The Return of the Teaser King: Week 1 NFL predictions

A new NFL season means the return of the Teaser King! For those of you who did not follow this series last season, each week I will be giving out the best teasers, parlays, and upsets across the NFL and college football worlds. Last season, I went 7-3 on my bets and turned a starting balance of $200 into $682.03 and correctly picked three out of four upsets. That was only half of a season, so I am thrilled to start this series from Week 1 this year. So, without further ado, let’s get to it with predictions for week 1 of the NFL.

Starting Balance: $500

Best Bets:

Teaser of the Week (2 Team 7-Point):

Minnesota Vikings (+1) over the San Francisco 49ers

New Orleans Saints (-2.5) over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bet $135 to Win $100

While the excitement is palpable with the start of the season, it is important to note that this is also one of the most difficult weeks to bet in all of sports. No one knows for sure how these teams will look and it should be remembered the NFL has gotten a reputation in recent seasons for how sloppy these games during the first few weeks of the season. Due to the unpredictability of Week 1, this teaser is just taking two of the biggest favorites of the weekend and getting their spreads to a more manageable position. The Vikings won 13 games last season and probably improved at the quarterback position as they replaced Case Keenum with Kirk Cousins without losing much of anything, while the 49ers are a young, inexperienced team that simply lack the offensive firepower to break through Minnesota’s elite defense, which ranked first in both yards and points allowed in 2017.

The Saints are the largest favorite the weekend as they face division rival Tampa Bay. New Orleans won 11 games in 2017 and would have made the NFC Championship Game if not for a miracle play by the Vikings. Not too many huge roster changes occurred for either the Saints or the Buccaneers during the offseason, which is bad news for Tampa as their defense (ranked last in yards allowed in 2017) will have to keep with a Saints team that averaged the most yards per play last season.

Tennessee Titans (-1) over the Miami Dolphins

L.A. Rams (ML -200) over the Oakland Raiders

Bet $75 to Win $135.33

This bet is a little more straightforward. The Titans are a young team that not only made the playoffs last season but also beat a talented Kansas City team in the Wild Card round. They should only get better this season as they continue to add talent at mature, whereas the Dolphins are coming off an offseason where they lost their best offensive player (Jarvis Landry) and their best defensive player (Ndamukong Suh) without adding talent to replace them.

Meanwhile, the Rams are looking like the favorites in the NFC as they spent their offseason developing a potential superteam, adding the likes of Suh, Marcus Peters, and Brandin Cooks to a team that already won 11 games last season. In Oakland, the hiring of coach Jon Gruden is already looking like it has the potential to be a trainwreck as Gruden’s latest move was trading Khalil Mack, a three-time Pro Bowler and 2016 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, for some picks in future drafts. The Raiders won six games last season and losing the most talented player on the roster probably isn’t going to help with that.

Upset of The Week:

Cincinnatti (+3) over the Indianapolis Colts

Much like betting, trying to pick upsets in Week 1 is incredibly difficult. Good teams can look bad as they get used to playing at full speed and bad teams can often surprise their opponents in the season opener before falling back to earth. With that said, I really like the Bengals this week. Cinncinnatti is a notoriously unflashy team, as the mainstays of coach Marvin Lewis and quarterback Andy Dalton are together for the eighth season despite the fact that neither has ever won a playoff game. Combine that with the fact that the Bengals rarely make big signings during the offseason and you get a resulting team that generates little fanfare. Still, the Bengals have had just two losing seasons since drafting Dalton in 2011 (finishing 6-9-1 in 2016 and 7-9 in 2017) and have one of the best front sevens in all of the NFL. Runningback Joe Mixon is poised to gain the lion’s share of carries this season which could help revitalize the offense and Geno Atkins remains as one of the most underrated defensive players in the entire league.

Indianapolis is a roster without much purpose. Outside of Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton, the Colts’ offense does have much to be excited about. Not to mention Luck hasn’t started a game since 2016 and it could take some time for him to back into the habit of the game. Look at the Bengals here and ceratinly avoid Indianapolis in any survivor pools or money line bets.

Another season of football quickly approaches, with one major difference from years past; gambling is now legal across much of the United States. Now, it is naive to think that people weren’t gambling before this but the reason this decision from the Supreme Court matters so much is that gambling is now legitimized. Networks such as ESPN and FoxSports will be airing television shows with the sole focus of discussing sports betting in prime time slots. The time of sports betting (and sports bettors) being seen as sleazy or something to be done behind closed doors is over and that is fantastic news for all us.

Nick Sparrow is a Staff Writer

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