If I've learned one thing about making NFL picks, it's that it's never too early to make NFL picks, which is why you're getting these Week 1 best bets more than a month before the start of the season.
Although there are 16 games being played in Week 1, I won't be picking all of them here. Instead, I've narrowed the group of season-opening games down to three best bets.
So what exactly does that mean?
It means that if I were to find myself in Las Vegas during the month of August, the three games below are the games I would absolutely bet on. Coincidentally, I almost always somehow end up in Vegas during the month of August, so there's a good chance these bets are going to happen. Last year, myand 2-1 against the spread and I used my winnings to buy a waffle-maker, but you probably didn't need to know that.
If you hate my best bets, don't worry, we have more coming. Over the next few weeks, you'll be getting best bets from my other CBSSports.com colleagues, but for now, you're stuck with mine.
NFL Week 1 best bets
I have no idea if the Ravens are actually going to throw a forward pass this season, but that's not going to matter in Week 1, because they might not have to throw a single pass to beat the Dolphins. This game is basically a matchup made in heaven for Baltimore. The Ravens will be rolling into Miami with an offense that averaged 152.6 yards per game on the ground last season, which ranked second in the NFL and the Dolphins will be trying to stop that with a defense that has no idea how to stop the run.
The Dolphins surrendered 145.3 rushing yards per game last season, which was the worst in the AFC and second-worst in the NFL. Sure, it's possible the Dolphins will watch a bunch of film from the Chargers playoff win over Baltimore to figure out how to stop them, but that's probably not going to help, and that's because the Ravens have had all offseason to re-imagine their offense.
As if that's not enough, there's also going to be a mismatch on the other side of the ball. The Ravens defense surrendered the fewest yards in the NFL last season and the second-fewest points, and they might actually be better now that they've added players like Earl Thomas. If I'm putting money on a football game, I'm surely not betting on Josh Rosen or Ryan Fitzpatrick to put up big numbers on Baltimore's defense, especially when they're being protected by a unit that's already gone through one coach this offseason.
The #Dolphins have fired offensive line coach Pat Flaherty of his duties and promoted analyst Dave DeGuglielmo to offensive line coach. Flaherty struggled to implement the new system, and it’s been an issue since the spring. It’s why DeGuglielmo was brought in.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 29, 2019
Firing your offensive line coach less than a week into training camp is never a good thing.
This game could turn into the biggest blowout of Week 1. Not only are the Ravens going to cover the four-point spread, but they're going to win by double digits.
Verdict: Ravens cover.
For the second straight year, the Packers and Bears are opening the season against each other, and for the second straight year, I like the Packers to win. Of course, things are slightly different this time around. Instead of Mike McCarthy, the Packers will be coached by Matt LaFleur, which should work to their advantage. The biggest upside to adding LaFleur is that there will actually be an element of surprise in what the Packers do on offense this season. After years of running the same, stale stuff in Green Bay, LaFleur will be spicing things up for Aaron Rodgers. The Packers offense was so predictable last season that it almost got Rodgers killed in his two games against the Bears. The Packers quarterback got beat up in both games against Chicago: Not only did he get sacked a total of seven times in the two games, but he suffered a knee injury that ended up bothering him the rest of the season.
Rodgers is going to be out for revenge this season and I'm just not willing to bet against him on the opening game of his revenge tour.
Verdict: Packers cover and win.
This is one of the most oddly fascinating games of Week 1. What we're getting in this game is the NFL's highest-scoring offense from 2018 going up against an offense that couldn't score at all (The Chiefs averaged 35.3 points per game last year while the Jaguars averaged ranked second-to-last with 15.3 points). To fix their offense, the Jags decided to dump Blake Bortles and bring in Nick Foles, which is definitely an upgrade, because anything is an upgrade over Bortles. The problem for Foles is that learning an entirely new offensive system isn't easy and it's almost impossible when you have to learn it by practicing against the Jags' defense.
Although I do think Foles will eventually figure things out in Jacksonville, he's not going to figure things out in time to help the Jags win this game. The Jaguars defense should be good this year, but even if they hold the Chiefs under 30 points, I have a hard time imagining Foles and friends scoring more than 20. Also, Andy Reid is nearly unbeatable when he has extra time to prepare for a game, and he'll have had all offseason to prepare for this one. Not only is he 17-3 coming off a bye, but he's 8-2 in season openers over the past 10 years (6-4 ATS).
Verdict: Chiefs cover.