Week 1 NFL Picks: Bengals Bite, Vikings’ Might And More

The post TPS Report: Week 1 NFL Picks: Bengals Bite, Vikings’ Might And More appeared first on SportsHandle.

Week 1 is among the more difficult to handicap every NFL season. From Black Monday in early January through the preseason, every team gets recast with new coaches, coordinators, players come and go, schemes change, and in rare but shocking instances, the moving trucks show up overnight and your city loses the damn team entirely. The point is, year over year, every team is a different product, it’s only a matter of degree.

Since the start of the last NFL season, a lot of things have changed both in the NFL and the US sports betting world, and personally in the Smiley household. Put it all together and I wasn’t sure what would become of this column, which has been a joy of mine in some form for five years.

The NFL changes are mostly pretty standard NFL changes. A lot of things change and some remain the same, apparently now including the Atlanta Falcons’ inability to execute in the red zone.


For U.S. sports betting, well, everything has changed. By the end of this year, at least six new states outside Nevada will have legalized sports betting, with retail operations live, with varying level of mobile sport betting accessible. It may be years still before residents of some states have easy access to this Brave New Market  — such as the massive populations of Texas and California — but at least PASPA is gone and the door is now open.

On the personal front… I have always followed a week-to-week process of preparation for the NFL betting slate. It has been thrown into chaos recently. There are new and many responsibilities here at our growing Sports Handle, and more importantly I now have a two-week old son who in the past few days has urinated on my face more than once. Rookie mistake: I’ve learned you don’t leave a male infant’s bottom half uncovered mid-diaper change. I gave the stream a stiff-arm, closed in and let him finish against my open palm, rather than allow a soaking of the carpet or my shirt. He also requires feedings every few hours, which has cut into my sleep reservoir.  This is a Smiley boy, meaning he doesn’t miss a meal. It’s all worth it, of course, but I’m adjusting to a new life (mine and his) every day, and figuring out how to manage and maximize time.

I thought of retiring the Three-Point Stance Report (TPS) in a world where every major and minor publication now has writers making picks and offering gambling breakdowns. Some behind a paywall, others in front. What can Brett Smiley do differently? The answer I determined is just be myself, hopefully turn a few good jokes or phrases, and fall on the right side of 54 percent over the course of this season. Betting on NFL games is my main hobby, so why hang up the column? It’s why Sports Handle was born in the first place.

So the TPS Report marches on. This season we will cover the top five or six NFL games — “top” meaning the ones where I believe I can identify an edge or identify a winning wager, rather than reviewing the entire slate. Let’s get to it: The first NFL Week 1 of the post-PASPA era!

Cincinnati Bengals +2.5 at Indianapolis Colts (Total 48)

I think the Bengals are going to win outright,  but I’ll take the available 2.5 against the semi-trendy pick to bounce back and compete for the AFC South title — the Colts. It’s good to see that franchise QB Andrew Luck’s shoulder is well enough so he can play again in his first regular season game since New Year’s Day in 2017. For reference, that was three weeks before Donald Trump’s inauguration. Make of that what you will.

Luck showed some flashes of his old self in the preseason but temper your expectations about out his walk on the comeback trail. Consider these dispatches:



Capt. Luck is indeed ready but we could feel better about the Colts offense if he wasn’t playing, as ever, behind a mediocre-at-best offensive line that may be without starting left tackle Andrew Castonzo (who has struggled when healthy).

The Tiger men on are going to be bearing down on Luck, while on the other side the Colts see a new-look Bengals offense under coordinator Bill Lazor. A reset Bengals offense with improvements on their offensive line, namely additions of LT Cordy Glenn and 2018 first-rounder Billy Price (Ohio State) at center, will give Andy Dalton time to exploit a young, inexperienced defense, especially at linebacker and in the secondary.  

The pick: Bengals +2.5. 

Get the remaining picks TPS Report: Week 1 NFL Picks: Bengals Bite, Vikings’ Might And More on SportsHandle.