Similar to Christmas morning, opening weekend in the NFL is met with an intense level of joy and excitement. Tomorrow, we will yet again have “7 Hours of commercial free football” for the first time in 245 days. It is time to rejoice!
This time of year also brings out many folks who enjoy placing a wager or two on football. My “gambling” story is a cherished one – as I started participating in the family NFL pick em pool at the ripe age of 7. Me, my Dad, my younger brother, my best friend, his brother and Dad would pack our basement every Sunday morning. With plenty of chips and salsa, two TV screens and the NFL Sunday Ticket package, we were conditioned to love football…and track our picks week in and week out, year after year after year.
As we are fortunate enough to embark on another season of NFL football, here are my Best Bets for Week 1 of the NFL. We’ll start with:
Packers at Vikings
The Packers open the season in Minneapolis, MN to take on their long-time division rival in the Minnesota Vikings. Green Bay goes into this game with uncertainty and question marks on offense. While it’s great to have NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers back at Quarterback, the performance of the offensive line and receiving corps, especially in Week 1, is anyone’s guess. To make matters worse, Packers WR Allen Lazard is doubtful to play.
My guess is that it will take some time for the Packers to find their flow on offense, not just in this game but early on in the season. Additionally, on the flip side, I think it’s fair to predict a good performance by the Packers defense – a unit that is predicted to be a Top 5 or Top 10 group in the NFL by many.
I believe both teams will make a concentrated effort to avoid turnovers and I believe we’ll see a lot of rushing attempts from both sides. The Over/Under in this game opened at 48.5 and has been steamed down to 46.5. I like the Under as I see a lower scoring game in this matchup.
The Pick: Under 46.5 (1U)
Saints at Falcons
The Saints travel to Atlanta in Week 1 and will square off against their NFC South divisional foes, the Atlanta Falcons. The point spread in this game is currently at 5.5, with the Saints as the favorite.
To keep things short and sweet, I am putting a 2 unit wager on the Saints to cover this number of 5.5. The Saints have a far superior roster than the Falcons do. They are loaded with weapons on the offensive side of the ball with players like Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas, Jarvis Landry and Chris Olave. Defensively, they are a solid group. Under new Head Coach Dennis Allen, I believe the Saints will be focused and well prepared to take on the Falcons. While division games get dicey year after year, the gap in talent between these two teams cannot be ignored.
Additionally, we saw what the Saints did in Week 1 of last year, against our very Packers. I believe this point spread should be more around 7.5 than 5.5. I have a strong amount of confidence that the Saints will cover this number.
The Pick: Saints -5.5 (2U)
Best Bet: Broncos at Seahawks
Russ Wilson makes his return to Seattle rather quickly, as his new team, the Denver Broncos, take on the Seahawks in Seattle on Monday Night Football.
Far and away, I think the Broncos are the better team than Seattle. The Seahawks, in my estimation, are going to be the worst team in the NFL this year. There is no denying that the atmosphere in Seattle early on will be an electric one and the Seahawks will be motivated to band together as underdogs and make a statement in front of their home crowd, the whole world watching and their former teammate in Wilson.
However, I believe the Broncos will be just as focused and motivated to make sure they make a statement of their own. Playing in Seattle is difficult as it’s one of the loudest stadiums in the league but the Broncos have Wilson – a Quarterback who knows that crowd better than anybody. I think if anything, being back will give him a heightened sense of motivation and clarity.
Outside of the Russ Wilson dynamic, the Broncos have a loaded team and a brand new head coach who should infuse a new level of energy to the team.I see the Broncos winning this game by at least 10 points and I love that the spread is only 6.5. My best bet of the week, a 3U play, is the Broncos to cover.
The Pick: Broncos -6.5 (3U)
Wager responsibly and enjoy Week 1!
Alex grew up in a family of Chicago Bears fans in the suburbs of Chicago but was always a diehard Packers fan. Alex\\\’s AIM name when he was in elementary/middle school was PackerAlex. He now lives in Nashville, Tennessee and you can follow him on twitter at @Alex_Mayer93.