• Max Carlson

Max against the Spread | Week 1: Cash Inoculum

The smell of pigskin, barbeque, cheap beer, and false hope fills the (soon-to-be) autumn air, and that can mean only one thing: Football is back.

Bookies everywhere are raking in cash from hopeful fans betting on their teams to win it all this year with eyes full of wonder. “Hey, why not? The *insert team here* are at 35/1 right now! What’s 20 bucks if I have the chance to win 700 bucks?”

Long odds are fun to take stabs at, but the odds are long for a reason. Most future bets are sucker bets, and I try to avoid them at all costs. My favorite bets, aside from absurd Super Bowl prop bets, are the weekly point spreads.

Just like last season, I’ll be picking (with explanations) against the spread for my three “locks” of the week, as well as that week’s 49er game. Unless stated otherwise, I’ll be pulling the most current lines from Caesars. At the end of each piece, I’ll take a quick stab at the rest of that week’s slate of games, but the focus will always be on the “locks.”

Week 1 is always extremely tough, because we don’t have any data on the current iterations of these teams, but sometimes there are some shockingly bizarre lines posted that need to be taken advantage of.

So go sell some of your kids’ toys on OfferUp, and let’s gamble!

Game 1:

Titans @ Browns (-5.5)

I hate to immediately hop on the Browns’ bandwagon right out of the gate, but this matchup and corresponding spread is too juicy to pass up. The Browns are walking into the season with a Madden-esque cache of talent, and they get to take their new-look roster for a spin against the Titans.

The Titans will be without left tackle Taylor Lewan for the first four games of the season. I’m expecting the Browns’ defensive line to dominate the trenches and control this game from the get-go. Marcus “Noodle Arm” Mariota, struggling to remain relevant, will be running for his life, while his potential replacement Ryan Tannehill happily observes from the sideline.

I am extremely confident that with the aid of Myles Garrett and the defense, Baker Mayfield and the offense will win this home opener by at least a pair of field goals.

The pick: Browns (-5.5) [-110]

Game 2:

Ravens (-6.5) @ Dolphins

Long in tooth and soul, Ryan Fitzpatrick will enter his 15th NFL season as the opening day starter for the Miami Dolphins - the same team that just traded for Josh Rosen. Fitzmagic is unexplainable and unavoidable. It’s chaotic yet beautifully harmonious. Will he throw 6 TDs, or will he throw 6 INTs?

No one bound to this flesh has that answer.

The Ravens are the better team on both sides of the ball, which is to be expected when the Dolphins are in the midst of one of the more obvious tanking missions in recent memory. With the additions of offensive pieces like Mark Ingram III and Marquis “Hollywood” Brown, sophomore quarterback Lamar Jackson finds himself well-situated for a breakout season.

Despite all of that, I’ll be putting my faith in whichever god or demon is responsible for the cursed blessing known as Fitzmagic.

The pick: Dolphins (+6.5) [EVEN]

Game 3:

Broncos (-2) @ Raiders

Sound the dread alarm. The Raiders have played exactly zero regular season games, and they already have given us more entertainment and drama than the final season of “Game of Thrones.” The latest news out of Oakland is that the team will possibly suspend, or even cut, star WR Antonio Brown after a reported altercation between Brown and the professional mock drafter-turned-GM, Mike Mayock. I wouldn’t be shocked at all if by the time this article gets published, we learn that Antonio Brown sued Derek Carr for medical malpractice. Anything is possible in the East Bay right now.

Sometimes teams are able to shut out the noise, but I don’t see Gruden capable of pulling it off. It’s a fascinating storyline, and I’ll be watching it intently, but the Raiders are rattled, and Von Miller and Bradley Chubb will take full advantage in front of a stunned crowd of grown men in pirates and ICP cosplay.

The pick: Broncos (-2) [-110]

Niner Game:

49ers @ Buccaneers (-1)

Homer pick time. I don’t care about the question marks in the secondary, interior offensive line, and wide receiving corps. Nor do I care about the uncertainty still surrounding Jimmy Garoppolo. The five-time world champion San Francisco 49ers are going to usher in a 10-year reign of terror with a dominating performance in Tampa Bay on Sunday. Put the kids’ college fund on this one. See you next week.

The pick: 49ers (+1) [-110]

Remaining Games (picks in bold)

GB +3.5 @ CHI

LAR -2 @ CAR

KC -3.5 @ JAX

ATL +4 @ MIN

BUF @ NYJ -3

WSH @ PHI -10

IND @ LAC -6.5

CIN +9.5 @ SEA

DET -2.5 @ ARI

NYG @ DAL -7.5

PIT +5.5 @ NE

HOU +7 @ NO

Stay tuned next week for a recap of this week’s picks as well as picks for the week 2 games!

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