Ladies and gentlemen... the NFL is BACK! It has been a long wait, but the summer has ended and football is soon to begin. The lines for Week 1 and beyond have been out since the middle of May, but I still feel like there is some value jumping in a few days before Sunday gets here now that there are more certainties. There are always opportunities in placing early wagers, as the lines may move as the games get closer. Here are four best bets I am adding to my NFL card for Week 1.
Baltimore Ravens vs New York Jets
The Baltimore Ravens had a disappointing 2021 campaign, as they were decimated from day one with injuries across the board. This season is going to be one of redemption on several different levels as they look to avenge last season's lackluster performance, and Lamar looks to continue his campaign of proving the doubters wrong once again with a big contract lingering at the end. The exciting news for Baltimore is that they get to kick things off with one of the worst teams in football for a long time now: the New York Jets.
Coach John Harbaugh is 10-4 ATS in Week 1 and is 9-5 ATS coming off of a bye during the regular season. Harbaugh's teams perform best when they have extra time to prepare, as most do, but they also tend to cover the spread with extra preparation. The Jets are down bad already, as they will be missing their young quarterback Zach Wilson. This would be the perfect time to include a Zach Wilson mom joke, but I think those have beaten worse than a dead horse, so I will save you the time and just double down that the Ravens should come out strong in New York this Sunday.
The Play: Ravens -6.5 -125 - 1.5 Units
Photo by Todd Olszewski/Getty Images
San Francisco 49ers vs Chicago Bears
It is Trey Lance season in The Bay, and he gets an absolute gift to start off his NFL career by playing the Chicago Bears while it is still warm outside. You can still get the Bears at +700 to have the fewest wins in the NFL this season which I may throw a half-unit flier on, but that is a more big-picture problem. Do not let the narrative of Shanahan's record against the spread as a favorite scare you away from taking the Niners here.
The Niners' defense is their strong suit here and should give second-year starter Justin Fields fits. I am a big fan of Fields and believe he will be the quarterback of the future in Chicago, but going up against the 2021 NFC Runner Up's Week 1 is not the most ideal. Chicago's defense can not say the same, as they lost Khalil Mack and will be trying out a new defensive coordinator this season. Look for Trey Lance and company to get things started on the right foot with Aiyuk, Kittle, and new-contract-Deebo to rely on.
- Niners -6.5 -125 - 1 Unit
- Niners / Bears under 41.5 - 1 Unit
Cleveland Browns vs Carolina Panthers
I am not someone who believes in revenge games, yet here I am telling you that one of my best bets is Baker Mayfield going up against his former team in Charlotte on Sunday. I also am not the biggest fan of throwing out three favorites during the first week of the season. But here we are! My confidence in Carolina is largely dependent on several factors besides that Baker will be out for blood.
The Deshaun Watson situation is a huge net negative for Cleveland, as I do not believe in Jacoby Brissett after his lackluster 8-8 campaign as the Colts starter, and very average performances as a backup since that season. The Panthers have also shown out in a strong fashion to start their last several seasons. They have McCaffery back from injury which will help drive the offense, and Baker has several options at wideout that are arguably better than what Cleveland has to offer this year with Amari Cooper and... who else? I am really down on the Browns this year and you can hear DJ's case for the Panthers in his NFC South Preview here. Surely there is nobody out there making a case for betting the Browns after such a nightmare offseason right?
The Play: Panthers -2 - 1 Unit
Let me know what you think of these plays by tweeting at me @AndyHHSports on Twitter, or leaving a comment below! Stay tuned as we continue to put out more NFL content as the season goes along. We also will have plenty of college football reactions, best bets, and more following an electric Week 1 over the Labor Day Weekend. Finally, don't miss out on any of our basketball, baseball, or soccer to keep you entertained during the week! We appreciate your support, and thanks for reading.
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