NFL: The Best Bets of Week 1
(lines from Footballlocks.com)
Giants (+4) at Lions
The Lions were one of the biggest disappointments of 2013, with Jim Schwartz leading them to an underwhelming 7-9 record, and losing his job for it. Unfortunately the coach they hired to replace him, Jim Caldwell, does not inspire much reason for optimism or confidence himself, as the last time we saw him as a head coach he was captaining a 2-14 Colts team. The Lions only covered a four point spread once in their last ten games last year, with that lone bright spot being a win over the Rodgerless Packers. The Giants, meanwhile, won seven of their last ten after starting 0-6. Throw in the fact that the G-men beat the Lions in Detroit Week 16 last season, and this line seems like it’s a point too high.
Jaguars at Eagles (Under 51.5 points)
The Jaguars defense improved towards the end of last season, and over their last seven games, the total exceeded 51.5 points only once. The addition of free agents like Red Bryant, Ziggy Hood, and Chris Clemons should only serve to reinforce their defensive line and make them even stouter in the box. 51.5 is a really steep number, and even the high flying Eagles topped that total only 4 times in their last 11 games. I am a big Chip Kelly fan, but with a year of NFL tape to study from, I think defenses will be more prepared for his offense this year than they were last. The loss of Desean Jackson certainly doesn’t help, and don’t forget that while Nick Foles looked fantastic last year, he’s still a young and inexperienced player, very capable of having a bad game.
Bengals at Ravens (Over 43 points)
This total seems more based on the reputation of each team than their recent performance. While the Bengals are generally thought of as having a borderline elite defense and middling offense, that wasn’t the case at the end of last season. In their last six games the total went over 43 points in five of them, including a week 17 meeting with these very same Ravens in which the teams combined to put up 51 points. The once vaunted Ravens defense, meanwhile, has allowed at least 17 points in 11 of its last 13 games. 43 is a very reachable number for these teams.
Jets (-4.5) over Raiders
The Jets were actually very good at home last year, going 6-2. While I wasn’t crazy about their additions this offseason, Eric Decker and Michael Vick should certainly help, and another year of experience for young Jets like Stephen Hill, Geno Smith, and Muhammad Wilkerson can only be a good thing. The Raiders on the other hand had one of the more bizarre offseasons I can remember. They should be in the middle of rebuilding, and yet they choose to let some of their most talented young players, like Lamarr Houston and Jared Veldheer, walk in order to add veterans at the tail end of their careers. Ultimately I think Oakland is less talented than they were last year, and last year’s team lost eight of its last nine and its last four by double digits. They lost five of their last seven road games by at least a touchdown, including a week 14 encounter with these Jets which they lost by ten, so the fact that they are only getting 4.5 now points seems low.