2017 Week 1 Picks

It is year 4 of GTC and we have had 3 straight years of winning seasons though last year was the worst record of the 3 after a bad run to close the year. The format of the blog will continue to be mostly the same with weekly picks going up usually Saturday Night and then the review post in the middle of the week. Last year we started with a perfect week 1, here’s hoping we can take it back for a similar start this year.

Previous 3 Seasons

2016 Regular Season: 53-37-3

2017 Playoffs: 3-3

2016-2017 NFL Season Overall (Playoffs and Reg Season) : 56 – 40- 3 or 53%

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%

2014 Reg Season 60W-42L

2015 Playoffs & Superbowl 4-6

2014-2015 Total season 64-48 = 57%

Week 1 Picks

Game 1: Phi -1 @ Was

Bet % Phi 58%  Was 42%

This game opened with Was -3 which seems like the right opening number for any NFC East game but it has been basically unanimous that sharp money on the Eagles has moved this line, so why are they all on Eagles?

Both teams remade their receiving groups this offseason. For Washington they lost Desean Jackson and Pierre Garcon and replaced them with Tyrell Pryor and moving Jamison Crowder and Dotson up to bigger roles. Desean Jackson is a major loss as he is basically singular in his ability to stretch the field and open the field up for his teammates. Kirk Cousins was a different QB with Jackson in lineup vs without and while Pryor looks to be a very nice addition, at least early on there may be an adjustment period for Cousins. Add to this that Crowder who many expect to take a major role in this offense has been questionable all week and is not likely to be 100%.

Not only will Cousins have to adjust to new receivers but he will also be without his OC from last year Sean Mcvay and in the preseason at least it looked the offense was still adjusting to the coaching change.

On the Eagles, Carson Wentz will also have to adjust to new receivers but the difference for him is that the Eagles had the worst receivers in the NFL last year and even if there is an adjustment period, Alshon Jeffrey and Tory Smith will still be major upgrades.

The Eagles bring one of the best 2 or 3 defensive lines in the NFL and if they are going to win this game, this group is going to have to get pressure on Cousins. I think they will. The addition of Timmy Jernigan should help Fletcher Cox get more 1 on 1’s and I think the rookie Barnett could be big here as well.

Last year when these teams met it was the first game of Lane Johnsons’ suspension and Ryan Kerrigan destroyed Eagles rookie Vaitai in his first career start. This year the Eagles come in with their line intact including both tackles and because of that the offense should fare much better than last year.

Game 2: Atl @ Chi +6.5

Bet% Atl 80% Chi 20%

There a number of games on the board where I think if we look at last years versions of these teams the games seem obvious. Here we have the NFC champs, a team that was about 10 minutes away from a Superbowl, playing the Bears who won 3 games last year. When we look at the Bet% split on this game it’s clear that the public sees this game as a gimme and those are usually the ones to look at backing the unpopular home dog.

I actually think the Bears are live here, last year they were decimated by injuries they finished dead last in Adjusted Games Lost according to Football outsiders but still finished 17th in offensive DVOA and that’s with Matt Barkley starting 6 games. Whatever you think of Mike Glennon and he may not finish the season as the starter but he is miles ahead of Barkley.  The Falcons keep adding great athletes to their defense but in this one it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Bears have success moving the ball.

On the flip side I think there is something to the Superbowl loser hangover thing. If the Falcons were at home or playing another top team or divisional opponent I might not be against them here but playing a team that everyone expects them to walk, on the road, and playing their first game without OC Kyle Shanahan.  I could definitely see them look past the Bears to the next week and the opening of their new stadium and end up in a struggle here that they might even drop straight up.

Game 3: Ari -2 @ Det

Bet% Ari 65%  Det 35%

Betting week 1 is always about perception, we don’t have any real data to go on so it is basically left to what we thought of these teams last year and do we expect that to continue this year.

The Lions last year went 9-7 and made the playoffs, the Cards who went into 2016 as a legit Superbowl contender finished 7-8-1 and were a huge disappointment but were the Lions really better than the Cards last year? I don’t think so.

For me the Lions are one of the teams I expect to regress the most this year. In 2016 despite going 9-7 the Lions finished -12 in point differential and 8 of their 9 wins were the result of 4th Quarter comebacks which doesn’t seem like a sustainable way to win games. The Cards meanwhile were +56 in point differential and finished 16th in DVOA, the Lions btw  finished 27th.

The big mismatch for me in his game is the Lions defense vs the Cards offense. Detroit finished 32nd in defensive DVOA last year and were not able to add much to improve that group in the offseason. Arizona bring one of the 2 best RBs in the league and if they can protect Palmer he should be able to exploit the Lions in the middle of the field with Fitzgerald as the defense keys on Johnson.

Getting Arizona under a FG here is a real bargain, to me they are a much better team than the Lions and the reason we are getting them this cheap is because of last years records which I don’t think were indicative of either teams performance last year.

Game 4: Ind @ LAR -4

Bet% Ind 27% LAR 23%

There isn’t a lot to write about here, the Colts completely mishandled their offseason with the Andrew Luck shoulder doubts and are forced to start Scott Tolzien in an NFL game on the road. The Colts have been sporting one of the thinnest rosters in the league and now without Luck that roster is going to be exposed. The Colts will also be without their best defensive player CB Vontae Davis and starting Center Ryan Kelly.

Obviously betting on Jared Goff doesn’t exactly make me feel great but last year the Colts were last in run defense DVOA so the Rams should be able to protect Goff with a heavy dose of Todd Gurley. I certainly wish Aaron Donald was playing because he would dominate vs the Colts line but even without him I fully expect the Rams defense to handle the Colts offense.

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