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NFL WEEK 1 – Sunday, September 13th, 2015
Welcome to Week 1 of the 2015 NFL Season! Wee 1 is clearly a unique opportunity, as there are no previous results from the current season on which to base opinions. It is also unique in that EVERY OPENING LINE OF THE 15 GAMES SCHEDULED SUNDAY AND MONDAY IS 6 OR FEWER POINTS. While handicappers across the nation are agonizing over how teams do in respective roles and whether the underdog can slide inside the number, this bureau will be focusing on the straight up winner of the game knowing that IF YOU SELECT THE STRAIGHT UP WINNER OF ALL NFL GAMES IN WHICH THE OPENING LINE IS 6 OR LESS POINTS, YOU WILL HAVE THE ATS WINNER 90% OF THE TIME! Now on to Week 1 Winners.
NFL CRUSHER OF THE WEEK … Green Bay Packers (-6)
Each week in this space, I will isolate the CFB CRUSHER OF THE WEEK. It will be a blend of statistical, situational and technical analysis that will result in an outstanding opportunity for you to cash a winning ticket. Look for this favorite to dominate the point of attack, control matters overland and rush their way to a dominating victory in this week’s contest. Here is this week’s winner.
Green Bay Packers (-6-) at Chicago Bears 1:00 ET
Divisional rivals, the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears, kick off the first Sunday of the 2015 NFL season. These two franchises have a long and storied history against each other. Recently, however, the pendulum has swung the way of the Green Bay Packers. Last year on this field, Green Bay won this matchup by a score of 38-17. They recorded that victory in spite of the fact that the Bears outrushed the Packers 235-56 (highly unusual). The rematch came in Green Bay on November 9th; the yardage swung the way of the Packers, 455-311, while the score was even more lopsided at 55-14. Much has changed, especially for the Chicago Bears since the 2014 season, but tonight I expect the results between these two to look very similar to last season. This is the one game on the card where one NFL team is most likely to crush the other.
In the last two seasons, the Bears were led by HC Marc Trestman, an offensive guru who made his mark on that side of the ball by coaching in the CFL. Yet last year, the Bears could average just 20 PPG on only 327 YPG, with a running attack that averaged just 90 RYPG. In short, Trestman took them from a team who was 10-6 SU in 2012, and led them to seasons of 8-8 and 5-11, with an 11-21 ATS record. This season, the Bears have hired former Denver HC John Fox. Unlike the departed Trestman, Fox had a highly successful career with the Denver Broncos. In the most recent three seasons, the Fox coached Broncos were 40-13 SU. Apparently blood is thicker than water, as John Elway hired former teammate Gary Kubiak to lead the Broncs. Fox, in turn, took the job in Chicago, and along with him brought respected DC Vick Fanglio, who most recently guided the 49ers defense to a trio of consecutive NFC Championship games. Respected OC Adam Gase rounds out the triumvirate. There is little doubt that eventually this trio will return the Bears to their winning ways. In the meantime, they are counting on QB Cutler to lead the offense. That is not necessarily a good thing, as the Bears have a 45-71 ATS mark with Cutler as their starter, including 21-36 ATS if installed as underdog.
Fox brings a solid history of NFL success along with him, including 50-29 SU in Division games. In addition, game 1 Division home revengers have had a solid history of over 67% recently. But the Bears’ fundamentals are far from in place at this point in time. Some may believe that is belied by the 3-1 SA preseason, including a 24-0 shutout in NFL-X game 4. But they are a long way from being competitive with the Packers.
Green Bay head man McCarthy has a solid history of success since 2006 with the Packers. In the last four seasons, Green Bay is 48-21 SU. It can definitely be argued they should have beaten Seattle in the playoffs last year, and ascended to the Super Bowl. That will leave this team hungry for their opener, with the lone rejoinder being that Seattle revenge looms on the horizon next week. It is unlikely there is much drop off in an offense that averaged 30 PPG and 384 YPG last season. QB Rodgers is one of the best in the game, and returns in full health this year. Even without Jordy Nelson, this will be a potent Green Bay attack. The combination of McCarthy and QB Rodgers has been lethal against Division rivals. McCarthy is 38-18 ATS in Division play; since Rodgers has joined the Pack, that record is 29-12 ATS vs Division foes. That includes 12-3 SU ATS against the Bears, including 7-1 ATS recently in this series by an average score of 32-18.
Until HC Fox and Co turns things around for the Bears, can only see more of the same in the first game of the season where each team brings full focus. Make this your NFL CRUSHER OF THE WEEK as history continues.
NFL LONG RANGER PLAY OF THE WEEK … St. Louis Rams (+4)
Each week in this space, I isolate the NFL LONE RANGER CONTRARY PLAY OF THE WEEK. It is a blend of statistical, situational and technical analysis that will result in an outstanding opportunity for you to cash a winning ticket on a team for whom little love is being shown by the linemaker or public.
Seattle Seahawks (-4) at St Louis Rams 1:00 ET
The Seattle Seahawks visit the St Louis Rams for this Divisional rivalry to open the 2015 NFL season for each team. It is the first of a brutal travel schedule, which finds the Seahawks flying at least two time zones east, no fewer than 6 times this NFL season. They will also be meeting an opponent who has caused them fits at this site in recent seasons. Last year, St Louis won on this field 28-26, barely lost 14-9 the season before that, and saw St Louis record a 19-13 victory in 2012. Yet, everyone is expecting this two time Super Bowl team to advance for a third consecutive time to the pen ultimate game in the NFL this season. That perception is backed by public money, which has forced this line up to Seattle -4 from what this bureau considers to be an overlay from the opening number of -3. The reality is, not only has this been historically a very tough matchup for the Seahawks, but that this MAY ALREADY BE THE BEGINNING OF THE END OF A BURGEONING SEATTLE DYNASTY.
Will the Seahawk franchise ever recover from the call by HC Carroll to pass the football from inside the 2 yard line with the Super Bowl on the line? Everyone in America would have simply handed the ball of to Marshawn Lynch, three times if necessary. Now QB Wilson has shattered confidence, and Lynch is left wondering “what if?” As if the mental issues were not enough for Seattle, they are now dealing with key contract holdouts and OL issues which troubled them through much of the preseason. In addition, there is that matter of a look ahead to Green Bay next week, a perennial NFC Super Bowl challenger themselves. In the last three years, Seattle has gone 42-14 SU, while in the last four years HC Carroll has led them to a 46-24 ATS mark. Further supporting the reality of this selection, is that game 1 Super Bowl losers are just 2-13 SU ATS. Going hand in glove with that, is that game 1 road teams in this price range who had more than 12 victories in the previous season have fallen flat on their face 75% of the time.
Adding to the perception of the outcome of this game is the fact that St Louis has not been a greater than .500 team in the last decade. Last year, the anemic offense could average just 20 PPG on 314 YPG; that has been par for the course in the three year tenure of HC Jeff Fisher. In hopes of breaking that mold, the Rams lured former Philly QB Nick Foles in the deal that traded QBs, sending Sam Bradford to Philly. Knowing that St Louis was 0-4 SU ATS in preseason play only adds fuel to our perception/reality play.
A solid vote for history as the Rams win outright against the Seattle team who is about to fall from their pinnacle of success.
NFL BIG DOG OF THE WEEK … NY Giants (+6)
Each week in this space, I will isolate the NFL BIG DOG OF THE WEEK. It will be on an NFL team that is an underdog of 6 or more points. This selection will be a blend of statistical, situational, and technical analyses that will result in an outstanding opportunity for you to cash a winning ticket.
New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys (-6) 8:20 ET NBC
The first NFL Sunday Night Football game is a matchup that features a storied NFL East rivalry between the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys. These teams met twice last season, with Dallas winning and covering by a score of 31-21 on this field, and following it up four weeks later with a 31-28 victory at New York, barely failing to cover the 4 point impost. That makes it four straight over the New Yorkers, with three of those victories by 5 or less points. You can see the precedence for an exciting game once again tonight.
The Giants have gone through some tough times in recent seasons, falling from 13 to 9 to 7 to 6 wins since 2011. Though the offense perked up a bit from 18 to 24 points last year, there was a precipitous defensive decline as the G Men allowed 43 more yards per game. Despite their demise, the Giants will be buoyed by their 3-1 SU ATS finish to close the 2014 season. Remember, this is a team just four years removed from their Super Bowl victory over New England. But with three non-playoff seasons, consider 12th year HC Coughlin to be directly on the hot seat. In recalling past success, Coughlin rehired DC Spagnuolo to improve the leaky defense. Of equal concern is keeping QB Manning erect, as his declining numbers have been directly proportional to the pressure placed on him.
It is a chic selection to back the Cowboys for yet another playoff appearance. The Achilles heel, their defense, made dramatic strides in 2014, from 27 to 22 PPG and 415 to 361 YPG. It was the reason why a trio of 8-8 SU seasons turned into a 13-5 SU campaign. Despite the loss of RB Murray, the Cowboys again figure to be potent, with QB Romo, who had the best passer rating in the NFL last season.
In the final analysis, however, this has simply not been their role. QB Romo has a mark of 22-36 ATS as home chalk, while since HC Garrett has been on board the last 4+ seasons, he has 15-27 ATS record as chalk. A final note is in order regarding the total in this game. Primetime games last season went 36-14 OVER. No surprise if that holds true to form this year, as the last five in this series have seen the teams’ total (in reverse order) 59, 52, 45, 67, and 53 points. All but one of those will get OVER backers paid.