The Ravens took the league by storm but I do expect that defenses will be better prepared for them this year and then the question is do the Ravens have the next wrinkle to stay ahead of the adjustments. The Browns played Baltimore twice last year and did upset them in the first meeting 40-25. The Ravens won the second meeting 31-15 in December but even that game featured a Ravens performance that was less than what we had seen most weeks.
I like taking division dogs in week 1 and I think it reasonable to think that the Browns are competitive in this game against a team they are very familiar with.
Game 2: Phi at Was +6
Bet% Phi 66% Was 34%
This line has dropped to 5.5 despite majority of bets being on the Eagles.
This is really a play against the flux in the Eagles roster caused by injuries. The Eagles are starting the year with a number of key injuries and with 2 key units; the offensive line and the secondary, being totally revamped. On the Offensive line the Eagles lost LT Andre Dillard and Brandon Brooks, Jason Peters had been at RG all camp but will go back to his traditional spot on the left side meaning the right side will be playing together for the first time all year. Lane Johnson is questionable at RT, even if he goes it will be hard to imagine him at anywhere near 100% and they will have either Herbig or Pryor making their first career start at RG. It is also possible that they both play if Johnson is out. Without question, the strength of Washington’s defense is on Dline so this will be a baptism by fire for the new Eagles players.
The Eagles secondary will have new starters at all 5 spots, last year Terry McLaurin beat them for 10 rec 255 yards and 2TDs in the two games and there is certainly some projection in believing the secondary has improved. Washington has to feel confident they can move the ball against the Eagles based on last year.
Eagles will also be without their star RB Miles Sanders, starting DE Derek Barnett, starting DT Javon Hargraves with Lane Johnson as questionable, all key players to their units.
Washington played the Eagles very well last year, in the opener they led 17-0 before the Eagles stormed back and then in December led 27-24 with 5 mins left before the Eagles scored on a late TD by Greg Ward and then took a fumble on the last play to the endzone to make the score much more flattering than deserved. This line just seems like it should be closer to a FG so too much value to pass up.
Game 3: 6Pt Teaser: Ind -2 vs Jax and Sea @ Atl +8.5
This is the classic Stanford Wong teaser, taking both sides through the critical 7 and 3’s. The Colts should be a team that is a clear playoff contender, they have a favorable schedule and are playing a team that has basically moved out all of their top end talent in a rebuild/tank. Anything can happen in week 1 but I feel good about the Colts winning by at least a FG.
The second side is taking the Falcons, I think this game should be a pick or Atl -1 but I teased them when it was at +2.5 and we get them through the TD. Atlanta could easily have a top 5 offense and with Seattle’s lack of pass rush I could see them getting out to a big start. Russell Wilson is famous for playing 1 score games which is fine by me here.
Game 4: Ari +7 @ SF
Bet% Ari 69% SF 31%
This is might be my favorite bet of the weekend, had I got this at the +7.5 it was earlier in the week then it would be easily the best bet on the board. Betting against the 49ers has a little to do with the traditional fade of Superbowl loser, I do think they will take a step back but mostly this is about the 49ers getting hit with cluster injuries.
Deebo Samuels is out this week, rookie Brandon Aiyuk is questionable but has been out most of camp, Emanuel Sanders left via free agancy leaving Kendrick Bourne as the lone receiver of note returning from last years team.
Arizona really came on last season as both Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury got their footing in the league and now have added Deandre Hopkins to the offense. Following a theme in the above picks, Arizona played the 49ers tough in both meetings last year, losing the first time 28-25 and then 36-26 in a game the Cards led going into the 4th quarter.
Game 5: LAC @ Cin +3
Bet% LAC 52% CIN 48%
Following a common theme in this week’s game we have another team in the Chargers that has suffered some key injuries. Early in camp the Chargers lost their best player in the back 7 and maybe the most versatile player on their roster in Derwin James. LA will also be without their C Mike Pouncey, over the years I have found that center is often one of the most impactful losses an offense can face that doesn’t impact the line.
The Chargers were 5-11 last year, look to have downgraded at QB and have key injuries again but go on the road across country as a FG favorite, Why? The reason is that the Bengals were the worst team in the league last year which is how they ended up with the #1 pick. I like taking a shot on the young QB here, he has weapons and and an improved offensive line as the Bengals get last years #1 pick Jonah Williams back. Bengals have the opportunity to be a very good offense if the line can hold up, we will learn a lot in this game going against Bosa and Ingram but I like them in this spot in the first game of the Joe Burrow era.