As the 2019-20 NFL season rapidly approaches, news continues to break that is affecting betting lines.
The unexpected retirement of Andrew Luck, the holdouts of running backs Ezekiel Elliott and Melvin Gordon, and season-ending injuries to key players such as Lamar Miller have all shifted the point spreads listed by US sportsbooks like DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook.
Still, with depth charts and roles becoming more solid by the day, we feel confident enough at PlayPicks to start making our picks against the spread.
In this weekly column, we will list three of our best bets against the spread with data to support our picks. Then, we will list the following games on the NFL slate in order of our confidence in analyzing the matchup. Keep in mind that lines can often shift due to weather or other unforeseen issues. Of course, injury news plays a huge role throughout the NFL season, and the status of specific players often bears monitoring until a couple of hours before kickoff.
NFL Week 1 Best Bets
Tennessee Titans (+5.5) at Cleveland Browns
The Browns are one of the most hyped teams heading into the season, creating a great opportunity to capitalize on a spread that may be too wide. Adding big names in Odell Beckham Jr., Olivier Vernon, and Sheldon Richardson will certainly help Cleveland going forward, but this is an unfamiliar role for the Browns as heavy favorites. Cleveland went 1-2 ATS when listed as home favorites last year. And Tennessee went 4-1 ATS in non-division road games. The Titans have a reliable running game keyed by Derrick Henry and one of the most underrated defenses in the league, which led the NFL in red-zone defense last year.
Indianapolis Colts (+6.5) at Los Angeles Chargers
Here is another opportunity to jump on a lofty spread that’s grown due to public perception. Yes, Andrew Luck is an incredibly valuable asset and a primary reason the Colts went 6-4 ATS on the road last year. While one of the better backups in the NFL, Jacoby Brissett is not on Luck’s level. But we have tremendous confidence that Frank Reich and his coaching staff can change their game plan to fit Brissett’s skillsets and kept this contest close. The Chargers have a weak home fan base and posted a 2-5 record ATS as home favorites last year. The Colts’ stout defense finished eighth in Weighted DVOA last year and added one of the league’s best pass rushers in Justin Houston. The Colts (+225 Moneyline) have enough talent on both sides of the ball to keep this game close and potentially stun the Chargers on the road.
Los Angeles Rams (-2.5) at Carolina Panthers
After struggling with a shoulder issue last year, Cam Newton sprained his foot in Week 3 of the preseason. His mobility may be limited in Week 1, putting even more on the shoulders of three-down workhorse Christian McCaffrey. Yet the Rams ranked fourth in DVOA pass defense against RBs last year and added a perennial Pro-Bowl safety in Eric Weddle. Todd Gurley (knee) has reportedly looked sharp in training camp, and the new Greatest Show on Turf gets slot maven Cooper Kupp back to create an even more unstoppable offense. The Rams went 7-2 overall and 5-4 ATS on the road last year. Covering a 3-point spread should not be difficult with Greg “The Leg” Zuerlein ready to nail a potential game-winner for Sean McVay’s club.
NFL Week 1 Picks Against The Spread
Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders (+1)
Confidence: 9/10. Jon Gruden gets his team fired up for a season with high expectations, and the revamped Raiders come through in Week 1 at home.
Cincinnati Bengals at Seattle Seahawks (-9)
Confidence: 9/10. On paper, the Bengals are easily the worst team in the NFL with A.J. Green (ankle) out to start the year. Russell Wilson and company should roll at home.
San Francisco 49ers at Tampa Bay Bucs (PK)
Confidence: 8.5/10. Jimmy Garoppolo has looked truly awful while returning from ACL surgery, and the Bucs are loaded with weapons for new HC Bruce Arians to deploy.
Kansas City Chiefs (-3.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars
Confidence: 8/10. The Chiefs rolled to a 30-14 win at home over Jacksonville last year. Andy Reid knows Nick Foles well enough to potentially shut down the Jags’ new-look offense.
Baltimore Ravens (-6.5) at Miami Dolphins
Confidence: 8/10. The Ravens already had one of the best defenses in the league and added Earl Thomas. Baltimore should smother a talent-deficient Dolphins offense. And if Josh Rosen gets the start, our confidence in the Ravens increases significantly.
New York Giants (+7) at Dallas Cowboys
Confidence: 7.5/10. The Giants went 6-1 ATS as road underdogs last year and are 6-3-1 ATS over their last 10 meetings with the Cowboys. This spread could increase before kickoff now that Ezekiel Elliott is expected to be active.
Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles (-10)
Confidence: 7/10. This spread is large enough to give some pause, but the Eagles outclass the Redskins at just about every position and should dominate in a double-digit victory.
Houston Texans at New Orleans Saints (-7)
Confidence: 7/10. The Saints are well-equipped to contain the Texans receivers with Marshon Lattimore matching up on Deandre Hopkins. Will Fuller and Keke Coutee are banged up, and Lamar Miller is out for the year. New Orleans fans will be ravenous in this Monday night matchup after the officials denied them a trip to the Super Bowl.
Green Bay Packers (+3.5) at Chicago Bears
Confidence 7/10. With longtime DC Vic Fangio gone, the Bears may struggle to stop Aaron Rodgers and a more balanced Packers offense in the season opener on Thursday night.
Buffalo Bills at New York Jets (-2.5)
Confidence: 6.5/10. The Jets were a troublesome 2-5-1 ATS at home last year, but this is a new day for Gang Green with Le’Veon Bell capable of carrying the offense and C.J. Mosley ready to lead the defense.
Atlanta Falcons (+4) at Minnesota Vikings
Confidence: 6/10. Both of these teams underachieved last year. This is an even matchup, and the Falcons should pull out a road win or cover.
Pittsburgh Steelers (+5.5) at New England Patriots
Confidence: 5/10. The Steelers are getting overlooked after losing two big names on offense. But Pittsburgh can still control the line of scrimmage and keep this Sunday night matchup competitive. While New England went 7-2 ATS at home last year, the Patriots tend to ramp up as the season progresses.
Detroit Lions (-2.5) at Arizona Cardinals
Confidence: 4/10. With rookie QB Kyler Murray making his debut, this is a tough game to call. The Lions’ elite secondary and solid pass rush should be enough to give Murray problems, leading to a road win.