Allow me to re-introduce myself. My name is Josh North. I consider myself at least a slightly above average consumer of news and I waste my time looking at random statistics when I could be productive and/or social. The BarnBurner brought me in to help show you how to be an expert degenerate. It’s a privilege to be among this group.
As always, my picks will be listed most to least confident. However, I must note that I won’t be finalizing most of the picks on my end until Sunday morning (unless I really feel good about the number I’m seeing, which does happen from time to time). You’ll probably sense a trend in my picks early on, but with the lines being as they are, I’ve been forced to bet on some bad football teams. For reference, I will have the team I’m picking in bold font next to the point spread.
Cincinnati Bengals (+3) at Indianapolis Colts:
The real value here is with the money line (Bengals +145), but for the purposes of the Barn, I’m happily betting Bengals +3 as the road dog against what I see as one of the worst teams in the AFC. Prior to his injury, Andrew Luck was the heavyweight champion of backdoor covers (along with his longtime friend Phillip Rivers), but I don’t think his presence alone puts the Colts over the edge in this one.
This line went unnoticed by the majority of the betting public for most the week, but Bengals +3 is holding strong at -120 as of Thursday. You might want to jump on while it’s hot. The Bengals are the vastly superior team and I have no clue how the Colts are favored.
Pittsburgh Steelers (-3.5) at Cleveland Browns:
The Steelers opened up 2017 at Cleveland, and I took the home dog (+8). It was one of the very rare occurrences that Cleveland covered last season.
So, what changed? A few “Hard Knocks” episodes and 4.5 points.
I understand that Cleveland are the public’s darlings this season, but a line this small for a Super Bowl favorite vs. a team that finished O and Sixteen the year before just doesn’t make sense on paper. Le’Veon Bell being out does put a wrinkle in Pittsburgh’s offense, but the number is too low after some Monday/Tuesday action brought the line down 1.5 points after it opened at five. Pittsburgh is the vastly superior team and their window is closing. One would think there would be a sense of urgency among this group. Despite the distractions, it would surprise me if Pittsburgh came out flat this Sunday.
Kansas City Chiefs (+3.5) at Los Angeles Chargers:
If you read my last piece, you know I like the Chiefs a lot more than the Chargers this season. As I did last year. And the year before that. And the year before that.
Did you know that the Chiefs haven’t lost to the Chargers since 2013? It seems silly, right? I had to check it twice. I mean, I was still in college in 2013. I owned a ‘98 Corolla and was still regularly using running shoes that I bought during Barack Obama’s first term. That’s how bad the Chargers are. You would think that an 0-8 record against a divisional opponent over the last four seasons would slow down this nonsense hype train for Phil Rivers and his band of mistake-prone teammates.
Los Angeles being favored in this game should have no basis in reality.
Yet, here we are. The Chargers are favored by three points with their pseudo home-field advantage against a team (and coach) that has absolutely owned them. Even now, the public is mad crazy (+3 is at +106, money line at +162) and I’m betting on the Walrus to pull another road victory out of his hat. I nabbed +3.5 as soon as it was possible. I would wait until closer to kick-off to see if +3.5 comes back after some more public action.
Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Giants (+3):
When you believe in home underdogs, you make a lot of bets that look absolutely silly on paper. But the more I looked at this game, I didn’t see any reason why the Giants could not win at home and I felt their home field advantage was a little underrated by the sports book.
That being said, I’m not one of many analysts/reporters/fans who don’t believe in Jacksonville. I think the Jaguars could be the best team in the AFC this season and we have no idea how good/bad the Giants are going to be this year. I simply think the Giants, the owners of last year’s No. 2 pick in the draft, are getting too many points at home in a tough match-up for the defending AFC South champs opening weekend…
*Drinks* Moving on…
Buffalo Bills at Baltimore Ravens (-7):
I don’t like doing this. This doesn’t feel right. I’m freaking out.
Betting on Joe Flacco to cover a touchdown is not a great way to make money. The line is now up to 7.5, and I could see it landing closer to 9 by kick-off. Baltimore, despite their shortcomings, can still play well enough at home to handle what might be the worst team in the AFC this season (along with Oakland).
Dallas Cowboys at Carolina Panthers (-2.5):
As usual, public action is all over “America’s team,” so much so that the number drove down below a field goal on Wednesday in some sports books.
Simply put, the Panthers should get a few more points than this and I feel great about only needing a field goal to cover against a flawed Cowboys team. Given health, I don’t see Carolina blowing a home opener even with their questionable offensive line play. That should not affect them too much against a Cowboys pass rush that ranked 15th in the NFL last season in sacks.
Chicago Bears (+7.5) at Green Bay Packers:
Don’t get me wrong @BarnBurnerBaker, your Pack should still win this one. I’m well aware that Aaron Rodgers owns Chicago and all surrounding real estate south of Lake Michigan. But should the Packers be favored by more than a touchdown? Even when I’m over here telling people to pump the brakes on the hype, the number is just too high. The Bears are more competitive than their history would suggest. It is, however, my least confident pick for a reason. Aaron Rodgers is back and the Packers usually run Chicago off the field when he’s healthy.
……27-20 is going to be your final. Maybe.
Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles (pk)*
Houston Texans (+6) at New England Patriots
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints (-9.5)
Tennessee Titans at Miami Dolphins (+1)
San Francisco 49ers at Minnesota Vikings (-6)
Seattle Seahawks at Denver Broncos (-3)
Washington Redskins at Arizona Cardinals (-1)
New York Jets at Detroit Lions (-6.5)
Los Angeles Rams (-4.5) at Oakland Raiders
*Placed a small wager Thursday when it dropped to pick-em, but didn’t have time to write about it.
[banner image: USA Today]