2017 NFL Games of the Year too Risky to Bet

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017 2:50 PM GMT

During the NFL regular season, I look at three games each week that are too risky to bet either way for whatever reason. With training camps less than two months away, let’s look at three top games I feel the same way about in 2017.

If you are wondering, the 100-day countdown to the 2017 NFL regular season, which opens on Thursday, Sept. 7 in New England with the Patriots hosting the Chiefs, officially starts on May 30. It will be here before you know it. Here are three of the biggest games of the season too risky to bet at this early juncture.

 

New York Giants At Dallas Cowboys (-5)

Week 1 Sunday night game. The Giants were the only team to beat Dallas twice last year. It was 20-19 in Week 1 at AT&T Stadium. The Cowboys could have had a chance for a potential winning field goal attempt, but receiver Terrance Williams stupidly didn’t try to get out of bounds after a catch in the final seconds. It would have been about a 57-yard try had Williams simply gone out of bounds. New York beat Dallas in an opener for the first time in nine tries. That was the NFL debut of the Cowboys’ two stellar rookies, QB Dak Prescott and RB Ezekiel Elliott. In Week 14, the Giants won at home 10-7 over Dallas – snapping the Cowboys’ 11-game winning streak at the time. They were just 1-for-15 on third down and scored their fewest points of the season. Prescott had his worst game, completing just 17-for-37 for 165 yards with two picks. Both these teams have questions entering 2017. For the Giants, I worry about their running back situation and believe they will regret not signing Adrian Peterson or LeGarrette Blount. For Dallas, it’s the whole sophomore slump potential for Prescott and/or Elliott. Also, Cowboys defensive end David Irving is facing a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's policy against PEDs. He was arguably the team’s best defensive lineman by the end of last season.

 

Green Bay Packers At Atlanta Falcons (-2.5)

This game is Sunday night, Sept. 17. It’s not just a rematch of last season’s NFC Championship Game but also the first official game that counts in Atlanta’s spectacular new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. I am very worried about a Super Bowl hangover for the Falcons. We all know about the “Super Bowl Curse” for teams that lost in the big game. Just look at last year’s Carolina Panthers as proof as they slipped to 6-10 after going 15-1 in 2015. No Super Bowl loser since the Buffalo Bills in 1993 has rebounded to make it back the next season. The Falcons are largely back intact from a player personnel standpoint but have a new offensive coordinator (Steve Sarkisian) and new defensive coordinator (Marquand Manuel). It could take some time for this team to jell again. I’m sure the Falcons will be fired up to play in their new building, but the Packers will be out for blood after losing twice to the Falcons in 2016. Green Bay was beaten in the Georgia Dome 33-32 in Week 8 last year when Matt Ryan threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Mohamed Sanu with 31 seconds remaining. The NFC title game wasn’t close, a 44-21 Falcons rout. However, nine of the last 10 regular-season matchups between the two have been decided by eight points or fewer.

 

New England Patriots At Oakland Raiders (+1.5)

This Nov. 19 game has Oakland as the “home” team in Mexico City. Think we will hear any stories the week leading into this one about how that former Mexican journalist stole Tom Brady’s jersey out of the locker room after Super Bowl LI? The Patriots aren’t underdogs once all season on any early NFL lines for 2017 but they well could be here. It’s an interesting dynamic for New England because it will play a second straight game at altitude and those players aren’t used to that. The week before this game, New England visits Denver in another big one. Might the Pats simply travel right to Mexico to stay acclimated to altitude? Oakland at least has some familiarity with Mexico City in having beaten Houston there last year 27-20. The Raiders also have the edge of coming off their bye week. New England has won the past four meetings with Oakland, but those Raiders teams were nowhere near as good as this one. Too many intangibles here.

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