NFL Picks Week #1 (2019 regular season)
NFL PICKS (WEEK #1)
BY PROFESSOR MJ
2018 record: 26-21 (55%)
2017 record: 35-23-3 (60%)
TOTAL: 61-44-3 (58%)
Let's crush the bookies together!
Written Wednesday September 4th, 2019 at 2 PM Eastern Time (spreads/odds may have changed)
PICK #1: Washington Redskins +10 at Philadelphia Eagles (rated 4 stars)
Week #1 in the NFL brings more uncertainty. We have an idea of which teams will be good and which ones will be bad, but we don’t know for sure and there are always some surprises.
Based on this philosophy, I felt like it might be a good idea to bet bigger underdogs in the first week of the NFL season. Obviously, as a statistics professor, I needed to check the numbers!
If you go back 30 years, teams that were underdogs by 8.0+ points in week #1 went 43-25 against the spread; that’s a 63.2% win percentage!
For your information, underdogs whose spread was 7.5 or less went 177-190 (a 48.2% win percentage).
One more key element in favor of the Redskins: they got swept by the Eagles in 2018. As a matter of fact, Washington lost 28-13 in Philly and 24-0 at home. The revenge factor definitely comes into play here.
PICK #2: Jacksonville Jaguars +3.5 vs Kansas City Chiefs (rated 3 stars)
Lots of people are in the Chiefs bandwagon. If you look at their roster, they are indeed very good. Patrick Mahomes is super exciting to watch. And so are their speedy receivers, namely Tyreek Hill. I’m also looking forward to seeing their new toy, rookie Mecole Hardman. I’ve heard good reports from camp about him.
Nobody is underestimating Kansas City. Everybody expects them to be great. But I believe many people are underestimating Jacksonville. The general public remembers their dreadful 2018 season where they finished 5-11. But don’t forget they went 10-6 the year before, thanks to a suffocating defense. They still have many players from that edition in their roster.
The QB situation has obviously improved with the arrival of Nick Foles, a very smart guy. Running back Leonard Fournette is also back after missing half the season, and battling through injuries when he was on the field. He says he is “100 percent better.”
Jacksonville will also be looking to avenge a 30-14 loss in Kansas City last season.
I subscribed to the weekly newsletter sent by the Sports Interaction sportsbook. In this week’s letter that I just received, they mention getting 90% of the action on the Chiefs versus just 10% on the Jags. As a contrarian, I love it!
PICK #3: New York Giants +7.5 at Dallas Cowboys (rated 3 stars)
This play almost qualifies under the “big underdog in week #1” betting angle. The point spread is just 0.5 point below the threshold.
Just like the Redskins, the Giants are also coming off a 2-game sweep by their opponent in 2018. Indeed, Dallas beat them 20-13 in Dallas and 36-35 in New York. I don’t have much data on this betting strategy, but the “revenge” rationale makes sense to me and teams under this situation went 5-0 against the spread in 2017 and 2-1 in 2018.
Case Keenum is an “okay” quarterback who is capable of keeping the game close, along with its respectable defense.
In case you haven’t read it yet, I picked the Eagles to win the NFC East division (https://www.professormj.com/pages/nfc-east-predictions-2019-division-winner), but I still expect a dog fight between two divisional opponents.
PICK #4: Carolina Panthers +2.5 vs Los Angeles Rams (rated 2 stars)
First of all, the Rams are traveling three time zones all the way to Charlotte in North Carolina to play at 1 PM Eastern Time, which corresponds to 10 AM Pacific Time. That’s not good for the Rams players.
We have another case of a team that scored tons of points last season. The public overvalues what happened last season. Perhaps teams know better how to stop the Rams’ offense after watching them get limited to just 3 points in the Super Bowl?
I’m not a big Cam Newton fan, but I absolutely love Christian McCaffrey. He’s an amazing playmaker who combined for close to 2,000 yards last year.
The Panthers disappointed with a 7-9 record last year, but keep in mind they went 11-5 the year before. They are no pushover, they are playing at home and they are 2.5-point underdog. I like it.
LEAN #1: Detroit Lions -2.5 at Arizona Cardinals
The Kyler Murray era is about to begin in Arizona! The fans should be excited, but there might be some growing pains, especially early in the season. Give him some time to adjust to the NFL speed. On the other side, you’ve got an experience signal caller with Matthew Stafford, who is entering his 11th season in the league.
The betting public tends to focus too much on each team’s offensive weapons; they don’t take the defense and the offensive line into account enough, in my humble opinion. That being said, footballguys.com is a great website that has a lot of valuable information on the NFL. I trust them a lot, as I have used them many times when doing fantasy football. They are ranking Arizona’s defense 26th in the league, while their offensive line gets the 30th rank. Ouch.
Not only do the Cards have a new QB, but they also have a rookie head coach, Kliff Kingsbury. He will also need time to feel more comfortable with his new duties.
Finally, based on odds for the number of regular season wins, the Lions are expected to get about 6.5 victories this year compared to 5.0 for the Cards. And that’s despite Detroit playing in a tougher division.
Best of luck!
(Sports Betting Expert / University Professor / PhD in statistics)