The months of lonely Sundays, the start of the 2019 NFL season is finally upon us. With sports betting quickly spreading across the country, Collin Hulbert is here to provide you with his expert analysis of all the games the games of the week.. Betting lines are from the BetRivers Online Sportsbook, which is available to sports bettors in PA.
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If you have a few minutes, check out Collin’s thoughts on each of this week’s games. Got just a minute? Here is a summary of Collin’s picks.
|Matchup/Line||Collin's Pick||Take With the Spread||Over/Under|
|Packers @ Bears -3 O/U: 46.5||Bears 27 Packers 20||Bears||Over|
|Falcons @ Vikings -4 O/U: 48||Vikings 33 Falcons 27||Vikings||Over|
|Ravens -7 @ Dolphins O/U: 37.5||Ravens 27 Dolphins 10||Ravens||Under|
|Bills @ Jets -3 O/U: 40.5||Jets 20 Bills 16||Jets||Under|
|Chiefs -3.5 @ Jaguars O/U: 52||Chiefs 31 Jaguars 23||Chiefs||Over|
|Rams -2.5 @ Panthers O/U: 50||Rams 30 Panthers 24||Rams||Over|
|Titans @ Browns -5.5 O/U: 45.5||Browns 24 Titans 13||Browns||Under|
|Redskins @ Eagles -9.5 O/U: 45.5||Eagles 30 Redskins 13||Eagles||Under|
|Bengals @ Seahawks -8.5 O/U: 43.5||Seahawks 31 Bengals 20||Seahawaks||Over|
|Colts @ Chargers -6.5 O/U: 44.5||Chargers 23 Colts 20||Chargers||Under|
|Lions -2.5 @ Cardinals O/U: 47||Lions 34 Cardinals 17||Lions||Over|
|Giants @ Cowboys -7 O/U: 45.5||Cowboys 34 Giants 17||Cowboys||Over|
|Steelers @ Patriots -5.5 O/U: 49.5||Patriots 31 Steelers 16||Patriots||Under|
|Texans @ Saints -7 O/U: 53.5||Saints 27 Texans 17||Saints||Under|
|Broncos @ Raiders (Even) O/U: 43||Broncos 23 Raiders 17||Broncos||Under|
September 5th (Thursday night)
Packers @ Bears -3 O/U: 46.5
Two major personnel changes to note in this matchup must be considered. First, 2018 Bears defensive coordinator, Vic Fangio, left for the head coaching job in Denver. Mike McCarthy was fired as the Packers head coach and has been replaced by Matt LaFleur, whose time as the offensive coordinator in Tennessee resulted in the Titans finishing with the 25th ranked offense. There’s reason to be concerned with both these teams to begin the season.
The Packers ranked 22nd in both rush defense and points allowed per game. They ranked 12th in passing defense. Last season, the Bears continued their commitment to the run (11th in rushing yards per game, 21st in passing yards per game). The Bears stout defense (3rd overall in 2018) will be without Fangio, but most key personnel will return for 2019, so the unit should again be a top 10 unit overall.
I expect the Bears to be a little more prepared for this game, given the continuity at the head coaching position and how historically, teams don’t fare well in their new coach’s first game, especially on the road. I think Aaron Rodgers will be solid, but the Bears will build an early lead and hold off a late Packers charge. Bears 27 Packers 20
September 8th (Sunday)
Falcons @ Vikings -4 O/U: 48
The Falcons brought back Dirk Koetter to be their Offensive Coordinator, who was the OC for the Falcons from 2012 to 2014. The Falcons still have questions on defense, but made some efforts to beef up the O-line by drafting two offensive linemen in the first round and not drafting a defensive player until Round 4. By doubling down on the offense, it’s clear the Falcons are preparing to be in a lot of shootouts this season. The Vikings are fairly healthy for now, but the Falcons soft rushing defense is going to be problematic and should be the glaring mismatch in this game. I think the Vikings will run away with this one, but it should be a high scoring game. Vikings 33 Falcons 27
Ravens -7 @ Dolphins O/U: 37.5
The Ravens’ dynamic rushing attack was stifled in the playoffs at home by a nine-man Chargers front. It’ll be interesting to see what their approach is in 2019, given the blueprint for stopping them was laid at everyone’s doorstep with their Wildcard loss. With all the questions surrounding the Ravens, the Dolphins are in full-on tank mode. They traded away their top receiver and a solid, young tackle. They’ve got a talentless roster, a bad offensive line, and they’re starting a journeyman quarterback who was born in the Disco era. Ravens 27 Dolphins 10
Bills @ Jets -3 O/U: 40.5
The J-E-T-S are back in 2019 with a facelift. Le’Veon Bell is the new running back. They’ve done a lot to improve on both sides of the ball and the expectation is that Sam Darnold will make the jump in year two. The Bills have more questions going into this game, but have a very solid defense that should keep them in this one. Jets 20 Bills 16
Chiefs -3.5 @ Jaguars O/U: 52
This game is a lot trickier than it looks. The Jaguars are under new leadership at quarterback, which should keep the defense more rested than a season ago. They have plenty of time to make a gameplan for this matchup, but the questions here are with the Jaguars offensive potency and the Chiefs defense. As promising as the Jaguars sound with a competent quarterback at the helm, this is the first game and I’m going with what I know about these two teams. Last year’s game was a tale of the Chiefs blowing the doors off the Jaguars before garbage time allowed Blake Bortles to salvage a dreadful team effort. Chiefs 31 Jaguars 23
Rams -2.5 @ Panthers O/U: 50
The Rams are coming off a stinker of a Super Bowl. The Panthers limped across the finish line last season. As Cam Newton recovers from a mild ankle issue, I anticipate the Rams will get out to a fast start on the road and never look back. This one should get close in the end but it’ll be too much for the Panthers to overcome. Rams 30 Panthers 24
Titans @ Browns -5.5 O/U: 45.5
As much as the Browns have been hyped following last season, there’s validity to it. The Browns got off to an abysmal start last season, before finally cutting ties with Hue Jackson after a 2-5-1 start. From there, the Browns went 5-3 to close out the season and added a major weapon in Odell Beckham Jr to the roster. Baker Mayfield’s breakout 2018 season was a breath of fresh air for an organization who has long struggled to have a franchise quarterback.
The Titans will be on the road and are possibly going in the wrong direction as a franchise, with the frequent injury and inconsistency history of a franchise quarterback, Marcus Mariota. The Titans stout pass defense and rushing offense nearly carried them to the playoffs a year ago. Unfortunately, they’ll be without left tackle, Taylor Lewan, for this game. The Browns should be able to exploit the Titans shaky rushing defense and cruise to a comfortable victory at home. Browns 24 Titans 13
Redskins @ Eagles -9.5 O/U: 45.5
The Eagles are locked and loaded with a healthy roster for the first time in a long while. They’re the current favorites to win the NFC East and have a great matchup to lead off the season at home versus a rudderless ship, the Washington Redskins. The Redskins and their medical rehab staff might not be the worst part of the team, which is frightening. Despite a plethora of injuries the past couple seasons, the Skins just barely missed the playoffs last season. The Skins, at times, looked very strong defensively.
Offensively, they couldn’t get enough continuity with personnel to be effective, much like in 2017. This season will be just as challenging as a new quarterback, Case Keenum, who will be taking the snaps as veteran Colt McCoy still has not recovered from his injury last season and the first-round pick, Dwayne Haskins, hasn’t shown he’s ready to take the reins yet. It will be tough sledding in a rough environment for the Redskins. The best they can hope for is to attempt to find a rhythm on offense. Eagles 30 Redskins 13
Bengals @ Seahawks -8.5 O/U: 43.5
The Bengals were near the bottom of the barrel in most major categories in 2018. The defense was the biggest issue, as the offense managed to remain potent enough (despite Tyler Eifert and AJ Green injuries) to keep them in some games and even win a few shootouts. The Bengals didn’t do a lot in the offseason, other than lick their wounds. Seattle, on the other hand, added depth defensively. The addition of Jadaveon Clowney should help their edge rush on defense, but they failed to do much offensively to help out Russell Wilson on the outside. This game will likely come down to Seattle’s ability to control the game on the ground and Cincinnati’s inability to slow down the Seattle offense. I expect a smooth win for Seattle. Seahawks 31 Bengals 20
Colts @ Chargers -6.5 O/U: 44.5
As easy as it is to cross off the Colts because of Andrew Luck’s untimely retirement, I can’t do that because I know too much about their depth. The Colts went on a hot streak to finish the season and annihilated the Texans in Houston in the Wildcard round. Though the freezing Kansas City environment ultimately was their undoing, the Colts surpassed all expectations under their prolific new coach, Frank Reich. The Chargers got off to a horrific start in the divisional round against the Patriots and couldn’t complete the comeback in time. Though the Chargers are carrying a lot of hype into 2019, their offensive line is banged up, their star running back is holding out, and their Pro Bowl safety is out for the season. Despite all this, this game should be much closer than many believe.
For one, Jacoby Brisset is much more prepared than many are giving him credit. The Colts offensive line is also a major strength, so don’t expect too many three and outs for the Colts. The Chargers are going to have issues protecting Rivers and giving Ekeler and Jackson good rushing lanes against this 9th ranked rushing defense from 2018. I think the Chargers pull it out in a close one. Chargers 23 Colts 20
Lions -2.5 @ Cardinals O/U: 47
There are plenty of things to criticize about both these teams from 2018. The Cardinals were absolutely horrid and the Lions seemed to fluctuate somewhere between “competent” and “completely lost” on a quarter to quarter basis in 2018. This season, the Lions should be the more established offense early and should be able to shred the Cardinals weak secondary. As for the Cardinals, they will be operating with another weak offensive line and will likely again struggle to stay in a positive game script in 2019. Their skill position guys are all pretty young, so I expect it’s going to be a few weeks before the Cardinals figure out how to best execute their offense with such a disaster of an O-line. Lions 34 Cardinals 17
Giants @ Cowboys -7 O/U: 45.5
I found it amusing the line didn’t move when Zeke signed his extension. That either means running backs really don’t move the needle like many of us suspect, or it means Vegas had inside info that a deal was going to happen by game time. Regardless, the only big threat here for the Cowboys is Saquan Barkley, since the Giants are currently shorthanded at receiver and their “Weekend at Bernie’s” quarterback has about as much juice left in him as a disposable lighter after a Dave Matthews Band concert. I think the Cowboys should control the game and not even a Herculean effort by Saquan will be enough to keep the Giants close. Cowboys 34 Giants 17
49ers @ Bucs (Even) O/U: 50.5
Okay, this isn’t a matchup we should be excited about but I am. It’s going to be a high scoring affair. I love the offense in this matchup on both sides and believe this will come down to whoever turns over the ball least. The 49ers will be prepared, but the lack of continuity on offense leads me to believe they will get off to a slow start and I’m not sure they’ll be able to catch up in the end. Bucs 31 49ers 27
Steelers @ Patriots -5.5 O/U: 49.5
The Steelers have done a lot to prepare their defense to defend better at the second level. They’ve also added pieces that should assist in the turnover department on the defensive end. However, the Patriots are even more imposing on defense than they’ve been in recent seasons and their offense doesn’t seem to skip a beat, even with Gronk now retired (for now). This Steelers offense will not move the ball with the same level of ease without AB in the gameplan and I think they’re going to get off to a very slow start in this one. Patriots 31 Steelers 16
Texans @ Saints -7 O/U: 53.5
The Saints defense is not their obvious identity now, but it’s time people took notice. They are a very run-heavy offense who resembles something much closer to the Patriots style than their old, spread-em-out attack that made Drew Brees the household name he is today. The Saints will choke off the Texans on offense and pound the ball down the Texans’ throats. The outcome shouldn’t be surprising for those of us who have been paying attention to both these franchises. One is very strategic and calculated while the other takes the “Leroy Jenkins” approach to team building and running an offense. Saints 27 Texans 17
September 9th (Monday night)
Broncos @ Raiders (Even) O/U: 43
Okay, they really saved the best for last here. I’m kidding. No one outside of these two fan bases will likely stay up for this one. It’s going to be fascinating to see how the dynamic between Antonio Brown and Derek Carr develops. This will be an early test for the Raiders and to be honest, I’m not sold on them. Despite the fact the Broncos are starting the season with a new coach and a new quarterback on the road, their defense is superior and their coach, Vic Fangio, is a different breed of coach. He will have the Broncos prepared for their opener. Broncos 23 Raiders 17