The NFL’s 2016 regular season gets going in a little over eight weeks, on September 8, when the Denver Broncos host the Carolina Panthers in the Thursday kickoff game. That will be followed by 13 games on Sunday, and the annual Monday Night Football doubleheader. The San Francisco 49ers are the back end of that double-header, hosting the Los Angeles Rams as a two-point underdog.
For the third straight year, I’ll be taking part in the Westgate SuperContest with Odds Shark. I’ll be making five picks against the spread each week, posting them here, along with all my other picks that don’t count in the contest. In my first attempt at the contest in 2014, I finished 39-45-1, way down there. For last year’s contest, I finished 52-31-2, which was good for a tie for 24th place out of 1,727 entrants. It’s safe to say that I will regress to the mean this year, but that doesn’t mean I can’t still have fun making my picks!
Plenty will change between now and Week 1, but I thought it would be fun to throw out my picks against the spread for the time being. The lines will change, and my thoughts on some of the teams will change, but it is interesting to see how the lines are currently situated. I’ve found the most updated lines courtesy of scoresandodds.com. I mention if the line changes from the first release by Cantor Gaming back in April.
Right now I have 10 favorites and only five underdogs (no line on Patriots-Cardinals). I imagine I’ll be a bit more aggressive when we get to Week 1. Right off the bat, yes I’m taking the 49ers to cover if they are dogs against the Rams. Yes, the Rams have a strong defense, but I can’t imagine betting on them as a road favorite in Week 1. Maybe they end up impressing, but I really like the 49ers as the Week 1 home underdog.
The Raiders are an intriguing dog as well, but I feel like they’ll be getting a lot of public money early in the season given the offseason hype. Add in playing the Saints in the Big Easy, and I’m not touching the Raiders.
The season-opener in Denver is also interesting. The Panthers are facing a Broncos team potentially rolling out Mark Sanchez. This sets up for one of those games where Vegas wins a whole bunch of money because everyone thinks the Broncos are gonna get killed.
What do you think of these very early Week 1 picks?
Los Angeles Rams @ San Francisco 49ers (+2): 49ers +2
Carolina Panthers (-2.5, opened +1) @ Denver Broncos: Broncos +2.5
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Atlanta Falcons (-3): Falcons -3
Minnesota Vikings (-3) @ Tennessee Titans: Vikings -3
Cleveland Browns @ Philadelphia Eagles (-6.5, opened -7): Browns +6.5
Cincinnati Bengals (-2, opened pick ‘em) @ New York Jets: Bengals -2
Oakland Raiders @ New Orleans Saints (-1.5, opened -1): Saints -1.5
San Diego Chargers @ Kansas City Chiefs (-6.5, opened -7): Chargers +6.5
Buffalo Bills @ Baltimore Ravens (-2.5): Ravens -2.5
Chicago Bears @ Houston Texans (-6, opened -5.5): Bears +6
Green Bay Packers (-4) @ Jacksonville Jaguars: Packers -4
Miami Dolphins @ Seattle Seahawks (-8.5, opened -7.5): Seahawks -8.5
New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys (-3.5): Cowboys -3.5
Detroit Lions @ Indianapolis Colts (-5): Colts -5
New England Patriots @ Arizona Cardinals (No line): Cardinals
Pittsburgh Steelers (-3) @ Washington: Steelers -3