Pick of the Week
High Confidence Picks
Medium Confidence Picks
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Pick of the Week
High Confidence Picks
Medium Confidence Picks
Low Confidence Picks
No Confidence Picks
Kansas City Chiefs (1-0) at Oakland Raiders (1-0)
The Chiefs won 40-26 week 1, but it came against a Jaguars team that lost its starting quarterback in the first half. The Chiefs had an impressive point total and a 46.67% first down rate (3rd highest of the week), but the Jaguars’ defense is a far cry from what it was in 2017 and the Chiefs continued to have serious issues on defense, allowing the Jaguars to pick up first downs at a 42.00% rate and allowing sixth round rookie backup quarterback Gardiner Minshew to move the ball effectively in his first career action.
The Chiefs have another easy game this week against a Raiders team whose week 1 win came against an equally underwhelming Broncos team, but it certainly wouldn’t be a surprise to see the game turn into a shootout. The line isn’t huge at Kansas City -7, but the Raiders could easily get a late garbage time cover at the very least here at home in Oakland. We’re not getting a ton of line value with the Raiders, but I have this line calculated at Kansas City -4.5 with the Chiefs missing top receiver Tyreek Hill and possibly left tackle Eric Fisher due to injury, so Oakland is the pick for pick ‘em purposes.
Kansas City Chiefs 33 Oakland Raiders 28
Pick against the spread: Oakland +7
San Francisco 49ers (1-0) at Cincinnati Bengals (0-1)
The Bengals entered the season as one of the most banged up teams in the league. In the off-season, they lost first round rookie Jonah Williams for the season, long-time starting guard Clint Boling to an injury related retirement, and several other players like wide receiver AJ Green, left tackle Cordy Glenn, and cornerback Darqueze Dennard indefinitely due to various injuries. Despite that, they almost pulled the upset week 1 in Seattle, as one of the biggest underdogs of the week. They lost by just 1 point in a game that swung on the Seahawks recovering 3 of 4 fumbles and the Bengals won the first down rate battle by 3.67%.
The Seahawks were an overrated opponent, especially with defensive end Ezekiel Ansah out with injury, but the Bengals get another opponent this week that could be overrated. The 49ers won 31-17 in Tampa Bay week 1, but they lost the first down rate battle by 3.85%, winning largely due to takeaways, which are inconsistent week-to-week. Jimmy Garrappolo looked rusty in his return from injury and the Bengals defense looked significantly improved in week 1 over last season’s underperforming unit. We’re not getting much line value with the Bengals -1, but I have these two teams about even in my rankings, so this line should be closer to -3. The Bengals are my pick for pick ‘em purposes, but there’s not enough here to bet on them.
Cincinnati Bengals 20 San Francisco 49ers 17
Pick against the spread: Cincinnati -1
Cleveland Browns (0-1) at New York Jets (0-1)
Both of these teams came into the season with expectations of being significantly improved, after several key off-season acquisitions. Instead, both started the season by losing at home as favorites. The Browns got blown out 43-13 in a game in which they finished with a -11.31% first down rate differential (4th worst of the week), albeit against a Titans team that has the potential to be very competitive this season if Marcus Mariota can stay healthy. The Jets, meanwhile, only lost by 1 at home to the Bills, but that was despite winning the turnover margin by 3. Teams with a +3 turnover margin only lose on average 10.3% of the time, but the Jets lost the first down rate battle by -12.41% (3rd worst of the week) and lost the game as a result.
Things have gone from bad to worse for the Jets since then, with starting quarterback Sam Darnold going out indefinitely with an illness. Any projections that had the Jets being significantly improved this season involved Darnold taking a big step forward in his second year in the league and now the Jets have to turn to backup caliber quarterback Trevor Siemian. In addition, the Jets will also be without top draft pick Quinnen Williams and key free agent acquisition CJ Mosley in this one due to injury. Those two players are also a big part of why the Jets had increased expectations this season. As a result of all of those absences, this line has shifted from Cleveland -2.5 earlier in the week to Cleveland -7 now.
It’s hard to know what to make of this game. The Browns should be more focused after getting blown out at home week 1, but they may still need more time to gel after all of their off-season acquisitions and they could overlook a Trevor Siemian led Jets team with a much more important measuring stick game on deck against the Rams. Road favorites are 23-50 ATS since 2012 before being home underdogs and even if the Browns don’t end up being home underdogs next week (they’re currently +1.5 on the early line), the logic still stands that this could be a look ahead spot, even after what happened week 1.
On the other hand, the Jets also have a very tough game on deck in New England and underdogs of 7+ are 44-72 ATS since 2012 before being underdogs of 7+ again. The Jets should be more focused, knowing they have to give 110% to compensate for their absences, and we’re getting a little bit of line value with them even with all of their absences, as I have this line calculated at Cleveland -6, but there’s not nearly enough here to bet on them. The Jets are my pick, but for pick ‘em purposes only.
Cleveland Browns 24 New York Jets 19
Pick against the spread: NY Jets +7
Indianapolis Colts (0-1) at Tennessee Titans (1-0)
This game is tough to predict. On one hand, this line suggests the Titans are only about even with the Colts, favoring them at home by a field goal, which I don’t think is accurate. A lot of attention is being paid to the Browns’ disappointing start to the season, getting blown out by home by 30 against the Titans last week, but the Titans are not getting attention for their strong performance in the 43-13 victory. They dominated the game as much as the final score suggested, winning the first down rate battle by 11.31%, the 4th highest margin of the week. The Titans looked likely to have a strong running game and defense this season, but their passing game looked strong as well, with several new weapons added in the off-season and Marcus Mariota looked much healthier and more comfortable than he did most of last season. If that can continue, this should be a very competitive team in the AFC.
However, this is also a tough spot for the Browns, as they have to turn around and play another game in 4 days on Thursday Night Football against the Jaguars. Favorites are just 55-75 ATS since 2012 before Thursday Night Football and the Titans could easily overlook the Andrew Luck less Colts with another game right around the corner. The Titans were highly inconsistent last year, as they beat four playoff qualifiers, but couldn’t make the playoffs themselves because of losses to the Bills and Dolphins. It certainly wouldn’t be a surprise to see them follow up a big road win in Cleveland with a disappointing home performance against the Colts, especially before a short week. I’m taking the Titans for pick ‘em purposes, but I can’t be confident in them at all.
Tennessee Titans 20 Indianapolis Colts 16
Pick against the spread: Tennessee -3
Seattle Seahawks (1-0) at Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1)
The Seahawks were one of the highest favored teams week 1, at home against a very banged up Bengals team, but they ended up winning by just 1 point in a game they easily could have lost. They lost the first down rate battle by 3.67% and the game largely swung on the Seahawks recovering 3 out of 4 fumbles in the game. Fumble recovery rate is very inconsistent on a week-to-week basis, so they won’t be able to count on that again this week.
I was concerned about the Seahawks’ defense coming in the season, even after they acquired Jadeveon Clowney from the Texans, but their offensive performance week 1 was concerning as well. Russell Wilson played well, but his lack of supporting cast was evident. He was sacked 4 times on 24 drop backs, was supported by just 3.05 yards per carry from his running backs, and had just 5 passes caught by wide receivers. As a result, the Seahawks had just a 30.61% first down rate.
The Seahawks get a boost from on defense this week from the return of defensive end Ezekiel Ansah, who missed week 1, but their offense isn’t getting any reinforcements and the Steelers’ defense gets back safety Sean Davis, who was badly missed in their loss in New England last week. This line at Pittsburgh -3.5 suggests the hometown Steelers are the slightly better team. I have a little bit bigger of a gap between these two teams and the Steelers are likely underrated after having to face such a tough opponent week 1, but we’re not getting enough line value with the Steleers to bet on them. If this line moves down to 3 before gametime, I would reconsider.
Pittsburgh Steelers 27 Seattle Seahawks 20
Pick against the spread: Pittsburgh -3.5
New Orleans Saints (1-0) at Los Angeles Rams (1-0)
This is a rematch of last year’s controversial NFC Championship game, which ended with the Rams pulling the upset in New Orleans and advancing in part due to a non called pass interference that prompted the league to change the rules to allow for pass interference to be challenged and reviewed. The Saints now travel west to face the Rams in Los Angeles. Having homefield advantage will benefit the Rams, but they’re not quite as good of a team as last season, losing several starters on both sides of the ball this off-season, including key players like Ndamukong Suh, Rodger Saffold, and LaMarcus Joyner.
The Rams won week 1 in Carolina, but that game swung on a few plays, as the Rams recovered all 4 fumbles in a game they won by 3. They also lost the first down rate battle to a Carolina team that then went on to lose at home to the Buccaneers. Despite that, the Rams are favored over the Saints, albeit only by 2 points. We’re not getting a ton of line value with the Saints and the Saints have really struggled in the first couple weeks of the season in recent years (3-15-1 ATS since 2010), so this is only a low confidence pick, but the money line is worth a small bet at +110.
New Orleans Saints 33 Los Angeles Rams 30 Upset Pick +110
Pick against the spread: New Orleans +2
New England Patriots (1-0) at Miami Dolphins (0-1)
This line favors the visiting New England Patriots by 19.5 points here in Miami, just the third time in the past 30 years that a team has been favored by 17 points or more on the road. It’s understandable why this line is where it is. The Dolphins stripped down their roster this off-season, to accumulate cap space and draft picks for the future, and are left with not only the least talented team in the league by far but also a demotivated one, as the players don’t believe the front office and coaching staff are trying to compete this season. They lost their home opener 59-10 to a Ravens team that lost 6 defensive starters in the off-season and might not even end up being that good. The Patriots, meanwhile, are defending Super Bowl Champions and coming off of a dominant performance against the Steelers week 1.
That doesn’t mean this game is a lock to be a blowout though and, in fact, neither of the last two teams to be favored by 17+ on the road came close to covering. In week 13 of 1992, the Bills actually lost on the road in Indianapolis as 20-point road favorites, while the Patriots nearly lost in week 13 during their perfect season in 2007 as 17-point road favorites in Baltimore, salvaging a win in the last minute.
Does that mean this game will be close too? Well, when we include teams favored by 14-16 points on the road, we see that big road favorites actually have a winning record against the spread (15-11 ATS since 1989), so there really isn’t a larger trend. The Patriots have struggled in Miami in the past and they have started slow in past seasons and this game might be more about getting Antonio Brown acclimated than anything, but even if that’s the case they could still win this game with ease. The Patriots appeared to be in mid-season form last week and they’re in a great spot with only a game against the Jets and backup quarterback Trevor Siemian on deck. Favorites of double digits are 44-31 ATS since 2002 before being favorites of double digits again, which the Patriots almost definitely will be next week. I can’t take the Patriots with any confidence this week because this line has kind of gotten out of control, but I am expecting a blowout.
New England Patriots 31 Miami Dolphins 10
Pick against the spread: New England -19.5
Buffalo Bills (1-0) at New York Giants (0-1)
A lot of the concern around the Giants coming into the season was around their offense, which lost Odell Beckham this off-season, but they showed in their week 1 loss in Dallas that the bigger concern is their defense, which has lost Olivier Vernon, Landon Collins, and Damon Harrison in the past calendar year and looked like one of the weakest in the league coming into the season. Their offense actually has a chance to be decent when they are at full strength because they have an improved offensive line and they still have several playmakers without Odell Beckham like Saquon Barkley, Evan Engram, Sterling Shepard, and Golden Tate. Shepard is out this week with a concussion though, while Tate still has three games left on his suspension, so they’re pretty thin in the receiving corps as well right now.
The Giants are playing a Bills team that won on the road at the Jets week 1, coming back from down 16-0 to win 17-16. The Bills got down early because of turnovers, but managed to win the game despite a -3 turnover margin, which is very impressive, even against an underwhelming Jets team. On average, teams with a -3 turnover margin win just 10.3% of the time. Turnover margins tend to be inconsistent on a week-to-week basis and the Bills finished week 1 with the 3rd best first down rate differential in the league, only behind the Ravens and Patriots.
The Bills still have concerns, but they look to be improved over last season and could easily compete for a wild card spot in the AFC, which is by far the weaker conference. The Giants are an NFC team, but they’re one of the worst, so the Bills could easily win this game to start out 2-0. We’re not getting much line value with them at Buffalo -2, which is about where I have it, but most games are decided by at least a field goal, so Buffalo should cover if they win. A Buffalo win by a field goal seems like the most likely outcome, but there’s not nearly enough here to bet them with confidence.
Buffalo Bills 23 New York Giants 20
Pick against the spread: Buffalo -2
Chicago Bears (0-1) at Denver Broncos (0-1)
I expected the Bears to decline in win total coming into the season, but the primary reason for that was simply that they’re going to face a much tougher schedule in 2019, after facing one of the easiest last season. The Bears lost a tough game at home to the Packers to open their season last season, but they get a much easier game this week in Denver. The Broncos looked like an underwhelming team on paper coming into the season and their week 1 loss in Oakland doesn’t help matters. They’re also missing two of their top off-season additions due to injury, with both slot cornerback Bryce Callahan and right tackle Ja’Wuan James out for this game.
The Bears took care of business against most of their weak opponents last season, going 10-3 with a +129 point differential and an average margin of victory of 13.6 points per game against non-playoff teams, and I expect them to be able to do so again this season, especially with no upcoming distractions (they face the Redskins next week). As mere 2-point road favorites in Denver, the Bears basically just need to win to cover here, so they’re worth a bet. With the Broncos current injury situation, I have this line calculated at Chicago -3.5, which isn’t a ton of line value, but it crosses the key number of 3. The Bears should be able to win at least by a field goal.
Chicago Bears 19 Denver Broncos 13
Pick against the spread: Chicago -2