NFL Week 1 SportsGrid Model Picks
After much uncertainty with the coronavirus, the NFL finally kicks off on Thursday Night! Our betting model predictions at SportsGrid have highlighted some games for Week 1 that may represent some value for bettors looking to have some action on the games this weekend.
The SportsGrid betting model lists sides and totals on a five-star system, with five stars projecting as the biggest edge.
Let’s dive in!
Texans-Chiefs Under 54.5 Points
The Chiefs-Texans matchup is currently projected at 54.5 points by oddsmakers, but the SportsGrid model shows a projection of 49 total points. The viewers’ focus will rightfully be on the offenses, but the game might not be as explosive as bettors believe at first glance.
On the Houston side, wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins was traded to Arizona for running back David Johnson. Head coach Bill O’Brien religiously adheres to establishing the run, so Johnson should get plenty of usage to keep away from Patrick Mahomes. Wide receiver Will Fuller is healthy, but wide receiver Brandin Cooks is questionable, and wide receiver Randall Cobb is in his first year with the team.
Deshaun Watson is super-human, but even he needs some rapport with someone to throw to. The Chiefs used a first-round pick on LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, and head coach Andy Reid has indicated they plan to see what they have in him, starting him at running back, which may bleed a little clock.
There is a chance here that given the Chiefs are 9.5-point favorites, they go up 10-14 points on the Texans and run out the clock in the later stages of the game, further contributing to the under.
Packers-Vikings Under 45.5 Points
Aaron Rodgers and the Packers head to Minnesota to take on Kirk Cousins and the Vikings on Sunday. The SportsGrid model has this game projected at 42.7 total points, and although the game may seem like a potential shootout between Cousins and Rodgers, all signs point to an under here.
Stylistically, the teams’ strengths offset each other: Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer and Packers head coach Matt Lafleur both believe in playing run-first football and winning with defense, and the styles of the teams’ constructions prove this.
However, the Packers also lost the entire right side of their offensive line this season, and the Vikings’ offensive line hasn’t been great, being PFF-ranked in the bottom 12 of the league the last three seasons.
The two teams’ secondaries aren’t elite. Still, both boast solid cornerback and safety play that should be able to key in on the two primary pass-catching weapons in this matchup, Davante Adams and Adam Thielen, of Green Bay and Minnesota, respectively. The defenses should control the game here.
Four-and-a-Half Star Predictions
Cardinals-49ers Under 48 Points
The Kyler Murray-led Cardinals head to San Francisco to open up Week 1 against Jimmy Garoppolo, George Kittle, and Richard Sherman. Overall, the SportsGrid model has this game projected at 45.8 points.
The Cardinals defense should no longer be bottom-barrel, after using a first-round draft pick on do-it-all Clemson linebacker/safety Isiah Simmons and extending safety Buddha Baker. The Niners’ defense needs no introduction as they led them to a Super Bowl appearance last year.
The Cardinals’ offensive pieces haven’t all been present in training camp, so it may take some time for everyone to gel together. DeAndre Hopkins and running back Kenyan Drake both missed weeks of training camp with injuries, and Murray’s new right tackle Josh Jones is a rookie who hasn’t played an NFL snap yet.
The Niners have injuries of their own, as wide receivers Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk missed all of training camp with injuries, leaving Kittle as the main pass-catching threat for Garoppolo.
Browns-Ravens Under 48.5 Points
The Ravens open up at home in the early slate on Sunday in Baltimore against Cleveland. In a matchup of good defenses in a what could be a typical AFC North slugfest, the model likes the under 48.5 points, projecting a total of 46.5 points.
The game should be slower-paced than bettors think: The Ravens ran the ball at a league-high rate last year and have reigning MVP Lamar Jackson returning at quarterback, and new Cleveland head coach Kevin Stefanski’s coaching philosophy is to run the ball first.
Both teams have invested heavily in their offensive lines and have excellent cornerback play and pass rushes to neutralize each other’s pass-catchers, so pass-catchers like Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry, and Marquise Brown should be largely neutralized.
There is a chance here that given the Ravens are eight-point favorites, they go up 7-10 points on the Browns and run out the clock in the later stages of the game, further contributing to the under.
Colts-Jaguars Under 45 Points
The Colts-Jacksonville season opener in Jacksonville is projected to total 45, but the SportsGrid model’s prediction is that this line is one point too high.
The AFC South matchup features quarterback Philip Rivers’s first game as a Colt, complemented by a top-tier offensive line and a strong running attack led by Marlon Mack and Jonathan Taylor.
Jacksonville should have a hard time scoring against a sturdy colts defense. The team added defensive tackle DeForest Buckner from San Francisco alongside returning stars Darius Leonard, Bobby Okereke, and Justin Houston.
The Colts should control the game from start to finish and lean on their running attack. Phillip Rivers was also the league’s slowest quarterback in terms of situation-neutral snap pace last year, so unless Rivers changes his ways, the Colts should play slowly.
There is a chance that given the Colts are eight-point favorites, they get in a position to run out the clock in the later stages of the game.