Image: Green Bay Packers
It's as if we never left. Welcome back to Football, and welcome back to Sunday Spreads. As we kick off week 1 of the 2022 NFL Season. Here are Will Tondo and I's top picks for every game you'll watch this Sunday.
Basel's 2021 Regular Season Record: 63-41-2
Tondo's 2021 Regular Season Record: 52-52
Basel's Week 1 Picks
1 PM Games
Philadelphia Eagles at Detroit Lions
I don't think it's a surprise to anyone that I picked the Eagles to win the NFC East this year. While the Cowboys may be the most gelled team in the Division, with Dak and his receiving corps ready to make the playoff push that has always evaded them, I think Jalen Hurts, Devonta Smith, and AJ Brown are too explosive of a group to not be a serious contender. They'll prove that today against the Detroit Lions, covering an easy 5 point spread. I think Detroit will have flashes of competency with Amon-Ra St. Brown, as well as Aidan Hutchinson leading the way on defense, but the Eagles were 5-2-1 ATS last year as a favorite.
Take Eagles -5.5 and save yourself from sweating this one out today.
New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins
The day has come. The Patriots, in year 2 with Mac Jones, are as far away from division favorites as they have ever been, and in Week 1, are underdogs against a surging Miami Dolphins team. They're still strong playoff hopefuls, bolstering their offense with the addition of DeVante Parker, and maintaining one of the most consistent defenses in the league, but now it seems like everyone in the AFC East has caught up. Well, except for the Jets. Today, they'll go up against a Miami team that has also made some huge additions on offense, notably former Mahomes target Tyreek Hill, as well as explosive young running back (and Fordham University graduate) Chase Edmonds. In a game like there, where the offensive quality and experience really match each other, look for the better coached and better defensive team to come out on top, which today are the Pats.
Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans
The Colts have seen way more quarterbacks than they'd like come in and out of this team recently, but somehow most of them have been pretty competent? This year, Indy welcomes Matt Ryan to the fold, as he closes the book on 14 seasons with Atlanta. In Week 1, the Colts go up against Houston, who have clearly doubled down on their commitment to Davis Mills for one more year following the DeShaun Watson debacle. Honestly, despite both QBs being the focal point of these team's offseason narratives, I don't think they'll have a huge impact on the outcome of this game. Instead, look for star running back and resident fantasy star Jonathan Taylor to lead the bulk of production for Indy, giving them a narrow victory over Houston in a grind-it-out type of game.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Washington Commanders
So when assigning games for Sunday Spreads, I like to give Tondo and I a fair shake by doling them out at random. However, this week, it looks like I really gave myself some duds to watch, including this one. If anything, I can take solace in the fact that Jacksonville could see a huge leap forward in their offensive production, as Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne continue to develop into an elite backfield duo. At coach, the Jags actually have a guy cut out for the NFL (to say the least) in Doug Peterson, who will be coaching his first game for Jacksonville against his former QB Carson Wentz. With a competent playcaller on the sideline, I think we'll really see what the Jags have to offer, starting today against Washington.
Hammer Jaguars +3
4 PM Games
Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings
While the Packers have owned the NFC North for what feels like a century now, the lone challenger to their throne season after season has been Minnesota. Well, maybe not a challenger, but at least an infectious thorn at their side. Even with his knack to throw picks and be an otherwise goofy QB, Minnesota's Kirk Cousins is probably the most competent passer in the division behind Aaron Rodgers, and has a receiving corps talented enough to compensate for whatever hijinks he might pull out in late-game situations. Rodgers is going to need a game or two to adjust to not having Davante Adams this year, so look for the already-gelled Vikings to sweat this one out.
Kansas City Chiefs at Arizona Cardinals
I know the trendy thing to do right now is to put the Chiefs in last place when making AFC West predictions, but come on. Even without Tyreek Hill, Patrick Mahomes and Co. are destined for another competent playoff run this season. However, I will concede that this first test against the Cards could be tough. That is, of course, if we get the right Kyler Murray on the field today. Without DeAndre Hopkins, but with Marquise Brown in Week 1, Murray will have to take some time to build trust in a new target. However, considering Brown's career up to now, I don't see this being too much of an issue. Honestly, for me, I think this one will come down to the litany of injuries Arizona is dealing with on defense. JJ Watt (calf) and Byron Murphy (illness) are both questionable for Week 1. Combine that with Zach Ertz and Rondale Moore hobbled on offense, and I think Kansas City take advantage and cruise to a week 1 win.
Sunday Night Football
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Dallas Cowboys
Tom Brady has had an...interesting offseason. Retiring, un-retiring, questions about his health, long absences from training camp; all things that could spell disaster for a 2022 Tampa Bay campaign, especially as they open up the season in Dallas against a constantly improving Cowboys team. That being said, this is still Tommy Touchdowns we're talking about. Last season, the Bucs were dominant, rarely allowing a game within single digits like the books currently have this one. Considering that Rob Gronkowski was really the only major Brady weapon to depart, I think things will be back to normal for this Tampa Bay offense, and they'll be able to power past Dallas in a close one.
Tondo's Week 1 Picks
1 PM Games
Cleveland Browns at Carolina Panthers
When Basel reminded me that Sunday Spreads are due this week, I was hyped up. One of my favorite series we do at House and a friendly reminder that football is so back. To kick things off, we have a game that many folks will tune into. The Browns visit an old friend. Both teams have interesting rosters, but I have to give the upper hand to the Panthers this week. Baker has motivation to go toss 5 TD's, CMC has to prove some doubters, and Matt Rhule has to prove he belongs. This is my lock of the week. This is my holy hand grenade of a bet. Baker Mayfield revenge game to the moon, hammer Panthers -1.5.
New York Giants at Tennessee Titans
Sigh, I hate when I have to pick the Giants spreads, because I hate betting with my heart and not my head. It's obvious that the Titans are the right call this week. Last year at home, they were 7-2 straight up and 6-4 ATS. Under Coach Vrabel versus non-con opponents, they are 10-7 ATS, now that's where the door opens for the G-Men. My eyes are on a few factors, and that's three guys that have a lot to prove. Is Coach Daboll the right man for the job? Is Daniel Jones the right QB for the franchise? Is Saquon Barkley back? Today is the day to prove it. I can't in bad faith not pick my New York Football Giants in the first week. Take this as you will, but I'll play Giants +5.5.
San Francisco 49ers at Chicago Bears
It's a top verse bottom kind of game right here. A team that is dancing with Super Bowl odds and a team that's flirting for the first overall pick. I am in the minority where I believe Jimmy G should have been the starter. Kyle Shanahan is 31-14 when Garoppolo starts. He is 8-28 when he does not. I think the Bears have a lot of question marks, but they come out of the gates and surprise some folks today. Kittle is out, and I am not sold on Trey Lance yet. I think they win this game, but the Bears decide to cover, so Chicago +7 for me.
New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons
I am loving what the Saints have built. I believe in Jameis Winston, and he is my comeback player of the year. Surrounding him with returning and healthy weapons in Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas, plus newcomers in Jarvis Landry and Chris Olave, this might be one of the best offenses in the NFL - hot take! I think the jury is still out on the Falcons, but they have the building blocks to do stuff in this new era without Matt Ryan, but for today, the money belongs to the Saints. Take them -5.5.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals
Will today be the day Mitch Tribusky proves people wrong or should the rookie Kenny Picket should have gotten the nod? It doesn't matter, the Steelers aren't winning this one. Despite their new weapons, and TJ Watt being a DPOY candidate as always, I am on board the Bengals bandwagon. The Bengals are returning most of their Super Bowl squad, but with a drastically improved O-Line that will help improve Burrows offensive rating. Adding guys like La'el Collins, Alex Cappa, and Ted Karras makes Cincy a dangerous team. Joe Burrow has thrown 5 TD passes in 3 games against Pittsburgh. I see some today in his cards. Picking up right where Joe Brrr and Co. left off, give me Bengals -6.5.
4 PM Games
Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers
The AFC West is loaded with talent, and these two teams are going to show you why. Both teams made drastic upgrades on both sides of the ball. This could go either way, but because the last time these two met, the Raiders knocked LA out of the playoffs, when they both could have tied and got in. Today is the revenge for that. Take the Chargers -3.5 and don't overthink it.
Baltimore Ravens at New York Jets
The New York Jets have the tools, eventually, but today isn't the day. With Zach Wilson and Duane Brown out, could we see a Joe Flacco comeback game? Does he still have it? Nah. Ravens are a team that knows how to win Week 1. They have a +119 point differential in the first week since 2018. The Jets will have a tough test to start, so I'm taking Ravens -7.
Good luck! See you next week!