Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce celebrate another Kansas City Chiefs score.


Betting on the NFL in week one is a little bit like trying to hit a bullseye with a butcher knife, while blindfolded and blacked out. Other than that, it's a breeze.

You have nothing to base your wagers on besides some meaningless play and training camp murmurs. This season will be no exception EXCEPT given the COVID truncated offseason, there's one thing you can value more than any other year: Continuity.

If the Chiefs taught us anything from the Thursday night shellacking of the Texans, it's that all that money they shelled out to keep their absurd level of talent was worth it. Not just because it's better to have more talent than the other team, it is, but also because if you can keep as much of a championship squad together from one year to the next, you have a better chance of that squad continuing to play in the rhythm they've already established.

The Chiefs ran it back with their coordinators, all their speedy wide receivers, their terrorizing twosome on the defensive line, their All-Pro tight end, and plugged in LSU's double threat running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Put all that together, Andy Reid might be lining up for free cheeseburgers in Kansas City with two Super Bowl rings in 2021.

So, betting-wise, where does that leave us? Looking for teams who have established chemistry and culture. I'm looking for teams that are bringing the band back against teams that are trotting out untested rosters and fresh coaching staffs. I'd also say it's safe to bet against some truly bottom-of-the-barrel, no-hope-in-sight, dreadful teams.

Battle Tested vs. Newbs

Ravens -7.5 over Browns

Colts -8 over Jaguars

Bills -6.5 over Jets

Eagles -5.5 over Football Team

Steelers -6 over Giants

Saints -3.5 over Bucs

Titans -2.5 over Broncos

The Ravens come off one of the most efficient offensive seasons ever, period. All they did was add talent around their transcendentally talented QB. The Browns were, well, the Browns and thus they overhauled the coaching staff. This is a make-or-break year for Baker and his receivers, who could put it together later in the year, but not against a definitive Super Bowl contender in their first game under new head coach Kevin Stefanski's system.

The Colts built the most dominant offensive line in football, drafted a running back made of bowling balls powered by rocket fuel, and signed a quarterback who takes the phrase "wily vet" to a whole new level. Meanwhile, the Jaguars are so very bad. They've either cut, traded away, or chosen not to resign their most talented players over the past two years and given Gardner Minshew little to work with heading into 2020.

The Bills competed last season with Josh Allen operating as a deep ball throwing machine or a running option with little in between. They've added weapons, like Stefon Diggs, to bring some balance and their defense will be disruptive as ever. The Jets, last time I checked, are still coached by Adam Gase. They would need players at every level of the offense and defense to make significant leaps to be competitive this decade, especially after trading away Jamal Adams for no immediate help.

The Eagles soar under Doug Pederson, Carson Wentz, and a game-wrecking defensive line, which all return intact. If they can keep even halfway decent receivers on the field for a game or two and get some run out of the intriguing Miles Sanders, I like their chances against virtually any opponent. The Washington Football Team is so disorganized that they can't even pick a name or respond to multiple reports of harassment without slipping all over themselves. Not to mention, Ron Rivera is dealing with cancer treatments (get well soon!), which means Jack Del Rio is running practice in his absence. Not exactly an ideal situation to inspire the team to be ready for week 1.

The Steelers boast one of the most steady-handed coaching staffs in the NFL. Big Ben returns to lead the offense and their defense played so well down the stretch that they almost dragged Mason Rudolph into the playoffs. The Giants have a whole new coaching staff, which includes the underwhelming Jason Garrett at OC, and a second year QB throwing to guys who've seen better days or haven't reached their potential. Look for Roethlisberger and the Steelers to hit their stride early.

The Saints return a team with no real holes on offense or defense and actually upgraded by signing Emmanuel Sanders over Ted Ginn Jr. Not to mention, Sean Payton's connection with Drew Brees remains strong. The Bucs have acquired more talent in one off season in recent memory. It all looks good on paper, but practically they have a 43 year old QB and a 31 year old tight end that's already retired once after dealing with just about every injury imaginable. This has the Eagles' Dream team disaster written all over it. Don't believe the hype, trust in the team that's been at the top of the NFC South for the past 3 seasons in the Saints.

The Titans bring back an offense that had been firing on all cylinders behind Ryan Tannehill, a brutalizing rushing attack, and the work of wunderkind OC Arthur Smith. Plus, they gassed up their defense by signing Javedeon Clowney. The Broncos just lost their most important player, Von Miller, which greatly diminishes their pass rush and overall effectiveness on D. Drew Lock looked serviceable in his limited starts last year, but how much could he improve in an off season like this? Especially when Courtland Sutton's questionable for the game and the rookie, Jerry Jeudy, only has a month of hands on experience in the offense.

Here's the thing about this column and these picks. I don't necessarily expect to rip off a seven-teamer out of the starting gate, like I'm some kind of psychic on a hot streak. However, these games all fit the bill of what I'm looking for in value. Play 'em as a three, four, or five team parlay and give it a ride.

HomeDawg Special

For something completely different, these games all fit under a tried and true bettor's rule: Go against west coast teams on the road playing east coast teams. The idea of travel and playing While this maxim isn't foolproof, it certainly gives you a good base to work from when deciding where to put your money.

Panthers +3 over Raiders

Bengals +3 over Chargers

Falcons +2.5 over Seahawks

The Panthers may have finished last season on an eight game slide, but look at those games, even with Kyle Allen at QB, they played a lot of good teams close. Now with Teddy Bridgewater, who's looked above average, under the tutelage of Matt Rhule and Joe Brady, the college football whiz kid, the ceiling has been raised. However, the Raiders under Jon Gruden have seemed to teeter between mediocre and utter mess. There's nothing they did this off season that would make me feel they deserve 3 points on the road.

The Bengals drafted the man who should be the franchise, Joe Burrow, and, by all accounts, he's been everything and more since arriving in Cincy. One other thing to note here, the Bengals played the Seahawks to a 21-20 nail-biter in Week 1. I wouldn't call it a trend, but, perhaps, Zac Taylor can prep even a 2-win team to a close game if you give him all off season. Let's just say this year's Chargers aren't last year's Seahawks. Their D will be stout, but the offense is unproven. Gimme those points.

The Falcons finished last season hot, saving Dan Quinn's job in the process. Quinn, who was Seattle's DC for their championship run, knows his former team better than just about anyone else. These teams met last year, and after Seattle broke it open early, it ended up a one score game. Which sums up the value here, the Seahawks were in twelve (12!) games that came down to one score. It's a running joke that Seattle never plays in a normal game, I don't expect one this Sunday.

As a three-teamer, this pays out at +700. If only two of the three suit your fancy, I'd recommend parlaying those, as well.

Moneyline Upset

Dolphins over Patriots

The Dolphins took down the Patriots in Week 17 last season in a game that Brady and co. needed to win. Brian Flores, former Pats coach, knows Belichick well and coached his scrappy team above their pay grade in his first year. The Dolphins went on a shopping spree, adding talent all up and down their roster, and cashed in some draft capital. Meanwhile, the Pats replace Brady with Cam Newton, but didn't do much else, except have a handful of players opt out of the season. This one will be close and the value of +240 is enough to get a few shekels from me.

That's all for me to start the season. Let's hope all these come up winners and we can check back next week to count our profits.

File:Justin Herbert (51459803577) (cropped).jpg - Wikimedia Commons

It's another eventful week in the NFL.

Four teams -- the Jets, Falcons, Saints, and 49ers -- are the first teams to get a bye week. After Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers narrowly escaped Thursday Night Football with a 28-22 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, the reigning Super Bowl champs are the first team with five wins in the league. Who will join them on Sunday? We know that we'll get at least a second five-win team since the 4-1 Ravens are hosting the 4-1 Chargers. That is going to be an epic battle, so let's start with that clash of AFC contenders. Welcome to our Week 6 NFL Best Bets.

Los Angeles Chargers (+3.5) at Baltimore Ravens

Playing on the road is a difficult task for any team, but if any team can escape with a victory, it's Justin Herbert and the Chargers. This isn't the Chargers of the last decade. This team is winning the close battles. Herbert is playing at an MVP level this season and already has led this team to big-time wins over the Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Browns -- two of the top teams in the AFC. This L.A. team is deep at the skill positions, can rush the passer, has an improved offensive line and a great young coach. What's not to like?

All that said, Lamar Jackson seems to be playing as he did during his 2019 MVP campaign. Not to mention, Marquise "Hollywood" Brown is actually catching passes. He eclipsed 100 yards last week and scored two touchdowns (including the game-winning catch in overtime). Simply put, this is a tough team to bet against. It did take last-second heroics for the Ravens to beat the winless Lions and a pretty pedestrian Colts team. Overall, Baltimore hasn't faced a test like this yet this season. Take the points and the better overall squad. Chargers may win this game, but if they don't, they are not going to lose by more than a field goal.

PICK: Chargers +3.5

Kansas City Chiefs (-6.5) at Washington Football Team

It's been a tough start to the season for the Chiefs. They had great odds to return to the Super Bowl and are now last in the AFC West heading into Week 16 with a 2-3 record. They desperately need this game. This is a great opportunity for the Chiefs to prove they are still elite by defeating a team that made the postseason last year on the road. The Chiefs are going to turn it around against a Washington defense that is allowing the sixth-most passing yards and second-most passing touchdowns this season. Patrick Mahomes is going to blow up. Tyreek Hill is going to dominate. Travis Kelce is going to continue to provide a steady source of receptions down the middle of the field. As long as the Chiefs' offensive line holds against Chase Young, it's going to be a long day for Washington's defense. Betting on Mahomes to right the ship isn't a really difficult choice.

PICK: Chiefs -6.5

Houston Texans (+9) at Indianapolis Colts

Yes, the Texans are one of the worst teams in the league. Betting on them on the road against a divisional rival might seem crazy at first. However, the Texans are 7-3 against the spread as underdogs in their last 10 games. Plus, the Colts are emotional after completely giving away the game against the Ravens in which they blew a 22-3 lead late in the game. This is going to cause a bit of a hangover in that locker room. When New England suffered a terrible loss against Tom Brady and the Bucs, the Texans managed to cover the spread the following week. Look for history to repeat itself. Texans coach David Culley has Houston playing hard in spite of its lack of talent and quarterback Davis Mills appeared to take a step forward last week against the Pats. Houston has played pretty good pass defense, too. The Texans have allowed only seven passing TDs this season.

PICK: Texans +9

Seattle Seahawks at Pittsburgh Steelers (-5)

Sunday night will be an interesting matchup to watch as Geno Smith will make his first start in four years as the Seahawks travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers. I hate betting on Ben Roethlisberger, but it's hard to envision the Seahawks covering the spread without the services of Russell Wilson. And as much as I think Big Ben should hang up his cleats, you have to give him credit for the way he dominated a solid Broncos defense last week. Roethlisberger looked better than he did earlier in the season and was able to get the ball to his playmakers -- Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, and running back Najee Harris. Seattle's defense is one of the worst in the league and their secondary is even worse than their front seven. Look for the Steelers to light up Seattle in the passing game.

PICK: Steelers -5

Arizona Cardinals at Cleveland Browns OVER 49.5

Both of these offenses can put up a lot of points, though they go about it very differently. The Browns are a run-heavy team, and even though they will be without the services of Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt is more than capable of getting the job done. Meanwhile, Arizona's offense runs through electric quarterback Kyler Murray. Murray is able to move the chains with his legs but he isn't afraid to toss the ball either. He loves getting his guys involved and his weapons are elite in DeAndre Hopkins, Rondale Moore, and Christian Kirk.

The Browns are coming off an 89-point slugest with the Chargers and hit the OVER in their other game against a high-end offense in a 33-29 loss to the Chiefs. Meanwhile, the Cardinals have scored 30-plus points in four of five games this year. Smash the OVER.


Detroit Lions v Green Bay Packers
Getty Images

Week 2 of the NFL was full of breakout performances, thrilling finishes and potentially the start of the Justin Fields era in the NFC North as the Bears' win over the Bengals finds them in first place in the division.

We cap off the week with a Monday Night Football showdown between the Packers and the Lions with the winner finding themselves tied for first in the North. The Packers put up an absolute dud of a performance last week against the Saints in Week 1 while the Lions looked surprisingly effective while playing catch-up against the West-leading 49ers. The expectations for these two teams couldn't have been further apart coming into the season but with matching 0-1 starts on the books, I think there are a couple of interesting props and roster construction angles to exploit.

NFL DFS Showdown Picks

*Prices are from DraftKings

Captain: TE T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions ($9,600) ($14,400)

I'm normally not a fan of playing a tight end in the captain spot, but T.J. Hockenson is not your average tight end. He finished 2020 with an elite 18% target share in the Lions' offense and picked up right where he left off in Week 1, finishing with an 18.2% share on 50 routes run last week. Hockenson has always carried premium TD upside as a red-zone target but what was most encouraging about last week was that he ran nearly 55% of his routes out of the slot, leaving him a matchup against Chandon Sullivan, who's allowing a 67% catch rate in his coverage. In a game where the Lions are projected to be down early, expect Hockenson to get fed once again. His red-zone utilization gives him enough juice to take the captain's chair in my builds.

Core Consideration: QB Jared Goff, Detroit Lions ($10,000)

Two principles I take into Showdown slates apply to this play. Generally speaking, if I have a pass-catcher as my captain, I'm finding a way to get their QB into a flex spot. The second is that your build needs to tell a story. Mine is that the Packers come out with something to prove after getting embarrassed in Week 1 and that we'll likely see upwards of 50 pass attempts from Jared Goff as he attempts to mount a comeback. Goff is a surprisingly effective passer when getting good protection and this unit gave him a clean pocket on 86.7% of snaps last week. Expect that to continue tonight as Goff will continue to feast in garbage time.

Contrarian Play: WR Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers ($2,000)

I still chuckle at the thought of the return of Randall Cobb being on the short-list of demands from Aaron Rodgers in the midst of his holdout. I do, however, think there is something to be said about the importance of chemistry between a quarterback and his receiver and I expect that in a typical game (which Week 1 was not), Aaron Rodgers is going to find his spots to get Cobb involved. In a game script that figures to have the Packers up by a healthy margin, not many are going to look at the tertiary passing options for Green Bay and I think a $2,000 Randall Cobb could sneak in a handful of receptions at single-digit ownership..

Salary Relief: WR Amon-Ra St. Brown, Detroit Lions ($2,400)

This one fits perfectly into my narrative for the game as well. In a game where the Lions are likely to flirt with 50+ pass attempts and coming off a week where St. Brown ran routes on 75% of the team's passing plays, I will be overweight on Amon-Ra tonight. Lining up in the slot on 74.5% of plays means St. Brown will primarily see coverage from Chandon Sullivan, the most favorable of the options GB lines up in their defensive secondary. Expect St. Brown to see his target volume increase tonight. If Detroit can be more effective in getting to the red zone, he carries decent scoring upside with the way he's utilized in this offense. Plus, who doesn't love the extra motivation of playing against their big bro?

Monday Night Football Best Bets

Taking a look at the wagering side of this game; before we determine anything else we must ask ourselves what we think of these Green Bay Packers. I tend to look at last week's performance as the exception and not the rule. With that being the case, I am laying the 11.5 points and taking GB tonight. Over the past six seasons, oddsmakers have been fairly sharp when it comes to these larger spreads and NFL teams cover double-digit spreads more than 55% of the time. The total for tonight is sitting at 48.5 and given the somewhat surprising ability of the Lions to make up ground last week, I am confidently on the "over" side of that line.

Picks: Packers -11.5, OVER 48.5 points

Taking a look at the prop market, I am again mainly investing in the "GB Blowout" narrative:

D'Andre Swift: OVER 28.5 Receiving Yard

Coming off a 65-yard performance in a very similar game script, this one feels like a no-brainer. Swift averages nearly 8 yards per reception so this really boils down to whether you think he catches more than 3 passes. I certainly do and I'm confidently on the OVER for this prop. FanDuel is currently carrying the best odds at -110.

T.J. Hockenson: Anytime TD

I'm not the biggest fan of these "to score" props, but I'll break from the norm with this one. I am projecting the Lions to at least have a go at it in this game and there simply isn't a scenario where that doesn't involve a score for Hockenson. +220 odds at FanDuel sort of feels like stealing given that I see this game going over the 48.5 total.

AJ Dillon | UNDER 8.5 Rushing Attempts

I know that the betting public is forecasting a fairly comfortable win for the Packers, but let's not get carried away. AJ Dillon would have to nearly double his career average for carries to get to this number. Plus, it's a bit unlikely that this game gets so far out of reach that Green Bay brings in their backups. Even last week when they did bring in the second-stringers, Dillon only saw 4 carries. I'm expecting Aaron Jones to have a monster day on the ground, as evidenced by my Saturday article.

File:Derrick Henry 2019 12-08.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

Week 1 is in the books and it's time to move on to the best bets in Week 2.

If you listened to my article earlier this week, you would have started 1-0 for taking the Giants with the points against Washington in that thriller of a matchup Thursday night. Now, let's dive into Week 2's best NFL bets.

Best Bets

Tennessee Titans/Seattle Seahawks Over 54

The Seahawks' offense was high-flying in the first half last week. Because the Colts never really threatened the outcome of the game, the Seahawks were able to take the air out of the ball and finish the game with an easy win while only scoring seven in the second half. While both the Titans' defense and offense looked atrocious, expect Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry to have big bounce-back weeks and make this an epic high-scoring game. This has all the makings for a shootout in which both teams put up 30-plus points.

Cincinnati Bengals +2.5 @ Chicago Bears

Until that Monday night game, the Bengals had the honor of winning the craziest Week 1 game over the Vikings in overtime. The Bears' defense, which is supposed to be their strength, looked awful against the Rams, including one of the most blown coverages you'll ever see on Cooper Kupp's long touchdown. It was simply an awful week for the Bears. I don't think it gets any better until they remove Dalton and promote Justin Fields. If they don't do that prior to game time, the Bengals will run away with this one.

Los Angeles Rams -3.5 @ Indianapolis Colts

Coming out of Week 1 the Rams looked great on both sides of the ball. Matthew Stafford had a great first game, going 20 for 26 with three touchdowns. The Colts... They didn't look that great on either side of the ball. While Carson Wentz's overall numbers didn't look bad, most of the yardage and one of his two TDs came in the fourth quarter as they were chasing from two or more scores back, never actually threatening to win the game. I'm leaning towards the Rams winning this in a blowout and would consider alternate spreads.

Arizona Cardinals -3.5 vs. Minnesota Vikings

Kyler Murray appears to be a man on a mission to avenge last season's bitter ending after absolutely torching the Tennesee Titans in Nashville. The Vikings' defense, who hasn't been as formidable as years past, is going to have their hands full with Kyler. Last week they allowed Joe Burrow to complete nearly 80% of his passes, and Burrow isn't a threat to run nor has a receiver as talented as DeAndre Hopkins. If the Vikings offense doesn't step up and make this a shootout, things could get ugly in Phoenix.

Dallas Cowboys + 3.5 @ Los Angeles Chargers

Dak Prescott looked great in Week 1 and if there were any issues with his shoulder after throwing 58 times, he had 10 days to get healed up again and ready for the Chargers. I can almost guarantee, whenever the Cowboys go to play either Los Angeles team in their stadium, that there will be more Cowboys fans than LA fans. So while they aren't playing in Jerry World, they'll have more fan support. My concern for Justin Herbert and the Chargers is their efficiency in the red zone. His most potent weapons in Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler become less effective as they get closer to the goal line. That leaves Jared Cook and Mike Williams as your bigger bodies in the red zone, which isn't ideal. The Cowboys have a decent chance to win this one outright, but you can take the points for some cushion.

Long-Shot Parlay

  • Cowboys ML (+160)
  • Titans +6.5 (-105)
  • Steelers ML (-225)
  • Rams -3.5 (-110)

Five Props To Consider

  • Calvin Ridley OVER 6.5 receptions (+115)
  • Tyrod Taylor OVER 34.5 Pass Attempts (-105)
  • Aaron Jones OVER 88.5 combined yards (-115)
  • Nick Chubb OVER 17.5 carries (-120)
  • James Robinson OVER 9.5 carries (-125)

All five of these props have an excellent chance at hitting. I like the idea of wagering a three-leg prop parlay with the last three props listed (Jones, Chubb and J-Rob). Thanks me on Monday.

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