Beating the Spread: Week 1 Picks

Our Week 1 Beat the Spread column is ready to go for your consideration as you put in your weekly bets!

We’re back!

It’s hard to believe that football is here with everything that has happened in 2020. With no preseason, it is tough to just jump into the regular season and feel confident that we’ll find our sea legs from the jump. It may be wise this year to sit out the first couple weeks until some clear narratives develop, but if you’re itching to get going, Erik Smith and I are here for you.

Like last year, we’re going to pick 5 lines and over/under bets each week. We both did pretty well last year, clearing that magical 60 percent threshold that gamblers hold sacred. I was fortunate enough to win the regular and postseason battle between me and Erik last year, so you just know that he’s out for revenge. As always, let us know what your best bets are in the comments or on Twitter.


The following lines were captured on Tuesday. Betting lines can vary by site and move throughout the week so check yours to make sure that you have similar information.

Week 1 betting lines: (Away Team / Home Team / Line / O-U)

Detroit Denver DEN -6.5 38
Miami New England NE -6.5 43
Cleveland Baltimore BAL -8 48.5
NY Jets Buffalo BUF -8 39
Las Vegas Carolina LV -3 47.5
Seattle Atlanta SEA -2 49
Philly Washington Phi -6 42
Chicago Detroit DET -3 44.5
Indianapolis Jacksonville IND -8 45
Green Bay Minnesota MIN -3 45.5
LA Chargers Cincinnati LAC -3.5 43
Arizona San Fran SF -7 47.5
Tampa Bay New Orleans NO -3.5 49
Dallas LA Rams DAL -3 52
Pittsburgh NY Giants PIT -6 47.5
Tennessee Denver TEN -2.5 41.5


Staff Picks

Analyst Jeff Berckes Erik Smith
Pick #1 ARI +7 CAR +3
Pick #2 PHI -6 SEA -2
Pick #3 PIT -6 TEN -2.5
Pick #4 MIA +6.5 PIT -6
Pick #5 TB-NO Over 49 CHI +3
2020 Record 0-0 0-0



Jeff Berckes: Arizona played the 49ers tough last year and in year two of the Kliff Kingsbury experience, I’m in. Seven points is a lot of room for a team on the rise in the first week of the year. I know a lot of people have penciled the 49ers in for another deep playoff run but let’s remember that they lost some key contributors and still have some issues at wide receiver. I’m going to believe that the Super Bowl hangover is real and my preseason darlings at least keep it a one-score affair ARI +7. Similarly, I really like what I saw out of the Dolphins down the stretch last year and I think they had an excellent offseason. The Patriots are always a little slow getting out of the blocks and even though this is in the greater Boston area, I can’t imagine much of a home-field advantage. Give me the upstart Dolphins to keep it close MIA +6.5.

A couple of six-point road favorites from the state of Pennsylvania make up my next two bets. First, the Eagles travel down to Washington to take on the Football Team and as much as I respect Ron Rivera, I don’t think they’ve got the talent to hang with an experienced team like the Eagles PHI -6. One of the dark horse AFC squads this year, the Steelers, travel to New Jersey to take on the Giants. I might be sleeping on Big Blue, but a healthy Big Ben with a talented roster and a feisty defense leaves me feeling good about the Steelers comfortably handing business PIT -6.

Finally, I didn’t know what way to go in the New Orleans – Tampa Bay game. Two quarterbacks defying Father Time, leading squads ready to make deep playoff runs. Brady has his guy Gronk back in action with fantastic wide receivers that he hasn’t seen since Randy Moss left New England. Brees is back to run his always explosive offense with Michael Thomas and the underrated Emmanuel Sanders. It sounds like points to me, so pop some popcorn and give me the over in this game NO-TB Over 49.


Erik Smith: I was burned by over/unders last year so let’s stick with the spreads from the jump in 2020 until we see how the lack of crowds affects these games. And speaking of lack of crowds, lets put the home team in quotes until we figure out what happens to home-field advantage this year.

The line has swung sharply in the Raiders versus Panthers game, with the Raiders now favored by 3. I don’t get it, and will happily play contrarian here. Is Derek Carr better than Teddy Bridgewater? Would you rather have Henry Ruggs III, Bryan Edwards, Hunter Renfrow, Darren Waller, and Josh Jacobs or D.J. Moore, Curtis Samuel, Robby Anderson, Ian Thomas, and Christian McCaffrey? Seems close to me. With two defenses that have a lot to prove in 2020, I like this as a close battle. Give me the unknown in the Panthers with a new coaching staff as opposed to the known with the Raiders. CAR +3.

We will see how the home-field advantage works here in Atlanta, as Seattle is favored on the road in what could be another shootout. I think Seattle has the firepower to keep up with Atlanta, and I trust their coaching and defense over Atlanta’s as well. But this really just comes down to Russell Wilson, who seems like he could roll out of bed and put up 30 on this defense. Hopefully, the coaching staff lets Russ cook this year. SEA -2.

Denver just suffered a brutal injury to a leader in Von Miller, and I am not buying into the hype of Drew Lock until I see more from him. Tennessee is another team, like Seattle, that knows what it is, and if they can get a lead and lean on Derrick Henry I think this game is theirs. There has historically been a tough track record of teams going into the altitude of Denver in the early season, but I’m hoping the lack of a home crowd helps neutralize that. TEN -2.5.

This is a big line on the road, but this looks like a bad matchup for the turnover-prone Daniel Jones. The Steelers were a tough opponent last year even with a negative at the quarterback position all year, and Ben Roethlisberger looks to be healthy and ready to go. I think the Steelers can win this one in a slugfest as well as a shootout and should run away with this one by the fourth quarter. PIT -6.

Finally, nobody wants to pick the Bears because Mitchell Trubisky is at quarterback. But as much as I don’t trust him, I don’t trust Matt Patricia either. The Bears excellent defense should neutralize a Lions offense that may be relying on Adrian Peterson at running back more than I would like, and a little rust from Stafford could put the Lions in an early hole. I don’t expect this one to be pretty, but I’m counting on the Bears defense one more time. CHI +3.



What are your favorite picks of the week? Put in your comments below to play along. We’ll be updating our records all season!


Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.