NFL Week 1 - Broncos, Vikings and Ravens are Jimmy McGinty Best Bets.
In addition to a stack of season long bets and previews I’m going to have a weekly column where I pick 3 teams against the spread. A 6 or 7/1 treble (roughly) which hopefully gives us plenty to shout about each Sunday night. 16 games to choose from. There are a few teams I’m finding very hard to predict, many more I’d like to watch once or twice and a few games where the spread looks perfect so I’m happy to ignore those.
Honourable Mentions for wk 1
I think Detroit are going to have a decent season and are far better than the Jets. With the Lions at home I’d have made the spread closer to double digits than the 6.5 it is. But the Jets have a terrific secondary which is the perfect foil against this Lions offense who’ll try to attack through its trio of wide-receivers.
Washington are another side I’m very high on this year and should be able to win in Arizona. Their strong defensive line might obliterate the Cardinals weak offensive line but I’m hesitant to pull the trigger as the Redskins had a big weakness versus the run last year and here they face one of the league’s best running backs.
The Panthers have issues (OL injuries, WR talent, Cam’s throwing accuracy) but not nearly as many issues as the Cowboys (OL injuries, zero WR and TE talent, Irving sus, Woods inj). The Panthers are the better side and at home that should make the spread 5 or 6 not the 3pts it is. Panthers strong run D will help slow down Zeke Elliott also – the Cowboys main attacking threat. But the worry is that Panthers OL. They are really bad and face a serious DL here.
Miami can be a tricky place to go early in the season due to the heat. I also have them chalked down for plenty of improvement with Tannehill back at QB. The Titans with a new bunch of coaches may take time to get going. Giving up 1.5pts on the road may be a tough ask. However, with Frank Gore potentially getting some of Kenyan Drake’s snaps and DaVante Parker injured the Dolphins might struggle on offense themselves so happy to pass on them this week.
Chargers face a near rookie QB and I’m not sure books and the public are completely in line with just how good the Chargers are. They’ve a decent defense and can run and throw with the best of them. No significant home field advantage and how the Chiefs played in wk1 2017 are what’s holding me back.
Picks for wk 1
Seattle at Denver -3pts
I love Denver here. The Broncos have won their first two home games stretching back to 2012 (5yrs). The altitude makes it a tough place to go and even tougher in the opening weeks as fitness and conditioning can be a little shy of 100%.
I’m relatively high on Denver this year and against Seattle, which obviously helps in week 1. Earl Thomas sitting out, TE Ed Dickson injured and Doug Baldwin having missed all of preseason are big issues for the Seahawks. All they really have is a star QB in Russell Wilson but this is a bad matchup for him. He’ll be under severe pressure as one of the League’s worst OL tries to protect him from a terrific defensive front. Von Miller and co will constantly get to Wilson.
The Broncos had the same strong defense last year but struggled to stay off the pitch as their offense was awful. They often trailed and had to chase games and it didn’t suit them at all. If their opponents are forced to chase the game it’ll play to their strengths so much more. Now with a new and improved QB – Case Keenum was very good in Minnesota last year – the Broncos will keep the chains moving. The defense will do the rest. Keenum will have plenty of help from two rookies as well. Royce Freeman, their rookie running back who has looked electric in preseason. And Courtland Sutton their rookie WR has looked super-talented also.
Home advantage at altitude, no Earl Thomas, dominating the battle in the trenches – The Broncos win by 6+.
San Francisco at Minnesota -6.5pts
The basis behind this pick is that Jimmy G and the 49ers are an overrated and overhyped bunch after their 5 game winning stretch to finish 2017. They beat a badly coached Bears side, injury-riddled Texans, Jags who had just won their division and the Rams B-team. They were 1-10 before that for good reason. Meanwhile the Vikings have one of the league’s strongest rosters and playing at home, in the dome, should win this by 9+. The spread of 6.5 doesn’t capture the gap in quality between the two sides.
San Fran will be without a top defender in Reuben Foster (suspended) and haven’t had much time to plan without starting running-back, Jerick McKinnon, who tore his ACL just over a week ago. This is also an early start for a west-coast team, never a good thing.
The Vikings are in a red-hot NFC North so know they need to hit the ground running. With Kirk Cousins now pulling the strings and Dalvin Cook back from injury the offense should take a step forward. Personnel wise the defense is possibly stronger than last year’s league leader – a scary prospect for Jimmy G and co.
If the Vikings aren’t as good as I’m hoping it’ll be because their OL can’t kept Cousins clean. They look to be a weaklink but hopefully all the talent at RB, WR and TE will bail Cousins out when needed.
Buffalo at Baltimore -7pts
I’m not a huge Baltimore fan heading into 2018 and yet fancy them to cover 7pts with ease here. This Bills side is beyond awful. Their biggest weaklink, and there are a few, is their offensive line protecting a turnover prone/inexperienced QB. So, what’s a bad matchup for that – a side with a stellar defensive front like the Ravens. I just struggle to see how the Bills move the ball with success. Even when Nathan Peterman has a clean pocket he’ll be targeting a real mediocre bunch of receivers.
The Bills struggled against the run but had a strong secondary last year. As the year went on in Baltimore they discovered they had a very good running back in Alex Collins. This is key as relying on Joe Flacco would not be an ideal situation here (or ever). However, Michael Crabtree and John Brown (looked good in preseason) should boost the Ravens aerial attack.
The main worries re Baltimore are that cornerback Jimmy Smith is suspended and they face their rivals the Bengals on Thursday night so may be looking ahead already.
The Bills defense is decent but if the Ravens don’t turn over the ball they may just need 15pts to cover -7. Justin Tucker can kick that. The Jags last year rode a top defense and strong run game to win 10 games, and 8 of those wins were by 12+. The Ravens can copy that formula here.
The Vikings spread is 6pts in a few places but similarly the Ravens are -7.5pts in other places so shop around for the best combo. Betway and Boylesports are 6.2/1 the above treble.
Football is back. Enjoy.