The NFL Games of the Year posted by the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook this time each year offer a number of potentially valuable spots on the schedule for betting on and against some high-profile teams. Let’s dive in and make an NFL pick a week from the point spreads currently out there in the most popular individual NFL game marketplace.
After taking a look earlier in the week at what, from an Entertainment point of view, may be the Must-Watch games of the 2015 NFL Regular Season, it’s time to make a pick a week—from three months out—from the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook NFL Games of the Year odds for Weeks 2-17, as well as a selection for Week 1, which the sportsbook also has had odds posted and up for several weeks. The NFL’s 32 teams are now transitioning from this phase of the Offseason, with trades, cuts, new signings and draftees all resulting in beefed up and newfangled rosters, which will be gradually be pared down before the 2015 Kickoff Weekend opener on Thursday, Sept. 10 between the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers at Gillette Stadium (NBC, 8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. PT; Odds: Patriots -2½, Total: 49, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook).
With about three months to go until the new season begins, let’s offer up a pick a week with some reasons why in a season which could look and play out a lot like it did in 2014 with the league’s elite teams—the New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers and Indianapolis Colts—looking again like The Invincibles with teams like the Dallas Cowboys, Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers, Denver Broncos and possibly the Philadelphia Eagles still trying to get and stay and that level. Two things that seem sure to change, at least a little in the NFL in 2015, is how the AFC North and NFC South play, as surely the former can’t enjoy the same level of success it did last season (38-25-1 overall record) while the latter almost has to be better after having all four teams in the division (22-41-1 overall record) finish under with records under the .500 mark.
Week 1—Sunday, September 13
Carolina Panthers -4 over Jacksonville Jaguars: This game is at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, and is a simple case of a good team (Carolina) against a bad team (Jacksonville). Granted, the Jaguars (6-9-1 ATS in 2014, 3-5 ATS Home) have Hope at QB in Blake Bortles and have signed free agent TE Julius Thomas (Broncos) this offseason, but the Panthers (9-8-1 ATS) and freshly re-signed QB Cam Newton are better on both sides of the football, will want and think they should win this game and Jacksonville (5-9-1 ATS Underdog in 2014) which may have the worst roster in the NFL. Carolina should win this game (Total: 43, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) by between 6 and 17 points with the host Jaguars (3-13 SU, 3-5 Home) struggling to get to and top the 17-point mark in this opener in the Sunshine State.
NFL Pick: Panthers -4
Week 2—Monday, September 21
New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts -7½: Like an IndyCar warmed up after like 11 laps around the track, QB Andrew Luck and the Colts should be in an Offensive Groove in Week 2—after facing the Bills in Buffalo in Week (Colts -3 Even)—with New Toys Frank Gore (RB), Andre Johnson (WR) and Phillip Dorsett (WR/KR) starting to feel comfortable with their new team and new superstar QB. Luck will make all these already talented guys that much better. Here, on Monday Night Football, the New York Jets (4-12 SU in 2014) will come in confident with all of the new talent they acquired in the offseason, but with the game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis and it being the Home Opener, in a season loaded with expectations, look for the Horseshoes to find a way to win this one by double digits in this AFC contest with its newfound combinations of hard-to-tackle-and-see Water Bugs (Dorsett, TY Hilton) and Big-Reliable TEs (Coby Fleener, Dwayne Allen). 2015 stuff.
NFL Pick: Colts -7½
Week 3—Monday, September 28
Kansas City Chiefs at Green Bay Packers -6½: More early Home Chalk here, and the thought behind this is that one team can score at will through the air (Green Bay), while the other struggles mightily to create Passing TDs for its WRs (Chiefs). Toss in the Lambeau Field factor and thousands of screaming and expectant Cheeseheads, and this looks alot like the above Week 2 Colts game—one where the Home team Green Bay finds, and almost expects, to win this Monday Night Football date by double-digits to appease the screaming Dairyland masses. The Packers have re-signed everyone they needed to re-sign this offseason, and if they can stop the Chiefs (4-4 ATS Away in 2014) from establishing a ground game early on here, a 35-17 type game could evolve.
NFL Pick: Packers -6½
Week 4—Sunday, October 4
Green Bay Packers -3 at New York Jets: Fading the J-E-T-S, Jets! Jets! Jets! in Week 2 was suggested while backing the Pack in Week 3 was, so, The Merry Chalk Train continues into Week 4 here at MetLife Stadium in rustic East Rutherford, New Jersey, where it’s time to Back the Pack and Fade New York AFC one more time before the Jets get any better. (At this point in the season, still expect phrases like “Quarterback Controversy” and “Geno Smith” to be bandied about in Jets-ville). Green Bay (9-4-1 ATS as favorite in 2014) has possibly the NFL’s best WR Duo in Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, and it will certainly be tested here against the Jets revamped secondary which should no doubt be among the NFL’s best with the acquisition of All Pro Darrelle Revis (Patriots) and Antonio Cromartie (Cardinals) this offseason one which saw the Jets really shine. But scoring points and the ability to be able to score “Quick Points” from behind will be a problem for some time for New York AFC.
NFL Pick: Packers -3
Week 5—Sunday, October 11
New England Patriots -1½ at Dallas Cowboys: This Must-See game between QBs Tom Brady and Tony Romo at the Jerry Dome in Arlington, Texas has seen some movement already, but pre-season Hype and Fear of Deflategate ramifications, and Timing—NFL bettors foaming at the mouth to bet on something—has caused most in the Mainstream Sports Media to over-react. This game—which will be played exactly 4 months (one-third of a year, Bubba) from today—will still have all the same major players in place with the exception of Dallas and RB DeMarco Murray (Eagles) who is gone and for the Patriots who lost aforementioned superstar lockdown CB Cromartie (Jets). This game could possibly be the first one of the defending Super Bowl champs New England will be playing with the services of the expected-to-be-suspended Brady and without the cloud of Deflategate hanging over their collective heads. The last time Bill Belichick and the Patriots played in Dallas, New England rolled to a 48-27 victory as 5½-point favorites in 2007. This one should be more low-scoring. Chalk on? Pick: Patriots PK to -1½
Week 6—Sunday, October 18
Baltimore Ravens PK at San Francisco 49ers: No more Harbaugh v. Harbaugh, braugh. We weep together at 7. Heading in here, the Ravens should have the better Offense with QB Joe Flacco, the better Defense with San Francisco losing so many key players this offseason and the higher expectations to win. And in a Pick ‘em situation at a new site (Levi’s Stadium) which is a fair distance from downtown San Francisco (Santa Clara) with little value yet and fans probably disenfranchised from all which has transpired, taking the Ravens here in the City By The Bay makes a lot of sense. The last time the Ravens played in Frisco was way back in 2007, where Baltimore won 9-7 as 3½-point favorites in the lowest of low-scoring games.
NFL Pick: Ravens PK
Week 7—Sunday, October 25
Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants PK: True, the G-Men should be up for this Big Appley, Tri-state Area game. But in terms of Rosters from this distance, needing this particular game at this particular point in the season, the QBs (Tony Romo vs. Eli Manning), the Defenses, the expectations and those odds (Pick ‘Em), the lean and suggestion here in Week 7 has to go with America’s Team, Dallas, as it continues to look to crack the league’s Elite Four or Five teams while New York NFC continues to devolve as Manning the Junior ages like his big brother PeyPey out west in Denver. Dallas won this NFC East meeting 31-28 in Week 12 last season and it’s hard to imagine the Giants being favored in this game when the Week 7 lines are posted in October. So, this may be as good as it gets, homeskillet.
NFL Pick: Cowboys PK
Week 8—Monday, November 2
Indianapolis Colts -2 at Carolina Panthers: One of the NFL’s most underrated teams, the Carolina Panthers, play host to the team in the league with the probably highest expectations of improvement by themselves, their fans, oddsmakers, bettors and the casual fan, in the Colts. And rightfully so. Here at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte on Monday Night Football, Panthers QB Cam Newton and Carolina (5-4 ATS Home in 2014) could very well pull off the perceived big upset, although the point spread (Colts -2) speaks of a closer game. The last time these two teams played here was back in 2007, when the Colts and Peyton Manning blasted Carolina, 31-7 as 7-point favorites. But here, look for the hosts to play one of their best games of the season with the Panthers Defense and Colts TOs being the difference.
NFL Pick: Panthers +2
Week 9—Sunday, November 8
Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys -3: This Week 9 game from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas should have huge implications in the NFC East, and when these two met here in Week 13 in the 2014 NFL Regular Season, the Eagles trampled Dallas, 33-10 (The Cowpoke returned the favor, winning the return leg in Philly in Week 15 by a 38-17 score.) Here, the thought is that an underrated Eagles (10-6 SU in 2014, 10-6 ATS) team could pull off the win again, especially with maybe an energized DeMarco Murray returning to Big D to face the team that let him go to the Eagles after having such a spectacular season Rushing (1,845 yards, 13 TDs) with Dallas. Maybe Jerry’s done lost his mind, Simba.
NFL Pick: Eagles +3
Week 10—Sunday, November 15
Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers -7: My pick of the litter here and maybe the most important game in the NFC North this campaign, QB Matt Stafford, WR Calvin Johnson and the Lions head to Lambeau Field in Green Bay to try to knock off QB Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. The big thing here is the recent series history, both SU and ATS, where the Packers have gone a profitable 6-2 L6 ATS overall and 5-1 ATS L4 at Home against Detroit, including last season’s 30-20 win and cover (Packers -8½) in Week 17. Also, the Packers re-upped with WR Cobb, while the Lions saw superstar NT Ndamukong Suh sign with the Miami Dolphins, and with the Cheeseheads scared of losing in Detroit (they meet in Week 13; Packers -2, NFL Games of the Year, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) like they did in 2014 (17-9), Fear will be a big motivating factor for the hosts who have won by 10, 13 7, 4. 2, 22, 10, and 21 in the L8 meetings here in Green Bay between these two teams. Pick: Packers -7
Week 11—Sunday, November 22
San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks -8½: This NFC West showdown held a different type of luster in past seasons, but now, especially at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, this seems like goldfish being fed to the piranhas. In this game last season in the Emerald City, the Seahawks won 17-7 as 10-point favorites, especially with new TE Jimmy Graham (Saints) giving QB Russell Wilson and the NFC champion Seahawks a nice new receiving target. San Francisco (1-7 ATS at Home) lost guys so many key players like ILB Patrick Willis (retired), LB Chris Borland (retired), CB Chris Culliver (Redskins), troubled DE Ray McDonald (Bears) and DT Justin Smith (retired) on Defense; T Anthony Davis, RB Frank Gore (Colts) and WR Michael Crabtree (Raiders) on Offense; as well as beloved Head Coach Jim Harbaugh, that 2015 looks like a major rebuilding/try to keep it all together mess for the 49ers whose roster has gone through a figurative earthquake. (8-8 SU in 2014, 5-11 ATS).
NFL Pick: Seahawks -8½
Week 12—Thursday, November 26 (Thanksgiving)
Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers -9½: The Packers won this game 55-14 in Week 10 as 9½-point favorites last season at Lambeau Field on the Door Peninsula, and with Chicago devolving so much Defensively through recent years, Green Bay scoring 35 or more in this NFC North contest annually has become almost expected. Trend-wise, the Packers are 8-1 ATS L9 against the Bears and QB Jay Cutler in this historic NFL rivalry, winning by 21 and 41 points last season. So, yeah. The Packers should win this one by between 17 and 24 this time and eliminate the Bears from having to think they need to worry about the NFL Playoffs. Some consolation. A no-brainer and a best bet for your NFL picks.
NFL Pick: Packers -9½
Week 13—Sunday, December 6
New York Jets at New York Giants -3½: The Battle of New York 2015 reads as a Home game for the NFC’s G-Men, but there is no home-field advantage here and thoughts are the Jets will be starting to pull it all together—at least in the context of the New York Jets—around this time of season and there could be nice value and maybe a Middle of Hedge opportunity when the real Week 13 line comes out in early December (Pick ‘em, maybe?). Of course, that all depends pretty much on the QB position and maybe the Jets will have settled on Free Agent signing Ryan Fitzpatrick (Texans) by then. When these two met in 2011, New York NFC beat New York AFC and then-Head Coach Rex Ryan, 29-14 as 3-point underdogs against the NFL odds.
NFL Pick: Jets +3½
Week 14—Thursday, December 10
Minnesota Vikings at Arizona Cardinals -5: This Thursday Night Football date from the University of Phoenix Stadium in quaint Glendale, Arizona sees the upstart Cardinals (11-6 SU, 11-6 ATS) welcoming QB Teddy Bridgewater, RB Adrian Peterson and the Vikings (7-9 SU, 10-6 ATS) to the Valley of the Sun. Expectations for the Cardinals in 2015 are lower, while the Purple People Eaters should rise to a level near the Lions in the NFC North and possibly finish above the .500 mark. The last time these two met here in the American Southwest, the Cardinals won 30-17 as 3½-point underdogs (2009). Here, the thought is that even with the Cardinals getting QB Carson Palmer back from injury, this team has too much trouble scoring points while Bridgewater’s continued development at QB and Peterson’s return should make the Vikings a much more dangerous team with the pigskin. Minnesota can win this game.
NFL Pick: Vikings +5
Week 15—Thursday, December 17
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at St. Louis Rams -7: Another Thursday Night Football tilt, this time between two perceived Rats in the NFL —the host St. Louis Rams (3-5 ATS Home in 2014) and the visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-14 SU in 2014, 5-3 ATS Road) and possibly new starting QB, 2015 Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota (Oregon). But the perception of St. Louis (7-9 ATS) as a Rat may change as the Rams (6-10) and potential new starting QB Nick Foles may be able to overtake the Cardinals (11-6 SU) and 49ers (8-8 SU) in the NFC West standings either this season or next. But evolving a decent passing attack will be crucial to get to that end. The last time these two NFC teams met here at the not-so-historic Edward Jones Dome on 901 W. Broadway in the Gateway City back in 2o13, the Rams emerged 23-13 victors as 3-point favorites. The guest Bucs may not win this, but 7 points is a lot in what should be a low-scoring affair on the Mississippi River. Welcome to Nickfellyville.
NFL Pick: Buccaneers +7
Week 16—Saturday, December 26
Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles -7: ‘Twas the day after Christmas, and all through the NFL, not a player was craving two Turtle Doves, not even Le’Veon Bell. What. Here at Lincoln Financial Field in the City of Brotherly Love and Greasy Cheesesteaks, to honor the sacred birth of the baby reindeer Blitzen, this NFC East tilt is one in which the host Eagles will probably need to win to either have a shot to win the division or possibly snag an NFC Wild Card berth. The 7 points here in this rare Saturday NFL game may seem steep, but from half-a-year away, it’s better to bet on the better team and the Eagles (10-6 SU in 2014, 5-3 ATS Road) are a Top 10, maybe Top 8 team in the NFL while the Redskins (4-12 SU, 2-6 ATS Home) may be in the bottom 5 to 7 teams again. Last year in Week 3, Philadelphia won here, 37-34, but barely failed to cover the point spread as 4-point chalks in the second of two high-scoring affairs between these two teams (51 and 71 points). Vaya con Philly, Willie.
NFL Pick: Eagles -7
Week 17—Sunday, January 3
New England Patriots -1½ at Miami Dolphins: Happy 2016 Earthlings. We mean you no harm. We have only come for your Fluff, sporks and Pink Floyd CDs. This Regular Season finale and AFC East battle from Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida could have some major playoff implications in the AFC, be they Wild Card, AFC East winner or Homefield Advantage ones. Last year in South Florida, future Hall of Famer Brady and the the Super Bowl champion Patriots (15-4 SU overall) were upset, 33-20 in Week 1 by the Fish in this game, so New England should be on its best behavior, although if the Patriots have clinched everything, including the Homefield Advantage in the AFC, by this point, they may not have much to play for. Still, New England is an elite NFL team while Miami (8-8 SU in 2014) is just trying to consistently be a “good” team and not an average one. And that’s not a subtle difference.
NFL Pick: Patriots -1½
NFL Games of the Year Picks: Colts -7½ over Jets, Week 2; Packers -6½ over Chiefs, Week 4; Packers -7 over Lions, Week 10; Packers -9½ over Bears, Week 12; Vikings +5 over Cardinals, Week 14; Eagles -7 over Redskins, Week 16. (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)