NFL Week 1 Pick Recap

Week 1 is officially in the books and it feels great! For the 4th year in a row ProMathletics started the season with a winning record in our tried and true GreenZone! Each week we'll be providing our pick recap to validate our performance and give everyone an in depth view of what our subscribers receive. Let's have a look at the selections below from week 1. 

The GreenZone finished the week 4-3 (57%) with a couple tough losses that could have swung in our favor. The Yellow and RedZone were respectable as well as they finished 4-4-1. Below is a breakdown of the entire Zone performances, along with Bankroll return based on our recommended unit sizing of each game. 

Furthermore, each write up for the 7 games we covered is included. This is sent each week for every GreenZone game, and we will also do a FREE write up on the Thursday and Monday night games. Lucky for you those both happened to be GreenZone this week. See below for our in depth analysis on our picks from last week. 

[6.7 Units] Philadelphia Eagles (pk) home with Atlanta - WIN

6.7 Units – Eagles

-2.5 or less 3.5 Units – Eagles -3

No Action – Eagles -3.5 or more

We are officially BACK! We will be out with our full Week 1 picks on Saturday, as always, but we have our first GreenZone play of the year tonight. As a friendly reminder, all of our reported spreads are based on the Westgate’s SuperContest line just because it is the gold standard for books everywhere and the easiest to historically document. That being said, part of the value we provide is the bet sizing based on the number YOU can actually bet at your now legal place of doing business. The line of pick ‘em for the SuperContest felt like a gift to us, but there is enough value in the current line that you shouldn’t have a problem finding the Eagles at -2.5 or less, with most books being at -1.5 at time of writing. On to the game…!

The Philadelphia Eagles looked like garbage during the preseason. This is the only explanation for why this spread is as ridiculously low as it is. The Eagles won the Super Bowl last year and the team taking the field tonight is better than the one that trotted on the field for every playoff game. They have the best offensive line in the league (sorry Cowboys fans) and were playing without their Pro-Bowl LT down the stretch last year. Peters and Kelce had limited action in the preseason and Big V, who didn’t play too bad last year, got demolished at LT this camp when filling in for Peters. We don’t see that being an issue tonight. Another caveat that the public bettors seem to be factoring in is Carson Wentz isn’t ready to go. Uhh…do people forget that Nick Foles just won the Super Bowl MVP last year?! We have zero fear of backing Foles who is playing behind absolute maulers and should be sitting comfy all night. Atlanta struggles covering backs out of the backfield and the short, quick, pass game…both things that the Eagles utilized to pick everyone apart last year.

On the flip side, this Eagles defensive front, which was already nasty last year, somehow got better in the offseason. The Falcons have a good offensive line, but we are anticipating Cox and Ngata jamming up the running game and forcing the Falcons into a more one-dimensional, pass heavy, approach. That is EXACTLY what Jim Schwartz wants to happen, so their slew of edge rushers can start pinning their ears back and getting after it out of those wide-9 DE launch points. Plain and simple, we think the Eagles are still a better team on a neutral field. The fact that they are below a 3-point favorite at home, in front of a psychotic (in a good way…sorta) fanbase, in primetime, really feels like a cherry on top of the sundae that is the return to NFL action!

 

[6.7 Units] Pittsburgh Steelers (-4) at Cleveland - LOSS

6.7 Units – PIT -4.5 or less

3.5 Units – PIT -5

No Action – PIT -5.5 or more

There is no doubt that the Cleveland Browns will be a better team in 2018 than they were during the disastrous 0-16, 2017 campaign.  That being said, this thing is waayyyy overcooked.  We have games early in the season every year where the public gets excited about offseason skill guy (QB, WR, RB, CB, etc.) acquisitions and naming previously shitty teams as dark horse title contenders. The Browns’ Super Bowl odds came down drastically over the course of training camp and we have a pretty good hunch that their appearance on Hard Knocks had quite a bit to do with it.  The only issue with the hype is a lot of development and cohesion still has to take place to become an even average team.  The Browns were shuffling around their offensive lineman all camp and the consensus was Joel Bitoni was going to replace 1st ballot hall of famer, Joe Thomas.  Well, not so fast, Friday afternoon Hue Jackson announced that undrafted rookie, Desmond Harrison, would get the start at LT.  This is an undrafted rookie out of West Georgia… Tyrod is definitely an improvement over Kizer and co., the WR corps is sexy as can be on paper, RBs…all good there, TE…yup…the problem is this O-line is going to get chewed the fuck up on Sunday.  The Steelers led the league in adjusted sack rate last year and bring everyone back.  Hue boasted that 53% of their roster is new this year…that’s great, but the Steelers have the same dudes back who already brought the best heat in the league.  Offensive line play has a lot to do with continuity and there is zero of that here.

On the flip side, Le’Veon Bell brought big story lines and brought the spread down some as well.  We are not concerned.  This Steelers offense is a bunch of proven veterans and the pissed off factor from the o-line will probably actually help for a week or two.  They are going to be run-blocking their asses off trying to fly the middle finger to Bell saying, “we don’t need you…you need us”.  The numbers see this as over a touchdown game, so we are fine laying the points here.    

 

[5.5 Units] Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+9.5) at New Orleans - WIN

5.5 Units – TB +8.5 or more

2.7 Units – TB +8

No Action – TB +7.5 or less

 

This is a LOT of points for a Week 1 divisional matchup…period.  Additionally, these two teams have played each other pretty evenly, splitting the last three years.  The public must be focusing on how good the Saints looked for the greater part of the 2nd half of the season last year, but ignoring that the Bucs actually beat them Week 17.  “The Saints were in the playoffs and didn’t care”, you say?  False, they played their starters the entire way and were trying to win for seeding.  The public must also be ignoring that this Saints timing-based offense has started slow in recent past with the Saints opening the season 0-2, 0-3, 0-3, and 0-2 the last four years.  That is not a typo!  Both teams have some key guys out, but we don’t think that materially changes the relative strength for either side.  Fitzpatrick is a proven guy and in a lot of situations, you’d rather have him on the field than Jameis Winston.  Ingram out for the Saints stings a little, but they still have more than enough weapons to get touches.  Our models see this as about a 6.5-point game, so we love the value up at +9.5 to 10.  That is a big line in the NFL and specially in Week 1 when a lot of offenses are shaking off the rust.  The Saints will likely win this game, but we should have plenty of coverage getting that many points.

 

[5.5 Units] Miami Dolphins (+1.5) home with Titans - WIN

5.5 Units – MIA +0.5 or more

2.7 Units – MIA pick ‘em

No Action – MIA -0.5 or more

 

Our models see this as a game where Miami should be favored by about a point to a point and a half.  That is what we like to call “value”.  The Titans enjoyed a better 2017 than the Dolphins, getting 9 wins vs. 6 for the Dolphins.  In reality, there wasn’t that much of a difference in their ability…some scheduling breaks, close game heroics, etc. can end up being 3 random wins or losses one way or the other in a given year.  Even if this game was Week 17 last year, with the Dolphins at home we probably would have barely favored the Titans to win outright.  This is a new year and some major things have changed for each side.  The Titans have a brand new staff with Mike Vrabel taking over at HC and two new coordinators.  That typically takes some time to gel in the NFL.  The Dolphins have more continuity on the staff with Adam Gase back for year number 3.  Also back is franchise-ish QB, Ryan Tannehill.  The offense should be better this year and despite losing Jarvis Landry, the wide receiver trio of Amendola, Stills and Parker, should be complemented nicely by rookie Mike Gesicki at TE.  Josh Sitton coming over from the Bears adds a premium interior offensive lineman, and maybe more importantly, veteran leadership.  We also see an improvement on defense coming with a whole bunch of young guys who can make some plays in Minkah Fitzpatrick, Jerome Baker, and Raekwon McMillan ready to go after a lost rookie season to an ACL.  We see this as a Dolphins win, similar to the Thursday night game where we saw Philly winning outright.  Getting a point or so is just a little bonus on top.

 

 [5.5 Units] New York Giants (+3) home with Jaguars - LOSS

5.5 Units – NYG +2.5 or more

2.7 Units – NYG +2

No Action – NYG +1.5 or less

 

If this game was the start of the 2017 season the line would have probably been G-men -6 or so…oh what a difference a year can make!  The Jags defense took a monumental step forward last year, Bortles put together a pretty consistent season, and just about everything that could possibly go wrong for the Giants, did.  Not a lot has changed for the Jaguars from a roster or coaching stand point year over year.  On the other hand, a LOT has changed for the Giants.  A healthy Odell Beckham Jr., the drafting of Saquan Barkley, and signing of former NE LT Nate Solder are all very obvious positive changes to the offensive side of the ball.  Pat Shurmur coming into town as the new HC, with the help of Mike Shula as OC, should help spark some creativity and ball control into the offense as well.  The models aren’t really projecting any major changes to the Jaguars level of play…they are still going to be a top 3-ish defense and a very middle of the pack offense.  The play here is that the Giants defense should be able to hold the Jaguars to a very low total, and as long as the Giants are able to take care of the football, end up with an outright win at home.

 

[4 Units] New England Patriots (-6.5) home with Texans - WIN

4 Units – NE -6.5 or less

2 Units – NE -7

No Action – NE -7.5 or more

 

The numbers say the Patriots will get it done at Foxboro to open the year the right way.  There is some concern with the appearance of relative lack of firepower for Tommy to start the year.  Everyone knows they lost a plethora of WRs in the offseason and that Edelman is suspended the first couple of games.  That being said, how many times have Bill and Brady dinked and dunked to backs, multiple TEs, and possession or slot receivers that looked like spare parts on other teams?  We think the Patriots will be able to take care of the ball and score some points, even though the Texans defense is healthy and will be very solid.  Our bigger concern is that the Patriots won’t be able to stop the Texans, and thus, get enough separation to cover a TD.  The Patriots have been notoriously slow starters on the defensive side of the ball the last several years.  They develop their players as the year progresses and find packages and defined roles for guys to be successful.  Although the offensive line of the Texans is not very stout, a healthy Desaun Watson will be very dangerous against a lackluster NE rush.  We have to #Trust our system…early and always.  However, when there is a game like this with a fair amount of noise in the data from roster turnover and/or players returning from injury, it’s never a bad idea to pull back on the reigns a little bit.

 

 

[6.7 Units] Oakland Raiders (+4) at home with Rams - LOSS

6.7 Units – OAK +3.5 or more

3.5 Units – OAK +3

No Action – OAK +2.5 or less

In 2016, the Raiders went 12-4 and looked like they had the young core in place to rattle off a long run of winning seasons.  That all came to a hault last year when the Raiders stumbled to a 6-10 record before canning Del Rio in favor of none other than Jon Gruden himself.  In 2016, Goff looked like potentially one of the bigger QB busts of all times, as the Rams went 4-12.  Last year, Goff was a legitimate MVP candidate, as the Rams ripped off 11 wins.  Clearly, a lot of things have changed for both teams over the last couple of years, but there is definitely a difference in public sentiment for each of these teams moving forward.  People LOVE the Rams right now…and why wouldn’t you?  They added Suh to pair with Aaron Donald on the interior D-line, got Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib from the Chiefs and Broncos, respectively, to start at corner, and added Brandin Cooks from the Patriots.  This was all accomplished while getting Gurley a new deal and not losing anyone a Rams fan would be sad to see go.  We get it; they have some big name guys at key positions.


On the flip side, Khalil Mack got traded to the Bears for future picks and the public now thinks the Raiders defense is going to be trash after Mack singlehandedly dismantled the Packers during the first half last night.  We understand that 95% of the public is on the Rams and this GreenZone play usually gets our subscribers feeling uncomfortable early in the season.  That is ok though, we don’t get blinded by names or by off-season hype.  Our models see this game as about a pick ‘em for the Raiders at home.  The spread has bounced all the way out to +6 at time of writing and that HAS to be due to the Mack showcase on Sunday night.  One move a lot of people aren’t talking about is the starting of the 15th overall selection at LT for the Raiders.  Rookie, Kolton Miller, played well enough in camp and preseason to bump Donald Penn to RT.  The same Donald Penn who has made multiple Pro-Bowls and is perennially a top tackle.  The edge rushers and linebackers for this Rams defense leave a lot to be desired.  If the two tackles can take care of business on islands (we think they will), you are going to be surprised by how effective this Carr/Gruden led offense can be against the vaunted Rams D.  A now 6-point home dog for a team that could easily win 9 to 11 games is the type of scary value we have to take advantage of early in the year!  Trust the system, not the media, or your gut on this one.  Let’s get to a 5-2 Week 1 finish and stack those units!