After promising to cut down my previews I went WAY too long on the early games so had to split them this week, read my thoughts on them HERE if you haven’t already.
Cleveland Browns +5.5 @ Kansas City Chiefs: 54.5
Probably the best matchup of the weekend as once again the hype winners of the preseason take on the Superbowl losers in a game which might end up being more important than just being a 1 on the season standings.
I’ve done a proper preview over at Sportsbookreview
It looks like both are at full strength, Odell Beckham should be back from his ACL to get the Browns back to full strength. I would assume they’ll be more run-heavy with Chubb and Hunt, but having his talent there will help things. It will be interesting to get an immediate gauge of where the Browns are this season and this is essentially a freebie game for them. If they do happen to win the expectation on the team will be through the roof.
The Chiefs OL was the issue in the Superbowl as they were down to third stringers, but they’ve addressed it with signings and players returning from Covid opt-outs so should be stronger this year. Mahomes is the best in the league, Kelce and Hill will be the main men, of course. Mecole Hardman is the WR3 but is frustratingly hit or miss, Byron Pringle and Demarcus Robinson should get a few targets as well.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire should start at RB after overcoming and ankle injury from preseason, behind him I think it will be Jerrick McKinnon who’s done well in camp, but it could be Darrell Williams who led them against the Browns in that playoff game last year. Either way they’ll all appreciate having a better OL to run behind.
Andy Reid coming off extended rest is a machine. Winning 16/18 games in the first 3 weeks of the season over the last 6 years and covering the spread in 14 of them. It would be foolish to back against the Chiefs tonight. I would lean under the total though.
Denver Broncos -3 @ New York Giants: 42
I am worryingly confident in the Teddy Bridgewater-led Denver Broncos this week. It’s not because of him, more the perception of Daniel Jones and the strength of the Denver defense who could have a couple of turnovers here.
Teddy is the safe hand at QB and with a defensively minded head-coach they just need to not turn the ball over to get wins. That seems like the reason they chose him over Drew Lock in the QB competition. It might work for them, it might not, I tend to think they may need someone more expansive when it comes to better teams in the league but this matchup just not turning over the ball should be enough.
They have talent on offense, the duo of Jerry Juedy and Courtland Sutton returning from injury is damn good and if they stay fit should give them enough fire-power in the passing game. Juedy will need to work on his drops from last year but is a great route-runner and Sutton showed in his first year that he can be good in the league. Tim Patrick stepped in well for Sutton last year and adds some upside as the WR3 there. I also like the tight ends as well, Noah Fant has shown bits, but my guy Albert Okwuegbunam is back healthy after doing his ACL last year, he looked like a good pick for TD scoring in the little action he got last year.
I am ALL-IN on Javonte Williams at running back. I may be made to look very foolish should he do nothing here, but I believe he’ll be at the very least a 1b with Melvin Gordon. The Beat-writers love him and Fangio has said he’ll use him wherever he’s needed. He was one of the first players I was looking for when the props came out and he’s annoyingly short on TD scorer prices. Again, I may look like an idiot come midnight but I am very high on him this year. That’s maybe a little harsh on Melvin Gordon who had nearly 1,000 yards on the ground last year and is a good back himself.
The defense is touted to be one of the best in the league and it looks good on paper, they may be careful with Bradley Chubb coming off an ankle injury, but Von Miller will get pressure and the ball-hawks they’ve got in the secondary should cause issues for Daniel Jones.
The Giants should welcome back Saquon Barkley for this after a year out of the game. He’s been medically cleared and looks good to go. He’s essential to the team and looked good in the few videos I’ve seen of him cutting. He could be very good but needs to be more consistent instead of multiple 1 yard gains and then an 80 yard breakaway.
They will be without Evan Engram, the pass caching tight end misses out with a calf injury, but new signing Kenny Golladay will be playing. He’s a deep threat and a redzone target, should be the WR1 here. Sterling Shepard looks like he’ll get a bump in targets with Engram out in the middle of the field and Darius Slayton can blow up games with his speed as well, as can Kadarious Toney who’s had a tumultuous camp but was added for his speed.
All of this relies on Daniel Jones making a leap in his third year. If he can be a top half QB then the Giants might be able to do something this year, but his decision making isn’t great and under the pressure he may be tonight I don’t think will suit him. He is mobile though so should be able to move the sticks on the ground.
Not much to say on their defense, it’s average.
I didn’t think I’d like the Broncos this season and maybe I won’t after this week, but I think they win and cover here.
Green Bay Packers -3.5 @ New Orleans Saints: 49.5
Safe to say the build up to this game hasn’t been ideal for the Saints after hurricane Ida hit New Orleans and the game had to be moved to Jacksonville. That city will finally see some good football…
It was the same old story in Green Bay this year with Aaron Rodgers crying and eventually getting his own way as they brought back his mate Randall Cobb from the Texans. Randall Cobb being the man who supposedly changed the way the summer happened for the Packers seems weird but got to keep the MVP from last year happy I guess.
He goes into the slot but Davante Adams is the main man there after 18 TDs last year, he’s the go-to guy in pretty much all situations and that probably won’t change. It’s means there’s a log-jam at WR3 and beyond with Allen Lazard, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and rookie Amari Rodgers fighting it out for snaps. Weird that after never giving Rodgers anyone to throw to that they’ve got a plethora of options now. Robert Tonyan will start at TE after double-digit TDs last year as well.
Aaron Jones had actually only had 11 TDs last year but should once again be the man on the ground. He finished 4th in rushing yards last season and no reason why that would change this year although they might give a little more to AJ Dillon who looked good in what little action he got, mainly the 2 TD snow-game against the Titans after Jones went down with injury. Without Jamaal Williams they may use him more this season.
It’s a new era for the Saints as they enter a season with someone other than Drew Brees under center for the first time in 20 years. That man is Jameis Winston who many think will be the man he was in Tampa throwing 30 TDs a year. Well… Again I may look foolish but I genuinely think he’ll be good in NO. A lot of his plays will be short passes to Alvin Kamara, but he showed he’s got the arm still and can drop bombs down the field. The lack of talent to throw the ball to might hurt him as the season goes on, and it will be blamed on him, but I like Jameis. On the field anyway.
Alvin Kamara will probably be up around 100 receptions on the season and could see double-digit targets in this one with so many injuries for the Saints everywhere else. He’ll lead on the ground and is an elite talent with the ball in his hands. Behind him they’ve opted for Tony Jones who impressed in camp.
At wide receiver they’re without Michael Thomas and Tre’quan Smith the two main guys from last season so it looks like Marquez Callaway will lead them in that area after a huge catch for a TD in preseason there’s a bit of hype on him having a big game. It won’t be easy as the main target against a good defense but he showed good pace and hands on that catch. Behind him you’re looking at er.. Deonte Harris, Chris Hogan and L’il’Jordan Humphrey. It’s not good. – Tight end isn’t great either with Adam Trautman expected to take a leap this year missing out this week.
It might be a Taysom Hill week with the lack of other options.
I think it’s too much for the Saints to win this one, like the Packers.
Miami Dolphins +3.5 @ New England Patriots: 43.5
The battle for 2nd place in the AFC East? Take the under.
The Dolphins had one of the best defenses last season and despite losing a couple of players look like they’ll be good in that area again this year and especially this week against a rookie QB.
I’m still not convinced by Tua, but the offensive line was terrible last year and they clearly deisgned short plays to get the ball out of his hands. With a full healthy off-season this is the year that Tua needs to show his talent and I don’t see why he wouldn’t especially after the Dolphins adding to the WR group to help him.
Will Fuller was brought in but is suspended for this game, but they drafted ‘Bama team mate Jaylen Waddle who adds some more pace to the side and will be able to get open downfield. He should be the WR1 at least for this game, maybe going forward. Devante Parker and Preston Williams are still there, they’re all right I guess. Mike Gesicki formed a good relationship with Tua though and should get a lot of targets in the middle of the field. Maybe a good one to look for on props and TDs. Oh Shit. BERT ALERT – I forgot about Albert Wilson, supposedly had a good camp and another with a lot of pace.
They have a ton of average RBs back there, likely to be led by Myles Gaskin who did well last season but is by no means a top 10 guy. They’ll mix him with Malcom Brown, signed from the Rams and Salvon Ahmed who did well when needed last year.
It’s a new dawn for the Patriots who discarded Cam Newton in favour of rookie Mac Jones. Fair enough. They took him in the first round and he’s the future, but I didn’t think he’d be in from the start of the season. It’s a tough test to start the year but you’ve got to trust in Belichick.
Damien Harris will be the main man at RB after they traded away Sony Michel to the Rams. He would have been anyway but that cemented it and he’ll get a lot of usage with a rookie under center. James White may become Mac Jones best friend as one of the better pass-catching backs in the league and Rhamondre Stevenson looked good in preseason, may get some snaps as well.
The Patriots clearly had a lack of talent on both sides of the ball and worked to address it in free agency giving out the most guarantees of any team and signing a load of average pass catchers. Nelson Agholar and Kendrick Bourne came in to ‘add’ to the WR group which was horribly thin with Jakobi Meyers leading it. I actually like Bourne and think he’ll do a good job in the slot for them this year. Tight ends got a big upgrade though with Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith coming in. I think it’s safe to assume a lot of the play will be aimed at those two this year and Henry looks like he’ll be available for this one after overcoming an injury.
The defense lost a lot of players through opt-outs last year but most are back and they brought back Kyle Van Noy from the Dolphins to strengthen the LB group some more. It will be a very different Patriots team this year.
I think the line is right, I don’t know how either of these teams will go this year although I think the Pats are better and the Dolphins worse. I would lean Miami here on the spread, but the unders is probably the play.
Chicago Bears +8 @ Los Angeles Rams: 46.5
Sunday night football sees the SoFi stadium officially opened with fans as the Rams host the Bears.
There’s a clamouring for Justin Fields to be straight into the action for the Bears, but it will be Andy Dalton starting in this one. He’s fine and it’s probably prudent to not let your rookie QB get mauled by Aaron Donald in his first start. If I were a betting man I’d say that Dalton gets three games and then they move to Fields.
David Montgomery will get a ton of carries once again without doing anything to excite. They brought in Damien Williams from the Chiefs which is an interesting signing, he showed he could do it in an Andy Reid offense and Nagy as a former Chiefs coach obviously liked what he saw, interesting to see how he’s used.
Allen Robinson is one of the best WRs in the league and should get the bulk of the targets once more, but Darnell Mooney is the man they’ve been excited about and probably one to look for going forward this year as the WR2. There’s not a whole lot else other than those two, but they do have some pace with Marquise Goodwin and newly signed Breshad Perriman on the roster. Tight end they still have Jimmy Graham for some reason, and Cole Kmet coming into his second year.
The Bears are just so Bleh.
The Rams are all-in on their Superbowl push after giving away a lot to upgrade at QB by bringing in Matthew Stafford. He was the first overall pick all those years ago and finally gets a team who he can fully show that talent for. I love Stafford and think he’ll be great in LA.
He’s got a couple of very reliable targets in Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods. I would think Kupp will be the 1 personally, but time will tell on that. We’ve been given no help in preseason with none of the starters playing at all. They brought in Desean Jackson who even at his age gives a very reliable downfield prescense for Stafford to drop bombs to, as does rookie Tutu Atwell who’s a whole lot of pace. It looks like Van Jefferson will be the WR3 though.
They let Gerald Everett go from the tight end room so it seems it’s all on Tyler Higbee this year.
The running back group looked like it would be led by Cam Akers but he’s done for the year so despite the signing of Sony Michel from the Patriots I think it will be mainly Darrel Henderson who did well before injury last year and showed he worked well in this offense. Sony will get a role in relief. Probably. Although he’s listed higher on the depth chart for some reason.
The defense is good. I’m tired. It’s been a long few days writing these.
It’s hard to look past the Rams. It’s a high spread so I’ll leave it, but they should cover it.
Best Bets for the late games?
I’m all about Javonte Williams today, but I struggle to recommend his rushing line now that it’s jumped 25% from opening and the 15/8 on him scoring is much less than I expected him to be for the Broncos.
There won’t be many weeks where Aaron Jones and Alvin Kamara are around evens. 11/10 on Jones (Sky and Hills) and 4/5 on Kamara (Hills) are both pretty, also in that game there’s a good price on Callaway. With the lack of weapons for the Saints he should get a few targets and we know Jameis isn’t fussed about INTs. Over 3/1 for him seems generous.
Kamara receptions is the line I was looking for, they’re at a poor price for o5.5 though, so I’ll avoid.
Mike Gesicki receptions? I like o3.5 at 21/20 on Hills is good enough for me.
- Alvin Kamara anytime – 4/5 (WillHill)
- Marquez Callaway anytime TD – 16/5 (WillHill)
- Mike Gesicki o3.5 receptions – 21/20 (WillHill)
Fair play to Hills for leading the way on pricing for a lot of players this weekend. They were first up with player props earlier in the week as well.
Nothing too expansive this week with it being a new season, probably more sensible to keep your paint fresh and see how things go.
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