Carolina Panther Vs Cleveland Browns, 1:00
Line: Pick, 42
After sitting at Panthers (-2.5) all week, money has come in on the Browns in this matchup pushing this line to a pick’em as of writing.
The Cleveland Browns are once again a trainwreck. It was a disastrous and terribly distracting offseason in Cleveland with the Deshaun Watson fiasco. I will not rehash that old news, but I strongly believe that off-field distractions can affect on-field performances.
I am an adopted Cleveland sports fan, for better or worse, so I did watch all of the Browns’ games last season. My impression of Baker Mayfield’s performances was that he wasn’t as bad as the media or his own coaching staff would have you believe. He may even have played several games injured or at least far less than 100%. He is highly motivated to beat his old team in this matchup and my gut feeling says he will do so.
The Panthers have a decent rush defence and I am not convinced Jacoby Brissett can lead this team successfully through the first half of the season.
My Pick: Panthers (-110) ML
Cincinnati Bengals Vs Pittsburgh Steelers, 1:00
Line: Bengals -7, 44
I am happy to finally see Big Ben take a seat this season after being past his prime for at least a couple of years. I am more interested to see what Kenny Pickett can do this season, but even Mitch Tribusky should be an upgrade behind center for Pittsburgh.
Najee Harris should improve on the 1,200 yards rushing he put up in his rookie season. The Steelers also have an excellent package of quality receivers to choose from, so the offence should be better this season in Pittsburgh.
Joe Burrow suffered a ruptured appendix this off-season which is a life-threatening situation for most people who are not professional athletes. I am a little concerned Joe will not be 100% to start the season. There also may be a little overvalued perception of the Bengals after their surprise playoff run last year.
This line has pushed upwards from (+6) to (+7) and that little extra value is enough for me to get behind the Steelers in this matchup which should be close in the 4th quarter.
My Pick: Steelers +7
New York Jets Vs Baltimore Ravens, 1:00
Line: Ravens -6.5, 44
No team in the NFL suffered more from injuries more than the Baltimore Ravens. That is one of the key things I look for when making early-season predictions. Lamar Jackson looks for a comeback season after missing 7 games last year. The Ravens dropped their final 6 games of the season to narrowly miss the playoffs. I look for a strong start to the season again this year and a return to the playoffs for the Ravens.
Joe Flacco has not been a quality NFL starter in at least a couple of seasons now. Yet is already forced into action in week 1 replacing Zach Wilson who was injured in the preseason. The Jets receiving group was bad last year and Flacco’s numbers may suffer even more may as a result.
The Jets are notorious for starting slowly and improving over the course of the season and I expect more of the same from them this year. If this game was late in the season, I might be on the other side.
My Pick: Ravens -6.5
Minnesota Vikings Vs Green Bay Packers, 4:25
Line: Packers -1, 46.5
I still cannot get over the way the Packers started the season last year getting absolutely destroyed 38-3 in New Orleans. They still managed to win 13 games last year, but that performance was one of the worst by any team all season.
At 38 years old we have to ask how long can Aaron Rodgers maintain his top-tier play. I would be very surprised to see him win his third consecutive MVP award. Green Bay should be a playoff team again this season, but repeating the 13 wins from last year may be too much to ask.
The Vikings finished 8-9 last year but had they been a little luckier, they easily could have been a playoff team. Kirk Cousins is an underrated passer with a talented package of receivers to choose from. They also offer a balanced attack with Dalvin Cook at RB. Minnesota will score plenty of points this season and should challenge the packers for the division title. I am not convinced they should be underdogs in this matchup.