NFL Picks Against the Spread Week 1: Giants and Teams That Will Overcome Odds
NFL spreads are a strange thing in Week 1 of the season because many come as a surprise. For example, the recent Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens are seven-point underdogs against the Denver Broncos, a team the Ravens defeated on the path to a championship last winter.
Alas, that is the perfect example of just how much can change in a short period of time in the NFL.
Weekly odds are no exception. Spreads change over the course of the week and vary based on injury news and more.
Here are three games with odds primed to disappoint as the underdog in each will end up overcoming the spread en route to victory.
Note: All odds courtesy of Vegas Insider as of 4 p.m. ET, Sept. 5
|Matchup||Time (ET)||TV||Location||Predicted Winner|
|Baltimore at Denver (-7.5)||8:30 PM||NBC||Sports Authority Field at Mile High||Denver|
|New England (-9) at Buffalo||1 p.m.||CBS||Ralph Wilson Stadium||New England|
|Cincinnati at Chicago (-3)||1 p.m.||CBS||Soldier Field||Cincinnati|
|Miami at Cleveland (-1)||1 p.m.||CBS||FirstEnergy Stadium||Cleveland|
|Atlanta at New Orleans (-3)||1 p.m.||FOX||Mercedes-Benz Superdome||New Orleans|
|Tampa Bay (-3) at N.Y. Jets||1 p.m.||FOX||MetLife Stadium||Tampa Bay|
|Tennessee at Pittsburgh (-7)||1 p.m.||CBS||Heinz Field||Tennessee|
|Minnesota at Detroit (-5)||1 p.m.||FOX||Ford Field||Minnesota|
|N.Y. Giants at Dallas (-3.5)||8:30 PM||NBC||Cowboys Stadium||New York|
|Oakland at Indianapolis (-9.5)||1 p.m.||CBS||Lucas Oil Stadium||Indianapolis|
|Seattle (-3.5) at Carolina||1 p.m.||FOX||Bank of America Stadium||Carolina|
|Kansas City (-4) at Jacksonville||1 p.m.||CBS||EverBank Field||Kansas City|
|Green Bay at San Francisco (-4.5)||4:25 PM||FOX||Candlestick Park||Green Bay|
|Arizona at St. Louis (-4.5)||4:25 PM||FOX||Edward Jones Dome||St. Louis|
|Philadelphia at Washington (-3.5)||7 p.m.||ESPN||FedEx Field||Washington|
|Houston (-4) at San Diego||10:15 PM||ESPN||Qualcomm Stadium||Houston|
Schedule courtesy of ESPN
Tennessee Titans Will Outlast Pittsburgh Steelers (-7)
The Pittsburgh Steelers are automatically gifted a favorable spread here at home and after a better finish than Tennessee a year ago.
Again, things in the NFL change fast.
Tennessee now has one of the better run-blocking offensive lines in the NFL thanks to No. 10 overall pick and mauling right guard Chance Warmack and the addition of one of the NFL's top guards via free agency in Andy Levitre.
Which team wins?
Running back Chris Johnson could be well on his way to flirting with a 2,000-yard season again behind this line. Star receiver Kenny Britt has kept his nose clean all offseason and gives quarterback Jake Locker a legit No. 1 through the air to create a perfect balance.
A perfect balance is exactly what the Steelers won't have in the matchup, with starter Le'Veon Bell out and Isaac Redman starting in his place, per NFL Network's Around the League. Redman has recorded a 100-yard performance just once in his three-year career, so it will be up to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to carry the team.
Against a well-rounded Titans attack, that will be asking too much at the start of the season. Tennessee pulls off the shocker on the road.
Prediction: Titans 17, Steelers 10
Carolina Panthers Will Stun Seattle Seahawks (-3.5)
Normally the three-point advantage is held for the home team, but Vegas does not seem all that thrilled about the prospects of the Carolina Panthers in 2013.
Or maybe Vegas just really, really likes Seattle this year.
Either way, Vegas has it wrong. Seattle is tasked with traveling over 2,000 miles to open the season against a new-look Carolina defense.
Carolina was merely average in all aspects of defense a year ago but went a long way in improving this offseason via the draft with No. 14 pick Star Lotulelei and No. 44 pick Kawann Short.
Which team wins?
That sounds like a lot to ask of rookie tackles, but they're more than up to the task if their high selections are anything to go by, and last year's Defensive Rookie of the Year Luke Kuechly will be free to terrorize ball-carriers behind them.
Perhaps the most underrated aspect of Carolina's team overall is the pass rush, and that's bad news for mobile Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. Charles Johnson notched 12.5 sacks last year and Greg Hardy added 11 of his own.
For Seattle, going on such a lengthy trip against a revamped defense is a serious trap game. Offensively, the team will struggle to run against a great crop of linebackers, and Wilson will have little time get rid of the ball. Carolina will send Seattle back across the country with a loss.
Prediction: Panthers 27, Seahawks 24
New York Giants Will Down Dallas Cowboys (-3.5) on SNF
One of the biggest games on the opening-week schedule is an NFC East showdown between heated rivals on Sunday Night Football.
Both the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys enter the contest close to full strength (New York is missing starting safety Stevie Brown), but the usual issues between these two are back once more.
The main issue yet again is the Cowboys' inability to contain the Giants pass rush. New York once more has a three-headed monster with Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul (who will be limited) and talented rookie Damontre Moore.
Which team wins?
As the Cowboys showed last year in a 29-24 loss in Week 8, when quarterback Tony Romo is under pressure, he'll make mistakes. Thanks in part to Romo's miscues, New York jumped out to a 23-0 lead in the second quarter before going on to win.
Last year perfectly illustrated the fact that home-field advantage means very little in this rivalry, as both teams won on the road. Expect more of the same here, as the Giants, under the veteran leadership of Eli Manning and the explosive running of David Wilson, pull out a game-winning drive on the last possession.
Prediction: Giants 30, Cowboys 27
Follow B/R's Chris Roling on Twitter for more news and analysis: @Chris_Roling.
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