It’s absolutely remarkable how Vegas can set these lines so close to the outcome of the games. Makes you wonder what the secret is, how much homework they do, what kind of insiders they have, or if there’s a formula or algorithm. I had two losses, 1 win and a push within zero to three points of the spread. Four of the sixteen games could’ve gone either way with a late field goal. I also had another five games where a touchdown either way could’ve changed the outcome for my bets. That’s nine of sixteen games where one score (field goal or touchdown) could’ve swung my bets positive or negatively. I’ve been following lines for a few years now and I am still amazed by how close these lines are generated to the actual scores of games. Let the conspiracy theorists converge!
As far as Sunday’s games, I’ve well documented my own 1pm games as mediocre and 2018 has started out no different there. 4-4 against the spread with two games very close from changing that in the 4th quarter of their games until late mistakes happened (Colts & Giants). I called for a Browns win and they nearly pulled it off to give their fans free Bud Light on opening day no thanks to TJ Watt! Still, it’s the first season since 2004 that the Browns haven’t lost the opener, so things are looking up in “The Land”.
I bounced back nicely in the 4pm games going 3-0-1. I called the Chargers struggle at home continuing from last season, AP looking good in DC and the Broncos starting the new chapter with Keenum (even though it was a push).
Sunday night was disappointing as far as covering the spread. Seven points is a lot to give up in any game, especially since you don’t know how the teams are going to do in full game action. I also must admit that I underestimated the Khalil Mack factor. He made his presence known in that first half, especially when Aaron Rodgers was knocked out before the half. Still, if that line had performed like they did after the half, all game long, we probably would’ve seen a bigger win and possible cover for the Packers at home, so I’m sticking by my bet and it was just unfortunate to see the line play a poor first half and Rodgers missing nearly all of the second.
I finished Sunday with a 7-6-1 (54%) record, with the potential to pull out a 60% winner’s week in week 1 so I’m optimistic and anxious to watch these games. Now, on to Monday night’s picks…
N.Y. Jets at Detroit, 7:10 PM, ESPN (Lions -7, O/U: 45)
I know what you’re thinking, the Jets are starting rookie Same Darnold, the Lions will blow them out on the road. For that, I have to steal one from Lee Corso, not so fast my friend! Darnold won that job outright from a guy who’s looked good in the pre-season after not playing for 2 years due to a horrific knee injury (Bridgewater) and a guy beyond his prime, which wasn’t that much of a prime to begin with (McCown). Don’t mistake him for just some rookie either. He was taken because he was good and seemed to be the most poised and prepared to start for a team right out of the gate. The only question was how high would his ceiling be?
As for the rest of the team, they went out and signed Isaiah Crowell to help Powell in the backfield, Terrell Pryor and Andre Roberts to the receiving corps, and Spencer Long as starting center to help give Darnold protection and Weapons to use. The defensive side of the ball saw Trumaine Johnson and Morris Claiborne signed to help the secondary as well as Avery Williamson to start at middle linebacker.
The Lions pretty much go unchanged other than LeGarrette Blount being signed with rookie Kerryon Johnson to compete with Theo Riddick for carries to improve the ground game that Detroit has lacked in Reggie Bush (even he wasn’t a great rusher for them). Stafford has strung together nearly a decades worth of 4,000 plus yard seasons and doesn’t seem to stop that trend given Tate and Jones tearing it up on the outsides. Jim Bob Cooter has drawn up a pretty exciting offense these last couple of seasons, let’s see what he can do with a fully functional offense. Devon Kennard and Christian Jones where brought in to boost the linebacking crew and to improve the defense against the run, since they were near the bottom of the league in rushing allowed. It’s not hard to do when you lose guys like Suh and Nata from your front.
Look for this to be close but don’t be surprised if the Jets keep it interesting. Take the Jets to cover getting 7 but lose to the Lions in the over, Lions 28-24.
L.A. Rams at Oakland, 10:20 PM, ESPN (Raiders +5, O/U: 47.5)
The Rams return for their second season under head coach Sean McVay who brought this team back to life after a dismal 4-12 first season in LA, with an 11-5 finish but a Wild Card loss to the Falcons. With Sammy Watkins leaving us fans thought that they’d still have an arsenal of guys to through to with then rookie Cooper Kupp looking pretty good in his first season but then we all were shocked when Brandin Cooks was picked up. McVay wanted to make sure that Goff could replicate his 2017 success with having numerous guys to throw to on the outside. The offense will continue to improve under McVay as he’s being compared to the likes of Kyle Shanahan, and having a genius like mind when it comes to the offensive game. Veteran defensive pickups like Suh, Talib and Peters are sure to bolster a defense already feared from the likes of Donald. Rams went all in on this team the last few years and their fans are being rewarded with the fantastic play and now early contenders for the NFC Championship predictions.
The Raiders made some offseason moves of their own, while one could’ve started a riot, some other veteran signings were poised to being back some of that offensive spark they had two seasons ago. Jordy Nelson and Doug Martin are seen as offering more to stabilize the offense and offer different options for John Gruden, who has not been on the sidelines as the head of a football club in a decade. Justin Ellis and Tank Carradine were brought in to strengthen the defensive front while Tahir Whitehead and Emmanuel Lamur were to strengthen the outside of the box/front 8 of the defense. Marcus Gilchrist and Leon Hall were brought in to help the secondary, adding to the overall presence of veteran leadership.
The one move that has been the buzz of the team, however, was the trading of Khalil Mack to the Bears for a few first round picks and more. Mack, who was looking for a new deal, seemingly was upset with how the Raiders were conducting their side of the negotiations and how little respect was given to Mack when contract negotiations were being discussed. The Bears received immediate return after showing Mack some contract love in his first game as a Bear, and the Raiders were left looking like cheapskates and a laughing stock of the league for letting their best player go over a worthy contract negotiation, questioning Gruden and his philosophy.
The locker room has to be devastated and especially for the defensive side for the Raiders. The rams with all of the confidence in the world are going to Oakland as five point favorites. Look for the Rams to win handedly and cover the five point spread in the over, Rams 38-17.
Don’t forget, Colin Cowherd had the Jets at +6.5 in his Blazinn 5 and while the Wise Men didn’t agree, I feel like it’s still a quality bet being given a whole touchdown. I’m also looking to get back above 50% on 7+ point picks. Hope your Sunday was fruitful. Pray to the football gods for Darnold that you can #beatyourbookie Monday night, and catapult me to 60% winners for the week. Good luck to all!