Football’s back! The New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs got us started on Thursday, and now we get the main course on Sunday. The San Francisco 49ers are in action at 1:25 p.m. PT today, the first time in a few years they have not been on Monday Night Football to open the season.
The return of football means fantasy football and gambling are back in my life. I am not one to gamble on mot other sports, but NFL gambling is something in which I take some pleasure (and some pain!).
For the fourth straight season, I am back for the Westgate 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 2,700 participants, which is a new record for the SuperContest. SB Nation is represented by myself, Matt Ufford, and Jason Kirk, 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.”
Two years ago, I finished 52-31-2, which was tied for 24th out 1,500 or so contestants. Last year, I finished 29-52-4, which was tied for eight from the bottom out of 1,615 contestants. In the last month or two I was taking less time on picks, but overall, it was a really ugly year. But hey, if I can finish in the money, I’ll trade it in for near the bottom the next year!
There are a record number of entries this year, so we’ll see if I can get back into the swing of things in Week 1. Here’s my first set of SuperContest picks for 2017.
I might be playing with fire with that 49ers pick. I’ve picked the 49ers each of the last two season openers, getting points at home against the Los Angeles Rams last season, and at home against the Minnesota Vikings the season before. I’m not making this pick because of that or the six straight season opening wins. I think the combination of a rusty Cam Newton and a 49ers defense that will be better than I think the general betting public anticipates will be enough to put San Francisco in position for an upset, or at least enough to keep the game close. Add in the betting public hitting the Panthers heavily, and I’m going to go against them.
I stuck with primarily home teams, although I did decide to bet against Kirk Cousins and company in Week 1 at FedEx Field. I think Cousins will put together solid numbers this season, but I feel like there will be an adjustment period with Sean McVay, Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson all out of the picture.
The public loves the Falcons over the Bears this week, so this and the 49ers over the Panthers are my two bets against the general public. The Bears ground game should put them in decent shape, and maybe we see a Super Bowl hangover for the Falcons, particularly with Kyle Shanahan no longer calling players.
Here are all my picks for Week 1:
PATRIOTS vs. Chiefs (+9): Patriots - LOSE
BILLS vs. Jets (+8.5): Jets
BEARS vs. Falcons (-6.5): Bears
TEXANS vs. Jaguars (+5): Texans
WASHINGTON vs. Eagles (-1): Eagles
LIONS vs. Cardinals (-2): Lions
TITANS vs. Raiders (+2.5): Titans
BENGALS vs. Ravens (+2.5): Bengals
BROWNS vs. Steelers (-8.5): Steelers
RAMS vs. Colts (+4): Rams
PACKERS vs. Seahawks (+3): Seahawks
49ERS vs. Panthers (+5.5): 49ers
COWBOYS vs. Giants (-4): Cowboys
VIKINGS vs. Saints (+3): Vikings
BRONCOS vs. Chargers (+3): Chargers