NFL Week 1 Picks
The NFL returns on Thursday, September 7th and I could not be more excited. We have waited all offseason and have endured plenty of previews, futures, season props, and more. Now the stage is finally set, and the real action begins starting with the Chiefs and Lions in just a couple of days.
I’d like to welcome back all of the folks who are familiar with the program and have read up on my Early NFL Best Bets from last fall. This article has always been one of my favorite pieces to write, as you all have heard me say on the Sharpen the Public podcast (on Spotify) that I love trying to grab some value as early as possible. Things move quickly in the football betting landscape as news develops and more, and unlike the other three major sports, these lines sit all week while people pick one side or the other. You also will likely know about my love for teasers, and there will be no shortage of teasers to be placed this season with Week 1 being no different.
If you are new here, welcome! You have come to the right place to try to capitalize on Closing Line Value (CLV) and to grab some NFL spreads and totals that may move by the time the games kick off this coming weekend. Oftentimes this strategy works out in our favor and we are able to capitalize early, and sometimes I can’t even get the article out before things move. If you haven’t already, be sure to follow me @AndyHHSports on Twitter so that you’ll see me tweet about plays I may place a bet on before this article releases.
With all of that out of the way, let’s take a look at some of my NFL Week 1 Best Bets that we can jump in a little early on. This Week 1 piece will be a bit different than the twenty or so that will come after it over the course of this fall due to these lines being up for months now. A lot of these betting markets have already settled in – but there is still plenty of value to be had that I am excited to dive into more. Let’s get right into it…
Carolina Panthers @ Atlanta Falcons
Bryce Young and company hit the road for his professional debut as they take on their division rival Atlanta. I got a lot of heat two months ago from Falcons fans for saying that I did not believe very much in their squad, and I likely will catch that same anger from them again when I make this play. I think that the Panthers don’t even need the points here and will outright win on the road at Mercedes Benz Stadium.
There seems to be a lot of hype surrounding the Falcons offense, and rightfully so following their big draft night selecting Bijan Robinson. The hype around Bijan is real, as the running back continues to be taken in the first round of fantasy drafts across the country despite never playing an NFL snap. Robinson will have plenty of support from his offensive line as Sharp Football Analysis ranks Atlanta’s unit in the top 10 heading into this season.
The problem I have with Atlanta is their lack of passing options, as we know their run game should help keep the Panthers defense honest but it won’t change the fact that all Atlanta has are Kyle Pitts and Drake London to pass to. Desmond Ridder is still a massive question mark, where as Bryce Young has looked impressive in the preseason and has continued to build rapport with DJ Chark, Adam Thielen, and Jonathan Mingo. Add in Miles Sanders from the Eagles who Carolina traded for, plus an 11th ranked O-Line by Sharp Football Analysis, and you’ve got a solid core for Bryce Young that most young quarterbacks never have the chance to utilize out of the gate.
Where Carolina has more certainties on offense, they also have double the amount of certainty on defense. I love the additions of Shy Tuttle and Vonn Bell to support stars Brian Burns and Jaycee Horn. The Panthers struggled with their secondary last season, but I don’t think that will be an issue with Atlanta’s uncertainty passing the ball. Atlanta will likely struggle again in the trenches as their additions made this offseason were for elderly vets that their former teams cut ties with, while their additions to the secondary feel like the Falcons are just handing out second chances to players who failed at their first destination.
With Carolina ranking 12th best last season at rush yards per game allowed and Atlanta posing no threat in the air with limited options, I like the Panthers to pull off the upset for a very good value of +165 on Bovada. I also find the total to be very interesting, as it has now dropped below 40 with both teams arguably having better offenses than defenses. The unknowns of Desmond Ridder and Bryce Young paired with a Week 1 division game have drove this total low and kept it there, and the sharps are loving it as 90% of the money is on the under according to Action Network.
With such a low total and a Carolina spread sitting at +3.5, I will be adding the Panthers to my Wong Teaser for Week 1. Getting these guys up to +9.5 feels great knowing everyone and their mother believes this will be a low scoring game and the total is sitting at 39.5. I will be adding the second leg to this teaser below, so make sure to keep reading as that will be a 1.5-unit play!
Panthers Moneyline (+165) – 1 Unit (Bovada)
Cleveland Browns vs Cincinnati Bengals
Joe Burrow and the Bengals take the bus ride to Cleveland on Sunday with the big question of Burrow’s availability looming over this game. Zac Taylor continues to say all the right things in the press conferences leading up to this game, but is it all smoke and mirrors to cover up the chance that Burrow may not play? Nobody really knows what is going to happen as I sit here writing on Monday night, and that screams good value to me.
I absolutely love a home dog, and in a divisional game we know that it is going to turn into a rock fight. The Browns are set to surprise some folks this season, as the offense still remains one of the best in terms of options, yet Cleveland shares an even larger question at quarterback than the Bengals do heading into this Week 1 matchup. Which version of Deshaun Watson is this squad going to get?
The public have remained on the Bengals throughout the questionable state of Joe Burrow’s injury, holding 60% of the bets while the Browns have an even larger percent on the money. The public are traditionally awful betting Week 1, which is a great reason alone to bet on the Browns, but I have plenty of other reasons besides fading my good friend Rusty.
The Cleveland Browns have actually dominated the Bengals in recent history, winning 8 of the last 10 matchups versus Cincy. This includes five straight home wins over the last five years against their in-state division rival. The Browns were also 4-2 ATS last year in divisional games compared to 3-4 from Cincy, and 2-1 ATS as a home underdog.
Cleveland still has a very physical defense, and adding Jim Schwartz will bring a level of discipline and accountability that this unit did not have last season. Meanwhile for Cincy, the secondary has seen a complete makeover as the veterans we have seen for awhile now have left and a lot of young guys will be stepping up. Yes, there are plenty of questions about Deshaun heading into this game, but even if he is halfway back to being himself I think the Browns will have an advantage as this Bengals defense figures itself out in Week 1.
I believe there is great value on the Browns to win this game with all the uncertainty surrounding Cincinnati, and this team has a lot to prove heading into the new season. The message would be loud and clear if Cleveland can secure a win to start their season, and I think the opportunity is really presenting itself. I will fade the public here as well as call Zac Taylor’s bluff that even if Joe Burrow does play he will be far from 100% healthy.
Cleveland Browns Moneyline (+125) – 1 Unit (Bovada)
San Francisco 49ers @ Pittsburgh Steelers
This game is a Wong Teaser paradise. Everyone and their mother are talking about the Niners and asking how are they only 2.5-point favorites against a middle-of-the-pack Steelers squad. I am here to do the exact opposite. You are telling me I can tease the Steelers to +8.5 on a 40.5 total at home? Sign me up in every way possible.
Pittsburgh’s receiving corps has gotten a lot of love as fantasy football season has been in full effect, with many people believing strongly in Diontae Johnson and George Pickens heading into the new season. In order for these two to be successful, Kenny Pickett will have to take the next step too, which is why I think he is a great value add at the end of your fantasy drafts this week. Fantasy talk aside, these three should be able to do their thing against a San Francisco defense that was middle of the pack in opponent yards per game allowed and opponent completion percentage last season.
Brock Purdy had all practice restrictions lifted three weeks ago, but it was confirmed an additional elbow procedure happened during the offseason to fix his issue he encountered during the NFC Championship. There should be no concerns surrounding the injury, and this offense still has some of the best weapons in all of football. However, the total still sits at 41 with the large majority of bets and money riding with the over that pushed it up a tad from 40.5. Something is fishy all around here.
Both the Steelers and Niners had top 10 defenses in points per game allowed last season, with San Fran ranking first in the league with only 17.2 points allowed by opponents and the Steelers coming in tenth at 20.4 points per game allowed. With both squads keeping opponents below 21 points scored on average, it is hard to imagine why people are so confident in this game going over. The defensive play on both sides of the ball paired with Kenny Pickett taking the next step as a quarterback makes me feel great about getting the Steelers with the points here.
This play is another fade the public spot for me, as the Steelers not only turned things around late last season winning 7 of their final 9 games, they also covered the spread in all of those wins. Pittsburgh also was 8-3 as an underdog when adding in an additional six-points of teaser security. The Steelers may not win this game against Kyle Shanahan and company, but they are sure as hell not losing by 9 at home on opening day with such a defensive battle ahead. I will take Pittsburgh as the second leg of my Wong Teaser in what is my favorite teaser leg of Week One, while also riding with the under here.
Under 41 (-110) – 1 Unit (Draftkings)
Andy’s Teaser of the Week (-120) – 1.5 Units
Thank you for reading! Be sure to follow me on Twitter @AndyHHSports as I continue to add plays to my Week 1 card, and tune in to the latest episode of Sharpen the Public as Deej and I break down all of the Week 1 matchups ahead.
THIS IS AN ARTICLE WRITTEN BY ANDY CHASE
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