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2018 SQ Insiders: Week 1

Austin Taliaferro

Our insiders pick the Week 1 games to help you beat Vegas and your pick’em league.

The NFL starts up this week and we have a good slate of games on our hand. Sunday’s 1 o’clock games are headlined by Deshaun Watson making his return to the field as the Houston Texans take on Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. While our writers have the Texans losing to New England, they have them covering the +6.5 spread. Good teams win, great teams cover.

The week ends with wonderkid coach Sean McVay facing off against Jon Gruden and his likely 1967 offense as the Rams take on the Raiders. Our insiders expect the Rams to blow out the Raiders by 15, more than covering the -4.5 point spread.

Matchup

Max V

Hunter B

Matt F

Adrian N

Atlanta at Philadelphia
Pittsburgh at Cleveland
Cincinnati at Indianapolis
Tennessee at Miami
San Francisco at Minnesota
Houston at New England
Tampa Bay at New Orleans
Jacksonville at NY Giants
Buffalo at Baltimore
Kansas City at LA Chargers
Seattle at Denver
Washington at Arizona
Dallas at Carolina
Chicago at Green Bay
NY Jets at Detroit
LA Rams at Oakland
Total Record

0-10-11-00-1


Matchup

 Score

ATS Winner

Pick’em Winner

Why the home team will win

Why the away team will win

Pittsburgh at Cleveland24-19PIT-4.5If Hard Knocks taught us anything, it’s that this team has talent across the board. Many people expect the Browns to make some noise, and that all could start by beating a Steelers team that has yet to have Le’Veon Bell report. The Browns played Pittsburgh tough last year, losing the two games by only a combined seven points.Pittsburgh is coming off a 13-3 season in which they beat the Browns twice last year. They were able to return to a top-10 defense, and their offense should be electric as always with Roethlisberger, Brown, and Smith-Shuster, even if Bell isn’t playing Week 1.
Cincinnati at Indianapolis19-18CIN+3Andrew Luck is back! We haven’t seen the guy throw a pass since the 2016 season. That said, Luck is still the guy who was a No. 1 pick, the highest-touted quarterback to come out since Peyton Manning, and the guy who carried the Colts to several postseasons with a shaky defense and no offensive line. In other words, he’s home.The Bengals have now had back-to-back nine loss seasons, meaning they haven’t been terrible, but they haven’t been good either. But remember, before a thumb injury at the end of the 2015 season, Andy Dalton was in the running for MVP and the Bengals were talked about as Super Bowl contenders. If Dalton and Green can find that connection again and the offensive line can improve, then they have a shot to win.
Tennessee at Miami23-19TEN-1.5A question as old as time: how good is Ryan Tannehill? NFL fans cannot seem to converge on who this guy is, but one thing is clear: if he plays well, the Dolphins will have a shot. Reports on this offense suggest that Miami will sport an improved offensive line, which should help Tannehill answer our question.Fresh off a postseason appearance and an impressive Wild Card round road win against the Kansas City Chiefs, expectations are high for the Titans. Now that Mariota is healthy and there’s a new offense that might open things up more, the Titans should be able to take care of business on the road against a mediocre Miami squad.
San Francisco at Minnesota22-30MIN-6Minnesota was a game away from playing in Super Bowl LII. They return one of the NFL’s best defenses, have upgraded at quarterback by signing Kirk Cousins, and young running back Dalvin Cook is back after tearing his ACL at the beginning of last season. The Purple People Eaters will tear through San Francisco’s lackluster defense.Jimmy Garoppolo hasn’t lost a game in his seven NFL starts. The 49ers could keep the ride going if they neutralize the Minnesota pass rush and allow their creative playmaker to find Marquise Goodwin and Pierre Garcon downfield.
Houston at New England24-30HOU+6.5Coaching will be the key to New England’s victory over Houston. They are not superior to Houston at any position except quarterback, but Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels have made the right preparations behind the scenes. They are very familiar with Bill O’Brien and the Texans’ roster.The key to a Texans victory stares Tom Brady in the face: J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney can force Brady off-balance all game long if they play their best. Deshaun Watson is one of the most talented young quarterbacks in the league, and he can make plays with his feet to extend drives and wear out the Patriots’ defense.
Tampa Bay at New Orleans15-29NO-9.5The Saints got a shock to their offense and defense with impact rookies Alvin Kamara and Marcus Lattimore. Building off of that success and leveraging their star QB in Drew Brees, New Orleans should be poised to start off the year with a fairly easy win at home.The bad news for the Buccaneers is that they will not have Jameis Winston this week and will need to hold their own against a top offense. The good news is that they are currently in the stage of the Ryan Fitzpatrick cycle where we think he’s washed and he somehow plays well enough to win a starting job, finish a game short of the playoffs, and then underdeliver on his next contract.
Jacksonville at NY Giants20-16JAC-3No team has upgraded more this offseason than the New York Giants. Their rejuvenated offensive line will buy time against Jacksonville’s incredible front seven and open the lanes necessary for rookie running back Saquon Barkley to take off.The Jaguars may have the best defense in the NFL and are equipped with a talented running back of their own in Leonard Fournette. If they can neutralize Odell Beckham, Jr. on the outside and plug up the holes to stop Barkley in his first NFL game, they will pull out the W.
Buffalo at Baltimore8-25BAL-7Even without Jimmy Smith, the Ravens’ defense is going to give the Bills all they can handle. Terrell Suggs should be as disruptive as ever going against an offensive line that looked horrible in the preseason. Joe Flacco and the offense will likely have a conservative game plan and just look manage the game.Nathan Peterman‘s third career start can’t possibly go as bad as his first one did, right? In order to avoid another rout in this start, they are going to need to rely heavily on LeSean McCoy to keep the pass rush off Peterman as much as possible.
Kansas City at LA Chargers25-26KC+3.5The Chargers are a sleeper pick to make a deep run in the playoffs this year. Rivers is always consistent, the run game is a strength and Mike Williams is expected to join Keenan Allen to combine as one of the stronger offenses in the league. Don’t overlook this Chargers team.Coach Andy Reid always has his teams ready, and the Chiefs have been one of the most consistent teams in the league since he took over. Mahomes has the chance to come out hot against an injured LA secondary.
Seattle at Denver15-18PushIf Case Keenum can repeat the magic of last season in Minnesota, the Broncos will be in good shape. The defense should be scary good with Von Miller anchoring the pass rush, coupled with newly added Bradley Chubb.The defense is still good enough to contribute and Russell Wilson is still a top-five quarterback with a solid receiving corp. The Seahawks will be carried by their offense for a change, and the Broncos’ secondary is nowhere near as good as it was during their Super Bowl run.
Washington at Arizona21-20WSH+1Sam Bradford loves his slot receivers, and who’s a better slot receiver than Larry Fitzgerald? The Cardinals might surprise some people this year with their ability to sustain drives, especially against a thin Washington secondary outside of Josh Norman.Washington is at home with a consistent quarterback in Alex Smith. The Cardinals’ defense is one of the worst in the league and Smith has enough potential weapons to overwhelm the Cardinals’ secondary.
Dallas at Carolina16-23CAR-3The Panthers are one of the more well-rounded teams in the league this year. McCaffery should take a big leap as the lead back. Greg Olsen, Newton’s favorite target, is healthy and ready to be a top-five tight end. Not to mention the defense is much improved.Two years ago, the Cowboys went 13-3 and were the favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. Most of that core still remains. The running game should be able to overwhelm the Panthers’ front seven, especially with Thomas Davis suspended for the game.
Chicago at Green Bay17-30GB-7.5With Aaron Rodgers back and healthy, the Packers are looking to start their season off strong against their division rivals. Green Bay will be ready for whatever Chicago throws at them with their new additions.Chicago has upgraded their offensive weapons tremendously this offseason, which gives Trubisky a fighting chance to beat Rodgers on his home field if Khalil Mack and the defense can show up big.
NY Jets at Detroit17-26DET-6.5The Sam Darnold era has officially begun. In order for it to be a happy beginning, the youngest opening day starting quarterback ever is going to have to put on a show that makes him the talk of the New York sports world come Tuesday morning.The Jets’ offensive weapons could struggle to get open consistently against Darius Slay and the rest of the Lions’ secondary, opening the door for the Lions’ pass rush to hit Darnold early and often.
LA Rams at Oakland30-15LAR-4.5After not playing a majority of the starters at all in the preseason, it will be interesting to see if the Rams come out of the gates slow. The overwhelming talent discrepancy between these two teams should be enough for the Rams to win this game, but if they let the Raiders hang around it could spell trouble.Jon Gruden’s return to the Black Hole will be taken with a grain of salt, as the fans mourn the loss of Khalil Mack. The criticism they have taken since the trade should be temporarily halted if Derek Carr and the offense return to 2016 form and upset one of the NFC favorites.

Edited by Jeremy Losak, Emily Berman.

SQuiz
What was the score of the Eagles/Falcons Divisional Round matchup game in the 2017-18 season?
Created 9/5/18
  1. 15 - 10
  2. 17 - 13
  3. 23 - 16
  4. 22 - 19

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