ESPN NFL Picks Week 1: Fading Unanimous Choices against the Spread

Jeff Grant@@JeffGrantSportsContributor ISeptember 10, 2011

ESPN NFL Picks Week 1: Fading Unanimous Choices against the Spread

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    The ESPN NFL experts picked up a one-yard against-the-spread victory Thursday night with the Green Bay Packers coming out with a 42-34 win over the New Orleans Saints as 4.5-point favorites inside Lambeau Field.

    It's important to note that the esteemed panel is simply picking games straight-up, which is incredibly different than trying to beat the Las Vegas linesmaker.

    The experts are made up of the following ESPN personalities:  Eric Allen, Mike Golic, Merrill Hoge, Ron Jaworski, Chris Mortensen, Adam Shefter, Mark Schlereth and Seth Wickersham.

    Let's take a look at the six other teams that the panel chose unanimously to prove victorious in Week 1.

Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns (-7)

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    The Cleveland Browns opened up as three-point home favorites once the lockout was lifted but have since risen to laying a touchdown in the season opener.

    It's a move that results from a combination of things but mainly attributed to the Cincinnati Bengals starting a rookie quarterback and the relatively strong play of second-year signal-caller Colt McCoy.

    The betting public agrees with the experts, as 75 percent of straight-up wagers are coming the Browns way.

    The Browns 1-10-1 ATS record in Week 1 will be tested in this experiment.

Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans (-9)

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    The casual bettor finds this as the easiest bet of the week on the moneyline, and it's likely the ESPN experts agree. 

    It's impossible to imagine that the Houston Texans could possibly lose to a Indianapolis Colts team without quarterback Peyton Manning.  After all, the Texans won last year's opener 34-24 as one-point home underdogs in the same matchup.

    The Colts will send out veteran Kerry Collins under center, and his 0-7 record against Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips isn't going to help the cause.

    Bettors must be careful due to Houston being favored by 7.5 to 10 points just four times in franchise history.

Carolina Panthers at Arizona Cardinals (-7)

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    The ESPN experts are fading a rookie quarterback in his first start against a more experienced option learning a new playbook.

    Bettors have moved the Cardinals from being favored by a field goal to a full touchdown. 

    The line was released after the lockout and already had quarterback Kevin Kolb's potential presence in the desert factored in.

    Eighty percent of the public thinks a straight-up win by the home team is a sure thing.

    Bettors will find Arizona's 8-17 ATS mark as a home favorite of 3.5 to 10 points to be the final hurdle inside the sports book.

Minnesota Vikings at San Diego Chargers (-9)

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    The quarterback matchup of Philip Rivers in his prime versus an aging Donovan McNabb is likely as far as the experts went in making this selection.

    Minnesota is being backed to a point in this contest due to possessing the running talents of Adrian Peterson and the casual bettor possibly thinking that Brett Favre is still taking snaps.

    Bettors may find it enticing to play a Vikings team that has been a road underdog of 7.5 to 10 points the last two years.

Dallas Cowboys at New York Jets (-5.5)

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    The ESPN experts are obviously not believers in "America's Team" bouncing back after a downtrodden 2010 season.  Dallas will also have starting quarterback Tony Romo back under center.

    Bettors are a little more split on betting the moneyline in this contest, as over 40 percent feel the Cowboys have a legitimate shot of pulling off an upset in the Big Apple.

    New York's 4-9 ATS mark as a favorite of 3.5 to 10 points is alarming in such a big prime-time matchup.

Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos (-3)

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    The ESPN NFL experts must feel that Oakland Raiders first-year head coach Hue Jackson can't enjoy the same success he had against the Denver Broncos as the team's offensive coordinator.

    Oakland won both meetings by a dominating combined score of 98-37, while also holding a 1,010 to 475-yardage margin.

    The Raiders are 7-0 ATS in their last seven divisional contests, while the Broncos are 8-26-1 ATS as a favorite.

    This game could provide a disappointing end to the week on the network's broadcast of Monday Night Football.