Friday, September 9, 2016

For the Record: Team OddsShark Super Contest Picks, Week 1

So this season, OddsShark.com was kind enough to draft me onto Team OddsShark, their crew of NFL experts competing in the annual Westgate SuperContest. They flew me out to Vegas, put me up in the my-kind-of-joint Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, kept the food and drinks flowing and paid my way into the world's top NFL season-long NFL betting contest.

My picks will be go up every Saturday at my Team OddsShark home page, but I thought I'd blog them out here, at least at the beginning while dreams of giant novelty checks swim in my head.

So here are my picks, already turned in to my fabulous proxies, Toni and Vegas Matty at FootballContestProxy.com

Tampa Bay Buccaneers, +2.5 over Atlanta Falcons*

To me, this matchup comes down to the second, third, and fourth passing-game options against the second, third and fourth cover guys. Bucs rookie Vernon Hargreaves had a spectacular preseason; he, Brent Grimes and Alterraun Verner should be able to at least slow Julio Jones, while shutting down Mohamed Sanu, et al.

As special as Devonta Freeman can be, Doug Martin and Charles Sims add up to a better, more consistent running game—and if all that weren't enough, Jameis Winston is on a rocketship trajectory, while Matt Ryan's showing no signs of pulling out of his tailspin.

I will gladly take the points here.

Minnesota Vikings, -1.5 over Tennessee Titans*

With their power-running offseason makeover, the Tennessee Titans put a Ferrari engine in a full-size pickup. While Derrick Henry looked strong, and Mike Mularkey folded some interesting wrinkles into their two-back plodding, Marcus Mariota's talents are completely wasted here.

Meanwhile, Dick LeBeau's years behind Mike Zimmer in rebuilding the defensive side of the ball, and even with Shaun Hill under center the Vikings have too much offensive firepower for the Titans to compete. Even in a home opener, I expect the Vikings to win convincingly.

New York Giants, -1.5 over Dallas Cowboys*

As I wrote for VICE, the Giants have to understand their whole season rides on this game. If the heavily reinforced defensive line can do their job, Big Blue can steal a road divisional win while Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott are still getting up to speed.

I don't love laying two road favorites in Week 1, but this is how I see it playing out. 

Detroit Lions, +3.5 over Indianapolis Colts*

So the Colts will have to cover Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, Anquan Boldin, Eric Ebron and Theo Riddick with three of their four starting defensive backs inactive...and the Lions are getting three and a hook? No-brainer.

Washington*, +3 over Pittsburgh Steelers

Even if I had lingering doubts about Kirk Cousins, Washington might have the best one-through-five set of passing options in the game. And they're at home. On a Monday Night Football season opener. And the Steelers are so desperate for back-seven talent that they traded for Justin Gilbert.

AND the Steelers will be without Le'Veon Bell, Martavis Bryant and Markus Wheaton.

AND Washington's getting three points.

*~AND~* I have no lingering doubts about Kirk Cousins.

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