Football's back, and most importantly, that means NFL gambling is back! The NFL will never fully admit it, but gambling is a major reason the sport is as popular as it is. There are other reasons, but a lot of it comes back to gambling. I mean even normal fantasy football is gambling to a certain extent. There are plenty of legal technicalities when it comes to your friendly fantasy football league, but to a certain degree it is somewhat a game of chance.
For the second straight season, I am back for the LVH SuperContest. SB Nation's partners over at Odds Shark are sponsoring my entry again. The contest requires selecting 5 games each week and picking them against the spread. This year's contest is expected to have nearly 1,400 participants, including myself, Matt Ufford and Eric Sollenberger from SB Nation. Everybody picks their own five games and there will be a running leaderboard HERE. After Week 1, you can follow my standings under the name "Fooch".
Last year, I finished 39-45-1. I was up over .500 for a good chunk of the first half of the season, but a few ugly weeks sent things south in a hurry. I tried to avoid the 49ers at times, with my picks, but given the free nature of this for me, I figured if I had a gut feeling on a 49ers game, I would go with that (more on that later!).
Here are my SuperContest picks for Week 1
RAMS (+4) over Seahawks
CARDINALS (-2.5) over Saints
RAIDERS (+3) over Bengals
BRONCOS (-4.5) over Ravens
49ERS (+2.5) over Vikings
Yep, I'm going all NFC and AFC West teams, and all home teams. Taking three underdogs is probably not the wisest idea, but hopefully we find out quickly if this will be the year of the underdog. Week 1 of the NFL season is always a bit more of an open season when it comes to picking games. Oddsmakers have some ideas about teams, but there are a lot of things they cannot account for heading into Week 1. They will correct themselves very quickly, but there are some openings to take advantage of some of these lines.
I should be avoiding the 49ers, but I just can't help myself. That line swung wildly this offseason. The 49ers opened as 4.5-point favorites in April, and there was a subsequent avalanche of money on the Vikings. I'm going to go the other way on this one. The 49ers could finish ugly this year, but at home in the opener, I'm going to give them a bit of benefit of the doubt. Hopefully they reward me.
Until proven otherwise (which could happen quickly), I like what the Raiders are doing this year. They are not going to be a great team, but they have some pieces in place to be at least interesting when it comes to the gambling line. And that was before they signed Aldon Smith! That offense has some intriguing pieces, and the chance to pair Aldon Smith with Khalil Mack could make for a fearsome pass rush. Well, I suppose until Aldon is suspended. But until that happens, watch out!
Here are all my picks for Week 1:
PATRIOTS vs. Steelers (+7): Patriots - PUSH
BEARS vs. Packers (-7): Packers
TEXANS vs. Chiefs (+1): Chiefs
JETS vs. Browns (+3.5): Browns
BILLS vs. Colts (-2.5): Colts
WASHINGTON vs. Dolphins (-3.5): Dolphins
JAGUARS vs. Panthers (-3): Jaguars
RAMS vs. Seahawks (-4): Rams
CARDINALS vs. Saints (+2.5): Cardinals
CHARGERS vs. Lions (+3): Chargers
BUCCANEERS vs. Titans (+3): Bucs
RAIDERS vs. Bengals (-3): Raiders
BRONCOS vs. Ravens (+4.5): Broncos
COWBOYS vs. Giants (+6.5): Giants
FALCONS vs. Eagles (-3): Falcons
49ERS vs. Vikings (-2.5): 49ers