NFL Best Bets: Week 1

2020 overall ATS: 36-36-3

2021 overall ATS: 42-41-1

1. New England Patriots (+3.5) at Miami Dolphins

I’m just not convinced that the Dolphins are a better team than the Patriots. If this line was only priced at Miami -3, I would want nothing to do with it. The 3.5 figure signifies that the market believes the Dolphins are clearly the superior team, particularly considering that home field advantage is not as valuable as it used to be.

There’s also the idea that openers have historically been not very kind to first-time head coaches. On one hand I have the best coach of all time (Bill Belichick), and on the other I have a young guy (Mike McDaniel) who has never run an operation. I expect a close, low scoring affair, but my gut tells me that the Patriots are going to remind everybody that they aren’t dead quite yet.

Score prediction: Patriots 23, Dolphins 17

2. Arizona Cardinals (+6.5) vs. Kansas City Chiefs

A few weeks ago the Chiefs were a mere 3-point favorite, which was the original spread when the schedule got released. What has changed over the last month to steam a three-point spread all the way up to 6.5? The only thing I can think of is that the public saw how well Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City offense looked during the preseason, but is that worth doubling a point spread?

After a long offseason full of question marks I think most people have come around to the idea that Mahomes and the Chiefs are going to be just fine. I just have a hard time thinking they are going to light it up right out of the gate, especially against a team like the Cardinals who generally start strong at the beginning of the season.

Score prediction: Chiefs 27, Cardinals 23

3. Washington Commanders (-2.5) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

This one is simple: The Jaguars and Commanders are not even teams. Jacksonville is being priced as if they would be a 2.5-point favorite if they were the home team, when in reality the Commanders are projected to win 8 games this season compared to the Jaguars’ 6.5. There’s just too much value on Washington in this spot.

Score prediction: Commanders 24, Jaguars 17

4. Seattle Seahawks (+6.5) vs. Denver Broncos

A big part of my Week One handicapping is fading the offseason narratives. Since trading Russell Wilson the Seahawks are widely considered (by me, too, in fact) as being dead in the water — one of a handful of teams looking to tank for a high draft pick next year. That may very well turn out to be the case, but I’m betting that if ever they were going to put together a winning game plan it would be to knock off the quarterback they traded.

Meanwhile, the Broncos — on the receiving end of the Wilson deal — have received the opposite attention. Their offseason revolved around the idea that they would be competing for a championship in 2022. While there remains strong scorched earth blowout potential, I’m guessing that Seattle know Russell Wilson better than anyone else and will keep it close enough to maintain eyeballs in the first Monday Night Football game of the season.

Score prediction: Broncos 26, Seahawks 23

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