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Posted by on Sep 9, 2018 in Blog, Essays | 5 comments

NFL Week #1 Picks



Welcome to my picks page.

I’ve been picking NFL games against the spread for 25 years.  This is the seventh consecutive season I’ve posted plays here at my personal website.  The past six years I’ve enjoyed four winning seasons and two losing seasons.  My net overall result, after more than 1,000 posted plays and a massive amount of vig, comes to +$3,571.  All prior results are verifiable by clicking any on my old posts:

2017:  + $2,610.

2016:  – $216.

2015:  +3,015.

2014:  – $10,000.

2013:  +$4,702.

2012  +$3,460.

Each year, I post my wagers on season-win totals.  Those plays are included near the end of this write-up.  READ MY ANALYSIS OF THE NFC HEREREAD MY ANALYSIS OF THE AFC HERE

At the start of each football season, I give myself a $10,000 starting bankroll which is to be used for week-to-week wagering.  If I run out of money, the season is over.  Going broke happened once, in 2014 when I went suffered a terrible season and went on tilt.  By midseason, I had pigeons making my picks.  For real.  If you like crazy gambling stories, here’s a list of the 20 craziest sports bets I ever made:  READ MY CRAZY SPORTS BETS HERE

People ask if I actually bet these plays.  The answer is — yes.  Most of the time.  However, I tend to make my wagers early and middle part of the week when better numbers are usually available (before the numbers change and values are gone).  Thing is, no one wants to read NFL picks on a Tuesday.  So, all my posted picks are against the current consensus like seen here in Las Vegas sportsbooks.  I GET MY LINES HERE FROM VEGAS INSIDER 

Some might ask if I recommend that anyone follow my wagers and bet them as I do.  The answer to that question is — no.  This is for information purposes only.  I hope my opinions will help a few people.  Maybe something I write may keep you off a game and prevent a losing ticket.  Take and use whatever you read here as you wish.  For the record, I have never touted or sold plays and I strongly recommend against buying picks (although I do know some honest and talented handicappers who sell their plays).  READ MY OPINION ON SCAMDICAPPERS HERE

I make quite a lot of second-half wagers.  In the past, I’ve made more halftime bets than anything else.  My previous work in this area is pretty well known in handicapping.  I was the first writer-researcher to post a comprehensive list of halftime betting angles, which hit consistently high percentages for a number of seasons before gradually losing their value. READ MY OLD ARTICLE ON HALFTIME ANGLES HERE

I shall continue to post just as I have in the past — with the week’s NFL selections listed either late Saturday night (or early Sunday morning).  In the event that I post on Saturday night, you may want to check again for updates on Sunday morning.  This is because sometimes I add to my plays based on late-breaking news/injuries.

I average about ten plays per week — which includes straight bets, totals, halves, quarters, and some propositions.  I also bet lots of teasers.  I invented the teaser wheel, which many people love and even more gamblers hate.  One thing’s for certain, my teaser wheels are entertaining.

I never bet parlays (exception:  when weather correlated).  I sometimes bet moneylines, but they aren’t posted here for the most part.

I never change or alter anything after it’s posted.  I will also say that this season I feel more confident than ever.  Hope you enjoy the plays and we win some money together.

Oh, and one more thing:  I support the players who kneel.  I also support those who chose to stand.  Let’s leave it at that.  Let freedom be our guide.

Let the kickoffs begin.





CURRENT BALANCE:  $10,000. (+/- 0)

OVERALL W-L RECORD:  0 wins / 0 loses / 0 pushes




[6-Pt. Teaser] Minnesota -.5 vs. San Francisco / Cincinnati +8.5 vs. Indianapolis — (-120) Risking $600/Win $500

Both of these picks are Wong teasers, which means taking advantage of the key numbers — 3, 4, 6, and 7.  I’m teasing the Vikings down to a half point, so all they need to do is take care of business in the home opener against San Francisco.  Vikings are loaded on both sides of the ball and well coached.  Last season, Minnesota routed New Orleans in the opener.  The same thing could happen here.  Perhaps San Francisco has turned the team around, but it’s unlikely to be on display this week.  49ers won’t catch anyone unprepared as they did down the stretch last season.  In the other game, I don’t think Indy should be favored.  I’m also betting the Bengals on the game line.  Read more below about why I like Cincinnati to win.  However, In case I’m wrong, I’ll gladly tease this pick up to +8.5


Cincinnati +2.5 vs. Indianapolis — (-110) — Risking $330 to win $300

Many bettors are putting way too much stock in QB Andrew Luck returning to his 2015 form.  That’s a lot to ask.  Luck hasn’t played a meaningful game in over two seasons.  Now, he’s surrounded by a new cast and set of coaches, including a head coach in his first game.  The Colts went 4-12 last year and it wasn’t just because Luck was injured.  This is a bad defense and a team in the midst of a rebuilding phase.  Meanwhile, Cincinnati comes in with an experienced staff and players who know the system.  Bengals got off to a horrible start last season at 0-3, and have been looking to get back onto the field for this game which I think is a statement for them.  The Bengals, who went 7-9 last year despite so many things going wrong are simply the better team.  I look for them to win outright and will gladly take the bonus points.


Buffalo +7.5 vs. Baltimore — (-110) Risking $330/Win $300

While I’m concerned about the Bills offense, those who bet the Ravens should be just as worried.  QB Flacco has deteriorated as an NFL starter in recent years and posts one of the worst YPP averages in the modern era.  This is more of an “against-Baltimore” play because I don’t think the Ravens are that good.  Weak at skill positions, a QB who has struggled in recent years, an average defense — and they’re laying more than a touchdown?  The reason the line is high could be Baltimore’s 5-1 home record and 17-point average win margin in those games played in the Harbaugh era.  But those were with some really good Ravens teams.  Moreover, I realize many cappers are down on the Bills, but hey — didn’t Buffalo make the playoffs last year?  The criticism about the Buffalo QB situation is valid.  However, losing the bad crop of starters and plugging in a new QB can’t be that much of a drop-off.  Call me crazy, but I think this game goes down to the wire.  So, give me the generous number of points.


[First Half] Green Bay/Chicago OVER 23.5 — (-120) Risking $275 to win $250

Game total is very tempting OVER play, but I see the better option as the OVER in the first half, especially with a win on the critical number of 24.  QB Rodgers should produce points and often has very good starts early in the season.  Meanwhile, Packers have a poor running game and a porous defense.  That certainly plays into a high-scoring scenario.  As for Chicago, after three seasons of John Fox’s conservatism, look for the Bears offense to drastically change direction and air it out more.  The talented wideouts are there.  QB Tribisky enters his second season and has been groomed by coach and OC to carry more of a load with his arm.  At home, I see Bears coming out and taking some risks, because to beat the Packers that’s what it will take.  Could be a higher scoring game than expected, and I think the points will come early and often.


New Orleans / Tampa Bay UNDER 49.5 — (-110) Risking $330/Win $300

QB Jameis Winston is out for Tampa this week.  Some critics say that could be a good thing.  Instead, I think it dooms the Bucs to a situation where they’ll have serious trouble scoring points, especially against a steadily improving Saints’ defense.  New Orleans offense may also go on the ground a bit more to take all the weight off of QB Drew Brees.  I’m looking for a relatively low scoring game in the Superdome, as the Saints will use a balanced attack to dominate time of possession and shut down a weak Tampa Bay offense.  New Orleans has also been a slow starting team traditionally, which could play into an UNDER, as well.  This total opened at 52 and has moved down 2.5 points based on Winston being out.  I think he’s worth at least twice that on a total, so there’s still some value.


Miami +1.5 vs. Tennessee — (-110) Risking $220/Win $200

New head coach in Tennessee and his team is favored on the road?  I’m not buying it.  Titans suffered some injuries over the summer, and QB Mariota plays much worse on the road than at home.  Titans will have their hands full against a Dolphins team that gets QB Tannehill back after missing all of last season.  This should be a close game, which means I think the Dolphins getting a small number at home has some value.  I’m making a small play on Miami.


Denver -2 vs. Seattle — (-110) Risking $220/Win $200

I think Seattle will be awful this season.  Other than QB Wilson, who is a bona fide superstar, Seattle is depleted throughout, especially along the offensive line, which carries over from last season.  Pre-season games may not matter, but Seahawks went 0-4 and looked terrible.  This team simply doesn’t look ready for the season to start.  This week, Seahawks go on the road against one of the league’s better defenses, and a solid home field advantage (altitude), which I think spells a longer afternoon for Wilson’s crew.  Meanwhile, here’s an opening day statement game for new QB Kennum who comes to Denver after success in Minnesota.  Excellent WR corps have desperately been seeking someone who can get the ball downfield.  Look for Denver to cover this number, which looks a little low considering how these two teams appear to be headed in opposite directions.


Oakland +4.5 vs. Los Angeles Rams — (-110)  Risking $330/Win $300

I initially wasn’t a fan of the Jon Gruden hire as the Raiders’ head coach, but after seeing how the team reacts to his spark of leadership, I’ve since changed my mind.  I think Gruden will have this team ready at home, in the perfect possible upset situation.  Rams are everyone’s darling at the moment and are expected to contend for Super Bowl.  Perhaps they will.  But this is a road opener for what is still a young team.  Rams still haven’t shown they can go on the road and beat good teams.  Not sure Oakland qualifies yet, but given they’ll surely be ready for Week #1, I expect a fight.  Looks to be one of the best games on the board and getting the half point on the 4 makes the Raiders especially attractive for a wager.



I’m seeing some -4.5s on the PITT at CLEVE game.  I see why lots of bettors are on the home division dog Browns, who will play this game like it’s the Super Bowl.  With RB Bell holding out (greedy idiot), that makes Pittsburgh minus the points a huge sucker play.  But I can’t put down cash on a team that hasn’t won a game since 2016, especially since we’ve not seen the new unit play a real game together.  This game ranks as a pass.  Lean towards the OVER given Steelers may throw more than usual with Bell out of the lineup.

Tempted to bet visiting JAX at NYG, laying -3.  However, lots of respected cappers are on the home dog.  I don’t like to lay points on the road, especially since we haven’t seen these teams play a game yet.  Intangibles do favor Giants.  But another concern for me is a new head coach and staff which sometimes isn’t ready for their first real NFL game.  We have a new staff on one side which coaches a team that went 3-13 last season playing against a bonafide Super Bowl contender which looked very strong on the road at the end of last season.  Too many negatives here to pick a side.

NOR is laying -9.5 and -10 in some places to TB, which they have dominated at home.  The problem I see is, NOR wasn’t the high-octane offensive team we’re used to seeing.  Saints appear to be going far more balanced, which could reduce their number of home-win blowouts.  Sure, Saints should throttle this bad opponent.  However, many bankrolls have gone bust laying big numbers.  I do see some value on Tampa in this game but won’t bet it.  I did bet the UNDER.

HOU at NWE is a game I’ll watch, as Patriots are laying just under a TD.  I don’t expect to wager on many Texans games for a while, as this unit appears very volatile with QB Watson taking snaps, but reports are he may not be 100 percent.  New England was taken to the wire last season when these two teams played.  Could be a repeat.  Is there still enough in the tank for the Patriots to cover these numbers?

LAC hosts KC and laying a field goal, which appears just a little low given new QB situation in KC who is making a divisional road start.  Home field for Chargers remains negligible.  Way too many bettors are high on the Chargers this season.  I’m not so sure, and I have a feeling this game could be a surprise.  Too close to call based on the number.  Same holds true for the total, listed at 49 — although that does look a bit high.

DAL plays are CAR and gets +3.  No real interest in this game.  This will come down to who has the better game, the Cowboys rushing attack or Cam Newton passing the ball?  Coin flip.

Strong lean to the UNDER in the WASH-ARZ game.  New QB situations learning new offenses for both teams, plus Cardinals should be able to run chunks of yards and burn up lots of clock.  I like UNDER 44 and might make this a late play.

I want to bet NYJ in the worst way, getting +6.5 at Detroit on the first game of Monday Night Football.  But I don’t trust rookie QBs making road starts, and Lions could play a better game here than the team they really are.  I see Jets steadily improving, but this week may not show it.  It’s probably a bet on Detroit if you must make a play.  Major concern for Lions is the dismal running game.  So, that also keep me away.



Arizona Cardinals OVER 5.5 wins -180 — Wagering $450 to win $250 

Buffalo Bills OVER 6 wins EVEN — Wagering $400 to win $400

Cincinnati Bengals OVER 6.5 wins -170 — Wagering $680 to win $400 

Dallas Cowboys UNDER 8.5 wins +110 — Wagering $500 to win $550

Detroit Lions UNDER 7.5 wins EVEN — Risking $400 to win $400

Houston Texans UNDER 8.5 wins +120 — Risking $400 to win $480

Jacksonville Jaguars OVER 9 wins -145 — Risking $725 to win $500

Indianapolis Colts UNDER 6.5 wins +170 — Risking $400 to win $680

New Orleans Saints OVER 9.5 wins -145 — Risking $725 to win $500 

Seattle Seahawks UNDER 8 wins (Best Bet) -150 — Risking $1,500 to win $750




  1. C’mon, Nolan, you and I both know teasing Minnesota down to a half point isn’t a Wong tease…

    • I came here to say the same thing Aaron said. To be a Wong (or Basic Strategy) teaser the tease has to *cross* both the 7 and the 3. Note, I will accept as a Wong teaser a 6.5 point tease with at least one leg from +1 to +7.5 or -9 down to -2.5. Not everyone will, though.

      • A 6.5 or even a 7 point tease is a valid Wong, so long as it crosses the 3 and 7.


        Yes, of course. I’ll leave the text as is, but agree with the point here.

        — ND

  2. Nolan, you should set up a twitch feed to watch your reactions during the games.
    Some of us might even pay for that to see the ups and downs and your eloquent commentary live. ??

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