With the release of NFL Week 1 odds and some early movement, let’s take a look at some games now and make some early picks where the point spreads may hold some perceived value in that market from this distance.
It’s never too early to gamble for some and for others, it’s just part of what they do—betting Week 1 NFL lines in the merry, merry month of May. Obviously, putting one’s money down on games which won’t be happening until the second week in September—three-and-a-half months away—will mean that Money will be doing nothing all Summer long. But then again when we were Kids that was the exactly the whole wonderful idea behind Summer—to do absolutely nothing all Summer long. My how Times have changed. Now we’re talking about, writing about, reading about and betting on bleeding NFL games before the Kentucky Derby has even been run. Good lord. We’ve become infected or something. What have we become? And my theories of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell being behind the Chemtrails will his NFL Juice is holding some water now, eh? Who’s nuts now? Anyway, maybe having a little Cheese on the Panthers or Packers or Patriots in Week 1 may be better than losing that same Money because of a walk-off grand slam by Neil Walker in Pittsburgh or a meaningless Free-Throw by Stephen Curry from a meaningless intentional Foul late in the 4th Quarter of an NBA Finals game before the first official day of Summer, Bubba.
There are many ways to Lose and I have always enjoyed Futures and far-off bets like these NFL Week 1 ones, for the simple reason that they don’t lose the same day you put them in. Delayed Misery is sometimes the best route in my odd book. And there is some unique Entertainment Value in Futures Bets and they can also often end up creating Hedging and even Middling potentials for the seasoned professionals. In the Grand Scheme of Things, Futures Bets and NFL Games of the Year (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) and early lines like these in Week 1 for the NFL are quite simply just a little bit more more Fun than your average bet. And in an endeavor where the House gets the best of the player (in the long run) like 97% of the time, squeezing out some intelligent fun in your sports gambling while still trying to get the best of it all from a far away distance can bring some spice to one’s overall betting approach. Those holding Pittsburgh Steelers +6 or +5 tickets for Week 1 may have some idea of what I’m talking about here as a 2-point middle (in Patriots wins by 4 and 3) was created before Memorial Day all thanks to Air Pressure being taken out of the ole Pigskins during the AFC Championship Game. Weird how so many things affect seemingly unknowing things these Strange Days. Ballboy deflates footballs, Colts chirp about footballs, NFL brings some justice, neurotic NFL spotlight suddenly shines brightly on Jimmy Garoppolo. Welcome my son. Welcome to the machine. Where have you been? It’s alright, we know where you’ve been.
Thursday, September 10—Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New England Patriots (NBC, 8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. PT)
Odds are New England QB Tom Brady will be suspended for this NFL season opening game at Home at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, but with a solid backup QB in Jimmy Garoppolo (Eastern Illinois), more than enough time to scheme for this game, a much-improved defense and the site itself, the New England Patriots (5/1 to win Super Bowl, GTBets) is the call here over QB Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5, 6-2 on Road in 2014). The Patriots lost their season opener last year (also here at Home to the Dolphins), so Head Coach Bill Belichick will have that in my mind and this team should also be a bit motivated from all the Deflategate mess which has swirled around them since Winter. Pittsburgh (25/1 to win Super Bowl, Bovada) will look to establish its ground game here with RB Le’Veon Bell and should be successful, although New England (12-4 in 2014, 9-7 ATS) had the 9th best Rushing Defense last season allowing an average of 104.3 rushing yards per game.
The Steelers should definitely pose a challenge for the hosts here on Opening Night (Week 1 Odds: Patriots -2½; Total: 48½, GTBets), but with all that time to prepare and receiving weapons like Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and Brandon LaFell, Garoppolo should be just fine and the Patriots should find a way to beat Pittsburgh by 3 or more points without Brady. And, of note here, the potential Brady suspension drove the NFL odds down from the Patriots being 6-point favorites here in Las Vegas at the Westgate SuperBook to the 2½ the game is hanging at at now (Thursday), so many early bettors and Wise Guys have jumped at the chance to take the Steelers anywhere from +6 down to +2½, so there may be some perceived value on the hosts at this particular point in Time. The date for Brady’s appeal is still uncertain—the “Soft Deadline” of May 27 passed on Wednesday—and the two sides can agree to bypass the deadline, so, look for news on that front in the near future.
Week 1 Predicted Score: Patriots 26 Steelers 19
Sunday, September 14—Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears (FOX, 1 pm ET/10 am PT)
The Bears are 60/1 odds to win the Super Bowl while the Packers are 6/1 (GTBets), and that pretty much says where these two NFC North franchises are both at these days. The Green Bay Packers (12-4, +138 PD in 2014) and superstar QB Aaron Rodgers have really owned the Bears (5-11, -123 PD) and QB Jay Cutler in this series of late, going an incredible 8-1 ATS over the L9 and a perfect 5-0 ATS in the L5 at Soldier Field in Chicago, where this season opener for both storied NFL rivals in one of professional sports best rivalries will be held. Last year Green Bay hammered the Bears 55-14 at Lambeau Field (GB -9½) and here in Chicago, 38-17 (GB -2) in Week 4, and with the Cheeseheads having had months of Anger and What Ifs? from their choke in the NFC Championship Game in Seattle, expect the Packers to totally unload on Chicago (5-11 SU, 7-9 ATS in 2014) again and win by double-digits here in a strong play, and a line which has moved up from -4 to its current -5 at GTBets (Total 50½). This is a very good pick at -5 and very worthy of my rare little Black Stars. Vaya con Dios.
Week 1 Predicted Score: Packers 33 Bears 20
Sunday, September 14—Carolina Panthers vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (FOX, 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT)
Everbank Field in Jacksonville is the site of this Week 1 interconference game between the AFC’s Jacksonville Jaguars (3-13 SU in 2014, -163 PD) and QB Blake Bortles and the NFC’s Carolina Panthers (7-8-1 SU), who almost won the NFC South by default last season. Here, oddsmakers have made QB Cam Newton and the Panthers (8-8 ATS) 4-point Road favorites over the Jaguars (Total: 43, GTBets) and the last time these two teams met here in Jacksonville—September 25, 2011—the Panthers won (and covered) 16-10 in a low-scoring affair. Here, expect the Panthers (45/1 to win Super Bowl, GTBets) to want to get off to a better start this 2015 season and this is a solid and underrated football team, whereas the Jaguars (200/1 to win Super Bowl, GTBets) are seemingly always rebuilding and constantly among the worst five teams in the league. And nobody in the NFL scored less points than the Jaguars did last season (249), so betting on the better team and laying a little lumber from this distance seems pretty Wise to this Old Man who still uses pencils and cassettes every once in awhile. Can you hear me? The Black Cats beat the Spotted Cats.
Week 1 Predicted Score: Panthers 27 Jaguars 17
Sunday, September 14—Seattle Seahawks vs. St. Louis Rams (FOX, 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT)
The defending NFC champion Seattle Seahawks (12-4 SU in 2014, 5-1 in Division) head to the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis to face the St. Louis Rams (6-10, 2-4 in Division) in the NFC West showdown, and obviously, season opener for both teams. Although the Science says to take the improving Rams (45/1 to win Super Bowl, GTBets) here, winners of 4 of the L5 ATS in this series in St. Louis—the Rams won last season, 28-26, the Seahawks (5/1 to win Super Bowl, GTBets) only Loss in the NFC West—the Art and timing (first game of season + off last-second loss in Super Bowl to Patriots on horrific play call by Seattle Head Coach Pete Carroll) says to back the much better side with team with the league’s best defenses ever and the better QB (Russell Wilson) and lay the modest lumber (and pray). This will be TE Jimmy Graham’s first Regular Season game in a Seahawks uniform and his presence should really open up Seattle’s Offense with this game being a showcase of what’s to come from the former New Orleans Saints legend. Expect newboy Graham to possibly be the difference in the Win as well as the cover (Odds: Seahawks -3 -115 (down from 3½); Total: 43½, GTBets) here. The Under is also worth consideration for your NFL picks in this NFC West game when looking at the scores of the L5 meetings here in the Gateway City: 2014—Rams 28-24 (Over) 2013—Seahawks 14-9 (Under); 2012—Rams 19-13 (Under); 2011—Seahawks 24-7 (Under); and, 2010—Rams 20-3 (Under). Although Week 1, this seems like a Bad Spot for both teams, but more so for the host and upstart Rams who prefer trying to catch the Seahawks off-guard.
Week 1 Predicted Score: Seahawks 23 Rams 17
NFL Week 1 Picks: Patriots -2½, Packers -5, Panthers -4, Seahawks -3 (-115) (GTBets)