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NFL picks against the spread for every game in Week 1

The NFL is back for the 2020 season, and that means it’s time to start picking games against the spread! Here’s my full list of Week 1 picks.

Philip Rivers of the Indianapolis Colts is seen during training camp at Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center on August 26, 2020 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

NFL football is back in our lives, and even amidst the pandemic it feels pretty good. It was unclear over the summer if the NFL would get started on time, but Chiefs-Texans kicked off the season on Thursday, and we’re off and running.

Kansas City closed as a 9.5-point favorite over Houston, and they impressed in Week 1. The Texans got on the board first on a David Johnson touchdown, but then Patrick Mahomes & rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire led the Chiefs on a 31-0 run. If like me you picked the Texans to cover and keep this game close, we were wrong!

It’s not an ideal way to start my picks season, but we’ve got 15 more games to go this week! I don’t bet on every game every week, but I will offer picks against the spread for the full slate each week and some of my best bets for the week.

Last season, I finished the year 131-117-4. I had a strong closing month that helped me finish with a 52.78 win percentage. That’s barely turning a profit, but for a season’s worth of picks, that’s not too bad. I did not track my best bet percentage over the course of the season, but will make sure to do that this year.

Best bets in Week 1 of the NFL season can be difficult in general, but this year’s situation makes it all the more so. The pandemic resulted in no in-person offseason workouts and it also resulted in a delayed start to practice at training camp and no preseason games. Soft tissue injuries could be prevalent given the lack of traditional conditioning programs for much of the offseason, so we’re already dealing with some notable injuries.

I’m going to pick my five “best bets” each week, similar to what you might use in the DraftKings Pro Football Pick ‘Em National Championship. Lines are moving so some of the lines below will be different from what you see on game day. Look for value where you can!

In the meantime, here are my five picks of choice for this weekend:

Bills (-6.5) over Jets
Washington (+5.5) over Eagles
Colts (-8) over Jaguars
Packers (+2.5) over Vikings
Saints (-3.5) over Bucs
Patriots (-6.5) over Dolphins
Rams (+2.5) over Cowboys

UPDATE: I made a couple changes to my best bets. I do like Packers and Saints to cover, but I feel better about Patriots and Rams. With the former, I think Cam Newton has something left and could be an upgrade over recent vintage Tom Brady. With the latter, I think the travel to LA coupled with an undervalued Rams squad make LA worth a grab.

Colts as an eight point road favorite is certainly not ideal, but I’m high on just how bad the Jaguars will likely be. They do benefit from having the same QB from last year, but when that QB is Gardner Minshew, it’s hard to see that as an advantage. The Colts added Philip Rivers, but I would argue a bigger addition in some respects is defensive tackle DeForest Buckner. He boosts that defense in a big way and I don’t think the Jaguars will be able to stop in.

I’m riding the “fade the Bucs” bandwagon for the time being. They’re a public favorite in futures and for Week 1 with the addition of Tom Brady, but I want to see them put it all together first before I’m betting on them — especially headed to New Orleans.

Here’s my full list of picks for Week 1.

Texans @ Chiefs (-9.5): Texans — LOSS
Dolphins @ Patriots (-6.5): Patriots
Browns @ Ravens (-8): Ravens
Jets @ Bills (-6.5): Bills
Raiders @ Panthers (+3): Panthers
Seahawks @ Falcons (+2): Falcons
Eagles @ Washington (+5.5): Washington
Bears @ Lions (-3): Lions
Colts @ Jaguars (+8): Colts
Packers @ Vikings (-2.5): Packers
Chargers @ Bengals (+3): Chargers
Cardinals @ 49ers (-6.5): Cardinals
Buccaneers @ Saints (-3.5): Saints
Cowboys @ Rams (+3): Rams
Steelers @ Giants (+6): Giants Steelers (updated MNF morning)
Titans @ Broncos (+2.5): Titans

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