Point spreads and totals are out for Week 1 of the NFL regular season and here are five early ‘unders’ to wet your appetite.
We are still in the dog days of summer and the 2012 NFL regular season does not kick off until Wednesday, September 5th, but Week 1 point spreads and totals have been released at Pinnacle Sports
and it is never too early to take a look and seek some value.
We are looking at the totals this week, and more specifically, the ‘unders’. Just as in many sports, the defense is usually ahead of the offense in the early stages of the season, and yet the bookmakers still tend to pad the totals upward a tad with the general public loving the bet the ‘over’ on just about every game and that tends to oftentimes give the ‘under’ value.
To wit, the ‘under’ is 315-299-8 during the month of September in the last 12 seasons starting with 2000 based on the closing lines at Pinnacle, which is a slight bias but a bias nonetheless, and the ‘under’ is a more pronounced 105-84-1, 55.6 percent in Week 1 during that time, which makes sense since opening week should be when the disparity between the defenses and the offenses is the greatest.
Yes, all of this went out the window last season when the ‘over’ went an amazing 13-3 in Week 1 and 29-18-1, 61.7 percent during September, but we see that as variance and expect a return to normalcy this year. After all, just two years ago the ‘under’ went 11-4-1 in Week 1, so last season was probably just a blip.
So we analyzed all the Week 1 games this season based on the early information we have on hand and we came up with the followed five NFL picks
based on the current lines at Pinnacle that we feel will keep the early ‘under’ trend alive for another season.Jaguars, Vikings ‘under’ 38:
This just might be the ugliest matchup of opening weekend as both of these teams have a chance to finish with the worst record in the NFL by the end of the year. The Vikings have been dealing with some off-the-field drama in the off season with Adrian Peterson getting arrested in a nightclub and Percy Harvin asking to be traded
, but in matters on the field, the whole Peterson situation is a mess. On the one hand, Minnesota will have trouble scoring points if Peterson does not play and on the other hand he would be risking getting more injured and suffering some permanent damage if he comes back too soon. Speaking of having trouble scoring points, the Jaguars averaged 15.2 points per game last season and that was with Maurice Jones-Drew running wild for over 1600 yards on a nice 4.7 yards per carry. Jones-Drew is still involved in a contract squabble and the Jacksonville offense would be totally lost if he is not in uniform by Week 1. If he does sign and show up, as we expect, then the offense will go primarily though him anyway which is still conducive to a low scoring game with the Jags running so much clock. Jacksonville seems to have no choice other than that game plan as it has committed to a quarterback in Blaine Gabbert that seems to close his eyes whenever a defender comes close to hitting him. Dolphins, Texans ‘under’ 43½:
The Texans went from having one of the worst defenses in the NFL two years ago to leading the NFL in total defense by almost 60 yards per game
last year after bringing in Wade Phillips as defensive coordinator. That defense was so good that it did not get noticeably worse after losing Mario Williams for the season to a torn pectoral in October, so the fact that Williams signed with the Buffalo Bills may not be that great a concern. On offense, quarterback Matt Schaub and wide receiver Andre Johnson are both back after missing time with injuries last year, but while Johnson is one of the best receivers in all of football, we feel that the rest of the Houston receiving corps is overrated, so the Miami secondary will in all likelihood blanket Andre at every opportunity. The Texans can still run the ball extremely well though as Arian Foster might be the best running back in the league and back-up Ben Tate would be a starter on a lot of teams. Because the Texans run so well and play defense, the ‘under’ was 10-6 in Houston games last season. We expect more of the same here as the Dolphins will have great trouble scoring. The Dolphins were weak offensively last year to begin while ranking 20th in the NFL in points scored and they proceeded to trade away their only offensive home run threat in Brandon Marshall for some draft picks. Also, Matt Moore is not the solution as the starting quarterback and first round drat pick Ryan Tannehill does not figure to see the field anytime soon, so the Texans just tee off here.Seahawks, Cardinals ‘under’41:
This should be another Week 1 snoozer. The Cardinals could have a quarterback controversy as they made a commitment when they traded for Kevin Kolb and they are paying him too much money to sit on the bench. The problem though is that the offense performed better when backup John Skelton was under center last year, as Skelton had the much better year statistically and Arizona went 6-2 in the games that he started compared to 2-6 in Kolb’s starts. No matter who starts, the offensive line was a mess last year and Arizona did not address that issue in the draft, passing on lineman help and taking Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd in the first round. Yes, that makes the receivers formidable with Floyd lining up opposite of Larry Fitzgerald, but the quarterbacks may not have time to get them the ball against an underrated Seattle defense and the Arizona running game remains suspect. The Seahawks brought in Matt Flynn to start at quarterback, but while he has always been a serviceable backup, is he a legitimate NFL starter after just one great game where he passed for 480 yards and six touchdowns vs. the starting Detroit Lions’ defense in Week 17 last year? There are just as many questions across the rest of the offense, as Sidney Rice looks like the best receiver on paper which is not saying much, and the offensive line had trouble last year and James Carpenter, a tackle drafted in the third round to address that issue, is still working his way back after tearing an ACL in November. Marshawn Lynch is certainly a beast, but he has had motivational issues in the past and he now has a fat contract.Steelers, Broncos ‘under’ 44½:
This is a rematch of a first round NFL Playoff game from last year
when the Broncos upset the Steelers 29-23 in overtime as nine-point underdogs. We don’t foresee a similarly high scoring game here. Yes, Peyton Manning is one of the best quarterbacks of all time, but his throws were starting to lose some zip at the tail end of the 2010 season, even before the four neck surgeries that cost him last season. Manning used to be so good that he made his teammates better, but he will need help from his mates now until he is at 100 percent and the Denver receiving corps is very lackluster except for Demaryius Thomas, who you know the Steelers will pay special attention to after he had 204 receiving yards in the playoffs including catching the game-winning 80-yard touchdown on the first play of overtime. Manning will be passing against a Pittsburgh unit that allowed a league best 6.0 yards per pass attempt in 2011and the Steelers’ secondary remains as good as ever. On offense, the Pittsburgh offensive line was atrocious last year, but they drafted quality offensive linemen with their first two picks and they brought in Todd Haley as offensive coordinator, and he has always stressed the run. Thus, look for the Steelers to return to the smash-mouth football that made them famous to help cut down Ben Roethlisberger exposure to potential injury. The end result should be more low scoring games starting here.Bengals, Ravens ‘under’ 41:
The Ravens finished second in the NFL in total defense behind the Texans last season and they finished third in scoring defense allowing only 16.2 points per game. The defense should be great again this year despite losing Terrell Suggs for the season after tearing his Achilles. Suggs led the team with 14 sacks, but Paul Kruger filled in admirably and second round draft pick Courtney Upshaw is a pass rushing linebacker from Alabama that should also help pick up the slack. Offensively, Joe Flacco has had very average numbers at quarterback but at least he has been consistent. That is all the Raves ask of him while relying on running back Ray Rice, who ended his holdout and he back to carry the load
and catch passes out of the backfield. The Bengals had a good defense in their own right last year. The front seven ranked eighth in the NFL with 47 sacks and the secondary boasts a nice corps of cornerbacks that was boosted even further by the drafting of Dre Kirkpatrick from Alabama. The offense should be efficient if not spectacular as Andy Dalton is a cerebral quarterback that does not make many mistakes. Not that the Baltimore defense allows many home run balls anyway.