I bet and sent out 3 games already this summer and one the other day: Steelers +3 -115, Lions +6 and Giants +3.5 -115. The Pittsburgh line moved to 2.5/2 and if I didn’t get on +3 early I would play moneyline +115 at this point. The Lions game obviously moved on the Kelce news but Chris Jones out might be a bigger deal. I broke down these 3 games and previewed a few others with a bunch of stats and trends at the bottom and 2 futures.
Steelers/49ers: With TJ Watt healthy, teams playing at Pittsburgh the last 2 seasons averaged just 18.4 ppg in the 13 games he played. Brock Purdy had a great season last year stepping in the last 5 games of the 49ers regular season but he’s been on a pitch count all summer and wasn’t taking the usual amount of reps. This will be the first game Purdy will face a coach that’s had an extended period of time to study film on him with the 49ers and the 49ers offensive line didn’t have a lot of time together in camp because of injuries. The Steelers front 7 with Watt, Highsmith, Cam Heyward and rookie Nick Herbig is going to be a tough matchup for the Oline. On defense this will be the 49ers first game without DeMeco Ryans as the defensive coordinator. Nick Bosa signed his deal at the 11th hour so he’ll play but slot corner has been a position the 49ers had a little bit of concern with this summer so the Steelers will likely target that. Kenny Pickett looked great at the end of last season when the Steelers finished 6-1 ATS their last 7 games and this offense in year 2 with him and George Pickens has a lot of potential. Kyle Shanahan’s 1-5 ATS in Week 1 with the 49ers, the Steelers went 8-2 ATS with TJ Watt last season, and Mike Tomlin is 7-2-2 ATS as a home dog since 2017.
Chiefs/Lions: The Lions were worth considering at +6.5 and 7 early in the summer even before the Travis Kelce news. This # opened at 7 in early May and by the first week of August went to 6.5 at every book. Normally the Super Bowl winner is almost an auto play Week 1 (16-4 SU, 13-5-2 ATS since 2003) but this year we have some different circumstances. Chris Jones being out is probably even a bigger deal than if Kelce is out because the Chiefs defense relies so much on him against the run and it gives other guys in the front 7 more favorable matchups. The Lions Oline is one of the best in the NFL and with 2 really good RBs in Jahmyr Gibbs and David Montgomery, the Lions should be able to move the ball consistently on the ground and setup Jared Goff for short 3rd downs. As of 1:30 pm ET Kelce’s status is still up in the air. The offense would obviously look different if he’s in but one thing we know for sure is that the Chiefs will be starting 2 offensive tackles that they got in the offseason and will be facing an aggressive Lions front 7 that’s had extra time to prepare. Should be a great, close game to start the season.
Giants/Cowboys: The Cowboys are loaded with talent on both sides of the ball, even more so than last year. On paper they’re a Super Bowl roster and added Stephon Gilmore and Brandin Cooks, but what will come out of Mike McCarthy taking over playcalling and a new OC Brian Schottenheimer who was fired from his last OC job with the Seahawks for not adapting to the new NFL game? Leaving season long predictions aside and focusing on this one game, the Giants defense should give the Cowboys more problems than most people expect. The Giants have four 1st rounders in their front 7, a 2nd rounder from Georgia, and another 2ndrounder from Alabama. Adding Isaiah Simmons from the Cardinals in a cheap deal gives Wink someone who can play all over the field. The Giants won a lot of games coming from behind last year but this is a much more talented roster on both sides of the ball. This isn’t to go as far as to say the Giants will be a better team than the Cowboys (because the Cowboys are more talented) but in Week 1 with the Cowboys adjusting to a new offensive system I like the Giants +3.5 at home on Sunday Night Football. Division underdogs in Week 1 are 31-12-1 ATS since 2015.
Thoughts on the rest:
Colts/Jags: Anthony Richardson has a ton of talent and can make big plays but his accuracy and performance in big games last year is a big red flag. 9 for 27 at Florida State, 11 for 23 at South Carolina, 18 for 37 at Georgia in a 42-20 loss, 24 for 44 at Tennessee, 14 for 35 vs Kentucky with 2 INTs. The Colts have had so much turnover at QB the last 6-7 years that they’ve been dreadful in Week 1s. The Jags have no shortage of talent, their problem has been slow starts on the road. If they can overcome that (and they had a full offseason and year 2 of Doug P) the Jags can open this game up. The Colts have major questions in the secondary. The Jags will have to get passed LT Cam Robinson’s suspension for this game and if Lawrence has time Calvin Ridley, Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, Evan Engram and Travis Etienne should help him move the ball a lot. Lot of points for the Jags in this one if they avoid their dreaded slow road starts. The line moved to an unplayable # from -3.5 to -5/5.5 in the last few weeks.
Falcons/Panthers: The Panthers had offensive line issues all summer and were outplayed in joint practices and preseason games. Frank Reich took over this year so it may take some time for this team in general to gel, but for Week 1 they’re in a tough spot going against a defensive line with a lot of talent that not many people are talking about – Calais Campbell, Grady Jarrett, David Onyemata, and Bud Dupree. Bryce Young has a ton of talent and can make plays with his legs so you can’t discount him, but overall #1 picks at QB in Week 1 making their first start are 1-13 since 2003. This line moved from Falcons -3 to -3.5 across the board in late August
Seahawks/Rams: The Rams lost some big veteran pieces and are starting a ton of rookies on both sides of the ball. To give you an idea of how bad their financial situation is, they asked Matthew Stafford this offseason to take less money a year after they paid him right after winning the Super Bowl. Long story short: they went all in to win the Super Bowl 2 seasons ago and now realize they can’t have their cake and eat it too. Seattle’s offense has the potential to be really good this year with an improved Oline and Metcalf and Lockett only getting better with Geno Smith. Jaxon Smith-Njigba is expected to play after concerns he might be out Week 1. The Seahawks do have some injuries at corner and safety Jamal Adams won’t play, but with Cooper Kupp’s injury and the overall gap in talent between both teams the Seahawks are in a good spot to start 1-0.
Look-ahead to Week 2:
Week 2 lines are out at some books if you like to get ahead on good #’s
Giants at Cardinals (Week 2): The Giants are anywhere from -4.5 to -5.5 in Arizona for Week 2. The Giants will either be 0-1 after losing to Dallas and needing a win, or will be 1-0 with a lot of momentum. They should move the ball a lot on the Cardinals defense and the stadium will be filled with a lot of Giants fans. This should be a 2 score game.
49ers at Rams (Week 2): The 49ers are -6 at most books, -6.5 at others. The Rams offensive line is going to struggle bad in this game and the defense has almost as many holes. Another game that should be decided by 2 scores.
Jags vs Chiefs (Week 2): The Jags were +3 for a while and then Superbook and Caesar’s both opened them at +2.5 for this game. Chris Jones’ contract will be a major factor in this game and if he doesn’t get a deal done by Week 2 then the Jags offense is going to be in a good position to move the ball. The Chiefs will get the benefit of 3 extra days prep but they’ll have to deal with Jacksonville heat.
Lions vs Seahawks (Week 2): The Lions are at -3 for this game and will have an extra three days of prep after playing TNF. They’ll either be 0-1 and need a win, or 1-0 with a ton of momentum for their home opener. This is a pretty even matchup normally but already mentioned above that the Seahawks are dealing with a few injuries in the secondary so if those injuries hold up then the Lions are going to have some good matchups on the outside.
Trends & #’s
- Road underdogs in Weeks 1 & 2 are 56-35-2 ATS since 2018 (61.5%)
- Underdogs overall in Weeks 1 & 2 are 88-62-3 ATS since 2018 (58.6%)
- Colts in Week 1 are 0-5-1 ATS since 2017 with a -12.2 ppg margin of victory
- Steelers are 25-11-2 ATS as a dog the last 5 seasons (7-2-2 ATS as a home dog) and finished 8-2 ATS their last 10 games last season
- Titans are 24-12 ATS as an underdog overall under Mike Vrabel
- Giants went 11-3 ATS as an underdog last year in Daboll’s first season, +7.5 ppg cover margin
- Lions went 4-0 ATS at home Weeks 10-18 last season, +16.8 ppg cover margin
- Ravens in Week 1 are 6-1 SU and ATS since 2016 with a 27.7 ppg margin of victory and 22.9 ppg cover margin
- Super Bowl losing team is 3-15-2 ATS in Week 1 since 2003
- Ravens are 15-3-1 ATS as underdogs since 2018
- Road favorites went 43-54-3 ATS last season
- Home dogs of 3+ points went 39-27-3 ATS (59%) last season and are 130-105-6 ATS (55%) since 2018
- Seahawks are 28-10 ATS at home in September since 2000
Giants +172 to make the playoffs: already covered above how this team improved on both sides of the ball. A down year for the NFC West and NFC South, the Giants play games vs the Cards and Rams, plus throw in a 7th playoff team to the field and the Giants have a good chance of being in the Wild Card
Rams Under 6.5 wins -115: sent this out mid August and it’s moved to to the -125 to -130 range since but I’d still bet it. This roster is bad and isn’t getting enough attention because the Cardinals tanking is getting more attention than them in that division. The Rams will have a bunch of rookies starting on both sides of the ball, play the AFC North 4 games out of division, travel to the eastern time zone 3 times, and play road games at Dallas, Green Bay and the Giants. If they win 7 games with this roster and schedule then I deserve to lose money.