Week 1 of the NFL season is finally here!
It has been a long offseason but football is back and what a week we have in the AFC South. We have the return of two of potentially the best-10 quarterbacks in the league, a new coaching staff on a 2017 playoff team and a team that nearly made the Super Bowl heading to a team looking to bounce back.
Each week of the NFL season I will take a quick look at each of the AFC South team’s matchups, highlighting what I think may happen and whether you should bet on or against the team.
Houston Texans @ New England Patriots
Returning to action does not get much harder for the likes of Deshaun Watson and J.J. Watt than a trip to Foxborough to face the Patriots. For example, Watt has not registered a sack in five games against the Patriots and the Texans has lost all five of those games. I expect the Patriots defence to be stouter this season than they were in 2017. Last year, the Texans pushed the Patriots all the way to the wire, losing 33-36. The difference is that that game took place in Houston, handing Houston something of a leveler. If the Texans are to have a chance they could really do with Will Fuller at 100% and the fact he is not could make a difference to how this game turns out.
Entering the game the Patriots are favored by between six and seven points depending on where you look. I think the Texans have a chance to keep this close. I am not sure they can win but I think they have a chance to take it to the wire. I expect the Patriots to come out on top in the game but I do not feel strongly enough about the margin to bet on this game against the spread.
Tennessee Titans @ Miami Dolphins
The Titans open 2018 with a new coaching staff and some interesting new pieces. Their offense will have the opportunity to be more explosive this season under new offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur. As for their opponents, I really do not know what we will see from the Dolphins this season. Tannehill has missed a lot of football and he lost his best offensive weapon in the offseason. The defense also lost their best piece but they still have interesting names and some good young players. However, I do think the Titans have the talent to come out on top in this game, even on the road.
The Titans are one point favorites in this game and at that line I think they are worth betting on this week. My prediction would be that the Titans win by at least three, but if the line moves to the Titans being two point favorites then I am probably betting off backing them.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ New York Giants
The Jaguars managed to succeed last year despite their anemic offence. They had their defence to thank for their success. They will be rely on that defense once again this season and a trip to the Giants will be a big test. The Giants offense has a ton of talent. Saquon Barkley has the potential to be the next dominant running back and the Giants receiving combination of Evan Engram, Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard could be among the best in the league. The Giants defence is their weakest part and so this game could come down to who’s weakness is stronger in this game.
The Jaguars enter this game three point favorites, which on the road is not easy. To win by more than three on the road will likely require a better offensive performance than the Jaguars are likely to be able to put up. However, I think this game could be extremely close. However, if I am looking to bet on this game my money is on the Giants getting three extra points.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Indianapolis Colts
I cannot say enough how concerned I am about the Colts defence this season. Anytime you think a team could have trouble stopping Andy Dalton then you know they might have problems. I think this game will have a ton of back-and-forth with Andrew Luck back at the helm for the Colts offence. However, Luck is playing his first competitive game with limited targets he can trust and who knows what production from the running back position. I just cannot see the Colts being able to stay with the Bengals for 60-minutes at this point in the season. After Luck has had more time in this offence then they might be able to win this game.
The Colts are favored by 2.5-3 points entering this game which to me is completely insane. Even on the road the Bengals should be favorite due to lack of depth on the Colts roster. The fact the Colts are favorites is due to Luck, and as I said it is very early to believe he can make a significant enough difference.
Houston +6 vs. Patriots – No bet
Titans -1.5 vs. Dolphins – Titans
Jaguars -3 vs. Giants – Giants
Colts -3 vs. Bengals – Bengals
Image credit: Mark Zaleski/AP