Football is back! The Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons got us started with a fun fourth quarter on Thursday, and now we get the main course on Sunday. We get eight games in the morning, four in the afternoon, and then the oldest rivalry in football on Sunday Night Football, when the Green Bay Packers host the Chicago Bears.
The return of football means fantasy football and gambling are back in our lives. There is nothing quite like a little football gambling to make games that much more exciting. This season, I am taking part in the Westgate SuperContest. SB Nation’s partners over at Odds Shark are sponsoring my entry again. The contest requires selecting five games each week and picking them against the spread.
The first month of the season is a tough one for all parties involved when it comes to making picks. Everybody has their perception of teams, but nobody really knows with absolute certainty how each team will perform on a week-to-week basis. The first two or three weeks of the season are when we’ll get the most inefficient lines from sportsbooks, which means the best chance to get out ahead of the pack.
I’ll be offering up all five SuperContest entries each week, along with picks against the spread for every game each week. Here are my SuperContest entries for Week 1.
VIKINGS (-6.5) over 49ers
I’m a 49ers fan, so it’s possible I am overcompensating a little on this one. That being said, the loss of Jerick McKinnon coupled with no Reuben Foster and Malcom Smith strikes me as tough ones for a team facing a strong Vikings defense, and an upgraded passing attack. The Minnesota offensive line is the primary reason I could see the 49ers swinging an upset.
Bengals (+3) over COLTS
The Colts have Andrew Luck back in the saddle, but he’s been inconsistent at best. I could see him settling in later in the season, but I think they’re slow out of the gates. I’m not excited about betting on Andy Dalton, but the Bengals are the better team at this point. I’ll happily take points against these Colts.
Jaguars (-3) over GIANTS
People are jumping on the Giants, but I’ll take that Jaguars defense. People will question betting on Blake Bortles, and as scary as that might be, I don’t see Eli Manning being a better quarterback at this stage of his career. I am more betting on that Jags defense than anything else.
BRONCOS (-3) over Seahawks
Late word has the Seahawks activating Earl Thomas for Week 1 after held out for all of training camp. That does leave me a little bit concerned, but even with Thomas, this Seahawks team is closer to rebuilding than contending.
PANTHERS (-3) over Cowboys
The Cowboys could be fine with Ezekiel Elliott returning, but that offensive line is a big question mark. Losing center Travis Frederick is a big issue for them, and will be felt up and down that offense. The Panthers line isn’t much better, but at home, I’ll lay the points.
Here are all my picks for Week 1:
EAGLES vs. Falcons (PK): Falcons — Loss
BROWNS vs. Steelers (-3.5): Steelers
VIKINGS vs. 49ers (+6.5): Vikings
COLTS vs. Bengals (+3): Bengals
RAVENS vs. Bills (+7.5): Bills
GIANTS vs. Jaguars (-3): Jaguars
SAINTS vs. Buccaneers (+9.5): Buccaneers
PATRIOTS vs. Texans (+6.5): Patriots
DOLPHINS vs. Titans (-1.5): Dolphins
CHARGERS vs. Chiefs (+3.5): Chiefs
BRONCOS vs. Seahawks (+3): Broncos
PANTHERS vs. Cowboys (+3): Panthers
CARDINALS vs. Washington (+1): Washington
PACKERS vs. Bears (+7.5): Packers
LIONS vs. Jets (+6.5): Lions
RAIDERS vs. Rams (-4): Raiders