Thursday, September 8
Carolina Panthers (-3) at Denver Broncos
Nick Bair: Panthers. It’s tough going against the home underdog (Denver was 3-0 ATS as a home dog in 2015), but the unknown of Trevor Siemian scares me. I feel better going with the revenge minded Panthers in this Super Bowl rematch.
Randy Haines: Panthers. The Broncos were one of the worst champions the NFL has seen in quite sometime. Carolina was also one of the best regular season teams the NFL has seen in quite sometime. Cam and company roll in this one.
Sunday, September 11
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons (-3)
NB: Buccaneers. I think the Buccaneers are the better team, even on the road. Atlanta was just 1-5 ATS last year as a home favorite, so don’t let the lukewarm Georgia Dome crowd sway you.
RH: Buccaneers. I already predicted big things for the Bucs this season and think they start off the season on the right foot. They not only cover against Atlanta, but win straight up.
Minnesota Vikings (-2.5) at Tennessee Titans
NB: Vikings. I think the public will be down on the Vikings after the Teddy Bridgewater injury, but this team is still way better than the Titans right now and Sammy Sleeves is not that big of a downgrade.
RH: Titans. I’ll admit everything tells me to take Minnesota here. They had the best record in the league ATS last season (14-3) and Tennessee does not really appear to have improved much outside of the potential development of Marcus Mariota. However, with everything that has happened with the Vikings quarterback situation over the last week and a half this feels like a let down game.
Cleveland Browns at Philadelphia Eagles (-4)
NB: Browns. RGIII! In what might be the worst matchup of the week between two teams in full rebuild mode, the Browns somehow come in with the much better signal caller. No one enjoys picking Cleveland, but sometimes you have to go with the Browns. Especially when you are getting more than a field goal.
RH: Eagles. LOL at my colleague. In the seven games that RGIII played the majority of (because he you know gets hurt a lot and was briefly benched) in 2014 for Washington, they went 1-6. Griffin also had just four touchdown passes in those games and more than twice as many turnovers as touchdown passes. As an Eagles fan, I am not expecting many wins this season, but I have them winning by more than a touchdown here as the Carson Wentz era starts off with a bang.
Cincinnati Bengals (-2.5) at New York Jets
NB: Jets. I’ll take this home underdog all day. The Jets defensive line looks fierce, and we have no idea how the Bengals offense will look without Hue Jackson, Mohamed Sanu, and Marvin Jones. I think Cincinnati struggles out of the gate and the Jets win a close one in Jersey.
RH: Jets. I don’t really have a good feel for this game. Cincinnati is the superior team and went 12-3-2 ATS in 2015, but opening weekend can get crazy at times so as my partner already stated, take the home dog.
Oakland Raiders at New Orleans Saints (-1)
NB: Saints. In what basically amounts to a pick-em, New Orleans has the sixth best home record in the NFL during the Drew Brees era. The Raiders could break out this year, but I’ll error on the side of caution until I see them prove it.
RH: Saints. This feels like a case where the public has really bet heavy on the side of a trendy sleeper team in the Raiders. It is rare the Saints are less than a 3 point favorite at home as it has happened just four times in the last two seasons. I like New Orleans to win straight up.
San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs (-7)
NB: Chargers. Too many points to give up to take Kansas City, who was only 2-5 ATS at Arrowhead last year. This divisional matchup should be closer than a touchdown.
RH: Chiefs. The Chargers were quietly good ATS in 2015 as they were 8-8 overall including 6-2 as a road dog like they are here. Despite all that, I do not think this is a very good football team nor do I think Mike McCoy is a good head coach. Bet the Chiefs to cover then take your winnings and put it on McCoy as the first head coach fired in 2016 (Current front runner at +350).
Buffalo Bills at Baltimore Ravens (-3)
NB: Ravens. I want to throw 2015 out the window as a Ravens fan. The team had some of the worst injury luck, and also had some bad luck in close games. I think some of that reverses in 2016, starting with a big win over Buffalo.
RH: Ravens. I’ll say the Ravens here, but this is more likely a stay away game. Buffalo did go 3-2-1 as a road dog last season, but with injuries and suspensions to key defensive players they may actually be a worse unit than last seasons 24th overall finish in defensive DVOA. Ravens win a close contest.
Chicago Bears at Houston Texans (-6)
NB: Bears. Are we sure the Texans are any good? This just seems like one of those sneaky Week 1 games where it is close for no reason as two mediocre teams are still trying to find their footing.
RH: Texans. Houston was 4-1 as a home favorite in 2015 with terrible quarterback play. Even if Brock Osweiler isn’t a true franchise quarterback, he is still almost definitely better than the steaming hot garbage that was under center for Houston last season.
Green Bay Packers (-4.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars
NB: Packers. Sorry Jags fans, but the Packers are going to be very good this year. They start the season hot with a big win over Jacksonville.
RH: Packers. Green Bay was 7-3 ATS on the road last season including the playoffs. Jordy Nelson is back and the Jags are still the Jags until further notice.
Miami Dolphins at Seattle Seahawks (-10.5)
NB: Seahawks. Vegas didn’t make Seattle a double digit favorite by accident. They should demolish the ‘Fins. The Dolphins might get shut out.
RH: Seahawks. Russell Wilson and company were actually pretty average for their standards at home last season, 4-4 ATS and 5-3 overall. This is a new season however and I can’t find one single thing about this Dolphins team that I like. Seattle wins big here.
New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys (PK)
NB: Giants. The Dak Attack will struggle to get out of neutral as the rookie backfield of Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott encounters some Week 1 growing pains. Give me the veteran Eli in a pick em.
RH: Giants. Dallas is 1-11 the last two seasons without Tony Romo, their two best pass rushers (Demarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory) are both suspended for this game and Dak Prescott was a fourth round pick for a reason. If the Giants were a little more stable over the last few seasons (14-16-2 ATS on the road since the start of 2012), I would have them as my lock of the week.
Detroit Lions at Indianapolis Colts (-3.5)
NB: Lions. The Colts were not good last year (2-4 ATS at home as a favorite) and their secondary looks to be swiss cheese this week. Look for Matthew Stafford to throw it all over the field in a road upset.
RH: Lions. This is the game I had the most difficult time with. Entering last season, the Colts were 12-6-1 as home favorites and last season was the ultimate season from hell. The problem is I can see last season becoming the new normal for the Colts, a bad defense and a bad offensive line that can’t keep their franchise quarterback healthy. The extra half point has me leaning Detroit in this one.
New England Patriots at Arizona Cardinals (-6)
NB: Patriots. Even without Brady, I don’t betting against Belichick with a six point cushion. New England only played one game last year as the underdog and won. There is a reason they are usually favored in Vegas.
RH: Cardinals. I can’t believe I’m doing this, but I need to see Jimmy Garoppolo show he can make some plays before I bet on him against one the league’s best teams.
Monday, September 12
Pittsburgh Steelers (-3) at Washington Redskins
NB: Steelers. I am on the record predicting the ‘Skins will have a letdown year. The Steelers might be the class of the AFC this year and will show it right out of the gate.
RH: Steelers. In 2015, Washington had zero wins against teams with winning records. In their last eight Monday night games Washington has won just twice and have been outscored by a total of 72 points in those six losses (the two wins were by a combined total of 3 points). Pittsburgh had 10 wins in 2015 and have won six of their last eight Monday night games. They will thrash Kirk Cousins and company here.
Los Angeles Rams (-2.5) at San Francisco 49ers
NB: 49ers. While I have no faith in San Francisco, the Rams do not deserve to be road favorites with the current state of their passing game. Look for the Niners to surprise some folks in the late game.
RH: Rams. This is more of a stay away than anything. Both teams had losing records ATS in 2015 and both would appear to be worse than they were a year ago. It’s Case Keenum vs. Blaine Gabbert, if that doesn’t tell you to stay away I don’t know what will.
-Nick Bair & Randy Haines
Odds according to Westgate Las Vegas
Photo Credit: James D. Smith/AP