The NFL season is finally here, and that means I am back deep in the weeds of gambling. Nothing hits quite like a full slate of NFL football, and as many people are I am in a pick ’em league where we pick five games against the spread each week. Here I will be explaining my five picks for each week and keeping track of my season record, so make sure to follow along for picks each week.
Week 1 Picks
New York Jets @ Carolina Panthers (-5)
This is a pick that I had circled immediately after the Week 1 lines came out more than two months ago. Carolina is a team that I followed closely last year as I had the over for their season win total. The Panthers finished 2020 at 5-11 but went 2-8 in one-possession games. Although the overall record didn’t show it, this Panthers team was formidable with game manager Teddy Bridgewater at the helm.
Fast forward to 2021 and the Panthers enter the season with Sam Darnold, whom I believe to be an upgrade at quarterback, and Christian McCaffrey will be fully healthy. Add in the fact that Carolina begins year two under a new head coach with a matchup against a bad Jets team, who will be debuting a new head coach and quarterback, and things are looking rather favorable for the Panthers.
Pick: Carolina -5
Philadelphia Eagles @ Atlanta Falcons (-3)
Now if you’re a sucker like me you almost exclusively bet on the Atlanta Falcons and lose, but this time it’s different… hopefully. Both the Falcons and Eagles are debuting new head coaches, and because of that, I am going to take the side of the veteran QB in Matt Ryan over a young Jalen Hurts. There will be no shortage of offensive weapons in this game even after the Falcons traded Julio Jones. I hate the Eagles in this game more than I like the Falcons, so I am going to rely on Matt Ryan to win in a shootout and cover three points.
Pick: Atlanta -3 (Also Over 48.5)
Minnesota Vikings (-3) @ Cincinnati Bengals
The uncertainty surrounding Joe Burrow and the Bengals is what pulls me to this game. This will be Burrow’s first game back after a terrible knee injury that cut his rookie season short. Burrow saw limited action in the preseason, so there is a lot of unknown for the Bengals.
On the other hand, I think the Vikings are due for a bounce-back season, or at least a hot start to the year because Mike Zimmer may be in danger of losing his job if they don’t perform well in the early going. The Vikings have some of the most attractive offensive weapons in the NFL and they’re competent enough to handily best the Bengals Week 1.
Pick: Minnesota -3
Arizona Cardinals @ Tennessee Titans (-3)
I think in 2021 the Titans will quickly show that they are close to the elite-level teams in the NFL. I don’t see them being an elite team, but they can dominate time of possession with Derrick Henry and beat opponents with their two big receivers A.J. Brown and Julio Jones. If Tennessee can generate a somewhat consistent pass rush, they will cruise to a Week 1 victory.
Pick: Tennessee -3
Seattle Seahawks (-3) @ Indianapolis Colts
This will be an interesting game to watch, mostly because of Carson Wentz making his debut for the Colts. The Colts were a formidable team in 2020 but lacked a dynamic component at QB with veteran Philip Rivers. This offseason they traded for Wentz and reunited him with Frank Reich, who was with Wentz for his MVP-worthy season that ended early due to an injury.
The Colts saw running back Jonathan Taylor emerge as a force at the end of 2020 behind an outstanding offensive line, and I expect that to continue into Week 1 of 2021 against Seattle. I think Carson Wentz will provide enough offensively to allow his team to run the ball down the Seahawks’ throats and come out with a mini upset at home.
Pick: Indianapolis +3
I will keep a running tally of my record against the spread throughout the season. Thanks for tuning in and good luck if you’re tailing my picks!