NFL Picks: Focus on Week 1 NFL Point Spreads & Their Movement

Kevin Stott

Tuesday, September 8, 2015 7:12 PM GMT

Let’s look at the Opening Point spread number, the current high and low spreads at some big-name sportsbooks and then offer up some picks for Week 1 NFL action

On Monday, we took an in-depth look at NFL Totals and their movement since being posted way back in April for all 16 games in NFL Week 1, a rare bird in itself in that these 16 games and their odds have been and will continue to be talked about and bet on probably way too much by nature of the fact these Point Spreads (and Totals) have been hanging on the betting board since late April. There is plenty of time for over-analysis and over-betting smack dab in the middle of the Summer with nothing (theoretically) ”going on,” so the Wiseguys and the General Public bet heavily on these Week 1 games and the voices on the Radio and the Fingers typing words about these games all pour gobs of precious Time on these 16 games like they are the Dead Sea Scrolls or something. They are not. They are just the Week 1 NFL lines, maybe not as refined and indicative as Week 9 point spreads, but definitely close enough. There are few holes to be found, as always, and one game has actually seen the favorites flip in these past 6 months. Much can happen in 6 months, but to have one week of professional football and its Point Spreads and Totals draw so much attention and talk in the “Offseason” is truly a testament to how massive the NFL and Sports Gambling (and Fantasy Leagues) have become. Here in the United States, it really seems like the NFL is now a Blue Whale or sorts, silently swimming around—all of the time—then suddenly opening its big mouth to ingest millions of plankton...MLB, MLS, College Football, NHL, College Basketball, NBA, almost rendering those great leagues moot by the nature of it’s (the NFL) pure size and popularity. And the TV ratings and betting handles support this reality. The NFL is a monster. A really big monster. And we know this because we we’re all forced to hear about PSI levels in footballs in a past football game for well over half of a year of our precious Lives here on this planet. Quite often, big doesn’t always mean good. That publicity seeking family from California that has haunted our TVs for years now is living proof of this Truth.

Anyway, the NFL’s Regular Season will finally kick off this Thursday night with the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots welcoming the Pittsburgh Steelers at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro (NBC, 8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. PT) in a game which has certainly seen its Point Spread move around like a dancer on Soul Train. And why? PSI and hype and numbers and people and money of course. And it would be hard to fault anyone betting into any of that movement, as the Deflategate fiasco news kept bettors and the sportsbooks and analysts busy (over-) reacting to every little move like traders on Wall Street. What, Patriots backup Jimmy Garoppolo stepped on a bee in July and we’re unsure if starting QB Tom Brady will play against the Steelers because of Air Pressure so best dump thousands of dollars blindly on a Steelers because it’s Week 1 and we can and we’re like worker bees mindlessly buzzing around the Queen? My god. What have we become? More than a little chill is needed. And the New England point spread (-7) is about where is started (-6), after taking a joy ride like a 14-year-old driving Mom’s car mindlessly around the neighborhood on a Tuesday. So, let’s analyze the Week 1 Point Spread movements up until this point (Monday, Labor Day) before anything else goofy happens. And unlike the Totals, where every game but one have been bet Under, the Sides have seen more “normal” betting action with the spreads doing much movement since their April release.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New England Patriots
Opening Point Spread: Patriots -6 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, April 22)
Lowest Current Point Spread: Patriots -6½ -115 at Bookmaker
Highest Current Point Spread: Patriots -7½ +115 at 5Dimes
Alternate Point Spread: Patriots -8 +105, (Steelers +8 -142, Bet365)

 

The Point Spread Skinny
My fingers are literally tingling from writing so much about this one damn game and this point spread that I am now considering becoming a Nun and learning to fly to flee this Madness. We talked about air pressure in a flipping football for almost half-a-year. Well done, Mr. Commish. We all know the story here: Patriots Tom Brady will not be suspended 4 games for allegedly knowing what he said he doesn’t know so the New England Patriots QB will play here but Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell (Suspension, Marijuana) and WR Martavis Bryant (Suspension, Marijuana) won’t. So we worried bout one dude not playing for one team when maybe the bigger story was/is that two key dudes won’t be playing for the other? When the Deflategate Thing was at its crescendo, bettors drove the Point Spread in this game down from the (Patriots) -6 it opened up with heavy Pittsburgh Steelers money, driving the line all the way down to -2½ . And then, last Friday, Judge Richard Berman basically said that it wasn’t cool that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell played Judge, Advocate and General in the iffy Brady 4-game Suspension and that it’s too hard to prove the footballs were deflated in the AFC Championship Game, even though one of New England’s ball boys deemed himself “the deflator” in an alleged text message between himself and the team’ equipment assistant. The Patriots ball boy later said he called himself the “deflator” because he was trying to lose weight. OK, bruh. If there’s smoke there’s usually fire, but for simply bringing an end to this madness it’s probably best we send Judge Berman a nice fruit basket or some French Macarons for ending that latest national sports nightmare. We just want to watch and bet on football and not be beat over the head with stupid crap, yet that seems impossible these days. For me, one question about all this is where were the Referees? Aren’t they the one supposed to check PSI of each team’s game footballs? All of this could have been avoided if someone was simply doing their job, measuring the PSI with some fancy-ass device. The bottom line? It stinks and all involved deserve the sullied Reputations and mega-Doubt they get from this. Yes, deflated balls are easier to catch and harder to fumble, but the Colts got blown out in that game (45-7) so even if New England was aware of what it was doing, it probably wouldn’t have mattered. Now hopefully, the Referees will check the footballs and it seems that a huge us-against-the-world mentality has evolved in the Patriots camp. And so after falling to 2½, and being taken down in some sportsbooks, the Point Spread here opened back up all the way at -7, where it sits here Monday in most places. In our game preview here at Sportsbook Review, we have the host Patriots beating the Steelers by a predicted 34-19 score, so that’s well good enough for the cover here. Being ”mad” is worth 4 points.
Point Spread Pick: Patriots -6½ (-115) at Bookmaker

 

 

Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears
Opening Point Spread: Packers -4 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)
Lowest Current Point Spread: Packers -6½ (Almost everywhere)
Highest Current Point Spread: Packers -7 +110 at 5Dimes
Alternate Point Spread: Packers -8 +110 at Bet365

 

The Point Spread Skinny 
This game has seen much Point Spread movement also, pretty much all Packers money with the number steadily rising to its current near-TD level despite the fact that Green Bay star WR Jordy Nelson freakishly hurt himself on the turf of Hines Field and is out for the year. And the Packers looked very bland in the Preseason (2-2, 105 PF-84) while the Bears actually looked pretty good (3-1, 84 PF-42 PA). Still, the Trends and Expectations here favor the Cheeseheads as Green Bay is 8-1 ATS L9 overall vs. their heated NFL North rival, the Bears and a perfect 5-0 ATS the L5 here in Chicago. 
Point Spread Pick: Packers -6½ -107 at Pinnacle

 

 

Kansas City Chiefs at Houston Texans
Opening Point Spread: Texans -1½ (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)
Lowest Current Point Spread: Pick ‘Em -120 at 5Dimes
Highest Current Point Spread: Texans -1½ (William Hill)
Alternate Point Spread: Texans -2 +100, (Chiefs +2 -120 at Bet365)

 

The Point Spread Skinny
This Point Spread has fluctuated between (Texans) -2 and Pick ‘Em with the big news here in this game the Offseason injury to Houston Texans workhorse RB Arian Foster. But bettors saw this only as a blip as Houston had more than enough time to ready for Kansas City—as well as the entire season—without Foster. The last time these two met, the Chiefs won 17-16 in Kansas City as 6½-point chalks in 2013. With these two looking to improve this season and this game meaning so much and Houston starting up again with a new QB (Brian Hoyer, Free Agent, Browns) this one is probably best watched or bet backing the Under. These teams are really close and in games like that, the Home site is usually the difference.

 

Cleveland Browns vs. New York Jets
Opening Point Spread: Jets -1 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)
Lowest Current Point Spread: Jets -2½ -110 (The Greek)
Highest Current Point Spread: Jets -3 (Everywhere else)
Alternate Point Spread: Jets -4 +105, (Browns +4 +8 -142,at Bet365)

 

The Point Spread Skinny
More money and gradual drifting to the favorite and Home team here over the last six months as bettors like what they see from the new-look New York Jets, who improved their Roster more than anyone this Offseason while the perceptions of the Cleveland Browns and what they are trying to do get worse, as has been indicated in the team’s odds to win Super Bowl 50. The Jets (3-1, 85 PF-81 PA) had a decent Preseason and are feeling good about themselves while the Browns (1-3, 58 PF-62 PA) looked Browns-like and keep acting like backup QB Johnny Manziel could be there guy someday. Perhaps heading for the “P’s” in the Yellow Pages in Cleveland looking for a Psychiatrist may be a better idea. In this game, since backing the Browns is out, either backing the Jets on the Moneyline and using that as a parlay element or taking a shot on the -2½ (The Greek) seem safest. Keep your eye on the Jets.

 

Indianapolis Colts vs. Buffalo Bills
Opening Point Spread: Colts -3 Even (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)
Lowest Current Point Spread: Colts -2½ (About half the sportsbooks)
Highest Current Point Spread: Colts -3 (About half the sportsbooks)
Alternate Point Spread: Bills -2½ +137, (Colts +2½ -187, at Bet365)

 

The Point Spread Skinny
This game has hovered right around its’ Opener for almost 6 months and with this AFC inter-divisional Week 1 tilt meaning so much for both teams, the Bills starting Tyrod Taylor at QB and the game being in Buffalo, the thought is that this one’s a tough handicap from the Side POV and the Over would seem a cleaner watch with the Indianapolis Colts having talented QB Andrew Luck leading the way with a bevvy of nice WRs and TEs. Anything could happen in this game and those canonizing the Colts in the AFC best pay close attention to their OL and Defense this game. Indianapolis and lovable Head Coach Chuck Pagano may have to end up simply trying to outscore opponents this season. Pass.

 

Miami Dolphins vs. Washington Redskins
Opening Point Spread: Dolphins -2½ (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)
Lowest Current Point Spread: Dolphins -3½ -108 at Pinnacle
Highest Current Point Spread: Dolphins -4½ (SIA)
Alternate Point Spread: Dolphins -3 -150, (Redskins +3 +110, at Bet365)

 

The Point Spread Skinny
Everyone and their Mother is sold on the Dolphins but pumping the brakes might be a good idea with Miami as the first half of their schedule is all chocolate and strawberries while the second half is all mold and crust. Now that the Washington Redskins have decided to go with Kirk Cousins at QB and scrap the idea of building a tired franchise on the shoulders of RGIII, they’ll have a much better chance at success long-term but this is still Washington we’re talking about here. The Underdog Redskins do seem like the better play here, especially catching 4 (points) in a game they can definitely win an shock many (Redskins +175 Moneyline, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook). This one’s probably best avoided though.

 

Carolina Panthers vs. Jacksonville
Opening Point Spread: Panthers -4 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)
Lowest Current Point Spread: Panthers -3 at 5Dimes
Highest Current Point Spread: Panthers -3½ (All other sportsbooks)
Alternate Point Spread: Panthers -2½ -145, (Jaguars +2½ +110, at Bet365)

 

The Point Spread Skinny
The Carolina Panthers suffered one of the biggest losses in the Preseason when the lost WR Kelvin Benjamin for the season to a freaky ACL injury in practice so QB Cam Newton will look for reliable TE Greg Olsen and Rookie WR Devin Funchess (Michigan) top try to replace some of the productivity lost due to Benjamin’s injury. The 6-5 Benjamin was targeted 178 times last season—the 6th highest mark in the NFL—so Carolina Head Coach Ron Rivera (36-30-1 ATS) will have to use others and suddenly the health of productivity of RB James Stewart is magnified. Here, the host Jaguars will be without Free Agent-signee TE Julius Thomas (Broncos; Finger) who is out for 4 weeks and is having surgery, so Jaguars QB Blake Bortles will look to WRs Allen Robison and Allen Hurns and TE Marcedes Lewis. The last time these two met was in 2011 when the Jaguars lost 16-13 in Carolina and the feeling here is that Carolina knows how important this game may ultimately may be and that it needs to be on its best behavior. Expect Carolina to find a way to win and cover this one in Jacksonville Sunday. 
Point Spread Pick: Panthers -2½ -145 at Bet365

 

Seattle Seahawks vs. St. Louis Rams
Opening Point Spread: Seahawks -3½ (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)
Lowest Current Point Spread: Seahawks -3½ (MGM Mirage)
Highest Current Point Spread: Seahawks -4½ at 5Dimes
Alternate Point Spread: Seahawks -2½ -187, Rams +2½ +137, at Bet365)

 

The Point Spread Skinny
Another popular NFL favorite where the line has steadily trickled upward for the chalks (Patriots, Packers, Broncos) and it seems the move is justified (perceived smart money) with the Rams (0-4, 48 PF-93 PA) looking pretty sad in the Preseason. The defending NFC champion Seahawks have QB Russell Wilson, RB Marshawn Lynch, newly acquired TE Jimmy Graham (trade with Saints) and one of the best Defenses in the history of the league and even with SS Kam Chancellor still holding out, Seattle should beat the Rams by 5-15 points in a game in St. Louis which has historically given them trouble (the Rams won last year here, 28-26) as the hosts will be seeing new QB Nick Foles (traded from Eagles for Sam Bradford) making his debut against Richard Sherman & Co. in Week 1. Head Coach Pete Carroll (54-32-2 ATS) and his Seahawks won’t be caught off guard in this NFC West tilt and season opener.
Point Spread Pick: Seahawks -3 -150 at Bet365

 

New Orleans Saints vs. Arizona Cardinals
Opening Point Spread:
Cardinals -2½ (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)
Lowest Current Point Spread: Cardinals -2½ (Most sportsbooks)
Highest Current Point Spread: Cardinals -3 Even (MGM Mirage, Wynn Las Vegas)
Alternate Point Spread: Cardinals -3½ +110, (Saints +3½ -157,at Bet365)

 

The Point Spread Skinny 
The last time these two teams met was in 2013 when Drew Brees (55-47-4 ATS Away) and the New Orleans Saints rolled the Cardinals at Home in the Big Easy, 31-7 as 7-point favorites while the last meeting here in the Valley of the Sun, Arizona won and covered as 7-point favorites (30-20). With both of these NFC teams possibly an enigma this year and maybe set to regress, this one is best watched and learned from as QB Carson Palmer returns from a Knee injury to lead his Cardinals.

 

Detroit Lions vs. San Diego Chargers
Opening Point Spread: Chargers -2½ (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)
Lowest Current Point Spread: Chargers -2½ -130 at 5Dimes
Highest Current Point Spread: Chargers -3 (Everywhere else)
Alternate Point Spread: Chargers -3½ +100, (Lions +3½ -133, at Bet365)

 

The Point Spread Skinny 
These two teams seldom play, but the last time they met here at Qualcomm Stadium in 2007, San Diego blew out the Lions, 51-15. QB Matt Stafford and the Lions may have the better WRs (Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate) but Philip Rivers (41-34-1 ATS Home) and the Bolts are at Home and Detroit will be playing in a Time Zone (PT) three hours different than their Body Clocks are used to in Detroit (ET). Anything can happen in this game and those are the best to avoid betting on and sometimes the best games to just watch.

 

Tennessee Titans vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Opening Point Spread: Buccaneers -3 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)
Lowest Current Point Spread: Buccaneers -3 (Everywhere)
Highest Current Point Spread: Buccaneers -3 (Everywhere)
Alternate Point Spread: Buccaneers -2½ -142, (Titans +2½ +105, at Bet365)

 

The Point Spread Skinny
Hardly any movement at all here. The last time these two met, the Titans won and covered 23-17 in 2011 at Home (23-17) as 7-point favorites while in 2007 and the last meeting here in South Florida, Tampa Bay won and (barely) covered at Home (13-10) as 2-point chalks. Here, top Draft choices and Heisman Trophy winners Jameis Winston (Bucs) and Marcus Mariota (Titans) will be starting in their first Regular Season games of their young careers and the thought here is that Tampa Bay has a much better supporting cast, is at Home and may not be as bad as everyone thinks. And the Buccaneers (8/1 to win NFC South, Coral) could even end up stealing the NFC South title if everything just happens to go right this season.
Point Spread Pick: Buccaneers -3 -110 (Wynn Las Vegas).

 

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Oakland Raiders
Opening Point Spread: Bengals -3 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)
Lowest Current Point Spread: Bengals -3 -125 at 5Dimes
Highest Current Point Spread: Bengals -3½ +115 (Everywhere else)
Alternate Point Spread: Bengals -2½ -157, (Raiders +2½ +120, at Bet365)

 

The Point Spread Skinny
Minimal movement with money ticking the visiting Bengals up a ½ point in almost all sportsbooks. The Raiders lost 34-10 at Cincinnati in 2012 in the last meeting between these two teams as 7½-point underdogs while Oakland won 20-17 here at Home at O.co Coliseum back in 2009 as 8½-point underdogs. Like the Lions-Chargers, this one could go either way and it wouldn’t surprise if the Black and Silver won outright here at home in the Bay Area in the Regular Season opener with Rookie WR Amari Cooper (Alabama), QB David Carr and K Sebastian Janikowski shining for Oakland. 

 

Baltimore Ravens vs. Denver Broncos
Opening Point Spread: Broncos -4 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)
Lowest Current Point Spread: Broncos -4 (MGM Mirage, Wynn Las Vegas, CG Technology)
Highest Current Point Spread: Broncos -4½ +115 (Everywhere else)
Alternate Point Spread: Broncos -5 +100, (Ravens +5 -120, at Bet365)

 

The Point Spread Skinny
Minimal (½ point) expected drift upward here in what the Total suggests will be a high-scoring affair in the Rocky Mountains. With new Denver Head Coach Gary Kubiak now calling the plays on the field and not veteran QB Peyton Manning, it’s hard to judge how the homeboys will look at Home against the Ravens although the Broncos 8-0 mark at Sports Authority Field at Mile High last season shows how hard it is for opponents to win here in the Colorado altitude. But with TE Julius Thomas (Free Agent, Jaguars) and WR Wes Welker (Free Agent, Concussion) now gone and 39-year-old Uncle Peyton said to be losing some zip on his passes, staying away and watching is the advice to be offered up here. Learn.

 

New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys
Opening Point Spread: Cowboys -5½ (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)
Lowest Current Point Spread: Cowboys -5½ -115 (MGM Mirage, Wynn Las Vegas)
Highest Current Point Spread: Cowboys -7 +115 at 5Dimes
Alternate Point Spread: Giants -3 +300, (Cowboys +3 -350, at Bet365)

 

The Point Spread Skinny
Dallas won by 3 (@ New York) and 10 points (@ Dallas) last season in this series and the G-Men always seem to play America’s team pretty tough. The Point Spread here has either stayed exactly where it started (-5½) or trickled up a ½ point or full 1 point depending on the sportsbook. With the Cowboys letting go of 1,800-yard RB DeMarco Murray (Eagles), it may be best to see what the Cowpoke are all about before betting on or against them, especially after an abysmal 1-3 Preseason (48 PF-82 PA). Like the Lions and Raiders, the thought here is that the underdog Giants (+225 Moneyline, MGM Mirage) could win outright here in the Sunday Night Football season debut in Jerry World. However, Big Blue is just 1-3 ATS L4 in Arlington.
Point Spread Pick: Giants +7 -135 at 5Dimes

 

Eagles vs. Atlanta Falcons
Opening Point Spread: Eagles -1½ (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)
Lowest Current Point Spread: Eagles -2½ (MGM Mirage, Stations), -2½ -120 (The Greek)
Highest Current Point Spread: Eagles -3 (Almost everywhere else)
Alternate Point Spread: Eagles -6 +137, (Falcons +6 -187, at Bet365)

 

The Point Spread Skinny
This Monday Night Football season debut from Atlanta will give us all a chance to see if the Eagles (3-1, 133 PF-77 PA) are as good as they looked in the Preseason and the thought here is that if you want to get and wager on Philadelphia below 3 points (-3), best do it now as only two shops (MGM Mirage, Station Casinos) are showing a -2½ tonight (Monday) and both have the Eagles priced with -120 juice. Logic says the public keeps betting on Philly and that this number may be headed to -4 by kickoff Monday night. With QB Sam Bradford (Rams) and RB DeMarco Murray (Cowboys) making their Eagles Regular Season debuts, expect Head Coach Chip Kelly to have a bunch of creative plays at his disposal as he looks for the win on the Road in Week 1. The last time these two teams played, the Falcons won 30-17 in the City of Brotherly Love and Robot Disablers as the visitors showed which bird was best that day. On Monday night, Philadelphia may show everyone how good it looks both on the Offensive and Defensive sides of the ball against a desperate Atlanta (2-2, 86 PF-88 PA) side that needs to focus on playing better Defense.
Point Spread Pick: Eagles -2½ -120 at Pinnacle

 

Minnesota Vikings vs. San Francisco 49ers
Opening Point Spread: 49ers -3½ (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)
Lowest Current Point Spread: Vikings -2½ (Everywhere)
Highest Current Point Spread: Vikings -2½ (Everywhere)
Alternate Point Spread: Vikings -3 +100, (49ers +3 -133, at Bet365)

 

The Point Spread Skinny
Yes son, a long, long time ago in a land far away from here, the San Francisco 49ers were actually 3½-point favorites here in this Week 1 game against the Minnesota Vikings. But then a mysterious triangular-shaped space ship hovered over Frisco, beaming several Niners players up into the craft, never to be seen again. Or something like that. And then, the General Public and Sharps started to realize that RB Adrian Peterson was coming back for Minnesota and that he would be running mad and that QB Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville) had a pretty decent Rookie year and might be a nice signal caller for the Purple People Eaters to build around. Toss in the acquisition of Free Agent WR Mike Wallace (Dolphins) and there is now actually Hope in the Twin Cities these days. So we actually have the Road underdog now as the favorite here and (at least) a 6-point move Minnesota’s way as bettors continue to fade San Francisco both in Week 1 and in the Future Books markets. Although we tabbed taking the Vikings plus the 3½ points months ago when we we are still young ladies and men, it still seems Minnesota has enough to win this one by 3 or more, although the thought is that San Francisco (2-2, 59 PF-60 PA in Preseason) will be motivated by all of this talk and aren’t as bad a football team as some of us may be pretending. This could be a real dogfight in Santa Clara.
Point Spread Pick: Vikings -2½ -110 at Pinnacle

 

NFL REGULAR SEASON WEEK 1 POINT SPREAD PICKS: New England Patriots -6½ -115 (Bet365); Green Bay Packers -6½ -107 (Pinnacle); Seattle Seahawks -3 -150 (Bet365); Tampa Bay Buccaneers -3 -110 (Wynn Las Vegas), Carolina Panthers -2½ -145 (Bet365); New York Giants +7 -135 (5Dimes); Philadelphia Eagles -2½ -120 (Pinnacle); Minnesota Vikings -2½ -110 (Pinnacle)