NFL Football Predictions: Week 1 Opening Line Report and Picks
by Alan Matthews - 9/2/2014
Just as in college football , I will provide a weekly NFL opening-line report each Tuesday of the 2014 season. I'll take a look at some interesting matchups and hope to give you an early betting advantage. These lines are courtesy of BetOnline.
Oakland Raiders at NY Jets (-5.5, 39): This has the lowest total on the board. I Can see why as we get the not-so-stellar quarterback matchup of David Carr against Geno Smith. Carr, a second-round rookie out of Fresno State, was somewhat surprisingly named the starter on Monday over Matt Schaub, who was not surprisingly pretty awful in camp and preseason games. Carr completed 67 percent of his passes with four touchdowns while Schaub completed 51 percent of his pass attempts and did not throw for a touchdown. Carr is the first Fresno State QB to start Week 1 in his rookie season since his brother David started for the Texans in 2002. David Carr essentially was ruined for his career that year as he took such a beating. The pick: Rex Ryan will have a few defensive surprises for Carr. Jets and "under".
Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-1.5, 39.5): This line has really been on the move. The Panthers originally opened at -3 and were still slight favorites early last week. I presume bettors are jumping off the Carolina ship because quarterback Cam Newton suffered a cracked rib in an Aug. 22 game against New England. He's going to play by all accounts on Sunday, but it's going to hurt. The Bucs are well aware of the injury, and I don't want to say they will target that area.. but they are going to target that area. The Panthers routed the Bucs twice last season, but Tampa appears much better and Carolina worse. The pick: Bucs and under.
Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers (-7, 40.5): This line has jumped as much as two points toward Pittsburgh in recent days. The Cleveland offense looked pretty terrible in the preseason, and I wonder if Brian Hoyer even makes it through this game. Cleveland will try to run the ball a ton with Ben Tate considering Hoyer's top receivers are Miles Austin and Andrew Hawkins with Josh Gordon out. The Steelers are well aware of this. Pittsburgh also has never lost at home to the Browns under Ben Roethlisberger. That doesn't change now. You think CBS regrets sending its No. 1 announcing team of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms to this game? Obviously the network was expecting Johnny Manziel. The pick: Pittsburgh (but I'd shop around and get 6.5, which it's listed at some books) and the under.
Buffalo Bills at Chicago Bears (-7, 47): If you were to ask me to guess which starting quarterback is benched first this season, it's not going to be the Browns' Hoyer but the Bills' second-year E.J. Manuel as he struggled in the preseason in a big way. Buffalo now has a pretty good No. 2 in recently-signed Kyle Orton, although he will need a few weeks to acclimate himself to the system. Apparently Buffalo's Sammy Watkins, one of the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year favorites, will play. He's dealing with his own rib injury. There's just no way for a receiver not to get hit in the ribs, however. Chicago's defense hasn't looked much better yet than last year's horrific group. The team has major questions at linebacker and safety. Thus, this could be a shootout. The pick: Bears at -6.5 (it's available at some books) and the "over".
New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins (+5, 46.5): New England is the biggest road favorite on the board. The Patriots have the longest winning streak in openers, currently at 10 in a row, tied for the third-longest streak in league history. Star tight end Rob Gronkowski has been cleared to play in this game, which is huge. However, at the same time he's not ready to play a full load of snaps. He didn't play at all in the preseason coming off major knee surgery. You can certainly expect him in there when the Patriots are in the red zone. The pick: Dolphins and under. Miami played the Pats very tough last year and could have swept them.
NY Giants at Detroit Lions (-5.5, 47), Monday: The Giants had the best record this preseason at 5-0, but that's about as misleading and worthless as could possibly be. First off, some team that will end up lousy almost always goes unbeaten in the preseason (2008 Detroit Lions, for example). Second, Eli Manning didn't look much better than last season when he led the NFL with 27 interceptions. The Giants set a goal for Manning to complete 70 percent of his passes this year, which is obviously laughable, in the team's new West Coast offense. He didn't even hit on 50 percent in the exhibition games. His offensive line, which was terrible a year ago, already is banged up. And rookie receiver Odell Beckham, the team's first-round pick out of LSU, won't be ready for at least a few more weeks because of a hamstring injury that has bothered him all of camp. This looks like a really bad team to me. The pick: Lions and over.
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