Pickswise Pro Football Capper Contest - Week 1 picks

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Phil Agius

NFL

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I've been writing about the NFL and a host of other sports for the UK's top daily betting paper the Racing Post for more than 20 years. An incurable Browns fan (1-31 survivor), I also specialise in all kinds of motorsport betting including F1, MotoGP, IndyCar and NASCAR.

We’re beyond excited to kick off our Pickswise Pro Football Capper Contest on the first full day of NFL games. With $10,000 on the line, our cappers are here to give you their best bets and top picks for the day in the Pickswise Pro-Football Capper Contest with Jamaal Charles, Ross Tucker, and David Baker among those participating.

At Pickswise, we specialize in providing free expert NFL Picks and NFL Predictions;

So, let’s see who our elite field of experts are going with for their first picks:

Jamaal Charles

Best Bet: Ravens -3.5

Lamar Jackson and the Ravens are going to be Super Bowl contenders this year. The Las Vegas offensive line took a hit this offseason and I think they are going to have a tough time with Ravens’ front 7.

Additional Bet #1: Packers -3.5

I love Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ offense this year, but particularly this week. Rodgers is going to make a statement in Week 1 and will throw for over 400 yards and 4 TDs.

Additional Bet #2: Dolphins +3

The Dolphins are one of my sleeper teams this year. They have a very strong defense and I think Tagovailoa will take a big stride in year 2.

Ross Tucker

Best Bet: Ravens vs Raiders under 50.5

While my best bet each week will typically be a side, I am actually going to kick off the 2021 season with a bet on the total in the Monday night game between the Raiders and the Ravens in Las Vegas.

The total is currently at 50.5 and given everything that has gone on with both of these teams this offseason and so far in training camp, I absolutely love the under.

First, you have a revamped Raiders offensive line with replacements at center, right guard, and right tackle going against a nasty Ravens defense that might be among the best in the entire NFL. Not only do they have veteran studs Brandon Williams, Calais Campbell, and Derek Wolfe up front, but I also have a feeling that Ravens defensive coordinator Wink Martindale will be able to get a lot of production from both veteran Justin Houston and rookie Odafe Oweh.

Meanwhile, the Ravens’ preseason on offense has been an absolute mess. The offensive line has yet to play with each other as a group. Lamar Jackson missed the first ten days because of COVID and by the time he returned receivers Hollywood Brown, Sammy Watkins, and rookie Rashod Bateman were all hurt, so he’s had precious few reps with any of them.

And to add injury to insult, running backs JK Dobbins, Gus Edwards, and Justice Hill are all out for the season for the Ravens.

Add it all up and I don’t see how these teams put up over 51 points, which is why the under is my best bet. 

Additional Bet #1: Vikings -3

Additional Bet #2: Eagles +3.5

Jared Smith

Best Bet: Jets vs Panthers over 44.5

This game gives me all the feels with Sam Darnold and Robbie Anderson getting to face their former team for the first time. For Darnold, it’s a hasty reunion after an unceremonious end to his Jets career this offseason, getting shipped out in exchange for a pair of late-round picks.

I expected this to be a wide-open game even without the revenge narrative, as both coaches have an “all gas, no brake” mentality. The Jets offense will be very aggressive this season with gunslinger Zach Wilson under center. The rookie looked unafraid to push the ball down the field in preseason and developed an early rapport with Corey Davis and fellow rookie Elijah Moore.

That’s encouraging considering they will face a Panthers secondary that was 23rd in DVOA against the pass last season and grades out as a subpar unit again this year. Carolina’s weapons cannot be understated and their offense should be explosive on the outside with Anderson and DJ Moore, who are both coming off 1,000-yard seasons.

Additional Bet #1: Texans +3

I’m willing to bet I’m the only capper with the Texans on their card this week. Home divisional dogs are hitting 76 percent ATS in Week 1 over the last 10 seasons and this is our only opportunity to capitalize on that trend with just two divisional games on the slate.

I don’t trust Urban Meyer and Trevor Lawrence to push the right buttons in their NFL debuts and this line is overinflated towards Jacksonville due to the pessimistic narrative surrounding Houston this offseason.

Additional Bet #2: Patriots -3

This is not a great spot for an unproven Tagovailoa in his first career start at Foxboro. Mac Jones is also a bit of a wildcard, but the rookie offers more upside than Cam Newton and I expect New England to lean heavily on the run in this game against a Dolphins front 7 that grades out as a bottom tier unit this season.

The Patriots are historically a fast-starting team and have covered 3 straight years in Week 1, including last season in this same spot against the Dolphins. Trust Bill to get the cover at home.

David Baker

Best Bet: Titans -3

Arizona travels across the country to play an early game in Tennessee. The Titans boast an offense that can go punch for punch with any team in the NFL. The 3-point line indicates Vegas thinks these teams are equal. I’m not buying it. Give me the better team and the better coach at home laying only a field goal. I think this game shoots out to a tune of 42-31 Titans.

Additional Bet #1: Broncos -3

Most experts see a rough year incoming for the Giants. I don’t quite see it that way. I think the Giants have some sleeper potential this year but this is a bad spot for them. The Giants biggest weakness is the offensive line and the Broncos have the medicine up front with a top D-line to force Danny Dimes into some rough throws. Barkley and Golladay are not 100 percent, either. Look for the Giants to struggle here but be ready to take points in the future. The Broncos can do enough to win this fantasy-game snooze-fest 19-10.

Additional Bet #2: Seahawks -3 

Seattle is one of the most cohesive teams in the NFL. Its offense has all the key members back from the last few years. The Colts are the exact opposite. A new QB with limited practice time due to injuries coupled with a beaten-up offensive line should be trouble against a Seattle defense that found its way at the end of last year. This is nothing more than a business trip for the ‘Hawks. Seattle 31-16.

Prop Bet Guy

Best Bet – Rams vs Bears under 46.5

The Sunday night matchup features two quarterbacks facing off in their first game for their respective teams.  

Andy Dalton doesn’t represent much of an upgrade (if any at all) over Nick Foles, as he takes over a Bears team which was in the bottom 10 of team scoring last season. With an offensive line that’s expected to struggle in pass protection, I expect the Bears to go run-heavy with David Montgomery in an effort to neutralize Aaron Donald and keep the ball away from Jalen Ramsey.

And while I have high hopes for Matt Stafford and the Rams’ offense this season, he has yet to take any game reps for his new team. There could be some rust and/or growing pains, especially early on.

It’s hard to see both teams breaking the 20-point barrier in this one.

Additional Bet #1 – Raiders +3.5

Baltimore’s pre-season program didn’t go exactly as planned. The Ravens lost two running backs and a cornerback to torn ACLs, and Lamar Jackson missed a chunk of camp with COVID. The mercurial Ravens might struggle to find their footing early on, so I’ll take the points with the home team.

Additional Bet #2 – Bills vs Steelers over 48.5

With 2 of the NFL’s top 12 scoring offenses from a year ago, I’ll take the over. Besides the raw numbers, both teams rated very highly in team pace last season, and I’m expecting more of the same on Sunday. Plus, I’m banking on a bit of a bounce-back season from Big Ben–especially early on while the weather is still warm. 

John Hyslop

Best Bet: Jets vs Panthers 0ver 44.5 

I don’t think we will see 100 points in this one, but 45 is definitely in the realm of possibilities. I’m a player prop guy and honestly, I like a lot of the numbers given out in this one. That usually means one thing, over. Obviously the Sam Darnold revenge narrative is there and it holds water this time. He finally gets to work with a real coach in Joe Brady and he has weapons in Christian McCaffrey, DJ Moore, and Robby Anderson.

On the other side, Zach Wilson will likely be allowed to operate freely in an open, aggressive offense. He displayed a cannon for an arm in the preseason so he can make plays. Again, we don’t need these guys to set any records to get over 44.5, just for them to not be terrible, which I think both can do.

Additional Bet #1: Eagles +3

One team I think everyone is a little too low on is the Philadelphia Eagles. They aren’t that bad yet they have been written off completely by the media. Philadelphia isn’t going to the Super Bowl this season. That’s a fact but they definitely aren’t a team that will lay down for anyone. Their nucleus on offense can move the ball with Jalen Hurts, Miles Sanders, Devonta Smith, Jalen Reagor, Dallas Goedert and Zach Ertz. We are going to laugh in a few weeks at the idea of anyone getting points from the Falcons. 

Additional Bet #2: Vikings/Bengals over 46.5 

This one makes me a little nervous as it opened at 48 and has been bet down to 46.5, but I’m doing it anyway. Sometimes you just have to choose to be great. The Vikings were a mess in the preseason, especially on defense, and I think that will carry over to the regular season. The same thing happened last year when they let the Packers drop a 40-burger on them in Week 1. The thing is their offense is good enough to hang points on the board as well. They have a nice opponent for that in the Bengals who will be without Trea Waynes for this one. I think the scoreboard will get lit in this game.

Drew Knows

Best Bet: Ravens vs Raiders under 50.5

Even with Marcus Peters going down with an unfortunate ACL tear, I still like the under a lot in this Monday Night Football showdown. The Raiders quietly made significant upgrades to their defense this offseason, including bringing in star pass-rusher Yannick Ngakoue and cornerback Casey Hayward. The unit will also benefit from the addition of new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. Baltimore’s running backs have been dropping like flies, which will surely disrupt their patented run game. And the Ravens will also be without first-round receiver Rashod Bateman, who they were counting on to elevate their passing game. Las Vegas overhauled their offensive line, and not for the better. They traded away All-Pro center Rodney Hudson, replacing him with Andre James, a 2019 UDFA who never even played a single snap at center during his college career. The Ravens’ always fierce pass-rush should make life miserable for Derek Carr. A total in the 50s just seems far too high.

Additional Bet #1: Vikings -3

The Vikings might win this one by double digits. Joe Burrow attempted all of one pass during the preseason, which means this will be his first real action since his devastating ACL and LCL tears last season. And he’s having to face a Vikings defense I’m expecting to be much improved. Minnesota added Patrick Peterson and Bashaud Breeland to a young secondary this offseason. They also got back Danielle Hunter, arguably the best edge rusher in the league, after he missed the entire 2020 season. Defensive tackle Michael Pierce also returns after opting out of last year. Cincy’s main weakness is their interior offensive line, and interior defensive line is a strength of the Vikings. Burrow will be running for his life.

Additional Bet #2: Broncos -3

Speaking of defensive fronts that should dominate, Daniel Jones will also be running for his life in his 2021 debut. Vic Fangio has assembled a truly stacked defense in Denver, with elite talent at all three levels. Von Miller and Bradley Chubb will make life miserable for any quarterback off the edge. Kyle Fuller, Ronald Darby, Justin Simmons, Patrick Surtain, and Bryce Callahan form a secondary that will be very tough to throw on. New York seems to be growing tired of Joe Judge’s old-school schtick, and Jones simply isn’t the guy under center.

Steve McQueen

Best Bet: Steelers vs Bills under 48.5  

My best bet of the week is the Steelers vs the Bills under 48.5. Yes, I know Josh Allen is a stud. But the lack of a running game last year put too much pressure on old Big Ben to throw and with the addition of Najee Harris I expect Tomlin to run the ball, control the clock and let the defense go crazy. I think the Bills win but 48.5 is too many. Take the under.

Additional Bet #1: 49ers -8.5

My next play is in honor of my alma mater; I am taking the San Francisco 49ers against the ankle-biting Detroit Lions. Former Boiler Raheem Mostert is back and healthy and will run all over Detroit early. The 49ers are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 road openers and the Lions are forever bad.  Their only shot is if former Boiler David Blough gets in for mop up.

Additional Bet #2: Rams -7.5

Lastly…the Bears. I am taking the Rams -7.5. The Bears are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 WITHOUT ANDY DALTON. Pickswise asked me to use up to 100 words on this. I don’t need that many. Fade Andy Dalton. He’s awful. Andrew. Andy. The Red Rifle. Dalton. They are all bad. 

Pickswise is the home of free NFL Picks and NFL Odds. Check out the latest NFL Prop Bets and NFL Parlays as well as expert NFL Underdog Picks and NFL Computer Picks.

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