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May 22, 2019

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Vegas pick’em: NFL Week 1 winners against the spread

Chargers Seahawks

Jae C. Hong / AP FILE

Los Angeles Chargers tight end Antonio Gates (85) scores a touchdown as Seattle Seahawks defensive back Shaquill Griffin (26) defends during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017, in Carson, Calif.

Week 1: Seahawks at Packers

Game of the Week: Seahawks plus-3 at Packers
Packers minus-3 — 59.6%
Seahawks plus-3 — 40.4%

This poll is closed, see Full Results »

Note: This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Super Bowl 2018 futures

Which team at the top of the betting boar d would you bet to win the Super Bowl?
Patriots 11-to-4 — 25%
Steelers 10-to-1 — 22.0%
Packers 8-to-1 — 18.2%
Seahawks 8-to-1 — 18.2%
Raiders 8-to-1 — 9.1%
Cowboys 12-to-1 — 7.6%

This poll is closed, see Full Results »

Note: This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Last season was unacceptable.

That’s the only place to start this year when it comes to Talking Points’ Vegas pick’em series, which went an all-time worst 125-138-4 picking every NFL game against the spread in the 2016-2017 season. It was the first losing record in the five-year history of the blog posting weekly betting picks.

Some regression was to be expected after a career-high 140-118-9 mark in 2015-2016, but similar to how sports books struggled last year, the losses spiraled. It’s time to own it, and move on.

Better performances are in store this season. Talking Points’ intention is to help handicappers, not hurt them.

Pain is practically a given when picking every single game, but that’s why the blog separates the choices into three categories — plays, leans and guesses. Guesses, naturally, fared the best in last year’s nightmare season.

But that’s all in the past now, as the focus shifts to a stronger betting future.

Check below for picks on every Week 1 game. Lines are the best currently available price in Las Vegas on the chosen side.

Plays (0-0)

Los Angeles Chargers plus-3.5 at Denver Broncos The Chargers should be the most improved team in the NFL after going a nearly impossible 1-8 in games decided by seven points or less last season and suffering an unimaginable amount of injuries. The Broncos have ridden the league’s best defense for two straight seasons, but no team in NFL history has been able to keep up their level of defensive production for three straight years.

Detroit Lions plus-2 vs. Arizona Cardinals Go ahead and laugh at Detroit making Matthew Stafford the highest-paid player in NFL history, but the 29-year-old quarterback virtually guarantees the Lions will have a high-flying offense. Anyone who watched the Cardinals last year should be worried about 37-year-old quarterback Carson Palmer keeping up in a shootout on the road.

Chicago Bears plus-7 vs. Atlanta Falcons The Falcons were led entirely by their offense last year, and an adjustment period for the unit seems likely with Steve Sarkisian, who’s never called plays in the NFL, stepping in for Kyle Shanahan as coordinator. Meanwhile, the Bears are undervalued after improving a roster that wasn’t nearly as bad as last year’s 3-13 record indicated.

Dallas Cowboys minus-3.5 vs. New York Giants The fact that the Giants beat the Cowboys twice last year counts for little, considering the wins were by a combined four points and the latter actually held a slight yardage advantage. New York will be integrating more new pieces at the beginning of the season, while Dallas is more set to take off immediately.

Leans (0-0)

Tennessee Titans minus-1 vs. Oakland Raiders Tennessee went 5-2 straight-up and against the spread versus playoff teams last year, and only missed out on advancing because of a tiebreaker. So the narrative that the Titans aren’t on the Raiders’ level rings categorically false.

Minnesota Vikings minus-3.5 vs. New Orleans Saints Let’s not forget Vikings coach Mike Zimmer is a gift from the gambling Gods with a 32-16 against the spread record in his three seasons. New Orleans’ defense is so porous that even Minnesota’s offense should be able to score consistently.

Green Bay Packers minus-3 vs. Seattle Seahawks Grab the good price on the Packers, which have gone 45-28-4 against the spread at Lambeau Field since Aaron Rodgers took over as quarterback in 2008, while it’s available. Action may push Green Bay to minus-3.5 by kickoff.

Pittsburgh Steelers minus-9 at Cleveland Browns Between Ryan Shazier emerging as a darkhorse Defensive Player of the Year candidate, Joe Haden coming over from the Browns and T.J. Watt winning a starting spot, the Steelers’ could field a devastating defense for the first time in years. No matter how promising he proves, Browns rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer could be in for a rough debut.

Washington Redskins plus-1 vs. Philadelphia Eagles Line swung as much as four points after opening as high as Washington minus-3 in the offseason. It’s preferable, therefore, to take the value with the home team that handled the visiting divisional rivals twice last season.

Guesses (0-0)

Kansas City Chiefs plus-9.5 at New England Patriots Expect to pay an extra tax of a point or two on the Patriots all season after they obliterated sports books by tying the best all-time against the spread record at 16-3 last season. In some cases, they’ll still be worth backing, but not against one of the fellow best teams in the NFL.

Baltimore Ravens plus-3 at Cincinnati Bengals These divisional rivals are annually so evenly matched that it typically pays to take the underdog. The team taking points has covered in five of the last six meetings.

Carolina Panthers minus-5 at San Francisco 49ers It’s tough to lay points with a team traveling more than 2,500 miles in Week 1, but the Panthers look like the ultimate bet-on team this season. They were unlucky to fall off as drastically as they did last season after a Super Bowl berth two years ago, but spent the offseason addressing their roster weaknesses anyway.

Indianapolis Colts plus-3.5 at Los Angeles Rams Line looks spot-on, so reverting to a straight numbers play. It’s always preferable to take the half-point hook instead of laying it.

New York Jets plus-9.5 at Buffalo Bills Not typically in the business of laying nearly double digits in Week 1, not even if it’s against what’s potentially the worst team in the NFL. Buffalo may quietly wind up struggling just as much, with an average-at-best offense and a mediocre defense.

Jacksonville Jaguars plus-6 at Houston Texans Every point is valuable in a game like this where points project to be sparse. The total of 39.5 points is the lowest on the Week 1 board by three points.

Case Keefer can be reached at 702-948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at

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