NFL Betting: An Early Look at Week 1 Lines
by Darin Zank - 5/8/2014
Week 1 of the 2014-15 NFL season is only a shade under four months away, which gives us just enough time to examine the slate and come up with a few picks.
Week 1 is led off by what should be a doozy of a Thursday night opener, a rematch of that epic Seahawks-Packers debacle of a couple Septembers ago. It also features a classic grizzled vet-vs.-young gun matchup, a renewal of a great rivalry from the not-too-distant past, a couple of key divisional bouts and another Monday night double-header.
Opening Weekend lines have been out for a couple weeks; here's how some of them looked, as of earlier this week.
The Champs and the Pack
Defending league champion Seattle rolled to its first-ever Super Bowl title in convincing fashion last season. The Seahawks went 16-3 SU (13-6 ATS) overall, came 16 points from going 19-0, won seven games by at least three touchdowns, led the league in defense and basically bombed the Broncos in the Big One.
Now, can they do it again? Or will they suffered a case of the Super Bowl hangover?
Green Bay, meanwhile, started 5-2 last year then lost QB Aaron Rodgers to a shoulder injury, leading to a five-game losing streak, rallied to win two games to stay alive, then got Rodgers back and beat the Bears at Soldier Field on a fourth-and-eight from the 50 to win the NFC North. A tough playoff loss to San Francisco the following week was almost anti-climactic.
In the end the Packers went 6-3 SU and 7-2 ATS in games Aaron Rodgers took the majority of snaps and 2-5-1 SU and 1-7 ATS when he didn't.
Green Bay faithful are salivating at the prospect of another season like the last from RB Eddie Lacy, who added a smash-mouth running game to what was already a very dangerous offensive attack. Lacy rammed his way to almost 1,200 yards last year, helping the Packers average 134 YPG on the ground.
The Green Bay defense faltered last year, in part due a couple key injuries but also due to Rodgers' absence. When Rodgers is in the game the Packers usually have the lead. This gives the Packers defense a little better idea of what opposing offenses might do. But when Rodgers was out, and Green Bay was playing from behind, its defense proved very vulnerable.
The hope is a healthy Clay Matthews and help from newly-acquired Julius Peppers, along with playing with leads, will make Green Bay's defense better.
As of earlier this week Seattle was favored by 5.5 points for this game at 5Dimes. From four months afar, we like the Packers and the points for this 2014-15 season opener.
Manning vs. Luck, Round 2
Peyton Manning goes up against his former employers, the Indianapolis Colts, and counterpart quarterback Andrew Luck for the second time, the first in Denver, on the first Sunday night of the season.
The Broncos will be trying to rid themselves of that sour taste that Super Bowl embarrassment must have left in their mouths. They'll also be looking to avenge a 39-33 loss to the Colts of last season.
This game could also have something to say about who hosts who in a playoff game come January.
Indy, including the playoffs, is 23-12 SU and 22-13 ATS with Luck at quarterback (Denver is 28-8 SU, 21-14-1 ATS with Manning). But the Colts have lived somewhat of a charmed life over the last couple of seasons; they've been out-gained and out-rushed, and they have had to come from behind on numerous occasions. Honestly, how many times do teams come back from 28-point third-quarter deficits to win? Yes, it says something that they can rally and win those games, but it also says something when they're behind to begin with.
In the very early betting at BetOnline Denver was favored by 6.5 points for this game. We're not sure how much Manning and this edition of the Broncos have left in the tank, but for Week 1 we like them to win and cover.
Also That First Sunday
The Atlanta Falcons, after their 4-12 disaster of last season, open with a key home divisional game with the New Orleans Saints. Also, the Baltimore Ravens, who missed the playoffs last year, begin their season with a divisional home game of their own against the Cincinnati Bengals. And the Dallas Cowboys, who haven't made the playoffs in five seasons, renew their rivalry with the San Francisco 49ers in Arlington.
In the early betting 5Dimes was listing the Falcons at -1.5, the Ravens at -2.5 and the Niners at -3.5. In believing Atlanta and Baltimore both stand good chances of returning to the playoffs this season, we'll give the points in those two games; and in believing nothing much has changed in Dallas we'll go with San Francisco minus the points.
The Monday Night Two-Fer
Week 1's Monday night doubleheader begins with two teams looking to bounce back after lousy 2013's as the New York Giants visit the Detroit Lions. Then, in the nightcap, the San Diego Chargers, looking to back up last year's run to the playoffs, visit an Arizona Cardinals team that went 10-6 last year but missed the playoffs.
5Dimes was favoring Detroit by four points over New York and Arizona by a field goal over San Diego. From afar, we'll fade the Lions, who are playing under another new head coach (Jim Caldwell), and take the Cardinals and their top-five defense.
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