Week 1 of the NFL season is finally here. It all got underway yesterday when the Buffalo Bills impressed against the Los Angeles Rams. However, we're looking forward to this weekend's slate that consists of 15 more games that will surely cause no overreactions.
We'll be going through three pairs of games with similar point spreads and analyzing which bet we'd rather make. By talking through our handicaps, hopefully we can uncover an angle that you hadn't previously considered that might make you more or less likely to bet a certain game. Without further adieu, here's the first installment of "Would you rather?"
Would you rather lay 3.5-points at home with the Miami Dolphins or the Los Angeles Chargers?
The new-look Miami Dolphins open the season as 3.5-point favorites against the New England Patriots. Mike McDaniel and Tyreek Hill are among those making their debut for the Dolphins, while Mac Jones enters his second season under center for New England. Elsewhere, the Los Angeles Chargers are 3.5-point favorites at home against the Las Vegas Raiders. The Chargers greatly improved their defense with additions like Khalil Mack and J.C. Jackson, while the Raiders added arguably the best receiver in football with Davante Adams. Which home favorite would you rather lay the points with against a divisional opponent?
Greg: Is anyone rushing to take the 3.5 points on a Matt Patricia/Joe Judge run offense? Bringing those two in is football’s equivalent of “The Producers.” We don’t exactly know what the Dolphins offense will look like, either, but at least it’s promising. Bill Belichick is 2-7 in Miami since 2013 and I see that dropping to 2-8 this weekend. I’ll go with the game that has fewer question marks, though, and take the Chargers. People are underestimating just how good this new defense is going to be. Derek Carr will need to be near-perfect (easier if J.C. Jackson ends up missing this contest) and the Raiders’ back seven on defense will need to play way above their talent level to cover 3.5 points. Give me the Chargers in a statement opener.
Pete: I do like both of these favorites to cover the spread here. The Dolphins have speed, which has been a problem for New England defensively. I don't think these teams are particularly close talent-wise, but the great equalizer obviously wears a hoodie on the New England sidelines. Speaking of talent, I think the Chargers might have the most talented roster in the NFL. Justin Herbert is my MVP pick and I expect this offense to put up massive numbers. The defense is much improved as well, at least on paper. The Chargers are famous for disappointing, but I'll set myself up for disappointment again by going with Los Angeles here. Week 1 is too early to get slapped in the face by Bill Belichick anyway.
Would you rather take the 6.5-points with the Chicago Bears or the New York Jets at home?
The New York Jets will be without Zach Wilson to open their season, but there's been some excitement surrounding them throughout the offseason. New York is a 6.5-point underdog at home against the Baltimore Ravens. Elsewhere, the Chicago Bears have gotten the opposite of hype. The Bears open as 6.5-point home underdogs against San Francisco. Both spreads have been fluctuating between 6.5 and 7 points all week, but as of Friday afternoon, both sit under a touchdown. Which ugly home dog would you rather back?
Greg: Joe Flacco may be unvaccinated against COVID-19 but he sure seems vaccinated against winning, as he’s yet to win a start in this decade. Would it shock you if the Ravens beat the Jets 48-10? New York spent much of 2021 getting obliterated by teams who were just way better, and Baltimore certainly fits that profile. I think the Niners roll the Bears as well, but I can at least envision a scenario where Chicago covers. Justin Fields wants to roll out and throw deep and finally has coaches who want him to roll out and throw deep, so connecting on a few of those plays will go a long way towards covering. I’ll take da Bears.
Pete: At this point, we know what Joe Flacco is. If he leads your offense to 20 points, that's about as much as you can expect. With Baltimore healthy, I think they're elite on both sides of the ball. This feels like a 27-14 type of game. While I'm very down on Chicago's roster, there's at least the appeal of unlocked potential with Justin Fields. Trey Lance is also more likely to cause issues for the favorite than Lamar Jackson in the other matchup. I'll hold my nose and take the Bears as well.
Would you rather lay the points on the road with the New Orleans Saints or the Kansas City Chiefs?
New Orleans opens the season as a 5.5-point road favorite against the Atlanta Falcons. Dennis Allen takes over for Sean Payton, Jameis Winston returns from a torn ACL and even Michael Thomas might actually be healthy enough to go in Week 1, though that is in question. Elsewhere, the Kansas City Chiefs have become a 6-point favorite on the road against the Arizona Cardinals. Which road favorite are you backing?
Greg: Which Jameis will show up against Atlanta? Does it even matter? Alvin Kamara’s highlight reel from this game will be the one video tape he wants to see leaked this season. The Chiefs have won seven straight season openers, by an average of 10 points. I’m not worried about their offense missing too many beats following the loss of Tyreek Hill. They have a solid receiving corps, possibly the best head coach in the NFL, possibly the best tight end in the NFL, and possibly the best quarterback in the NFL. The possibilities are endless! Give me the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes torching his college coach’s weak defense.
Pete: We agreed on the first two, so it's about time we disagree, Greg. I love the Saints here. They had an elite defense last year, and this year, Jameis is healthy and they have a solid group of weapons with Thomas, Jarvis Landry, Chris Olave and Kamara. Not sure how Atlanta scores much if at all in this game. I do expect some points in the Chiefs-Cardinals game. I can easily see this game being a shootout where the Chiefs have a 34-23 lead and then the Cardinals score a meaningless touchdown with 26 seconds left. Arizona also has much more of a chance of surprising us than the Falcons do. I'll lay the points with New Orleans instead.