By Ron Jumper
The NFL so is much different to handicap than college football and a large reason for that is because of the smaller number of games and the large amount of money on those games. As money pours in on games, the lines get “sharper” and it is much harder to find value. For the opening weekend, I tend to follow trends. The games are usually lower scoring, so scouring for good Unders is usually a smart way to go. Laying a lot of points is usually a bad idea as well, since we really aren’t sure how good (or how bad…) each team is going to be just yet. I’ve got four plays for the opening NFL weekend. Enjoy!
*Risk $55 to win $50 on All Wagers
Browns/Bucs Under 37
This has all the makings of a snoozefest, with the quarterbacks involved being Jake Delhomme and a “probable” Josh Freeman for Tampa Bay. Neither team has explosive playmakers and will have to stay mistake free to put together long scoring drives. I expect the Bucs to be a run-first team and for the defense to hang tough at home. As far as who wins, it should be a close game but the smart money is on the Under here.
Dolphins (-3) cover vs. Bills
Miami is the far superior team here, as the Bills are competing with the Rams for worst team in the league honors. I expect a heavy dose of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams on the ground and some plays down the field to Brandon Marshall off play-action. The Bills offensive line is still a mess and they have very little to fear outside of Lee Evans and C.J. Spiller. Take the Dolphins.
Raiders/Titans Under 40.5
Both teams want to run the football and play good defense. I would be very surprised if either team lit up the scoreboard in this matchup. I like Jason Campbell to improve the passing game and stabilize the offense but let’s not get carried away and expect too much too soon. With Vince Young at QB, the Titans become a heavy running team and more of short-to-intermediate passing game. I expect a low scoring game with lots of handoffs to the running backs. Take the Under here.
Ravens (+2.5) covers vs. Jets
The Jets are not the Super Bowl contenders people seem to think they are. The first unit really struggled in the preseason, which I know is not always a good indicator of regular season success but it has caused me to be concerned. On the other side, I love how the Ravens matchup in this game. I expect them to welcome Rex Ryan’s aggressive blitzing schemes and exploit it for big plays. Ray Rice will be the glue for Joe Flacco, as he makes huge plays in both the running game and catching balls out of the backfield. I like the Ravens to win straight up here.