NFL Picks Week 1: Underdogs Guaranteed to Cover the Spread

Mike HoagCorrespondent IISeptember 5, 2013

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - NOVEMBER 11: Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota ViKings eludes Ricardo Silva #39 of the Detroit Lions in the fourth quarter on a 61-yard touchdown run on November 11, 2012 at Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The ViKings defeated the Lions 34-24. (Photo by Andy King/Getty Images)
Andy King/Getty Images

You can't go wrong with picking against favorites in Week 1 of the 2013 NFL season.

It’s the perfect time to take chances and make some money. People "in the know" who are setting early betting lines are at a disadvantage early in the year, as there aren’t many established trends to work with.

This week’s picks are highlighted by three teams that are in good position to cover lopsided spreads as they hit the road for their Week 1 contests.

But with so much uncertainty, can you really guarantee anything?

Based off what we do know about each of the following teams, there’s a high probability that these squads will beat the spread on the road in addition to the opposition.

Here’s a look at picks against the spread (ATS) for every Week 1 matchup and three selections you can take to the bank.



Minnesota Vikings (+5.5) at Detroit Lions

People are out of their minds to continue betting against the Minnesota Vikings as the spread continues to climb in favor of the Detroit Lions. It’s getting borderline ridiculous.

This is a Vikings team that smacked the Lions in the mouth twice a season ago. With Adrian Peterson and the offensive line punishing the Lions’ front seven, quarterback Christian Ponder will be able to exploit a poor Lions pass defense.

Ponder finally has some competent receivers to throw to in Greg Jennings and rookie Cordarrelle Patterson.

For the Lions, Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson are going to connect. That’s a given, but the team still hasn’t found a balance offensively and will rely too heavily on the pair. If Detroit can’t run the ball effectively, Minnesota will control the tempo and time of possession with Peterson on the ground.

That bodes well for the Vikings’ chances of not only keeping the game close, but coming out with their third straight win against their divisional foes.


Arizona Cardinals (+4.5) at St. Louis Rams

This isn’t the same Arizona Cardinals team that dropped two contests to NFC West rival St. Louis a season ago.

Those losses came with Kevin Kolb and Ryan Lindley manning the quarterback position. This year, veteran signal-caller Carson Palmer has stepped in to save the Cards from another miserable season. He has a tough first test, though, against a Rams secondary that allowed 225.1 passing yards per game last year.

However, Arizona’s defense was much better. The unit’s swarming pass rush helped the squad to an average of 200.8 passing yards allowed per game—good for fifth in the league.

Sam Bradford lost top receiver Danny Amendola, who was replaced by first-round pick Tavon Austin.

There are plenty of unknowns at play here for the Rams, but the biggest factor you should consider is Palmer’s effect on the Cards’ passing game. Arizona was competitive last season with terrible play from the QB position.

Many are betting on Palmer to falter behind largely the same offensive line, but don’t buy into that line of thinking.


New York Giants (+3) at Dallas Cowboys

Despite being an underdog in each of his previous three appearances at the Dallas Cowboys’ shiny new venue, Eli Manning is unbeaten at AT&T Stadium.

This year, the Cowboys have new systems in place on both offense and defense, but look pretty similar talent-wise. The same goes for the Giants, who didn’t tweak much on a roster that produced a 9-7 record a season ago.

Change is never seamless, so it should be a process for the Cowboys, who could eventually become even better as the season progresses.

Even so, they haven’t performed well against the Giants and NFC East competition in the betting world.

In their last 14 matchups, the Cowboys are just 2-12 ATS when facing NFC East teams and just 6-14 ATS in their last 20 home games.

The fact that the Cowboys still hold a three-point advantage on betting lines is confusing. Don’t wait too long, because it’s not likely to stay that way as more bets are made during the weekend.


Betting information provided by Odds are current as of Sept. 5, 4 p.m. ET.