Welcome to the first week of the NFL season and ProFootballMatchups.com picks of the week. This is where we’ll post our analysis of the best Week 1 NFL bets, helping you decide between the tough bets and the easy ones. For more help on betting across the NFL and a range of the country’s favorite sports, sites like https://ats.io have very regular updates on upcoming games. Each week, we’ll post what we think are the top games of the week, along with our best Underdog Bet of the Week. Finally, you’ll also get our Teaser of the Week at the bottom.
Best Week 1 NFL Bets
Game of the Week No. 1: Niners at Packers
These two teams were on a collision course to play each other in last season’s NFC Championship Game, but the Giants ruined those plans with an upset over the Packers in the Divisional Playoffs. This game features one of the best passing attacks in the NFL led by Aaron Rodgers and one of the best defenses led by Patrick Willis.
The 49ers will rely on the same successful formula they used in 2011, which features a safe offense that averaged 310.9 total yards and 23.8 points per game. Alex Smith will continue to lead the passing attack that only averaged 183.1 yards, but should see improved stats with the additions of Randy Moss and Mario Manningham. The defense should remain one of the most dominant in the NFL as they allowed only 308.2 total yards per game and a league-best 77.2 yards on the ground.
The Packers, led by the arm of Aaron Rodgers, will ride their prolific offense and try to get back to the Super Bowl to reclaim the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Rodgers, who is ranked as the top QB in the NFL by most experts, featured a passing attack that averaged 307.8 yards per game for an offense that averaged 35 points and 405.1 total yards of offense per game.
Why do I think this is one of the best Week 1 NFL bets? The 49ers have struggled in Green Bay, going 0-3-1 ATS in their last four games at Lambeau Field and the Packers are 5-0 ATS in their last five games played in Week 1. For the 49ers, the over is 5-1-1 in the last seven games in September. The Packers have gone 7-1 over the total in their last 8 games on grass.
ProFootballMatchup.com ATS Pick: Packers (-5)
Game of the Week No. 2: Steelers at Broncos
The Steelers will be facing a Broncos team that ended their playoffs early last season, but the Broncos will have a different look in this matchup. Gone is scrambling quarterback Tim Tebow and in comes one of the best QBs of the past decade, Peyton Manning.
The Steelers have had an offseason of change with the firing of OC Bruce Arians and the removal of aged defensive stars with the retirement of Aaron Smith, Chris Hoke and James Farrior. Even with the changes on defense, many expect the same results as last year, which was leading the NFL in yards allowed only giving up 271.8 total yards and 171.9 yards per game through the air. The secondary will be without standout safety Ryan Clark, who will not participate in the contest at Mile High due to a health related issue that arises when he plays in the thin air.
I expect the new-look offense to struggle a little early, but should be clicking on all cylinders later in the season. Look for new Steelers OC Todd Haley to rely on Big Ben Roethlisberger’s arm, since the RB group is banged up. The offense may take a step back from last year’s stats of 372.3 yards and 20.3 points per game, but I expect the 253.4 passing yards per game to actually increase in 2012.
After a long career in Indianapolis, Manning joins a Broncos team with a solid defense and some playmakers on offense. The one thing about Manning is he loves to spread the ball around and I expect Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas to have career years with Manning as their quarterback. Manning will attack the secondary with Clark not playing.
Even though the yards allowed were mediocre at best for the defense, it was due to the output of the offense and not the ability of the defense. With a better offensive scheme and QB play, I expect the Broncos to improve on 2011’s averages of 357.8 total yards and 231 passing yards per game.
The Steelers are 5-2 in their last seven games played in Week 1 and the road team is 4-1 ATS in the last five matchups. The Broncos have gone over the total 14 times in their last 19 home games and Pitt’s defense has started slow, as their total has gone over eight times in their last 10 opening games.
ProFootballMatchup.com ATS Pick: Steelers +1.5
Underdog of the Week: Eagles at Browns
Let me start off by stating that usually I will post the underdog that has a chance to win outright in the contest, but since I’m not feeling great about any dog this week (except the Bills and that line has dropped to much to pick), I am going with the Browns in Week 1. Since this game is more of a gut call and not an analytical call, I am not going to spit out numbers to back up my reason, but I’ll tell you why I feel this is one of the best Week 1 NFL bets.
Breaking down the Eagles on offense, the explosiveness of their play relies heavily on QB Michael Vick and since he is still banged up from the preseason and will play a young and aggressive defense. Vick will get his yards and big plays, but I think the play of the Browns defense will keep them in the game.
On offense, the Browns will play a very safe game since they will be leaning heavily on rookies at the QB (Brandon Weeden) and RB (Trent Richardson) positions. One thing everyone is forgetting is even though the Eagles are one of the most talented rosters in the NFL, they also have not been playing up to their talent level, especially on defense. At the end of the day, I feel the Eagles will win this game, but I do not feel they will cover the high point spread.
The Eagles are 4-1 ATS in their last five road games and the Browns are 2-8-2 ATS in their last 12 home games.* The Eagles have gone under the total four times in their last five road games and the Browns have gone under the total in their last five home games.
*All the trends are pointing to the Eagles, but I am sticking with my Cleveland play.
ProFootballMatchup.com ATS Pick: Browns +9.5
Tzer of the Week: Patriots (-5), Texans (-6)
I initially placed this bet about two weeks ago when the Texans were laying only (-8) and that number has since jumped to 12. But I still like the Texans to beat a struggling Dolphins team. I expect the Pats to beat the Titans in Tennessee, even though I think it may be closer than the 6.5 point spread.
Each week, the guys at ProFootballMatchups.com come up with several great wagers to look at for the upcoming NFL week. Check out their stuff and know that you’re in good hands. For those that are relatively new to betting, understand that ATS stands for “Against the Spread.”
David Gonos spent 5 years as a CBSSports.com Senior Fantasy Writer and three more years writing with SI.com. Over the past 17 years, his work has been published on NFL.com, MLB.com, FanDuel, FoxSports.com and USA Today. Since 2001, he has been tracking down the Top 50-plus Free Fantasy Football Draft Tools online. You can contact David Gonos here.