NFL Week 1 Picks for Every Game Against the Spread
Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE
Home team in capital letters; point spreads (opening line) in parentheses after underdog team; selections with point spreads in bold.
N.Y. GIANTS 24, Dallas 13 (+4)
The Super Bowl champion has never lost one of these prime time openers, going 8-0 straight up and 6-1-1 against the spread—but since this obviously means that the Cowboys get the second meeting at home, they could very well have the final say in the NFC East.
N.Y. JETS 17, Buffalo 7 (+3)
The Jets' preseason struggles on offense have attracted a great deal of media attention, but Buffalo's offense didn't exactly light it up in August either and the Jets have won five in a row over the Bills, covering in all but one.
Philadelphia 23, CLEVELAND 6 (+9)
The Eagles are not high on my list of contenders, but they should waltz over the punchless Browns, who own the NFL's longest active Week 1 losing streak, with seven straight losses (also 0-7 against the spread) by a combined 186-95.
DETROIT 48, St. Louis 20 (+9)
The Rams are not much better than the Browns on opening day: They've lost their last five lid-lifters both ways by a combined 141-42.
New England 37, TENNESSEE 33 (+7)
An eerily similar situation took place on last year's opening weekend, when the Steelers came in with an eight-game winning streak therein, but also as the defending Super Bowl runners-up, which had non-covered eleven consecutive season openers. Pittsburgh lost 35-7 at Baltimore and while the Patriots (who have likewise won eight in a row on opening day) may avoid the same fate outright, the Titans remain the obvious pick to cover.
CHICAGO 28, Indianapolis 17 (+9 1/2)
The Colts have yet to win on the road in the post-Peyton Manning era (losing all eight road games in 2011 and going 3-5 against the spread) and Brian Urlacher is expected to start despite preseason arthroscopic knee surgery. You'll just have to hope that the Bears aren't looking ahead to next Thursday night's key NFC North battle in Green Bay.
MINNESOTA 16, Jacksonville 13 (+4 1/2)
Both teams have running backs with issues, and quarterbacks with a lot to prove coming off dismal rookie seasons. This one comes down to a last-minute, or even overtime, field goal.
NEW ORLEANS 42, Washington 38 (+9 1/2)
With a defense that has been devastated by bounty-related suspensions, the Saints are going to get involved in games like this all season, and the Redskins are 6-1 straight up at the Superdome. Cam Newton went 4-0-1 against the spread in his first five games, and Robert Griffin III could very well have a similarly lucrative start to his NFL career.
KANSAS CITY 26 (+2), Atlanta 10
We saw this same movie to start last season, when the Falcons came in as road favorites at a venue where they hadn't won since 1983 (Chicago), and lost 30-12. Well, not only has Atlanta never won in Kansas City, but has been outscored 108-23 in three prior visits—including a 14-3 opening-day loss there in 1991.
HOUSTON 31, Miami 7 (+10)
Not since the "Stinkston and Trash" Eagles of a decade ago has an NFL team sent out as talent-poor a collection of wide receivers as this year's Dolphins have to offer, and Miami has taken an 0-for-6 lifetime collar against Houston. This game won't be close.
TAMPA BAY 30 (+2 1/2), Carolina 23
Josh Freeman is two years more experienced than when he led Tampa Bay to a seven-game improvement in 2010 with the aid of the league's biggest drop in strength of schedule, which the Bucs have in their favor again this year. Vincent Jackson could put up huge fantasy numbers this week.
GREEN BAY 34, San Francisco 17 (+5 1/2)
The 49ers must confront twin eight-game losing streaks vs. the Packers— in the series overall (with only one cover therein) and at Lambeau, where they haven't won since 1990 (with two covers). Green Bay has also won and covered five straight on what is officially known as "Kickoff Weekend."
ARIZONA 20 (+2 1/2), Seattle 13
Tale of the tape: John Skelton has a whopping seven-inch height advantage on Russell Wilson (no information on how much of a reach advantage Skelton enjoys), and Marshawn Lynch may not be tasting the rainbow here courtesy of recurring back spasms. Seahawks have also had their problems on grass: 3-13 straight up and 3-11-2 against the line since 2009.
DENVER 27, Pittsburgh 14 (+1)
This would appear to be a bargain price given Pittsburgh's injury situation at running back. Peyton Manning gets it done in his Mile High debut.
BALTIMORE 21, Cincinnati 10 (+5 1/2)
Talk about massive correlations: Last year the Bengals were 0-8 straight up and 2-6 against the line versus playoff teams (including their loss at Houston in the playoffs), and 9-0 and 8-1 respectively when facing non-playoff opposition. So until proven otherwise, and unless you think that the Ravens won't make the playoffs this season, you know what to do.
San Diego 31, OAKLAND 27 (+1)
At least the league trusts the Raiders to sell out enough to give them this Monday night opener at home, but the Chargers are 8-2 both ways in their last ten at Oakland and should get a leg up on what figures to be a fight to evade the AFC West cellar.
BEST BETS: N.Y. GIANTS, GREEN BAY, DENVER
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