The fantasy football preparation and draft season has ended and it’s time to win some money in the regular season!
Each week I will write up three NFL game picks against the spread and explain the rationale behind them. The pick has to be against the spread betting the side or total, to prevent heavy favorite moneyline picks. I will write the article one week prior to the NFL games, so lines could change by the time Sunday comes around.
Hopefully, we will be able to get a better number betting earlier in the week. The 2023 betting record will be posted each week to have some accountability on my end (i.e. 2023 Record: 0-0 (0.00 units). I will be using my own money to bet every single pick I put out, and for every pick we are risking 1 unit. Let’s go!
3 Week 1 NFL game picks against the spread
Pick 1: Cleveland Browns +2.5 vs. Cincinnati Bengals -110 (DraftKings)
Rationale: This just smells like a rat line. Yes, the Browns are expected to be much better this season, but most people without looking at the line would expect the Bengals to be favored even if they are on the road.
However, the Bengals just do not start seasons off well. This past season, the Bengals started 0-2 losing week one to the Steelers and week two to the Cowboys. The year prior, the Bengals started 1-1, beating the Vikings but losing to Andy Dalton and the Bears.
Joe Burrow looks ready for Week 1 but the calf could still be enough of a bother to limit Burrow’s mobility. Deshaun Watson has had an entire offseason to mesh with this system and his teammates instead of being thrown into the fire rusty like last season. I like that I get an extra 2.5 points with the home dog.
Pick: Give me the Browns +2.5
Confidence Rating: 8/10
Disclaimer: There is a chance this number gets to 3 with the public hammering the Bengals moneyline and -2.5 as Sunday approaches. However, I have bet the Browns +2.5 already.
Pick 2: Atlanta Falcons vs. Carolina Panthers, Over 39.5 points -112 (DraftKings)
Rationale: This total opened at 43.5 and has quickly dropped to 40 in a lot of spots but is at 39.5 points over at DraftKings. I think there will be some buyback before we get to Sunday so I would get this bet in now before that happens.
The Falcons are an incredibly high-rushing team which would make you think under because the clock continues to run, but they do it at a highly efficient rate. With Bijan Robinson, Drake London, and Kyle Pitts, the Falcons have great weapons to put up points and Arthur Smith operates a great run scheme. Frank Reich with Bryce Young should be able to pass on an Atlanta secondary that will not have newly added cornerback Jeff Okudah as well as cornerback Cornell Armstrong.
The offenses may not be that exciting but both their defenses ranked in the bottom 12 going into this season according to ProFootballNetwork. Atlanta plays in a dome which also helps us avoid any bad weather that could impact the point total.
Pick: I think this has a good shot at getting over 39.5 points.
Confidence Rating: 8/10
Pick 3: Indianapolis Colts +5 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars -110 (DraftKings)
Rationale: This is another instance where we are fading the line movement since the opening line. The Colts opened as 3.5-point dogs but that has moved to 5 as the offseason progressed. Some of that might be because of the loss of Jonathan Taylor for Week 1, but I think most of it is the public loving the Jaguars as a dark horse to win the Super Bowl in 2023.
I also love the Jaguars but this feels like too many points for a division rival who is also at home. My gut tells me the Colts use Richardson as a runner a lot which could keep this clock running and prevent Trevor Lawrence and this scary Jaguars offense from having the ball. The Colts were loved by most to win the AFC South at this time last year.
Pick: I’ll take the Colts +5 at home in what I think will be a tougher spot for the Jaguars than most think.
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