Inquirer handicapper Vegas Vic and our staff make their picks for Week 1. Games are Sunday, unless noted.
OK, so after looking at the ESPN Body Issue, I’ll NEVER, EVER be able to NOT see the offensive line in their birthday suits. And it AIN’T helping me sleep. Actually liked the shot with all five in their scarves and hats, but was REALLY frightened of the one with the Bird masks covering the unmentionables. Now on to the skinny for this week.
Take a look at Doug Pederson’s work since 2016, and you’ll see why preseason doesn’t matter at all to some, like Doug P., while others, take it VERY seriously. In 2017, the Birds were just 2-2 in pre, then smoked the Redskins in the opener, 30-17. Last season, they were 1-3 in pre and beat the Falcons in the opener, 18-12. As you probably know, the Green Machine was 1-3 again in pre, so of course, we’re expecting another opening W. Not thrilled about laying a 10 spot, but will push a bunch of chips in on the Eagles -3 in the 1st quarter. As for the final, I’m on the fence, and on the number. Birds 27-17.
As long as Matty Ice is on the field (4,924 yards, 35 TDs and only 7 INTs), +4 points looks like a nice take.
» READ MORE: Preview of the remaining Week 1 games
Sam Darnold finished strong, getting the nod as Pro Football Focus’ top-graded quarterback over the final four weeks of the 2018 season. Then New York added Le’Veon Bell and slot receiver Jamison Crowder. Green covers.
Does John Harbaugh’s amazing preseason record translate to the regular season? You betcha BAAYYBBEEE!
As always, Double V did the required homework, and check this out. Come back in Vic’s time machine to 2016. Baltimore was 4-0 in pre, straight up and against the spread, then opened with 13-7 win over Buffalo, covering a 3-point spread. In 2017, the Ravens posted another 4-0 perfecto, yes, straight up and against the spread, then CRUSHED the Redskins in the opener, AT Washington, 30-17. In 2018, the Harbaughs were 5-0 straight up, 3-2 against the spread, and ROCKED the Bills in the opener, 47-3. So, Johnny H’s crew posted yet another 4-0, straight up and against the spread, coming into this season, and whaddya think’s gonna happen at Miami? That’s 17-0 straight up and 15-2 against the spread. And that ladies and gentlemen is why Baltimore is my BEST BET BABY!
Not sure Jimmy Garoppolo is all the way back, but simply can NOT trust Jameis Winston with my money.
Think Kaycee will probably win here, but this Jacksonville defense is very, very nasty, especially at home. Check out last season and you’ll find that the Jaguars shut down some pretty fine offensive clubs in Florida. The Jags gave up 20 to the Patriots, 9 to the Titans, 12 to the Jets, 20 to Houston, 24 to the Eagles, 20 to the Steelers, 6 to the Colts, and 16 to Washington. That’s an average of less than 16 points per game, and the Under (52.5) is calling my name.
Like the vibe in Cleveland, but gonna stay light until we see what kind of connection the Baker has with OBJ.
Not the biggest fan of Cam Newton on the field, but do like his style off it. Mostly his hats. Thinking about Carolina as a home dog with a healthy Newton. Why? The old Super Bowl hangover that Los Angeles has to deal with. Teams coming off a loss on Super Sunday have covered ONLY three of the last 19 openers, and it’s even UGLIER on the road, with just one cover in 13 games. Also, Ron Rivera working on a gorgeous 5-0 PERFECTO in home openers.
Totally get that Kyler Murray is a rook, but these Detroit Lions as a road favorite? NAH.
Not in love with Cincinnati, but will buy the hook, and take a +10 with the Red Rifle.
This line opened -3.5 with Andrew Luck, and when he went down, it flew to -7. We’re at 6.5, so I’m grabbing the dog, but not too tight.
Sure Zeke Elliott is back but is he better than Saquon Barkley? See me in a few years, but I’m on SaQUADS!
Is Gronk gonna wrestle? Is Gronk gonna make a comeback? Gronk, Gronk, Gronk. Sure he was a dynamic piece of the offense when healthy, but there’s another piece, maybe just as important, who AIN’T playing. Center David Andrews is out for the year after blood clots were discovered in his lungs. Without Andrews, the Patriots are gonna have a tough time containing the Steel Curtain that led the league (actually tied with K.C.) with 52 sacks last season.
Deshaun Watson was sacked 62 times, SIXTY TWO, which was the most in the NFL last season. New Orleans roughed up the opposition for 49 sacks, and oh yeah, they have some guy at QB whose name rhymes with trees.
With all of the drama surrounding Antonio Brown, this is absolutely the perfect game to stay AWAY from. We get asked to pick each game, so I’ll grab the Broncos.