2021 NFL PICKS (PRESEASON 1)
As I have done every year since 1995, this season I'll be handicapping NFL football games and making picks each week. I started 25 years ago on AOL message boards, moved to SportsFanRadio, got hired by MadJackSports, then posted for many websites and magazines -- including Casino Player, onlinegambling.com, pointspreads.ca, and elsewhere.
My personal blog (nolandalla.com) first began in 2012. I've been posting handicapping analysis and making picks every season since then. Everything I've written in the past remains here in the archives if anyone wants to go back and check the record. See the search function and type in "NFL" followed by the year and you can read old reports.
Hence, this will be my tenth season (really 26th season going back to 1995) to do weekly analysis and make picks. To date, I've ended with a profit in seven of those nine seasons, including last year. Two seasons, I lost money. In 2015, I went totally broke with my betting bankroll (my worst season ever). Things got so bad at one point, I had pigeons in my backyard making picks. If you don't believe me, here's the evidence:
I've made more than two thousand picks in those nine years, and I'm proud to say -- I'm up overall for the entire duration of my time here. Show me, anyone, anywhere, with a free site who can say that and prove it. Don't bother searching. You won't find it. Last season (read the final report HERE) I ended with a terrific W-L record that will be almost impossible to repeat. My goal is to end up with more money than I started with. That's it.
Honestly, I've done almost everything when it comes to NFL wagering. I've posted hundreds of reports and so many articles in gambling media that I've lost count. My biggest claim to fame was the research I completed and released in 2002 on NFL halftime wagering, which actually impacted the lines and became widely quoted and published.
I share this not to brag but to give readers some perspective, especially if you're new to my site or haven't followed my analysis in the past. My advice is to buckle up, read, keep an open mind, and perhaps even have some fun. I don't promise anything, other than to try my best -- to win and to have fun.
So now, let's begin with the NFL PRESEASON games for Saturday. Keep in mind most weeks I will have a full analysis of every game along with an opinion. But I don't spend as much time on pre-season, opting instead to rely on some trends and angles. Some weeks this season I will also do video analysis. I advise checking every Saturday night during the regular season, which is the time I usually post my picks.
Here are my three picks for Saturday, which I bet earlier this week:
JACKSONVILLE -2.5 vs. CLEVELAND -- There's been a complete overhaul in Jacksonville, with a new head coach, new staff, new quarterback, and hopefully for the long-suffering Jags, a new outcome. It's been a long time since Jags players and fans were this excited, not that anyone expects them to compete in 2021, but at least the franchise might be headed in a positive direction. Jacksonville is burdened with massive holes and shortcomings, but that won't matter in this preseason opener. What will matter is Urban Meyer wanting to instill confidence and a winning attitude. The way to do that is to win the first preseason game, especially at home where the franchise wants to sell tickets. Look for the Jags to be the more motivated team to win here. Meanwhile, Cleveland's skill positions are mostly set and the staff won't be showing much. What the Browns do need to work on this preseason is their defense and that could create some gaps to be exploited by a young team with something to prove. I think laying -2.5 is reasonable. Play Jacksonville to make a statement in this first game of what they hope will be the new "Urban Meyer" era. The Pick: JAX -2.5 (risk $220 to win $200)
SEATTLE/LAS VEGAS OVER 37.5 -- Both of these veteran head coaches like to win in the preseason. Pete Carroll is one of the best in the league (career -- 25-15 SU). Jon Gruden is even better (36-18 SU with three different teams). That washes out any lean to either side, but it also means the offenses of these teams obviously play a more aggressive style and like to score points. I also think there will be a little extra excitement in the Las Vegas opener, since this is the first game with real fans, and the Raiders will want to reward the locals for their patience and come out with a bit more intensity. Seattle has a lot to look at and could lapse into a rebuilding phase, but Carroll is never shy about these exhibition games. So far, most of the 2021 preseason games have been low-scoring affairs, falling under the totals. And this total is a little higher than usual. I think it's justified based on the unique set of circumstances here. I bet this game OVER 37 earlier in the week and still think it's a good value. The Pick: SEA/LV OVER 37.5 (risking $220 to win $200)
BALTIMORE -2 vs. NEW ORLEANS -- The Baltimore Ravens are a preseason powerhouse. They own the longest winning streak in the modern era (17 games), second only to Green Bay's 23 straight wins at the beginning of the Lombardi era. John Harbaugh likes to win in August, and that's evidenced by the record. Under Harbaugh (2008-present), the Ravens have compiled an astonishing 37-12 SU record in the preseason. In fact, Baltimore is 64-32 SU all-time in preseason play, the NFL's best. The Ravens are also 33-15 all-time in preseason home games, producing wins in 19 of their last 22 contests in Baltimore. They are great on the road, too -- 31-17 all-time in preseason road games, winning 15 of their last 20 contests. Laying -2 under these circumstances is too big a temptation to pass up. So, that's going to be my third pick. New Orleans has not been a good preseason bet under Sean Payton. They're just 7-13 ATS the last six seasons. With some QB issues heading into the new season, I don't see either presumptive starter getting much playing time in the opener. Look for the Saints to go through the motions here. The Pick: BAL -2 (risk $220 to win $200)