What a great summer, but, bloody hell, it is about time for football.
Three big thank you’s to give out before I get going.
- All returning readers from last NFL Season and the World Cup.
- All new readers finding my weekly insights blog for the first time.
- The folks at Matchbook HQ for giving a home to my picks for another year.
Everyone above taking the time to read keeps me writing and sharing each week, and I look forward to another big season together.
My focus this season is on simplicity. With the turning tides in the American betting industry, this season bettors will be exposed to more football betting media than ever before.
It will be challenging for bettors to avoid being blindly influenced by an overload of numbers and stats. Those who can keep a neutral view on the league and stay grounded will benefit the most. This blog will help you do that each Wednesday throughout the season.
For the opening week of the season, I see two betting opportunities.
Baltimore enters the season with a defense that I rank in the top five against the rush and pass. The unit does not generate a ton of quarterback pressures, but they stay disciplined and use athleticism to capitalise on quarterback mistakes.
These strengths play against Buffalo exceptionally well. I rank the Bills offensive line, wide receivers and quarterback as bottom three in the league.
Buffalo has a viable offensive weapon to game plan around in LeSean McCoy but matched up against the strength of the Baltimore defense, there is little doubt the Ravens can turn the Bills into a one-dimensional unit. If Baltimore can game plan to eliminate McCoy, Buffalo will need to rely on the worst quarterback in the league to make plays.
The one advantage Buffalo does have is their secondary against the Baltimore pass attack. Two elite safeties and a shutdown corner are a mismatch for Joe Flacco and usually a reason for hesitation.
However, I suspect the mismatch will be mitigated by Baltimore’s ability to run the ball. Alex Collins will be the focal point of the offensive game plan going against a Buffalo defensive line which is weak at tackling and stopping the rush.
If coach John Harbaugh stays true to Collins on early downs and puts Flacco in favourable positions, the Ravens will do enough to support their defense which is more than capable of keeping the Bills under ten points.
Seattle, a team, known for their physical defense and explosive offensive playmakers will be unrecognisable this year.
I rank the Seahawks rush defense, pass rush AND secondary all in the bottom third of the league. On offense, it is a similar situation. I rate their offensive line, wide receivers and running backs all in the bottom third. The only position on the field where the Seahawks are better than below average is at quarterback. Russell Wilson is a top five Quarterback and perhaps the only QB in the league capable of winning games with the lack of talent around him.
Despite the lack of talent on the roster, Seattle continues to be priced to a premium. When it comes to price point, bettors in the market tend to react to results rather than anticipate performance.
It is evident a downturn is happening in Seattle, but, until it does, there will be value in opposing the Seahawks. A matchup against a team like Denver is an excellent opportunity to do so.
I rate the Broncos pass rush and rush defense both in the top three. Behind the front seven is a top ten secondary. At all three levels, the Broncos defense poses a considerable problem for the Seahawks offense. Russell Wilson will be on the move – which he is familiar with – but in the season opener at extreme altitude, how long can his tattered offensive line keep him upright?
Aside from the Denver defense limiting offensive production from Seattle I see value in the offensive line of Denver negating a consistent pass rush from Seattle. The new Broncos quarterback, Case Keenum, is extremely good at avoiding sacks and taking care of the ball – ranking top seven in both categories last year.
Consistency is the key to winning this game. Seattle will be scrambling on offense and Denver will not have to force the issue.
For the first time since 2016, I believe the Broncos will be able to rely on the pass rush to control a game and create opportunities for the offense on a short field. As long as Vance Joseph stays patient in his game plan, this will be a Denver win and cover.
Week 1 Picks
- Baltimore Ravens -7 (1.99) risking 1.00x
- Denver Broncos -3 (2.02) risking 1.00x