So my story assignment here is to pick sure losers in Week 1. That’s not easy to do as there’s no such thing as sure thing in the NFL. But it reminds me of a competition you and your betting friends may want to consider for the coming season. Instead of doing a Survivor Pool of Confidence Pool where you pick winners, try doing it picking losers. It’s an interesting twist. Here are three teams I fully expect to lose in Week 1, with me picking the favorites listed below in online NFL odds.
For the third time in the last three years, the Philadelphia Eagles will open their season as favorites in Week 1. The Eagles were favored at home against the Jaguars in 2014 and on the road against the Falcons in 2015. Philadelphia split those games by winning the former and losing the latter. Cleveland basically is an expansion team there’s so little talent on the roster. So it’s less backing Philadelphia here than going against Cleveland. This will be the Browns head coaching debut of Hue Jackson and team quarterback debut of Robert Griffin III, who has plenty of experience vs. Philly from his days with the Washington Redskins. Not only is Jackson the Browns’ eighth coach since the team re-entered the league in 1999, but he’ll also be the team’s fifth head coach in just six years. Jackson follows in the footsteps of Mike Pettine, Rob Chudzinski, Pat Shurmur and Eric Mangini, who have all coached the Browns since 2010. Jackson was 8-8 as Oakland’s head coach in 2011 but wasn’t given a second season. Jackson’s short tenure in Oakland will always be remembered for a certain trade he made. In October 2011, the Raiders sent a first and second-round pick to Cincinnati in exchange for Carson Palmer.
Buffalo Bills at Baltimore Ravens (-3)
This is if Baltimore QB Joe Flacco is healthy. For the first time in nine years, quarterback Joe Flacco won’t be on the field for the Ravens’ offseason workouts because he’s recovering from season-ending knee surgery. Flacco recently said that he has made “big improvements” in his rehab, and coach John Harbaugh said last month that Flacco remains on track to return for the start of training camp in late July. The Ravens were the most injury-ravaged team in the NFL last season and that led to their worst season under Harbaugh. But they’ll be back this year. Meanwhile, Buffalo’s first-round draft pick this year, Clemson linebacker/end Shaq Lawson, will miss the start of the season due to shoulder surgery. Top receiver Sammy Watkins recently had surgery on his broken foot last month and there is no real official timetable for his return and will have additional surgery on his foot. The Bills hope that he can return for Week 1.
Chicago Bears at Houston Texans (-5.5)
If this were in Chicago, I’d probably take the Bears in online NFL odds, but not on the road. It will be the debut of Texans QB Brock Osweiler and running back Lamar Miller. Osweiler finished last season with the Broncos with 1,967 yards passing, 10 touchdowns and six interceptions as he made the first regular-season starts of his career. The Broncos were 5-2 in games Osweiler started in 2015, though he was pulled in the third quarter of the regular-season finale. Miller rushed for 872 yards and scored 10 total touchdowns last season. At times he was dynamic for the Dolphins, but too often Miller was ignored in the offense. He had six games last season with single-digit rushing attempts. Houston already has a great defense; with a good offense, this can be a Super Bowl team.