Week 1 NFL Picks

Football is back, De La Soul is back and life is pretty good right now. Coming off of 2 straight winning seasons on this blog certainly has me worried if the gambling gods take a chunk back but I do think the process of writing out rationale for every pick has improved my processes for making picks and also made me constantly seek out better and better information. As usual a lot of attention will be placed on analytics and the betting market to make these picks. Good luck to everyone.

Week 1 is always tough, not only do we have only the preseason to go on, these lines have been out for months and worked by professionals in every direction so it’s hard to trust the late line moves as true positions. But football is back and it’s the best. Same with De La.

2015 Review (all plays posted on Get The Cover)

2015 Reg Season: 57-35-3

2016 NFL Playoffs including SB: 6-2

2015-16 NFL Season Overall (Playoffs and Reg Season): 63-37-3 or 63%

Game 1 : San Diego +7 @ KC

Betting % SD 42% KC 58%

I bet this game early in the week and posted on twitter and here that the 7s were all going away and buying up to the full TD at -125 -130 was worth it. I wrote about the Chargers as an early season team to bet on and the reasons I like them in this post are basically the same.

The Chargers last year were the 15th best offense overall despite have the 31st ranked run offense. How much of last year was Melvin Gordon being terrible vs the offensive line missing 3 key pieces for a combined 20 games? I think with a healthy line and the addition of OC Ken Wisenhunt the run game will improve and the passing game should get a boost from that even if the run game just moves from terrible to below average. Rivers will have his full complement of WRs to start the year something he rarely had last year and I think he playing the K defense early is an advantage.

The Chiefs will start the year without Justin Houston and are relying on Tamba Hali and Dee Ford to fill in and create pressure. Eric Berry was late to camp after being franchise tagged and didn’t play any in the preseason. The Chiefs played without Houston to end the year and have a great coaching staff so these issues may be minor but if they are vulnerable on defense I think it will be early on.

Also worth mentioning the Chiefs were 3rd in the league in takeaways and 2nd in TO margin. I do think Alex Smith is someone who will always throw a lower number of interceptions but on the defensive side I would be surprised if the takeaways didn’t drop this season.

On offense Jamal Charles is not quite ready for the season and Chiefs will go with Ware as their starter. Andy Reid always runs a quality offense regardless of who is starting and the Chargers defense really struggled last year so it will be interesting to see how that unit bounces back this year and if Joey Bosa actually plays.

The Chargers played 12 one score games last year with a seriously deplete roster, (27th in Adjusted Games lost), I think they keep this game close and have a chance to win straight up. Sprinkle on ML

Game 2: Tampa Bay +3 @ Atlanta

Bet% : TB 48% Atl 52%

This bet has everything to do with my opinion on Atlanta which you can read here.

With a 3 point spread what the line tells us is that on a neutral field these teams are even and the line would be a pickem, so I guess the question is are these teams even? Well in DVOA last year the Bucs finished 21st while Atlanta finished 26th but to more what is more interesting is that at the end of the year in weighted DVOA which places more emphasis on the most recent performances the Bucs finished 18th and Atlanta finished 30th. Also TB finished higher in DVOA on both offense and defense than Atlanta.

I think these are 2 teams going in opposite directions and getting the full FG here is great value but I think TB wins straight up so definitely sprinkle on the ML.

Game 3: Green Bay @ Jacksonville +6

Bet% GB 81% Jax 19%

The Jags were a team that I was originally going to use in my early season teams to bet on post but I ended up talking myself out of it because they were easily the most popular Season Wins Over team. I thought that any value on them would be wiped out as they became a sexy pick to challenge for the AFC South.

The thing is as we enter into week 1 betting the Jags are the least bet on team on the whole schedule and the only team getting under 20% of bets (as of Friday), so even though sharps and people who follow the league closely like the Jags, for most casual bettors they don’t quite see it yet.

The Jags took major steps on offense last year moving to from 31st to 21st in offensive DVOA and we would expect them to take another step this year even if it’s not as big. For those of us high on the Jags, defense is where we expect the big jump this year. The Jags are expected to have up to 6 new starters on defense and there is now pressure on Gus Ramsey to prove his worth as a defensive coach.

For the Packers, this is a big number to cover for a team that even though they have the best QB in football isn’t quite sure what we can expect out of Jordy Nelson (coming off major injury)  and Eddie Lacy ( coming off of fatness). Also the surprise late release of starting and very popular guard Josh Sitton, didn’t sit well with the players on offense and provided and could be a distraction.

*I Locked in a 6 Saturday morning, it may end up going to 6.5 if you are willing to wait, though I worry sharps will come in and wipe those and the 6’s out which is why I took 6 when I saw it.

Detroit +3 @ Indianapolis

Bet% Det  35% Ind 65%

I like Detroit early this year to be able to continue on their hot end to 2015. I think the loss of Calvin Johnson is being overplayed and expect them to be a pretty efficient offense that finishes in the top half of the league.

As for this game I just don’t see how the Colts can overcome their secondary injuries now that both Vontae Davis and Daruis Butler are out for Week 1. The Colts are expected to play a mix of rookies and street free agents in the secondary to make up for losing the 2 starters and I just don’t see how they will be able to hold up in this game.

The Colts finished 8-8 last year but what is really interesting is that 7 of their 8 wins were by 7 points or less and 11 of the 16 games total were 1 score games so I certainly feel good that Detroit has every chance to be close in this game until the end.

The Colts started slow last year at 0-2 and with their issues in the secondary to start this year I expect them to start at least 0-1 this year.

Game 5: Oak +3 @ NO

Bet% Oak 51% NO49%

I struggled on pulling the trigger on Raiders all week but with +3’s popping up an hour before game time I had to no take the value. At +3 we are basically now saying on a neutral field this is a pickem, or if we give the Superdome an extra half point, Oak -.5. I don’t see it that way and on a neutral I would make the Raiders a 3 point favorite,in the end  I see these 2 teams in very different tiers in the league.

Oakland finished 2015 14th in DVOA , a major jump from 29th in 2014. They expect to improve this year not only with young stars like Mack, Cooper and Carr getting better but also through the additions of veterans like Nelson and Smith in the secondary, and improvements to their already strong offensive line. The Saints finished 2015 28th, dropping from 17th in ’14 and because of their cap situation going into the season were not able to add a lot to improve.

I get not wanting to jump on the Raiders as team making a leap, capable of winning road games but honestly if we just look at last season and don’t project improvements, the Raiders are a better team. With the full FG now, I am more than happy to take my shot on Oakland being undervalued.

 

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