The NFL season began yesterday with the Chiefs beating the Texans on Thursday Night Football. As we did last year with College Football, our SportsTalkATL crew will be providing gambling locks while tracking our records each week. I’ll be the first to admit, the NFL is one of the most challenging leagues to predict, but that isn’t going to stop me from handing out winners like candy.
Chase Irle’s Picks
Patriots (-6.5) vs. Dolphins
There may not be fans, but I still like the Patriots at home against the Dolphins. With an extended period to prepare, Bill Belichick is always something I like to bet on, and since there were no preseason games, I expect the Patriots to be one of the most game-ready teams heading into 2020. New England also has revenge working for them in this one, as the Dolphins beat the Patriots in the final week of the 2019 season. Lay the points.
Falcons (+2.5) vs. Seahawks
There’s a general rule that you should never bet on the team you cheer for, but I’m going to completely ignore that with this pick. On paper, these are two very even teams. I might even give the Falcons a slight edge. Then you toss in the fact that Matt Ryan is 5-2 against Seattle in his career, and the Seahawks have to travel across the country to wake up for a 10:00 AM PT game without a single tune-up. Everything is working in favor of the Falcons, and you’re still getting points. Atlanta is a good bet, but you might want to buy a half-point in case Seattle wins by a field goal.
Cardinals (+7) vs 49ers
I expect the Cardinals to be somewhere around a .500 team this season, competing for one of the final playoff spots. Kyler Murray is fantastic, and now he has a new toy in De’Andre Hopkins. Arizona’s offensive line will likely be overmatched by San Francisco, but that hasn’t mattered in recent years, and Murray can escape the pocket keeping the 49ers’ defensive ends honest. On top of that, San Francisco enters the season after a grueling loss in the Super Bowl. That’s never easy to bounce back from, and they will have a target on their back. The 49ers could very well win this one, but laying a touchdown is too much.
Jake Gordon’s Picks
Bears (+2.5) vs Lions
I’m not a big believer in the Bears, but I love fading Matt Patricia. Kenny Golladay & Marvin Jones are a talented receiving duo, and D’Andre Swift adds an interesting wrinkle to the offense. However, it’s yet to be seen if Matthew Stafford is ever going to be his old self.
Back injuries are a killer for quarterbacks. Third overall pick Jeff Okudah also isn’t even starting Week 1, which should help out Mitch Trubisky. Speaking of Trubisky, desperation is a hell of a factor when your fifth-year option gets declined. The Lions shouldn’t be favored against anyone. I’m tempted to take the ML and forego the points, but I’m not going to get carried away. We are talking about the Bears here…
Cowboys (-2.5) v Rams
I still really like Sean McVay as a coach, but the Rams haven’t been the same since the most boring Super Bowl of all time. Dallas’ high-powered, new-look offense should do enough to win by more than a field goal. I could see the Rams taking a major step back — maybe even dipping well-below .500.
Aaron Donald is still Aaron Donald, but they’re missing Dante Fowler Jr. and Todd Gurley. Jalen Ramsey also can’t guard Michael Gallup, Amari Cooper, and CeeDee Lamb all at once. Not a good matchup for the Rams. This one’s probably my favorite pick of the week.
Colts (-4, First Half) v Jaguars
I had a tough time with this one. I love the Ravens, but -7 is a lot against a Browns team that will be much improved. I like Denver sneakily at +2, even without Von Miller. Tennessee’s air attack isn’t their strength, and a night game at Mile High may mess with the team’s internal clock. However, since I need a third, I’ll just go with Phillip Rivers… who I despise betting on.
The bottom line is — the Jags roster STINKS. They’ve torn down most of the team outside of Myles Jack & D.J. Chark, and their offensive line is littered with holes. I think DeForest Buckner feasts on Jacksonville’s O-Line, and with no Leonard Fournette, their run game is almost an offensive zero.
I believe in Gardner Minshew (to an extent). He has spunk and is a fun player to watch, but his arm isn’t strong enough to expand the field as other QBs can do. That’s not a recipe for success with a weak line and no run game. Minshew will be dinking and dunking all day, and this one may get ugly.