Way-too-early NFL Week 1 best bets: Take the Eagles and Cowboys against NFC East foes
Plus, the Ravens and Cardinals' eclectic offenses should help them early in the season
Yes, it's still July. Yes, it's probably too early to be thinking about Week 1. Yes, we are going to give you some best bets anyway.
The season-opening slate features five different matchups of intra-division rivals, and we can find some nice value by looking towards the NFC East. Elsewhere in the league, two teams that should prove among the NFL's most eclectic offenses get to square off against foes with rosters that leave something to be desired.
Surely, a whole lot will change between now and the start of the season. But as things stand, we feel pretty comfortable rolling with these best bets.
Washington at Eagles (-8.5)
The Eagles have perhaps the best and deepest roster in football, and in Week 1 they'll be hosting a Washington team that will be starting either Case Keenum, Colt McCoy, or rookie Dwayne Haskins in his first NFL game at quarterback. That's a recipe for a double-digit win for the favorites, who should have an excellent defensive showing and be able to force a couple turnovers. That, in turn, will put Carson Wentz and company in position to succeed -- and that's not the kind of group that really needs all that much help anyway. Throw in the fact that the Eagles are 5-1 and Washington 1-5 ATS in their respective last six season-openers, and that the favorite is 5-0 ATS in the last five meetings between these two teams, and this pick looks even more obvious than at first glance.
The Dolphins are not doing all that much to hide the fact that they're tanking this season. They have stripped down the roster, selling off many of last season's best players and looking to build from scratch. Sure, they're home in the season-opener; but they don't really have the talent to compete with a Ravens team that made the playoffs last year and is looking to head back. Baltimore is also set to debut an offense that looks dramatically different than both what the team ran last season and than what most teams will see against the rest of the league. That could prove difficult for the Dolphins to stop.
The Cardinals will also presumably be running an offense that looks a whole lot different than what you'll see elsewhere, and that element of surprise should help them early in the season -- similar to how the early-season Eagles under Chip Kelly smoked opposing defenses off the field with their combination of pace and creativity back in the day. The Cards will have rookie Kyler Murray under center and won't have Patrick Peterson in the lineup, but this Lions roster is not exactly teeming with top-flight talent, and it seems like there is value in betting against them as road favorites.
Like the division rival Eagles, the Cowboys have one of the best and deepest rosters in football. (They placed nine players on our Eli Manning or rookie Daniel Jones, and whomever is under center will likely be without Golden Tate and Corey Coleman, and possibly Sterling Shepard as well. Meanwhile, the Giants defense has hemorrhaged talent over the past two years and does not seem all that well-equipped to stop the Cowboys whether Ezekiel Elliott's holdout has ended by Week 1 or not. (The bet here is that it has.) Dallas doesn't have the best track record in home-openers against New York, but these Giants are not those Giants. Take the Boys, minus the points., most in the league.) Like the division rival Eagles, the Cowboys are squaring off against a division rival whose roster is -- to put it kindly -- not close to as good as their own. Like the division rival Eagles, the Cowboys will be at home, sporting a good defense against either the aging
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