NFL Week 1 picks to make now


With only one week of NFL preseason left and almost all the best future values gone, it is time to shift focus to Week 1 of the NFL season. With a full 16-game Week 1slate, there are plenty of opportunities on the board, and as we get closer to the season, more will present themselves.

Week 1 provides an opportunity to stay ahead of the books, figure out which teams are undervalued and which teams are overvalued before the games and data start to present. Here are three plays I am high on for Week 1.

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NFL Week 1 betting picks 2021

A look at my favorite betting picks for Week 1 of the NFL season.

Rams -1, 49ers -1.5 — 6-point teaser

-120, DraftKings Sportsbook 

While teasers can be a risky proposition, this teaser provides a real value for two reasons. The first: It crosses two key numbers in 7 and 3 while not crossing 0 and costing you points. The second: It offers far more value than a moneyline parlay of these two teams, where the odds would be -169. Using the FTN betting odds calculator you see this is increasing your implied odds probability by 8%.

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Let’s start with the Rams, who currently sit as seven-point home favorites against Andy Dalton and the Bears. The Rams had the No. 1 defense in football last season and were dominant at home, allowing only 13.1 points per game in Los Angeles last season, the lowest in all of football by five points. With Matthew Stafford under center, the Rams have a much-improved quarterback who should be able to exploit an average Bears roster. They have the better coach and quarterback and the advantage in both trenches while playing their first-ever game with fans in their new stadium in primetime. 

When I originally posted this bet in the FTN Bet Tracker, I was able to get this with both teams -1, as the line has already moved another half point in the favor of the 49ers. I expect it is not done climbing. The Lions are a bottom-three roster in football and historically that has not trended well for early-season betting performance. Some of the worst teams in football the last two years — the Jets and Texans — both started 1-7 ATS, and the previous year the Dolphins started 0-8 against the spread. Look for the Lions to get beat up in this game with very little firepower to compete with a loaded 49ers roster.

(Looking for Week 1 NFL picks from every game? Matt Freedman has you covered.)

Sam Darnold enacts revenge

Carolina Panthers -4.5 (-110, BetMGM)

In the last two years, NFL teams who win straight up are 38-5-3 against the spread. That is an overwhelming number that should not be ignored when making Week 1 picks. I like the Panthers to win this game and cover the spread. The Jets are a much-improved team with far betting coaching this season, but they will still be trotting out a rookie quarterback making his first ever NFL start on the road with the league’s worst secondary. A huge loss for the Jets this season and this game is star free agent signing Carl Lawson, lost in preseason to a ruptured Achilles. Without him and his backup (Vinny Curry), the Jets are already outlooking for more edge rushing help. The Jets have very little edge-rushing ability to speak of and a terrible secondary going up against a trio of receivers (D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson and Terrace Marshall) that is going to give them fits. Sam Darnold should improve away from Adam Gase, and the Panthers should be able to exploit the Jets weakness and cover 4.5.

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Baltimore Ravens start 2021 strong

Ravens -4 (-110, Caesars Sportsbook)

Last season, the Baltimore Ravens closed out the season 6-0 against the spread as Lamar Jackson returned to form after a slow start. The Ravens consistently have been one of the best teams against the spread the last two years as oddsmakers continue to underrate them. With a fantastic secondary and a dominating offense, when the Ravens get a lead, they rarely give it up. They are road favorites against a Las Vegas team that will run out one of the league’s worst defenses, a subpar coach in Jon Gruden, an offensive line that lost its three best players and a mediocre group of weapons after star weapon Darren Waller. Look for the Ravens to dominate the line of scrimmage and cover the spread in Vegas. 

(Follow the rest of my bets along with the entire NFL handicapping team here.)

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