NFL Week 1 Prediction: Expert Bet on Cowboys vs Giants Over/Under

NFL Week 1 Prediction: Expert Bet on Cowboys vs Giants Over/Under article feature image

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images. Pictured: Mike McCarthy.

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Bengals vs. Browns

Sunday, Sept. 10
1 p.m. ET

This matchup represents the biggest gap in our Luck Rankings for Week 1, with the Bengals finishing seventh and the Browns 29th, creating a gap of 22. Since 2018, the unlucky team in a matchup with a luck gap of 24 or more is 96-54-4 against the spread. This is the closest matchup to that criteria.

Joe Burrow is expected to be close to 100% for Week 1 after suffering a calf injury early in training camp, but there’s a chance of an in-game setback or for him to be somewhat limited. It wouldn’t be a huge deal for Burrow, who doesn’t rely on his legs to generate offense, but he often gets out of the pocket to make plays. He ranked eighth in QB rating from the pocket but third outside of it. Any limitations to his mobility could make him worth a bit less than usual to the spread.

Deshaun Watson was awful last season, but he was expected to be a bit rusty after missing almost two straight seasons. The Browns offensive line was also dealing with injuries when he took over, and a couple of his starts were impacted by bad weather.

I expect Watson to bounce back this season. He’ll be boosted by the acquisition of WR Elijah Moore.

Watson may be able to take advantage of a Bengals defense that had to move on from one of the best safety duos in the NFL of Jessie Bates and Vonn Bell. Dax Hill and Nick Scott will take over, and there’s a chance they have some growing pains early. Amari Cooper and/or David Njoku may be able to exploit them downfield in Week 1.

I’m projecting this closer to a pick’em and like the value we’re getting with the underdog Browns.

Pick: Browns +2 (BetMGM, Caesars, DraftKings)

Cowboys vs. Giants

Sunday, Sept. 10
8:20 p.m. ET

Mike McCarthy will be taking over play-calling duties this season from Kellen Moore. Even if you choose not to take McCarthy for his word that the Cowboys will be more run-heavy, there’s a chance they’ll become a slower-paced offense. Dallas was the fastest-paced team in the NFL last season, so any drop in pace will affect its totals.

The Cowboys could be without LG Tyler Smith (doubtful) and OT Tyron Smith (questionable). If both are ruled out, it’s a big blow to the offensive line.

Dak Prescott saw a bigger drop-off than most QBs in efficiency last season when facing man coverage, the blitz and playing on the road or outdoors. All four factors are in play here since the game will be at New York, and the Giants played man coverage and blitzed at the highest rate in the NFL last season.

The Giants may also struggle to move the ball against an elite Cowboys defense that added former All-Pro CB Stefon Gilmore. The Giants also may be without stud TE Darren Waller, who will be a game-time decision due to a hamstring injury.

The cherry on top of this pick is the referee factor. The under is 29-17 in games that Adrian Hill has officiated since 2020, including a 5-1 mark in primetime. (The league probably will want him to squash all the drunken late-night overs after a long day of Week 1 betting.)

There’s a reason for this trend: Hill’s crew has tended to call offensive holding at an above-average rate over the past three seasons, including the second-highest rate last season.

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