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NFL Week 1 picks: Bet against Jets, Giants; Jaguars stun Chiefs, Browns roll; Colts lock of the week

Dak Prescott and the Cowboys have had recent

Dak Prescott and the Cowboys have had recent success against the Giants.  Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

All bets are off in Week 1, except of course in the literal sense, as fans can’t resist the urge to wager on their favorite sport after a seven-month absence.

This is the most unpredictable week of any NFL season, when most upsets shouldn’t shock you because, let’s face it, things change in a hurry in this league. Be on the lookout for teams with new coaches or new quarterbacks (or both), and teams that could be facing a letdown or a revival.

My six most confident picks against the spread (ATS) are the Colts, Browns, Cardinals, Jaguars, Eagles and Bills. Two tricky games to stay away from: 49ers-Bucs and Falcons-Vikings.

BILLS AT JETS, 1 p.m.

TV: Ch. 2

Jets by 2.5; O/U: 40.5

There’s no such thing as a “must-win game” in Week 1, but this is as close as you can get. With the Browns, Patriots (twice), Eagles and Cowboys rounding out the first six games, the Jets can’t lose at home to Buffalo if they want to be a contender. Sam Darnold should flourish under Adam Gase, but will Le’Veon Bell’s rust and the questionable secondary be an issue early on? Buffalo coach Sean McDermott’s defense always shows up, and Josh Allen is a threat to prolong drives with his scrambles. This has all the makings of a game that won’t be decided till a late field goal. What was the Jets’ biggest concern this preseason? Yep, the kicking game. Take the points in what could be a one or two-point finish. 

The pick: Bills

GIANTS AT COWBOYS, 4:25 p.m.

TV: Ch. 5

Cowboys by 7.5; O/U: 45.5

Dallas has won four in a row against the Giants, who have scored 13 and 3 points in their last two trips to Jerry’s World. If the Giants had Golden Tate, I could see this being closer, but the Cowboys’ front seven should have its way against Eli Manning and a limited offense after Saquon Barkley. These NFC East rivalry games are often nail-biters, but I feel Vegas is almost begging you to take the Giants by setting the line this high. While the Giants feel they’re improved, let’s first see it in a meaningful game. Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper and Ezekiel Elliott should score enough to cover.

The pick: Cowboys  

1 p.m. GAMES

REDSKINS AT EAGLES

Eagles by 10; O/U: 45

You normally wouldn’t want to lay so many points in a Week 1 division game, but the Eagles have Carson Wentz and are loaded everywhere. Philly will get after Case Keenum and an overmatched offensive line. This one could be over by halftime.

The pick: Eagles

RAMS AT PANTHERS

Rams by 2; O/U: 50

At first, I thought this could be a sneaky home underdog play. But with Cam Newton spraining his foot in the preseason after already having offseason shoulder surgery, he’s one Aaron Donald hit away from being out. The Rams will be anxious to light up the scoreboard after a three-point Super Bowl.

The pick: Rams

FALCONS AT VIKINGS

Vikings by 4; O/U: 47.5

In an evenly-matched contest between teams that should be in the playoff conversation, the best advice is to take the points. Especially when it’s more than a field goal. Unlike last season, the Falcons defense will be healthy.

The pick: Falcons

TITANS AT BROWNS

Browns by 5.5; O/U: 45.5

The Browns are my pick to win the Super Bowl, so of course I like them to roll right out of the gate. Baker Mayfield, playing in his first home opener in Cleveland (he didn’t play till Week 3 last season) now has Odell Beckham Jr. to go with Jarvis Landry and speedy back Nick Chubb. The Browns are going to be explosive, and I can’t see a Titans team that averaged 19.4 points per game last season keeping up. With top offensive lineman Taylor Lewan serving a suspension, Marcus Mariota could be in for a long day against Myles Garrett and Olivier Vernon.

The pick: Browns

CHIEFS AT JAGUARS

Chiefs by 3.5; O/U: 51.5

If the Chiefs played the Jaguars every week, they’d probably finish with double-digit wins. But this is the season opener. At Jacksonville. Against a team that followed up a surprise run to the AFC title game in 2017 with a five-win dud in 2018. Expect a young Jaguars defense to use last year’s disappointment as motivation with Patrick Mahomes in town. Nick Foles has a strong debut. Upset! Jaguars 24, Chiefs 20.

The pick: Jaguars

RAVENS AT DOLPHINS

Ravens by 6.5; O/U: 38.5

This line has gone up steadily after Miami’s trades. It’s no secret the Dolphins are going to be bad but call me crazy: I kind of like them in Week 1. New coach Brian Flores learned under Bill Belichick so he will have a defensive game plan for Lamar Jackson. Ryan Fitzpatrick always seems to play his best in September, and with it being close to 90 degrees at kickoff, this could be a prime spot for Miami to get one of its few wins.

The pick: Dolphins

4 p.m. GAMES

LOCK OF THE WEEK

COLTS AT CHARGERS

Chargers by 6.5; O/U: 44.5

Don’t count out the Colts just yet. The line jumped from 3 ½ to 6 ½ after Andrew Luck’s stunning retirement, but Jacoby Brissett is a solid backup and Indy has weapons on offense and defense. The Chargers always seem to struggle in the first month, and without Melvin Gordon, this line is just too high. This is a great value bet, especially when you consider the Chargers have no home-field advantage. In addition to playing with a chip on their shoulder, the Colts will be coaching with one, too: Frank Reich is facing the team that fired him as OC after the 2015 season. This one goes down to the wire, and don't be surprised if the Colts win.

The pick: Colts

BENGALS AT SEAHAWKS

Seahawks by 9.5; O/U: 44

Seattle has won 10 straight home openers, and that streak will continue. The Seahawks, though, have a tendency to play a lot of close games early on. Russell Wilson (7-0 in home openers) wins again, but I'll take a shot that it's only by single digits.

The pick: Bengals

LIONS AT CARDINALS

Lions by 2.5; O/U: 46.5

If there’s a week to back the Cardinals, this is it. No. 1 overall pick Kyler Murray and rookie coach Kliff Kingsbury should have a few tricks up their sleeves, and it’s not as if the Lions are the scariest Week 1 opponent. Give me the home underdog to put on a show and pull off the mini upset.

The pick: Cardinals

49ERS AT BUCS

Bucs by 1; O/U: 51

This is one of many Week 1 coin-toss games. I lean Bucs because they’re home and it’s coach Bruce Arians’ debut. For what it’s worth, Jameis Winston is 2-0 vs. the 49ers with 5 TDs and an INT.

The pick: Bucs

SUNDAY NIGHT

STEELERS AT PATRIOTS, 8:25 p.m.

TV: Ch. 4

Patriots by 5.5; O/U: 49.5

This is the best game of the week. New England went 8-0 at home last regular season and was 6-2 ATS  (the losses by a half point and 1.5 points). It should win, but this is too many points to pass up with a drama-free Steelers team looking to prove it can contend without “you know who” and “you know who.” Ben Roethlisberger, James Conner and JuJu Smith-Schuster keep it close the entire way.

The pick: Steelers

MONDAY NIGHT

TEXANS AT SAINTS, 7:10 p.m. 

TV: ESPN 

Saints by 7; O/U: 52.5

This matchup of 2018 ‘South’ division champs might be more lopsided than you think. It wouldn’t shock me if Drew Brees, Michael Thomas and a still-not-over-last-year Saints team drops 40 points in their first action since the non-PI call in the NFC title game.

The pick: Saints

BRONCOS AT RAIDERS, 10:20 p.m. 

TV: ESPN 

Broncos by 2; O/U: 43

The Raiders may have had a solid preseason, but the “Hard Knocks” stars don’t make my Week 1 cut. Especially not after the latest Antonio Brown drama. There’s a reason this line is basically a pick ‘em, and I like new Broncos coach Vic Fangio’s defense to be the difference. Joe Flacco, fueled by a chip on his shoulder the shape of a boulder, makes just enough plays to win a low-scoring game.

The pick: Broncos

STAFF PICKS

(best bets in bold)

JOE MANNIELLO

Bills Cowboys Eagles Rams

Falcons Jaguars Browns Dolphins

Colts Bengals Cardinals Bucs

Steelers Saints Broncos

BOB GLAUBER

Jets Cowboys Eagles Rams

Vikings Chiefs Titans Ravens

Chargers Seahawks Lions Bucs

Patriots Saints Raiders

TOM ROCK

Jets Giants Eagles Rams

Falcons Chiefs Browns Ravens

Colts Seahawks Lions 49ers

Patriots Saints Broncos

AL IANNAZZONE

Jets Cowboys Eagles Rams

Vikings Chiefs Titans Ravens

Chargers Bengals Lions Bucs

Steelers Saints Broncos

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