There are three certainties about the 2016 NFL season:
- Fans will complain about the officials.
- The passing game will continue to grow around the league.
- I will beat Nick Kostos in the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook contest. We are both part of Team Oddshark again this season in the contest, and I play -- no, will -- finish ahead of Kostos.
A year ago, he edged me by a half point in the regular-season contest - the actual contest. But Team Oddshark held a postseason contest, and I destroyed him. So in the end, I had a better record -- even if he won't admit it. I finished 10 games over .500 for the season, which is pretty good.
This year, I expect to be even better. Each week, my contest picks will be here as my Best Bets. Now in my second season in the contest, I feel better about the process.
With that, here are my Week 1 Best Bets:
1. Chicago Bears plus-6: The Texans have some issues on both lines, which is never a good thing. How healthy is J.J. Watt? What about the issues on the offensive line? The Bears will hang around in this game. Brock Osweiler will be making his first start for the Texans, and he's still a bit of a uncertainty. Give me the points.
2. Atlanta Falcons minus 2.5: I don't think the Falcons will be all that good this season, but they are laying a small number at home. Are the Bucs that good? They will be improved, but this is a division opener on the road. That's tough. Matt Ryan will have success against the defense of former Falcons coach Mike Smith. Atlanta takes it.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars plus 5.5: The Packers are a Super Bowl-caliber team, but this will be a tough game. Jacksonville is a rising young team that has a chance to be a playoff team. This is a proving game of sorts for Jacksonville. I think their offense could be really good, while the front of the Packers has some issues. This will be a fun, close game. Take the points.
4. San Diego Chargers plus 6.5: The Chiefs come into this one without Justin Houston. That matters against a passer like Philip Rivers. The Chargers will be better up front on offense, and that will help. Their defense will also be better. Kansas City will win it, but it will be close.
5. Baltimore Ravens minus-3: This line looks funny. Why is it only 3? The Ravens had a bunch of injury issues, including to Joe Flacco, last season. But he's back now. The Bills have all kinds of issues on defense. That unit regressed under Ryan last season, and I think that continues here. Ravens get the cover.