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For The Win: Week 1

NFL Picks Against the Las Vegas Lines

Here I am again this year, back for more NFL picks. Just like last season, I will still be picking all of the NFL games each week, but I will try and help some of you with some confidence and rankings of the selections - which also may assist those of you with Las Vegas trips. I tend to rate games that I like (and some extras like Over/Unders) with 1-3 "Stars", which basically highlight my best bets for the week. Those games which have zero stars I don't truly like one way or the other, but will select to help those trying to get some advice for their weekly office pools or other contests that they may be participating in either this week or this season. Let's get started with Week 1, which can be a difficult week to make choices. If you have been on top of the NFL to this point and all through preseason, this might afford you a good advantage and help you to get off to a fast start. Hopefully, this will be the case this year.

Week 1 is one of the toughest to handicap in the NFL as we have not really seen any true live action. The preseason is the preseason and none of that matters. Some teams play vanilla offense and/or defense so the talents and the intangibles are where you really have to make your picks. I have to admit that I was very tempted to just take all of the overs this week with all the emphasis on offense, but two things are holding me back. First, Vegas knows that people love to bet the over, so the totals are usually going to be a little higher than one might expect.  Secondly, defenses tend to be ahead of offenses early in the season.  I think I will let a lot of this play out in Week 1 and then start to really dig in.  Remember that this is a marathon, not a sprint.  It is definitely going to be an interesting opening week.  Let's get started.

Note that the lines and Over/Unders are taken from VegasInsider.com.

(Thursday) NEW ENGLAND (-8) vs. KANSAS CITY
The defending Super Bowl champions open the NFL season with a Thursday Night Football special at home against Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs.  New England gets the honors again to start the season, and people are going to be wondering how the team will round into shape with LeGarrette Blount gone to Philadelphia and now Julian Edelman (knee) done for the year.  Both coaches do remarkably well with extra time to prepare, but for me this boils down to a few simple things.  Two stud tight ends are going to be in action, but Rob Gronkowski is going to be motivated to show that he is still the top dog, and Travis Kelce is a distant second.  Now, the tight ends do not face one another directly, so much depends on the defenses they face and the quarterbacks who target them.  That leads me to the biggest point of all - Tom Brady is better than Alex Smith.  I know, big stretch there, but sometimes the simple analysis is all you need.  Rookie Kareem Hunt is now the starting tailback for Kansas City, but Week 1 is a lot rougher than August preseason, and Foxboro is always a tough place to visit.  Look for a statement game here and for Belichick to make far better halftime adjustments than Andy Reid.  Of course I would love this game more if the spread was under a touchdown, but I am willing to eat it and take the Patriots, but I am not going to go all in or go crazy with this one - but a teaser is definitely in play.  PICK: Patriots

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