The Handicapping Group is back for 2019, picking their Blazing Fives using the Colin Cowherd rules – games after Thursday, using Thursday’s lines. We’ll track our records all throughout the season. Last year, two members of the group defeated Colin’s win percentage in Blazing Five – Skol and Katz. We want our entire group to take him down in 2019!
Blazing Five Week 1:
DEN (-1.0) at OAK
The Computer says: DEN by 16.4…Spread Differential 15.4
The line jumped another 1.5-2.0 points on the initial Antonio Brown news but is moving back to pick ‘em on the news that Brown is going to play. I started betting this at DEN +2, then DEN +1, then DEN even. I’m fine with giving 1.5 as well. This game is going to be a joke on how Denver crushes the Raiders.
BAL (-6.5) at MIA
The Computer says: BAL by 16.0…Spread Differential 9.5
My gut tells me this is a mistake…laying 6.5 to a home opener in home-favorable Miami, but The Computer is so convinced that the Ravens are going to win big, I’m going to ‘trust’.
Baltimore has been taking the preseason so seriously the past few seasons, when others haven’t – it’s meant the Ravens are jumping out nice Week 1. They’ve won their last three openers and have outscored opponents 67-3 the last two seasons…beating bad teams…like Miami 2019.
BUF at NYJ (-3.0)
The Computer says: BUF by 2.8…Spread Differential 5.8
I’m super-sure on two teams this week…Denver and Buffalo. I just believe the Jets are wildly overrated because Sam Darnold is, and that the best thing on the field here is the Buffalo defense and they’ll keep it close/win it going away.
IND at LAC (-6.5)
The Computer says: LAC by 4.0…Spread Differential 2.5
I was going with Jacksonville strong until they lost their left tackle for this week in a practice injury. Now, I’m forced to go with my next best – which is a later breaking bet – taking Indy and the points because (a) it’s a lot of points, (b) LAC without their left tackle and now their kicker is hurt last second.
TEN at CLE (-5.5)
The Computer says: CLE by 7.9…Spread Differential 2.4
This is me just blowing past The Computer’s picks of SEA or NO or PHI. This is me taking over the steering wheel. I believe Tennessee is low key bad and Cleveland is low key good/great in process. I bet this line falls to 4-5 as the Titans will be the chic expert pick to takedown the hyped Browns…and the Baker just sticks his boot up their asses and it’s a statement game.
Broncos -2 (best bet) - I liked this game a lot more when the Broncos were an underdog, but I think this is the bet of the week as long as it stays under 3. If you haven't turned on ESPN in the last 24 hours, the Raiders are a complete mess. They don't have the culture to withstand all the distractions, and they're short on talent as well. Denver undoubtedly has the better defense and I don't think its a stretch to say that they have the better offense too. Make all the Flacco jokes you want, he’s the best QB in this game and has more weapons at his disposal. He also won’t have to deal with Von Miller and Bradley Chubb all night. Broncos win comfortably.
Panthers +1.5 - There's a lot of mystery with both teams here. Is Cam healthy? Is Gurley healthy? Is a Super Bowl hangover a real thing? People forget that the Panthers were 6-2 before and a legitimate contender in the NFC before Cam hurt his shoulder last year. People also don't seem to notice that the Rams lost two starters from their offensive line. Cam is not listed on the injury report, so provided he’s good to go I think he can beat a slightly diminished Rams team.
Jaguars +3.5 - I liked this game a lot more before it was announced that Jags LT Cam Robinson injured his knee (again). Still, this is a situation that screams home dog. The underachieving team from last year getting points at home after making a huge upgrade at QB. I think we see the return of the 2017 Jaguars defense and Nick Foles make enough plays to get a win.
49ers +1 - Both defenses in this game project to be pretty bad, but I'd rather have the 49ers D after the additions of Dee Ford, Nick Bosa, and Kwon Alexander. And even if their defense is terrible again, I'll take Jimmy G and Shanahan in a shootout over Jameis and Arians.
Cardinals +2.5 - The Lions shouldn’t be a road favorite against anyone. I’d even consider betting last year’s Cardinals team at this number. We may see the Cardinals offense struggle to get going and their defense give up points, but eventually Kyler will make enough plays to win this game.
BUF +3...Division dogs are 17-4-1 ATS week 1 (18 after the Packers). Buffalo D looks awesome and the Jets OL is not. I’ll hope for Buffalo to get their offense against the Jets banged up defense and trust the better defense and coach.
JAC +3.5...last year Jax D played very well vs the Chiefs...Mahomes passed for 313 yards, 0 TDS and 2 picks. Jax ran the ball well and didn’t even have Fournette. Sprinkle in a little Nick Foles vs the KC D and 90 degrees and I’m all in for the upset...maybe even a 10+ point Jax Win.
CAR +1.5...I’ll have real money on the first half and game here. First half because Goff hasn’t taken a snap in the pre-season. In the past 19 years the SB loser is 3-16 ATS in week 1. The bigger issue is the Rams are not automatically last year’s Rams (they replaced a good interior offensive line with 3 guys who have barely played in the NFL). Meanwhile Riverboat Ron drafted Brian Burns and added Bruce Irvin and Gerald McCoy...and the Panthers were good at getting pressure last year.
NYG +7...A trend and hunch play here. The focus has been on Elliott but the last time we saw the Cowboys they were getting bullied out of the playoffs by the Rams running the ball down their throats. Can the Giants replicate that? Trend is division dogs are 17-4-1 (18 after the Packers) in week 1. Garrett as a home fav 17-33-1 ATS and a long history of close games in this series.
DEN -2...I’ve been talking about (and betting) this game for months. All of the focus seems to me on Antonio Brown but the driver for me is the huge advantage Denver DL has against the Raiders OL. Miller/Chubb and friends are going to wreak havoc...the first step toward what could be a fun futures bet ride.
My best bet of the week is the first game of the season. I love the Packers here. The Bears overperformed in 2018 and they are going to come crashing back to earth this season. They will miss the playoffs and possibly finish under .500. It all starts when a healthy Aaron Rodgers wrecks them to start the season. Packers win comfortably here as Mitch Trubisky continues to be revealed to be a fraud.
This is a foregone conclusion isn't it? The Dolphins are tanking. The Ravens and their new look offense are going to just steamroll the Dolphins. Well, this is still the NFL and this is a road game. Road games are never easy to win. The team may want to tank but the players are always trying and Ryan Fitzpatrick will just DGAF his way to a competitive game. I think the Ravens pull it out, but it will be way closer than they want it to be.
Another heavy public fade here with the Jaguars. The Chiefs are the league's best offense and will just go into Jacksonville and smoke the hapless Jaguars. Not so fast. The Jaguars have a top 5 defense and no team improved more at QB than going from Blake Bortles to Nick Foles. The Jaguars may win this outright.
Two good teams here. It's easy to predict a close game, but the Patriots are just automatic at home, especially against the Steelers. Not much more to it than that.
This one is a chalk play, but I don't care. The oddsmakers and public aren't quite sure what to make of the Browns yet. We are going to find out on Sunday when the Browns drop 30+ on the Titans in a complete blowout. The year of Baker is upon us.
1. SF over TB Pickum
I don't understand the tampa love.
2. Buf +3 over NYJ
Faith in RC and no faith in Sam Darnold. Not that Josh Allen is much better, but at least he can run.
3. Rams -2.5 over Carolina
I don't understand the Carolina love
4. Cleveland -5 over Tennessee
Baker vs Marcus
5. Denver Pickum over Oakland
I don't have as high of hopes for Denver as some, just because I can't believe in Flacco... but the Raiders are in a tailspin for years.
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