Early Week 1 NFL Picks

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The 2020 NFL schedule is here so let’s take a very early look at what Week 1 NFL Picks look like.

In the spirit of optimism, let’s make picks for every single Week 1 game against the spread below.

Early Week 1 NFL Picks

Texans at Chiefs (-10.5), O/U 56.5

Thurs. Sept. 10, 8:20 p.m. ET (NBC)

The defending champs get to replay one of their playoff games, hosting the Texans, who provided a whole host of entertainment during the divisional round last year. Just like before, the Chiefs are huge favorites. This time around, Kansas City won’t just be coming off a bye, it’ll be coming off the longest bye possible. Andy Reid is 6-1 straight up in Week 1 games since arriving in Kansas City and in those six wins he has an average margin of victory of 13 points. Reid is 5-2 against the spread (ATS) in those games as well — one of the times he failed to cover was as a 6.5-point favorite when he beat the Chargers by six points in overtime. I will absolutely back the heavy chalk here. I would probably lean under as well — I think now is the time to play it, too, since it will likely come down rather than go up. It’s scary fading these teams and their explosion but that’s a silly high total that is predicated on last year’s playoff game.

Early Week 1 NFL Picks: Chiefs -10.5

Seahawks (-1) at Falcons, O/U 49

Sun. Sept. 13, 1 p.m. ET (FOX)

My first thought with this game was “hammer the Hawks!” because they’ll be ‘dogs. But Seattle being a road favorite in Week 1 is a little stinky. I’d let it drift back towards the Falcons before I took it; I would expect they’re popular with the sharp folks as a home ‘dog and eventually end up becoming the favorite here. The Seahawks have killed it on the east coast during these early start times, bucking convention. And Russell Wilson just feels comfortable on the East Coast too. The Seahawks were lucky last year, but I’m just skeptical of the Falcons right now and Dan Quinn hasn’t had hot starts that often. People are backing Atlanta this year and I’m off that wagon. Not enough depth.

Early Week 1 NFL Picks: Seahawks -1

Packers at Vikings (-3.5), O/U 47

Sun. Sept. 13, 1 p.m. ET (FOX)

Green Bay was another luck box last season and I would imagine the Vikings are popular here because of how “bad” the perception of the Packers’ draft is. But I’m not really worried about it, even though the performance from last year by the Vikings against Green Bay doesn’t give a whole lot of hope for something solid here. But let’s not pretend people are applauding the Vikings’ offseason. They’re writing off the defense very quickly and no one is that thrilled Kirk Cousins is back. Minnesota reloaded and was a better team last year. IF homefield advantage is there, I want the Vikings here. I would hold off and find out if fans will be inside the stadium.

Early Week 1 NFL Picks: Vikings -3.5

Colts (-7.5) at Jaguars, O/U 46.5

Sun. Sept. 13, 1 p.m. ET (CBS)

Shocking line here. The Jaguars aren’t good but they’re more than a touchdown ‘dog to Indy at home??? There isn’t a bigger Philip Rivers stan than yours truly, but this is a bridge too far given how long we’ve got until the season starts. The Colts might not be able to practice together that much. Gardner Minshew has more reps with his receivers than Rivers does with his. I’ll take my chances with an unpopular Week 1 touchdown dog at home. This under should be a SMASH. Both teams will be very methodical, even if the defenses aren’t exactly outstanding.

Early Week 1 NFL Picks: Jaguars +7.5

Bears at Lions (-1), O/U 44.5

Sun. Sept. 13, 1 p.m. ET (FOX)

Can you find a less appealing Week 1 game? The Lions are an interesting team to me for the full year, if only because the NFC North isn’t that great. Matt Patricia is 0-1-1 straight up in his two Week 1 games. Matt Nagy has lost both of his Week 1 games; both were against the Packers. I’ll take the Lions here, because I don’t trust the Bears QB situation and don’t know whether Nick Foles or Mitchell Trubisky will start Week 1 for Chicago.

Early Week 1 NFL Picks: Lions -1

Dolphins at Patriots (-6), O/U 43.5

Sun. Sept. 13, 1 p.m. ET (CBS)

Fascinating matchup here, with the Patriots playing their first Week 1 game without Tom Brady as the starter since 2000. The Dolphins and Ryan Fitzpatrick wrecked New England’s dynasty in Week 17 last year; can they come in and give Bill Belichick problems as he attempts to get things going in a post Brady world? My guess is Tua Tagovailoa ultimately gets the start — I think he’s healthy enough to get going out of the gate. And that will be a problem for the Fins, because of how poorly young quarterbacks play in Foxborough. The under should get a serious look here given how good these two defensive secondaries are.

Early Week 1 NFL Picks: Patriots -6

Raiders at Panthers (pk), O/U 46.5

Sun. Sept. 13, 1 p.m. ET (CBS)

The Raiders had a very nice offseason and I was definitely on the “Carolina might be tanking” bandwagon, but I have come off that stance a little bit based on the Panthers offseason. Carolina’s draft was outstanding from a defensive perspective, and they should have enough offense to put points on the board. The Raiders are a shocking 2-8 straight up in early window games since 2017 and I don’t like this spot for them. Think Matt Rhule gets it going in Week 1 with a surprising performance.

Early Week 1 NFL Picks: Panthers (pk)

Jets at Bills (-5.5), O/U 40.5

Sun. Sept. 13, 1 p.m. ET (CBS)

The Bills are nearly touchdown favorites in Week 1. What a time to be alive. It’s not unreasonable: this is a really good roster and if Josh Allen takes a leap, Buffalo could be a legitimate contender. The Jets shouldn’t be slept on though — this is too big of a line for me, especially with the jump I’m expecting from Sam Darnold this year. I’ve got some concerns about the weapons in New York, but I’m willing to take the points here and roll the dice on the Jets being better than people think. I’d probably lean under here, but I’m not sure the number is going to drop a ton out of the gate as low as it is already.

Early Week 1 NFL Picks: Jets +5.5

Browns at Ravens (-8.5), O/U 49

Sun. Sept. 13, 1 p.m. ET (CBS)

The Ravens’ last regular season loss of 2019? Week 4 at home against the Browns. Both teams moved to 2-2 and then went in wildly different directions. The Browns spiraled out of control and fired everyone. The Ravens earned the best record in football. I understand why the line is where it is — the Ravens are awesome, they came out firing last year and the Browns aren’t a great team, or at least have a lot of unknowns about them. I trust in Kevin Stefanski as an offensive mind, though, so I’ll take the Browns getting more than a touchdown here.

Early Week 1 NFL Picks: Browns +8.5

Eagles (-6) at Redskins, O/U 45

Sun. Sept. 13, 1 p.m. ET (FOX)

The Redskins are going to be a much better team than they have in years past, at some point anyway. Ron Rivera will get things cooking. But it might not be out of the gate and there is a whole lot more consistency on the Eagles coming into the 2020 season, something I think will be big given how the offseason is going.

Early Week 1 NFL Picks: Eagles -6

Chargers (-3.5) at Bengals, O/U 46.5

Sun. Sept. 13, 4:05 p.m. ET (CBS)

I’m gonna be on the Bengals big time in this Week 1 game, because I just don’t understand why the Chargers would be a full field goal favorite here. Sure, they have a good overall roster and a potentially elite defense. But it’s been very clear that the Bolts plan on being methodical on offense and want to run the ball a ton. I don’t think they’re going to be putting up more than 18-20 points per game, and I believe Joe Burrow can match that. I love the under in this spot — it’s heavily inflated.

Early Week 1 NFL Picks: Bengals +3.5

Buccaneers at Saints (-4.5), O/U 49.5

Sun. Sept. 13, 4:25 p.m. ET (FOX)

Best game of Week 1 and it’s not close. Tom Brady in his new uniforms headed to the Superdome to square off against Drew Brees to get a good litmus test on how the NFC South will go. It’s Week 1 so grain of salt time and I know I pointed out the whole consistency thing, but this is too many points for a Bucs team that I believe will be a legit Super Bowl contender. Maybe I change this if the Bucs don’t get a full training camp, but I’ll take Tampa Bay with the extra points right now.

Early Week 1 NFL Picks: Buccaneers +4.5

Cardinals at 49ers (-7.5), O/U 45.5

Sun. Sept. 13, 4:25 p.m. ET (FOX)

Best bet of the week. The Cardinals are a team I’m all in on this year and Week 1 is no exception. They draw a very good 49ers team, but Arizona kept it close twice against San Francisco last year and will be improved thanks to the addition of DeAndre Hopkins. I would look at the over here, but I also think these two teams can be more methodical than they’re given credit for, which can lead to some longer drives and reduced scoring. 21-20 or 21-17 wouldn’t be shocking here, but the Cardinals are covering and maybe winning.

Early Week 1 NFL Picks: Cardinals +7.5

Cowboys at Rams (-2.5), O/U 50

Sun. Sept. 13, 8:20 p.m. ET (NBC)

Mike McCarthy is going to have some serious weapons at his disposal, provided the Cowboys can get Dak Prescott under contract and/or convince him to play on the franchise tag. But by all accounts, McCarthy’s offense is incredibly complex for people picking it up the first time, which could result in some transitional issues for Dak and Amari Cooper/Michael Gallup/CeeDee Lamb to start the season. Even if the presence of Kellen Moore helps mitigate that, it still will cause some translation stuff for McCarthy at the very least. I’ll happily take the Rams here then — Sean McVay is 3-0 straight up and ATS in Week 1 games in his career, with a point differential of +60 in those games.

Early Week 1 NFL Picks: Rams -2.5

Steelers (-3) at Giants, O/U 48

Mon. Sept. 14, 7:15 p.m. ET (ESPN)

This all hinges on Ben Roethlisberger, who is much more of an unknown than we can possibly imagine right now. Who has seen Big Ben throw? Who has seen Big Ben walk around? Who has seen Big Ben underneath that beard? The Giants have a lot of questions on offense, especially against a talented Pittsburgh D, but three point dogs at home on Monday night in Week 1 against a QB coming off major elbow surgery? I’ll take those points in a heartbeat, especially if Ben struggles throughout the offseason at all. This could close as a pick ’em if he does. The under is a good look too here, in my opinion — that number is way too high for two teams who could ultimately play this game at a conservative pace.

Early Week 1 NFL Picks: Giants +3

Titans at Broncos (-3), O/U 42

Mon. Sept. 14, 10:20 p.m. ET (ESPN)

The Titans are a nice sleeper team to make a run in the AFC this year, but I don’t know if this is the best spot for them. Shortened offseason and having to head to Denver where almost every team struggles to produce early in the season. The altitude is just a problem for folks. And Drew Lock’s loaded with weapons. The Broncos defense should be good enough to bottle up Derrick Henry, who hasn’t ever really gotten going at full Derrick Henry speed until the second half of the season rather quietly. He’s also coming off a ton of carries and is on the franchise tag. I’ll take the home team in this late night Monday matchup.

Very Early ATS Pick: Broncos -3

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