In the first week of Vegas football money action, I went 4-2 against the spread. Not bad. It’s only about what I always expect, because like Mike Singletary I’m probably only a few days from being kicked out the door anyway. Oh right, there was something about winners he said? I don’t remember.
But enough about me. We had to add some spice to this little spot we call [NO ACTUAL NAME FOR THIS VEGAS PICKS COLUMN], and that meant bringing in the big guns.
Fortunately, I was at Universal Studios the other day and I stopped by the Howl at the Moon on the CityWalk, and that gave me an idea. There’s no need to be greedy with the wealth, and I already share the love with my good pal Ryan Mathews on our annual Super Bowl prop bonanza, so why not bring him aboard for some spice?
We’re going head to head on a few games and then making some personal picks, and we’ll see how we do each week. Who knows? Ryan’s friend BovadaKing69 (what a wonderful user handle!) might stop by as well.
Dallas -5 at Washington
Chris: Who saw the Kellen Moore era coming? Ezekiel Elliott didn’t produce much in the season opener, but he really didn’t need to when you’ve got Prescott slinging for 405 yards. Of course, that’s easy when it’s the Giants.
On the road in DC could be dicier: last year Washington had the 11th-ranked pass defense by DVOA. Let’s not also forget that Washington put up a pretty good amount of offense in week 1 as well, although certainly without the same efficiency that Dak Prescott had. Will Zeke be ready to take up the workload and slice open a thin Washington run defense?
This line opened at Dallas -7 and slid down all the way to -4.5 at one point. I like following early money trends. Fade Dallas, embrace NFC East chaos, embrace the home dog, take Washington +5.
Ryan: The Cowboys offense is... fun? When the heck did this happen? It’s the same cast of characters: Dak, Zeke, Cooper... Who is responsible for this?
Cowboys fans: Was Kellen Moore a good hire at OC? I hope the offense is fun to watch this year.— David Helman (@HelmanDC) September 8, 2019
The Cowboys, like our good buddy and deputy editor Mansur Shaheen has proclaimed, is my new secondary NFC team for the 2019 season. It goes against a lot of the principles or guidelines I have for choosing such a team like, for example, that they’re actually good—and the other rule being it can never be the Cowboys, but here we are. Dallas -5.
New England -19 at Miami
Ryan: The Penn State-Pittsburgh rivalry takes place this week at Beaver Stadium, and that spread is only +17.5 for the Nittany Lions. That’s a college football game. So is Ohio State (-16.5) over Indiana in Bloomington this week. But like a young Sinead O’Connor, nothing compares to you, AFC East rivalry game.
I’ve never seen a spread like this before in an NFL game. Not in my whole “paying attention to sports as a vehicle for gambling” life. It’s just the fourth time in NFL history that a team on the road has been favored by three possessions.
But I watched this movie last season. Ex-New England Patriots coach gets shellacked in Week 1, gets the Patriots shortly thereafter on their schedule, and beats them into submission. History has a way of repeating itself, so I like Flores having his eye on the prize—beating his former boss Bill Belichick—instead of being any sort of competitive in Week 1. Give me Miami +19!
Chris: When Ryan wanted to pick this game I told him he was crazy, crazy like Mr. Fox. I said on the PODcast that Miami got beat last week like a Sun Belt team playing Alabama, and this spread is what you’d see for Stanford vs. Sacramento State or something.
But get a load of this: the Patriots are only 16-38 all-time in Miami. Could that mean that the listless and collapsing Dolphins could put up a competitive fight and perhaps cover a three-score spread? Let’s find out together. Miami +19.
Kansas City -7.5 at Oakland
Chris: Kansas City is the truth. I will never deny it, I will never hide it. However, I know well how much this game means for division rivals. Call it riding the wave from Week 1, call it fading the public, call it playing the hook on the touchdown, call it the turkey hole (Turkey Black Hole?) but I’m going to lean towards a close game and Oakland +7.5. The value is right where I want it. Any lower and I’d flip to the Chiefs.
Ryan: Jon Gruden, after watching Hard Knocks, is probably the most tolerable of the boomer coaches in the league. The way he’s become this caricature of himself made for entertaining television. The way he was totally cool with outing himself as a football-focused—mental health and emotional well-being be damned—human being in the Antonio Brown video means Gruden is actually nutso and I, for one, am very here for it. Knock on wood if you’re with me.
But this week, he’s gotta coach up his defense for Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes, not Vic Fangio and Joe Flacco. That’s a lot of dip for the chip, man. Kansas City -7.5.
LA Rams -2.5 vs. New Orleans
Ryan: The last time these two teams squared off, we got Michael Thomas recreating Joe Horn’s cell phone celebration—also known as the best moment of the 2018 season.
Michael Thomas broke out the Joe Horn-inspired TD celebration pic.twitter.com/nx7a7K3hbO— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) November 5, 2018
Aside from their quarterback choosing to be a spokesman for pyramid schemes, the Saints have a bunch of fun on their offense. Alvin Kamara: Fun. Michael Thomas: Fun. Ted Ginn Jr.: The human embodiment of boom or bust aka FUN. New Orleans +2.5.
Chris: Let’s see if we can go one week without Saints fans bellyaching over referee calls. At least this one will be out of their own building so I won’t have to see it. LA Rams -2.5.
Buffalo -1.5 at NY Giants
Philadelphia at Atlanta UNDER 51.5
Minnesota +3 at Green Bay
Tennessee -3 vs. Indianapolis
Baltimore -13.5 vs. Arizona
Philadelphia vs. Atlanta UNDER 51.5
Ryan: Are we both really taking the under? What kind of fun-sucking guide to betting is this?
Chris: I’ll see you in hell.
Jacksonville +360 over Houston
BK69: It’s Gardner Minshew’s world, and you’re lucky to be afforded the opportunity to live in it.
Take full advantage of this new lease on life by picking the jungle cats straight up in a game where the Texans are favored by a whopping 8.5 points at NRG Stadium this Sunday. That’s too many points and it’s caused the moneyline to swell. Relieve the swelling. Ice, Tylenol, and a fat wager on the Jaguars. Doctor’s orders.