NFL Week 1 Picks Against the Spread: Vikings, Chiefs are best bets to win you money
Will Brinson's five best bets for Week 1 of the 2018 NFL season
Over the past two years, I've pubbed five best bets every Friday afternoon on this website. In 2016, the picks were great. Last year, ehhhhh, not so much.
This year I'm back at it, participating as a member of #TeamOS with the fine, friendly folks at OddsShark (they have some great betting trends to check out for every NFL game, highly recommend them as an excellent resource).
Good news for you: my first bet was a loser and you didn't see it because it came on Thursday night, with the Atlanta Falcons failing to cover a pick 'em spread against the Eagles. Credit Philly's defense for putting pressure on Matt Ryan, but the Falcons looked discombobulated and struggled badly in the red zone. (This is where I panic and think it's Groundhog Day. OH GOD THAT'S NED RYERSON'S MUSIC!!!)
Anyway, bad start to the season, but I'm pretty confident I was on the right side of that bet Thursday night: Atlanta gagged away a very good chance to start the season 1-0 and a very winnable game by being terrible in the red zone.
The Falcons can spend their Friday and their weekend getting mad about that disaster. I don't have that luxury. Let's find some more winners. Send me your best bets on Twitter @WillBrinson and if you want every game against the spread along with tons of betting nuggets for every weekend, check out the Pick Six Podcast, the only DAILY NFL PODCAST on the Internet.
To the best bets (all lines set by the Westgate for the SuperContest):
I was willing to bet on Minnesota way back in May when they were -5 and even with the line moving up substantially, I'm still on board with this pick. Laying a large number against Jimmy Garoppolo and Kyle Shanahan is risky, but Minnesota is just a better team with an excellent homefield advantage. The only red flag here is a stumble by Kirk Cousins and that offense out of the gate under new offensive coordinator John DeFillipo and the possible offensive issues they might have against a secretly stout 49ers defensive front. (OK that's two red flags but you get the point.) I'm just so on board with this defense and the ability of the Vikings to get a lead and salt things away with Dalvin Cook that I'm willing to ignore other concerns. Last year the Vikings were 6-3 against the spread at home, but their point differential in those games is striking, as they won those games by an average of 11 points per game. Even more striking? They COVERED those games by an average of a touchdown. This is a top-shelf team at home against and up-and-coming conference contender. Give me the Vikes.
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This line stinks and I know it. Everyone is going to be on the Bengals, but it's not like we're talking road chalk here -- and the Bengals are a better team overall. Frank Reich's ability to coach up an offense and Andrew Luck potentially playing possum this offseason is a little bit concerning; what if the Colts just come out firing? But look at this Cincy team and how it matches up against the Colts. The one thing that can mess up Andy Dalton and this offense is being able to really generate pressure and rough up the offensive line and I'm not sure the Colts can do that right now. This defense is transitioning to a new scheme and the revamped Bengals offensive line should be able to block for them. A.J. Green and John Ross are going to shake free for a couple of deep passes against an extremely thin and vulnerable secondary and then Cincy's going to FEED Joe Mixon to put this game away and win in Week 1 on the road. Getting the points feels like a bonus I'm not supposed to have.
I'm extremely high on the Titans this season and have them winning the AFC South. But I've got them losing a surprising game in Week 1 of the 2018 season. Why? Because Adam Gase is underrated in terms of his ability to prepare. We only have two years of his work, but consider he almost upset the Seahawks (12-10 loss) in Seattle in 2016, and in Week 2 of last year, after the Dolphins had their home opener cancelled by a hurricane and were forced to travel to multiple cities before eventually opening up against the Chargers on the road in Los Angeles, pulled off an impressive win against an impressive Chargers team. I'm all aboard the Mike Vrabel train and all about the Matt LaFleur train, but this is a good week to be getting a green coaching staff. The Titans have a nice secondary, but Ryan Tannehill should be able to dink and dunk them to death, utilizing Kenyon Drake, Danny Amendola and Albert Wilson. I'm already excited to take the 0-1 Titans as home dogs in Week 2 after the Texans scare the Patriots on Sunday.
Chiefs (+3.5) vs. Chargers
Another coaching matchup layup here. No offense to Anthony Lynn and MY Chargers, but Andy Reid owns this team. Change his nickname from "Big Red" to "Baby Spanos." Reid is 8-0 in his last eight games against the Chargers. He beats them every time. It can't last forever, of course, and there's reason to be scared here if you're a Chiefs fan. Patrick Mahomes is new under center and we don't know exactly what to expect. The defense has looked terrible this preseason and it doesn't appear Eric Berry is going to be at full strength for this game if he can even go. The Chargers are a better overall roster and a better overall team. But this Chiefs team just has Philip Rivers' number and it sounds increasingly likely that Joey Bosa won't be able to go for LA. If the Chargers are missing their best pass rusher, it's going to give wideouts more time to get open and when you give Tyreek Hill more time to get open it's too late because you're already dead and he's doing the peace sign while he's sauntering into the end zone. If you're going to hand me the hook with this coaching matchup and Reid's history not just against the Chargers but in Week 1 games (3-0 the last three seasons straight up, with all those games on the road) I'm going to take it.
BONUS UNDERDOG PARLAY OF THE WEEK
Apparently I'm supposed to give you an underdog pick, and I think the Chiefs qualify, but I'm gonna make you some more money and let you double down and get greedy as hell. Let's go ahead and parlay the Chiefs MONEYLINE (+175 or thereabouts depending on where you shop) along with the OVER of 48. That two-game parlay pays out just under 4-1 if you bet it, so go ahead and dabble a unit or two on that as well, banking on Andy Reid and his offense coming through in the clutch and a bunch of defensive injuries causing this to turn into a shootout. This over should be north of 50.
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