Week 1 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS) - Trifone
Here are my Week 1 NFL picks against the spread (ATS):
Tennessee Titans +7 (over Pittsburgh Steelers)
Prior to the preseason, I thought that the Steelers were going to bounce back from a mediocre season and likely be bound for the playoffs. I don't anymore. The Steelers first string offense has not been very good, en route to an 0-4 preseason. I don't take a lot from the preseason, but you can learn some things, and I wouldn't be encouraged by their performance thus far if I were a Steelers fan. They will be going into the year without starting running back Le'Veon Bell and without tight end Heath Miller.
I think Chris Johnson may be returning to form as one of the league's top backs, which will be a huge help to their young quarterback, Jake Locker. Locker took over for Matt Hasselbeck last season, and will be looking to get off to a good start in his first full year at the helm.
With neither offense being particularly impressive, I like taking the seven points a lot. I actually think that the moneyline is a reasonable bet as well. If I'm scaling my bets on a 1-5 unit system, this would be a 5-unit wager for me.
Cincinnati Bengals +3 (over Chicago Bears)
This is another bet where I like the underdog outright. The Bengals are becoming one of the most complete teams in the league.
Andy Dalton has added another weapon this year in Tyler Eifert, and we should see plenty of double tight end sets with Jermaine Gresham. A.J. Green is one of the premier wideouts in the league, and the dual running back combo of BenJarvus Green-Ellis and rookie Giovani Bernard should prove to be formidable. All this without mentioning the defense, which may be the Bengals better side of the ball.
The Bears closed last season poorly, and missed out on the playoffs after a 7-1 start to the year. They lost Brian Urlacher to retirement, and Brandon Marshall is already unhappy. While Matt Forte has looked terrific in the preseason, I don't think it will be enough.
I think the Bengals are the favorite to win the game outright. This would be a 4-unit wager for me.
Houston Texans -4.5 (over San Diego Chargers)
Typically, I wouldn't like a road favorite as much as I do here. However, the Chargers appear to me to be a team that is very much on the decline.
Philip Rivers has been getting worse and worse over the past few years, and it's possible that another poor season in San Diego could mean going in another direction. I don't know anyone that thinks that Ryan Matthews is in store for a big year. The defense should be relatively solid, but if they can't put up points, they aren't going to win many games.
The Texans have been careful with Arian Foster, but even if he only plays sparingly in San Diego, Houston is fortunate enough to have a backup running back in Ben Tate who is more than capable of handling the workload. The addition of Ed Reed should help a defense that was already seventh in the league last year.
I don't think this one will be close, and this was one of my favorite games of the week. I would make this a full 5-unit wager.
Five contributors make weekly picks ATS and they will be posted here.