Stuckey’s Week 1 NFL Betting Picks: Against the Spread, Over/Under and Teaser Bets (Sunday, Sept. 13)
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images. Pictured: Ryan Fitzpatrick
This might be the most fascinating NFL Week 1 of our lifetimes.
Will offenses struggle with timing early on or will the defenses have more trouble with assignments and tackling? How will rookies perform with a lack of preparation? Will we see more injuries?
Those are just a few of the countless questions we will have answered over the first few weeks of this unprecedented season (I covered some of those and more in a team-by-team season primer to get you ready for the season if you missed it).
Let’s get into my Week 1 NFL card, starting with my four favorite sides before getting into some totals and teasers for this weekend. And remember to check the updated Action Network odds page to shop for the best number for every NFL game.
Week 1 Picks Against the Spread (ATS)
Washington Football Team (+6) vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
I’ll be honest, I’m a little scared about backing Washington in Week 1 after all of the roster turnover and coaching changes in the offseason. But this line is just too high.
I’m lower than the market on the Eagles, who I believe still have issues at wide receiver and cornerback.
Jim Schwartz is really counting on Darius Slay reverting back to his old form as a shutdown man-to-man cornerback and I’m not sure he still has that capability based on his age and last year’s production.
If Slay does struggle to lock down opposing No. 1 receivers (like Terry McLaurin on Sunday), it will have a trickle-down effect on a defense that has major question marks at linebacker and safety.
Yes, the Eagles defensive line should dominate the line of scrimmage against a vulnerable Washington offensive line, especially on the left side. But, Washington’s extremely talented and very deep defensive front can do the same thing against an offensive line that lost two starters to injury in the summer. (The Eagles could also be without starting right tackle Lane Johnson on Sunday.)
With all of the injuries it’s dealing with, I’m not sure Philadelphia’s offense can fully exploit a brand new Washington back-7. In a divisional matchup that features two of the best defensive lines in the NFL, points may come at a premium, so I’ll gladly take +6 in a game I project closer to +4.
Miami Dolphins (+7) vs. New England Patriots
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
Sticking with the theme here and taking another divisional underdog catching six or more points in Week 1.
Similar to the Eagles, I’m much lower on the Patriots than the market. The defense was a heavy regression candidate even before all of the key offseason departures and high-impact opt outs. It’s basically a fully rebuilt defensive front.
New England will once again rely on its excellent secondary but even the defensive backfield lost some important pieces at safety and likely won’t enjoy the same turnover luck as last season. It’s also worth noting that reigning defensive player of the year Stephon Gilmore popped up on the injury report with a hamstring issue on Thursday.
On the other side of the ball, Cam Newton will take over at quarterback for an offense that has a very underwhelming group of receivers and lost its starting right tackle to an opt out.
I’m not sure how effective Newton will be early on in the season after joining the team late without a preseason — and that’s assuming he’s healthy after three surgeries in three years.
Meanwhile, I loved the entire offseason for the Dolphins, who seem to be headed in the right direction after taking advantage of all of their draft and salary cap capital. There is also plenty of familiarity with the Patriots on the staff and roster, which should help here.
Ryan Fitzpatrick has actually had some success against New England in the past. The former Harvard man has defeated the Patriots as the quarterback of all three other teams in the division. His unpredictability can give Bill Belichick headaches.
Miami still has questions along the offensive line although this unit now has much more talent than last year’s historically bad bunch. Plus, I’m not sure the New England defensive front can take advantage. The Dolphins also now actually have some competent backs to hand the ball off to — a luxury they didn’t have last year.
The injury report is worth monitoring for Miami as its two best receivers and two best corners remain limited but I had no problem fading New England a few weeks ago and still feel comfortable with that Miami +7 ticket.
Fading Bill Belichick is usually not a recipe for success but if you’re going to get him, get him early while he’s experimenting with the roster. Him and Brady were only 8-8-1 ATS in season openers together, while covering at a 60% clip in all other weeks.
The Dolphins are down to 6.5 across the market as of Friday afternoon, but there’s a chance that a 7 pops as we get closer to kick. Do your best to try and get the 7, but if a +7 (-125 or lower) doesn’t pop, I’d buy the hook to get Miami +7.
Arizona Cardinals (+7) vs. San Francisco 49ers
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET
I expect a jump in production from Kyler Murray in his sophomore year. Murray just needed to clean up his decision-making in the pocket and that comes with experience. He also now gets a new toy on the outside in DeAndre Hopkins.
The offensive line dealt with a lot of injuries last year but it some continuity to build on for a group that actually had decent advanced stats when it came to pass blocking. That’s a must against the 49ers defensive front that can generate pressure without blitzing as well as any team in the NFL. It also helps to have a mobile quarterback, which the 49ers struggled to contain at times in 2019.
The Arizona defense should also be improved after taking Isaiah Simmons in the draft and beefing up its linebacker corps to help address a glaring weakness of covering tight ends.
The secondary really struggled last season and the loss of Robert Alford hurts — but Patrick Peterson is ready to rock in a contract year and Byron Murphy got valuable experience as a rookie that should translate to more success in his second year. The task also isn’t that tough this week against a San Francisco wide receiver group that has been decimated by injuries.
You know Kyle Shanahan will have a dominant rushing attack every year, but San Francisco has some interior offensive line injuries and the Cardinals actually were okay against the run last year.
The 49ers won both meetings last season but both came down to the final minute. I think we see another close game, so I’ll gladly take a touchdown here. If you’re into trends, divisional underdogs catching 7 or more have been a good bet historically.
Los Angeles Rams (+3) vs. Dallas Cowboys
Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET
I’m pretty high on Dallas this year but I like the Rams catching a field goal or more on Sunday night.
With a new head coach and a new defensive coordinator that will implement a new scheme, the Cowboys could have some early growing pains after this shortened summer.
The offense has the potential to be a top-5 unit once again but the offensive line injuries are concerning. The Cowboys not only have to replace star center Travis Frederick in the middle, but they also recently placed star right tackle La’el Collins on IR. Expect the Rams to bring pressure and move Aaron Donald all over the line to take advantage of some of the Dallas weak points up front.
I actually like the hire of defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. His more aggressive style should help this defense generate more turnovers. But there will still likely be a learning curve and the secondary is very raw.
I think Sean McVay and company will have a new-look offense this year that caters more to the strengths and weakness of Jared Goff and the offensive line, which should rebound after a disastrous 2019 season. I also love the addition of rookie running back Cam Akers should also help. I think Los Angeles can capitalize against a more aggressive Dallas defense this weekend.
As always, shop around for the best number, especially around key numbers. If you can’t get a field goal here, I’d buy to 3 at -125 or less.
Week 1 Over/Under Picks
Raiders vs. Panthers Over 47.5
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
Vegas-Carolina has a chance to be a sneaky shootout. Even with all of the offseason changes, Joe Brady’s new passing attack should find success against a very suspect Raiders defense that has trouble generating pressure and in coverage — a nightmare combination in today’s NFL. New QB Teddy Bridgewater has plenty of weapons to work with and will get to face an extremely young Vegas secondary, consisting of rookie Damon Arnette, Trayvon Mullen (second year) and Lamarcus Joyner.
Similarly, the Raiders shouldn’t have any issues moving the ball against a poor Carolina defense that is undergoing a scheme change. Josh Jacobs should eat with the help of one of the best offensive lines in the NFL going up gainst Carolina’s historically bad run defense from last year. The Panthers new defensive scheme could help them against the run eventually but it’s still a unit that lost Luke Kuechly in the middle.
I also think Derek Carr can have success through the air against a Carolina secondary that lost its two most productive corners from last season.
Jets vs. Bills Under 39.5
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
In regards to the AFC East matchup in Buffalo, the weather will help here. The forecast calls for rain and high winds in Orchard Park on Sunday. That won’t help either quarterback and could cause problems with field goal attempts for two teams with new kickers after holding recent kicker competitions.
I’m just not sure what this Jets offense can do against a very stout Buffalo defense. I’m not a buyer in Sam Darnold, especially in front of a brand new offensive line that projects to be poor once again in addition to a beat up, underwhelming group of receivers.
In their two meetings last year, these two teams combined for 33 and 19 points. I expect more of the same on a windy day in Buffalo on Sunday afternoon.
Vikings vs. Packers Under 45.5
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
I’ll back another divisional under in this NFC North showdown.
The Vikings and Packers really only have one threat on the outside each secondary has to worry about. I expect both teams to run the ball frequently, which will keep the clock moving. Both defenses also can cover tight ends, which will be critical in this particular matchup.
On My Radar…
I have my eye on two additional unders. I think the defensive lines can dominate in both Philadelphia vs. Washington and LA Chargers vs. Cincinnati.
I think the Chargers will be a good under team early in the season. I think their defense will be stout, even without Derwin James, and the offense will be a conservative, ball-control unit under Tyrod Taylor. And the Chargers could potentially have three starters out along the offensive line.
Considering the circumstances, I don’t expect much out of Joe Burrow in the early going. This season has to be one of the most difficult situations for a rookie starting quarterback, and his questionable offensive line won’t help.
(Update: I played both of these.)
Week 1 Teasers
As I outlined in my opening week teaser guide, there are no shortage of viable teaser options in Week 1.
I don’t see much value in the Ravens spread but think they are a perfect teaser piece against a Browns team undergoing mass changes. I threw them in a six-point teaser with the Falcons, who just need to stay within one possession of a Seahawks team that won a single game by more than one possession last year.
After the line move due to injury news, getting Denver at +8.5 is too appetizing to pass up. I paired them with the Packers in a game I think ends up being close and low scoring, which makes the +8.5 there even more appealing.
- Ravens -2/Falcons +8.5
- Broncos +8.5/Packers +8.5
My other favorite teaser piece that fits the “Wong criteria” is the Colts against a Jags team in complete rebuild mode.