NFL Picks Against the Week 1 Lines
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 7/24/2013
Perhaps the most discussed, examined and wagered on point spreads are NFL Week 1 point spreads. Sports bettors have all summer to salivate over the lines and wait to take a crack at them. Not only are the lines some of the most scrutinized, but they are also some of the most volatile as the sheer amount of distance between their release (sometimes as early as a few days after the NFL Draft) and kickoff is months as opposed to the normal six days. Not only is there a lot of action coming in on the lines for a long amount of time, but there is a lot of action going on in the NFL. There are injuries, releases, signings and murder trials, and that is just discussing the New England Patriots. Here are a few Week 1 NFL point spreads courtesy of 5Dimes.
Denver Broncos -9 vs. Baltimore Ravens
The defending Super Bowl Champions are not only underdogs in Week 1, but they are heavy underdogs. This does have a little to do with the fact that the Ravens are a much different team than last year, but it also has to do a lot with the Denver Broncos revenge factor and the fact that this game is in Denver. Since the NFL moved to the Thursday Night opening game format, no Super Bowl champion has been on the road.
The line actually opened as low as even at some books but quickly shot up to nine and even 10 with Denver listed at +110 juice, where it can still be had at 5Dimes. There is a big question as to the status of Denver Broncos all-pro outside linebacker Von Miller, who is currently appealing a four-game suspension for violation of a league drug policy. His status likely will not result in a major shift in the spread regardless, but the fact that he is in limbo adds even more value to the Ravens.
The defending Super Bowl champions have plenty of value at nine, 9.5 or 10, but that number likely will not be available as we get closer to September. Look for it to be closer to seven than 10 by kickoff, so there is plenty of value with Baltimore, the rare team that is a defending champion yet still has a chip on its shoulder.
Washington Redskins -4.5 vs. Philadelphia Eagles
If there is one NFL Week 1 point spread that just screams confusion, it is the NFC East showdown between the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles. The line opened up as high as Washington -6.5 and as low as Washington -4. A majority of books have currently settled on the line at -4.5 right now, but when you are talking about Chip Kelly’s foreign (at least to the NFL) offense and Robert Griffin III knee issues, there is no telling where this thing will finally rest at.
Washington dominated the Eagles last season, winning 31-6 at home and winning 27-20 on the road. And while there is plenty of significance in the game Griffin III had against the Eagles at home last season (200 passing yards, four passing touchdowns, 84 rushing yards), the biggest variable is the Philadelphia offense. If there is one NFL Week 1 point spread that should be hands off in July, it is certainly this one, but it is also a line that should be monitored along with the progression of Kelly’s offense and the health of Griffin III.
Pittsburgh Steelers -7 vs. Tennessee Titans
Question marks surround the Pittsburgh Steelers this season. It is a big transition year for a team who said goodbye to a handful of veterans but remains one of the oldest teams in the league. Yet the Steelers find themselves as touchdown favorites at home against the Titans in Week 1. The heavily-popular Steelers are among one of the most wagered on teams in the league, so inflated lines are nothing new to the six-time Super Bowl Champions. The Steelers lost 26-23 last season in Tennessee as 5.5-point favorites. Aside from a meaningless Week 17 point spread win over Cleveland last season, the Steelers are 2-6 ATS in their last eight games as favorites of seven points or more. Training camp reports out of Pittsburgh will be valuable this summer as there are a lot of rookies and new starters expected to contribute and even fight for starting jobs. Their development will be crucial, especially in Week 1.
This line opened at 6.5 at a majority of sportsbooks. This appears to be that rare line that has the ability to close at either 6.5 or 7.5. The Titans have questions too, but the Steelers have bigger ones, and more of them. This is one line to keep an eye on. At seven, there does not seem to be too much value either way, but at 6.5 the Steelers could be a solid play if they figure out their running back situation and rookies step up on defense while the Titans have plenty of value at 7.5 if the Steelers questions are not answered by September.
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