I vowed to trust my observations for Week 1, rather than parsing the public betting and sharp/square angle, and the outcome wasn't pretty. That's okay - sometimes when you tinker with your mechanics, the results get worse before they get better.
A few of the games were fourth quarter coin flips - CAR-SEA, ATL-NO, NYG-DAL, CHI-CIN, GB-SF, and I went 1-3-1 on those. I did miss on all five of my best bets, however, and went 2-1 on games in which I was just guessing. All in all, I was off, though Week 1 always comes with extra uncertainty.
My best bets this week are the Jets, Ravens, Rams, Bucs, Jaguars and Giants. The Chargers-Eagles, Texans-Titans, Redskins-Packers and Panthers-Bills were coin flips.
Jets +12.5 at Patriots
The short week usually favors the home team, but the Jets defense is still good, and the Pats can't stretch the field. That Danny Amendola is iffy and Shane Vereen out only makes things worse. This line is too big. Back the Jets.
Patriots 23 - 20
Chargers +7.5 at Eagles
I initially had the Chargers, but got cold feet when I looked at some sharp picks after I wrote the column. I hate the Chargers and don't want to root for Philip Rivers, so I temporarily switched it to the Eagles, reasoning that maybe the Chip Kelly transformation is for real, and the error here is being too slow to buy in. That may well be the case, but I'm not going to be influenced by other things I read - my initial take was to back San Diego with the points and buy into the Eagles only once they've proved it. Back the Chargers.
Eagles 30 - 24
Browns +6.5 at Ravens
The Ravens did fine against the Broncos for a half, and had John Harbaugh challenged Wes Welker's drop, he would have gotten his tired defense off the field with a lead in the third quarter. The subsequent score, a blocked punt and a couple big plays turned it into a blowout, but I still think the Ravens are a good team. Lay the points.
Ravens 27 - 17
Titans +9 at Texans
The Titans caught the Steelers in a good spot, as Pittsburgh lost Maurkice Pouncey in the first quarter, and the wheels came off after that. The Tennessee offensive line is much improved, but Jake Locker showed nothing, and it's hard to read much into the defensive showing against a destroyed offensive line. The Texans looked shaky in San Diego, but I think they'll play better at home. Back Houston.
Houston 33 - 17
Dolphins +3 at Colts
Seems like the square play is the Colts with the name offensive players while the more physical, uglier team, the Dolphins, is probably the value. I'll buy into that. Back Miami.
Dolphins 24 - 20
Panthers -3 at Bills
The Panthers are a good team, but they had some Charger-esque collapses last year, and Week 1 (DeAngelo Williams fumble) didn't change that. Still, I think they handle the Bills and cover this number.
Panthers 27 - 19
Rams +7 at Falcons
Seven strikes me as a lot between what I consider roughly equal teams. Back the Rams.
Rams 24 - 23
Redskins +7 at Packers
Robert Griffin was a disaster in the first half, but he got it together in the second. The question is whether the Redskins offense can keep up with Aaron Rodgers. I'll say they keep it close enough. Back Washington.
Packers 28 - 27
Cowboys +2.5 at Chiefs
I could not have been less impressed with Dallas in Week 1 who probably would have lost the game were it not for a sixth turnover and second defensive touchdown. The Chiefs rolled in Jacksonville, and while that's a low bar to clear, this looks like a real team. Back Kansas City.
Chiefs 27 - 23
Vikings +6.5 at Bears
I loved the Vikings in Detroit, but their defense simply could not slow down Reggie Bush. The Bears are similar with Matt Forte and Brandon Marshall, but I expect Minnesota to hang around against a division rival. Back the Vikings.
Bears 24 - 20
Saints -3.5 at Buccaneeers
The Saints could be good this year, but the defense is still suspect, and the Bucs know how to play them. Moreover, Tampa is a good buy low at home after a loss to the Jets. Back the Bucs.
Buccaneers 27 - 21
Lions -1 at Cardinals
I'm concerned about the Arizona offensive line, but their pass defense was good last year, and Carson Palmer has already transformed the passing game. Take the Cardinals at home.
Cardinals 27 - 24
Jaguars +6 at Raiders
The Raiders looked pretty good in Week 1, but Chad Henne is an upgrade over Blaine Gabbert, and I'm not ready to lay six with Oakland over anyone. Back Jacksonville.
Jaguars 20 - 19
Broncos -4.5 at Giants
Denver got a break on the Wes Welker non-challenge and wore the Ravens out in the second half in the high altitude. They still don't have Von Miller, and they might not have Champ Bailey. The Giants could be without Prince Amukamara, and I expect Denver to move the ball consistently. But they won't stop the Giants, either. Back New York at home.
Giants 31 - 30
49ers +3 at Seahawks
I love Colin Kaepernick, but how can anyone bet against the Seahawks at home giving the standard three points? Back Seattle.
Seahawks 27 - 19
Steelers +7 at Bengals
Week 1 was horrific for Pittsburgh after they lost Maurkice Pouncey but a week of practice for his replacement should help, and I don't see them not showing up for this one against a tough division rival. I'm nervous about Cincy's defensive line dominating here, but I have to take the points. Back the Steelers.
Bengals 20 - 16
We were 5-10-1 in Week 1. Last year we went 121-129-6 on the regular season. From 1999-2012 we've gone 1,810-1,641 (52.4%), not including ties.