Sunday, September 10, 2017

Week 1 NFL Picks Against the Spread (Hanson)

Every week, four of our contributors pick between two and five games each and assign a number of units (one to five) to their selection based on their confidence in the pick.

Earlier this week, our other contributors posted their picks:
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With that said, here are my Week 1 NFL picks against the spread:

Houston Texans vs. Jacksonville Jaguars, Under 38.5 (3 Units)

Without J.J. Watt, the Texans led the NFL in total defense in 2016. Meanwhile, the Jaguars added free-agent studs Calais Campbell and A.J. Bouye to a defense that ranked sixth in total defense last season. On the other side of the ball, the Texans will start inexperienced quarterback Tom Savage as Doug Marrone reluctantly switches back to Blake Bortles after Chad Henne started the third preseason game.

My only concern with the under is the potential for a pick-six or a lot of turnovers that lead to favorable field positions. That said, I could see this game turn out to be a 17-7, 20-10 type of contest.

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Houston Texans -5.5 over Jacksonville Jaguars (1 Unit)

As noted above, this matchup features two outstanding defenses. With Bortles under center, however, I think there's a much greater chance that the Jags turn the ball over and struggle to get something positive going. My biggest worry, in terms of Houston covering the spread, is the fact that they could try to force things early and make some mistakes as it will certainly be an emotional game given what the city has gone through with Hurricane Harvey.

Tennessee Titans vs. Oakland Raiders, Over 51 (3 Units)

Unlike the Texans-Jaguars game, this one features two young starting quarterbacks on the rise. In turn, their defenses are the weak(er) link.

Both teams should be able to run the ball behind outstanding offensive lines, but Marcus Mariota has several new weapons in Eric Decker, Corey Davis and more to join Delanie Walker and Rishard Matthews. Meanwhile, Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree were the first pair of 1,000-yard wide receivers for the Raiders since 2001 (Jerry Rice and Tim Brown).

In what should be a close game, I could see this game turn into a 31-28 type of shootout.

- Note: All of our NFL picks against the spread will be centralized here.

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