Category Archives: McGon’s Picks

McGon’s Picks: NFL Week 3

Week 1 was a minor setback for a major comeback…

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…for the Cowboys, and for myself.

After a Week 1 that was (predictably) unpredictable, Week 2 went much more as planned. I went 12-3-1 straight up, and 9-7 against the spread. Had the Vikings not missed that chip shot field goal and the Lions not backdoor covered against the Niners, my good week could have been even greater. Here’s a look back at the picks I made (correct pick in blue, incorrect pick in red, push in green):

Ravens at Bengals (Pick ‘Em)

Chiefs at Steelers (-4)

Colts (+6) at Redskins

Eagles at Buccaneers (+3)

  • FINALLY beat Nick Foles!

Dolphins at Jets (-3)

Chargers at Bills (+7.5)

Texans at Titans (+3.5)

Panthers (+5.5) at Falcons

  • I should note that I actually ended up wagering on Falcons -5.5 due to intel from someone who knows more than me, but out of being true to my original picks I’m not gonna change and say I won for this blog.

Browns at Saints (-9.5)

Vikings (-1.5) at Packers

  • Good thing I didn’t have money on this pick, cause that would have been a tough loss.

Cardinals at Rams (-12)

Lions at 49ers (-6)

Raiders (+5.5) at Broncos

Patriots at Jaguars (+2)

Giants at Cowboys (-3)

Seahawks at Bears (-5)

2018 Straight-Up: 19-11-2, 2018 Vs. Spread: 15-16-1

Onto Week 3.

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Jets at Browns (-3)

  •  Browns 21, Jets 17
  •  2-0 to start the week, how ’bout them Brownies!

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Bengals at Panthers (-3)

  • Beware of the Bengals this year, but I’m shocked this spread is so low. The Bengals have looked good but I don’t hear many people praising them so far, and the Panthers have looked as we thought they would, a potential playoff team. The Panthers are much better at home, and with a spread this low, I’m definitely taking Carolina.

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Saints at Falcons (-3)

  • Coming into the year, I knew the Falcons would be a hot/cold team. I thought the Saints would be much more predictable, but after the first two weeks I don’t think I can say that. So in other words, I would avoid betting this game. However, my pick is the Falcons. These teams are pretty even in my mind. The Falcons are at home, and being this matchup is almost always won by the home side, I’m taking Atlanta.

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Titans at Jaguars (-9.5)

  • Granted one game was in Week 2 and the other was meaningless in Week 17, but the Titans gave the Jags fits last year. Therefore, I think this game will be within a score throughout. However, this Jags team may just be too good, and the Titans stink on the road, so I think the Jags will pull away late to win and cover.

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Broncos at Ravens (-5)

  • While I’m sure they are better than last year, this Broncos season is off to a similar start as it was in 2017. 2 home wins before hitting the road, which is when it all went down hill last year. After a tough road test in Week 2, I think the Ravens pick up where they left off in Week 1 and return home to win and cover.

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Bills at Vikings (-16.5)

  • In what could be the biggest spread of the season, I would not recommend wagering on either side. The Vikings have to win by 3 scores, and the Bills, well the Bills are horrible. However, my pick is with the Vikings cause I think they will absolutely blow them out at home.

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49ers (+6.5) at Chiefs

  • I wish I could have rooted for the Chiefs last week, cause I love them and Mahomes and hate the Steelers. So you’d think I’m gonna hammer them after my mistake of a pick last week right? Nope. The public was (and still sort of it) hammering Chiefs a few days ago, but the public perception has moved a little more in the Niners direction, meaning sharp bettors may see something in San Fran here. I think the Chiefs definitely win, but I’m picking the Niners to cover.

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Colts (+7) at Eagles 

  • With Carson Wentz back under center, the Eagles should eventually return to last season’s form. However, I think he will definitely be a little rusty to start, and with the way the Colts looked last week, I’m confident that they will cover. However, the Eagles are home and a much better team, so I like them to win (but I sure don’t like them!).

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Raiders at Dolphins (-3)

  • What an impressive performance by the Dolphins last week after the Jets were the talk of the NFL during the week leading up. The Raiders were looking great on the road in Denver before going full Raiders and blowing that lead. I think they proved that they are better than people give them credit for though, and they will keep this close. However, I think the Dolphins stay hot and win and cover at home.

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Giants (+6.5) at Texans

  • This game presents a very similae matchup for the Giants as last week’s did, and that has nothing to do with it being a road game in Texas. The Texans have a great D-Line and an offense that so far has not lived up to the hype. So matchup wise, I see the Texans winning, but I feel like they have to get OBJ and Barkley going at some point. They will fight to avoid 0-3 and cover.

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Packers at Redskins (+2.5)

  • Upset pick of the week right here. Honestly, I have no clue how this spread is so low, but I think I may have an idea what Vegas is thinking. The Packers just played two very intense home games against division rivals which were decided by a total one one point, and their QB is banged up. Combine all these factors and then send them on the road for the first time, I think this could be a let down week. My pick is the R-words to score the upset.

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Chargers at Rams (-7)

  • The Battle for the City of Angels! I’m sure Southern California is absolutely buzzing this week in anticipation for this matchup. It’s a shame that that was a sarcastic statement, because these are two playoff caliber teams in my mind. However, I think the absence of Joey Bosa has slowed down the Chargers early. The Rams look amazing, and I think they win and cover at home (TBT to San Diego Chargers vs. St. Louis Rams).

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Bears at Cardinals (+4.5)

  • After two great performances in prime time, how will the Bears respond in maybe the most forgotten game of the week? Consider we still have not seen much out of this Bears offense, this is a lot of points to be giving on the road. I think the Bears win a low scoring game by a field goal, meaning the Cardinals cover in a losing effort.

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Cowboys (+1) at Seahawks

  • I would definitely avoid taking this one, cause I could completely see it going in either direction. The Seahawks could look much better at home, as the strong home/decent road team was a trend even in their elite years. However, I look at the Cowboys having a big matchup advantage in their DLine (6 sacks by 6 players last week) against Seattle’s OLine. Back in Seattle for the first time since that incredible upset in 2014, the Cowboys will edge out Bert’s Seahawks in BTB Bowl II

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Patriots at Lions (+7)

  • This is not why I’m taking the Lions, but Matt Patricia may be out to do the current Patriot assistant coaches a favor on Sunday night. There is big speculation that former Patriot assistants are not nearly as good when they took when they take over a new team without Belichick. If Belichick and the Pats rout Patricia and the Lions, it could hurt current Patriot assistants’ candidacy for future jobs based how this one would be turning out. As for the game, I don’t think the Lions are nearly as bad as they showed Week 1, I think that game got out of hand. With the Patriots struggling, and this being the Lions Super Bowl, the Lions will win Sunday night… against the spread, and the Patriots will win the game.

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Steelers (-1) at Buccaneers

  • I was wrestling back and forth between this game, but ultimately went with the Steelers. Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bucs have looked great, while the Steelers have been absolute mess. The public is hammering Tampa, and the Steelers need a prime time performance to show that they are still one of the best teams in the league despite all this dysfunction. The Steelers will edge out the Bucs on Monday night.

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That’s it for Week 3. Can the Cowboys recapture some Seattle magic?

McGon’s Picks: NFL Week 2

Just like the Cowboys and Falcons, it is clear I could have used some more preseason reps…

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…because Week 1 was not my best week of work.

Week 1 will always be unpredictable, as there are a lot of teams that not only do we as fans not know yet, but Vegas does not know yet either. For example: 3 teams (Ravens, Saints, Lions) entered as greater than 7 point favorite at home, and only one of those teams (Ravens) won the game outright. Heck, even the Browns ALMOST won. So since we also do not know what these teams will be like yet, it’s important to not get too stuck up on Week 1 results. Not just saying that cause my Cowboys looked bad, but every year there are teams who start bad but end up being good, and vice versa. In other words, don’t get too caught up in last weeks results when betting this week and in the weeks upcoming. Vegas sometimes overreacts to bad performances early too, so look for value in teams who looked bad last week, and for value in this week’s opponents of teams who looked good last week.

I guess things can only go up from here. I started the year by going 7-8-1 straight up, and 6-9-1 against the spread (which is not very #nice in the gambling world). Here’s a look back at the picks I made (correct pick in blue, incorrect pick in red, push in green):

Falcons (-1) at Eagles

Titans (Pick ‘Em) at Dolphins

Bengals at Colts (Pick ‘Em)

Buccaneers at Saints (-10)

Bills at Ravens (-7.5)

Texans (+6.5) at Patriots

Steelers at Browns (+3.5)

Jaguars (-3) at Giants

49ers at Vikings (-6)

Chiefs (+3.5) at Chargers

Cowboys (+3) at Panthers

Redskins at Cardinals (-2)

Seahawks at Broncos (-3)

Bears at Packers (-6.5)

Jets at Lions (-7)

Rams (-6) at Raiders

2018 Straight-Up: 7-8-1, 2018 vs. Spread: 6-9-1

Time to see if the teams who looked good last week were for real.

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Note: Starting this week, due to time constraints, and in order to give the best picks possible for Sunday’s games, these articles will not come out until after the first game of the week on Thursday night. I will obviously give my honest answer as to what my Thursday pick was in this article. 

Ravens at Bengals (Pick ‘Em)

  • Bengals 34, Ravens 23
  • 2-0 to start the week!

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Chiefs at Steelers (-5.5)

  • Before I talk about this pick, let me give a quick lesson to those who are new to gambling. When I first downloaded the Sports Action app, which shows which percentages of the public are taking a certain team, I used to take the team the public was taking. It is very easy to not realize this, but the reason Vegas makes money is because the public is wrong more than they are right. So when the public is hammering one side, it is usually a good idea to fade the public. Looking at the spread, this game feels like a trap. The Steelers looked subpar last week and are missing Le’Veon Bell, and the Chiefs looked amazing on the road. This spread feels way to far in the Steelers direction after what we saw last week, and the public is hammering Chiefs after last week’s results, so I have a feeling the Steelers will win and cover in this one. James Conner played great in Bell’s absence, the Steelers blew it late, the game was just weird with that weather, and the Steelers have had great success against the Chiefs of late. I’m gonna love watching the Chiefs this year, but my pick is with Pittsburgh.

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Colts (+6) at Redskins

  • When I first wrote this article, my pick was Redskins spread in addition to straight-up. While I don’t think the Redskins are a real threat, they definitely have an underrated roster. I also didn’t (and still don’t) like that the Colts were up 13 last week before giving up 24 unanswered. I know I’ve said don’t base your picks too much on one prior game, but the Bengals performance on Thursday night has me feeling a little better about the Colts covering. We all know Redskin consistency is never guaranteed, and the Colts could have easily won a game against a Bengals team that I now think will be competing for a playoff spot. I still think the Redskins are better, so I’m taking the home team straight-up, but the visiting Colts against the spread.

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Eagles at Buccaneers (+3)

  • I WILL NOT STOP PICKING AGAINST NICK FOLES UNTIL I FINALLY WIN! I don’t want to sound like I’m doubting the Eagles, because it is clear that even if Nick Foles does not play great (like last week), the Eagles defense is good enough to win them games. However, outside of the neutral sited Super Bowl, this will be Nick Foles first road start since his first start last year against the Giants. I don’t think the Bucs will be a playoff team, but you cannot ignore putting up 48 points on the road against one of the NFL’s best defenses from a year ago to start the season. Ryan Fitzpatrick will win the battle of the backups as my pick is the Bucs to stun the Eagles in Tampa.

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Dolphins at Jets (-2.5)

  • How ’bout those Jets? I think that score got a little inflated down the stretch, but what a performance for a young team on the road in prime time against a good home team. The Dolphins showed last week that they want to be a Wild Card contender like 2016 with Ryan Tannehill back under center, but I have the Jets edging out the Dolphins by a touchdown.

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Chargers at Bills (+7)

  • Now, you’re probably thinking I’m hammered while writing this post, but hear me out. The Chargers are coming off a disappointing loss at home, and are still missing Joey Bosa. The Bills got absolutely annihilated in Baltimore, but they are returning home, and you have to think Josh Allen will play better than Nathan Peterman did. While I don’t have the statistics from the past two years, from 2003-2015, underdogs who received less than 25% of the public picks and lost the previous game by 20+ points went 149-98 against the spread, meaning someone who bet $100 on all of those occurrences would have made $4,290. I’m going with statistics that say the Chargers will win, but the Bills will cover.

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Texans at Titans (+3)

  • Another game in which the public is HAMMERING the visitors. The Texans are definitely the better team, but there is a chance we’re crowning DeShaun Watson as an unbelievable talent too soon. The Titans were a bad road team last year like they showed last week, but were low key 6-2 at home last year, with one of those two being a close loss to the Rams. I’m going against the public once again and taking the Titans in an upset.

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Panthers (+6) at Falcons

  • In a game between two of the more hot-and-cold teams in the league, this is a very tough pick to make. The Falcons tend to look better at home than on the road, and they need to bounce back badly after last week, so I like them to win this game. In addition, the Panthers offense not playing great last week is completely flying under the radar due to the fact that the Cowboys offense struggled even more. This spread feels a little too big, so I’m going with the Panthers against the spread, but definitely taking the Falcons to win.

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Browns at Saints (-9.5)

  • I thought the Saints were a lock to cover a big spread last week, but they didn’t even win. However, this week I feel they are that lock. Despite their defense looking very concerning, the Saints offense looked amazing, as Brees, Thomas, and Kamara did great work for my multiple fantasy teams. The Browns don’t have the same potential for offensive explosion that the Bucs do, so I think this is a bad matchup and the Saints will crush the Browns.

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Vikings at Packers

  • The spread for this game is still up in the air due to the injury status of Aaron Rodgers, so I will tweet out my pick before the game @mikejmcgon.

Cardinals at Rams (-13)

  • This is a large spread to cover, but I love the Rams to do so. The Rams crushed the Cardinals twice last year, and I think that Cardinals team was better than this year’s. Also, the Rams looked shaky in the first half last week, but still recovered to win by 20. This Rams team is stacked and I love them to win and cover on Sunday.

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Lions at 49ers (-6)

  • This spread his increased significantly throughout the week after what the Lions showed on Monday night. This has made me skeptical to take the Niners, but I’m sticking with them. Jimmy G didn’t play well against an amazing defense on the road, yet the Niners still only lost by a score. This won’t be a blowout, but Jimmy G and the 49ers will win and cover in their home opener over the Lions who are headed for a long season.

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Patriots at Jaguars (+1)

  • Before the season, I picked the Patriots to win this game after losing their opener to the Texans because no way they would start 0-2. But after that win, I’m looking towards the Jaguars getting revenge and being a bad matchup for the new-ish looking Patriots offense. The Patriots are short at receiver talent right now, and we know the Jaguars are not short of corner talent at all on defense. I think this is a bad matchup early in the season for the Patriots as the Jaguars get the home win.

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Raiders (+6.5) at Broncos

  • I’m not completely sold on the Broncos yet, but I think they showed last week that they will be better this season than last. Also, I think the Raiders will be a mess, but they have enough talent to at least compete, especially in a division game. Combining all of these factors has me picking the Broncos to win by less than a touchdown, meaning the Raiders cover.

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Giants at Cowboys (-3)

  • Shocker right? However, for the reasons I’ll list this is an unbiased pick. How did the Giants look last week? Okay for sure, but the Cowboys performance last week has the Giants sitting on the coolest of thrones. The public and the media love the Giants because of how the Cowboys offense looked last week, completely ignoring that the Giants only touchdown came on a 68 yard run, and Eli Manning completely limits the potential of weapons like OBJ, Shephard, and Engram. The Cowboys offensive performance also completely diminished how good their defense looked on the road against a dual-threat QB like Cam Newton. People always overreact to anything good or bad about the Cowboys, and we’ll see how the season goes, but I think people are completely downgrading the team who has won more games than any NFC team over the past two years because of a bad performance Week 1 on the road against a good defense. The Cowboys won’t light it up, but will look a little better and win by a touchdown Sunday Night in Jerry World.

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Seahawks at Bears (-3.5)

  • The Bears are probably still hurting from that loss last week, but they have to be feeling good about this young team going into the rest of the season now. The Seahawks definitely did not look bad last week, but I still don’t think Russell Wilson will be enough to get them over the hump this season. This game will be close, just like both of these teams’ games last week, but I like the Bears to win by a score, and enough to cover.

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That’s it for Week 2, be back for Week 3. Can the Jalen and the Jaguars get their revenge over Tom, Bill, and the Pats?

 

McGon’s Picks: NFL Week 1

FOOTBALL. IS. BACK.

*cue Chris Berman The Blitz theme*

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While this offseason did not feel as long and painful as last, it still feels great to know we have a full slate of NFL Football this week.

Sports gambling has always been a pretty big industry, especially in football, despite the fact that through last year, the only place where it was legal was Las Vegas. With the huge news this offseason that sports gambling is now legal, and has been passed in New Jersey where a lot of our readers reside, people will be gambling more than ever and will be looking for advice, making a greater need for articles like these.

Last season was the first in which I published my picks every single week for Below the Belt Sports.

Week 1, Week 2, Week 3Week 4Week 5Week 6Week 7Week 8Week 9Week 10Week 11Week 12Week 13Week 14Week 15Week 16Week 17Wild-Card, Divisional, Conference Championships, Super Bowl LII

My first season of picking all 256 regular season NFL games (and then playoffs) was not too shabby. I went 173-83 straight up (178-89 including playoffs), and 125-121-10 against the spread (128-128-11 including playoffs). In the regular season, if I would have bet a $100 base on the straight up winner of every regular season game, I would have been up $1,806, and if I would have stopped after Week 16 since Week 17 is unpredictable, I would have been up $2,176. For those who don’t know, Base Amount means betting, for example, $125 to win $100 if a team is a -125 favorite, or betting $100 to win $125 on a +125 underdog. As for against the spread, going over .500 as I did is definitely respectable when betting every single game. However, this record is proof that it is very hard to win money gambling, and shows why you should not bet every single game against the spread. To bet a spread for either team, the odds are almost always -110 (betting $110 to win $100). If I would have bet $110 to win $100 on every single spread last year, I would have been down over $800. Even the best bettors would be down if they bet the spread of every single game, which is why they don’t give you their picks for every single game. However, since I’m giving my picks for every single game, I’ll do my best to emphasize which games I think are good ones to bet on, and which ones you should probably avoid unless you feel stronger about the pick than I do.

Enough of 2017 though. 2018 is here and there is money to be made. While I won’t be doing a full season preview like I did last year, here are some futures bet which sort of serve as some of my predictions (odds via VegasInsider.com):

New England Patriots to win AFC East (-600)

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Pittsburgh Steelers to win AFC North (-175)

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Houston Texans to win AFC South (+225)

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Los Angeles Chargers to win AFC West (+140)

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Philadelphia Eagles to win NFC East (-145)

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Minnesota Vikings to win NFC North (+125)

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New Orleans Saints to win NFC South (+160)

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Los Angeles Rams to win NFC West (-160)

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New England Patriots to win AFC Championship (+300)

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Philadelphia Eagles to win NFC Championship (+600)

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New England Patriots to win Super Bowl LIII (+700)

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Lets not worry about these though, because Week 1 is here and we have a lot of football on our way!

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Notes:

  • Team in red is predicted winner, spread in red is predicted winner by spread. Also, spreads tend to be slightly different based on the website, so I’m taking mine from The Action Network.
  • Since these articles will likely be posted on Thursdays, there is still time for the spreads to change before the Sunday games. For the most part, the only time I may change my pick straight up or against the spread is if the spread shifts largely, likely due to the status of a key player. If I do change one of my picks, I will mention it on my twitter account, @mikejmcgon.
  • Even if there are no player status changes, spreads commonly change by half a point or a full point (in either direction) between Thursday and Sunday. So while I may be taking the Titans -1.5 today, if the spread moves to Titans -2 or Titans -1, the spread at kickoff is officially the one I’ll be picking when keeping track of win and losses for this blog.
  • Tip: If you actually place a bet Thursday though at Titans -1.5, you are locked into that spread whether it changes or not. Only reason I’m allowing mine to adjust is because if I was actually betting these games, I would be taking them right before the games at the final spread, and not on Thursday.

Falcons (+1) at Eagles

  • Man, you have to feel for the Falcons going into Thursday night. This was supposed to be the night last year that they were going to receive their Super Bowl LI rings, and a year later, they have to watch the Eagles get their rings after being knocked out by them in last year’s playoffs. If you read my blogs during last year’s playoffs, you know I basically said Nick Foles and the Eagles had no shot to win against the Falcons and Vikings, and would keep it close but lose to the Patriots. Obviously, I was proven wrong in all 3 cases. So should you believe me saying that I won’t be proven again wrong this time? Maybe not, but based on what we have seen in the preseason, I don’t think we will be seeing the same Nick Foles that we saw in the NFC Championship and Super Bowl. You can’t deny what Foles did in those games, but you also can’t deny how he played for the Eagles prior to those games, and how he has been no better than an average QB in his 7 seasons in the league. Nick Foles is a perfectly fine backup, but after a long offseason and seeing what he has done in the preseason, I think we can all agree that if Foles is your QB for 16 games, your team is probably going no further than Wild-Card Weekend. The Falcons are one of the league’s best teams on their good days, yet are a below average team on their bad ones. So while you don’t know what you are getting, I think they come in knowing that they could have won that playoff game (despite playing terribly on offense) and show some offensive fire power on Thursday night to beat the Foles-led Eagles.

Titans (-1.5) at Dolphins

  • Alright, I promise none of these explanations will be as long as the last one. While Week 1 can be unpredictable and big for home teams pulling upsets, this pick is a no brainer to me. The Titans roster is better than the Dolphins is almost every facet, and yet this game is essentially a Pick ‘Em. The Titans were a playoff team last year, and many people feel they will be a better team this year, while most people are picking the Dolphins to win no more than 6 games. This is an easy one to me as the Titans win and cover on the road.

Bengals at Colts (-2.5)

  • This game is definitely tough, so I would recommend staying away from it because I think it could go in either direction. However, I think the Colts should win this game. A home Colts team that on paper should be better than the Bengals with Andrew Luck back in the lineup. The Bengals are better than bad, but tend to under perform a lot and are not a smart team to bet on. The Colts should start the season on a good note with a win and cover.

Buccaneers at Saints (-9.5)

  • This is a big spread, and I don’t think the Saints blow the Bucs out, but I still think they should definitely cover at home. Ryan Fitzpatrick is a solid veteran backup and has been preparing as the starter of this game for awhile, so don’t think the Saints are a lock to roll all over the Bucs in this one. However, the Saints are significantly better top to bottom, and even if Fitzpatrick can hold the fort well enough, the Bucs would still be in much better position to cover with Jameis Winston under center. The Saints will win their home opener by somewhere between 10-14 points, which is enough to cover over Tampa.

Bills at Ravens (-7.5)

  • If I learned anything from picking Ravens games last year, they are never a lock to cover, nor is the other team if they are favored. However, I have high confidence that they will do enough to win and cover in this one. The direction of the Bills franchise is by no means in disarray, but this year is not going to be pretty. Nathan Peterman had one of the worst NFL debut’s ever last year against the Chargers, and I do not see much changing against a veteran Ravens defense. The Ravens will easily win and cover in this one. The Bills made the playoffs for the first time in 18 years, but it’s back down to the bottom, because…

Texans (+6) at Patriots

  • UPSET PICK OF THE WEEK RIGHT HERE! You may have noticed earlier in this blog that the Patriots are my pick to win the Super Bowl this year, but I’ve got a weird feeling about the Texans in Week 1. The Texans went into New England last year in Week 3 as 13.5 point underdogs, and it took an incredible Tom Brady touchdown pass with 30 seconds left to keep Houston from winning outright. With many people down on the Patriots this year, and DeShaun Watson coming in with a chip on his shoulder after his promising rookie season ended way too soon, I feel like this is a game the Texans go in and win. The doubters will come in about the Patriots next week, and then they will proceed to win their next 9 in a row (I hope this does not happen, but we all know it probably will).

Steelers at Browns (+4)

  • Now THIS is an interesting Week 1 matchup, and as the spread gets smaller, it gets even tougher to pick. First things first, the Steelers are one of the best teams in the NFL, and the Browns are 1-31 in their last 32 games, so I’m not going against the Steelers outright. However, when the Steelers traveled to Cleveland in Week 1 last year, they only won by 3, and you could definitely make the argument that the Browns are better than last year, and the Steelers have major questions with Le’Veon Bell. All in all, I’m taking the Steelers by a field goal, so the Browns will cover.

Jaguars (-3) at Giants

  • Sure, the Giants upgraded at running back, left tackle, and head coach. But many people are forgetting two things. 1. They won 3 games last year, and were 0-5 before Odell Beckham went down. 2. (most importantly) ELI MANNING IS STILL THEIR QB. I don’t give a single fuck about what has went down in his career, facts are just facts: Eli Manning is currently one of the worst starting QBs in the NFL. And you know who he is going up against Week 1? The best defense in the NFL. The Giants O-Line is improved, but it is still not great, and you need great to stop the Sacksonville line. Jalen Ramsey has a lot of shit talking to back up, and going up against a team who has not scored over 30 points in a game since 2015 should not be the hardest place to start. This will not be a blowout, but the Jaguars will win and cover in East Rutherford.

49ers at Vikings (-6.5)

  • Let me just start this off by saying I think the 49ers we saw at the end of last season were for real, and they are going to be a good team this year. However, they have a tough plate on their hands Week 1. The Vikings have arguably the best roster in the NFL, and have one of the better home field advantages right now in the NFL. Jimmy G and the 49ers played great at the end of last season, but this will be his toughest test yet. The Vikings will start the season strong and beat the Niners at home by 2 scores.

Chiefs (+3.5) at Chargers

  • You may have noticed that I picked the Chargers to win the AFC West this season. That may end up being the case, but you cannot deny how the Chargers have started slow each of the last two seasons. Last season, they were a playoff caliber team by seasons end, but were denied a spot in part because of their 0-4 start. I like what I’ve seen out of Patrick Mahomes, and while he still has a ways to go, I think he starts the season strong and the Chiefs gets the upset win to start the season.

Cowboys (+3) at Panthers

  • Any Cowboys pick will be made with a little heart from me, so read them at your own risk. Another reason this game is not one to bet is because of how unpredictable the Panthers have been over the last two seasons (even more than the Falcons). The past two times the Cowboys have entered the season being considered Super Bowl contenders (2015, 2017), things have not gone so well. However, this last two times there was much doubt and uncertainty coming in (2014, 2016), things have gone incredibly well. This season feels too much like 2014 and 2016 with the uncertainty about how the Cowboys will be without Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, and how Dak Prescott will do in his 3rd season. I think Ezekiel Elliott has a season similar to his rookie year in which he tore up the league with all of the field distractions behind him now, and a major chip on his shoulder. The Cowboys D-Line (which may headed towards top-tier status) will play great against the Panthers’ banged up offensive line, and the Cowboys will earn a close victory in a great game in Carolina on Sunday. I’ve been waiting to get revenge on the Panthers and Cam Newton since the horrid Thanksgiving day you will see below.

Redskins at Cardinals (-1.5)

  • The Cardinals are not a great team to be putting your money on, but I feel good about them winning this game at home. I think the Cardinals are a pretty undervalued team coming into this year. They were very low-key 8-8 last year despite missing Carson Palmer for most of the year, and star running back David Johnson all season. Now they get Johnson back, and have a solid QB in Sam Bradford stepping in. Is Alex Smith better than Kirk Cousins? Maybe, but he does not really make the Redskins any better. I like the Cardinals to get the win.

Seahawks at Broncos (-3)

  • Of all the games on the schedule, this is the one I would definitely not bet, because you really have no clue what you are getting with either former elite team. The Seahawks have lost all of the pieces that led the Legion of Boom, but they still have Pete Carroll and one of the game’s best QBs, Russell Wilson. The Broncos offense looks like it could be a mess, but they still have a good defense, and whether we ever see the old Case Keenum again or not, we have seen flashes of a good QB. Ultimately, I’m picking the home team Broncos to finally get Super Bowl XLVIII revenge over the Seahawks.

Bears at Packers (-7.5)

  • While I do think the Bears will prove to be a team on the rise by year’s end, it is still only Week 1. I’m not making predictions as to how Mitch Trubisky will fare in year 2, but an unproven QB going into a prime time game in Green Bay to start the year does not sound like the most promising sign. Khalil Mack is obviously a major addition to the Bears defense, but he still obviously has to adjust to a brand new system. And with #12 back at QB for the Packers, there is no way I’m going against them. The Packers will win and cover over their biggest rivals on Sunday night.

Jets at Lions (-6.5)

  • If this game were to be played with the same spread in a few weeks, I think I would definitely take the Jets. Sam Darnold would have a few games under his belt, and the Lions are not exactly known to be a team who heats up as the season goes on. However, the Lions tend to be a much better home team, especially early in the year, and with Sam Darnold making his first career start in prime time, I think signs point towards a Lions win and cover.

Rams (-4) at Raiders

  • Before the Raiders traded Khalil Mack, I was going to pick them to score the upset. Prime time, home game, Jon Gruden’s first game in 10 years on the telecast he has called for the last 10, it all seemed to perfectly add up to Raider Nation going crazy before getting their hearts crushed by season’s end. While I still believe some of this to be true, the Mack trade definitely does not help the Raiders against a team as loaded as the Rams. The Rams will earn a one score victory, and enough to cover.

That’s it for Week 1. Be back for Week 2 to see how amazing I did and how great Week 2’s picks will be. Can the Falcons get their revenge in pursuit of becoming the first team to host and play in the same Super Bowl?