All of these betting picks are with the spread.
NOTE: On mobile devices, scroll the predictions to the right.
Pittsburgh at Cleveland | Winner: Pittsburgh -4.5
Cleveland has lost their last 13 season openers. Yes you read that correctly. Also, they lost 18 of their last 19 home openers; 14 of those losses at home. 4.5 is a coverable spread for Pittsburgh with their high-powered offense.
Cincinnati at Indianapolis | Winner: Cincinnati +2.5
The numbers are striking me heavily in the direction of the Bengals. In season openers, the Bengals have won every away game in the past 5 years. The Colts have lost every home opener in the last five years, and most of their season openers period. The Colts also seem to have one of the worst rosters in the league, with our ARQ rating them as the fifth worst roster in the league.
Tennessee at Miami | Winner: Tennessee -1
It is incredibly surprising to me that Tennessee is only a -1 in this game. They have won every away opener in their last 5 years. Also, the Dolphins have an atrocious roster, as we rated them second-worst in the league (only worse than the Jets; go Pats I guess).
San Francisco at Minnesota | Winner: San Francisco +6.5
San Francisco’s impressive run at the end of the season last year should prove as some insight to the kind of season they are looking forward to having. Jimmy G has had an entire offseason to learn all of the intricacies of Shanahan’s complex offense, and is ready to take the next step to earn his large contract. While the Vikings may win the game, the 49ers will no doubt keep it within 7 points. Interesting Fact: The 49ers and Vikings met in the first game of the season in 2015. The 49ers won 20-3.
Buffalo at Baltimore | Winner: Baltimore -7.5
It may seem a curious choice for some, but Baltimore with their incredibly strong defense is facing Nathan Peterman—the guy that threw 5 INTs in his first half. Then if he does poorly, they will bring in rookie QB Josh Allen, who also won’t be welcomed with extreme kindness by the Ravens D. Joe Flacco also performs much better when motivated.
Houston at New England | Winner: Houston +6
Houston has a 4-2 record over their last 6 years in season openers. 1 of those losses was by 7 and one was Deshaun Watson’s first ever NFL game. Also, New England often shows the most vulnerability in the first game because of their complex defensive zone that requires lots of trust. Houston being in their first game of the season means no injuries to key players.
Jacksonville at NY Giants | Winner: Jacksonville -3
It’s surprising to me that the Jags are only a 3 point favorite, but I guess it is that hometown fieldgoal coming into effect. In GamedayCollective’s roster examination stat, ARQ, the Jaguars are viewed as the fourth best roster. In comparison, the Giants are viewed as the third worst. This is the game I have least confidence in picking because out of the last 5 times the Jags visited the Giant’s stadium (both Giants and Jets), they haven’t won a single game. They didn’t have this team, but it’s still something to look at.
Tampa Bay at New Orleans | Winner: Tampa Bay +9.5
New Orleans has lost their first game in 5 out of their last 6 seasons. Also, over the last four seasons, the Saints are 4-3 against the Bucs, but the average margin of victory is 9.25 points. That may be too close for comfort for some, but that is only in the victories. Interesting Fact: Every single September game between the Bucs and Saints since 1986 has resulted in either a Bucs win or a Saints win less than 7.
Kansas City at LA Chargers | Winner: Kansas City +3.5
Admittedly, this is another game that I don’t feel too comfortable about. Although this was a difficult pick, the matchup stats make it a bit easier. Kansas City has beat the Chargers 8 times in a row, and both losses before that were by 3 points. The Chargers do seem to have a better roster this year, but the recent history points towards a loss for them.
Washington at Arizona | Winner: Washington +1
This was a difficult one to pick, as both rosters are in the bottom 10 of our rankings. Their prior matchups did provide some insight however. In the last 11 games between Washington and Arizona, the Redskins are 9-2, 3 of their victories being September games. We also value their roster ahead of Arizona’s.
Seattle at Denver | Winner: Denver -3
Denver has won their last 6 season openers; I won’t pick against something like that. A new, reenergized offense led by Keenum can definitely do damage to this age-weakened Seattle defense. Also, the tandem of Von Miller and Bradley Chubb against a weak Seattle O-line can not be ignored. This is likely something that will be heavily exploited throughout the game.
Dallas at Carolina | Winner: Cowboys +2.5
Now, this is going to be a very close game, and probably not the best for betting. The Cowboys are 4-2 in their last 6 openers, and 1 of the losses was by 1 point. Other than this, there are really no stats that suggest who will win. The Cowboys and Panthers are next to each other on the ARQ rankings. This means this game will likely be incredibly close and come down to a few key plays.
Chicago at Green Bay | Winner: Bears +7.5
My affection for this Bears roster may come to bite me. By me choosing the Bears here, it doesn’t mean I expect them to win, I just expect them to cover this spread. Our roster rankings have the Bears as the ninth best roster in the league right now. Kahlil Mack is going to cause issues and allow their strong defensive secondary to make plays. Almost everything seems to go against me on this pick (see: this), but I feel strongly in the Bears’ ability to cover the spread.
NY Jets at Detroit | Winner: Detroit -6.5
The Detroit Lions are 5-1 in their last 6 season openers, and they won those 5 games by an average of 10 points per game. This combined with the fact that we ranked the Jets as the worst roster in football shows that a blowout is certainly in the realm of possibility. ProFootballFocus ranked the Jets as having the worst O-line football, and we saw how Darnold looked last year without time to throw the football.
LA Rams at Oakland | Winner: LA Rams -4
I don’t know if it is John Gruden hype, but it seems a little absurd to have the Rams only favored by 4. In games on the west coast last year, they were 4-1, and they won those four games by an average of 21 points per game. Yes, 21 points per game was the average margin of victory. There will be relatively little travel time, so the Rams will be well-rested and ready to play.