I have invited nine of my co-workers to participate in a season-long NFL picks contest. Admittedly, this may turn out to be a massive mistake. Not because we might end up looking foolish, which is highly probable, but because I’ll have to constantly remind them to make their picks every week for the next four months. To make things a little easier, we’ll only be choosing three games against the spread instead of the usual five in a super contest. Each win will be worth a point, and a push will count as a half point. As for the rewards and punishments for first and last place, we are open to suggestions.
In terms of Week 1 trends, it seems that nobody in our group is favoring the New England Patriots. Six of us have chosen the Philadelphia Eagles -4, and none of us are backing the Patriots. It may be viewed as a popular choice or the side that the public is leaning towards. However, we cannot ignore the events of the offseason and what we have seen. The Pros, who are siding with NE +4, argue that the Patriots have made significant upgrades to their offense with a new coordinator. They also highlight the historical trend that teams coming off a Super Bowl loss have struggled against the spread in Week 1. Furthermore, New England still has the brilliant mastermind, Bill Belichick, who surely has a plan to contain Jalen Hurts after four months of preparation. Nonetheless, as the Joes, we find it difficult to imagine Mac Jones having enough time to throw the ball behind an offensive line that has had limited time together. Especially when facing the formidable Eagles defensive front, even Belichick himself has acknowledged their excellence. Personally, the Eagles seem unlikely to suffer from a Super Bowl hangover. They have a young and promising quarterback, a dominant defensive front, and impressive receiving options. And just for fun, they have Matt Patricia (just kidding).
Moving on to other matchups, there is a consensus among us to bet on the Green Bay Packers covering +1 on the road. This goes against the early-season optimism surrounding the Chicago Bears. The Packers, with Jordan Love as their new starting quarterback, have become somewhat of a mystery with a win total projection of 7.5, their lowest in 16 years. We also have three bets on the Minnesota Vikings -5.5, which is more of a bet against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Buccaneers are once again without a franchise quarterback and are expected to regress to the bottom of the NFC. According to the Action Network, Baker Mayfield (TB) has a less than stellar record against the spread since entering the league, with a record of 29-41-1 ATS.
Another intriguing matchup is the NFC runner-up San Francisco 49ers as a 2-point favorite in Pittsburgh against the Steelers. While the 49ers have performed well as road underdogs under Kyle Shanahan, they have a poor record of 1-5 against the spread in season openers. The Steelers, on the other hand, may have a key factor in their favor with T.J. Watt. Last season, Pittsburgh had a strong record of 8-2 with Watt on the field, but a dismal 1-6 without him. Watt is healthy and also has good odds (+800) to win the Defensive Player of the Year award.
Finally, there are four games that we were too uncertain or hesitant to make a pick on. These games are:
– CAR +3.5 at ATL
– TEN +3 at NO
– LV +3.5 at DEN
– BUF -2.5 at NYJ