Beating the Spread: Week 1 Picks

The Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers kick off the 100th season of the NFL Thursday night and we at the QB List are kicking off our first season of...

The Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers kick off the 100th season of the NFL Thursday night and we at the QB List are kicking off our first season of the Beat the Spread contest between Jeff Berckes, Erik Smith, and Tom Schweitzer.

Here’s our set up; each week we’ll make five picks against the spread or the over/under line. We’ll keep track of how we’re doing throughout the year in a friendly competition between the three of us. Maybe some of our picks will be great and we can learn something from that. Maybe some of our picks will be misses and we can learn something from that. Either way, it should prove to be a good competition.

We’ll start by showing all of the week’s odds at the time we captured them (they will move throughout the week), list our picks, and finally some thoughts as to how we came up with them. As always, chime in on the comments with your picks or to tell us how we’re doing.

None of us picked the opener in our five choices and in general, it’s a good idea to stay away from Thursday games during the season as they have higher volatility. As a bonus pick though, I like Chicago to win and cover against the Packers (CHI -3) as I believe it will take time for Rodgers to adjust to a new offensive system for the first time in his career.


Date Away Team Home Team Line O/U
Thursday, September 5 Green Bay


CHI -3 46.5
Sunday, September 8 Tennessee


CLE -5.5 45.5


BAL -7 37.5


MIN -4 48

NY Jets

NYJ -3 41


PHI -9.5 46
LA Rams


LAR -3 49.5
Kansas City


KC -3.5 52

LA Chargers

LAC -6.5 44.5


SEA -9.5 44
NY Giants


DAL -7 45.5


DET -2.5 47
San Francisco

Tampa Bay


New England

NE -5.5 51
Monday, September 9 Houston

New Orleans

NO -7 53


Pick 43


Staff Picks




Jeff Berckes: Andy Reid teams are well-coached and come out of the gate fast. The Chiefs are 5-1 on opening day with Reid as head coach and I don’t expect the Jaguars to be able to keep up with the high flying Chiefs (KC -3.5). Tennessee might be the most boring team in the league heading into the team with all the hype – the Cleveland Browns. This will be a fascinating game as Tennessee likes to win ugly by keeping the score close, so I like the Titans +5.5 to at least cover for me. I’ll take Arizona +2.5 against the Lions simply because there is no film on Kyler Murray and the Kliff Kingsbury NFL system. I’m not sure Arizona will win a lot of games, but they have the element of surprise on their side for this one week and I’m not confident in Matt Patricia to make changes on the fly. I’ll take the Bills-Jets Under 41 as they are set up to play an ugly, knock-down, drag ’em out fight with two good defenses and two young quarterbacks. Finally, I like the shootout brewing down in New Orleans, with the Saints and Texans as this one can quickly get moving with two great QBs on a fast surface (Over 53).


Erik Smith: The Ravens travel to Miami to play in the 90-degree heat, which will lead to a sluggish pace. How many points will the Dolphins even score in this one after trading Stills and Tunsil? The Ravens could win in a rout and we still hit the under, I’ll take the Ravens-Dolphins under 37.5. The Colts travel to Los Angeles to take on the Chargers, who lack a true home-field advantage. Post Andrew Luck, this feels like a game where the Colts come together as a team and throw the kitchen sink at the Chargers. I also think the Colts have a really good team, even with Jacoby Brissett at quarterback. With the Chargers already battling injuries, I’ll take the Colts (+6.5) to pull out a scrappy cover. As the Giants cling to the Eli Manning era for a couple more games, let’s take advantage while we can. The Cowboys (-7) are a much better team top to bottom, with or without Zeke, and should take care of business at home. The Texans (+7) just upgraded their offensive line and already featured an explosive offense. Even in hostile territory in New Orleans, the Texans should be able to keep this a ball game, and worst-case scenario we are hoping for a backdoor garbage time cover from DeShaun Watson. The Saints will likely win, but I’ll take the seven points.


Tom Schweitzer: It’s risky to lay more than a TD in week 1, but I believe the Redskins are a bottom 5 team without Trent Williams and Alex Smith. The Eagles (-9.5) dominated both matchups against Washington last season and enter this game fully healthy, so I expect to see a blowout. I see Denver (pk) as a better team than Oakland on both sides of the ball. Joe Flacco has been arguably better than Derek Carr for the last 3 years, has more weapons at his disposal, and a better offensive line. I expect the Denver pass rush to bother Carr all day and Chris Harris to keep Antonio Brown in check. I’m also on board with the new-look Cardinals (+2.5) to catch the Detroit off guard. Hiring Darrell Bevell was one of the worst moves of the offseason, and I’ll be surprised if he and Matt Patricia are employed by the Lions at this time next year.  I’ll go against Jeff with my 4th pick, taking the Jaguars (+3.5) to keep things close in their home opener. September games in Florida are always dicey for the road team, and I think we’re going to see renewed enthusiasm from the Jaguars defense now that they have a QB that can keep them in games. Lastly, I think the Panthers (+2.5) are too good to be home underdogs against the Rams, provided Cam Newton is good to go.

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


(Photo by Todd Kirkland/Icon Sportswire)

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