Week 1 of the NFL season got off to an exciting start on Thursday night as the New England Patriots took care of business – as expected- against the Pittsburgh Steelers at home in Foxboro. The remainder of the games starts across the nation at 10 am MST today and continue on through Sunday evening on NBC and of course Monday Night Football on ESPN.
I’ll go ahead and do some quick breakdowns on some of the best games to catch, including a battle between the #1 and #2 overall picks of the NFL draft this year. There will also be no shortage of offensive shootouts, most notably between the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants versus the Dallas Cowboys.
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Betting on Titans vs Buccaneers
This game will feature the top 2 picks of the 2015 NFL draft class, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, respectively, looking to earn their first “W” as an NFL starter. The road will most likely be a long one for each this year, especially given that their teams each finished 2-14 last season. However, they both have the natural talent to be able to return their teams back to respectability this year, much like RG3 and Andrew Luck did for Washington and Indianapolis several years ago.
I’ll give it to you straight – there is no one particular team you should be in love with here. Rookie QB’s, horrible offensive lines, and a lack of a true running game for either side should prove problematic for all parties involved. However, I believe that if Jameis Winston can shrug off the nerves early he has a chance to win this ball game. The resurgence of running back Doug Martin in the preseason has given many Tampa fans hope that the “Muscle Hamster” can help keep defenses honest again and open up passing lanes for their stud wide receivers, Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson (although Evans will likely be sidelined in this game due to a hamstring injury).
As far as the Titans are concerned, Mariota should do well as a game manager in this game and I expect him to run around a fair share and get a decent amount of yards on the ground. The problem for him is simple – this is a Bucs defense that is widely considered to be a big-time sleeper this year and most expect them to wreak havoc on a rookie QB like Mariota. I think the former Oregon Ducks QB will have to wait at least another week before he even thinks about winning his first game, as the Bucs cover the 3-point spread and start the season off 1-0.
Betting lines for Monday Night Football (ESPN) – Eagles at Falcons
Location and Time: Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA – Monday, 7:10 pm EST
Current Spread: Philadelphia Eagles -3 (+100) at SportsBetting.ag (<< review)
Moneyline and O/U: Atlanta Falcons +125 – O/U 55 points
This will be a fun game to watch for so many reasons. It’s a pick your [fun] poison type of matchup between two extremely potent offenses, each armed with stud quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers. Philly not only continued to stun the skeptics last year on offense but they also turned out to be one of the best defensive units in the league and seemed to average at least one takeaway a game in 2014. Atlanta had a sub-par season by their standards last year but surprisingly almost made the playoffs despite finishing 6-10.
As I mentioned before, these offenses don’t mess around when it comes to putting points on the board. I fully believe the OVER 55 should be locked in if you’re betting on this game. It’s not a hard formula to follow here folks: Sam Bradford + Demarco Murray + Ryan & Jordan Mathews + Sproles + turnover machine-like defense = POINTS – and a lot of them at that – for the Eagles.
Utilizing a similar formula MINUS the defense, the Falcons will have a healthy receiving corps that feature Julio Jones, Roddy White and Harry Douglas, a quick and elusive runner in Devonta Freeman and a defensive unit that should be a whole lot better with Dan Quinn taking over at head coach in the offseason. I love Julio Jones as a must-start in any fantasy league, especially with Matt Ryan throwing him the deep ball all day in the “X” receiver spot in this new fast-paced offense he’ll be running this year. The fact that the Falcons are also playing at home could have “trap game alert” written all over it for Philadelphia.
My picks: I still think Philly covers at -3, but the game should be shootout for at least the first 3 quarters, with the Eagles defense holding serve in the second half. I also love the OVER 55 (-115) at SportsBetting.ag and will be betting that as well today.
Betting the Total Points for Cowboys-Giants on Sunday
Much like the Eagles-Falcons game, the matchup between the Cowboys and Giants should prove to be one of the more exciting games to watch this weekend. Eli Manning is looking for a bounce-back year after a so-so 2014 campaign. The 2-time Super Bowl champion Manning signed a 4-year extension for $84 million last week and is looking to prove to the doubters that he’s still the real deal as he faces off against the Cowboys when they travel to Dallas on Sunday evening.
Dallas comes back into this season looking to match or even improve upon their surprising 12-4 record last season. Even though the Cowboys parted ways with workhorse Demarco Murray, they bring back their much-applauded offensive line and a new face at running back with veteran Darren McFadden joining the team during free agency. While McFadden isn’t expected to start, he should prove to be a valuable commodity combined with lead rusher Joseph Randle. The Cowboys will also have TD-machine Dez Bryant looking to improve upon a 2014 season where he absolutely tore up the stat sheet with his gaudy receiving yards and touchdown numbers.
The New York Giants will also be bringing back an array of starters to an offense that should put up big numbers in 2015. Although their offense will suffer a bit without Victor Cruz in this game, they still have Eli Manning and a big 1-2 punch at running back in Rashad Jennings and Andre Williams. Sophomore wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. is expected to have yet another huge game against the Cowboys, especially in prime time on NBC. Lining up opposite of Beckham will be Reuban Randle, who has proven to be a valuable commodity when it comes to catching deep balls from Eli.
My pick: Both teams lack on defense right now, especially on secondary. I think the offense of the Cowboys propels them to a big win when it matters the most in the 4th quarter, but I would still rather take the safer bet of the OVER 51.5 (-115) at BetOnline Sports – home of the $50 free mobile bet.