The 2017 NFL season is underway with the first Sunday slate of games taking place on September 10. It’s a favorite time of year for football fans that waited seven months for this day to get here. Sure, we could have watched the preseason over the last month, but those games really didn’t matter.
There were supposed to be 15 games following the Thursday nighter, but as I’m sure you know by now, the Dolphins and Bucs game got moved to week 11 because of Hurricane Irma. Neither team is happy about it because now they have no bye week during the year.
Every week I’ll be here to pick the full slate of games. At the end of the column, I will also have the five best bets of the week using either point spread or over/under totals. I’ll list them in order from the time they take place and the point spreads I use come from VegasInsider.
All times listed are in Eastern Time Zone.
Pittsburgh (-9.5) @ Cleveland – 1:00pm
The Browns finished last year 1-15 and are coming off a 4-0 preseason record that means… absolutely nothing. It doesn’t matter what happened in the preseason. The Steelers have one of the best offenses in football that got better this year because they got WR Martavis Bryant back after he was suspended last year. I think their offense will have a big day and I don’t expect a lot of fireworks by the Browns offense with rookie QB DeShone Kizer. This feels like a big game from Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell. I like the Steelers to win and cover. The Pick: Pittsburgh 34-13
Arizona (-2) @ Detroit – 1:00pm
The Cardinals weren’t a playoff team last year while the Lions were, yet the Cards are favored on the road because the public thinks the Cardinals should improve on what they did last year. I’m not sure if they will because QB Carson Palmer is close to 40 years old, but they do have one of the best weapons in the game in RB David Johnson, who could have a monster game against an average Lions defense. It should be a close one. The Pick: Arizona 24-20
Jacksonville @ Houston (-5.5) – 1:00pm
It’s going to be tough for me to pick the Jaguars to win very often with QBs Chad Henne and Blake Bortles running the show. Neither guy impresses me much at all, so seeing them go on the road against one of the best defenses in the league in the Texans makes me lean heavily towards the Texans. I know the Jags defense isn’t that bad either, so it feels like a low scoring game with the Houston D-Line superstars JJ Watt and Jadaveon Clowney forcing a couple of turnovers leading to some scores. The Pick: Houston 20-6
Baltimore @ Cincinnati (-3) – 1:00pm
I’m leaning towards the visitors here. The Ravens have the kind of defense that can wear teams out because they ranked in the top ten against the pass and the rush. It’s not known who might lead the Bengals in carries with holdovers Giovanni Bernard and Jeremy Hill there along with Joe Mixon. I think Mixon is clearly the best out of the group, but it may take a few weeks for that to be established. The Bengals are going to target WR AJ Green a lot of course. The Ravens know him well, though. Cincy needs to establish TE Tyler Eifert in the passing game because they don’t have much else in the passing game. I think the Ravens utilize new RB Danny Woodhead out of the backfield and they’ll find a way to win a close game in the end. The Pick: Baltimore 23-20
Oakland @ Tennessee (-2.5) – 1:00pm
Two young teams on the rise with impressive young quarterbacks that each broke their legs late last year. Raiders QB Derek Carr and Titans QB Marcus Mariota are both fine now. The Titans have two good RBs in Demarco Murray and Derrick Henry that get a lot of carries behind one of the leagues best offensive lines. The Titans were the third best rushing offense last year while the Raiders run defense was mediocre. I’m not sure how well new Raiders RB Marshawn Lynch is going to do in this game because he hasn’t played in over a year after retiring after a mediocre 2015 season. I think the Raiders will have to rely on other options at RB this year.
The Raiders will probably air it out a lot due to the lack of success they might have in the run and this could end up being a high scoring game because the Titans should be productive on offense. The O/U number is very high at 50.5 points. I think that’s right near where it will end up too. The Pick: Tennessee 27-24
Atlanta (-7) @ Chicago – 1:00pm
This is the kind of game where the Bears will stay in it for the first half, but I expect the Falcons to pull away and open up a big lead. The Bears lack of a passing game is going to hurt them as teams stack the line against RB Jordan Howard. I also think the Bears will have a tough time stopping the fast paced Falcons offense. Big game coming for Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. The Pick: Atlanta 37-13
Philadelphia (-1) @ Washington – 1:00pm
The point spread has moved in this game after Washington was favored by 2.5 and now the Eagles are favored by one. It doesn’t matter too much because what that line means is that people think it’s going to be a close game. That’s not a surprise because they are similar teams in that average to mediocre range. It’s another game with a high O/U total at 48 points. If you read my article about who to target in daily fantasy then you know I like both QBs (Carson Wentz and Kirk Cousins) here. The high-scoring game most likely and I’ll go with Washington by a field goal late. The Pick: Washington 30-27
New York Jets @ Buffalo (-9) – 1:00pm
I expect the Bills to feed RB LeSean McCoy all game with 25 or more touches. While the Bills offense is just mediocre at best, it’s way better than the Jets offense that is the worst in the league and could be one of the worst ever. It’s unlikely that I’ll pick the Jets in any game all year. The might win two or three, but I’m not a believer in them at all. The Pick: Buffalo 20-6
Indianapolis @ Los Angeles Rams (-3.5) – 4:05pm
The Colts with Andrew Luck are a .500 team that could be better than that depending on how far he carries them. Without Luck on the field, they are one of the worst teams in the league with a bad offense and an offense that should struggle with Scott Tolzien. I’m not overconfident in my Rams because they have the worst record in the NFL in the last decade, but the matchup worked out well. I expect RB Todd Gurley to have a big game and for new head coach Sean McVay to feature him a lot. Make the game as easily for QB Jared Goff, who should get the first win of his career. The Pick: LA Rams 23-17
Seattle @ Green Bay (-3) – 4:25pm
It’s the game of the week. These are the two teams I have going to the NFC Championship in my season preview with Seattle going to the Super Bowl. It’s easy to like both teams for a lot of reasons because of their excellent QBs, the Packers WR group is outstanding and the Seahawks defense has the potential to be the best in the league again like they were a few years ago.
I don’t think anybody can truly stop Packers QB Aaron Rodgers and that offense, but the Seahawks have the kind of defense that can slow it down sometimes. It feels like Seahawks QB Russell Wilson is on the brink of an MVP type season and he might throw a lot in this game to show that he can compete with Rodgers. I’m going Seahawks in a tight game. The Pick: Seattle 27-23
Carolina (-5.5) @ San Francisco – 4:25pm
The Niners are in that bottom feeder class with the Bears and Jets. I think it will be hard for me to ever pick them unless they surprise us to start the year with some fans. The problem with that thought is there just isn’t a lot of talent there. Maybe they can get RB Carlos Hyde going, but the Panthers defense should be better against the run this year. I’m also expecting a big game from the Panthers offense with QB Cam Newton staying in the pocket more to find rookie RB Christian McCaffrey and TE Greg Olsen along with possibly WR Kelvin Benjamin.
It’s going to be a bounce back year for the Panthers and it starts in week one. The Pick: Carolina 31-13
New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys (-4) – 8:30pm
If RB Ezekiel Elliott wasn’t playing for the Cowboys then I may go with the Giants, but I think the Cowboys are so much better with Elliott because he’s such a difference maker. People say they would be fine without him because of how good QB Dak Prescott is and the best O-Line in the NFL, but there’s a major downgrade when Darren McFadden becomes the top RB. Elliott possesses the kind of speed burst that McFadden no longer has, so if there’s a hole you know Elliott will get through it and potentially get a big play. I think the Cowboys run game will dominate this game and that’s why they’re going to win just like the Giants lack of a run game will hurt them. The Pick: Dallas 28-23
New Orleans @ Minnesota (-3.5) – 7:10pm (MON)
The Saints seem to be a trendy pick every preseason as a high scoring team that’s fun to watch. Then the games start and you are reminded just how awful that defense is. They didn’t do enough in the offseason to make me change my opinion on that. While the Vikings don’t have the most explosive offense in the league, they are efficient with a short passing game and I loved the drafting of RB Dalvin Cook. It could be a big debut for Cook as well as that Vikings offense. While the Saints should be able to put some points on the board, the Vikings have an above average defense and I like their chances to stop the Saints enough to win.
It will be great to see future Hall of Fame RB Adrian Peterson back in Minnesota. Too bad he can’t play defense because the Saints have problems on that side of the ball. Pick: Minnesota 33-23
Los Angeles Chargers @ Denver Broncos (-3.5) – 10:20pm (MON)
It’s a Monday night double header with the division rivals facing off in Denver. The history for Phil Rivers and the Chargers in Denver isn’t great because the Broncos defense is excellent at cover the pass. Not much has changed in that regard since Denver brings most of their defense back, so they know how to defend a divisional opponent like the Chargers. The Chargers are another of those middle of the pack teams that some people are high on because of that offense. Their defense is young and improving too. I’m taking the Chargers to cover, but Broncos will win by three. The Pick: Denver 20-17
My Fave Five Bets Of The Week
Every week I’ll mention five point spread or over/under bets to do for this week’s games. The bolded part is what I will bet.
Carolina -5.5 @ San Francisco
Atlanta -7 @ Chicago
Colts @ Rams UNDER 41.5
Chargers @ Broncos UNDER 43
Baltimore +3 @ Cincinnati
That’s all for this week. I’ll be back for more next week. Enjoy the games.