NFL WEEK 1: Our official predictions for who wins this weekend

NFL WEEK 1: Our official predictions for who wins this weekend

NFL WEEK 1: Our official predictions for who wins this weekend

After what felt like an endless offseason, NFL football is officially back.

The Bears and Packers kick off the action in Chicago on Thursday night, followed up by a full slate of games on Sunday.

To celebrate, we’re once again picking every game on the schedule against the spread, with the hopes of enjoying some good ol’ fashioned gambling — and maybe making some money along the way.

Take a look below at our best bets against the spread for Week 1 of the NFL season (* indicates home team).

Green Bay Packers (+4) over Chicago Bears*Green Bay Packers (+4) over Chicago Bears*Elaine Thompson/AP

I’m betting big on Aaron Rodgers to have a huge year.

Finally free from the toxic relationship he shared with former head coach Mike McCarthy, Rodgers should have room to do what he does best — win football games.

The Bears defense is still one of the best in the league, but it’s hard to imagine they can replicate the success they had in turnover differential last season.

Any time I can bet on Rodgers getting points against Mitchell Trubisky, I’m going to take it until proven wrong.

Baltimore Ravens (-6.5) over Miami Dolphins*

AP Photo/Gail Burton

Usually, I love betting Florida teams at home in September. The weather is still swampy, and teams that are still often playing themselves into shape tend to struggle, but this Dolphins team is a disaster.

According to a report from Adam Beasley at the Miami Herald, there was a “revolt” brewing among the players as the team was rumored to be shopping offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil. Since then, the Dolphins dealt Tunsil to the Texans in exchange for a pile of picks that signal loud and clear that the Miami front office is thinking about next year.

Players are always going to go out there and play their best, but it feels like the mood in the locker room in Miami must be at an all-time low, and they seem primed to be run out in their home stadium.

Cleveland Browns* (-5.5) over Tennessee Titans

The Cleveland Browns have more pressure on them than any other team in the NFL to get off to a strong start.

In many cases, I’d suggest going against the team that seemingly has fans across the league buying in as the Browns do, but this time I have faith in Baker Mayfield and company to get the job done.

Tennessee is no pushover, but I think the Browns rise to the occasion on Sunday and prove to the home crowd that yes, the hype is real, we have entered into a new era of Cleveland football.

Now, in a few weeks, should the hype continue, there will come a time to fade the Browns before they fall back to Earth. But for Week 1, the world is theirs.

Minnesota Vikings* (-4) over Atlanta Falcons

Minnesota Vikings* (-4) over Atlanta FalconsMatt Rourke/API was initially on the Falcons when looking at this game. But after checking where the money was coming in, I’m now convinced that the Vikings are the right play in this spot.

According to the Action Network, nearly 60% of the bets on this game are coming in on the Falcons. It’s usually a smart play to bet against the public, and that becomes even truer when the public is backing an underdog.

It’s fun to bet an underdog — it makes you feel like you know something the bookmakers don’t. Spoiler alert: the bookmakers know, and they are extremely good at their jobs.

When the world zigs, choose to zag.

Jacksonville Jaguars* (+3.5) over Kansas City Chiefs

Jacksonville Jaguars* (+3.5) over Kansas City ChiefsSteve Mitchell-USA TODAY SportsAccording to the Action Network, 70% of the bets are on the Chiefs. But the money that has been bet on this game is split right down the middle. That indicates that the sharp bettors, who are putting bigger money on the game, are backing the Jaguars.

When a bet looks like it’s setting up to be a pros vs. joes matchup, I’ll put my lot in with the pros and hope for the best.

Carolina Panthers* (+2.5) over Los Angeles Rams

Carolina Panthers* (+2.5) over Los Angeles RamsBen McKeown/APThe Carolina Panthers are home underdogs early in the season.

The Los Angeles Rams are road favorites, traveling across the country to play an early game in the heat. They also have the potential of a Super Bowl hangover season looming over the start of their year.

I still think the Rams are one of the premier teams in the NFC, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they get off to a slow start to the season.

New York Jets* (-3) over Buffalo Bills

New York Jets* (-3) over Buffalo BillsAlex Brandon/APThis game features two young quarterbacks hoping to take some big steps forward in their game this year.

I think these teams are relatively close in terms of talent, so the Jets get the edge thanks to the home field.

Philadelphia Eagles* (-10) over Washington Redskins

Philadelphia Eagles* (-10) over Washington RedskinsKelvin Kuo/AP

This spread is far too large for a Week 1 division game that includes a quarterback playing his first game back from a brutal injury. That said, I am a proud Philadelphian and a homer for the Eagles.

Go Birds.

Cincinnati Bengals (+9.5) over Seattle Seahawks*

Cincinnati Bengals (+9.5) over Seattle Seahawks*Frank Victores/APSeattle is the better team here, but I’m just not sure who Russell Wilson will be able to throw the ball to besides Tyler Lockett.

Hopefully, the Bengals can keep things close enough to cover the number.

Indianapolis Colts (+6.5) over Los Angeles Chargers*

Indianapolis Colts (+6.5) over Los Angeles Chargers*Associated PressSome casual bettors might have sprinted to put money down against the Colts once Andrew Luck announced his shocking retirement from the NFL.

But the Colts have a strong supporting cast, and backup Jacoby Brissett is more than capable of stepping into the starting role as he has done before.

The Chargers are notorious for getting off to a slow start to the season, so we’re taking the points here.

Arizona Cardinals* (+2.5) over Detroit Lions

Arizona Cardinals* (+2.5) over Detroit LionsRalph Freso/AP

My real advice is to not bet on this game — there are infinitely better ways to spend your money.

But since it’s my job to pick every game, I’m going to cheer for the exciting debut of Kyler Murray as opposed to Matt Patricia.

New York Giants (+7) over Dallas Cowboys*

New York Giants (+7) over Dallas Cowboys*Adam Hunger/APThe Cowboys weren’t certain superstar running back Ezekial Elliott would be suiting up for Week 1 until Wednesday morning.

While there’s little doubt that Elliott will come ready to play, this still feels like too many points to give the New York Giants.

Eli Manning has a fire under him and likely knows that he’ll have to show up if he wants to keep his grasp on the starting job. Let’s see if he has one more miraculous game in him.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers* (PK) over San Francisco 49ers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers* (PK) over San Francisco 49ersDavid Kohl-USA TODAY SportsAgain, we have a team flying across the country to play in the Florida heat.

Add to that the fact that Jimmy Garoppolo will be playing his first real football in nearly a year, and it’s tough to take the 49ers in this spot.

Jameis Winston has been anything but consistent throughout his career with the Buccaneers, but new head coach Bruce Arians should be able to get the best out of him.

Pittsburgh Steelers (+5.5) over New England Patriots*

Pittsburgh Steelers (+5.5) over New England Patriots*Ron Schwane/AP

No one gets rich betting against Bill Belichick, but it feels like this game is pretty close every year.

But despite their greatness, the Patriots have sometimes been slow starters in recent years — New England hasn’t won their opening game by more than a touchdown since 2013.

Either back the Steelers or stay away from this one.

Houston Texans (+7) over New Orleans Saints*

Houston Texans (+7) over New Orleans Saints*David J. Phillip/APThe New Orleans Saints always lose their opening game, especially when it looks like a lock. They fooled me last year when I backed them in three Eliminator pools to take care of the Buccaneers in Week 1.

Then Fitzmagic happened.

The Saints are going to be a great football team this year, but I’m not getting fooled again.

Denver Broncos (-2.5) over Oakland Raiders*

Denver Broncos (-2.5) over Oakland Raiders*David Zalubowski/AP

Whatever winds up happening with Antonio Brown, we know it isn’t good, and it has to be taking focus away from football in the Oakland locker room.

Joe Flacco surprises the league with an impressive performance to get the Broncos off to a 1-0 start to the year.

Those are our picks for Week 1 — good luck!

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