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Betting Against the Spread: Sunday NFL Picks For Week 1


Well we've come to Week 1 of the NFL season and with that a few comments. I treat the NFL in a different fashion because Las Vegas is so good with their lines in this sport. College football features a lot more teams that are under the radar so spreads aren't as tight. Vegas knows almost everything there is possible to know so you'll see a boatload of games on or close to the number. With that, here are my selections for Week 1. You probably will not find a week with that many selections as I just don't want to spread myself too thin in the NFL. 

JJ Watt's 40-yard dash time

Record: 0-0 

Kansas City Chiefs (0-0) at Houston Texans (0-0)

You've got a matchup of somewhat mirror images of each other as the Texans host the Chiefs.  Both offenses are solid but unspectacular at quarterback and other skill positions. KC relies heavily on Jamaal Charles on the ground while Houston will try to get the ball to DeAndre Hopkins out wide. Justin Houston and J.J. Watt provide the pass rush for both as well. These two met back in 2013 in Kansas City in a 17-16 Chiefs win which featured each team struggling to move the ball consistently. KC has played 20 unders in their last 33 games including eight of 13 as an underdog. The Texans have gone under in each of their last three games as a home favorite of 3 points or less. If you can find one, I'd load up on various FG props in this one as I think those players may be the busiest of anyone. SELECTION: Under 42

Miami Dolphins (0-0) at Washington Redskins (0-0)

It'll be Kirk Cousins under center as the Skins host the Dolphins. Cousins represents a better chance for Washington to win in the eyes of the head coach as he faces the fierce pass rush of Miami. The Fins' first unit was pretty awesome during preseason while the Skins' OL struggled at times. The thing is that it will also be tough to score on the Redskins. Washington added a lot of pieces up front in Terrance Knighton, Stephen Paea and Ricky Jean-Francois. The Skins' secondary will need a solid pass rush to speed things up so they don't have to cover as long. Bashaud Breeland will not be available for this one as he serves a one-game suspension. The Redskins have gone under in 72 of the last 118 games as an underdog of 3.5 to 9.5 points. Miami has gone under in nine of their last 15 road games. I think the defenses rule the day in DC and this one goes under the total. SELECTION: Under 43

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Jacksonville Jaguars (0-0) vs. Carolina Panthers

Carolina enters this one really banged up in key positions. Kelvin Benjamin is out for the season due to an ACL injury while Devin Funchess is dealing with a hamstring injury. Charles Tillman and Josh Norman are key members of the secondary and neither are 100 percent either as each deals with head injuries. Cam Newton still has Jonathan Stewart and Greg Olsen on offense. Jacksonville's defense has talent and Blake Bortles looked real good at times this preseason. Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns are going to be good WRs while T.J. Yeldon is a part of a stable of RBs. Carolina has failed to cover in 10 of their last 17 road games. Playing a hunch here and think that the Jags start out the year 1-0. SELECTION: Jaguars +3.5


- One of the selections I grappled hard with was the Lions. Detroit heads out west to take on the Chargers on Sunday afternoon. San Diego lacks the sexy names outside of Philip Rivers, but they continue to win. How will the Lions handle the losses of Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley up front? Haloti Ngata is nice, but I don't know if he's worth two players on that line. You've also got to consider Matthew Stafford who is 3-32 against teams with a winning record and 0-18 against winning teams on the road. He's got all the talent in the world in Golden Tate and Calvin Johnson. I want to take Detroit, but when it came to typing this article, I just couldn't make it an official play. 

- The other selection I came really close to making official was the Raiders. This is going to be an improved Oakland team especially as Derek Carr progresses in his development. He's got a solid weapon in Amari Cooper who caught eight balls for 124 yards in the preseason. Latavius Murray and Roy Helu Jr. are two good running backs while Clive Walford and Mychal Rivera are solid TEs. The offensive line needs to give Carr time and open holes for Murray. Defensively they are still a year or two away and that's why I couldn't make this official. As much as I don't like Andy Dalton as a quarterback, he should be able to pick up a win in this one. There's no one who can cover A.J. Green. The hope for someone taking the Raiders is a late touchdown to go through the back door. Oakland is 4-3-1 ATS in their last eight September games.

— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Josephs prefers non-Power 5 college football and may be the only one wagering on the Sun Belt. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.