Week 1 NFL Picks: Underdogs That Will Easily Cover the Spread
With Week 1 of the NFL season finally underway, the country's long national nightmare of football-less Sundays is now over.
And with the league's opening-week lines set, it's time to check in and see which teams are undervalued early on.
For oddsmakers, Week 1 is always the trickiest of the season. No team goes much beyond vanilla play calls and elementary schemes in the preseason, leaving much of what happens Sunday and Monday up to educated guesses.
Luckily for us, that means there are some great value picks still ripe for the picking.
With that in mind, here are some underdogs that are guaranteed to cover their point spreads in Week 1 of the NFL season.
(All spreads and over/under numbers are courtesy of Bovada.lv)
The Bills come into their opening-week game against the New York Jets as three-point underdogs simply because they're playing on the road. As a default, oddsmakers give home teams three points before adjusting and setting the true line.
And when oddsmakers keep the line at three points, they are essentially saying they have no idea which team is better.
Luckily for those of us that like to throw a few dollars around, the Jets and Bills aren't evenly matched.
Before getting hurt last season, Ryan Fitzpatrick was establishing himself as a member of the NFL's middle class of quarterbacks. The former Harvard grad likely will never live up to his big contract or reach the league's upper echelon. However, if he's surrounded by enough talent, it's possible that he could Trent Dilfer his way into a Super Bowl.
On the other hand, the Jets' quarterbacks have trouble just getting into the end zone. After four preseason games and one touchdown drive, it's pretty safe to say the Jets won't be leading the NFL in offensive efficiency any time soon.
With Buffalo having one of the most talented front sevens in the league, it should be a day-long struggle for Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow and the rest of the Jets' offense.
Predicted Final Score: Bills 20, Jets 10
Recipients of another generous three-point line, the Panthers head into Tampa Bay as underdogs to a revamped Buccaneers team.
With a new head coach in Greg Schiano and a ton of new starters on both sides of the ball, the Bucs will look to come out and prove last season's 4-12 record was a fluke.
While Tampa Bay may be improved this season, don't look for it to show up Week 1 against sensational second-year quarterback Cam Newton and the Panthers' offense.
After an up-and-down 6-10 campaign in 2011, Carolina comes into this year with playoff aspirations and an opening-week victory is critical to that goal.
If you enjoy playing the over/under lines, jump on the over while it's still at 47 points. Both defenses leave much to be desired and this could turn into a video game shootout.
Just expect the Panthers to come out on top.
Predicted Final Score: Panthers 34, Buccaneers 27
Six-point underdogs heading into Sunday's matchup with the division rival Baltimore Ravens, the Bengals are one of Week 1's best bets.
In Cincinnati's two matchups against the Baltimore Ravens last season, the team lost by just one score each time.
And by any objective measure, the Bengals should come into this season improved. A year older and playoff tested, Cincinnati is led by Andy Dalton and A.J. Green, the type of quarterback-wide receiver combination franchises search decades to find.
On the other hand, another year of experience does nothing for the Ravens except creep the team's championship window closer to the endpoint. While Joe Flacco and Ray Rice both have plenty of seasons left in the tank, the once-vaunted defense now mostly relies on intelligence of the whole over spectacular individual play.
With Terrell Suggs, the team's only consistent pass-rusher in 2011, out for the season with an Achilles injury, there should be plenty of time for Dalton to find Green Monday night.
The Bengals aren't guarantees to win, but should be a pretty easy cover in Week 1.
Predicted Final Score: Bengals 17, Ravens 14
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