NFL Week 1 Picks: Expert Predictions for Late Slate, Including Packers vs Vikings, Giants vs Titans
Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Randall Cobb.
NFL Odds & Picks
This is the kind of spot you want to back the Giants: Daniel Jones is 11-4 ATS as a road dog, including a perfect 9-0 when the line is +7.5 or less. This is also Week 1, so the Giants offense is about as healthy as can be (Saquon Barkley, Kadarius Toney, and Sterling Shepard are all healthy at the same time!).
Jones will get better support from his skill players and at tackle, where first-round pick Evan Neal in tandem with Andrew Thomas gives them the best tackle situation Jones has ever had. New head coach Brian Daboll will not be calling plays but was an excellent game planner in his time in Buffalo, which should also benefit Jones and the offense.
On defense, the Giants’ issue right now is their second cornerback spot and the absence of pass rushers Kayvon Thidbodeax (doubtful-knee) and Azeez Olujari (doubtful-calf), but that is not as big of an issue against the Titans as it is versus most teams, as Tennessee averaged just 31.5 pass attempts per game last season, seventh-fewest..
The Titans have one standout WR in Robert Woods, whom new defensive coordinator WInk Martindale can stick Adoree Jackson on. Jackson ranked 15th among 116 corners in PFF’s grades and held receivers to 12-of-29 for 70 yards and one TD in his coverage over his last eight games.
It’s also worth noting that it tends to be profitable to back “bad” teams in Week 1. Week 1 road dogs that didn’t make the playoffs are 73-46-4 (61.3%) since 2005, covering by an average of 3.4 points per game.
And Week 1 dogs, regardless of venue, that won 4-6 games the season before (in other words, bad, but not completely awful) have been ever better, notching a 65-33-2 (66%) ATS record and covering by an average of 3.8 points per game.
Under 41.5 Receiving Yards
The market always tends to overrate Cobb, who went over his actual receiving prop in just three of 14 games last season (21.4%). The last time we saw him, he ran 24 routes against the 49ers without a catch, easily cashing the under for his yardage prop of 28.5.
This is a good spot to exploit the uncertainty among the Green Bay receiving corps with Davante Adams gone and Allen Lazard (hamstring) out. While at first glance it seems like Cobb might see a massive uptick in usage, as a slot receiver, he’ll likely top out at 70-75% routes run. In five games in which he ran a route on at least 70% of Packers dropbacks, he averaged just 14.6 yards per game with a high of 22.
The Packers will likely use more 22 personnel so they can get Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon on the field at the same time, and they are also a good bet to increase their usage of 22 personnel with Robert Tonyan back, which could relegate Cobb to mostly third-down work. I have Cobb projected at 3 catches and 32 yards.
Under 2.5 Receptions (-145) & Under 13.5 Receiving Yards (-115)
Prior to last season, Jacobs was never one to play a big part in the passing game. In 2020, he averaged only 1.5 catches, and in 2021, he averaged 2.2 catches. Last season he saw his usage spike to 3.6 catches, but there’s good reason to believe that number will get cut in half in the Josh McDaniels offense.
Simply put, McDaniels doesn’t ask his RB1 to catch the football. In the last decade, not one McDaniels RB1 averaged more than 1.2 receptions per game, and nine of 10 averaged under 1.0:
- 2021 Damien Harris: 13.5 carries, 1.2 receptions
- 2020 Damien Harris: 13.7 carries, 0.5 receptions
- 2019 Sony Michel: 15.4 carries, 0.8 receptions
- 2018 Sony Michel: 16.1 carries, 0.5 receptions
- 2017 Mike Gillislee: 11.6 carries, 0.5 receptions
- 2016 LeGarrette Blount: 18.4 carries, 0.4 receptions
- 2015 LeGarrette Blount: 13.8 carries, 0.5 receptions
- 2014 Stevan Ridley: 15.7 carries, 0.7 receptions
- 2013 Stevan Ridley: 12.7 carries, 0.7 receptions
- 2012 Stevan Ridley: 18.4 carries, 0.4 receptions
The Raiders kept five RBs on the 53 and will likely make four active, including two passing-down specialists in Ameer Abdullah and Brandon Bolden. I have Jacobs projected for 1.7 receptions for 12 yards.
Under 18.5 Receiving Yards
Bellinger, the 112th overall pick in this year’s draft out of San Diego State, won the Giants’ starting TE job by default, but he likely won’t be asked to catch passes with the Giants top four WRs and Saquon Barkley healthy. Daboll has been known to feature a lot of 4WR sets and deemphasizes the TE, which is likely why he felt comfortable going with Bellinger in the first place.
TE is an extremely tough position to make an impact as a rookie (unless you’re a generational talent like Kyle Pitts), so I’m expecting a slow start here. Bellinger never had more than 353 yards in any college season and averaged just 8.7 yards per catch in the preseason, failing to top 5.0 yards per catch in two of the three games.
Back in 2019 with the Bills, Daboll started 96th overall pick Dawson Knox in Week 1. Knox ran 27 routes that week, but caught only one pass for one yard. At no better than sixth on the target totem pole, I’d expect a similar result from Bellinger.