Follow along with Philly Sports Network this season as I try to beat Las Vegas and the spread each Sunday, and hopefully, won’t embarrass myself too much along the way.
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Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Football Team (+6)
In classic Eagles fashion, the team will be without key starters to open the season including Brandon Brooks and Andre Dillard. However, the Birds finally added some much-needed speed on the outside with Jalen Reagor, John Hightower and a healthy DeSean Jackson. Carson Wentz has proven how he raises his game to another level with legitimate deep threats on the outside. As an added bonus he won’t have Nelson Agholor dropping the deep ball anymore too. The team is also 4-0 on opening day under Wentz winning by an average score of 10.75 points per game.
On the other side of the field, the newly named Washington Football Team added Chase Young to a now ferocious front seven. Rookie QB Dwayne Haskins also looked the part in the final two games of the season. But outside of the improved defence, the team will trot out a putrid offence once. This is a unit that finished dead last in passing yards and offensive touchdowns last season while not improving. It will have to be the Terry McLaurin show but with Darius Slay zeroed in on the rising star, they won’t have much else to throw the Eagles way.
The Pick: Eagles -6
Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons (+2)
The big move of the summer for the Seahawks was adding All-Pro Jamal Adams to the secondary for a few first-round draft choices. Which is good news for Hawks fans as they usually burn those picks for guys going in the fourth round anyways. Now the team adds a bonafide star alongside Bobby Wagner on the defence. The team might have problems rushing the QB, but they still have Russel Wilson who won 11 games a season ago.
On the other hand, the Falcons are a trendy pick to have a big year, but lateral moves to the roster have me skeptical. A.J. Terrell for Desmond Trufant, and Hayden Hurst for Austin Hooper are a few examples. Although Todd Gurley II and Dante Fowler Jr. could be the difference makers for the Falcons this season. I’m not sure I trust the Falcons yet and it’s hard to bet against Wilson and the Seahawks when they only have to win by three.
The Pick: Seahawks -3
Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens (-7.5)
Lamar Jackson starts his MVP title defence and Super Bowl chase with a meeting vs. the Browns. Oddly enough the Browns split the season series despite the Ravens losing twice all year. The Ravens did improve by shoring up the linebacker position and gaining Calais Campbell on the defensive line. They also added J.K. Dobbins to split carries with Mark Ingram II making an already potent offence that more dangerous. Although the team did cut star safety Earl Thomas III, they probably still got better this offseason.
Meanwhile, the Browns finally invested in the offensive line for Baker Mayfield. Signing Jack Conklin and drafting Jedrick Wills Jr., allowed Joel Bitonio to kick back inside to his more comfortable guard position. The team then added tight end Austin Hooper after a breakthrough year with the Falcons. Meaning the Browns will likely feature more two tight end sets with new head coach Kevin Stefanski running the show. Which might’ve actually been their most important decision of the offseason moving on from Freddie Kitchens. If they can finally unlock the talent on this offence the Browns will be a tough out this year and I expect them to keep it interesting on Sunday.
The Pick: Browns +7.5
New York Jets at Buffalo Bills (-6.5)
Stefon Diggs lands in Buffalo to finally give them the number one receiver they’ve been so desperate for. Diggs is a game-breaker for Josh Allen and rounds out a solid receiving core. The defence added A.J. Epenesa in round two of the draft to an already stacked defensive front seven. Some talent evaluators even thought he was a first-round talent. All in all the Bills will be eyeing their first AFC East Division crown since 1995 with Tom Brady finally out of their division.
The other New York team is still bad and likely will still be bad. They lost their best player in Jamal Adams in a trade to Seattle. While Le’Veon Bell looked like a shell of his former self last season. Who knows though. Maybe Sam Darnold puts this team on his back and into relevancy again. Maybe Bell rediscovers his All-Pro form? Highly unlikely and I doubt they keep this game close on the road.
The Pick: Bills -6.5
Las Vegas Raiders at Carolina Panthers (+3)
The inaugural season for the Las Vegas Raiders will kick off against one of the worst teams from last season. The Raiders will be rolling out a pair of rookie wide receivers in Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards after losing Tyrell Williams for the season. Las Vegas did upgrade the position but Williams was a pleasant surprise last year and will be missed. Although they will get an injured player back in Jonathon Abram after getting just one game from the first round safety a season ago. They’ll also get help on their front seven signing linebacker Corey Littleton to a big contract in the offseason. Overall it was a solid offseason for a club looking to improve upon their 7-9 record.
The Carolina Panthers had a massive organizational haul this offseason and lost the face of the franchise in Luke Kuechly. His surprise retirement at the top of his game was a crushing blow to the Panthers. Carolina has high hopes of a quick rebuild under new head coach Matt Rhule and coordinator Joe Brady. It will be a brand new offense with Teddy Bridgewater finally getting another shot as a starting QB with plenty of weapons surrounding him in Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore, Curtis Samuel, and Robby Anderson. The team also used their first two picks to shore up their defensive line and now boast a stout unit of Derrick Brown, Yetur Gross-Matos, Kawann Short and Brian Burns. All in all, I think the Panthers are going to shock some teams this year starting with the Raiders in week one.
The Pick: Panther +3
Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions (-3)
The Bears are now 4-0 against the Lions under Matt Nagy but had an underwhelming offseason to drastically improve his 8-8 squad. The signing of Robert Quinn was the big move for Chicago and shouldn’t be undersold though. He’ll look to take the pressure off superstar Khalil Mack who had a down year by his standards. The plan should work as Quinn registered 11.5 sacks with the Cowboys last year. That splashy free-agent season could be enough to add a few more wins to the Bears total and send them back to the playoffs.
On the other hand, I don’t think playoffs are in the cards for the Lions. Matt Stafford and Kenny Golladay looked brilliant together for stretches of the season. The team also added Deandre Swift and Adrian Peterson to the backfield alongside Kerryon Johnson. Besides making that backfield a minefield for fantasy owners, Detroit made mostly lateral moves. Even though Detroit got younger it will be hard to see a drastic improvement from this 3-13 squad. I think the Bears steamroll past the Lions in week one.
The Pick: Bears +3
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