Seven months have passed since the Los Angeles Rams toppled the Cincinnati Bengals to win the Lombardi Trophy. On the eve of the 2022 NFL season, excitement is brimming amid 32 fan bases, and the football handicapping world is undoubtedly excited for the grind ahead. To that end, we’re back for another campaign of NFL against-the-spread selections in this space, and the last few years have treated us fairly well. The 2021 season ended with a solid 59-48-1 mark including the playoffs, and the ethos remains the same, often leaning on ugly-appearing sides and Unders on totals to get us home.
Before we dive into the Week 1 slate, let’s take a glance at the last group of selections from the Super Bowl and how the 2021 campaign went in full.
- Last Week (Super Bowl): 2-3
- 2021 Season: 59-48-1
Come get these winners.
SIX-POINT TEASER: Los Angeles Rams (+8.5) over Buffalo Bills AND Baltimore Ravens (-1) over New York Jets
Are we getting weird out of the gate? Yes, we are. Teasers are often poor value plays, but Wong Teasers (named after Stanford Wong) can be profitable if you are zooming through key numbers. Both legs of this teaser apply that principle, with the Rams shooting from +2.5 to +8.5 and the Ravens moving from -7 to -1. I’m tempted to simply give out the Rams +2.5 at home, and I do think that is the right side, but I could also see this game landing in the 3-7 range in favor of Buffalo in the opener. On the other side, I have a great deal of confidence in a John Harbaugh team with extra preparation, particularly when facing an old friend in Joe Flacco.
Pittsburgh Steelers (+6.5) over Cincinnati Bengals
A few things are in play here. For one, Mike Tomlin might be a wizard. He is the best underdog coach in the NFL historically, posting a 47-26-3 mark against the spread when getting points, and that jumps to 19-6-2 as an underdog against divisional opponents. I also think the Steelers (quietly) upgraded at quarterback in losing the 2021 version of Ben Roethlisberger and replacing him with Mitch Trubisky, and Pittsburgh’s defense should be stout. The Bengals are rightly favored at home, but this is a number I think should be 4 or 4.5 rather than 6.5 in the opener.
Houston Texans (+7.5) over Indianapolis Colts
I did warn you that we’d be hideous on a regular basis, and this is gross. Indianapolis projects to be improved behind Matt Ryan and what should be a more stable passing game, and the Texans are, well, the Texans. With that said, I’ll snag the home underdog of more than a touchdown here and the backdoor might be open down the stretch for Davis Mills.
Minnesota Vikings (+2) over Green Bay Packers
This won’t be fun either. Aaron Rodgers is the reigning MVP and there are mixed opinions of the Vikings. Still, Green Bay’s offensive talent is not as good as it was a year ago without Davante Adams, and this line gives a great deal of respect to the Packers and very little to the Vikings. Am I too high on Minnesota? Maybe, but we’ll find out soon enough.
Dallas Cowboys (+2.5) over Tampa Bay Buccaneers
These two teams met in the 2021 season opener and played a wild battle with two lead changes in the final two minutes. That result would be just fine again here, with the Cowboys entering as a home underdog. Tampa Bay is the better team on a neutral field, but the Buccaneers had an odd offseason that included a coaching change, Tom Brady taking some time off, offensive line issues, and an injury recovery for Chris Godwin. Dallas might not be able to run the ball here, but it’s the only side.