The start of the 2014 NFL regular season may still be weeks away from getting started, but NFL betting enthusiasts know that you can never get prepared for the start of a brand new season too early.
With today’s NFL being a virtual whirlwind of year-long activity, keeping abreast of every team’s offseason activities is an absolute must if you want to become – or remain – a successful NFL bettor.
With all of that said, we’ve got some early Week 1 NFL expert picks that could help you potentially strike NFL pay dirt long before the regular season ever begins.
New Orleans at Atlanta -1.5
September, 7th at 1:00 PM ET
TV: FOX, DTV:
Analysis: Everything that could go wrong, did, for the Falcons last season as they slipped from preseason Super Bowl hopeful to a pitiful also-ran that finished with a dismal 4-12 record that wasn’t all due to injury.
Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints had a fine season in 2013, going 11-5 to finish second to Carolina in the now-competitive NFC South. New Orleans beat Philly 26-24 in the Wildcard playoff round before falling to Seattle 23-15 in the divisional round.
The Falcons went 7-9 ATS last season while New Orleans was one game better at 8-8 ATS. Atlanta added gifted tackle Jake Matthews with the sixth pick in the draft and why I’m certain he’ll pay immediate dividends for the Falcons, I’ve got to go with Brees and New Orleans to get the early season road win over their bitter division rivals.
Atlanta’s porous (again) defense was absolutely abysmal a year ago and I don’t believe one offseason is going to be long enough to get it to a level where they can slow Brees and the explosive Saints offense enough to beat them in Week 1.
New Orleans added wide receiver Brandin Cook with the 20th pick of the draft and won both regular season meetings a year ago, going 1-1 ATS in the process. The Saints are a blistering 8-2 SU and solid 5-5 ATS in the last 10 meetings against Atlanta overall. I say take Drew Brees and the high-powered Saints to cover the spread with the outright road win as they outscore Atlanta in a contest that tests both defenses.
Pick: New Orleans +1.5 Points
Cleveland at Pittsburgh -5.5
September, 7th at 1:00 PM ET
TV: CBS, DTV:
Analysis: I know the Cleveland Browns have Johnny Manziel fever right now, but their prized rookie will almost assuredly not play in this contest and even if he did, there’s no way the Pittsburgh Steelers fail to win this AFC North divisional matchup after going 8-8 last season to miss the playoffs for the second consecutive season under Mike Tomlin.
Breaking: Browns have agreed to terms with first-round draft pick Johnny Manziel pic.twitter.com/qIaRCAXCIV
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) June 17, 2014
Despite their season-long struggles, Pittsburgh did manage to compile a winning 9-7 ATS mark a year ago while Cleveland went 4-12 SU and 6-10 ATS in 2013, the sixth consecutive season they’ve won either four or five games.
Pittsburgh not only won and covered the spread in both regular season meetings a year ago but they added two players that will likely contribute right away in first round pick, linebacker Ryan Shazier and second round pick Stephon Tuitt.
— NFL (@nfl) June 17, 2014
I believe Ben Roethlisberger and company will want to deliver a very serious message to their AFC counterparts that they expect to contend this season even if most others don’t right now.
Pick: Pittsburgh -5.5 Points
Green Bay at Seattle -5.5
September, 4th at 8:30 PM ET
Analysis: The Green Bay Packers went just 8-7-1 last season but somehow managed to win the weak NFC North and reach the playoffs – where they put up one helluva’ fight before falling to mighty San Francisco 23-20 on Wildcard Weekend.
By now, everyone knows the Seattle Seahawks went 13-3 in the regular season and won Super Bowl 48 by routing Peyton Manning and Denver 43-8. What you may not know is that Seattle recorded a league-leading 11-5 ATS mark while Green Bay finished 21st with a 7-9 ATS record.
Green Bay ranked sixth in passing a year ago and an impressive seventh in rushing, but horrible defensively, ranking 24th against the run and 25th against the pass. The Packers added safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix with the 21st pick in the first round and wide receiver Davante Adams in the second round to help address some of their needs.
Seattle led the league in defense by finishing first against the run and seventh against the pass. Offensively, Seattle ranked a surprisingly unimpressive 26th in passing, but that was likely because they ran the ball almost at will, finishing fourth thanks mostly to the contributions of star running back Marshawn Lynch. Seattle added wideout Paul Richardson and tackle Justin Britt with their pair of second round picks to replace some veterans that left via free agency.
— NFL (@nfl) June 17, 2014
For this contest, I’ve got to believe that the Seahawks are going to try to deliver the message that they are indeed, trying to build a dynasty that stands the test of time. With a talented core group of young stars led by cornerback Richard Sherman, quarterback Russell Wilson and safety Earl Thomas among others, clearly Seattle should have a chance to do just that.
Green Bay will put a fight behind All-Pro quarterback Aaron Rodgers, but unless the Packers can run the ball effectively (they won’t), they’re going to have a tough time trying to beat a Seattle team that went 7-1 at home a year ago in the loudest stadium in the league.
Seattle narrowly beat Green Bay 14-12 on the road to cash in as a 3-point road dog in 2012 the last time these two teams met and I think they’ll win again to get their 2014 season started off on the right foot.
However, I’m not real fond of the 5.5-point spread I believe should probably be a bit closer to three points and I believe that the gifted Rodgers will somehow keep the final score within three points to cover as nearly touchdown road dogs. The Packers went a very solid 4-4 ATS on the road a year ago and I like them to cover the spread in a closer-than-expected loss as Rodgers shoulders the majority of the load for the Pack.
My Pick: Green Bay +5.5 Points