It is never too early to look at the NFL, especially with the 2014 Week 1 lines already out! LT Profits give us their very early leans on every game for Week 1.
The NFL is the most heavily wagered on sport in North America, so it should not come as a total surprise that the betting lines for Week 1 (four months from now) have already been released for you to make your NFL picks at many off shore sites such as Pinnacle Sports! It is never too early to look at the NFL, so we are taking very early stabs at every Week 1 matchup this week with the hope of taking advantage of some soft early numbers.
Besides, unless you are one that requires humongous limits, now may actually be the best time to find some great line value for astute bettors that have been diligent with their homework, as they can get in early and hope to beat some drastic expected line moves. Kickoff Weekend kicks off with a rematch of the Referee Game between the Green Bay Packers and the defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks, and ends with a Monday Night Football doubleheader.
There is plenty of action in between though with 13 Sunday contests. A couple of notable facts regarding Week 1 is that there are only three home underdogs right now at Pinnacle with New England being favored by 3½ at Miami, Carolina by 2 at Tampa Bay and, in the featured late afternoon game Sunday, San Francisco by 3½ at Dallas.
There is also only one double-digit line with Philadelphia at home favored by 11 over Jacksonville, and the biggest head-scratching line at first glance is the Atlanta Falcons, coming off of a 4-12 season, being favored by 1½ over the New Orleans Saints, who finished 11-5 and beat the Eagles in the Wild Card round before losing to the eventual champions from Seattle by just eight points in the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs.
So without further ado, here are our early Week 1 leans as of May 23rd. All lines are from Pinnacle Sports.
Seattle Seahawks -5½ over Green Bay Packers: When we last saw these teams, the Seahawks were hoisting up the Lombardi Trophy as Super Bowl Champions while the Packers lost at home to the 49ers in the Wild Card Playoff. The Packers seem to have improved their team speed on defense in the draft which may help them do a better job vs. mobile quarterbacks than they have in recent years, but the 12th Man and the Thursday night national TV spotlight may be too much to overcome.
New Orleans Saints +1½ at Atlanta Falcons: We get that the Falcons are not as bad as they were last season, but the Saints still have Drew Brees. The fact that New Orleans does not play as well on the road goes out the window here with Atlanta also playing on turf and in a dome. Meanwhile Atlanta’s Roddy White is another year older, as is Steven Jackson, who apparently was not the solution at running back.
St. Louis Rams -5½ over Minnesota Vikings: Early word is that the Vikings do not plan to rush Teddy Bridgewater into the lineup, so expect Matt Cassel to be under center. The Rams would be playoff contenders if they played in any other division other than the NFC West, and their stout defense is quite capable of containing Adrian Peterson, which would make it very tough for the Vikings to generate any offense.
Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers ‘under’ 40: We think there is a 50/50 chance that Johnny Manziel will be the opening week starter for Cleveland, but if you are buying the company line, Brian Hoyer could also be under center. In either case, look for Cleveland to struggle to score points at the outset, especially with Ben Tate unproven as an every-down back. We remain high on the Cleveland defense though and the Steelers took a step back in the passing game last season.
Jacksonville Jaguars, Philadelphia Eagles ‘under’ 52: The interesting thing about this game is that the Eagles are the only team that figure to score much, unless the Jaguars opt to start Blake Bortles from Day 1 and open up the passing game immediately, which seems highly unlikely. Granted we have no interest in giving double-digits on opening week but going ‘under’ this inflated total with the Jaguars expected to provide practically nothing seems worthwhile.
New York Jets -4½ over Oakland Raiders: The Raiders made a ton of big-name free agent signings this off-season, but most of them are veterans that are past their prime, and we do not trust Matt Schaub at quarterback. And if Oakland opts to start Derek Carr right away, we would actually like the Jets a bit more. We like New York’s two-headed monster at running back as Chris Johnson and Chris Ivory could compliment each other nicely with both having a reduced role.
Cincinnati Bengals, Baltimore Ravens ‘under’ 43: The Bengals had one of the better defenses in the league last season and the Baltimore defense got better as the season went on after some growing pains early on in the first season without Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. Look for those two units to set the tone for this contest, not unlike the first meeting last year which the Ravens won 20-17 in the only meaningful meeting the teams had, with the second meeting coming in Week 17..
Buffalo Bills +6 at Chicago Bears: The Bears had one of the worst defenses in the NFL last season and frankly we do not think they have done enough to improve on that side of the ball. Buffalo wide receiver Sammy Watkins may have the biggest immediate impact of any rookie this season, as he now gives the Buffalo offense balance to go along with a potent running game, which seems like too much for an inept Chicago defense to handle.
Washington Redskins, Houston Texans ‘under’ 46: Houston decided to keep its number one overall pick, which means that Redskin quarterback Robert Griffin III is already having nightmares about facing the tandem of Jadeveon Clowney and J.J. Watt on opening week. At the same time, keeping the first pick leaves the Texans weak at quarterback right now, possibly leading to an even greater dependence on the running game.
Tennessee Titans, Kansas City Chiefs ‘under’ 44: While the Chiefs benefitted from an easy schedule last season, their defense is legitimate and it is not as if they are opening up against an offensive juggernaut here either. At the same time, the Tennessee defense was greatly improved last year over two seasons ago and the Titans may need to lean more heavily on that defense this year.
New England Patriots -3½ at Miami Dolphins: The Patriots are our pick to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl this season, so we look for them to make an immediate statement with an emphatic win to quickly erase the memory of a rare poor performance by Tom Brady vs. Denver in the AFC Championship Game. The Dolphins had a very questionable draft and we do not think Ryan Tannehill is the long range answer at quarterback.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers +2 over Carolina Panthers: This is one of our favorite picks for Week 1 at this early stage as we feel that the Buccaneers will be one of the more improved teams in the NFC in their first season under Lovie Smith, while we expect a lot or regression for the Panthers after unexpectedly going 12-4 and winning the NFC South last season, especially since they have lost their whole receiving corps.
San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys ‘under’ 48: This is a high total for any game involving a San Francisco defense that probably has the second best defense in the NFL at any time, but especially so for opening week when the defenses are usually ahead of the offenses. Besides, the Niners figure to run the ball early and often as is their wont anyway. Granted San Francisco may be without Aldon Smith, but it has more than enough to compensate on defense.
Denver Broncos -7 over Indianapolis Colts: This is a revenge spot for the Broncos after the Colts handed them their first loss of the season last year in Indianapolis, and their task may have just gotten easier with the suspension of the best Colt defensive player Robert Mathis. Obviously Indianapolis needs all the help it can get vs. Peyton Manning and what was the most prolific offense in NFL history last year, so Mathis is a huge loss.
Detroit Lions -4 over New York Giants: The Lions added another weapon in the first round of the NFL draft in tight end Eric Ebron out of North Carolina, but keep an eye on their second round pick Kyle Van Noy, a pass rushing linebacker that fits a big need on the Detroit defense. The Giants may be improved eventually, but they still have defensive issues which cannot be covered up vs. a balanced offense like Detroit possesses.
San Diego Chargers +3½ at Arizona: The Chargers surprised many with their playoff run last season while the Cardinals had the distinction of not making the playoffs in the NFC despite winning 10 games! Philip Rivers may have regained his status as an elite NFL quarterback last year though in his first season under Coach Mike McCoy, and that alone could be reason enough to back the Chargers as underdogs this year.