NFL week 1 is here and football is back. Picking NFL games straight up is hard enough, but picking against the spread is even tougher. Here are the NFL week 1 picks against the spread. (Spreads are from ESPN as of Thursday morning)
Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears (-3)
The NFL is starting its season off with a rivalry game as the Packers travel to Chicago to take on the Bears. Aaron Rodgers led the Packers on a comeback win last year in the home opener. While the Packers have added to their defense and have a new coach, the Bears made minimal roster moves this offseason. Rodgers will shine with the lights on.
Baltimore Ravens (-6.5) at Miami Dolphins
Miami has gotten rid of a lot of the talent on their roster, as they look ready to tank. Not only will the talent level be low, but Miami players were reportedly not happy that left tackle Laremy Tunsil was traded. Lamar Jackson should be able to give Miami’s defense enough problems to win by a few scores.
Tennessee Titans at Cleveland Browns (-5)
There is a lot of hype surrounding this Cleveland team, but there are some holes on their roster. Their offensive line could really hold them back. Tennessee is always a tough team, so this should be closer than the experts think, with the Browns winning by about a field goal.
Atlanta Falcons at Minnesota Vikings (-4)
Kirk Cousins has a bad record against .500 teams, but the Falcons finished below .500 last season and the Vikings at home. With their new gameplan of running the football more, the Vikings should be able to win a close one and cover the spread.
Buffalo Bills at New York Jets (-3)
Both of these teams have promising young quarterbacks. The Jets have a little bit better of a roster overall after this past offseason though. With Le’Veon Bell and C.J. Mosley in the fold, they have impact players on both sides of the ball. At home, the Jets should be able to win and cover.
Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles (-10)
Philadelphia should be able to win this game, especially with Washington starting Case Keenum at quarterback. The Eagles will hope to have an improved run game to help them control the clock more, but that isn’t proven yet, especially against a front-seven as good as the Redskins. The Eagles will win, but not by double digits.
Los Angeles Rams (-2.5) at Carolina Panthers
The Rams have to travel across the country and play the Panthers in an early kickoff. Last season, the Rams proved to be dominant in the NFC. Carolina, on the other hand, will have to prove Cam Newton is fully healthy after offseason shoulder surgery. Until Newton shows that he is healthy, it is safer to bet on the Rams.
Kansas City Chiefs (-3.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacksonville should be a much-improved team this year, but their schedule did not do them any favors in the first game. The Chiefs will be ready to roll with all of their weapons, including newly acquired LeSean McCoy, suiting up. If Kansas City has any magic left over from last season, they’ll be able to cover.
Cincinnati Bengals at Seattle Seahawks (-9.5)
Seattle will have Jadeveon Clowney lining up against a patchwork offensive line. With Russell Wilson leading the way as well, it is enough to secure the victory, but they’ll have to grind away a win. The Bengals had a bad line last season, but were still competitive in most games until Andy Dalton went down with an injury. Seattle will win by a touchdown. It could be rainy on Sunday in Seattle, which should help the Bengals keep it close.
Indianapolis Colts at Los Angeles Chargers (-6.5)
How much did Andrew Luck retiring change this line? The Colts have a solid team without him, but Luck should account for more than a few points. Philip Rivers will be able to find holes in the Colts’ defense and win by more than a touchdown.
Detroit Lions (-2.5) at Arizona Cardinals
This game has the potential to be a shootout. Kyler Murray should be able to lead the Arizona offense to some points, but in the end Matt Stafford and the Detroit offense will outscore them. Take note of how Murray plays in this first game, but there is too much uncertainty to bet on the Cardinals.
San Francisco 49ers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (even)
It is a “pick’em” game between the Bucs and the 49ers. San Francisco has some issues at quarterback with Jimmy Garoppolo struggling for most of the preseason. He’ll likely be able to shake off the rust, but for now, the safe bet is to pick the Buccaneers. With Bruce Arians in charge, the offense should take a significant step forward.
New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys (-7.5)
The Cowboys signed Ezekiel Elliot and now appear ready to compete this season. These two teams always play each other close, but this year might be different. The Giants traded Odell Beckham Jr., which really limits what they can do on offense. Their defense will also likely be worse without Olivier Vernon.
Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots (-5.5)
Pittsburgh has always struggled in Foxborough. The Patriots have lost a few key players from their Super Bowl-winning team last year including Trey Flowers and Rob Gronkowski. They fully operate on the next man up mentality and being at home, should be able to cover.
Houston Texans at New Orleans Saints (-7)
The Saints have a great home-field advantage. Drew Brees is still leading the offensive charge and the defense is much improved. That is enough to win a tough game at home, but Houston has a talented team and now even has protection for Deshaun Watson in Laremy Tunsil.
Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders (even)
Oakland has more drama than they bargained for with Antonio Brown, who is now upset at getting fined for missing mandatory team activities. To go along with that, the Raiders still have to build up their roster. Denver is a more solid team, even if they aren’t a great team. They should be able to win on the road.