Looking into our crystal ball, the future is likely to stay more-or-less the same, with the likes of New England, Pittsburgh and Seattle staying strong among the elites. That, however, isn’t to say that we won’t get to see a couple of possible breakout seasons from a number of franchises. Teams like Oakland, Jacksonville and Tampa Bay look to be on the upswing, while the inspiring 2015 Kansas City Chiefs make a strong case for another splendid run in this year’s NFL odds. Keeping all that in mind, here is an early look at the teams we believe should be duly considered as surefire 2016 NFL picks against the spread in Week 1.
NFL ATS Prediction for Week 1 Games
Carolina Panthers at Denver Broncos (-1.5)
Week 1 NFL ATS Pick: Panthers (+1.5)
I am fully aware of the menacing nature of Denver’s defense. I am also aware of what happened when these two teams last met in the Super Bowl 50 matchup. But really, I am just not bought on the 2016 version of Denver to get the job done in this season-opener. Gone are the two QBs that carried Denver to its national championship and potential Week 1 starter Mark Sanchez has never been the best of passers (or runners) in his time in the league. Meanwhile, Carolina will be coming into this game with pretty much every key member from their solid 2015 campaign while the extra-motivation of avenging the Super Bowl 50 loss should see Cam Newton, Luke Kuechly and Co. all fired up for this game. Throw in the additional fact that Denver was an average team last season in the ATS lines (12-4 SU, but just 8-8 against the spread), I am confident that the smart bet here should be on the Panthers (15-1 SU, 11-5 ATS in 2015) for both the SU and ATS victories.
Cincinnati Bengals (-1) at New York Jets
Week 1 NFL ATS Pick: Bengals (-1)
It is common knowledge that Andy Dalton and the Bengals have mega issues when it comes to playing well in the playoffs. You would, however, be a fool to disrepute Dalton and Cincy when it comes to taking care of business during the regular season. I mean, this is a team that is averaging a little over 10 wins in their last five seasons (mind you in the power-heavy AFC North division). This includes a remarkable 12-4 SU record (best in the division, tied for best in AFC Conference in 2015) and an NFL-best 12-3-1 ATS mark in the past season when they had the second-toughest schedule in the NFL. So, even with the talks about Cincy likely to have a setback in the upcoming season, I’d easily trust the Bengals here. Not to forget, the Jets have problems of their own to deal with, especially in the offense, while the Bengals are well-known strong starters in early season games; setting up a perfect opportunity for Cincinnati supporters to cash in on both the SU and ATS NFL against the Jets in NFL Week 1.
San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs (-7)
Week 1 NFL ATS Pick: Chiefs (-7)
The Chiefs have played the 7th toughest schedule for the last two straight seasons (2014 and 2015), yet have managed to go above the .500 mark in both seasons, including their incredulous 2015 campaign that saw them finish the year on a 11-5 SU record, including a 10-game regular-season winning streak. In fact, taking away their 27-20 loss to the Patriots in the AFC Divisional Round Playoffs, the Chiefs closed the year on a sterling 11-0 SU mark to go along with an 8-3 ATS mark while holding opponents to 11.6 PPG. Against a San Diego team that barely played any defense last year (and hasn’t sealed some of the gaping problems in its defense in the offseason); I’d expect Kansas City to get the win. This should be particularly encouraged by the fact that Alex Smith and his offense is well-capable of matching any effort put up by Philip Rivers and his Chargers.
New England Patriots at Arizona Cardinals (-4.5)
Week 1 NFL ATS Pick: Cardinals (-4.5)
Forget about any historical records you have about this clash; all that will matter here is whether or not Tom Brady will start at QB. And last I checked, the U.S. Appeals Court is still holding strong on the decision to suspend Brady for the first four games of the season. This means Arizona’s standout rookie Robert Nkemdiche and former New England star Chandler Jones will be feeding on the inexperienced Patriots QB Jimmy Garoppolo. Meanwhile veteran signal-caller Carson Palmer and his experienced offense should get the job done on the other end of the field to earn Arizona a comfy win.