College Football Pick’em
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And just like that, we’re back! The regular season is upon us and that only means one thing: time for us to bet on football from now until Super Bowl LVII in February.
As we’ve done the last few years, I’ll be one of your betting weathervanes throughout the season that you’ll be welcome to either follow or fade as we move along. While I was 131-137-4 ATS throughout the 2021 regular season, my locks of the week held a strong 50-36-4 ATS mark and we’ll look to continue that as we head into the new year. We also were 8-5 ATS throughout the postseason a year ago, so we were also above .500 ATS when stakes were the highest.
As we rocket towards the start of Week 1 on Thursday between the Bills and Rams, let’s take a look at the entire opening slate, starting with my five locks.
Locks of the Week ATS: 0-0
All NFL odds via Caesars Sportsbook.
I like the Jaguars to go over their 6.5-game win total this season and it starts with an upset on the road to begin the year in Washington. Even if he’s just a baseline, run-of-the-mill head coach, the upgrade from Urban Meyer to Doug Pederson is going to have a massive impact on this roster and the hope is he’ll be able to get Trevor Lawrence back on track to being one of the great quarterback prospects to come out of the NFL in some time.
Jacksonville has not only upgraded at head coach, but they’ve also improved the roster on both sides and the defense should make life difficult for Carson Wentz as he makes his first start for Washington. For his career, Wentz has covered 48.3% of his games started and was 4-5 ATS at home when starting for the Colts last year. As a favorite, Indy was 4-4 ATS under Wentz, so he’s hardly someone you’d look to avoid. It’s also worth pointing out that Washington hasn’t been a particularly strong bet out of the gate under Ron Rivera. Over their last five games in September, Washington is 0-5 ATS.
With that track record and the expected improvement by the Jaguars on my party, I’m not only taking the points but looking for Jacksonville to win outright.
Projected score: Jaguars 23, Commanders 20
The pick: Jaguars +2.5
Atlanta is currently tied for the second-best odds to own the NFL’s worst regular season record at +375. Meanwhile, New Orleans is -130 to go over its 8.5 win total and is +105 to reach the playoffs. With that rather large gap in their season outlooks, this game spread does seem to be a bit low, albeit with the Saints being the road favorite. While Sean Payton is no longer manning the sideline, this isn’t a totally revamped staff with Dennis Allen ascending from defensive coordinator, so they shouldn’t face as many lumps as some clubs with first-year head coaches do.
Last year, New Orleans was one of the better bets to make when they were on the road, covering in 66.7% of their games. And that was with a bunch of quarterback shuffling following Jameis Winston’s season-ending knee injury. He’s now back healthy and has a group of skill-position players that is much improved.
While Marcus Mariota is a capable quarterback and rookie wideout Drake London and second-year tight end Kyle Pitts are intriguing weapons, it’s hard to see Atlanta — a team that owns the third best odds to be the lowest-scoring team in the NFL this year — keeping up with New Orleans’ unit.
Projected score: Saints 27, Falcons 17
The pick: Saints -5.5
While I’d enjoy seeing the chaos unfold if the Seahawks were able to play spoiler and ruin a bunch of survivor pools by beating the Broncos on “Monday Night Football,” I just can’t see it happening. More realistically, Russell Wilson will head back to Seattle following his trade to Denver this offseason and put on a show. I expect Wilson’s Broncos debut to look something like his final game as a member of the Seahawks at Lumen Field, where he threw for four touchdowns, 236 yards, and completed 68.9% of his passes in Week 17.
When you pair a revitalized Wilson with a Broncos defense that is expected to be among the top units in the league this year, that spells trouble for Geno Smith and the Seahawks.
Projected score: Broncos 33, Seahawks 20
The pick: Broncos -6.5
The AFC West is primed to be one of the crazier divisions in the NFL this year, so why not start the year off with an upset? The Chargers have been a sexy pick to win the Super Bowl this season, but I believe the Raiders are catching them at a good time with prized free agent corner J.C. Jackson possibly sidelined for this game after undergoing ankle surgery earlier this summer. Going into an opener without your top corner and the task of having to defend Davante Adams is less than ideal for Los Angeles. Pair that with Las Vegas’s strong defensive line, and there’s solid upset potential here.
While Josh McDaniels’ head coaching tenure with the Broncos is largely looked at as a failure, he did come out of the gate strong with a 6-0 record. Meanwhile, Chargers head coach Brandon Staley wasn’t too friendly to bettors over his first season at the helm, owning an 8-9 ATS record overall and a 4-4 ATS record as a home favorite.
Projected score: Raiders 27, Chargers 24
The pick: Raiders +3
New England’s revamped offense has looked disjointed throughout the summer as Matt Patricia and Joe Judge grab ahold of the steering wheel. There are questions along the offensive line and their ability to protect second-year quarterback Mac Jones, which may not be answered by the time this team kicks off in Miami. Defensively, the Patriots lack of depth at outside corner could also be exposed by the Dolphins speedy wideout duo of Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle.
Of course, Hard Rock Stadium has routinely been a house of horrors for the Patriots, and are 2-8 ATS in their last 10 games down in Miami Gardens. While he may have his detractors, Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is 3-0 SU against the Patriots in his career and owns a 61.9 cover percentage since entering the NFL, which both trend favorably here.
Projected score: Dolphins 24, Patriots 20
The pick: Dolphins -3
Bills at Rams
Projected score: Rams 27, Bills 24
The pick: Rams +2.5
49ers at Bears
Projected score: 49ers 24, Bears 13
The pick: 49ers -7
Steelers at Bengals
Projected score: Bengals 27, Steelers 21
The pick: Steelers +6.5
Eagles at Lions
Projected score: Eagles 30, Lions 24
The pick: Eagles -4
Ravens at Jets
Projected score: Ravens 28, Jets 17
The pick: Ravens -7
Browns at Panthers
Projected score: Browns 23, Panthers 21
The pick: Browns +2.5
Colts at Texans
Projected score: Colts 28, Texans 20
The pick: Colts -7
Giants at Titans
Projected score: Titans 24, Giants 20
The pick: Giants +5.5
Packers at Vikings
Projected score: Packers 28, Vikings 24
The pick: Packers -1.5
Chiefs at Cardinals
Projected score: Chiefs 27, Cardinals 24
The pick: Arizona +6
Buccaneers at Cowboys
Projected score: Buccaneers 33, Cowboys 23
The pick: Buccaneers -2.5
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