Bettor’s Guide: NFL Week 1 Picks, Point Spreads, Over-Unders

[Editor’s note: Spreads for the Monday night games have been added and picks posted.]

For the third straight year, our weekly NFL coverage will include a Bettor’s Guide and a Viewer’s Guide to get you ready for that week’s action in the National. Football. LEAGUE.

In the Bettor’s Guide, normally posted on Tuesdays, we run down the point spreads and over-unders for each game, and I give my against-the-spread picks. The Viewer’s Guide, typically posted on Wednesdays, runs down the TV listings and announcer assignments for each game.

And for those of you wondering whether you should pay attention to my picks, I’ve been relatively successful the last two years since I started doing this post every week. In 2009, I was somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 games over .500 for the season. Last year, I went 131-103-8.

Longtime readers of MSF know that I never wager money on sporting events, but I do enjoy the challenge of picking games against Vegas spreads. My methodology is simple: I get the earliest spreads during the week and post my initial gut reaction. That’s it. And as my records show, it’s been a successful strategy.

If you haven’t signed up yet to participated in the $250 MSF Week 1 Freeroll Challenge at FanDuel, click here to do so now! (For more information click here.)

It’s free to enter, you get to compete against MSF writer and readers, and $250 in prizes will be awarded. What could be better than that?

nfl week 1 picks - point spreads, over unders

nfl-picks-point-spreads-odds-free-picks-ats-over-undersA couple of quick things to keep in mind:

  • All times are ET.
  • All spread info as of Monday. If you want updated point spread info, or some expert advice as you make your weekly picks, below are a few helpful links.

Now here are your Week One picks, along with the point spreads and over-under odds for each game.

NFL Week 1 Bettor’s Guide

Picks – Point Spreads – Over-Under Odds –

Free Picks Against the Spread (ATS)


New Orleans Saints at Green Bay Packers

  • Saints-Packers Date, Time, and TV: Thursday, September 8th at 8:30 ET on NBC
  • Saints-Packers Point Spread: Packers -4
  • Saints-Packers Over-Under Odds: 47
  • Saints-Packers Spread Pick: I am really high on the Saints this year. The won the Super Bowl two years ago, dealt with the expected hangover last year and still made the playoffs, and are now flying under the radar as we enter 2011. I know that Green Bay gets tons of guys back from injury after winning without them last year, and I think Green Bay will round into a pretty good team by the middle of the season, but I fear that they might be a bit sluggish out of the gate, which is to be expected. It’s just not a good thing to be when a refocused Drew Brees and Sean Payton are on the other sideline. Saints-Packers free pick: Saints +4
  • Analysis: Packers-Saints Preview and Prediction

Atlanta Falcons at Chicago Bears

  • Falcons-Bears Date, Time, and TV: Sunday, September 11th at 1:00 ET on FOX
  • Falcons-Bears Point Spread: Falcons -3
  • Falcons-Bears Over-Under Odds: 41
  • Falcons-Bears Spread Pick: In my bold predictions for 2011 article, I picked the Falcons to miss the playoffs. I know it’s not a popular pick, and I may end up regretting it, but I just don’t think a rookie WR is going to have the impact everyone thinks he can, and the Falcons as a franchise just never seem to be able to put back-to-back good seasons together. I’m not high on the Bears either; I don’t think they’re a playoff team in 2011. I do, however, think they can put up some points on a rather pedestrian (to be kind) Atlanta D, and I have had a lot of success over the last two years giving points to the home underdog. Falcons-Bears free pick: Bears +3

Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans

  • Colts-Texans Date, Time, and TV: Sunday, September 11th at 1:00 ET on CBS
  • Colts-Texans Point Spread: Texans -8
  • Colts-Texans Over-Under Odds: 45.5
  • Colts-Texans Spread Pick: Some oddsmakers have the Texans favored by 8 right now. Some have them favored by 3. Obviously the wide disparity is due to the uncertainty over Peyton Manning’s neck. Considering that the Texans beat the Colts in Week 1 last year with a healthy Peyton, and that even if Peyton plays he’ll likely be rusty and not in sync with his receivers, I don’t think this afternoon’s press conference, where the Colts are expected to provide a Peyton update, makes much of a difference in picking this game. This is, once again, like the Super Bowl for the Texans. I think they’ll dominate. Whether they can carry that momentum to a playoff berth, which they couldn’t do last year, remains to be seen. Colts-Texans free pick: Texans -8

Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs

  • Bills-Chiefs Date, Time, and TV: Sunday, September 11th at 1:00 ET on CBS
  • Bills-Chiefs Point Spread: Chiefs -6.5
  • Bills-Chiefs Over-Under Odds: 40.5
  • Bills-Chiefs Spread Pick: I am not high on the Chiefs this year. They are another 2010 playoff team that I think will miss the playoffs this year. They also are likely to be without starting QB Matt Cassel, who is nothing special, but is certainly better than Tyler Palko or whatever other mediocre college QB is now backing Cassel up. The Bills have an underrated offense with more playmakers than you think. Whether they win or not, they’ll certainly keep it close against the Chiefs. Bills-Chiefs free pick: Bills +6.5

Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Titans-Jaguars Date, Time, and TV: Sunday, September 11th at 1:00 ET on CBS
  • Titans-Jaguars Point Spread: Jags -3
  • Titans-Jaguars Over-Under Odds: 38.5
  • Titans-Jaguars Spread Pick: It’s hard to know what to expect from either of these teams, but I’m going with Jacksonville because they seem to have fewer questions. They have the same QB and coach from last year, plus a star RB who has been in camp since it started. Tennessee is breaking in a new coach and QB, and their star RB just got into camp and will be taking his first game reps when this one kicks off. Give me the home team in a solid victory. Titans-Jaguars free pick: Jaguars -3

Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns

  • Bengals-Browns Date, Time, and TV: Sunday, September 11th at 1:00 ET on CBS
  • Bengals-Browns Point Spread: Browns -6.5
  • Bengals-Browns Over-Under Odds: 36
  • Bengals-Browns Spread Pick: I predicted the Bengals to have the worst record in the league this year, so I definitely think the Browns win this one, but saying they’ll do so by a touchdown seems like a wide margin of victory to be expecting of a team that doesn’t win often and that has a new coach. Still, I’m doing it. The Bengals have a rookie QB and a rookie lead receiver. The Browns have the playmakers in their secondary to make that a very dangerous combination for Cincinnati. Bengals-Browns free pick: Browns +6.5

Philadelphia Eagles at St. Louis Rams

  • Eagles-Rams Date, Time, and TV: Sunday, September 11th at 1:00 ET on FOX
  • Eagles-Rams Point Spread: Eagles -4.5
  • Eagles-Rams Over-Under Odds: 44
  • Eagles-Rams Spread Pick: Finally the Summer of Love for the “dream team” Eagles ends and we get to the “Fall of reality.” I like the Eagles this year, though certainly not as much as everyone else, and I think I probably like the Rams a bit more than most people do. So though the Eagles will probably do enough to win this game, it will not be a cakewalk against an emerging star at QB and a defense that is better than most people think. Eagles-Rams free pick: Rams +4.5

Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens

  • Steelers-Ravens Date, Time, and TV: Sunday, September 11th at 1:00 ET on CBS
  • Steelers-Ravens Point Spread: Ravens -2.5
  • Steelers-Ravens Over-Under Odds: 36
  • Steelers-Ravens Spread Pick: The NFL’s bi-annual (sometimes tri-annual, depending on the playoffs) knock-down, drag-out slug-fest is the marquee game on the Week 1 schedule. It’s also a very tough game to predict. I suppose I could go back and look at the scores from the past few seasons’ games and see how well Pittsburgh tends to do in Baltimore, or I could just say that chances are this will be a 1- or 2-point game and give the points to Mike Tomlin, Big Ben, Troy Polamalu and crew. That’s what I’ll do, because I bet more often than not that ends up being a smart bet in this series. Steelers-Ravens free pick: Steelers +2.5

Detroit Lions at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Lions-Buccaneers Date, Time, and TV: Sunday, September 11th at 1:00 ET on FOX
  • Lions-Buccaneers Point Spread: Bucs -1.5
  • Lions-Buccaneers Over-Under Odds: 41
  • Lions-Buccaneers Spread Pick: Count me among those who think this is the year the Lions finally break through and become a playoff team. To do so, they’ll need to win a few games like this one: on the road, against a quality opponent. I like the future for the up-and-coming Bucs, but I also think they will probably take a step back this year before taking two forward in the coming seasons. TB has a head coach and young players who have not yet had to deal with the expectations that come from success, which is part of why I think 2011 could be more humbling for them than people expect. It will start with a home loss to a red hot Lions team that is going to hum on all cylinders as long as Matthew Stafford and Jahvid Best can stay healthy. We’ll just have to see how long that is. Lions-Buccaneers free pick: Lions +1.5

Minnesota Vikings at San Diego Chargers

  • Vikings-Chargers Date, Time, and TV: Sunday, September 11th at 4:15 ET on FOX
  • Vikings-Chargers Point Spread: Chargers -9
  • Vikings-Chargers Over-Under Odds: 41
  • Vikings-Chargers Spread Pick: I think the Vikings are getting short-changed this season. I know last year was a massive disappointment, but they still have the best running back in football, a playmaker in Percy Harvin, and a solid defense, plus the fresh energy of a new coach. And Donovan McNabb has more left in his tank than he showed last year. It was a just a terrible marriage between he and Mike Shanahan. And the Chargers always start seasons off slowly, so why would anyone be comfortable laying 9 points on Norv, Philip, and the boys in powder blue? No thanks. They may win, but are you really confident in them dominating a solid team? I’m not. Vikings-Chargers free pick: Vikings +9

New York Giants at Washington Redskins

  • Giants-Redskins Date, Time, and TV: Sunday, September 11th at 4:15 ET on FOX
  • Giants-Redskins Point Spread: Giants -3
  • Giants-Redskins Over-Under Odds: 37.5
  • Giants-Redskins Spread Pick: Tough game to figure. Washington still hasn’t definitively named a starting quarterback yet, and Eli Manning still is making people question whether he is color blind. (What other explanation is there for him throwing to the wrong-colored jerseys so often?) Both of these teams could be playoff teams or go 5-11 and I don’t think anyone would be terribly surprised. In games with this many question marks, I take the home dog if there is one. There is. Fantastic. Giants-Redskins free pick: Redskins +3

Carolina Panthers at Arizona Cardinals

  • Panthers-Cardinals Date, Time, and TV: Sunday, September 11th at 4:15 ET on FOX
  • Panthers-Cardinals Point Spread: Cardinals -7
  • Panthers-Cardinals Over-Under Odds: 36.5
  • Panthers-Cardinals Spread Pick: In as many fantasy leagues as I could, I gobbled up the Arizona defense. Not only do I think the addition of Patrick Peterson gives them legit TD-scoring ability in every game, but they are going up against an offense that wasn’t any good last year…and that is now breaking in a rookie QB. Plus, the Cards and their fans will be geeked up about the beginning of the Kevin Kolb Era. Whether he’s good long-term or not, I bet he’s good in Week 1. It all adds up to an Arizona blowout win. Panthers-Cardinals free pick: Cardinals -7

Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers

  • Seahawks-49ers Date, Time, and TV: Sunday, September 11th at 4:15 ET on FOX
  • Seahawks-49ers Point Spread: 49ers -6
  • Seahawks-49ers Over-Under Odds: 38
  • Seahawks-49ers Spread Pick: The 49ers are favored by 6 points in this game, and yet I’m not sure 6 points will be scored in a game quarterbacked by Tarvaris Jackson and Alex Smith. Thus, I don’t trust laying 6 points on either team, and thus I am taking the Seahawks and the points by default. Seahawks-49ers free pick: Seahawks +6

Dallas Cowboys at New York Jets

  • Cowboys-Jets Date, Time, and TV: Sunday, September 11th at 8:20 ET on NBC
  • Cowboys-Jets Point Spread: Jets -4
  • Cowboys-Jets Over-Under Odds: 40.5
  • Cowboys-Jets Spread Pick: Don’t sleep on the Cowboys now folks. I know they pissed all over high expectations in the first half of last season, but I’m buying in on the Jason Garrett Era. Dallas will struggle on defense early in the season, but is Mark Sanchez consistent enough to take advantage? And while the Jets’ D is superb, the Cowboys have one of the most potent sets of skill position players in the league. They’ll score points. They’ll also make this a fun, close game. Oh, and who do you think this game will mean more to: Rex Ryan, who has played in two straight conference title games, or his brother Rob, now coaching the Cowboys defense and still trying to make a name for himself? Yeah. Don’t discount that extra bit of motivation to trickle down into more energy for the Cowboys’ D. Cowboys-Jets free pick: Cowboys +4

New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins

  • Patriots-Dolphins Date, Time, and TV: Monday, September 12th at 7:00 ET on ESPN
  • Patriots-Dolphins Point Spread: Patriots -7
  • Patriots-Dolphins Over-Under 45.5
  • Patriots-Dolphins Spread Pick: The Dolphins typically play the Patriots tough, and in fact they seem to play them toughest when the odds seem the most stacked against them. And with Chad Henne actually playing solidly during the preseason, I am cautiously optimistic that he can improve this year. Plus, the Patriots’ passing game is still developing with new addition Chad Ochocinco, and their defense is no longer the dominant force it once was. The Dolphins, on the other hand, have an underrated D that can get to Tom Brady. New England will finish much better in the standings this year, and will probably win this game, but I don’t think it’ll be the cakewalk some expect. Patriots-Dolphins free pick: Dolphins +7

Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos

  • Raiders-Broncos Date, Time, and TV: Monday, September 12th at 10:15 ET on ESPN
  • Raiders-Broncos Point Spread: Broncos -3
  • Raiders-Broncos Over-Under Odds: 40
  • Raiders-Broncos Spread Pick: Ah yes, the Mike & Mike Bowl. (I assume they are announcing again, which means I most likely won’t be tuning in.) Tough game to figure, but the Raiders should be able to pound the ball pretty well with a healthy McFadden-Bush combo. They’ll struggle to pass all year, but against a Broncos offense in its first regular season game after the drastic shift from McDaniels to Fox, I think it’ll be enough to at least cover. Raiders-Broncos free pick: Raiders +3

If you want to provide your picks, feel free to comment below.

About Jerod Morris

I love words. I write for Copyblogger and founded MSF, The Assembly Call, & Primility. I practice yoga, eat well, & strive for balance. I love life. Namaste. Say hi on Twitter, Facebook, & G+.


  1. the redskins are starting rex grossman how does this affect the out come of that game?

  2. Greg Salina says:

    Miami typically plays the Patriots tough??? They lost by more than three touchdowns both times they played New England last year. Terrible pick, hope you're not putting any money on Miami that you can't afford to lose.

  3. agree with the bills….underrated o. bills rock, you are correct

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