Aug 14, 2020; Costa Mesa, California, USA; A face mask advisory sign with the hashtag #boltup at Los Angeles Chargers training camp at the Jack Hammett Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Week 1 Picks From Gagnon

It’s here. It’s finally freakin’ here. After a long, strange, frustrating off-season, NFL football is back. And we’ll be here to guide you with weekly picks against the spread every week. Here are our first 16 dart throws of 2020, with odds coming from SugarHouse Sportsbook.

Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs (-9.5): CHIEFS

Andy Reid is better than any other coach in football with extra time to prepare, as evidenced by his 5-2 ATS record in Week 1 since becoming Kansas City’s head coach in 2013 and his near-annual dominance following bye weeks. Combine that with the fact the Texans will be adjusting to life without All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins with replacement Brandin Cooks hurting and the Chiefs should be able to hit a double-digit margin of victory here.

Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions (-3): LIONS

The public hasn’t wised up to the fact the Lions are way better than the Bears, especially with Matthew Stafford healthy. No way I’m trusting Mitchell Trubisky in this spot, and Khalil Mack can’t do it all on his own. The push feels like a worst-case scenario here.

Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens (-8): BROWNS

Cleveland played Baltimore close last year and should be as prepared as ever for Lamar Jackson this time. The Ravens line will be adjusting to life without Marshal Yanda, while Cleveland has tooled up on offense to deal with that stout Baltimore defensive front. These teams aren’t eight points apart, especially considering the lack of fans in the stands.

Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings (-2.5): PACKERS

Green Bay is winning this straight-up. The Vikes will be adjusting on the fly to an entirely new secondary without the help of pass-rushing stud Danielle Hunter up front, and it’s tough to tell if Yannick Ngakoue will be ready to step right in and make an impact sans Hunter. Look for the Packers’ pass rush to be the difference-maker while Rodgers makes a statement.

Indianapolis Colts (-8) at Jacksonville Jaguars: COLTS

I’d need a double-digit spread to consider Jacksonville after that eleventh-hour off-season gut-job. The Jags aren’t positioned to win and hardly care to win, while the Colts are relatively healthy and should receive a boost from new quarterback Philip Rivers. This should be a blowout.

Las Vegas Raiders (-3.5) at Carolina Panthers: PANTHERS

I don’t trust either team but I’m not about to take the Raiders facing a hook on the road without top receiver Tyrell Williams. The Raiders were terrible on the road down the stretch last year and now have to deal with Christian McCaffrey and D.J. Moore in Charlotte. This is a field-goal game and a likely Carolina win.

Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots (-6.5): PATRIOTS

The Patriots struggled to beat the Dolphins when New England was a powerhouse and Miami stunk. Now, the Pats are a mediocre team on paper while the nothing-to-lose Dolphins are greatly improved. If it were later in the year or a slightly higher number, this would be a no-brainer Miami pick, but there’s still too much up in the air regarding both teams and we’re talking about Bill Belichick at home in Week 1.

New York Jets at Buffalo Bills (-6.5): BILLS

The Jets are unexpectedly adjusting to life without top defenders C.J. Mosley and Jamal Adams and will be dealing with a major offensive line transition on the fly, whereas the Bills are pretty much locked in across the board but will be even better offensively with Stefon Diggs. This spread is higher than I’d prefer for a divisional game, but Buffalo should be in line for an easy win at home.

Philadelphia Eagles (-5.5) at Washington Football Team: WASHINGTON

I really believe in Washington’s stacked defensive front, I’m enticed by Dwayne Haskins’ hot finish to the 2019 campaign and I have very little confidence in the ravaged Philadelphia offensive line. Put it all together and it’s not hard to imagine a straight-up Washington victory here (despite all the Week 1 betting trends to the contrary).

Seattle Seahawks (-2) at Atlanta Falcons: FALCONS

The Seahawks have made a habit of starting slow and will be adjusting to big changes along the offensive line as well as on defense, while the Falcons have a lot of continuity after going 6-2 in the second half of the 2019 campaign. Wish we could get an extra point for Atlanta here, but the Falcons should be able to win this at home unless Russell Wilson steals the show.

Los Angeles Chargers (-3) at Cincinnati Bengals: BENGALS

The traveling, transitioning Chargers have no idea what to expect from rookie Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow and a revamped team on both sides of the ball. That could be hugely problematic for Tyrod Taylor and Co. The L.A. pass rush could take over this game against a vulnerable Cincy offensive line, but the Chargers are a bit of a mess everywhere else. This feels like a push in the worst-case scenario.

Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers (-6.5): CARDINALS

San Francisco is too banged up as it tries to avoid a Super Bowl hangover against a Cardinals team that played well in their two matchups last season. The 49ers will be dealing with a lot of change under those circumstances, while Arizona looks much improved on paper. Seven points would be nice, but this might be a field-goal game.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints (-3.5): SAINTS

The Saints are just 2-12 against the spread in the first two weeks of the season since 2013, and home-field advantage will be limited by the lack of fans here, but this line is still way too low. The Bucs are adjusting to an entirely new offense, personnel-wise, while almost nothing has changed with a New Orleans team that has won more games than any team in football the last three years.

Dallas Cowboys (-3) at Los Angeles Rams: COWBOYS

The Cowboys keep improving on paper while the Rams have been bleeding for 18 months. They’re a shell of their former selves, and they won’t have any fans present for the opening of their new stadium. That’ll be deflating. Dallas is the much better squad and is dealing with less change. This might not even be close.

Pittsburgh Steelers (-5.5) at New York Giants: STEELERS

The Pittsburgh defense led the league in takeaways last season, while Giants quarterback Daniel Jones was one of just two players to record 30-plus interceptions and fumbles. That makes this a potentially disastrous matchup for Big Blue, especially with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger back under center for the Steelers. We’re looking at double digits here.

Tennessee Titans (-2.5) at Denver Broncos: BRONCOS

Obviously the loss of Von Miller is big, but that alone wasn’t why I was originally picking the Broncos to win this game outright at home. I don’t trust that either Ryan Tannehill or Derrick Henry can sustain what they did in breakout 2019 campaigns, especially without stud offensive tackle Jack Conklin. Meanwhile, the Broncos at least have Bradley Chubb back and appear improved on offense with the rising Drew Lock under center.

Brad Gagnon has been passionate about both sports and mass media since he was in diapers -- a passion that won't die until he's in them again. He was a lead contributor to an earlier incarnation of NationalFootballPost.com and was happy to return when new management revived the brand in 2020. Based in Toronto, he's covered the NFL since 2008 and has been a national NFL writer at Bleacher Report since 2012. He despises all 32 NFL teams equally but remains a fan of the Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Blue Jays and Toronto Raptors. He can be reached at Brad@NationalFootballPost.com