Week 1 is upon us and it is a glorious time. Trying to identify changes before the market can adjust is one of the biggest edges you can find when analyzing sports. Week 1 is a chance to go out on a limb and try to identify edges that others have yet to see. Some people pick every game and others just pick simply based on conviction. I will be picking my favorite 5 spread bets going into this week in no particular order.
Steelers (-4) Vs. Browns
Now, everyone is on the Brown’s hype train and I am waiting to hop on. The Browns are a pretty talented team that I think has playoff potential. Too bad the coaching staff is HORRIBLE. Gregg Williams, the defensive coordinator of the Browns, is completely incompetent when it comes to defensive coverage. He barely even cares what the other team does. He just “runs his schemes.” That doesn’t work. Your 0-16 “scheme” isn’t good enough to just cover a cowboys offense focused around Ezekiel Elliott, a pass-heavy 49er’s offense, and an elite receiver like Julio Jones without making any adjustments.
Anyone that suggests that is possible is delusional and I think the Steelers can take advantage of that. The Steelers have let go of Todd Haley, which should only benefit their offense and I think that this game will be high scoring, at least from the Steelers side. The potential loss of Le’Veon Bell is also baked into this line and I am not concerned about that. The Steelers are very talented and James Connor can easily fill in for Bell. I think this game will be high scoring, so 4 points isn’t a big enough spread for a game featuring a top-tier offense vs. a bad defensive scheme.
Chiefs Vs. Chargers (-3)
The Chargers are one of the most well-rounded teams in football and the Chiefs are not there yet. Mahomes, Hill, Hunt, and Kelce are a great offense to lean on in the future, but the Chargers defense is too good to be truly burned by the Chiefs. I think the other side of the ball is the big mismatch. The Chiefs defense is not good, as showcased vs. the Bears 3rd string team in the third preseason game. Tyler Bray and Chase Daniels destroyed some of these Chiefs’ starters and I expect the Chargers to score here. Melvin Gordon is setting up to make another jump into the bell-cow RB category and the receivers are talented. Keenan Allen is the clear #1 option, but there are other weapons, including last year’s #7 overall pick Mike Williams.
Seahawks vs. Broncos (-3)
The Broncos are getting better and the Seahawks are worse. The Seahawks are without a true RB option and have lost weapons. Doug Baldwin was banged up in the preseason and will be “80%” moving forward. Russ Wilson can carry this team, but the Broncos offense looked better in the preseason with a real QB and the Seahawks defensive is basically dead and gone. I think the Broncos have the potential to run away with this game on Sunday afternoon.
Tennessee Titans (-1) Vs. Miami Dolphins
The Titans have an offense with a lot of “good” options. All we need is one or two of these players to establish themselves as “the guy.” Until then, they scare me against good teams, but the Dolphins aren’t good enough to scare me away. Devante Parker is out. Ryan Tannehill is fine. Kenyan Drake may be good. Danny Amendola probably isn’t as talented as we think. I just think the Dolphins need time to gel and the Titans are basically the same team. The Titans are young and growing and they should only get better as time goes on. They are going to win this game, so (-1) is good enough for me.
Los Angeles Rams (-4.5) Vs. Oakland Raiders
Jon Gruden isn’t the savior. Sean McVay may be the savior. The Rams have upgraded on both sides of the ball, gotten an extra year of experience with their franchise quarterback, and get more time with their young head coach. This is the first game of the year, which means they have had time to prepare for each other all offseason. In this aspect, the Rams should destroy the Raiders. I think the overwhelming talent and overall decision making of the Rams will shine through. I hope I can get the line to move down, but I’ll take this if it’s all I can get.
Now, a week 1 pick article isn’t complete without picking a Super Bowl champion. I will name 3 values and my actual top pick. I think the Patriots get back to the AFC Championship game at least, where you would be able to hedge out. I think +550 is still too low for them this season. The Saints are my pick to win it all this year and I LOVE +1400 to bet a team with the talent and coaching combination of the Saints. The Chargers are my favorite team down the board at +2000. They are just so much more talented than most teams and I think they could really pop this year and become a top tier team by the middle of the year.