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Football is back!
After the Patriots and Chiefs kick off the season on Thursday night, football fans will be treated to a full slate of games on Sunday including a few fantastic matchups between proven teams (Packers vs. Seahawks) as well as new powerhouses that could take over the league this year (Titans vs. Raiders).
The return of football also brings the return of the time-honored tradition of gambling on football.
So if you care to join me, this year I’ll be doing my best to pick every game against the spread to the best of my abilities. For some games I’ll do my best to offer you genuine gambling insight, for others, my picks will be based on gut and feel and how much I enjoy watching J.J. Watt and Derek Carr play football. But I promise to always be honest, and do my best to keep our wallets relatively intact along the way.
With that said, it’s absolutely beautiful to have football back in our lives. Let’s get to picking.
All lines courtesy of the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.
Kansas City Chiefs (+9) at New England Patriots (Thursday, 8:30 p.m. ET)
- Al Bello/Getty Images
The pick: Chiefs +9
The logic: Ugh what an awful way to start this experiment. The Patriots make gamblers look dumb week in and week out, and this game will likely be more of the same. Between Andy Reid vs. Bill Belichick, Alex Smith vs. Tom Brady, the Patriots receiving corps of Cooks, Gronk, Hogan, and Amendola vs. Travis Kelce and not much else, none of the matchups look good.
But points are important when betting on sports, and nine points is a lot. Since 2000 these teams have met eight times and the Chiefs have covered nine points six of those times, and fell one point short on another occasion. When the Chiefs and Patriots met in the playoffs last season, they lost by just a touchdown.
There’s a 70% chance pick will look ridiculous five minutes into the game after the Pats have sprinted to a 14-point lead after electing to kick, but the Chiefs shouldn’t be nine point dogs.
New York Jets (+8) at Buffalo Bills (Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET)
- Brett Carlsen/Getty Images
The pick: Bills -8
The logic: Laying eight points with the Bills and Tyrod Taylor’s questionable health seems like an odd choice, but the Jets appear to be openly tanking the season, and it would be a brutal blow to their chances at the first overall pick next year to win their opening game. The Bills will be excited to play at home and have the unique opportunity to absolutely destroy someone. Why not run up the score?
Atlanta Falcons (-7) at Chicago Bears (Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET)
The pick: Bears +7
The logic: Sure, it’s Mike Glennon going up against the team that almost beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl, but it would be a crime not to bet the first home underdog of the season.
Baltimore Ravens (+3) at Cincinnati Bengals (Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET)
- Maddie Meyer/Getty
The pick: Ravens +3
The logic: These AFC North matchups always seem to come down to the wire, so why not take the points in this spot?
Pittsburgh Steelers (-8.5) at Cleveland Browns (Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET)
- Brian Blanco/Getty Images
The pick: Browns +8.5
The logic: Another great home dog! Also, Deshone Kizer is easy to like now that he’s out of a Notre Dame uniform. The Browns have likely cost sharp bettors more money than any team in football history over the past two seasons, but with a new year upon us, it’s important to follow the tried and true rules of gambling until we know more about the season, and when home teams are getting this many points, you close your eyes and make the bet.
Arizona Cardinals (-1.5) at Detroit Lions (Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET)
The pick: Cardinals -1.5
The logic: The Lions haven’t beaten the Cardinals in literally 20 years.
Jacksonville Jaguars (+5.5) at Houston Texans (Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET)
- USA Today Sports
The pick: Houston -5.5
The logic: After the devastation Houston has faced in the past two weeks, who wants to root against the Texans here in their home debut. I hope J.J. Watt gets eight sacks and scores two touchdowns.
Oakland Raiders (+2) at Tennessee Titans (Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET)
The pick: Raiders +2
The logic: Everyone is in love with the Titans this year, including me, but the Raiders were such late-game wizards last season (including a Week 1 comeback against the Saints where they went for the two-point conversion to win rather than kicking for overtime) that it’s tough to pick against them in this spot. Plus, all eight of CBS Sports “experts” picked Tennessee here, so again, when they zig, you zag.
Philadelphia Eagles (-1) at Washington Redskins (Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET)
- Evan Habeeb/Getty Images
The pick: Eagles -1
The logic: The Eagles haven’t beaten the Redskins since September, 2014, and if Carson Wentz is going to be the Eagles quarterback of the future, at some point he’s going to have to beat Washington. Let’s see if he can replicate the hot start he lead Philadelphia to last year.
Indianapolis Colts (+3.5) at Los Angeles Rams (Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET)
- Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
The pick: Rams -3.5
The logic: This might be your only opportunity this year to bet against Scott Tolzien on the road. Make it count.
Seattle Seahawks (+3) at Green Bay Packers (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)
- Joe Robbins/Getty Images
The pick: Packers -3
The logic: The home team has one this matchup in every meeting between the teams since 2009. It’s likely to be one of the best games of the week though, so you don’t have to bet to enjoy this one.
Carolina Panthers (-5.5) at San Francisco 49ers (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)
- Grant Halverson/Getty Images
The pick: 49ers +5.5
The logic: According to SportsInsights, this is the most one-sided game on the board this week, with almost 80% of the bets coming in on the Panthers. With this is mind, we’re going to fade the public and take the 49ers. When the gambling world zigs, it’s usually a smart move to zag.
New York Giants (+4) at Dallas Cowboys (Sunday, 8:30 p.m. ET)
- Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
The pick: Cowboys -4
The logic: Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension issues have still not been resolved, but for now it looks like the second-year running back will be able to play Week 1 before taking his time off. Expect the Cowboys to make the most of their limited time with their running back, and show up big at home in primetime.
New Orleans Saints (+3.5) at Minnesota Vikings (Monday, 7:10 p.m. ET)
- Chris Graythen/Getty Images
The pick: Saints +3.5
The logic: Adrian Peterson makes his return to Minnesota, where he will get booed into oblivion before running for 150 yards and three touchdowns.
Los Angeles Chargers (+3.5) at Denver Broncos (Monday, 10:20 p.m. ET)
- Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
The pick: Broncos -3.5
The logic: Few men in history have figured out more creative ways to lose football games than Philip Rivers. While he’s always a threat to put up 40 points on a whim, it’s tough to see the Denver defense letting that happen, and I’ve seen too many dollars leave my pocket thanks to an ill-timed interception to take him in a night game. Plus, the Broncos are apparently extremely excited about Trevor Siemian.
Now check out how every team stacks up going into Week 1 of the season
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