The NFL season is officially underway and we get the first matchup of the season today when the Buccaneers and Cowboys kick off the opening Thursday Night Football game of the season. Make sure to tune in every week for my top three weekly picks.
NFL Odds for Week 1
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My top Three Picks of Week 1
San Francisco 49ers (-8) at Detriot Lions
The San Francisco 49ers will finally be healthy heading into their week one matchup against the Lions. The 49ers have committed to Jimmy Garoppolo to start the season instead of rookie Trey Lance. However, it won’t matter who starts because the Lions have started rebuilding and are not ready to compete with a Super Bowl contending team in San Francisco.
The Lions traded away quarterback Matthew Stafford earlier this year and will roll with quarterback Jared Goff who looks to revive his career with a new team. Not only are the Lions worse at quarterback, but they are still in the midst of building that defense, and it’s nowhere close to being able to handle San Francisco’s dynamic running game.
Pick: 49ers win 31-21 and cover the spread
New England Patriots (-3) vs. Miami Dolphins
Bill Belichick’s defensive schemes are some of the best we’ve seen over the past 20 years. He can gameplan and eliminate any offensive player, and for Dolphins second-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, he will see multiple different looks by the Patriots.
The Dolphins defense, on the other hand, is not far behind the Patriots. Second-year head coach Brian Flores comes from the Belichick tree, and he knows how to run a defense. He has brought in a few ex-Patriot defenders with him, including Eric Rowe and Jason McCourty. Rookie quarterback Mac Jones is going to be tested by this Dolphins defense.
However, the difference in this game comes down to the way these two clubs are built.
The Dolphins’ strengths on defense come in the secondary, specifically on the outside with their corners. This is exactly what the Patriots want from an offensive perspective because New England wants to run the football behind their powerful offensive line and control the clock.
They will also avoid throws to the outside. Instead, they’ll try to get the ball inside to their new tight ends Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry.
For the Dolphins offense, they will be without LT Austin Jackson and WR William Fuller. But they do have speedy receiver Jaylen Waddle and a three-headed rushing attack with Myles Gaskins, Malcolm Brown, and Salvon Ahmed.
Ultimately, I think the Patriots become one of the league’s best teams again after retooling their roster from top to bottom.
Pick: Patriots win 30-17 and cover the spread
Jacksonville Jaguars (-3.5) at Houston Texans
Urban Meyer makes his debut for the Jacksonville Jaguars with his new quarterback Trevor Lawrence at the helm. You have the Houston Texans who have committed to Tyrod Taylor as the Week 1 starter on the opposite end.
Last year, the Texans beat the Jaguars both times they played. However, that was with QB Deshaun Watson leading the way, and Watson will be inactive for Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season. The Texans will go in with a brand new game plan that will focus on smash-mouth football. They brought in Mark Ingram, Phillip Lindsay, and Rex Burkhead to go with returning RB David Johnson.
Unfortunately for the Texans, the Jaguars are on the rise, especially on the defensive side of the ball. They brought in a new defensive coordinator, Joe Cullen, who was most recently the defensive line coach of the Ravens.
He is focused on stopping the run first. He switched the defense from a 43 to 34 front, and the interior defensive line looked dominant in the preseason. I expect the Jags defense to contain the Texans running game, and they’ll likely be able to move the ball at will on the offensive side of the ball against a Texans defense that is currently in a rebuild.
Pick: Jaguars win 27-17 and cover the spread
The Raiders and Washington both win:
The two picks that I have which go against the grain are the Washington Football Team over the Los Angeles Chargers (-1) and the Las Vegas Raiders over the Baltimore Ravens (-5.5).
We’ll start with the WFT. I said this last year, and I’ll say it again now: outside of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the WFT might have the best overall football roster in the NFL.
Players like Chase Young, Montez Sweat, Brandon Scherff, and Terry McLaurin are some of the best at their positions. Now throw in young and upcoming players like Antonio Gibson, Samuel Cosmi, and Jamin Davis. This roster is no joke. The only position WFT missed last year was a quarterback, and they still made the playoffs last year without a solid option.
When you compare that to the Chargers, the Los Angeles roster just looks average. I don’t see much potential outside of Joey Bosa and Derwin James. Justin Herbert does look like the real deal, but we’ll need to see how it comes together for him.
But at this point, I don’t think LA wins more than seven games in 2021, and I don’t think Week 1 will be a close game.
Pick: Washington wins 31-17 and beats the spread
If there is one team that’s currently slept on in 2021, it’s the Raiders. The receivers are better than last year. The offensive line is better against popular belief, and the running backs are in much better shape with Josh Jacobs and Kenyan Drake. You could argue that pretty much every single unit is better for the Silver and Blacks offense this year.
At the same time, the addition of Gus Bradley was probably the biggest for the Raiders defense, which ranked as a bottom 5 unit last year. And don’t forget, they added three star players in Gerald McCoy, Yannick Ngakoue, and Casey Hayward.
At the same time, I think the Ravens are a worse team in 2021 than in 2020. They’ve lost some outstanding players, including Matt Judon, Yannick Ngakoue, Orlando Brown, and Jihad Ward.
Also, considering the fact that the projected starting offensive line hasn’t had much time together, the Ravens are a much different team, one that is unproven.
If the Raven’s newly built offensive line isn’t there yet, they will struggle as this game will come down to which team can control the line of scrimmage as both teams want to run the football. But ultimately, I think the Raiders show up and prove themselves against a Ravens team that lost a few key players.
Pick: Raiders win 28-24 and beat the spread
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