NFL Week 1 Picks Against the Spread: Titans topple Browns, Jaguars shock Chiefs, Patrick Mahomes
Looking at Will Brinson’s best bets for the 2019 NFL season, Week 1
- by Will Brinson
- Sep 6, 2019 at 10:36 am ET • 7 min read
So far so good on the NFL. The Packers covered, which was a surprising consensus selection for our NFL Expert Picks. If you watched Sportsline — every night at 6 p.m. ET on CBS Sports HQ, our free 24/7 streaming sports network with real sports news for real sports fans — you knew to take the under at 46.5. That was a laugh riot on Thursday, with the Bears and Packers combining for 13 points in a game people complained about a lot on social media, because people are terrible.
Anyway, we want to keep this train rolling into Week 1 by identifying a few best bets where we can make some hay. Each week in this spot, I’m going to throw out roughly five picks that I like on the slate. If you need more, you can listen to me, Pete Prisco and R.J. White make picks against the spread for every single game on the Pick Six Podcast by hitting play below or by subscribing right here.
As a bonus to you, we’ll also be putting together a special weekly PICK SIX PODCAST PARLAY, a name so exciting it requires all caps. This is anywhere from 2-16 picks that Pete/R.J./Brinson all agree on against the spread. They don’t have to be triple locks, just games we all have heavy leans in one direction.
That pick is below along with my best bets. Lemme know if you disagree and/or who you like this week by hollering at me on Twitter @WillBrinson.
Vikings (-4) vs. Falcons
My love affair with the Vikings this year is well documented. I’m picking them to win the Super Bowl and people are hot and bothered about the suggestion on Twitter.
2019 NFL season playoff predictions:
I’m OK with that. The NFL season doesn’t play out the way everyone expects, otherwise what would be the point of even showing up? The Falcons are a formidable first-week opponent for sure, but I like the Vikings a lot in this spot for a number of reasons. To start, Minnesota has a great home-field advantage. They also have a great coaching advantage. When you combine the two, the results are really impressive. As SportsLine’s Kenny White noted on the Pick Six Podcast during the preseason, Mike Zimmer is 52-28 against the spread (65%) and is 28-14 against the spread at home over the last five years, good for a 67 percent hit rate. That’s ridiculous and we’re only getting a single extra point baked into the average home-field advantage number. The Falcons were banged up on defense last year, but they also ranked 30th in terms of rush defense DVOA. Atlanta secretly (?) hasn’t been good at stopping the run under Dan Quinn. The Vikings offensive line is improved and I believe Dalvin Cook is primed for a big game this weekend. Zimmer is 4-1 in Week 1 games since taking over for the Vikings and 4-1 against the spread in those games too, including a pair of home victories over the 49ers and Saints the last two years.
Titans (+5) at Browns
My biggest fear here is the offensive line for Tennessee, which will be short Taylor Lewan in Week 1 thanks to the left tackle’s suspension. But Tennessee is a good team, a squad that has been impressive over the last couple of years, managing three straight seasons of a 9-7 record. There are multiple coaching staffs there, so to me it points more towards a solid roster that is impressive but not dominant. There’s no flash to the Titans like there is to the Browns. And I get why people are all over Cleveland (66 percent of the bets are on the Browns per the Action Network). They’re fun, they have Odell Beckham and Baker Mayfield and they’re a sleeper to win the Super Bowl. I get it! But they’re not going to come out and, ahem, wreck this league. The Titans are a legit team with a pair of talented running backs in Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis and a quarterback in Marcus Mariota who is looking to prove himself in a contract year while Ryan Tannehill breathes down his neck. More importantly, I would be worried about the protection for Baker with Harold Landry, Cameron Wake (ageless!) and Jurell Casey capable of putting pressure on the second-year quarterback. I don’t envision some monster shootout, actually like the Titans to win outright and will happily take more than a field goal in this spot.
Panthers (+2) vs. Rams
Full disclosure: I got this at +3 and while I still like it at +2, there are concerns with taking it and losing the very important three-point number. However, I still believe the Panthers win this game outright, so fire away if you’re so inclined. Why do I feel that way? Well, for starters, it’s a 10 a.m. ET game for the Rams, who are traveling from the west coast to the east coast. I don’t think it’s as big a factor as it used to be, but the timing matters for NFL players. Additionally, I think the Panthers are undervalued. Carolina was 60-1 to win the Super Bowl a few weeks/days ago, before getting down in the 30-1 range. Cam Newton is coming off shoulder surgery and suffered a foot injury in the preseason, but he’s all systems go. Carolina can mitigate the biggest strength of the Rams defense (Aaron Donald) by using quick-hitting passes to Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel. The Panthers’ revamped defensive front gets to attack a new-look Rams offensive line that likely won’t be completely in sync without playing preseason games. I need to see Todd Gurley healthy and running free before I believe it. This is guaranteed to be a close game, but like last year against the Cowboys, the Panthers will take care of business at home in Week 1.
Jaguars (+3.5) vs. Chiefs
This line STINKS. A casual NFL fan who walks into a sports book is going to see “Patrick Mahomes versus crappy Jaguars team and he only has to win by three points?” and hammer the Chiefs. The Action Network has them at 72 percent of the bets. The Chiefs are a public team and this is a juicy line. However, the Jaguars are an improved team on offense and a hungry team on defense. Jalen Ramsey should come out with his hair on fire as he kicks off a contract campaign and Josh Allen has DROY written all over him. There are pieces missing (Telvin Smith for one), but Jacksonville wants to prove 2017 was no fluke for its defense and it starts with the biggest test of all in the NFL. Conveniently, they actually limited Mahomes last year, forcing him into a 22/38, 313, 0/2 line that is pretty generous yardage wise. That game isn’t a blowout if Blake Bortles doesn’t throw four picks and now Nick Foles is in town. At the very least he should be safer with the football. Leonard Fournette might have a monster game this week, showing up in shape and clearly in a better mental state. I think they can hold the ball and grind out drives against a Chiefs defense that might be better but that isn’t good. Jags pull off the upset here.
Colts (+6.5) at Chargers
Full disclosure 2.0: I backed the Chargers -3 when the Andrew Luck retirement news dropped, creating a pretty nice window here. If I was walking into this blind, I’d absolutely take the Colts though, for a number of reasons. To start, Jacoby Brissett is just better than people think. He’s not coming in cold off a trade like in 2017 — he’s had multiple years in Frank Reich’s system. The Patriots drafted him in the third round on the advice of Bill Parcells. The guy has a pedigree. And now he has a better offensive line, a better run game (I’m a Marlon Mack truther) and healthy passing weapons. The Chargers are banged up bad. Derwin James is gone and Russell Okung is missing. Those are BIG factors. Anthony Lynn’s squad shook the “slow starter” label last year, but this won’t be a rowdy Chargers crowd frothing to take down the Colts. I think we see Indy walk in and shock the world with a victory against the Bolts.
Bonus Podcast Parlay
Every week when Prisco, R.J. and I agree on a number of picks, we’ll put them together in the Pick Six Parlay. This week’s it’s all underdogs. I would suggest — if only because you don’t want to miss out when it cashes — that you put a unit on the plus points and a half unit on the moneyline (which pays out 65-1).
Bills +3 – Dogfight of a divisional game with two young stud quarterbacks, but we’re backing Sean McDermott with a defensive and coaching advantage.
Dolphins +6.5 – YIKES. The one scary one for ML purposes here. It’s just too many points in a game that should be a slugfest and could feature the Ravens battling rough conditions. This is why you don’t go huge with the ML.