NFL Picks Week 1: Reviewing Expert Predictions, Vegas Odds and Opening Schedule

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorSeptember 7, 2017

Nov 13, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs (14) runs with the ball against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Westgate SuperContest is the world's biggest handicapping competition, where contestants pick five NFL games against the spread each week. Over 2,400 people have signed up for this year's edition, with $1.2 million going to the winner.

The contest attracts professional handicappers, the best in the world. But last year, a Starbucks barista finished first, a farmer took second and a goldfish (Larry II, from Barstool Sports) finished 55th overall.

The NFL betting business is a tough endeavor, but even the amateurs (and fish) can take down the pros in any given year. The handicappers still win long-term, but as the New York lottery slogan goes, "Hey, you never know."

Here's a look at some Week 1 expert predictions around the league, in addition to Vegas odds and the schedule.

Expert predictions are via NFL Pickwatch, and the percentage number listed is how many analysts are picking the favorite. For example, 92 percent of experts believe the Pittsburgh Steelers will beat the Cleveland Browns. 

The percentages listed are as of Thursday morning at 10 a.m. ET. OddsShark is providing all the odds listed below.

     

Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots

Date, Time and TV: Thursday, September 7, 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC

Expert Picks: New England (92 percent)

Vegas Line and Over/Under: New England (-9) and 48.5

As long as the New England Patriots scheme to avoid Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters, they should be able to win this game with relative ease.

Pats quarterback Tom Brady has two excellent deep threats in Brandin Cooks and Chris Hogan, and he should find them early and often en route to a big win.

Pick: New England 35, Kansas City 17

     

New York Jets at Buffalo Bills

Date, Time and TV: Sunday, September 10, 1 p.m., CBS

Expert Picks: Buffalo (97 percent)

Vegas Line and Over/Under: Buffalo (-9.5) and 40

The focus and talk leading into this game has been about the New York Jets offense, which looks like it will struggle mightily.

However, Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy is the player to watch. He was dominant in Buffalo last year, rushing for 5.8 yards per carry and 11 touchdowns playing at home.

Expect McCoy to carry the load and lead the Bills to an easy home victory.

Pick: Buffalo 23, New York 9

     

Oakland Raiders at Tennessee Titans

Date, Time and TV: Sunday, September 10, 1 p.m., CBS

Expert Picks: Tennessee (57 percent)

Vegas Line and Over/Under: Tennessee (-2.5) and 50

This looks like a potential AFC playoff matchup on paper, as the Raiders will have one of the most explosive offenses in football.

Meanwhile, the Titans, who were 9-7 last year, look much improved thanks to some offseason acquisitions in the secondary and draft.

The Titans are going to be one of the AFC's best three teams (alongside New England and Pittsburgh) this year. Oakland is very good as well, but the edge goes to the home side in a shootout.

Pick: Tennessee 35, Oakland 27

     

Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans

Date, Time and TV: Sunday, September 10, 1 p.m., CBS

Expert Picks: Houston (97 percent)

Vegas Line and Over/Under: Houston (5.5) and 39.5

The biggest mismatch of the week is in this game, featuring the Jaguars offense against the Texans defense. The Jags have talent on offense, but a quarterback controversy in training camp isn't exactly foreshadowing for a successful year.

Meanwhile, Houston has a top-five defensive unit at minimum that could be the best in the league by season's end. Edge-rushers J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney will dominate this one.

Pick: Houston 24, Jacksonville 3

     

Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals

Date, Time and TV: Sunday, September 10, 1 p.m., CBS

Expert Picks: Cincinnati (87 percent)

Vegas Line and Over/Under: Cincinnati (-3) and 42.5

This looks like your typical classic black-and-blue AFC North game featuring plenty of hard hits, offensive struggles and a close scoreboard result.

The best player on the field is Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green, who is a matchup problem for any team in the league, even the Ravens' stout secondary. He'll be the difference in a nail-biter.

Pick: Cincinnati 17, Baltimore 16

     

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns

Date, Time and TV: Sunday, September 10, 1 p.m., CBS

Expert Picks: Pittsburgh (92 percent)

Vegas Line and Over/Under: Pittsburgh (-8) and 47

Don't sleep on the Cleveland Browns! Yes, the Browns have been awful outside a couple of seasons since returning to the NFL in 1999, but the young talent on the roster looks like it has serious potential.

Unfortunately, No. 1 overall pick and edge-rusher Myles Garrett is nursing an ankle sprain and will miss at least a few weeks, per the team. That's going to be a big hit for the Browns defense right now, especially against the Steelers' high-powered offense.

Pick: Pittsburgh 34, Cleveland 17

     

Atlanta Falcons at Chicago Bears

Date, Time and TV: Sunday, September 10, 1 p.m., FOX

Expert Picks: Atlanta (90 percent)

Vegas Line and Over/Under: Atlanta (-7) and 48

If Bears wide receiver Cameron Meredith was playing, I'd take Chicago with the points. But he's out for the season after suffering a torn ACL and partially torn MCL in the preseason. Therefore, Chicago is going to have trouble playing catch-up if the Falcons jump out to an early lead.

Atlanta's offense is stellar, and the core pieces are back this year. They should shine in Chicago.

Pick: Atlanta 31, Chicago 13

     

Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins

Date, Time and TV: Sunday, September 10, 1 p.m., FOX

Expert Picks: Philadelphia (56 percent)

Vegas Line and Over/Under: Philadelphia (-1) and 48.5

A bold prediction (I bat roughly .001 on my bold predictions, so take this with a grain of salt): Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery will connect for at least 10 touchdowns this season, and they will lead their team to the NFC East crown.

The Eagles look like they're ready to make a run. Wentz looked much improved in the preseason after a so-so rookie year that showed promise, and Jeffery looks rejuvenated after a rough end to his Chicago Bears tenure.

Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman will be a pain in the neck as usual, but expect Jeffery to win a battle or two more in a close victory.

Pick: Philadelphia 24, Washington 23

     

Arizona Cardinals at Detroit Lions

Date, Time and TV: Sunday, September 10, 1 p.m., FOX

Expert Picks: Arizona (56 percent)

Vegas Line and Over/Under: Arizona (-1.5) and 48

Arizona has arguably the best player in football in running back David Johnson, who can single-handedly take over a game, especially in a plus matchup.

He has one here against Detroit and should be a factor even if Arizona falls behind, as he's fantastic in the passing game too. Johnson will lead the Cardinals to an early road win.

Pick: Arizona 24, Detroit 17

     

Indianapolis Colts at Los Angeles Rams

Date, Time and TV: Sunday, September 10, 4:05 p.m., CBS

Expert Picks: Los Angeles (85 percent)

Vegas Line and Over/Under: Los Angeles (-4) and 41.5

No Andrew Luck means no chance of a big offensive day for the Indianapolis Colts, who are going to need to grind out a 13-10-esque game to win this road tilt.

That might actually happen, as Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald is in a contract dispute with the team and has not reported. His chances for playing Sunday do not look good.

This will be the ugliest game on the slate. The edge goes to the home team.

Pick: Los Angeles 17, Indianapolis 10

     

Carolina Panthers at San Francisco 49ers

Date, Time and TV: Sunday, September 10, 4:25 p.m., FOX

Expert Picks: Carolina (78 percent)

Vegas Line and Over/Under: Carolina (-5.5) and 47.5

The rebuilding 49ers defense needs to find a way to stop quarterback Cam Newton, running back Christian McCaffrey, tight end Greg Olsen and wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin. That's a tall order for a defense that's rebuilding under first-year head coach Kyle Shanahan.

The former Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator will find success in San Francisco eventually, but he'll have to deal with some growing pains first, starting with this one.

Pick: Carolina 35, San Francisco 10

      

Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers

Date, Time and TV: Sunday, September 10, 4:25 p.m., FOX

Expert Picks: Green Bay (75 percent)

Vegas Line and Over/Under: Green Bay (-3) and 51

There are two schools of thought in regards to this game, which should be a close contest on paper. Do you want to bet against Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers at home, where he rarely loses, or do you want to bet against the Seattle Seahawks, who look like they have an all-world defense this year?

It's a close call, but the edge goes to the 'Hawks (barely) due to wide receiver Doug Baldwin, who has the potential to have a huge day against the Packers secondary.

Pick: Seattle 31, Green Bay 24

     

New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys

Date, Time and TV: Sunday, September 10, 8:30 p.m., NBC

Expert Picks: Dallas (68 percent)

Vegas Line and Over/Under: Dallas (-4) and 47.5

Although Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott is returning to the team for one game only before a six-game suspension, this is still a tough matchup for Dallas. The Giants have one of the best run-stopping units in the league, in addition to a superstar secondary.

The difference in this game will be Giants rookie tight end Evan Engram, who might etch his name alongside other G-Men greats at the position such as Mark Bavaro and Jeremy Shockey. He's a tough cover for Dallas.

Engram will score a late touchdown in a close win for the Giants.

Pick: New York 20, Dallas 16

      

New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings

Date, Time and TV: Monday, September 11, 7:10 p.m. ET, ESPN

Expert Picks: Minnesota (68 percent)

Vegas Line and Over/Under: Minnesota (-3.5) and 48

This looks like a great game between two playoff contenders. The Saints aren't the same team away from the friendly confines of the Mercedes-Benz Dome, but their offense looks fantastic this year and should score points even against a tough Vikings defense.

The difference here will be wide receiver Stefon Diggs, a possession machine who could accrue 100 catches last year. He'll lead Minnesota to a close win.

Pick: Minnesota 21, New Orleans 20

            

Los Angeles Chargers at Denver Broncos

Date, Time and TV: Monday, September 11, 10:20 p.m. ET, ESPN

Expert Picks: Denver (51 percent)

Vegas Line and Over/Under: Denver (-3.5) and 42.5

The Chargers may have been the best five-win team in NFL history last year. Of course, that's not saying too much considering that five-win teams lose over two-thirds of their games, but the Bolts had some notable victories, including a road victory against the NFC champion Atlanta Falcons. They beat four teams with winning records, and their biggest loss was by only 12 points. Eight losses were by seven points or less.

Los Angeles looks better on paper this year. Look for the Bolts to spring an upset in Denver, who might struggle on offense again.

Pick: Los Angeles 23, Denver 14