Underdogs generally have good value in week 1.
Teams that were good a year ago aren't necessarily always the same unit we witnessed the previous year. And results in week 1 aren't always a precursor for what to expect in the coming months.
So even if the underdogs are that way for a legitimate reason in week 1, it doesn't always play out that way. I've already detailed my three best favorites for week 1, so here's my week 1 NFL best bets featuring my three favorite underdogs.
And if you're interested in joining the Las Vegas Westgate SuperContest, there's still time before the week 1 Sunday games. When you get involved, make sure to use Vegas Football Proxy as your proxy service to enter the picks in the contest. I'll keep everyone updated on my picks @AgainstTheChalk on Twitter.
Seattle Seahawks (+3) at Denver Broncos
We've really fallen off the Seattle hype train.
This number has continually kept creeping in favor of Denver, with bettors now able to generate some value with Seattle as a field-goal underdog.
But how valuable are quarterbacks in the NFL? We've transitioned to a place with many teams that rosters are just as valuable as a top-tier quarterback. However, quarterbacks still matter. And Russell Wilson is a far more accomplished quarterback than Case Keenum.
That should matter, even if Seattle has to travel on the road in a difficult environment.
Both defenses are still good and both offensive lines have question marks. The running games will be slow to develop for both teams, with the receiving corps having some talent.
These are very similar teams, other than the quarterback. That's why I'm backing the Seahawks, which still have a little left in the tank to make some noise.
Don't completely stop believing in Seattle. -- Go Against The Chalk with Seattle
Kansas City Chiefs (+3.5) at Los Angeles Chargers
This is a story of two franchises, with very different histories in September and with a lengthy preparation period.
The Chargers regularly start slow. In the last five years, only once do the Chargers have a winning record in the first five games. Last year, during a season in which it won nine games, the Chargers were 0-4. The year before, they started 1-4. In 2015, they were 2-7.
It's a symptom of this team. The Chargers have plenty of talent, but they have proven in the past to not jump out of the gate.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs have been hot starters in the last two seasons, going 5-0 last year and 7-2 in the previous season. And I love Andy Reid building a game plan after an extended break. Reid's bye-week record is legendary, going 16-3 straight up after a bye week. With extended time, Reid can show off his coaching chops.
And it's not just those items that has me loving this line. The Chargers don't have a home-field advantage, and Kansas City has a plethora of weapons, from Travis Kelce, to Tyreek Hill, to Kareem Hunt. Oh and Sammy Watkins has joined the party this year.
The defense is back to healthy, so expect a better unit in week 1, too. Los Angeles is a talented team, especially defensively, but I like this matchup in favor of Kansas City. -- Go Against The Chalk with Kansas City
Cincinnati Bengals (+3) at Indianapolis Colts
This is not a good place for Andrew Luck to get his feet wet.
Cincinnati isn't as bad as many are predicting. The defense is a top-10 unit in the NFL. Against the pass last season, Cincinnati gave up just six yards per pass attempt, ranking fifth in the NFL in 2017. The overall defense ranked sixth in yards per play allowed.
The Bengals hold a significant advantage compared to Indianapolis' defense. The Colts were the worst statistical defense in 2017, and I'm not sure it got any better.
So, the only reason why the Colts are favorite is the Andrew Luck effect. Luck can make up that difference, a la Aaron Rodgers, but there's too much uncertainty surrounding how good he can be in week 1.
Maybe he's back to the old Luck and he's able to beat a good Cincinnati defense. Or maybe he's not ready for full speed. Either way, the Bengals have a good enough offense to put up points against the Colts' porous defense, and the questions remain for Indianapolis. -- Go Against The Chalk with Cincinnati
Scott Levine is the Associate Editor for the Clinton Herald. During his free time, he blogs about fantasy sports and handicaps games. His Against The Chalk blog has earned him back-to-back Iowa Newspaper Association awards for Best Blog. Check out more fantasy football coverage at Against The Chalk.
Scott Levine can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @ScottLevineCH