Falcons very highly in the OLBG Preseason Power Rankings and had the Bears down the bottom so this looks a mismatch on paper. Chicago certainly should improve on last season and rookie QB Mitch Trubisky has looked good in preseason (he’s not starting though), but there is simply no way I can see them beating any good team yet. Atlanta will walk this and win by a minimum of 2 touchdowns (probably 3) behind a loaded offense. The Bears won’t keep up! Pick: FALCONS (NAP)
TouchdownTips: The Bears have a cracking interior offensive line which should open up gaps for their only real weapon, Jordan Howard so the Falcons D needs to play the run well. They were looking ok in the passing game but then WR Cameron Meredith blew out his knee and misses the season leaving Kendall Wright as the main guy. Expect the Falcons D to gang up on the run and make the Bears pass. The Falcons lost their offensive coordinator as Kyle Shanahan went to the 49ers, so I don’t think they’ll be as free scoring as last season but they still appear to have plenty of firepower. The Super Bowl hangover though is a real thing especially after the nature of their loss. They’re far too good for the Bears here. Pick: FALCONS (NAP)
BALTIMORE RAVENS AT CINCINNATI BENGALS
In 21 years of battling each other in the same division it’s a touch ironic that the all-time series is tied at 21-21 and last years pair of games was split evenly also. The Bengals have pegged back a Ravens lead though winning 6 of the last 7 and they have not lost at home to their rivals since the last game of the 2011 regular season.
Go back further and the Bengals dominate the Ravens at home having only ever lost 7 times on their own turf to them and only twice in the past 12 years!
Handicap: Bengals -3
Total Points: 42.5
Ravens - 13/10 with most firms
Bengals - 4/6 with most firms
CONSENSUS: 4-3 BENGALS
Gman84: Myself and Jim Brown are on opposite sides of the fence regarding these two teams and we get an early chance to see who has a better chance of being right (one game doesn’t make a season though). I just feel the Ravens offense, with Joe Flacco returning but having not had much practice time because of a preseason injury, will struggle against a Bengals D that has added some good looking potential to go along with its solid vets and I could see Ravens QB Joe Flacco eating the turf a few times. AJ Green and exciting rookie Joe Mixon will look to put up points against a tough looking Ravens D that helped them go through preseason undefeated. Green is so tough to defend though! Pick: BENGALS
Jim Brown: Not everyone is agreeing with me on the Ravens chances for the season, and how better to put that to the test than a stern divisional match-up to start the season? It's 21-21 on the head to head, but the Bengals do hold sway in recent seasons. That makes it tough but these games are usually hard fought, and with an expected defense improvement, it might be the Ravens in a close shave. Pick: RAVENS
undertherobe: The Bengals have owned Baltimore in recent years, winning six of their last seven meetings and five in a row at home. The absence of LB Vontaze Burfict to suspension will give the Baltimore offense a lift, but I don’t think it’ll prevent the Bengals from getting after QB Joe Flacco, who is likely to start but has been struggling with a back injury which could force the Ravens to rely on a poor running game. Given their strong recent run against Baltimore, I’ve got to go with a home win. Pick: BENGALS
Lazarus76: Regardless of respective form there are always games that are close and I expect the same in this one. Both teams aren’t quite the forces they were of old but I expect a close divisional battle. The Bengals should have enough to take care of the Ravens at The Jungle where their home record in this matchup is impressive. Pick: BENGALS
toadie21: The Ravens are known for defence and that's what they look to be all about this coming season. The Bengals and QB Andy Dalton struggled last year and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2010 and the Ravens defence won't give him an easy time. The Ravens offense just needs to be safe and not give the game away. Pick: RAVENS
Arniehi: The Ravens went through a perfect preseason and should just about have the edge here. Neither team is all that exciting as they both sit in pretty much mediocrity. It's difficult to get too excited, and I doubt either team will make the playoffs - particularly when you consider they're in a division with Pittsburgh - and this game is pretty much a tossup. I'll just about side with Baltimore though, because I don’t think Bengals QB Andy Dalton can be productive enough. A career low 18TD passes last season and none this preseason. Pick: RAVENS
TouchdownTips: The Bengals could be anything this season, it all depends on how the revamped offensive line performs. They’ve looked good in spells of the preseason so look for veteran Jeremy Hill and rookie Joe Mixon to combine for a effective 1-2 rushing punch. They’ll want to pound the rock at the Ravens, keep their pass rush honest and make play action effective. The Ravens on offence don’t look well armed at all and I am really down on that side of the ball for them, but they have one of the best defences on paper and they’ll be relying on that D to give them good field position and make life easier for Flacco and Co. Their one trump card is Kicker Justin Tucker, who I expect to kick around 5 field goals a game this season for them! I’ll homer up on my Bengals but I’m not massively confident. Pick: BENGALS
PITTSBURGH STEELERS AT CLEVELAND BROWNS
Now live on Sky Sports due to the cancellation of the Buccaneers @ Dolphins game.
The Browns have lost 12 straight season openers!
The Steelers lead the all-time series versus their divisional rival 70-58 and they have won the last four straight. Since the Browns “re-birth” in 1999 the teams have met 36 times and the Browns have only managed 6 victories (0.167).
The Browns did gain their sole victory of 2016 at home. They have only won 7 of a possible 30 divisional games over the past five years. The Steelers have won 19 divisional games over the same period.
Browns rookie DE, Myles Garrett, the overall #1 choice in this years NFL draft, is facing a battle to be fit with an ankle injury.
Handicap: Browns +9
Total Points: 47
Steelers - 1/4 with most firms
Browns - 71/20 with Marathon Bet
CONSENSUS: 7-0 STEELERS ***Consensus Pick***
Gman84: I do think the Browns will be better this year although one win isn’t too tough to improve on so I’ll state that I expect a decent level of improvement - 5 or 6 wins - and significant hope going forward. One of those wins isn’t coming here though. Former Brown Joe Haden gets to go against his old team (and cover new Brown and former Steeler Sammie Coates as both teams swapped some talent this past week) and he’ll be looking forward to tasting success in 2017. However, if the Browns pull of a shock maybe Haden can be considered a jinx? Pick: STEELERS
Jim Brown: With only two losses to the Browns in seven seasons, the stats back up the fact that the Steelers are quite simply a team apart from Cleveland. It will be a major shock if the Browns prevail, even if it was only a three-point defeat the last time they met. Pick: STEELERS
undertherobe: Bizarrely, recent history involving these teams has seen a Cleveland win followed by 4 straight Pittsburgh wins. That’s been the story of their last 15 meetings and with the Steelers coming into this game on the back of 4 straight wins over Cleveland, then the Browns are due to win this one...right? Cleveland’s recent record doesn’t make for pretty reading and not just against Pittsburgh! Whilst I like some of the moves they made in the draft and during the offseason, the Steelers defense will be salivating at the thought of roughing up a rookie QB on his debut. Cleveland will be better in 2017, but I still think they struggle through the opener. Pick: STEELERS
Lazarus76: There is always plenty of change in the NFL but there are also constants and the Browns will be fighting to get close to more than two wins in a season and the Steelers will battle for the AFC title. Despite the Browns potential upgrades I see no change here. Pick: STEELERS
toadie21: The Browns escaped the embarrassment of a 0-16 record last year and although they look to have drafted well, it's going to take time to turn this team around. I don’t see that turnaround starting here as the powerful looking Steelers are all about offence - Big Ben, Antonio Brown and the freshly re-signed Le’Veon Bell. Pick: STEELERS
Arniehi: Could this be the year for the Steelers who are loaded on offense with RB Le'Veon Bell and WR Antonio Brown being two of the best skill position players in the NFL? Their defense is capable and only getting better with rookie OLB TJ Watt (brother of Texans DE JJ), a young player to look out for. They should be a serious challenger to the Patriots dominance in the AFC. Cleveland won't be as bad as last year and rookie QB DeShone Kizer was a player I liked in college last season for Notre Dame. He may be raw, but he has a high ceiling and he'll get the Browns more wins than they've managed in the last couple of years. He’ll have to wait for his first, though, as Pittsburgh walk this one and win by double digits. They’re still way too strong for the Browns at this point. Pick: STEELERS
TouchdownTips: The Cleveland Browns seem to have used their plethora of draft picks very well this year to pick up a lot of talent. DE Myles Garrett was the overall #1 pick and he’s a machine, an absolute beast (see his high school or combine photos)...he’s going to be gooooooood! He heads up a defense that looked a good unit in pre-season, not allowing many points in any of the games. They’re going with rookie Deshone Kizer as the starting QB and need to give him time to grow. He seems to have a good link with WR Corey Coleman but veteran Kenny Britt and new addition, former Steeler Sammie Coates, need to make some plays. The bolstered their O-line should mean we’ll see plenty of RB Isaiah Crowell. They face a very tough opener here though against the faves for the division and the Steelers should win the AFC North but are prone to slipping up when you think they’re going to stroll to a win as the bookies seem to think they will this week and they’re big faves here. WR Martavis Bryant is back for the Steelers and I’ll probably be on him as an anytime scorer. I can’t back them to beat the spread of -8 though. Pick: STEELERS
ARIZONA CARDINALS AT DETROIT LIONS
In 66 previous meetings dating back to 1930 the Lions hold the edge 33-28-5 but the Cardinals have taken the 7 meetings straight with the last Lions win coming in 2005! That Lions win did come in Detroit. The last meeting between the pair was in 2015.
The Lions were 6-2 at home last season whilst the Cardinals were 3-5 on the road.
Handicap: Lions +2
Total Points: 48
Cardinals - 4/5 with most firms
Lions - 23/20 with Marathon Bet
CONSENSUS: 4-3 LIONS
Gman84: The spread has flip flopped a couple of times in this matchup. The Lions have been favourites, then the Cards and back and forth. My gut expected the Cards to be slight favourites based on recent history and form. Despite my feelings on who should be favourite, it’s the Lions I like in this because they are a much better team at home and the Cardinals defense was weakened in the offseason with some free agent losses. Matt Stafford recently became the highest paid player in the league...time to show why! Pick: LIONS
Jim Brown: If this was a tougher opponent I might have considered fielding against the Cards on the road. I kinda feel they had their best chances before last season, and this could be a frustrating one for them. Carson Palmer was short of protection last year and nothing much has changed in that respect. Against any reasonable defense Arizona could suffer, but lady luck past them against what could be one of the poorest defenses in the league. Pick: CARDINALS
undertherobe: I’m a fan of Lions QB Matthew Stafford but I think the franchise has done a poor job of surrounding him with enough talent to make the next step. The problem for Stafford now is that the Lions have made him even more of a target now that he is the richest QB in history. With a Cardinals defense returning two players with 10+ sacks in 2016 as well as other key players from one of the top defenses last year against the pass, Stafford could be in for a rude awakening. Despite that, I’m taking the home team. Pick: LIONS
Lazarus76: The Cardinals tended to struggle on their travels last season and if they haven’t addressed that then a trip to Detroit could prove to be pretty tough. To be honest I’m expecting a few points in this one. The Lions with QB Matthew Stafford and his healthy new contract in his pocket will be a force offensively and the scoreboard will see plenty of changes. The Cardinals have a better team on paper and that might be enough to edge it in a points-fest. Pick: CARDINALS
Toadie21: The Lions signed up QB Matthew Stafford to a huge contract making him the best paid player in the league and given his role in the Lions knack of winning close games last year with multiple 4th quarter comeback victories, it’s understable why they got the chequebook out. If you followed this blog last season you'll remember that me and the Cardinals had a falling out and the wounds are still there! Pick: LIONS
Arniehi: Lions QB Matt Stafford got rewarded a huge contract from the Lions and will be keen to show he deserves it. Detroit are a decent enough team and I expect TE Eric Ebron to have another good year, particularly in the red zone where I expect he'll get more targets. It would be an understatement to say the Cardinals were underwhelming last year as they went 7-8-1, dropping 4 of their last 5 games. They’ll be hoping not to be that bad again but I think the Lions will just about edge this at home as the Cards road troubles continue. Pick: LIONS
TouchdownTips: The Lions have the highest paid QB in football after Matthew Stafford signed a $30m a year deal recently, but on the field they have been hit with injuries and are waiting on the fitness of a few more for this game. I love the look of RB Ameer Abdullah and hope he stays fit this season. Last season they won 7 games from behind in the 4th quarter, that’s not sustainable to me. For the Cards it’s all about RB David Johnson, they’ve essentially said they’ll run him into the ground this season (literally) and the release of veteran Chris Johnson points more towards that. He’ll score at least one TD in this game. Pick: CARDINALS
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS AT HOUSTON TEXANS
This is still a very young divisional rivalry as these are two of the newest teams in the NFL. The Texans hold the edge 19-11 including the last six straight with the Jaguars last winning in 2013.
Both games last season were decided by a combined four points.
The Texans were 5-1 in the division and 7-1 at home last season. The Jaguars were 2-4 in the division and 1-7 on the road.
Handicap: Texans -5.5
Total Points: 39.5
Jaguars - 21/10 with William Hill
Texans - 5/12 with bet365
CONSENSUS: 7-0 TEXANS ***Consensus Pick***
Gman84: The Houston area needs something to rally around and JJ Watt can show that he’s not just great at doing a charity fundraising campaign, but that he’s great at leading a Houston defense that will make Blake Bortles wish he’s lost the Jaguars starting QB job to Chad Henne in preseason. No shock the total points mark is set at 40, this looks a game of two good defenses. We know the Texans unit is real good but the Jags strength this season should also be a strong D. Pick: TEXANS
Jim Brown: It's time to see just how good the Texans defense promises to be. Games against Houston are not happy occasions for the Jags and they've had the floor wiped with them six times in a row lately and eleven times out of the last thirteen. Pick: TEXANS
undertherobe: Whilst the Jaguars continue to place their trust in Blake Bortles, a young and improving defense are never going to get a chance to be on a winning Jacksonville team. Bortles is going to take a pounding here with Texans DE JJ Watt itching to get back to regular season NFL action. There really isn’t much for me to say about this matchup in week one other than to keep an eye out for the odds on number of Houston sacks which will be out later this week. I’d be looking to go over 4. Pick: TEXANS
Lazarus76: I’m not the biggest fan of either of these. The Texans will be a stronger force with JJ Watt and Jadeveon Clowney back in tandem on defence this season whilst the Jags flattered to deceive on a few occasions last season and if QB Blake Bortles has to sort out his accuracy issues or the Jags could be in for a similar season despite their efforts to improve the roster elsewhere. After the recent shocking weather, the Texans can give the people of Houston something to cheer. Pick: TEXANS
toadie21: Last season the Texans lost star DE JJ Watt to injury and had Brock Osweiler at QB yet still made the playoffs! That shows the strength of this Texans defense which could be even better with a healthy Watt back in tow. They take on the Jaguars who have QB uncertainties as choosing between Blake Bortles and Chad Henne is like choosing between being stoned to death or being burned at the stake. The Texans defence will be chomping at the bit! Pick: TEXANS (NAP)
Arniehi: Another struggle last year for the Jags and this looks a tough start against divisional rivals the Texans who have a loaded defense and will make life hard for QB Blake Bortles (who kinda makes life hard for himself generally!). I quite like the look of Houston this year, and despite having a patchy offense they still have some playmakers in the likes of RB Lamar Miller and WR DeAndre Hopkins. It will be good to see Texans DE JJ Watt back after his injury troubles last year and they'll win this one easily to make it seven on the bounce against the Jags. Pick:TEXANS
TouchdownTips: It’s safe to say it’s been a tough few weeks for the Texans because of Storm Harvey. They had to postpone their final preseason game so the players could get home to their families and this game will be an emotional one for them. Much like the Ravens they don’t have a huge amount on offence with Tom Savage starting at QB for them. It’s arguably an upgrade on Brock Osweiler last season, but not great. They do however, boast a fantastic defence and playing against a dodgy looking Jags offense relying on rookie RB Leonard Fournette to carry their rush attack they’ll be looking to be extremely aggressive. The Jags on paper also have a fantastic looking defense so this won’t be high scoring and I wouldn’t take the Texans to cover the spread but I can’t see the Jags winning. Pick: TEXANS
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS AT MIAMI DOLPHINS
***GAME POSTPONED UNTIL WEEK 11 DUE TO PREDICTED SEVERE WEATHER***
OAKLAND RAIDERS AT TENNESSEE TITANS
The Raiders lead the series 25-20 and have won the last 2 straight over the previous 2 seasons. Both wins were in Tennessee. In 8 meetings in Tennessee (since the franchise moved from Houston) the Titans have won 5.
Handicap: Titans -2
Total Points: 50.5
Raiders - 6/5 with SkyBet
Titans - 10/13 with bet365
CONSENSUS: 4-3 TITANS
Gman84: Another tough pick and two teams I expect to be right in the playoff place race come late December. The Titans will look to establish their strong rush attack and the Raiders D does have some questions to answer but I’m a massive Derek Carr fan and he’ll be itching to show why the Raiders can go really far this season. I think him, Amani Cooper and Michael Crabtree can hit the Titans new look secondary for some yards and scores. Titans QB Marcus Mariota had one of his worst showings of season in this matchup last year with three turnovers. Pick: RAIDERS
Jim Brown: I’m excited to see how this one turns out. Both teams are, in my opinion, play-off bound and surely potential division winners. Carr and the Raiders offense looked pretty focused in the preseason close defeat in Dallas, and the Titans have done plenty to show they can be better this year. This is a real tight call. I just don't know...I’ll edge towards the home teams. Pick: TITANS
undertherobe: The Raiders would have gone further than the first game of the postseason last year had QB Derek Carr not been injured and I’m expecting big things from the them in 2017. Their success was built on turnovers last season and they’ll be targeting more here as Titans QB Marcus Mariota will be expected to elevate himself in the passing game now that he’s in year three. This comes down to which QB I can trust more. Pick: RAIDERS
Lazarus76: This one looks a cracker and is arguably game of the week and both teams are very much on the up. The Raiders season pretty much ended when star QB Derek Carr went out injured and should he pick up where he left off then the Raiders will be a force again this season. The Titans have shown signs of moving in the right direction for the last few years and with another season under his belt QB Marcus Mariota could be ready to push for elite status. Tennessee are in the argument for the best team in the AFC South and I think they can show their ability and potential here with a hard fought win against the Raiders. Pick: TITANS
toadie21: Another two teams who look to be heading in the right direction. QB Derek Carr is back for the Raiders after missing the playoffs with injury and they've add Beast Mode Marshawn Lynch at RB to add to this high powered offence. Can he pound it versus a tough Titans run D though? The Raiders had the better of the Titans last season and they can repeat that feat again. Pick: RAIDERS
Arniehi: The Raiders are one of the hype teams following on from a very good season last year, and one can't help but wonder if they would've gone further had QB Derek Carr not gone down injured. He has a powerful offense around him and they should be productive again in 2017. Tennessee had their injury issues to end last season as well, losing QB Marcus Mariota to a horror injury as they were looking like they could've won the AFC South. They'll make a push and it is likely be close between them and the Texans. The Titans have a strong running game with DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry and in a close game that looks tough to call and I’m taking that strength and home advantage to win the day. Pick: TITANS
TouchdownTips: Two of the hype teams from the off-season and l admit I’m in on the Titans this year. They’ve added pass catchers for Mariota, especially red zone targets with Eric Decker and Corey Davis when fit. Mariota is yet to throw a red zone interception in his NFL career! Give him those guys behind a top 5 offensive line with a good 1-2 running game and they’ve got the basics of a very good team but defensively they’re not that great. Almost identical to their opponents, the Raiders look great on offence, a top 5 OL, a good RB corps if Lynch can come back from a year off successfully. Their receivers are great too, Amari Cooper between the 20s and Crabtree when it gets to the money zone but again they can’t defend, especially not against Tight Ends so I like Titans TE Delanie Walker as an anytime TD scorer in a possible high scoring game. Money is coming for the Titans, they were originally underdogs, now 2 point faves (at time of writing). Pick: TITANS
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES AT WASHINGTON REDSKINS
This long time NFC East rivalry has seen 166 previous meetings with the Redskins holding the edge 86-74-6. The Redskins also hold the current edge with 5 straight wins and they haven’t lost at home to over the Eagles since opening weekend in 2013.
Despite the Redskins short and long term edges, only one game in the last nine matchups has been decided by more than one score.
Handicap: Redskins +1
Total Points: 47.5
Eagles - 9/10 with Boylesports
Redskins - 53/50 with Marathon Bet
CONSENSUS: 6-1 REDSKINS
Gman84: As a Redskins fan I want to be confident and preseason shouldn’t mean anything but the sloppy offensive performances haven’t put my mind at ease. The Eagles have given young Carson Wentz some toys to play with and Alshon Jeffery versus Josh Norman could be key to how this game goes. I’ll play the home advantage though despite the Eagles starting as slight favourites and I do think the Redskins defense will be more aggressive and a better unit this season. Pick: REDSKINS
Jim Brown: A rivalry that began in 1934 when the now-Washington team was known as the Boston Redskins. They only lost to the Eagles once under that banner, and have only lost to them once in the last three seasons. Redskin territory is not a happy hunting ground for the Eagles. Pick: REDSKINS
undertherobe: Washington have taken five straight from the Eagles and I expect Redskins QB Kirk Cousins to continue where he left off in 2016 when he fell just shy of the magic 5,000 yards. I like the move that Washington have made to grab WR Terrelle Pryor who can be a real game changer with his ability to do it all. As with a lot of matchups in week one, it comes down to which QB I trust more and personally, I’m still not convinced that young Eagles QB Carson Wentz is ready to start in the NFL. Pick: REDSKINS
Lazarus76: A tricky one to call but I actually like what is going on in Washington and I can see them being a force in what looks to be a competitive division. QB Kirk Cousins needs to work on his consistency but should he address that issue this season then the Redskins could be in for a good season. The Eagles are definitely in the “could be anything” category and it remains to be seen how Carson Wentz goes in his second season but I don’t see him having a good time in Washington. Pick: REDSKINS
toadie21: With what looks to be such a difficult division this almost seems like a must win game in Week 1 for both teams. The Eagles defence made some big plays last year (pick sixes in both of these matchups in ‘16) but QB Carson Wentz must continue to improve in his second season. The Redskins won both games versus the Eagles last year but Redskins QB Kirk Cousins made mistakes in both wins and has looked below average in preseason so if the Eagles show the expected improvement on offense they could get the win this time round. Pick: EAGLES
Arniehi: A feisty matchup here and I'm a big fan of the move the Eagles made in getting wideout Alshon Jeffery in, but Washington have matched (or even bettered in terms of untapped potential) that with their signing up of former Browns WR Terrelle Pryor, who was one of the few positives on a bad Cleveland team last year. The NFC East is a stacked division, with both teams being decent enough and the Cowboys and Giants looking like they could potentially get to the Super Bowl with a bit of luck. Like a lot of Week 1 matchups, this game is a bit of a coin flip (and the betting agrees), but I think Washington are the slightly better team and at home with momentum in the series I'll take them to grab the W. Pick: REDSKINS
TouchdownTips: The Redskins have had a difficult offseason and although I like Kirk Cousins as a QB and I like their receivers on paper, they have to actually catch the ball which proved a real struggle when I watched them close up against the Bengals in week 3 of the preseason. Bookies are taking a heck of a lot of money on the Eagles to beat their season win totals and I can see why as they have improved all over and QB Carson Wentz wasn’t bad last year as a rookie, he just didn’t have pass catchers who could actually catch the ball. WR Alshon Jeffery was added in free agency to remedy that and this matchup could come down to which team gets more from their new additions like him. I’m not quite buying the Eagles love though as it’s a very tough division to overcome. They’ve gained support in the market for this game though, as they were underdogs a few weeks back, but have now gone favourites. However, the recent record and being on the road means I’m against them. Pick: REDSKINS
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS AT LOS ANGELES RAMS
The Colts lead the all-time series between the teams 23-18-2 but as both teams are in opposite conferences they have not met since 2013 when the Rams won 38-8.
The Rams only won one game in their first season back in Los Angeles last year. This will be Sean McVay’s debut as Head Coach for the Rams, he is the youngest Head Coach (31 but was 30 when hired back in January) in modern NFL history. McVay was previously the Offensive Coordinator for the Washington Redskins.
It was confirmed this week that Colts Quarterback Andrew Luck will miss the game as he is still recovering from a shoulder problem. This also seen a reformed market and the handicap has performed a complete turnaround with the Rams now favourites. The total points market also seen a 5 point cut.
Handicap: Ram -3.5
Total Points: 41.5
Rams - 11/20 with Boylesports
Colts - 17/10 with bet365
CONSENSUS: 6-1 RAMS
Gman84: We’ve discussed this game a fair bit on the OLBG forums and a few of us have steamed into a decent price on the Rams as a few bookies got spooked and suspended the market. The Colts could be in real trouble without QB Andrew Luck and even when (or if) he returns I don’t see them fairing much better. He’s a sticking plaster on a roster that needs some serious surgery whereas the Rams have been off to LA’s finest plastic surgeons (although holdout DT Aaron Donald is a big miss if he doesn’t report) this offseason and I can see a decent turnaround occurring under new Head Coach Sean McVay. Pick: RAMS
Jim Brown: I covered this in my Underdog Blog although the underdog price has long since gone!, With Andrew Luck not even close to recovering from injury I am looking forward to seeing what an improved defense is going to do to the O-line that allowed Luck's injury in the first place! Pick: RAMS (NAP)
undertherobe: Andrew Luck is out at QB and Scott Tolzien starts in his place for the Colts. Tolzien has 2 touchdowns and 7 interceptions from just 128 regular season passes and how anyone can back the Colts in this one is beyond me? Their offensive line is dreadful and if Tolzien makes it through this game in one piece it will be a miracle. The Rams defense will have a field day which will take the pressure off an offense which ranked last in points scored last year. Pick: RAMS(NAP)
Lazarus76: This one looks a bit of a stinker. The fact that QB Andrew Luck is missing for the Colts changes things for me as I’m no fan of the Rams and I don’t get what many so called experts have seen to predict the Rams as a team in for a good season. Having said that, playing at home and going against a Colts team with Scott Tolzien at the helm should be enough for a win to start 2017 off on a positive note. Pick: RAMS
toadie21: The Colts will be without QB Andrew Luck but this is a situation that they have dealt with previous and have likely known was happening for most of the preseason, they’ve just played it coy. The Rams couldn't get anything going on offence and until I see improvement I’m remaining skeptical. Tough to pick a winner with these two maybe best bet here would be the under on total points. Pick: COLTS
Arniehi: The Rams are trending up whilst the Colts, affected by injuries are trending down! Without star QB Andrew Luck, who's out injured, Scott Tolzien will start at QB for Indianapolis! I’m sure Colts fans are overjoyed… I really expect QB Jared Goff to improve on last year, and with the addition of WR Sammy Watkins, plus some receiving options via the draft, the Rams (hopefully) won't be too reliant on RB Todd Gurley, who had a disappointing second season as he suffered from literally no help around him. Bit of an 'urgh' game, but I can't trust the Colts D or Tolzien. Pick: RAMS
TouchdownTips: The Rams may actually have some kind of offensive ambition this year. The drafting of Cooper Kupp and Gerald Everett at WR and TE respectively adds options and the signing of WR Sammy Watkins could be a good piece of business if he plays to his potential. Kupp has proven a favourite target in preseason matches, so it would be no surprise to see him heavily targeted here especially against a Colts D missing its top corner in Vontae Davis. The Colts will have to rely on Scott Tolzien at QB - who really isn’t very good - with Luck still out and it could be a long season so if you can find under 8.5 season wins anywhere on them it might be worth an investment on the under. On the plus side for them, greybeard RB Frank Gore is there, as is the league’s leader in receiving yardage from last year, TY Hilton but without a decent QB throwing the ball (and the pass protection is missing it’s best offensive lineman in Ryan Kelly) it could prove too much to overcome. Pick: RAMS
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS AT GREEN BAY PACKERS
Live on Sky Sports Arena.
A meeting of the two teams with the most wins in the NFC in the past five years. The Packers hold the all-time lead in the series 17-10 and have won the last two regular season matchups but the Seahawks last win was in the 2014 seasons NFC Championship Game.
However, the Seahawks have not won in Green Bay since 1999 with 5 straight losses in the regular season and 2 in the postseason also. The Packers have the best home record in the NFC over the past 10 years.
Handicap: Packers -3
Total Points: 50.5
Seahawks - 29/20 with William Hill
Packers - 13/20 with Marathon Bet
CONSENSUS: 4-3 PACKERS
Gman84: Aaron Rodgers versus the Legion of Boom! Football is back and this is the type of matchup NFL fans have been waiting seven long months for! Both are strong home teams and the Hawks posted a losing record on the road last season. Their defensive line - recently boosted by the trade of Sheldon Richardson from the Jets - could give the Packers fits here though and with former Packers Running Back Eddie Lacy also hoping to exert some revenge on his former team I’m going for a slight shock. I like the look of them with 3 points head start on the handicap at evens with SkyBet. Pick: SEAHAWKS
Jim Brown: A tantalising prospect! They don't meet all that often but the Pack do hold the edge, especially in Wisconsin. The Seattle O-line wasn't really addressed in the off-season and with Green Bay making some moves on defense, this can be a win for the Cheeseheads. Pick: PACKERS
undertherobe: If this is the NFC Championship game in January then I wouldn’t be overly surprised. The addition of Sheldon Richardson (via trade) along the defensive line can’t be overlooked. This looks like a classic matchup of offense vs defense and the Packers boast one of the top QBs in the league. However, I don’t think Russell Wilson gets as much credit as he deserves and I think he can pull apart a secondary which ranked 31st in passing yards allowed last year. Pick: SEAHAWKS
Lazarus76: This is the archetypal battle of offence vs. defence but any team with Aaron Rodgers behind center will be a force and with a fully fit Jordy Nelson to aim for then the Packers will scoring plenty this season. The Seahawks on the other hand are defensively as good as it gets and they will need to be at Lambeau field, another game where home advantage could prove vital in what promises to be a really tight contest. Pick: PACKERS
toadie21: Two NFC juggernauts go head to head here and you know what you're getting with these two teams and both should be contenders in the NFC. I believe the Seahawks are going to have another good season led by their defense and Russell Wilson but it's all about Aaron Rodgers for me - I even like his new moustache! I can’t ignore the Packers home record so at Lambeau Field I’m taking them to get a tough W. Pick: PACKERS
Arniehi: One of the two best games of the weekend and the Seahawks come in to it off a perfect preseason. With a healthy Russell Wilson at QB I really like this Seattle side. How he managed to get through last season is still beyond me as he had virtually zero protection at times. I honestly think he's one of the best QBs in the NFL and an MVP candidate, but unfortunately (for him and the Seahawks), the guy on the other side is the best around and in what I think will end up being the NFC Title match, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers presence alone is enough to convince me will lead the Packers to a win at Lambeau in a thriller. Pick: PACKERS
TouchdownTips: You have to love the Packers brilliant passing game and the addition of the self-styled Black Unicorn - TE Martellus Bennett - could make it even better. QB Aaron Rodgers will love him in the red zone but Jordy Nelson will still be his go-to guy and the matchup with Richard Sherman will be fascinating. The Seahawks boosted their excellent defence by bringing in DL Sheldon Richardson from the Jets late in preseason and they’ll feel they match up well against a Packers O-line which has questions to answer. Offensively, WR Doug Baldwin is QB Russell Wilson’s main man and what makes him and the other Seahawk receivers better than perhaps they are considered by some is their ability to adjust to Wilson’s scrambles, which he’ll have to do a lot as their offensive line is still garbage and got even worse with LT George Fant going down for the season. A tough call as both should be real contenders in the conference, but if pressed for a pick… Pick: SEAHAWKS
CAROLINA PANTHERS AT SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
The Panthers started life in the NFC West as rivals to the 49ers before realignment in 2002. They hold the all-time series lead 12-7 and have won the last 5 regular season meetings (the 49ers won the 2 teams only playoff meeting in 2014 though). The 49ers last win in the series and in Carolina was in 2001.
The 49ers have only won 2 road games in the past two seasons whilst the Panthers won 4 of their 6 wins at home in 2016. The previous year (2015) they were undefeated at home.
Kyle Shanahan makes his debut as a Head Coach for the 49ers. He previously served as the Atlanta Falcons Offensive Coordinator.
Handicap: 49ers +5.5
Total Points: 47.5
Panthers - 4/9 with Coral
49ers - 2/1 with William Hill
CONSENSUS: 7-0 PANTHERS ***Consensus Pick***
Gman84: The Panthers are hoping to be on the rebound from a disappointing 2016 whilst for the 49ers, anything should be better than 2016! I’m interested to see how both teams rushing attacks fare. The Panthers have Cam Newton handing or faking to vet Jonathan Stewart and exciting rookie Christian McCaffrey whilst the 49ers have the proven Shanahan zone stretch scheme to boost their ground attack. Despite being at home I think Shanny Jr has to wait for his debut win and the handicap mark of 5.5 points looks right to me. Pick: PANTHERS
Jim Brown: A full season after the Super Bowl loss the Panthers might now show signs of recovering from it. Cam doesn't seem to hold a fear-factor any more but, seriously, who fears the 49ers? Pick: PANTHERS
undertherobe: Credit to the 49ers, they’re going to suck in 2017 but unlike some other teams, they’re doing their best not to admit it. New Head Coach Kyle Shanahan is on a hiding to nothing on the West Coast and I see this being an ugly season for San Francisco. Carolina are heavily reliant on QB Cam Newton but he’s been dealing with health issues so they need other players to step up. Sometimes with these injuries though, I think the coaches don’t want to give too much away and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Newton come out and throw pretty comfortably. Pick: PANTHERS
Lazarus76: I’m strongly in favour of the Panthers here. The 49ers are very much removed from the force of old and the fact that QB Colin Kaepernick couldn’t keep his job here shows just how bad things are in San Francisco. The Panthers with ‘Superman’ pulling the strings and a deep rushing attack, should have little trouble seeing off the 49ers. Pick: PANTHERS (NAP)
Toadie21: In the 49ers we have another team propping up the OLBG power rankings but I feel that with Kyle Shanahan as Head Coach they will be heading in the right direction this season. Brian Hoyer is at QB and although he will be forever remembered by that playoff horror show for the Texans vs Chiefs, he is a credible QB and played some good ball last year in Chicago. The Panthers and Super Cam still look along way away from their recent Super Bowl run but with their new look rushing attack and facing a team in transition should take the win. Pick: PANTHERS
Arniehi: Carolina were super disappointing last year after making it to the Super Bowl the previous season on the back of 2015 League MVP Cam Newton. He'll put them on his back again this year and I really like the addition of rookie rusher Christian McCaffrey, who is incredibly versatile and makes their rush attack much more dynamic. They're good enough to cope defensively with the very little I like from the 49ers. Carolina by double digits. Pick: PANTHERS
TouchdownTips: Kyle Shanahan takes over at Head Coach for the 49ers and as an experienced OC he should improve this offense. GM John Lynch has been busy in free agency revamping the roster with the likes of QB Brian Hoyer, WR Pierre Garcon and WR Marquise Goodwin. Rookie TE George Kittle is one to keep an eye on this season as they traded away the more experienced Vance McDonald. The Panthers are looking for a change of style to try and protect star QB Cam Newton who can’t keep running the ball and taking concussions like he stupidly did when showboating last season! So they drafted the super-explosive Christian McCaffrey to improve the rush attack. Cam needs to throw to his checkdowns more but that’s one thing McCaffrey brings - good receiving skills - and he should test the Niners defense in underneath coverage. The Panthers should have too much here but I wouldn’t be over-confident about them beating the spread! Pick: PANTHERS
SNF: NEW YORK GIANTS AT DALLAS COWBOYS
Live on Sky Sports Arena.
Another bruising NFC East clash sees both teams who made postseason in 2016 from the division clash on opening weekend. The Cowboys lead the all-time series 62-45-2 but the Giants have won the last 3 meetings. Previous to that streak the Cowboys had won 5 straight over the Giants.
The Giants are 5-3 in Dallas since the Cowboys moved from Texas Stadium to their new home, AT&T Stadium. The Cowboys only home loss last season was to the Giants.
The availability of Wide Receiver Odell Beckham Jr for the Giants is up in the air as he recovers from a preseason injury but he has failed to practice this week (at time of writing). The Cowboys are still fighting tooth and nail to overturn or delay Running Back Ezekiel Elliott’s six game league suspension.
Handicap: Cowboys -4
Total Points: 47.5
Giants - 7/4 with SkyBet
Cowboys - 27/50 with Marathon Bet
CONSENSUS: 7-0 GIANTS ***Consensus Pick***
Gman84: A cracking NFC East matchup featuring two playoff teams from last season finishes off what should be an awesome first Sunday of NFL action. Will Odell Beckham Jr be good to go after a preseason ankle injury? Will Ezekiel Elliott’s team of legal eagles get him on the field with his suspension put on hold (it appears he will play now but can he carry the load?)? Regardless, I have to like the Giants here based purely on defensive ability. They look so much stronger in that regard than Dallas. The Giants have also won the last three although only by a combined 11 points. Pick: GIANTS
Jim Brown: Game of the Week and worthy of this Sunday Night slot! Sadly, as a Cowboys fan, I think it'll go the way of the Giants. I'm really impressed with the look of their offense and the addition of Tight End Evan Engram from the draft make for a passing game that is simply mouth-watering. Eli is a Super Bowl QB and has he finally, once more, got a Super Bowl offense at his disposal. Pick: GIANTS
undertherobe: It appears Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott can play in this matchup after appearing like his suspension would hold him out but how fit and focused is he? The Cowboys might need to use QB Dak Prescott more and he had a great rookie year in 2016, but NFL defenses will be more than prepared for him in 2017 and he’ll be expected to run the offense much more than he did last season. The Giants have made some huge improvements across the board for this year and they’re appearing as a trendy pick for the Super Bowl. Their run game will still be pretty shoddy, but QB Eli Manning should have a field day with the number of targets at his disposal. Pick: GIANTS
Lazarus76: Another cracking looking contest. I’m not convinced that QB Dak Prescott can carry this team without Ezekiel Elliott but he may have gotten off the hook with news of his suspended suspension! The Giants have got a very good recent record in this battle and I’m sure egomaniac WR OBJ will want to put his name in lights (if fit) in this primetime game. It’s no secret that I’m no fan of the Cowboys and I’m not about to change my tune now. Pick: GIANTS
toadie21: The Giants were the Cowboys kryptonite last season, sweeping the series and considering the Cowboys only lost three regular season games that’s pretty significant. The Cowboys looked likely to be without RB Ezekiel Elliott which would have been a huge blow as the offence was built off of his outstanding ability but even with his suspension on hold I’m not sure he’s ready to make the difference his ability should do. His back-ups are capable but they don’t possess his game breaking ability to turn a game. This could make the Cowboys a bit one dimensional and plays into the hand of the Giants pass defence which is really good. Pick: GIANTS
Arniehi: The other big game of the weekend. The Giants did the double over the Cowboys last year and are looking even better this time around. They're a sleeper for the Super Bowl, but the Cowboys will be buoyed that they have RB Ezekiel Elliott available for this one despite a 6-game ban. Their offensive line is very, very good, and that battle with the Giants D-line is going to be the key. I like how stacked the Giants are on offense and having the best of recent history on their side, they’re the pick. Pick: GIANTS
TouchdownTips: The Cowboys start their NFC East defence looking to be the first team in 14 attempts to keep hold of their title. Even with RB Zeke Elliott cleared to play its not clear how many carries he’ll get but whoever is running behind an OL need to produce in order to give them the balance they want. I’m also not sure that famed O-line is as good as last year with a couple of key changes! QB Dak Prescott has looked solid in preseason though and might have to take more of the load. The Giants are stacked on offense now and this game could be a shootout if both offenses find their stride. If Giants WR Odell Beckham were to miss this game with a high ankle sprain that would be a blow but Manning still has some good targets to aim at and rookie TE Evan Engram is a player a lot of us at OLBG really like the potential of. Their Offensive line isn’t great so Dallas will want to attack that, nor is their running game which could prove to be an issue, but their Defence is great and I like it’s ability to stop Dallas better than I like Dallas’ ability to stop the Giants. The Cowboys are actually favourites as well so you can take the Giants and have a head start! Pick: GIANTS
MNF: NEW ORLEANS SAINTS AT MINNESOTA VIKINGS
The Adrian Peterson Bowl! The former Vikings Running Back and future Hall of Famer plays his first game on a different team...in Minnesota!
The Vikings lead this series 18-10 but have lost the last 3 regular season meetings and last 4 if postseason meetings are taken into account (although they lead that series as well 2-1).
The last meeting between the teams was in 2014 and the Vikings last victory on home turf over the Saints was back in 2005 although the Saints have only ever won 3 times in Minnesota in 14 attempts.
Handicap: Vikings -3
Total Points: 48
Saints - 6/4 with William Hill
Vikings - 8/13 with SkyBet
CONSENSUS: 5-2 VIKINGS
Gman84: I love the way the NFL schedule does this. A star leaves his long time team and their first game for their new team...is against their old team! Adrian Peterson would like to get one up on his old team for sure and I’ll be watching with interest to see how much the Saints run the ball. However, the recent suspension of Saints Wide Receiver Willie Snead could be a factor here as the Saints receiving options look dramatically reduced. I just think the combination of a strong Vikes defense and good home record will be too much for Brees and AP to overcome. Pick: VIKINGS
Jim Brown: Two points only make my pick for this one; 1) Even the best defenses can't stop the Saints scoring, and 2) The Vikings don't score many and don't possess the type of offense to match Brees and Co. Pick: SAINTS
undertherobe: Minnesota’s defense is going to win them games, starting with week one. Saints QB Drew Brees is going to continue to throw the ball for fun, despite the addition of ex-Viking RB Adrian Peterson. However, how the Saints o-line performs against this defense is up for debate and in another battle of offense vs defense, I’ve got to go with my old favourite of defense. Pick: VIKINGS
Lazarus76: Quite simply if the Saints haven’t learnt how to play on the road then no matter how talented QB Drew Brees is they will continue to struggle. The Vikings are exactly what I call exciting and should they play how they have for the last few years they’ll edge their way to a narrow victory here. Pick: VIKINGS
toadie21: The return of Vikings legend Adrian Peterson is the big pre-game story but how he fits into the Saints offence is going to be the story that matters. Looking at the bigger picture rather than just Adrian Peterson and it feels like this is about the Saints offence versus the Vikings defence and these situations I believe it pays to back the defence especially when at home. Pick: VIKINGS
Arniehi: AP is back in Minnesota and he is a good pickup for the Saints, bringing more balance to the offense, but their offensive line needs to improve and the Vikings D are going to be all over them in my mind. Saints QB Drew Brees is a fantastic passer and will continue to put up big numbers this year, but I struggle to see the Saints beating decent teams and they'll have a year that will probably be what they have for the last few seasons - average to poor (but exciting to watch). Vikings QB Sam Bradford can produce just enough to get the Vikings over the line here, and with home advantage I must side with them. Pick: VIKINGS
TouchdownTips: The Vikings are a hard team to get a feel for entering the season. QB Sam Bradford set a completion record last season but didn’t make enough big plays. He’s got a full offseason with the team under his belt coming into this season and has some good receivers to work with. They’ll look to lean on an improved rush attack with OROY candidate Dalvin Cook teaming up with former Raider Latavius Murray. The Vikes defense is its strength still though and how it contains Saints QB Drew Brees and the Saints own revamped rush attack, featuring with former Viking Adrian Peterson, vet Mark Ingram and rookie Alvin Kamara (as a strong receiving option out of the backfield) will be the key to who gains traction on the field and gets the upper hand. The Saints own D has looked dodgy for what seems like years and remains a question here but the Saints offense is such that, If the D can hold teams to average points, they’ll do well. With the advantage of the spread (Saints are -3.5 at time of writing) I think there is enough juice to take them for the win here and I like Ted Ginn Jr for an anytime TD scorer depending on odds. Pick: SAINTS
MNF: LOS ANGELES CHARGERS AT DENVER BRONCOS
An AFC West rivalry sees the newest LA team go on the road to make it’s debut representing it’s new city. The Broncos lead the all-time series 63-50-1 and they’ve also won 5 of the last 6 although the series was split last season with both teams winning at home.
The Chargers haven’t tasted victory in Denver since 2013. The Broncos have 33 home victories in the last 5 seasons, second only to the Seahawks and Patriots (34 home wins each).
Handicap: Broncos -3.5
Total Points: 43.5
Chargers - 6/4 with William Hill
Broncos - 8/13 with SkyBet
CONSENSUS: 4-3 CHARGERS
Gman84: If you like watching Quarterback getting clobbered this might well be the game for you. Denver will be sending Defensive MVP contender Von Miller after Philip Rivers whilst the Chargers will be hoping Broncos QB Trevor Siemian is the meat in a Joey Bosa/Melvin Ingram sandwich. As strong as Denver’s D has been in recent years I really like the look of what the Chargers are building on that side of the ball and despite being on the road I think they rack up a shock first win representing the city of Los Angeles. Pick: CHARGERS
Jim Brown: Is this that season too far for Rivers? The old-man has performed admirably in a team that was never all that good, which is a shame because in a better team Rivers could well have been in a Super Bowl. I just don't see a team that relies so heavily on the pass doing so well. The QB issue in Denver kinda spoils the pick a little but I think the defense may just carry the Broncos home in a fixture that's kind to them. Pick: BRONCOS
undertherobe: I’m not overly enamoured with Trevor Siemian at QB for the Broncos and it’s not much of a stretch for me to admit that I’d be far more confident of taking Denver if they went with Big Bad Brock at QB. Osweiler is back at a place where he never should have left and I feel pretty confident he’ll end the season as starter. As for this game, the Chargers have plenty of offensive weapons to trouble the Broncos with Rivers at QB, Melvin Gordon at RB & Keenan Allen at WR. Pick: CHARGERS
Lazarus76: For me, the Chargers continue to be one of the most overrated teams in the league and I just don’t see what many others do. QB Philip Rivers is well past his best and could be in for a rough night should the Broncos star pass rusher Von Miller help inspire his defence to come to play. Mile High is a really tough place to go and I just don’t see how the Chargers can get anything from this game. Pick: BRONCOS
toadie21: The Chargers had some terrible luck last season. It seemed that every week another starter was ruled out with injury yet they were competitive with 7 of their 11 losses being decided by a touchdown or less (they did give the Browns their only win though!). They could be a bit of a dark horse this season. I'm taking them to shock the Broncos in this matchup with their known offensive abilities and under-the-radar defense giving Broncos starting QB Trevor Siemian fits. Pick: CHARGERS
Arniehi: The Chargers are bad - there are so few positives in their team outside of QB Philip Rivers and they will struggle against this Denver defense. I'm surprised the line is so small for the Broncos, who I expect to win this easily, and am all over that line. Denver are trending down since their Super Bowl win a couple of years back, but I still can't see any reason to take them on here. Pick: BRONCOS
TouchdownTips: The Broncos are going with Trevor Siemian at QB. Can he make good use of the Broncos fine pair of Wide Receivers? The Broncos rush game is average so can CJ Anderson, with possible help from form Chief Jamaal Charles deliver enough production? I feel Siemian would really benefit from an effective TE as a reliable short range option. Their defence is still awesome though so they won’t need to score a huge amount of points to win games. Still, I really like the Chargers and Philip Rivers at QB is good at two things - making babies and throwing the rock! He has a fine receiver corps to aim at and RB Melvin Gordon, who scored 12 TD’s last year to tote the rock. He’s likely the best way to attack Denver’s strong D. I like him as an anytime TD scorer and I like the Chargers with a 3.5 spread to what some might see as a surprise here! Pick: CHARGERS
Summary and Betting Tips
So there you have it! Our seven members have come together and you can feel a slight weariness regarding it being the first week and the lack of form or belief in preseason means we invariably jump back to what we know, which is what most of these teams or players showed us last year. No doubt though that Week 1 will have its share of thrills and spills, shocks and surprises.
Still, the panel have managed to agree on a consensus acca with the FALCONS, STEELERS, TEXANS, PANTHERS and (maybe most surprisingly) the GIANTS giving us a fivefold to offer. It’s a acca that pays approximately 8/1 on the money line, depending on your bookmaker. Take them on the handicap and those odds increase into the tasty regions of approximately 24/1!
Fancy being even braver? Then add our next two best selections (6-1 majority) in the RAMS and REDSKINS and that sevenfold pays approximately 25/1 on the money line and 90/1 on the handicap.
Braver still!? Add our 5-2 majority picks of the BILLS and VIKINGS and the ninefold pays approximately 51/1 on the money line and 323/1 on the handicap! There are two 9 point spreads to cover there though (Steelers and Bills) and that could prove tough but if it’s a longshot you seek…
We also have our NAP selections. The FALCONS have three panel members believing they are the best bet of the week and RAMS also have good support. The TEXANSand PANTHERS make up the a possible fourfold that pays 3/1 on the money line and 12/1 on the handicap.
Finally, the single of the week has to be the consensus choice of the GIANTS who can be backed either at 7/4 on the straight or you can take just under evens and have a 4 point head start so a close loss doesn't catch you out.
I would advise readers to treat Week 1 with the respect it deserves though. It’s great to have the NFL back but like a grumpy dog who has been disturbed by the postman in the morning, it can (and will) bite and it can bring a bit of a shock to punters! In other words, don’t go in all guns blazing, let's get the lay of the land and pick our moment (or week) to attack.
Enjoy the games and good luck with whatever you back.
|CONSENSUS||MAJORITY (+6-1)||MAJORITY (+6-1 & 5-2)||NAP|
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You can follow me on Twitter @ChrisJBrophy.
Massive NFL and horse racing fan, more likely to discuss NFL and happy to share my thoughts.
Apr 23rd, 2018, 4 comments