The Gold Standard: Playing the NFL Line

Each week LastWordOnSports will bring you the best bet picks for the weekend’s NFL action.  The format is simple – I will provide you with a Bronze (Good bet), Silver (Better bet) and Gold pick (Best bet).

(Home team in CAPS)

Bronze –

Seattle -3 over CAROLINA – I know all the reasons to stay away from this line in week 1.  As much hype as Seattle has received this offseason they are still a team that struggles on the road.  They weren’t able to nail down a convincing road win last year until week 15, and that was on a neutral site against the Bills.  The biggest red flag for this game is actually the line itself. Seattle is receiving Super Bowl hype and looked like a rock solid team in the preseason.  Carolina almost fired their coach in the offseason and are widely regarded as the worst team in their division.  So who is picking Carolina here getting only 3?  Fortunately we have two rules to guide us here:

1) Never back a terrible coach in week 1 – Nobody really knows exactly what you are going to get out of a team in week 1, and when you add a bad coach into the equation the possibilities are endless (and not in a good way).  I think we have all seen enough of Ron Rivera already to put him in this category.

2) Don’t get too cute in week 1 – You like the Seahawks but the three points scare you because of their road record.  In a regular situation I might agree with you.  But it’s week 1.  Seattle is the better team. Seattle is going to win.  Don’t get too cute.

Silver –

WASHINGTON -3.5 over Philly – Another perplexing line to kick off the NFL season.  Washington has one of the most dynamic players in the league, an all-pro calibre running back and a defense that steadily improved as the 2012 season went along.  The defense adds back top notch pass rusher Brian Orakpo this year which gives them a potentially dominant pass rush when he lines up opposite Ryan Kerrigan.  The run game may have only been dominant last year, but we have over a decade of evidence from Mike Shannahan showing us that this run game works, and when he finds his workhorse back, look out!  Alfred Morris is that guy and it doesn’t matter what round he was drafted in.  The only concern is the health of RG3.  Legitimate, but this one concern isn’t enough to outweigh all of the negatives on the Eagles side.

We have no idea what we are going to get out of the Eagles offense, and with the insane speed of Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy and Desean Jackson the potential for sheer dominance is there.  I admit the could be every bit as good as RG3 and company on the other side of the ball. But even if the offense is as good as some suspect I don’t see how the defense can match up against Washington at all.  Installing a new scheme is great and all but in the NFL it takes talent to win and the Eagles defense just doesn’t have it.  Beyond Trent Cole and DeMeco Ryans there are few names anyone will notice and even fewer draft picks.

This line indicates that if this game were to be played in Philly they would end up as the favorites.  Philly has proven absolutely nothing to this point and they don’t deserve that kind of respect.  An easy Washington pick.

Gold –

Green Bay +4.5 over SAN FRAN – We’re going bullet point style for this one.  Green Bay’s defense is retooled and better prepared for the 49ers this season. San Fran lost their best offensive player and only dynamic receiver (Crabtree).  Aaron Rodgers is 52-26 in his career in the regular season.  Colin Kaepernick has played 11 career games totals.  Over the last four years Aaron Rodgers has last a total of 4 games by more than 7 points.  As we learned during the strike shortened season, and as Peyton Manning so emphatically displayed on Thursday night, offenses have the edge on defenses early on in the season.  Green Bay had one of the most injured defensive teams in the league last season and are healthy on that side of the ball going into this season.  San Fran beat down Green Bay in last years playoffs – Green Bay still put up 31 points.

I really like Green Bay headed into this year and I am worried about the SF offense without Crabtree.  But this pick really boils down to one thing.  Aaron Rodgers is the best player in the league. I can’t think of a situation where I would be comfortable laying more than 3 points against him.  Getting 4.5 is not even a question.

Best of the Rest –

Atlanta +3 over NEW ORLEANS – much like Philly, this New Orleans defense has proven nothing

CLEVELAND pk over Miami – Miami lost capable safety blanket players in Bush (RB), Bess (underrated WR), Fasano (TE) – this helps out their inexperienced 2nd year QB how?

Houston -3.5 over SAN DIEGO – “Don’t get too cute in week 1” theory again.

JETS +3.5 over Tampa Bay – the media reports are all doom and gloom for the Jets, but how often does a team show up and completely quit right out of the gate? These things take time to unfold, and Josh Freeman sucks. He is laying road points.  What?

Tennessee +7 over PITTSBURGH – I don’t like the idea of laying a full 7 with a team that has no running game.


Thanks for Reading.  Please take a moment and follow the site on Twitter – @lastwordonsport.

Interested in writing for LastWordOnSports?  If so, check out our “Join Our Team” page to find out how.

Football fans…check out our two partnered NFL podcasts – Thursday Night Tailgate Radio and Overtime Ireland.  Both shows bring you interesting commentary, critical analysis and fantastic guests including former and current NFL players, coaches and personalities.