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Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 13:57 PM

Sunday Blitz - Week 1

GAMES TO WATCH

Falcons at Vikings (-3 ½, 48) – 1:00 PM EST

Following consecutive playoff appearances which included the greatest Super Bowl meltdown of all-time, the Falcons slipped to 7-9 in 2018 and missed the postseason. Atlanta started 1-4 and could never break the .500 mark, while owning one of the worst ATS marks in the league by covering only five games. The Falcons didn’t defeat a single team that made the playoffs, but managed to win their final two road contests of the season at Carolina and Tampa Bay.

The Vikings took a step back following an NFC championship appearance in 2017 as Minnesota posted an 8-7-1 record last season. Kirk Cousins threw for 4,298 yards and 30 touchdowns in his first season with the Vikings, but the running game struggled following rookie Dalvin Cook’s ACL injury in Week 9. Minnesota won seven of eight home contests in 2017, but fell to 5-3 at U.S. Bank Stadium in 2018, while hitting the UNDER in six of eight home games last season.

This series has been owned by the Vikings the last few seasons as Minnesota has claimed all three meetings since 2014. However, the Vikings were listed as underdogs in all three victories, including in a 14-9 triumph in 2017 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium as two-point ‘dogs. Minnesota is hosting Atlanta for the first time since 2014, as the Vikings won 41-28 at TCF Bank Stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota.

Best Bet: Falcons 21, Vikings 16

Rams (-2 ½, 50) at Panthers – 1:00 PM EST

The last four NFC champions have not returned to the Super Bowl, as Los Angeles looks to buck that trend this season. The Rams are coming off a 13-3 campaign, capped off by their second straight NFC West championship. Los Angeles won six of eight games away from the Coliseum, while owning a solid 13-3 mark on the highway under head coach Sean McVay. Following a 3-0 ATS start in 2018, the Rams slipped to 2-8-1 ATS in the next 11 games before covering four straight games, including the controversial NFC title win at New Orleans.

The Panthers were on their way to the playoffs after a fast 6-2 start, but Carolina fell on hard times by losing seven consecutive games before a victory in the season finale to finish 7-9. Carolina lost four games by six points or less during that dreadful stretch, including home setbacks to Seattle and New Orleans by three points each. The Panthers have fared well in openers the last few seasons by putting together a 4-1 SU/ATS record in Week 1 since 2014, while winning five straight home openers.

These two old division rivals haven’t seen much of each other recently with only three matchups since 2010. The Panthers edged the Rams, 13-10 at the Coliseum in 2016, while L.A. is making its first trip to Charlotte since 2013 in a 30-15 setback. Since McVay was hired in 2017, the Rams own a perfect 3-0 SU/ATS record in games played in the Eastern Time Zone, including a 30-16 victory at Detroit last season.

Best Bet: Rams 27, Panthers 23

Giants at Cowboys (-7, 45 ½) – 4:25 PM EST

The ongoing drama during the preseason regarding the contract status of Cowboys’ running back Ezekiel Elliott finally came to end just in time before the season opener. The former Ohio State standout agreed to a six-year, $90 million extension after sitting out the preseason as he will suit in Week 1. The Cowboys overcame a 3-5 start in 2018 to win seven of their final eight games to clinch the NFC East title. Although Dallas was knocked out by Los Angeles in the divisional playoffs, the Cowboys closed last season by compiling an 8-1 record at AT&T Stadium, which included the two-point Wild Card win over Seattle.

The Giants selected Duke’s Daniel Jones with their top pick in the draft to be the heir apparent to veteran Eli Manning under center. However, Jones will remain Manning’s backup to start the season as the Giants try to avoid their third consecutive last-place finish in the NFC East. New York finished 5-11 in 2018, but the Giants were a quality team to back away from Met Life Stadium as they compiled a 7-1 ATS mark on the road.

The lone ATS setback on the highway for the Giants in 2018 came at Dallas in a 20-13 defeat as three-point underdogs in Week 2. The Cowboys swept the Giants for the second consecutive season, while the past three matchups in Arlington have finished UNDER the total. New York is seeking its first win at Dallas since the 2016 opener when the Giants edged the Cowboys, 20-19 in Dak Prescott’s debut.

Best Bet: Cowboys 20, Giants 16

SUPERCONTEST PICKS

Kevin Rogers (41-42-2 in 2018)

Falcons +4
Dolphins +6 ½
Rams -2 ½
Colts +6 ½
Giants +7

Chris David (53-32-1 in 2018)

Jets -3
Rams -2 ½
Cardinals +3
Seahawks -9 ½
Cowboys -7

SURVIVOR PICKS

Kevin Rogers

Philadelphia over Washington

Chris David

Seattle over Cincinnati

BEST TOTAL PLAY – (11-6 in 2018)

Under 50 ½ - Chiefs at Jaguars

Kansas City’s offense was the best in the league last season behind Patrick Mahomes and his 50 touchdown passes. The Chiefs head to Jacksonville to face the re-tooled Jaguars, who have more confidence in the quarterback position after signing with former Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles. However, Foles didn’t play much in the preseason and takes over an offense that scored 16 points or less in five home games last season. The Chiefs created five turnovers in a 30-14 blowout of the Jaguars last season at Arrowhead, while their road defensive numbers weren’t great but faced the likes of the Chargers, Steelers, Seahawks, Patriots, and Rams (who all ranked in the top eight in offense in the NFL).

TRAP OF THE WEEK

The pressure on the Cleveland Browns will be enormous this season following all the hype in the offseason. The Browns made drastic improvements last season by hanging around the playoff race nearly to the end, while winning seven games following a 1-31 stretch from 2016-17. The Titans finished with a better record than the Browns last season, while posting a perfect 3-0 ATS mark as a road underdog of four points or more. Cleveland closed as a favorite of more than a field goal once in 2018 as the Browns failed to cover in a 26-18 win as 10-point chalk against the Bengals (Browns did lead 26-3 late in fourth).

BIGGEST LINE MOVE

To no one’s surprise, the Colts moved from a 3 ½-point underdog against the Chargers when lines were released at the Westgate Superbook in April all the way up to 6 ½. Andrew Luck’s sudden retirement after the preseason jacked that line in Los Angeles’ favor as the Colts will turn to Jacoby Brissett for the season at quarterback. The positive sign for the Colts is they face a Chargers’ squad that posted a 2-5-1 ATS mark as a home favorite last season.

BETCHA DIDN’T KNOW

Eight teams feature new head coaches this season, including six men coaching their first ever regular season game. Last season, all six coaches in their team debuts lost (Chicago’s Matt Nagy, Detroit’s Matt Patricia, Indianapolis’ Frank Reich, New York’s Pat Shurmur, Oakland’s Jon Gruden, Tennessee’s Mike Vrabel). Three of those teams lost as a home underdog (Giants, Colts, Raiders), as the Cardinals and Dolphins both fall in that position in Week 1. This trend has been temporarily bucked by the Packers, as new head coach Matt LaFleur picked up his first win in Thursday’s 10-3 victory at Chicago.

You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at [email protected]

Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.

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