Week 1 is finally upon us, and so is the chance to win some money!
Much as we did last year, we will bring you our best spread picks every week. After coming in with profit last season the stakes are raised this year as we aim to get over 52% in all our picks, not just the three best bets.
For those that don’t know quite what spread betting is, it’s a little more difficult than simply picking winners and losers. The bookmaker sets a points line, and you have to pick one side of it. So if the line is Team A (-3), Team B (+3), then you can either say that Team A will win by more than three points, or that Team B’s score will be more than Team A’s if you add three points to it.
The line for Thursday night’s opener in Foxboro has New England as nine point favorites, so I can either wager that the Patriots will win by 10 or more, or that the Chiefs score will be within eight of the Patriots (nine points pushes the bet).
It sounds simple to pick, but it’s really not and that’s why it’s fun to try to pick them.
We come into Week 1 with very little actual information about the teams. Oh, we have last year’s tape, and we have all got our conjecture on what the rookies and new signings can mean for teams, but in terms of actual performance, we just don’t know. What we do know though, is that a handful of teams are going to be good, and a handful of teams are going to be very bad. Let’s lean on those in Week 1. As always, the home team is in caps.
Atlanta Falcons (-7) over CHICAGO BEARS
The Falcons were on the cusp of triumph last season, only to taste the bitterest of defeats. Coming into the 2017 season, they are largely unchanged offensively, and have added even more young talent to a defense was already brimming with it.
Matt Ryan may no longer have Kyle Shanahan calling the shots, but he still has Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman, and Austin Hooper around him to give opposing defenses fits.
Speaking of opposing defenses, the Bears have Pernell McPhee set to return, though he missed all of camp with a knee injury so just how long it will take him to get up to playing speed we don’t know. With the investment of draft capital and free agency dollars going into the quarterback position there was little left to help the defense, and while Quintin Demps is a nice addition, he’s not going to bring the kind of impact the Bears need to try to slow down the offensive talents of the Falcons.
Carolina Panthers (-5.5) over SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
There is a lot of buzz around Carolina’s offense this season due not just to Cam Newton’s talents but also the addition of Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel who inject some explosiveness and versatility to the offensive game plan.
They are the sort of players that Kyle Shanahan would love to have in his offense, but the San Francisco rebuilding project is a long way from putting together a foundation strong enough to allow the talents of a McCaffrey to really take off.
For as good an offensive coordinator as Shanahan is, we have no idea how he can handle calling the shots for a whole team, or just what he can do with Brian Hoyer, Carlos Hyde, and very little else.
The Panthers are healthy right now, and with Luke Kuechly, Cam Newton, and a good defensive line, they are in a position to dominate this game.
Pittsburgh Steelers (-9) over CLEVELAND BROWNS
Speaking of dominating, the Killer B’s are back in Pittsburgh and ready to go to work. Le’Veon Bell sat out training camp, but he has now signed his franchise tag and is back at work, but it’s not only him. Martavis Bryant is back as well, giving the Steelers even more firepower with which to carve a path to the Super Bowl.
In their way is a young, hungry, and confident Browns side. A 4-0 preseason, another injection of youth and another new quarterback have some positive vibes spreading from the Factory of Sadness, but this game is too much for them.
I think the likes of Myles Garrett, Jabrill Peppers, Christian Kirksey, and Jamie Collins are very talented, but a lack of depth and an inconsistent offense is going to end up keeping this game firmly in the pocket of the Steelers.
Rest of the picks
Chiefs (+9) over PATRIOTS
Cardinals (-2) over LIONS
BENGALS (-3) over Ravens
TEXANS (-5.5) over Jaguars
BILLS (-9.5) over Jets
Raiders (+2) over TITANS
Eagles (-1) over REDSKINS
RAMS (-3.5) over Colts
Seahawks (+3) over PACKERS
Giants (+4) over COWBOYS
Saints (+3.5) over VIKINGS
Chargers (+3.5) over BRONCOS
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