Here we go with season 29 of NFL picks in the Post Bettor’s Guide.
Last season, we captured the regular season championship and followed it up with an 18-8 ATS run in the postseason, including coverage of the Bengals and Under in Super Bowl LVI.
This column has been around for so long that the Ravens didn’t even exist until Season 3. Let’s do it!
NEW YORK JETS (+7) over Baltimore Ravens
The Jets have a chance to break some narratives early on.
The first is that they are still among the dregs of the NFL, one of only seven teams listed at 150/1 or higher to win the Super Bowl on BetMGM. Some believe this season will be an even hotter dumpster fire than usual. In late August, ESPN released a mock 2023 draft in which the Jets picked No. 1.
A third is that New York will be toasting the end of its four games against the AFC North to start the season.
If you don’t think any or all of those things aren’t possible, where have you been since, oh, 1970? But even naysayers credit general manager Joe Douglas for raising the team’s level of talent.
I’m looking forward to seeing what Mike LaFleur can do with a Michael Carter-Breece Hall combo behind a better offensive line, with Garrett Wilson and real NFL tight ends joining Elijah Moore. I’m interested to see what the defense looks like with real running backs (Carl Lawson and Jermaine Johnson) and a new tight corner (Sauce Gardner). Lamar Jackson might not like it.
Last year’s terrible Jets team had wins at home against the playoff-bound Titans and Bengals and came within a Stupid Jet Trick of beating Tom Brady and the Buccaneers. With seven points to spare in a week where a lot of crazy stuff happens, let’s give it a go.
TENNESSEE TITANS (-5.5) over New York Giants
One of the more interesting stats to be found in The Post’s massive 2022 NFL season preview is that over the past four seasons, the Giants have ranked fourth in covering the spread on the road or in neutral venues with 21-12-2. Those numbers are hidden deep in the failed terms of Pat Shurmur and Joe Judge.
So there’s that. Another is that Brian Daboll and Wink Martindale, two AFC veterans, should know a lot more about the Titans than Mike Vrabel knows about the Giants. But I’m concerned the Giants don’t have enough talent, or at least healthy talent, to combat Derrick Henry on a potentially wet track where the run game will be king. When new GM Joe Schoen uses words like “it’s the hand we were dealt” before the first game, it’s not a good sign.
ATLANTA FALCONS (+5.5) over New Orleans Saints
Big stat from VSiN’s Josh Appelbaum: Divisional underdogs are 22-8 ATS in Week 1 since 2016. Yes, the Falcons might be the worst team in the NFL, but in theory you would have had the bottom team in each of those games and he won 73 percent of them.
San Francisco 49ers (-6.5) over CHICAGO BEARS
If there’s one team above all others totally invested in getting their quarterback off to a good start, it’s the 49ers under Trey Lance. The Bears will be a different defense without Akiem Hicks at the helm.
Pittsburgh Steelers (+6.5) over CINCINNATI BENGALS
So many systems at play here. First is the divisional ‘dog angle’. Next up is the Super Bowl underdog hex, which has seen those teams go 4-18 ATS in the following Week 1 for the past 22 seasons, according to Action Network’s C Jackson Cowart. Then there’s one we followed all last season here: Mike Tomlin is 45-23 ATS as an underdog.
Philadelphia Eagles (-4) over DETROIT LIONS
A lot of people love the Lions for “Hard Knocks”, but I don’t see the translation. Last Halloween, the Eagles destroyed them in Detroit, 44-6, and I only see Philly getting better with the additions of AJ Brown, CJ Gardner-Johnson and the further development of Jalen Hurts.
New England Patriots (+3.5) over MIAMI DOLPHINS
Have you heard the trend about ‘divisional dogs’ in week 1? I was surprised when the hook became available with the Patriots earlier in the week. Yes please!
Jacksonville Jaguars (+2.5) over WASHINGTON COMMANDERS
Willing to take the slight early lead to see what Trevor Lawrence can do with Travis Etienne Jr. taking the trades and Super Bowl champion Doug Pederson on his ear. I like Commanders in general, but three of their seven wins last season were by two points or less, so that would work here.
Cleveland Browns (+1.5) over CAROLINA PANTHERS
Lost in Deshaun Watson’s suspension and Baker Mayfield’s revenge angle is that the Browns are the better team here, and maybe by more than a little. Amari Cooper increases the Nick Chubb-Kareem Hunt ground attack, and Myles Garrett hunts down Baker.
HOUSTON TEXANS (+7) over Indianapolis Colts
Divisional dogs in Week 1, Part 4. As with the Falcons, you may have to look away and just look at the final score to see how we did. The Colts won both matchups by a combined 62-3 in 2021. However, the line went from the Colts -8.5 to -7. Hmm.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS (+1.5) over Green Bay Packers
Hot diggity, another divisional underdog! Davante Adams has left the building, and new No. 1 receiver Allen Lazard is questionable for the Pack. It’s interesting to see Za’Darius Smith in purple chasing after Aaron Rodgers.
Kansas City Chiefs (-6) over ARIZONA CARDINALS
KC traded Tyreek Hill and replaced him with JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and rookie Skyy Moore. This line went from Chiefs -4.5 to -6 in a few days, a poor prognosis for Kliff Kingsbury in the desert when his Texas Tech star Patrick Mahomes knocks on the door.
Las Vegas Raiders (+3.5) over LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
That crazy 35-32 season finale makes me want to take the bait with the Raiders as we finish off our divisional six-pack underdogs. The Chargers are my pick for the Super Bowl because I believe in Justin Herbert and his loaded roster. A narrow victory would serve both causes.
DALLAS COWBOYS (+2.5) over Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The same teams met in the opening game last year, with the Bucs winning a thriller 31-29. Dallas might not match his 12-5 record, but Micah Parsons and Trevon Diggs can cause problems for Tom Brady, who apparently isn’t quite there yet.
Denver Broncos (-6.5) over SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
Seattle deserves to lose by three touchdowns just because of those radioactive lime green uniforms. But that will not be the reason here. This is all about Russell Wilson being unleashed to use his many new weapons, including Javonte Williams on the ground, and Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton in the air.
Steelers, Patriots, Browns.
lock of the week
Steelers (Locks went 11-9 in 2021-22).
Thursday Night Football Selection