NFL expert Tom Selwyn (@Tom_Selwyn) shares his expert opinion on the best bets available from Sunday's action on Week 1.
Buffalo Bills @ Baltimore Ravens | Sunday 9th September 2018, 18:00
The NFL is finally back! And after a fun, tense game on Thursday, I’m going to start out 2018’s picks with one of the more underwhelming games on the schedule.
Buffalo’s QB room is the main reason it’s hard to get excited about this game – having jettisoned journeyman A.J. McCarron, they have gone with second year QB Nathan Peterman over their first round rookie Josh Allen.
I’m going to be kind and discard the five INT performance against the Chargers in Peterman’s only start last year, but having to go against one of the league’s better defences in the Ravens with little experience, a poor OL that gave up 16 sacks in pre-season and not much at the skill positions is a tough ask.
Given these points and the fact Baltimore had the most takeaways last season (a huge 34, eight clear of the next best total), the Bills to have the Most Turnovers at just under evens (19/20 William Hill) is something I’ll be getting on board with.
Over on the Ravens side, their own QB Joe Flacco has not looked great in recent years – a lot of it down to a back injury – but this off-season and pre-season (I know..) he has look rejuvenated and I’m a lot less concerned about him adding to Baltimore’s turnover total than I would have been at this point last year.
If anything, I think the Ravens should be ramming the ball down the Bills’ throat with RB Alex Collins anyway.
Buffalo has elected to move on from Tyrod Taylor’s risk-free QB play and whilst this could be the right decision in the long run, they’re going to have some growing pains – look for Baltimore to bring some of that pain in Week 1.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Indianapolis Colts | Sunday 9th September 2018, 18:00
After being out of action for far too long with a lingering shoulder injury, we finally get to see Colts QB Andrew Luck suit up again.
Unfortunately for him, not much has changed in his absence – the OL is still a big concern and the defence still looks like it’s going to give up a lot of points to just about anyone, meaning Indianapolis’ fortunes are squarely on Luck’s recuperated shoulders once more.
His opponents, the Bengals, have a fresh look to their own offense with a revamped OL, RB Joe Mixon now the starting rusher, as well as young WRs John Ross and Tyler Boyd looking to have made jumps in their development.
With this young talent to go along with perennial all-pro WR A.J. Green going up against what could be a porous Colts defence in front of them I think this new-look Cincinnati offense could make a splash early in the season.
Now he’s surrounded by a multitude of weapons, Bengals QB Andy Dalton could be in for a big day and since I think his line is pretty conservative, I’ll be backing him to go Over 243.5 yards passing (only SkyBet have lines up as I write this – their could be better ones later).
In addition to this, I think the odds-against price for Mixon to score a TD anytime is far too good to pass up so I’ll be backing that too at 13/10 (Coral).
It’s been a number of years since I’ve optimistic about a Bengals offense, but I like the look of this year’s group and think they’ll get off to a nice start in Indy.
San Francisco 49ers @ Minnesota Vikings | Sunday 9th September 2018, 18:00 | Sky Sports
This will be a fascinating game to watch for many reasons – from the perfect-as-a-starter 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo going against a loaded Vikings defence, to how will new Minnesota QB Kirk Cousins perform in this new offense.
My opinion is that Garoppolo will lose his perfect record and Cousins will fair pretty damn well with his new team.
I don’t think the Vikings will run away with this one by any stretch – Garoppolo has shown he can damage some of the better defences – but I just don’t trust the 49ers defence to be able to stop good offenses just yet. With all the toys that Cousins has on offense, I’ll backing Minnesota to score in every quarter (13/8 Bet365).
With RB Dalvin Cook back from a knee injury to compliment some dangerous pass catchers in TE Kyle Rudolph and WRs Stefon Diggs + Adam Thielen, it’s difficult to envisage San Francisco being able to bottle up all of these options – especially with this game being played in Minnesota where the conditions will be perfect inside the dome.
My only concern would be the Vikings OL, which showed at various points last season that they can be had. With the 49ers defensive strength being up front, they could have some success there, but I expect Minnesota’s coaches to recognise this and game plan accordingly.
Jimmy G’s 49ers won’t go down without a fight, but I’ll be looking for the Vikings to score frequently in Week 1.
Buffalo Bills @ Baltimore Ravens – Buffalo Bills to have Most Turnovers (19/20 William Hill)
Cincinnati Bengals @ Indianapolis Colts – Andy Dalton to have Over 243.5 Passing Yards (10/11 SkyBet)
Cincinnati Bengals @ Indianapolis Colts – Joe Mixon anytime touchdown (13/10 Coral)
San Francisco 49ers @ Minnesota Vikings – Minnesota Vikings to score in every quarter (13/8 Bet365)