NFL Week 1 Betting Lines: Most Interesting Numbers to Wager On
I watched about 10 minutes of a preseason game between Green Bay and Oakland last night, which was more than enough to remind me of just how stupidly unwatchable preseason NFL football is. There are probably stupider things in the sports world than playing four preseason games, but I can't think of any right now. So, with another week of preseason games still to come, it only makes sense to look forward to when games actually matter. Lines are posted for the first week of NFL regular-season action, and six stand out above the rest as the most interesting:
Chicago (-3) vs. Green Bay: This is such an important game to kicks things in the NFC North off with. Green Bay is a team a lot of people like, but I am much less enthusiastic. I don't trust the killer instinct in Aaron Rodgers right now, and the coaching change doesn't excite me. The Bears should continue to be solid on defense, and I expect Mitch Trubisky to a touch better than last year - and what he did last year was enough to win a lot of games. I like the Bears to leap out of the gate strong in this one and to score the first blow in what should be a great battle for NFC North supremacy.
Minnesota (-4) vs. Atlanta: I am really high on one of these teams and really down on the other. The NFC North is going to be a great three-team battle, though I think it really comes down to the Vikings and Bears. I look for a bounce-back season from the Vikings after a disappointment last year. Kirk Cousins had solid stats, but now he just needs to figure out how to contribute to the success of his team more. And I am fairly confident that he can with a good roster around him. The Falcons, meanwhile, are a very concerning team to me. I just don't trust this coaching staff, and I continue to question the mental toughness of this team. I don't expect a great season from them, and that starts with what could be a pretty rough loss here in their opener.
Tennessee (+5.5) at Cleveland: I like the Titans - probably a little more than I should at this point. And I am a little more skeptical about the Browns than most people seem to be. Cleveland has done all of the right things this offseason - with the possible exception of hiring the wrong coach. But they are being asked to do a lot this year, and there will be some bumps along the way. Tennessee is not the best team here, but they are capable of keeping things close. I like the underdog.
L.A. Chargers (-3) vs. Indianapolis: At this point we have no idea what is really going on with Andrew Luck - or in his head, for that matter. And it can't be having a particularly positive impact on this team as they get ready for a season in which they face some pretty major expectations. I probably would have liked the Chargers at home anyway since they are the slightly more complete team. However, with the QB uncertainty with the Colts, this becomes a bit of a no-brainer.
Arizona (+2.5) vs. Detroit: The Cardinals have not looked particularly good this offseason, but I just don't care. I am willing to gamble on this out of the gate as a home dog against a truly lousy team. The Lions have a coach who has underwhelmed so far in the head job and did very little to improve in the offseason. They just aren't any good. If nothing else, a bet on Arizona is a reward for creativity and risk taking. The Cardinals are going to try some things that we have obviously never seen from them - and a few that we likely haven't seen from anyone else in a while, either. And the Lions are just going to plod along like the pathetic waste of a franchise that they are.
San Francisco (+1) vs. Tampa Bay: Jimmy Garoppolo has had some tough times this preseason, and there is going to be some rust there. And I have real respect for new Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians. But this price is just wrong. There is no reason that the Bucs deserve to be favored on the road at this point. They have talent gaps in several spots and need a total attitude overhaul before they can be successful. San Francisco is ready to fire after two seasons that have been derailed by several issues - mostly at QB. This is a very comfortable play in my eyes.
Leaning to the Favorite
Philadelphia (-8.5) vs. Washington
Seattle (-9.5) vs. Cincinnati
Dallas (-8) vs. New York Giants
New England (-6) vs. Pittsburgh
New Orleans (-7) vs. Houston
Oakland (-1.5) vs. Denver
Leaning to the Underdog
Baltimore (-5) at Miami
New York Jets (-3) vs. Buffalo
Kansas City (-4) at Jacksonville
L.A. Rams (-3) at Carolina
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