Your Expert NFL Tips for the 2019 Season

The Expert team at Champion Bets will be providing their best NFL Tips for the entire season, including the playoffs. For all of the prime time games, Champion Bets will have full in-depth previews for each match, regardless of the Conference or Division.

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Current Results

Total Units Staked: 16

Total Units Returned: 17.55

ROI: 9.69%

Each bet is 1 unit.

Pittsburgh Steelers at LA Chargers

Monday, Oct. 14 at 11:20am AEDT

The Steelers have really struggled to run the ball this year at just 3.5yards per rush against teams allowing 4.6ypr. The defense has been well above average against both the run and the pass. The Steelers have only been successful on 43% of their plays and are allowing a success rate of 47%. Pittsburgh is plus-five in turnover margin.

The Chargers offense is about average and the defense has been a little disappointing so far. The Chargers have only been successful on 43% of their plays and are allowing a 49% success rate. The Chargers are minus two in turnover ratio.

LB Mark Barron, RB Jaylon Samuels and WR James Washington are out for Pittsburgh.

RB Justin Jackson is doubtful for the Chargers.

My numbers favor the Chargers by 0.5 points and project 40 points. The Chargers would qualify in a contrarian situation that plays on teams who aren’t covering the spread vs teams who are covering the spread, which is 217-131-13 if they were favored by six or less.

The Chargers are a mess and lost C Mike Pouncey last week so they are now down their two best offensive linemen when you include LT Russell Okung who hasn’t played all year. They will now face a Steelers defense that is sacking the opponent on 10% of their pass attempts this year.

The question really becomes how well will Pittsburgh do with Delvin Hodges at quarterback replacing Mason Rudolph. Hodges looked OK last week but coming in for an injured quarterback mid-game vs starting a game that the opponent can scheme against you are two different things.

Short of Hodges being a mess, which he could be, I would expect a lower scoring game and the Steelers defense to keep Pittsburgh close while the Chargers defense is well below average so Pittsburgh should be able to stay in this game. The Chargers are just 5-10-1 ATS since moving to Carson and playing in the small soccer field where they really don’t enjoy much of a home field advantage.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Under 41.5

Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers

Tuesday, Oct. 15 at 11:15am AEDT

Detroit has not rushed the ball well but are slightly above average in the air. Their pass defense is slightly above average and overall the defense is right on the league benchmark. Detroit is averaging a 47% success rate and allowing a 44% success rate. They are plus two in turnover margin.

The Packers are above average on offense. On the other side of the ball they have struggled to stop the run but their pass defense has been good. The Packers are averaging a 45% success rate and allowing a 49% success rate. Part of the Packers’ success so far has been a plus-seven in turnover ratio.

WR Davante Adams is out for Green Bay but my numbers favour GB by 5.4 points and project 39.8 points. The Packers qualify in a very good Monday night situation, which is 45-13-2 and is consistently a winner year after year. This game qualifies in an under situation, which has traditionally been very good year after and is 337-237-2.

GB is 16-5 ATS as a home favorite of less than seven points since 2010 when Aaron Rodgers is the quarterback.

Matt Stafford is just 12-40 ATS when facing teams who made the playoffs that year and it appears GB will make the playoffs this year. The Lions are not running the ball well this year and are allowing 125 yards per game.

The Packers are allowing 138 yards rushing so both teams figure to be able to run the ball in this game. The Packers’ defense and ability to put pressure on the quarterback give them an edge in this game. Couple the fact that Aaron Rodgers just doesn’t turn the ball over so if GB wins the turnover battle they stand an excellent chance to cover this short number. Despite not having WR Devante Adams GB should be able to run the ball and use short throws to keep the ball moving for them.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Green Bay -4.0

New York Giants at New England Patriots

Friday, Oct 11 at 11:20am AEDT

The Giants’ overall yards per play numbers are above average but their pass defense has been poor. They’ve been successful on about 47% of their plays vs allowing 46% success on defense. The Giants are -5 in turnover ratio.

New England has solid but not completely dominant yards-per-play numbers this season. They have been successful on 47% of their snaps and allowed a success rate of about 34%. NE is +7 in turnover ratio.

The Giants will be without several players for this game. RB Wayne Gallman and Saquon Barkley are out. WR Sterling Shepard and TE Evan Engram are also out.

For NE WR Phillip Dorsett is out. Several other players are questionable but all practiced in limited fashion.

My numbers favor NE by 16.8 points and project 40.3 points. This game qualifies in an over situation, which is 148-87-3. There are expected to be high winds in this game.

NE is now 10-3 ATS since 2015 as a double-digit home favorite. One of those losses was this year when they won by 16 points as 21 point favorites over the Jets. The Jets scored on a muffed punt and an interception return after Tom Brady had left the game. That’s always possible here as well.

I don’t normally get involved with these higher spreads. Not because of any kind of fundamental system or anything like that, but they can just swing heavily based on luck and late-game motivation. But for a bet here I’d back the Giants to keep it close enough.

The weather won’t be great so don’t expect a lot of points in this game but there’s always the chance of a ball going off somebody’s hands into a pick-six, or a sloppy hand-off in the red zone. So this is far from a glamorous pick but NY with the big head start is the play.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – NY Giants +17

Cleveland Browns at San Francisco 49ers

Tuesday, Oct 8 at 10:15am AEST

Cleveland have only succeeded on 39% of their offensive plays this season while allowing their opponent to succeed on 44% of their plays.

The Niners are succeeding on 52% of their plays and limiting their opponent to just a 37% succession rate. Their numbers are strong both offensively and defensively.

My numbers favour San Francisco by 8.2 points and project 41.5 points. The Browns qualify in a negative letdown situation which is 46-12-1 and plays against them here.

Both of these teams are in the top ten of the league defending big pass plays. We don’t know who will make the playoffs this year but we do know Cleveland has struggled since last year against teams who made the playoffs.

They’ve already lost to Tennessee and the Rams this year. They were 1-5 SU last year against teams who made the playoffs and I’m guessing the Rams will make the playoffs this year, making them at least 1-6 SU.

We will see if the 49ers make the playoffs but they are off to a good start. SF is 1-16 ats as a home favorite in their last 17 games. They are obviously better now than they were in many of those games in the past so that doesn’t concern me too much. Just like Cleveland is better than their 3-27 SU record their last 30 games as a road underdog.

Both teams sport better than average defenses and, if possible, Kyle Shanahan would like to run the ball. He’s running it on 56% of their plays so far this year. Limited possessions and long drives with the clock running help this game stay lower scoring.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Under 47.5

Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City Chiefs

Monday, Oct. 7 at 10:20am AEST

Indianapolis’ season numbers are slightly below average on both sides of the ball. They are succeeding on 47% of their offensive plays and allowing the opponent to succeed on 49% of their plays.

KC has good offensive numbers as expected but their defense has been below average especially against the run. The Chiefs have been successful on 52% of their plays while allowing the opponent to be successful on 48% of their plays.

The Chiefs qualify in a negative 68-36-3 situation that plays against favorites who have allowed a lot of points in their last few games. My numbers favor the Chiefs by 10 points and project about 56 points.

If KC gets on top in this game, and that is likely, it will be hard for the Colts to come back. Indy is in the bottom ten of the league in big passing plays while KC is in the top ten. The Colts are in the top ten in defending big pass plays while KC is in the bottom ten of the league.

Since Andy Reid took over in KC, his teams are 15-3 to the Under when favored by seven or more at home. That includes going 3-0 to the Under last year with Mahomes as his quarterback. They’ve never allowed more than 23 points in any of those games and Mahomes and KC have totaled at least 26 points in every one of his starts going back to his lone start in 2017, and all of his starts last year and this year.

As good as Indy was last year they, didn’t play a ton of good teams and when they did play a playoff team they never scored more than 24 points. There’s a good chance they don’t get past 24 points in this game. KC is likely to get into the 30s unless Indy can run the ball early and slow the game down early on.

The line looks about right but there might be a little value on the Colts.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Indianapolis +11

LA Rams at Seattle Seahawks

Friday, Oct 4th at 10:20am AEST

I don’t have any situations on this game. My numbers favour Seattle by one point and project about 47.7 points.

The Rams haven’t been road underdogs very often in the Sean McVay era. This will be just their fifth time they’ve been put in this role. They are 3-1 SU and ATS as a road underdog. The Seahawks three wins this year have come against teams with a combined record of 1-10-1.

They lost at home to the Saints, who are 3-1, and the success rate was heavily in favour of the Saints in that game despite the yards being in favour of Seattle. Both of these teams are in the top ten in defending big pass plays.

I don’t have any situations to point me one way or the other and one of my model’s points towards Seattle and one towards the Rams.

The Rams appear to be the better team from the line of scrimmage and are coming off a disappointing loss at home. This is a tough environment to play in, especially in prime time, but the Rams have succeeded here each of the last two years. A slight lean to the Rams.

There looks to be some value on the Under. The short week normally disadvantages the defences because they don’t have much time to prepare. But this is a division match-up and these teams scout each other heavily.

Both teams are likely to try and establish the run which should contain first-half scoring and help the full game Under. The Rams are unlikely to use their hurry-up offence as much as they have previously as they’ll be going up against the very noisy Seahawks crowd.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Under 50

Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers

Tuesday, Oct 1 at 10:15am AEST

Pittsburgh qualifies in a negative week four situation, which is 105-56-6 and plays against them here. The Bengals also qualify in a road dog situation, which is 193-120-8. My numbers favour Pittsburgh by just 1.3 points and project 45.2 points.

Cincinnati is just 5-19 SU in their last 24 road games as a road dog dating back to the beginning of the 2015 season, including being 0-7 SU in their last seven games as a road dog. But, they are 16-8 ATS in those same 24 games, including being 6-1 ATS in those last seven (six straight covers on the road as a dog).

The Steelers are just 3-9 ATS in their last 12 games as a home favorite. In those same games they have gone 10-2 to the over. A lot of that is because Pittsburgh has scored with Roethlisberger at quarterback but their defense has also allowed 24 or more points in 8 of those 12 games.

Pittsburgh were gifted five turnovers last week and still lost the game. Mason Rudolph couldn’t throw the ball downfield.

I realise the Bengals defense is not good but their offense is in the top ten of the league in generating big pass plays and Pittsburgh’s defense is in the bottom ten of the league in defending big pass plays. That’s not a good sign for Pittsburgh.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Cincinnati +3.5

Dallas Cowboys at New Orleans Saints

Monday, Sep. 30 at 10:20am AEST

The Saints qualify in a home dog momentum role, which is 70-31-1. The Cowboys qualify in a couple of negative letdown road favorite situations, which are 75-28-4 and 262-184-9 and plays against them here. My numbers make this game closer to a pick ‘em and project 47.5 points.

The Saints are 5-1 ATS as a home underdog since 2015, though I realise those games were with Drew Brees.

Since Dak Prescott joined the Cowboys they are 9-4 to the under as a road favorite. They’ve allowed more than 21 points in just one of those 13 games. They are also 8-4-1 ATS in those same games. In those games they have faced playoff teams only twice, going 1-1 ATS but the one cover was against Philadelphia during the last game of the season that didn’t mean anything to the Eagles.

So, they’ve been a road favorite just once against a playoff team and failed to cover. As road dogs of three or less, they are just 1-2 ATS against playoff teams from that year. So, they haven’t fared well against the better teams on the road as a favorite or short road dog.

We don’t know if NO will be a playoff team or not this year. One could argue they wouldn’t be if Brees wasn’t coming back, meaning with Teddy Bridgewater they aren’t a playoff team. This Saints defense is pretty good and getting them as three-point dogs at home offers some value.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – New Orleans +3.0

Philadelphia Eagles at Green Bay Packers

Friday, Sep. 27 at 10:20am AEST

The early game this week has the 1-2 Eagles travelling to take on the unbeaten Packers.

Philadelphia has struggled to recapture their Super Bowl-winning form of 2017. They have been below average offensively in the first three games having missed wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson.

Last week Philly was successful on 44% of their plays versus only 37% for Detroit, but they gave up a kickoff return for a touchdown and the Lions kicked a field goal following a turnover in Eagles territory.

The Eagles have given up points on the road since Doug Pederson took over in 2016 but the Packers don’t look to be a competent offense right now, ranking just 27th in yards per game.

They won 27-16 at home over Denver last week including touchdowns on drives that started at the Denver five-yard line and 37-yard line following Broncos turnovers. GB won the turnover battle 3-0 but the Broncos were successful on 51% of their plays versus just 41% for GB. The Packers’ +6 in turnover margin has helped them to stay unbeaten so far.

GB is now 17-9-1 to the under in their last 27 with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback and the team favored. They are only scoring 24% of the potential points they could score. While they scored 38% of their potential points last week they only scored 26% of those points on drives that started inside their side of the field. So, when forced to drive the field, they are still struggling.

There is some value to the under in this game. Although they will get some players back this week, like Alshon Jeffery, Philly is still banged up on the offensive side of the ball. This game is destined for unders.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Under 46.5

Chicago Bears at Washington Redskins

Tuesday, Sep. 24 at 10:15am AEST

Last week Denver scored to take the lead with less than a minute left at home against Chicago only to see the Bears kick a game-winning field goal with one second left on the clock to lose 16-14.

The hero of that game (Bears kicker Eddy Pineiro) is listed as questionable for this and if he isn’t able to go it would be a big blow as they lack any depth in the position.

Chicago has scored a total of just 19 points thus far with only one touchdown in two games. They have been successful on only 38.4% of their plays while allowing their opponent to be successful on 43.6% of their plays. Chicago has allowed just 24 points so far this season.

Washington was dominated at home in both passing and rushing by Dallas who won 31-21. The Cowboys scored on their final five drives of the game, excluding the final drive to end the game. The first of Washington’s touchdowns came on a drive that started at the Dallas 38 yard line.

The Redskins are averaging 5.8 yards per play but allowing 6.7. That equates to almost 48% success on their plays but they’re allowing almost 59% success against them. They are throwing the ball on over 73% of their plays.

The Redskins are holding their own in not getting sacked but are also not putting any pressure on the quarterback with less than 3% sacks allowed and gained on pass attempts.

The Redskins offence is averaging just 2.5 yards per rush which is the 3rd worst in the league. That will be difficult to improve against a Bears defence allowing just 3.0ypr. I don’t expect the Bears defence to give up many points in this game.

It really comes down to how many points can the Bears offence score. The Bears also lived off of their defence creating turnovers last year with 27 interceptions and a plus twelve in turnover differential.

So far this year they are even with just one turnover created. Without them creating more turnovers it becomes even that much more of a struggle for their offence.

In a game where there is no standout value, we’ll back the defences and play the Under.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Under 41

LA Rams at Cleveland Browns

Monday, Sep. 23 at 10:20am AEST

New Orleans suffered an early injury to QB Drew Brees and that pretty much sealed their fate on Sunday at the Rams in their 27-9 loss. Teddy Bridgewater struggled and so did the Saints defense the as Rams picked up ten points on drives that started inside the Saints territory.

The Jets entered the game without their starting quarterback and finished the game with their third-string quarterback and were unimpressive in their 23-3 loss at home to Cleveland.

They were strongly out-gained and out-passed. Cleveland did have an 89-yard touchdown pass but without that their offensive numbers were below average. Neither team was all that impressive as they both were successful on about 30% their plays.

The Rams have been successful on about 47% of their plays. Their opponents have been successful on only about 43% of their plays and just 1.3% of their opponents’ big passing plays.

The Browns are throwing the ball on about 66% of their plays and have some reasonable numbers. They are hitting on big pass plays on 13.6% of their pass attempts but allowing big pass plays on 11.1% of their opponents pass attempts.The offensive line hasn’t been great, allowing sacks on 9.9% of their pass attempts but they are sacking their opponents on 12.7% of their pass attempts.

The Browns have only succeeded on about 35% of their plays but are allowing their opponent to succeed on just 35% of their plays as well.

My numbers favor the Rams by 1.9 points and project about 46.2 points. Cleveland qualifies in a home momentum situation, which is 70-31-1. The Rams also qualify in a road letdown situation, which is 262-184-9 and plays against the Rams here.

Cleveland hasn’t looked great in their first two games and were crushed in week one here by Tennessee 43-13. But, a closer look at that game reveals their defense wasn’t as bad as the score makes it look.

The Titans scored three touchdowns in that game on three drives which either started inside the Browns 40 yard line following interceptions or another drive that went 87 yards but was aided by 40 yards of Browns penalties.

While big plays can’t be ignored, if you take away a Derrick Henry 75-yard screen pass for a touchdown, Cleveland allowed only 4.8yppl. Take away two other passing plays of 51 and 47 yards and they allowed just 3.1yppl. Take away the two touchdowns that started inside the Browns 40 yard line, the touchdown that was aided by 40 yards of penalties and a one-play drive with the screen for 75 yards and Cleveland allowed just 15 points.

I realize it’s not that simple. You can’t ignore over 100 yards of penalties or a bunch of interceptions. If they keep doing that they won’t win many games regardless of how well their defense plays. But, the point is if they take care of the ball and cut down on the penalties, they have a chance to be in games and compete.

Under Sean McVay the Rams have been road favorites 13 times. They’ve scored 30 or more points in 10 of those 12 games and 23 or more in 12 of 13 games. They are just 1-3 ATS in games they are favored by three or less points on the road. Cleveland has a long history of not covering as a home dog but since last year they are 4-1 ATS.

Cleveland has high hopes but the fact remains they are just 1-5 SU against teams who made the playoffs last year. Until they can beat what is considered a good team I can’t get involved with them against what appears to be playoff teams.

At home Cleveland is now 19-7-1 to the under in their last 27 home games, including 15-5 to the under as a home dog.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Under 47.5

Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars

Friday, Sep. 20 at 10:20am AEST

Tennessee gave up a late touchdown last week to fall behind 19-17 and failed on the ensuing drive to get into field goal position. Neither team had much success offensively but Tennessee scored ten points on drives that started inside Colts territory.

Jacksonville scored late at Houston and was denied on a two-point conversion that would have given them the lead very late and fell 13-12. Jacksonville out-rushed and out-passed Houston and he Texans’ only touchdown came on a drive that started at the Jacksonville 11-yard line following a fumble by Jacksonville.

The Jags’ defensive front four has a clear advantage over the Titans’ offensive line that is without starting LT Taylor Lewan and starting RG Kevin Pamphile. Couple this edge with a Jalen Ramsey-led secondary and the results lead to a long night for Mariota and the Titans’ run game.

Competing is in Ramsey’s DNA and he will play lights out good even if disgruntled. The Jags don’t give up a lot of points at home when not facing an elite offense.

I also expect the Jaguars’ offense to look a lot smoother here. Left Tackle Cam Robinson is returning from injury and will start. This should have an immediate impact in pass protection which will allow offensive coordinator John DeFilippo more personal and play call flexibility.

The Jags as a small home dog is the play in this one.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Jaguars +1.5

Cleveland at NY Jets

Tuesday, Sep. 17 at 10:15am AEST

Cleveland was brutal on both sides of the ball in their home opening 13-43 loss to Tennessee. The Browns were -3 in turnover margin and were sacked on 11.6% of their pass attempts but they did sack Tennessee on 14.3% of their pass attempts.

The Jets blew a 16-0 lead to Buffalo in their 17-16 loss at home. NY was +3 in turnover margin, which was the only thing that kept them in the game as their offensive numbers were poor.

QB Sam Darnold has been ruled out for this game and likely many more games to come.

I don’t have any situations on this game. My numbers favor Cleveland by 6.1 points and project about 49.9 points.

I released the over on this game and then it was announced Sam Darnold would not play because of mono. The same day Le’Veon Bell received an MRI, although it doesn’t sound serious and Bell will likely play.

Trevor Siemian will take over for Sam Darnold. I am not a fan of Siemian but for our betting purposes, Siemian has basically the same interception percentage, sack percentage and yards per attempt as Darnold but obviously carries more experience than Darnold. There’s a good chance LB CJ Mosley won’t play in this game and DL Quinnen Williams may miss this game as well for the Jets.

Since the beginning of last season, the Jets have allowed at least 27 points in six of their nine home games. The only teams they held below 27 points were anemic Denver and Miami offenses last year and Buffalo last week but four Bills turnovers did in the Bills.

I expect Cleveland to get to at least the 27 point mark in this game. Since taking over as the starting quarterback for Cleveland, Baker Mayfield produced points on the road when not playing the better than average defenses. He’s led his team to 42, 23 and 35 points against the below-average defenses he’s faced.

Other than an anemic offense at Denver, the Browns defense has also allowed at least 20 points and the 20 they allowed to Cincinnati was also a depleted Bengals offense last year. They allowed at least 26 points to the other teams once Mayfield took over.

It’s very likely both teams can get into the 20s in this game and if they do that we have a good chance to go over the total. Siemian is less mobile than Darnold but in a spot start he is more than capable of doing some damage against this Browns team. The Browns should also be motivated on offense with their dismal showing last week. CLEVELAND 28 NY JETS 23

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Over 44

Philadelphia at Atlanta

Monday, Sep. 16 at 10:20am AEST

Philadelphia fell behind 17-0 early before rallying and defeating Washington 32-27 at home last week. Both teams struggled to run the ball but were OK in the air.

Atlanta got their doors blown off early in Minnesota and could never recover in a 28-12 loss which saw them score two late meaningless touchdowns to end the game. The Falcons were poor offensively and were -3 in turnover margin which allowed Minnesota short fields for two of their touchdowns.

Both teams are healthy for this game, although last week Philadelphia did lose DT Malik Jackson for the season.

I don’t have any situations on this game. My numbers favour Atlanta by 1.1 points and project about 48.6 points.

The Eagles look likely to give up some points in this game. This is what they’ve done on the road since Doug Pederson took over in 2016. In 25 road games, Philly has allowed 23 or more points in 18 of those 25 games. The games they didn’t were two against the Bears, two against the Redskins, one against a depleted Cowboys offense and against the Giants late in the year last year.

In other words, against competent offenses these teams have scored their share of points against Philly. They are also 15-8-2 to the over in those games.

Atlanta’s offense has been much better at home than on the road. Since Matt Ryan arrived in 2008 Atlanta is 11-5 ATS as a home dog.

With all of that said, this isn’t a great match up for Atlanta’s weak offensive line against a very stout Philadelphia defensive line. If Ryan has time to throw he should be able to find holes in the Eagles secondary. My numbers point to a slightly lower scoring game than the total so I will respect those numbers. ATLANTA 24 PHILADELPHIA 23

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Atlanta +2

Tampa Bay at Carolina

Friday, Sep. 13 at 10:20am AEST

Tampa Bay cost themselves the game in week 1 by turning the ball over four times including two pick-six interceptions along with costly penalties. The defence, on the other hand, was lights out good in new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles scheme.

They played excellent against the run while keeping the 49ers from scoring a touchdown on three visits to the red zone. The Bucs are heading in the right direction under Bruce Arians and I really like what I saw from the defence. It will be interesting to see how Jameis Winston bounces back in week 2.

Carolina also lost the turnover battle in week 1 against the Rams. Outside of Christian McCaffrey the offence was stagnant and flat while Cam Newton seemed disinterested. The offensive line will have their hands full with the Bucs at the line of scrimmage making it difficult to run the ball.

It will be up to offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s play-calling and willingness to throw on 1st and 2nd downs to get the offence going or it could be a long night for Panther fans.

I like where the Bucs are headed with Arians and Bowles and believe the defence is for real. But it’s still too early for me to get overly excited until a clearer picture on Winston executing the offence develops.

On the Panthers side, I see a talented team that has become stagnant under Ron Riviera so they are a no go for me.

There are better opportunities available this weekend but if you are betting this game I’d suggest the Bucs.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Tampa Bay +7

Houston Texans at New Orleans Saints

Tuesday 10 September at 9:10am

Houston were about average on offense last year but were above average throwing the ball. The rush defense was very good but they were below average defending the pass. Overall, they were average on defense.

The Saints were an above-average offense last year both on the ground and in the air. The defense was very good against the run but slightly below average defending the pass and about average overall.

The Texans traded away Jadeveon Clowney for almost nothing but as good as Clowney was, Houston was deep at the position.

They also traded for LT Laremy Tunsil. While they probably gave up too much for Tunsil it’s a sign they are all in to try and win it now. If that happens it will be all worth it. Houston wasn’t great in the secondary last year and they lost two of their better players during the offseason so it remains to be seen how good they will be defending the pass this year.

The Saints swapped running backs and added TE Jared Cook to help the offense get even better than it was last year but they are replacing C Max Unger who was a mainstay for this offense for a number of years.

My numbers favor the Saints by 8.1 points and project about 50.7 points. Houston qualifies in a negative week one situation, which is 51-15-8 and plays against Houston here. The Saints also qualify in a very good 83-36-4 week one situation.

DeShaun Watson has been a tough out on the road as a dog in his brief career. He is 5-1-1 ATS as a road dog and has never lost a game by more than seven points. That seven-point loss was at NE in the opening game last year 20-27. He is also 0-4 SU in the four games against teams who made the playoffs in those years. So, he hasn’t defeated a good team on the road but has been competitive in those games. In those same games against good teams, the Houston defense has allowed 27, 32, 36 and 41 points.

Tunsil will help the Texans offensive line but the rest of this line is still very bad The situations and the value are on the Saints’ side in this game but Watson is a competitor and that back door is always open for him.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – New Orleans -6.5

Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders

Tuesday 10 September at 12:15pm

Denver ran the ball well last year but they struggled terribly throwing the ball so were slightly below-average overall on offense. The defense allowed just 22 points per game against teams averaging 25 points per game but were about average at the line of scrimmage.

The Raiders were below-average on offense and minus seven in turnover margin and that all translated to scoring only 18 points per game against teams allowing 24 points per game. Their pass defense was horrible and run defense below average.

Denver brings in Vic Fangio as head coach. Fangio has been a very good defensive coordinator over the years. The Broncos’ defense was elite just a few years ago but started to slip a little over the last few years with players leaving for a bigger payday.

Fangio has brought in Kareem Jackson and Bryce Callahan to help solidify the backend of the defense. He also brought in QB Joe Flacco to have someone resemble a quarterback for the first time since Peyton Manning was here.

My numbers favor Denver by 3.8 points and project about 44.7 points.

The Raiders have added WR Tyrell Williams, G Richie Incognito and LT Trent Brown to help a below-average offense. Incognito is suspended and G Gabe Jackson is hurt and may miss this game.

Oakland were a mess last year and based on what’s happened during the preseason may still be a mess. They brought in WR Antonio Brown but he has been released already and this is a big loss for this offense and especially in this matchup.

The Raiders are down two offensive linemen and now their most explosive receiver. They are now left with just a bunch of receivers. The TE position is void of talent as well with Jared Cook moving on to the Saints. It remains to be seen what the Broncos have on offense but Joe Flacco is an upgrade at the quarterback position even if he doesn’t have much left in the tank.

Emmanuel Sanders is back, Courtland Sutton has a year under his belt in the NFL and Denver has upgraded their secondary to go along with the elite status of Von Miller and Bradley Chubb. I expect this defense to be very good this year and they could shut down this Raider offense with ease in this game. The Raiders defense was awful last year and they haven’t added much to improve it. The season hasn’t even started yet and the Raiders are already in trouble.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Denver -2.5

Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots

Monday 9 September at 10:20am

The Steelers struggled to run the ball last year but, once again, they threw the ball very well. The defense was very good across the board.

New England is a very tough team to measure because they always play better than their numbers. They were average running the ball but had a better than average passing game. The defense was below average defending the run and pass.

NE allowed just 20 points per game against teams averaging 22 points per game. The scoring numbers are most important and a great example of where the stats don’t always make NE look good but the most important stat, which is scoring, is above average.

The Steelers enter the season without Le’Veon Bell who they played without last year and also WR Antonio Brown. This could be a case of addition by subtraction. The general cohesiveness of the team may be better than it has been in a long time. And, with all the hype being given to the Browns the Steelers are kind of operating under the radar.

For NE there has been a decent amount of additions and subtractions on both sides of the ball. Trent Brown, Trey Flowers and Rob Gronkowski are all gone. Now C David Andrews is out for the year with a blood clot. Michael Bennett arrives but the two constants they’ve had each year are Brady and Belichick. And, quite frankly, that’s all the Patriots need to have a fighting chance each year.

The Patriots also have some weapons at the receiver position with Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon and Demaryius Thomas. If Thomas can be just a portion of what he was in Denver this will be a very explosive receiving lineup for NE.

My numbers using last year’s home and away numbers favor the Pats by 9.5 points and project about 46.6 points. The Steelers qualify in a negative week one situation, which is 51-15-8 and plays against Pittsburgh here. The Pats also qualify in a week one 76-34-4 situation.

Since 2001 NE is 56-21-7 as a home favorite of seven or less. The Pats just seem to cover year after year when laying a manageable number at home. The Steelers have been pretty good as a road dog as of late, having gone 6-0 ats in their last six games in the role of a road dog.

NE has just been very good over the years at home while Pittsburgh is not as efficient on the road. Pittsburgh scored about 10% less than their potential points on the road last year versus their games at home. Meanwhile, NE scored about 12% more of their potential points at home and allowed about 12% less at home.

This is a home road dichotomy between these two teams. Some value and good situations in NE’s favor.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – New England -5.5

Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears

Friday 6 September at 10:20am

For the first time since 2006 the Packers have a new head coach. Former Titans offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur has taken charge and normally when a new coach and system is implemented I err on the side of caution early in the season.

that is not the case with the situation in Green Bay because Aaron Rodgers high football IQ displaces that normal learning curve. Rodgers is healthy, happy, motivated and excited in implementing LaFleur’s run first offence.

The run game will excel behind a good and finally healthy offensive line led by LT David Baktiari and the surprising emergence of rookie LG Elgton Jenkins who will not only provide depth but likely supplant Lane Taylor as the starter. The ability in establishing the run will allow Rodgers to take advantage of play-action and work wonders for TE Jimmy Graham.

The best decision LaFleur made after his hire was retaining defensive coordinator Mike Pettine from last year’s staff. The Packers defence was on an upswing under Pettine last year and should be much improved this season.

The organization doubled down by being big spenders in free agency on that side of the ball. Last year’s weakness (safeties) is now a strength with the addition of veteran Adrian Amos and rookie Darnell Savage, who is exactly that, a savage. Savage’s impact will be immediate with the help of Amos coaching him up in regards to pre-snap adjustments.

The linebacker unit was also upgraded with the additions of Za’darius Smith and Preston Smith. Jaire Alexander is a Pro Bowl-calibre cornerback who I expect to have a breakout year.

The Packers revamped secondary should have no problem shutting down the Bears wide receivers and tight ends which will allow the linebackers to roam, spy or rush Bears QB Mitch Trubisky in passing situations.

Green Bay looks good value here on the moneyline and plus the points.

Betting Strategy

 BACK – Packers +3.0

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