By Steve Marcuz (@sidskeat) and Shaun Meyer (@deadduck77)
We are back!! After a long and arduous offseason, football is back and that means Shaun Meyer and I are also back to help put some more green in those pockets. Betting is always fun. It’s never more fun than when it’s on football games though. Betting on baseball just isn’t the same. Football is where it’s at. We were successful in helping win some cash last season but this year we’ve vowed to be better. Which means more dough for you! Let’s stop with the chitchat and get right to it!
Baltimore Ravens @ Cincinnati Bengals (-3)
Here we have two teams that always seem to be so up and down in the AFC North but teams that you can never really write off. I’m not sure any team has been hit by the injury bug this year more than Baltimore. They’ve already lost their projected starting RB in Kenneth Dixon. Meanwhile Joe Flacco is just coming back into the fold after missing all of training camp and the preseason with a back issue. The Bengals have been relatively injury free and will be getting AJ Green back after he went down towards the end of last season with a hamstring injury. The Bengals have also added some interesting rookies into the mix in John Ross and Joe Mixon. But this is about betting not fantasy. What I like is that the Bengals are 5-0 straight up (SU) and 4-1 against the spread (ATS) in their last 5 games against Baltimore when playing in Cincy. On top of everything else Baltimore is also 1-6 ATS in their last 7 road games. I’ll take the home team by a touchdown. Bengals win 27-20.
Pittsburgh Steelers (-9) @ Cleveland Browns
I’m not a huge fan of taking big spreads for road teams but I just couldn’t pass this one up. Sure, they’re they Browns. However, it seems like they might have finally started changing things up a bit. Having Myles Garrett being sidelined for this one might have helped me make up my mind. Although we know Ben Roethlisberger isn’t the same on the road, I think that this game will feature a very healthy dose of Le’Veon Bell. This means we don’t have to worry about Big Ben’s road woes. The Steelers are 3-0-1 ATS in their last 4 games against the Browns. Pittsburgh is also 7-2-1 ATS in their last 10 overall, and 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games on the road. Take that all you home-road split truthers. The Browns on the other hand are 1-8 ATS in their last 9 games at home. Yes this is a new team, but this isn’t the best test to see how far they’ve come, or if they’ve come along at all. Steelers win 31-17
Carolina Panthers @ San Francisco 49ers (+6)
I’m actually excited for this game for multiple reasons. I’m Excited to see if Panthers are going to try and use Christian McCaffrey correctly. I’m also excited to see what Cam Newton looks like after offseason shoulder surgery. Finally, I’m excited to see if Kyle Shanahan and the new look 49ers are ready to turn the corner following the Jim Harbaugh and Chip Kelly disasters. But will it be enough for a cover? The Panthers have averaged a lowly 16 points in their last 5 games away from Carolina. Plus, on their two most recent trips out west, the defense has allowed 37.5 pts/game. That’s a small sample size but 37 is a big number. The 49ers are only 1-6 ATS in their last 7 home games, but the Panthers are only 3-8-1 ATS in their last 12 on the road. Something's gotta give. I think this game will be a high scoring one with the Panthers stealing it late. Panthers win 31-28.
New York Giants (+4) @ Dallas Cowboys
This is one of the more anticipated games of opening week. It seems like Odell Beckham Jr. is gonna be healthy enough to suit up and Zeke has also been allowed to take the field for week 1. Division games are always played a bit tougher so you can always expect a close spread. With 2 good teams, if the spread is anything more than a FG I’ll take the points. The Giants are 8-4 ATS in their last 12 games and 9-3 SU in that same span. The Cowboys on the other hand finished last year going 1-6 ATS and are a lowly 7-13-2 in their last 22 home games. Jerry’s World hasn’t proven to give the Cowboys a huge advantage and this opening game between division rivals seems like it’s gearing up to be another close one. I’m actually taking the Giants to win this one outright so feel comfortable taking the points. Giants win 28-27.
Arizona Cardinals (-2) @ Detroit Lions
Arizona is coming off a disappointing 2016 season, unless you count David Johnson’s fantasy season. They underperformed last season failing to deliver on the expectations of those predicting they would be Super Bowl contenders. Detroit, on the other hand, made the playoffs, so that's something. Matthew Stafford got a fat raise a couple weeks ago making him the (current) highest paid player in the NFL. History shows that he has struggled against the Cardinals though. In four career games vs AZ Stafford has 3 touchdowns and 7 interceptions (thanks Sal). Arizona's defense is coming into the season totally healthy. The Cardinals have beaten the Lions five straight times. Between Stafford's big raise, his struggles vs the Cardinals and Arizona’s healthy D, I expect this trend to continue. Cardinals win 26-20.
Indianapolis Colts @ Los Angeles Rams (-4)
The Colts struggled with a hurt Andrew Luck last year and his health looms like a dark cloud over the season to come as well. The Rams were bad last year. Although that was to be expected. New franchise QB Jared Goff didn't do anything to prove to the brass that he is the future. But this is a new year and Goff is going to try to get that Jeff Fisher stank off of him. He has a bevy of new toys including rookie Cooper Krupp and Buffalo castaways Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods. On top of that, Indy’s secondary is banged up. The Colts are without Luck for week 1 (at least) and are relying on Scott Tolzien to bridge the gap. I guess somehow they have never seen him play? He has been pitiful in the preseason. It seems he must be showing them something in practice because from what he's shown me thus far, any other QB on the roster would be a better option. The Rams have covered against the Colts 5 of the last 7 times they've played. Give me the Rams at home in their little soccer stadium. Rams win 17-9.
Atlanta Falcons (-7) @ Chicago Bears
Poor Atlanta. They had the Super Bowl in hand and then epically choked handing the Patriots yet another championship ring. The Bears shuffled QBs as the Smokin’ Jay Cutler era came to an end in the Windy City. The big question was would they address the QB situation via free agency or the draft? Turns out that answer was both. They heaped a ton of money on undeserving free agent Mike Glennon and then unnecessarily traded up in the draft to grab Mitchel “don't call me Mitch” Trubisky. Then they had to watch Cameron Meredith’s season end with a horrific leg injury. While I think the Falcons may suffer from a bit of SB hangover, I don't think it will be enough to make the Bears competitive in this game. Atlanta was 8-1 ATS in their last 9 road games and I think they will roll Sunday. Falcons win 33-17.
New York Jets (+9) @ Buffalo Bills
The Jets forgot about Fitzpatrick’s 1 season expiration date and paid him to come back last year and lead the team to a 5-11 record. The Bills weren't decisively better riding LeSean “Shady” McCoy to a 7-9 record. The Jets have been obviously tanking since last season ended. They shipped virtually anyone with talent away and brought in Josh McCown to steer the ship down the drain. The Bills seem to have only been tanking the last couple weeks. They shipped Sammy Watkins to LA and rumors were swirling that McCoy and Tyrod were on the block too. Well week one, the latter two are still in town. And while I think that will be enough to come out on top nine points is too many for a game no one wants to win. After all, of the Jets 5 wins last year, 2 were against the Bills. Bills win 27-23.
Steve - Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cleveland Browns OVER 46.5
This one seems pretty simple to me. Pittsburgh is gonna open up their offense to start their season and get out to a comfortable lead and then Cleveland is going to score some garbage points late to get the cover. Mix in a pick six for the Steelers’ defense (maybe former Brown Joe Haden?) and I think this one is a lock. Steelers win 31-17.
Shaun - Jacksonville Jaguars @Houston Texans OVER 39.5
This is a small under. The Tom Savage era is now and the Blake Bortles era is now or never. No doubt the Jags will be down 20-6 going into the fourth quarter and lose 23-21. Both games between Houston and Jacksonville hit the over last year. Book it!!