2022 NFL Picks (Final Report-Week 1)

NFL Sep 10, 2022

Disclaimer:  Opinions are those of Nolan Dalla. All information here and the comments provided on this website are for entertainment purposes only.  I do not intend nor advise readers to make any wagers. Ultimately, you must make your own decisions about if to gamble, how much to wager, and which bets to make.

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All odds listed are according to SPREADS:CA:

SUNDAY GAMES

BALTIMORE RAVENS at NEW YORK JETS
Baltimore Ravens -7 (-105) o44.5 (-110) -300
New York Jets +7 (-115) u44.5 (-110) +240

Analysis: The big storyline here is QB J. Flacco getting the start for the hapless Jets after high-prospect Z. Wilson ended up on IR with a blown-out knee. Does the 37-year-old have anything left in the empty tank? Flacco hasn't played an impressive game in nearly a decade now and resembles nothing of the QB who once won a Super Bowl with the Ravens, the old team he'll be facing on Sunday. Devoid of leadership qualities, even in his best years Flacco was the king of the 3-yard chunk and dunk. I don't see him stepping up and doing much here with the Jets.  By default, he's likely to start their first four games this season before Wilson's return. /// Jets head coach R. Saleh, who was just 6-11 ATS last season and 4-5 ATS at home does have the talent to eventually turn this Jets defense into a solid unit, but that likely won't be on display against the hungry Ravens who after suffering and injury-riddled 2021 season come into this game healthy and much improved. /// I don't want to lay a touchdown with Baltimore, as I generally shy away from road favorites most of the time and really avoid them when the number reaches laying a touchdown. However, the Ravens are usually a good bet in Week 1.  We all know about their preseason run, which carries over into the first game.  Coach J. Harbaugh is 10-4 ATS in Week 1 games, including 5-1 ATS over the past six seasons.  /// I see some value even with the steep moneyline lay price of -300. Just in case Baltimore struggles, I'll play them on the moneyline. Even with a subpar performance, I just don't see the Ravens losing to the Jets with so many voids on the roster and an offense quarterbacked by Flacco. I'll also tease the Ravens down to -1 on a 2-teamer.
My Picks:
Baltimore Moneyline
Teaser (-120): Baltimore -1 (with Denver -.5)

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NEW ORLEANS SAINTS at ATLANTA FALCONS
New Orleans Saints -5.5 (-110) o42.5 (-110) -225
Atlanta Falcons +5.5 (-110) u42.5 (-110) +185

Analysis: These two teams really don't like each other. It's been one of the best rivalries in the NFL for a long time, and the records of the two teams don't really matter when they play. That said, these are two different teams than we're used to seeing in a divisional rivalry. For the first time in more than a decade, former head coach S. Payton will be gone from the Saints sideline (yeah, he was suspended for one full season) and longtime Atlanta starting QB M. Ryan will be in a different uniform. Instead, we'll see a couple of QB retreads under center -- J. Winston for New Orleans and M. Mariota for Atlanta. There's an upside with both of the starters, but things could just as easily implode on either side. Even if Mariota improves and lives up to his first-round draft pick potential, it's still tough to look at the Falcons' roster and see anyplace that inspires confidence. This team might end up with the worst record in the NFL. /// There were times last season when Atlanta coach A. Smith looked like he'd completely lost his team, and his 6-11 record ATS reflects this downturn. The Falcons are 0-6 ATS in Week 1 over the past six seasons, and they were 0-4 ATS as home underdogs last season. Furthermore, the Saints have covered in four of the past five meetings and 15 of the past 23 meetings.  /// The one unit to keep an eye on will purportedly be the fiery Saints defense, ranked by many as Top-5 in the NFL. Assuming this unit meets expectations, that's going to make Atlanta's prospects very difficult. /// I don't know quite what to expect from QB Winston, who was injured most of last season and hasn't demonstrated yet that he's the heir apparent to the post-Brees era. Winston looked brilliant at times during his career, but then has just as frequently played the dumbest football of any starting QB in the league. It's really a toss-up on what happens to Winston and this offense. /// Accordingly, I'm going to play UNDER the total in this game. I don't see either offense opening up the playbook much with so many new faces. New Orleans might not have to do much on offense, assuming their defense plays up to potential. reports indicate both teams are expected to run more than the league average, which may keep the clock moving. So, I'll take this one UNDER 42.5 points.
My Pick:
New Orleans/Atlanta UNDER 42.5

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NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS at MIAMI DOLPHINS
New England Patriots +3 (-110) o46.5 (-110) +130
Miami Dolphins -3 (-110) u46.5 (-110) -155

Analysis: The public is sky high on T. Tua and the Dolphins. But I'm not drinking that flavor kool-aid. Not yet, anyway. On paper, Miami made significant improvements on both sides of the ball, but we have yet to see Tua either shine as a QB or as a leader (it might happen, but the questions remain). /// This game looks to be lined about right, with the Dolphins laying a field goal. /// For New England, all the talk is on the offensive coordinator confusion. Former OC departed and now head coach B. Belichick has been floundering on the decision about who will call the plays. But something tells me there's a smokescreen going on here. Belichick is a master of deflection and I don't see a veteran (arguably GOAT) coach of his pedigree losing any sense of control of the Patriots. Preseason games are played to get our wrinkles and the reports on the Patriots' coaching issues are likely overblown. /// Another thing that makes me like the contrarian pick here--the Patriots. Unlike Tua, QB M Jones demonstrated he's the real deal. Now entering his second season, Jones should improve even further and keep the Patriots close in many games. /// There's also a strong trend to play division dogs in the first week of the season (more on that later). New England is a +3 underdog of AFC East rival Miami in this game. I'll take the dog in the first half and for the game.
My Picks:
New England +1 (first half)
New England +3 (game)

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CLEVELAND BROWNS at CAROLINA PANTHERS
Cleveland Browns +2.5 (-110) o41.5 (-110) +110
Carolina Panthers -2.5 (-110) u41.5 (-110) -135

Analysis: Everyone's talking about this as the B. Mayfield big "revenge" game. In fact, many handicappers I've talked to have Carolina as their best bet of the week, thinking the ex-Brown QB wants to show his old team (he went 29-30 in 59 career starts with the Browns) they made huge a mistake in letting him go during the offseason. I'm a big believer in motivation when analyzing games, but one thing I've also learned is the opening week in the NFL is motivation enough for just about any player or team. Hence, I think this "revenge" thing is a bit overrated. /// What could come into play, however, is some possibility that, if ahead, the Panthers might want to run up the score as both a payoff to Mayfield and a confidence builder for the team. I'm not saying that will happen, but it does enter the multitude of possibilities. Despite this, I'd be cautious about laying points with Carolina. /// What makes me shy away from Carolina, you ask? The Panthers lost 7 straight games to close out last season, and head coach M. Rhule is just 10-23 SU and 14-19 ATS heading into his third season at the helm. This line screams market overreaction! Yes, the Browns were wildly inconsistent last season, one reason Mayfield was shipped out of town. Cleveland's front office is also notorious for offseason blunders, and the D. Watson matter only reinforces those negative perceptions. Still, K. Stefanski is a rare Cleveland head coach with a winning career record (20-15 SU). /// Journeyman QB J. Brissett will start for the Browns, who isn't flashy but also hasn't been surrounded by talent in the past. This season, the Browns look pretty solid away from the quarterback position. They should lean on their deep running game featuring N. Chubb to facilitate Brissett's first start. /// I see a close game and possibly a mild upset here, so I'm taking the Browns plus the points for both the first half and the game.
My Picks:
Cleveland +0.5 (first half)
Cleveland +2.5 (game)

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PITTSBURGH STEELERS at CINCINNATI BENGALS
Pittsburgh Steelers +6.5 (-110) o44.5 (-110) +225
Cincinnati Bengals -6.5 (-110) u44.5 (-110) -275

Analysis: I predict the Bengals will be a team to fade this year. Not only are previous Super Bowl losers notorious for regressing the following season. These teams are particularly awful in Week 1, as the trend betting against them no matter what the situation is 18-4 ATS over the past 22 seasons. Now, Cincinnati is laying nearly a touchdown to Pittsburgh, which many fans and bettors are writing off this season with B. Roethlisberger's retirement. However, a change at QB and more mobility at the position might be just what the Steelers need. Though the acquisition of M. Trubisky is risky, there's an obvious upside to the prospect since Pittsburgh gets an experienced QB in a fresh situation. This game should be closer than the spread indicates. /// The Bengals offensive line remains a major question mark. They allowed 55 sacks last season, the third worst in the NFL. Cincinnati is also entering the season in the highly-uncharacteristic role of being favored in lots of games, and being a target rather than a sleeper. /// M. Tomlin, who has never posted a losing season in Pittsburgh, has historically done well as a division dog, going 14-6 ATS. This brings up an angle I alluded to earlier, which is blindly taking division dogs in Week 1. Doing so resulted in a 28-8 record since the start of 2014, which is an astounding win rate. This will be the basis of multiple wagers this week, including this one on the Steelers.
My Picks:
Pittsburgh +4 (first half)
Pittsburgh +6.5 (game)

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SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS at CHICAGO BEARS
San Francisco 49ers -7 (-110) o41.5 (-110) -300
Chicago Bears +7 (-110) u41.5 (-110) +240

Analysis: The 49ers are one of 10 road favorites in Week 1, which is much higher than usual. Home-field "advantage" has been a diminishing factor in the NFL in recent years. Many data-driven analysts give only 1.5 points for HFA, down from the standard 3 points since spreads first began. Nonetheless, I shy away from laying extra points in unknown situations. /// T. Lance, the San Francisco starting QB, is an unknown. He might turn into a great leader and be the right pick for the 49ers. But let's not get ahead of ourselves just yet. /// This comes down to a question -- how bad are the Bears? Some say they're Bottom-5. Offensively, there's little on this roster to suggest much improvement from the team that was 7-10 ATS last season. J. Fields has even more pressure on his shoulders, though nothing like the talent of the 49ers on the opposite sideline. He'll be scrambling a lot this season and is probably a target to not make it through a complete season. Given the Bears' woeful numbers and voids at skill positions, it's hard to see how they'll score many points. The Bears were 0-5 ATS as home underdogs last season and 3-10 ATS as underdogs overall.  /// Thoughts--San Francisco might not have to do much offensively to win this game, allowing the defense to keep the Bears frustrated and get enough points to leave with the victory. With so much at stake for the 49ers in a season many are predicting could turn into a dethroning of the NFC West, they won't have to show as much in this opener. I lean UNDER the total of 41.5, but admittedly, that's a low total in today's NFL. San Francisco was one of the league's best bets in its last dozen games last season, going 10-2 ATS. But they were underdogs in most of those games and playing solid opponents with playoff implications. This is an uncharacteristic role for a team to be laying a touchdown on the road with an unproven starting QB, so it's a pass on the side and a slight lean on the UNDER. /// One More Thing: Chicago very recently switched playing surfaces to Bermuda grass, and players reportedly haven't played much on this type of surface.  Not sure how that translates, but it could help defenses.  We'll see.
My Picks:
San Francisco/Chicago UNDER 41.5

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PHILADELPHIA EAGLES at DETROIT LIONS
Philadelphia Eagles -4 (-110) o48.5 (-110) -200
Detroit Lions +4 (-110) u48.5 (-110) +165

Analysis: Analysts are high on both of these teams, especially the Eagles. Some even have Philadelphia as a dark horse contender for the Super Bowl. That's a bit ambitious, but the Eagles should improve on their nice rebound season in 2021, ending with a 9-8 record and a first-round playoff loss. QB J. Hurts should be able to open up the passing game more behind the Eagles' excellent offensive line as they go back to a more complementary running attack. /// The Lions are also getting some respect from analysts, even though they went 3-13-1 last season. Remarkably, this will be the 24th-straight game in which the Lions are an underdog. Nonetheless, Detroit was a contrarian bettor's dream, going 11-6 ATS last season, one of the best records in the NFL. Read that again: Detroit was one of the most profitable teams to bet in the NFL last season. This tells us the market may still undervalue Detroit, coming into 2022 as a 4-point home dog. What keeps me off Detroit, however, is the suspicion that lots of points will be scored, which hurts the prospects of the dog losing but getting the cover. In a similar spot last season, the Lions got involved in a shootout in Week 1 as head coach D. Campbell let his new QB (J. Goff) sling it early and often. Look for a similar game plan here, and the Lions to create enough points to push this one OVER the total.
My Picks:
Philadelphia/Detroit OVER 48.5

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INDIANAPOLIS COLTS at HOUSTON TEXANS
Indianapolis Colts -8.5 (-110) o45.5 (-110) -375
Houston Texans +8.5 (-110) u45.5 (-110) +290

Analysis: HC L. Smith and QB M. Ryan are the main focuses on opposite sidelines of this AFC South matchup. Smith, the ex-Bears retread, is now fronting the punching-bag Texans, who might be the least talented team in the NFL on just about everyone's data chart. On the opposing side, many analysts have the Colts winning the division and perhaps making a run with a team that looks complete with an experienced QB (Ryan) leading the charge. However, what I see when looking at Indianapolis as an 8.5-point favorite is a gross overreaction. Teams don't simply show up in their first game together and usually click on all cylinders. Even the lowly Texans, who have long-suffered since the departure of D. Watson, JJ Watt, D. Hopkins, and other stars, are capable of keeping this one closer than the line indicates. Recall last season, the Jaguars were hyped and came into Houston in Week 1 as -3 favorites and got slaughtered. Houston wasn't a good team then or now, but they had enough in the trenches to make a statement in that opening game. /// Let's also give some love to an underrated prospect -- Houston's QB.  Not many fans would know the name "Davis Mills," but he had four games with 300+ passing yards last season, the most among rookie quarterbacks.  With an experienced head coach, a decent defense, and low expectations, the Texans are freerolling this game and season. All the pressure here is on Ryan and the Colts, and we know how poorly both have performed in such situations in recent years. We can't blame Ryan for the misery of the Falcons in recent seasons, of course, but let's also remember he posted horrible numbers the last few years and should have at least been able to keep Atlanta competitive.  He failed. Even with trash stats, Ryan suffered his worst seasons back-to-back and now has to go and learn a new system. Surely, this gig with the Colts is a great opportunity for Ryan to shine. But what makes the Colts worthy of laying -8.5 on the road to a division foe with no previous data points? Recall also the trend on division dogs in Week 1, which are an astounding 28-8 since 2014. /// Now, here's an even better stat: Home underdogs in divisional games are 13-2-1 ATS in Week 1 over the past 10 seasons. Hold your noses and bet Houston. The Colts might end up as a playoff team, but this spreads is ridiculous.
My Picks:
Houston +4 (first half) (even)
Houston +8.5 (game)

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JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS at WASHINGTON COMMANDERS
Jacksonville Jaguars +3 (-110) o43.5 (-110) +135
Washington Commanders -3 (-110) u43.5 (-110) -165

Analysis: In all honesty, this is an unpredictable game that seems incapable of being handicapped. There are way too many new faces on both sides, new systems, different players, off-the-field distractions, and other factors to try and predict what might happen in this first game between two teams with relatively low expectations. Much maligned QB C. Wentz will start for the Washington Football Team (not calling them that stupid new name yet -- give me time), his third team in three seasons. His old coach D. Pederson takes over as head coach on the Jaguars sideline, which should be a huge step in the right direction after Urban Meyer's train wreck of an NFL career. But let's also remember Pederson was run out of Philadelphia just two seasons after winning a Super Bowl. This is very much a team still in a rebuilding phase, while the Washington Football Team seems mired in constant mediocrity, even under R. Rivera with a career 16-15-3 ATS record at Washington. Rivera always appears to be a slow starter cover-wise, as he is just 1-5 ATS in September games, including 0-3 ATS last season. /// Given all these uncertainties, perhaps there's some value in taking the underdog at +3. I'm not sure why Washington should be favored over anyone with so many question marks, perhaps more than a point or two. in such an unpredictable game, give me the Jaguars +3 points. it helps that Pederson is an old NFC Easy guy, so he still knows this division, including the Washington personnel.
My Picks:
Jacksonville +3 (game)

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KANSAS CITY CHIEFS at ARIZONA CARDINALS
Kansas City Chiefs -4.5 (-110) o53.5 (-110) -200
Arizona Cardinals +4.5 (-110) u53.5 (-110) +165

Analysis: Last season, these two teams were mirror opposites of each other. Arizona started off 7-0 SU (6-1 ATS) and some observers began talking Super Bowl in the desert. In the later half of the season, the Cardinals crashed and lost 5 of their last 6 games, and stumbled at year's end. Meanwhile, many fans and bettors were writing off the Chiefs at midseason in 2021, after they looked spent at 3-4 and were positioned 2 games behind the leader in a tough division. Then, Kansas City snapped back into its normal form and rattled off wins in 11 of their last 13 games, and ended up as the AFC's top seed. Head coach A. Reid has no pressure--he just wins in the regular season, no matter what. This is probably a make-it-or-break-it season for Arizona head coach K. Kingbury, now entering his fourth full season. The Cardinals are loaded with weapons but can't seem to string enough consistency to usurp the divisional top spot which has been dominated for so long by their division rivals -- Seattle, San Francisco, and the LA Rams. /// Opening the 2022 season at home the Cardinals certainly pose the threat and could upset as underdogs. In fact, Kansas City laying this many points and having lost some talent during the offseason appears to be a situation to fade. P. Mahomes going against K. Murray looks like two key ingredients for a shootout, which is why this total is one of the week's highest, at 53.5. It's tempting to bet OVER in this game, but that's a lot of points in an opener. Instead, there's some value attached to the home dog Cardinals in the first half, who are getting +3.5. The Cardinals might get worn down as the game goes along, but they have the weapons to keep this game close in the first half. We'll take the points. We should also add-- with K. Kingsbury, the Cardinals are 3-0 ATS in Week 1 games and 17-7 ATS in September and October.
My Picks:
Arizona +3.5 (first half)

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LAS VEGAS RAIDERS at LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
Las Vegas Raiders +3.5 (-110) o52.4 (-110) +150
Los Angeles Chargers -3.5 (-110) u52.5 (-110) -185

Analysis: Last December, the 2021 regular season ended with arguably the best game of the entire season in Las Vegas. In a thrilling division matchup between the Raiders and Chargers, the finale turned into an OT shootout for the AFC's final playoff spot. The Raiders won that game, but the Chargers still experienced a coming of age moment in that game even in defeat, proving they're just as dangerous (and promising) on offense as any team in the league. Yeah, we've heard this before. Prior to every season, the LA Chargers are often hyped and seem to be a dark horse every season on someone's list. Then, they always end up disappointing their backers. Now, this team has no excuses. The Chargers have every reason to be competitive in each game, starting here. The only obstacle holding them back is the brutal division in which they play, which starts late Sunday in a game hosting the Raiders. /// This will be new coach J. McDaniels debut as the main man after operating in B. Belichick's shadow over the past decade. We'll now see how much McDaniels was responsible for the dynasty, it at all, as he'll have no excuses not to produce lots of points and a team that might contend for the division title. Indeed, Las Vegas is loaded on the offensive side of the ball, and QB D. Carr -- who after years of being taking lots of blame -- should enjoy a big season. However, the problem here for the Raiders is some major questions on the defense. The Chargers have the unquestioned superior defensive team with K. Mack leading the front, and immediate help from a healthy J. Jackson on the back end. I expect LA's defense should be the difference in what is expected to be a high-scoring and entertaining game. Still, I can't lay the hook on the 3, so this game would normally get a pass from me. /// There's some contradiction here in my analysis, so given all the factors, I'll play the division dog in Week 1 angle, since I promised to make a pick on every game.  Nonetheless, I would typically pass on this one.
My Picks:
Las Vegas Raiders +3.5 (-110)

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GREEN BAY PACKERS at MINNESOTA VIKINGS
Green Bay Packers -1.5 (-110) o48.5 (-110) -125
Minnesota Vikings +1.5 (-110) u48.5 (-110) +105

Analysis: There's very little about the Vikings I like heading into this new season. Another head coach, the team's sixth new offensive coordinator in six seasons, a weak-willed jellyfish QB (K. Cousins) who always seems to be loaded with weapons no matter where he plays, but still can't thread the passing needle in big games when it's needed the most. On paper, Minnesota should be one of the best offenses in the league given the running game and excellent wideouts, and Vikings backers are suggesting that getting rid of defensive-minded M. Zimmer as the coach in favor of an offensive guy (K. O'Connell) could spark the team. Maybe so. /// Green Bay's defense is reportedly improved from last season, which will keep the Packers in the discussion as very likely a 12-win team and perpetual Super Bowl contender. Minnesota has historically played Green Bay tough at home (they won here last season, one of the Vikings' few bright spots). The Packers' Achilles heel has been special teams (which cost them the playoff game last season, losing to San Francisco). But as long as QB A. Rodgers stays healthy, this team absolutely deserves to be favored over any opponent aside from perhaps 2-3 teams like Buffalo and Kansas City. Rodgers has feasted on Minnesota the last two seasons and has 13 touchdown passes and no picks in his last four games against the Vikings. But he split and went 2-2 in those games due entirely to defensive lapses and bad special teams' play. Those areas should improve. /// I'd like to lay the small number with the Packers, but will cite the division dog angle which keeps me off this game. Instead, I'll go OVER 23.5 in the first half. Catching the 24 is huge and if what we hear is correct about Minnesota's revamped offense, then the ball should be in the air early and often. The last four games between these teams all sailed OVER the total.
My Picks:
Green Bay/Minnesota OVER 23.5 (first half)

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NEW YORK GIANTS at TENNESSEE TITANS
New York Giants +6 (-110) o43.5 (-110) +200
Tennessee Titans -6 (-110) u43.5 (-110) -250

Analysis: We're not supposed to get emotional. We're told to remain unbiased when handicapping football games. But that's impossible when examining both of these teams. /// I've written repeatedly on this forum about my baffling reaction to D. Jones still being an NFL starter for the Giants. Everything about Jones -- from his W-L record, to personal stats, to (especially) his lack of leadership -- indicates this isn't a QB I ever want to bet on under any circumstances. That might seem hyperbolic, but fading Jones and the Giants have been solid gold of late -- 11-6 ATS when betting against this team in his starts, including an 0-6 stretch to close out the 2021 season. The Giants are also 0-5 SU and ATS in their past five Week 1 games dating back -- and they are 0-6 ATS in their past six games as an underdog.  There's almost no data that would make me wager on Jones as a starter, until I see some miraculous revelation. Little else on the Giants is inspiring, either. /// On the other side of the ball, Tennessee's home playoff loss to close out the season was one of the worst-coached, least-inspired efforts I've seen. I'm glad to fade Tennessee's offense, which might not have a passing game, and is led by a RB who may be mailing it in towards the end of a career (recall D. Henry's horrific effort in that playoff loss, following a regular season his missed due to injury). /// I'm not sure where the points will come from in the game. The Titans' front 4 is as solid as any team in the NFL, and we're told the Giants should improve on defense if they don't get gassed in every game losing the time of possession battle. Two weak passing games, running backs that haven't performed up to the standards of a few years ago, and major question on both offensive lines all points to a solid UNDER here.
My Picks:
NY Giants/Tennessee UNDER 43.5

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TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS at DALLAS COWBOYS
Tampa Bay Buccaneers -1.5 (-110) o50.5 (-105) -125
Dallas Cowboys +1.5 (-110) u50.5 (-115) +105

Analysis: The Sunday Night matchup might attract a few viewers. We'll see if Tampa Bay can continue to win and contend for the Super Bowl with a time-defying 45-year-old quarterback or if the snakebit dumpster fire known as the Dallas Cowboys can break the hex as the NFL's most underachieving team. The line is probably accurate here. The Bucs deserve to be favorites based on being proven performers. However, T. Brady has lost some of his favorite targets so we'll see if the continuity continues. /// There are bigger questions with the Cowboys, especially on the offensive line. The gauntlet of a solid OL has historically been a Dallas trademark, but they come into this season with injuries and uncertainties. The Cowboys also lost their deep threat wideout, which means this offense should be easier to defend. Both QBs throw for lots of yards and are accustomed to games like this. /// Recall these teams opened up last season, a 31-29 thriller won by the Bucs. Bettors might be inclined to expect a redux. However, both offenses are weaker heading into this season, and there are some real issues with the Cowboys. I look for both teams to start slow, so going UNDER 24.5 in the first half could have some value. We've seen both teams explode later in games, and that could happen again here. But let's aim for a more conservative, balanced attack from Tampa Bay and Dallas in the first two quarters and play this one to eat some clock and fall below 24.5. Obviously, catching a win on 24 is key with this total.
My Picks:
Tampa Bay/Dallas UNDER 24.5 (first half)

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MONDAY NIGHT GAME

DENVER BRONCOS at SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
Denver Broncos -6.5 (-110)
Seattle Seahawks +6.5 (-110)

Analysis: Ex-Seahawk MVP QB R. Wilson will be playing his very first game in a new uniform in his old stomping ground at Seattle, which is the perfect script for an MNF opener. Adding Wilson in the offseason makes Denver into an automatic Super Bowl contender, that is, assuming his injuries are fully healed and he stays healthy for 17+ games. Many believe that all the Broncos were missing in recent seasons has been the leader, and Wilson brings multi-dimensional skills and leadership to a team where that's been severely lacking. I'm not yet convinced Wilson will shine as a long-term prospect nor do we know whether Denver is playoff bound. It's a very long season ahead and they AFC West opposition poses a brutal obstacle. Nonetheless, the Broncos should roll in this first game and cover the numbers as it's one of the easiest opponents on their schedule. They're playing against a badly-depleted Seahawks unit that wasn't good when Wilson was still with the team, and now starts an ugly duckling of a used car in G. Smith. I'm not a Smith hater, but he's in for a long season in Seattle where things are likely to go bad quickly. /// Any advantages enjoyed by the Seahawks, including what used to be the best HFA in the NFL is gone with Wilson who obviously is quite familiar with the conditions. Perhaps some ex-teammates have insider info on Wilson's offensive habits. But he also can exploit a soft Seattle defense likely to give up lots of yards and points. This should be a strong debut breakout game for Denver. It's for me to lay this many points in unproven situations, but this is more of a fade Seattle spot. I also like Denver on a 2-team teaser, which is reduced to laying a half point (-0.5).
My Picks:
Denver -6.5 (game)
Teaser (-120): Denver -.5 / (with Baltimore -1)

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COMPLETED--THURSDAY NIGHT GAME

BUFFALO BILLS at LOS ANGELES RAMS
Buffalo Bills -2.5 (-110) o52.5 (-110) -140
Los Angeles Rams +2.5 (-110) u52.5 (-110) +115

Analysis:
What an ideal way to kick off the regular season. The defending Super Bowl champions (Los Angeles Rams) are hosting the team that's favored to win the next Super Bowl (Buffalo Bills). I'm surprised to see Buffalo as a -2.5 favorite. I don't ever recall a Super Bowl champion opening the next season at home and being an underdog. This game spread is driven by two factors. First, the public loves Buffalo. Second, the LA Rams enter the season with several injuries and may not be at 100 percent. Nonetheless, this line does seem disrespectful to the Rams. Super Bowl champs are 11-5 ATS in their last 16 openers. / The total is about what's expected, in the low 50s. Betting the O/U all comes down to what you expect will happen with the Rams' defensive line, which is the team's strength. If they pressure QB J. Allen and create problems, the Bills won't score as many points as projected. If they're unsuccessful, Buffalo could light up the scoreboard and this game might turn into a shootout. / On quarters-halves-props, I see some value in taking the Rams +0.5 in the first half. LA should be ready at home and the defense is stout enough to frustrate the high-scoring Bills. Taking the points with a proven performer in its own arena in a big game strikes me as a justifiable wager. As for the full game, one key stat that pulls me in the direction of taking the home dog: Under S. McVay, the Rams are 5-0 straight up in Week 1 action--LA is also a perfect 5-0 against the spread in those games. There are valid reasons to love Buffalo as the season progresses and they certainly could open up with a bang. Nonetheless, I want some proof that the Bills are really the #1 team on power rankings. I want to see results first before making them road favorites versus the reigning Super Bowl champs.
My Picks:
LA Rams +0.5 (first half) -- W
LA Rams +2.5 (game) -- L