Football’s back! The return of football means the San Francisco 49ers are back on the field, which is great. But also great? The return of fantasy football and NFL gambling! It’s going to be a cold day in hell before the NFL openly admits to the value of gambling to its growth, but nobody will deny it is a major reason for the league’s popularity.
For the third 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 over 1,800 participants, which is a new record for the SuperContest. SB Nation is represented by myself and Matt Ufford, and there are folks from all over the blogosphere involved. 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 52-31-2, which was a huge improvement over my first season performance of 39-45-1. I got hot early, and while I cooled late, I was able to finish in 24th place out of over 1,700 entries. It was a lot of fun, which is often the case when you’re actually picking a decent amount of winners. I’m back for more this year, but I imagine I’ll have a little regression to the mean. We’ll see what the season rbings.
Here are my SuperContest picks for Week 1
Browns (+4) over EAGLES
SAINTS (-1.5) over Raiders
Giants (-1.5) over COWBOYS
CARDINALS (-6) over Patriots
49ERS (+2.5) over Rams
As was so often the case last season, I quickly second guess myself. But I have my reasons for each, so we’ll see how it goes. I took two road teams, in part because I think the home teams are a little over-valued out of the gates. The Eagles will roll out rookie Carson Wentz after dealing away Sam Bradford, and I think Philly is going to be pretty bad this year. The Browns defense is far from inspiring, and Robert Griffin III is no sure thing, but I like their chances in this road opener.
The Giants were a mess last season, but I’m inclined to take my chances against a rookie quarterback in Week 1. Dak Prescott looked great in the preseason, but it was vanilla game-planning, and things were kept pretty simple. I am hoping the Giants defense will have something in store to throw off the rookie QB.
I think the Oakland Raiders could be a solid squad this year, and expectations are high, but I’m not fully ready to buy into the hype. I don’t think the Saints defense can be any worse than last season (famous last words), but I’ll take my chances at home with Drew Brees and company.
I was going to stay away from Cardinals-Patriots, but the announcement of Rob Gronkowski, Nate Solder, and Jonathan Cooper all being ruled OUT made it too tempting. I hate betting against Bill Belichick with a full offseason to prepare for playing with Tom Brady, but there are limited opportunities to take advantage of this. And with the line moving up to a touchdown, I’ll lay the six points.
I should probably stay away from the 49ers, but for the second straight season, I’m getting 2.5 points at home in the opener. I picked them over the Minnesota Vikings last season, and considering how the rest of the season went, I’m amazed how they dominated Minnesota in the opener. This year, they face a Rams team with a lot of questions in the passing game. They have the ground game in Todd Gurley, and their defense could be a strong one, but I just can’t see it on the road out of the gates.
Here are all my picks for Week 1:
BRONCOS vs. Panthers (-3): Broncos - WIN
FALCONS vs. Buccaneers (+2.5): Falcons
TITANS vs. Vikings (-1.5): Titans
EAGLES vs. Browns (+4): Browns
JETS vs. Bengals (-2.5): Jets
SAINTS vs. Raiders (+1.5): Saints
CHIEFS vs. Chargers (+6.5): Chiefs
RAVENS vs. Bills (+3): Ravens
TEXANS vs. Bears (+6): Bears
JAGUARS vs. Packers (-5.5): Jaguars
SEAHAWKS vs. Dolphins (+10.5): Dolphins
COWBOYS vs. Giants (-1.5): Giants
COLTS vs. Lions (+3.5): Colts
CARDINALS vs. Patriots (+6): Cardinals
WASHINGTON vs. Steelers (-3): Washington
49ERS vs. Rams (-2.5): 49ers