NFL Week 1 2016 – Sunday Game by Game Betting Breakdown – Previews and Predictions

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Week 1 is finally here. The NFL’s first Sunday slate of games kicks off Sept. 11th, 2016. In this article, I will preview each game and offer a prediction against the spread or pick on the total, and sometimes both. The goal is to find the most value in each game.

I will start off by saying that I’m not betting every game that I go over in this article. It’s likely I will only be betting 5-6 of these games. There are some bets that I like more than others (which I will mention), but by no means am I advocating that you use bet every pick listed in this article.

Handicap the games yourself and if your conclusions line up with mine, then perhaps consider placing a wager. The betting odds we will use for this article are will be from BetOnline (Full Review). They are offering a 50% Deposit Bonus Up to $2,5000 for new accounts on their first deposit.

The prices in this article are not live. The odds listed in this article were accurate when the post was published. Even if you already have an account at BetOnline, make sure to line shop for the best price before placing a wager.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers +2.5 (-110) at Atlanta Falcons -2.5 (-110) Total: 47.5

Tampa Bay and Atlanta are one of the three divisional game in Week 1. Both teams are coming off disappointing seasons. For the most part, this division has been dominated by the Panthers and Saints for the last half decade.

The Falcons started last year winning six of seven games before the wheels came off the tracks in the second half of the season. They won just two of their remaining games and finished the season 8-8.

However, Atlanta seems considerably more talented than then Buccaneers, which fielded one of the worst defenses in the league last season. They finished last year at 6-10, and while they have a young and talented roster, they’re probably at least a year away from competing.

Falcons’ wide receiver Julio Jones tweaked his ankle earlier this week but did practice in fully on Thursday. He’s owned the Buccaneers over the years, and although, he will have to face off against rookie Vernon Hargreaves III – who has stood out in preseason action – this should be an easy matchup for Jones.

One of the biggest issues Atlanta had last year was inconsistent play from the center position and injuries to their offensive line. Their line is healthy, and they upgrade at center, signing veteran Alex Mack.

I lean Atlanta in this game, but I think the best play might be the total. Neither of these teams plays particularly fast (although, Tampa has stated they want to increase the tempo this year), and divisional contests are often harder fought than other games. Both of these teams can and will go to the ground if they can, and both teams have suspect front sevens.

Pick: Under 47.5 (-110)

Minnesota Vikings -2.5 (-115) at Tennessee Titans +2.5 (-105) Total: 40.5

As of right now, the Vikings and Titans have the lowest total of the week at 40.5 points. Minnesota originally opened as -3 favorites. Their starting quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater, had a gruesome non-contact injury in practice.

The Vikings were set to start Shaun Hill, but they then acquired Sam Bradford from Philadelphia in a trade. As of now, Mike Zimmer has not announced a starter for the game and won’t do so until Sunday.

Speculation is that Bradford will be named the starter, and Titans’ coach Mike Mularkey isn’t buying the talk that Shaun Hill will make the start Sunday. Whichever quarterback starts for the Vikings will be at a disadvantage.

Shaun Hill can talk all he wants about how prepared he is to play, but he’s a 36-year-old journeyman who didn’t expect to play until last week. Bradford isn’t a good quarterback, and his role isn’t going to change much compared to Philadelphia. Both guys will be handing the ball off to Adrian Peterson.

Tennessee boasts a weak defense, but an excellent coordinator in Dick Lebeau who has had two weeks to scheme up a plan to stop Shaun Hill or Sam Bradford. That plan should work provided they can move the ball on the ground.

Mike Zimmer’s defenses have been excellent in recent years, but considerably weaker on the ground. The matchup is a poor one for Titans’ quarterback Marcus Mariota if we go by last year’s numbers.

However, Mariota improved rapidly as the season progressed last year and Mularkey has a playbook that emphasizes both his arm and legs. He also has talent around him in wide receiver Rishard Matthews and rookie Tajae Sharpe, who had an excellent preseason. Of course, at tight end, there is the reliable Delanie Walker.

The Titans will be one of my favorite plays if the odds move to +3 or better before kickoff, which is where the game opened. The over also might deserve some consideration if you think that the Tennessee’s skill players are being undervalued.

Pick: Titans +2.5 (-105)

Cleveland Browns +3.5 (-115) at Philadelphia Eagles -3.5 (-105) Total: 41

The Eagles originally opened at -7 favorites, but after trading away Sam Bradford and opting to go with rookie Carson Wentz, they are now favored by just over a field goal. The Browns are in full rebuild mode but still have some talented pieces, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.

However, Philadelphia shouldn’t have much trouble dispatching the Browns. Due to their disappointment over the last few seasons, many people don’t have much faith in the Eagles, and we can’t blame them.

They deserve a bit more credit for their work in the offseason. Jim Schwartz was hired as defensive coordinator and revamped their secondary. The front seven has looked fantastic as well. They upgraded the offensive as well.

Browns quarterback Robert Griffin III had plenty of highlight reels in the preseason, but he still looked terribly uncomfortable in the pocket and took a lot of sacks. Philadelphia’s pressure should force him into some bad decisions.

Wentz is certainly a downgrade from Bradford, at least for now. However, Philly can win this game with their strong running game and their defense. It sounds clichéd to say that “games are decided in the trenches”, but that should be how this one plays out. The Eagles are far better on both sides of the ball when it comes to winning the battle up front.

Ideally, it would be great to get this one at -3, but that’s probably not going to happen. Even so, Philadelphia should be able to lock this one up by a touchdown or more.

Pick: Eagles -3.5

Oakland Raiders +1.5 (-110) at New Orleans Saints -1.5 (-110) Total: 52

Oakland heads to the Big Easy in a game that sports the highest total of the week. The odds on this one have moved around quite a bit. New Orleans opened as -2 favorites, the game went to pick, and now the Saints are -1.5 at most operators. The total opened at 50.5 and is now at 52.

The Saints are always a force at home, but this is a spot where the Raiders should have an edge. New Orleans has looked horrible in pass protection throughout the preseason, and Oakland’s defense has gotten better this offseason. They also have one of the best pass rushers in the entire league, in linebacker Khalil Mack.

Defensively, the Saints are an absolute disaster. Oakland should have no issues scoring against a defense with easily the worst front seven in the league. It doesn’t get much better in the secondary either.

The majority of the bets are coming in on New Orleans now, and I expect that to continue into the weekend. It’s possible the Saints move closer to 3 points as we get closer to kickoff. Oakland is one of my favorite plays of the week.

I truly believe New Orleans will struggle to score points against their tough defense. The Raiders won’t run up the score either, making the under a bet to consider as well.

Pick: Raiders +1.5 (-110)

Cincinnati Bengals -2.5 (-110) at New York Jets +2.5 (-110) Total: 41.5

Cincinnati heads to Meadowlands to take on the Jets in a game that has the second lowest total of the week. The Bengals originally opened as -1 favorites but that has swelled to -2.5. It may also be at -3 at some shops.

We’re probably looking at another “grind it out” affair between these two teams, but it should be noted that both teams do have excellent run defenses. To win this game, ultimately, it may come down to the air.

That’s an area where the Jets have a distinct advantage in my eyes. Last year, the Bengals finished near the top of the league in pass defense. However, they lost Reggie Nelson and Leon Hall to free agency and are without Vontaze Burfict for the first three games of the season.

Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick may have to dust some rust off from signing late and this is the spot to do it. Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker both have plus matchups on the outside and in the slot, respectively. They should have no issue dominating.

The public loves the Bengals in this one, but the market has gone the other way. Try to get this one at +3 if you can. It is likely to be available closer to game time. New York is one of my favorite bets this weekend.

Pick: Jets +2.5 (-110)

San Diego Chargers +6.5 (-115) at Kansas City Chiefs -6.5 (-105) Total: 44.5

The AFC West divisional contests kick off with the Chargers visiting Arrowhead Stadium. The spread in this one has hovered around 6.5 and 7 points. San Diego has been terrible against the Chiefs in recent years, but KC doesn’t have the defensive unit they did last season.

Their top pass rusher, Justin Houston is on the physically unable to perform list (PUP). Tamba Hali is not entirely healthy and may be on a snap count. Cornerback Sean Smith left for Oakland in free agency.

San Diego’s issue is their inability to run the ball or stop the run. It makes it a lot harder to score points when your opponent can run the ball down your throat. However, Rivers often starts the season hot, and this is not KC’s vaunted defense that we saw last season, at least, not on paper.

Of course, the Chargers almost certainly won’t be able to stop the Chiefs, but this one should stay somewhat close. Rivers’ upgraded his weapons in the offseason as well and should be able to put up some points.

I might like the Chargers more as we get closer to Sunday, but for now, I’m just lukewarm on them. If you can get an excellent price on +7 or better, then it may be worth a bet. The best play in his game is probably the total, which seems entirely too small for San Diego’s weak defense and Kansas City’s unit not being fully healthy and losing a lot in the offseason.

Pick: Over 44.5 (-110)

Buffalo Bills +3 (+105) at Baltimore Ravens -3 (-125) Total: 44.5

Tyrod Taylor returns with the Bills to Baltimore to take on the guy who he sat behind on the bench for several years, Joe Flacco. Now entrenched in a starting role for Buffalo and coming off a new contract, he may view this contest as a revenge game.

I will preface by saying this is probably my least favorite game on this slate and the hardest to call in my mind. These teams are extremely closely matched, and as the oddsmakers have it, it may come down to a field goal either way.

Both teams prefer ball control, run-oriented offenses, which may keep the scoring down. However, the Ravens have thrown a lot more since hiring Marc Trestman. Part of that may be their offensive line or defensive woes, but that’s also Trestman’s philosophy on offense.

There’s a myth going around among fans and bettors alike that the Ravens still have a stout defense. That could be argued that against the run they do, but they did lose personnel up front in the offseason. When it comes to pass defense, Baltimore had some of the worst numbers in the league last season.

The Ravens are also beat up on offense. Nearly half a dozen players have missed training camp or parts of the preseason. They may be better late in the season as they gain continuity and get healthier, but for now, Buffalo is probably the better team.

Pick: Bills +3 (+105)

Chicago Bears +6 (-110) at Houston Texans -6 (-110) Total: 44

Few people are expecting much of game from the Bears this week as they head to Houston. The spread originally opened at -3 and has moved to -6. The public has been all over the Texans, but sharp action was the major reason for the drastic move.

On paper, this looks like a rough one for Chicago. They have all sorts of question marks in the secondary, including injuries. The matchup is extremely tough for Jay Cutler, who has few true weapons aside from wide receiver Alshon Jeffery.

With that said, the Bears have improved drastically in run defense in the offseason. They should be able to get after the passer. The Texans signed Brock Osweiler in the offseason, and if he has a few hiccups under the new system, this game could be a lot closer than expected.

This contest is another one that is I’m not particularly high on either side. Though, that could change if Chicago gets to +7. I would probably favor taking them at that price. It might be possible with the public hammering Houston.

Pick: Bears +6

Green Bay Packers -4.5 (-115) at Jacksonville Jaguars +4.5 (-115) Total: 48

A few years ago, most bettors would expect to see the Packers favored by double digits against the Jaguars, even when facing them on the road. Jacksonville has improved a lot recently, but are they ready to take the next step?

The Jaguars improved their defense last season, particularly in their secondary. Their first round pick was cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who by all accounts has been fantastic throughout training camp and the preseason.

However, their revamped secondary may take some time to flourish. Aaron Rodgers is coming to town this Sunday, and that will be one heck of a test. I’m betting on Rodgers to win that battle.

There are issues for the Jaguars on offense as well. Yes, they’re a talent bunch, but Green Bay’s defense is a superb unit. Blake Bortles benefits massively from his supporting cast and did have a good year last season, but he’s been extremely turnover prone throughout his career.

This one may end up being close, but it wouldn’t shock me if Green Bay won by a touchdown or more either. Many people have Jacksonville taking the next step this season, but I think they overachieved last year and are due for regression.

Pick: Green Bay -4.5 (-115)

Miami Dolphins +10 (-110) at Seattle Seahawks -10 (-110) Total: 44.5

The Seahawks are the only team favored by double digits this week. They take on a Dolphins team that is reeling from injuries on both sides of the ball. They’re almost assuredly going to lose Sunday, but from a betting perspective, we just care about which team covers.

How bad is it for Miami? Well, without Mike Pouncey at center due to injury, the Fins will start a tackle at left guard and a guard at center. Their secondary is also low on talent and decimated with injury. Miami may also be without second-year receiver Devante Parker due to injury.

Seattle has problems of their own. Their offensive line has long been an issue, but the Seahawks always seem to win in spite of it. Miami’s front is something to fear, but we can’t see Seattle getting beat up in the trenches.

This is a tough one to call. If you can grab Miami at +10.5 for a decent price, which may be available, come Sunday, go for it. We’re going to stick with the Miami at +10 because they still have a decent front seven and their best receiver, Jarvis Landry, operates in the slot where the Seahawks are weakest.

Pick: Dolphins +10 (-110)

New York Giants +1 (-110) at Dallas Cowboys -1 (-110) Total: 46

The spread and total for this NFC East game have changed drastically since opening. Dallas opened as -3.5 favorites with Tony Romo under center. He suffered broken bones in his back once again and is going to be out until at least midseason. The total opened at 49 now points and is now down to 46.

Dak Prescott, a rookie from Mississippi State, will take the reins. Prescott shined in the preseason as both a passer and runner, and he scored over 40 rushing touchdowns in his college career. The Cowboys also boast the best offensive line in the league and have a dynamic rookie running back in Ezekiel Elliot.

The Giants aren’t pushovers, and Dallas’ defense is definitely not something to write home about. New York addressed their defensive issues last season through free agency, but it remains to be seen how well they perform this year.

The Cowboys are one of my favorite plays this week for several reasons. For one, the public is all over the Giants. Secondly, Dak looks excellent and may even be an upgrade over Tony Romo. Yes, I said it.

Pick: Cowboys -1 (-110)

Detroit Lions +3 (-105) at Indianapolis Colts -3 (-115) Total: 51

As of now, the Colts and the Lions have the second highest total at 51 points. Indianapolis opened the game as -5 favorites, but that has come down to three points after heavy sharp betting action. The public is still heavily betting the Colts.

Stafford and the now up-tempo Lions have a mouthwatering matchup against a Colts defense that isn’t equipped to rush the passer or cover in the secondary. Vontae Davis, their top cornerback, is out a month. Darius Butler, their slot cornerback, has also been ruled out.

Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is coming off a fat contract extension and is finally healthy. He has plenty of weapons, but Luck needs to be a better quarterback in addition to staying healthy. That means cutting down on the turnovers. Indianapolis has all kinds of issues on the offensive line, so it may be hard for Luck and this offense to get going.

After turning their offense over to Jim Bob Cooter last season, the Lions won six out of their last eight games after starting the season with a 1-7 record. Defensively, Indy has the worst unit in league with all their injuries right now.

Detroit might be my favorite overall play in Week 1. I got Detroit at +3.5, and there’s a chance it moves back there by kickoff time.

Pick: Lions +3

 

Check back later for more picks. We will have larger breakdowns of the Sunday Night Football and both Monday Night Football games. Good luck!

Joseph Falchetti

Joseph Falchetti - Editor-in-Chief / Sports Writer & Analyst

Joe is the author of the blog, most picks, and the majority of excellent content on SafestBettingSites. He's been mentioned on Forbes.com as a gaming analyst and his articles have been linked by larger publications, such as the New York Times.

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