Upcoming Match-ups

Upset Picks for Week 1 in NFL: Can Colts Ride Over Chargers?

Matt Ryan quarterback of the Atlanta Falcons
Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons are an enticing underdog as they hit the road to play the Minnesota Vikings. Photo by Brook Ward (flickr).
  • After the Green Bay Packers opened up the NFL season with a +155 moneyline upset, how many other teams will follow suit in Week 1?
  •  Is there any value in a few bird teams, Atlanta and Arizona, getting points against NFC North squads?
  • Can the Colts pull off the upset of the week in LA?

The return of football is just the best time of the year for bettors. Not only is the absolute best sport to wager on back for 21 weeks of excitement, but the NFL’s Week 1 odds are especially enticing, considering we have no idea how any of these teams actually look on the field.

But as we take a look at some underdogs that I like this opening weekend, keep in mind if I pick against your squad, it’s not personal. There’s always that one crazy upset in Week 1 that seems devastating but doesn’t matter in the long run. Remember how the Saints lost last year to Tampa? Or the Patriots getting shellacked by the Chiefs in 2017?

That’s just what happened if your favorite loses (wink).

Atlanta Falcons vs Minnesota Vikings Odds

Team Spread Moneyline
Atlanta Falcons +4 +180
Minnesota Vikings -4 -210

Odds taken 9/06/19

Both the Falcons and Vikings come into the year trying to shake off disappointing 2018 seasons and both teams tried to address offensive line issues in the summer. But where a revamped line could catapult an already impressive Atlanta offence to new heights, I’m less optimistic about the Vikings chances under Kirk Cousins.

Head-to-Head Matchup


25.9 Points per game 22.5
26.4 Points allowed per game 21.3
8 Offensive DVOA rank 18
31 Defensive DVOA rank 4
7-9 SU Record in 2018 8-7-1
5-11 ATS Record in 2018 8-7-1

Cousins (who is a paltry 4-25 in his career against teams with a winning record) and a more run-focused Viking offense, will take on a Falcons D that is primed to be much better just thanks to the health that comes with a new year. Atlanta was 25th in the league last year in defensive adjusted games lost, missing key players like Deion Jones and Keanu Neal.

The Falcons are also 6-1 straight up in their last seven games on the road in September.

Pick: 1 unit on the Falcons moneyline (+180)

Detroit Lions vs Arizona Cardinals Odds

Team Spread Moneyline
Detroit Lions -2.5 -150
Arizona Cardinals +2.5 +130

Odds taken 9/06/19

Arizona and Detroit actually opened the season in 2017 as well, with the Lions pulling off the upset over the favored Cardinals at home. This time, I like the reverse to happen.

With rookie Kyler Murray and new head coach Kliff Kingsbury rolling out the Air Raid offence, the unknown of the Cardinals makes them impossible to gameplan for.

Not that game-planning is a strong suit of Matt Patricia’s anyway: the Lions got demolished in their season opener last year by another rookie QB on their way to a 6-10 season. Entering this week, the Cardinals secondary is in rough shape, but new offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell will still probably insist on running the ball 50 times.

Trend-wise, it’s never a bad idea to jump on home underdogs early.  Since 2003, home dogs are 155-124 ATS through the first four weeks of the season.

Pick: 1 unit on Cardinals moneyline (+130)

Indianapolis Colts vs Los Angeles Chargers Odds

Team Spread Moneyline
Indianapolis Colts +6.5 +245
Los Angeles Chargers -6.5 -290

*Odds taken 9/06/19

I’ve already been over why I like this Colts team sans Andrew Luck and that will continue with backing them on the moneyline in Week 1 against the supposed AFC powerhouse Chargers. After one season of injury luck, Los Angeles appears to be back to their usual place among the NFL’s most shorthanded teams.

The Chargers 0-3 SU in their last three Week 1 games and 0-2 in home openers since moving to L.A.

Pick: 0.5 unit on the Colts moneyline (+245)

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