Starting Thursday night, 32 NFL teams began their quest for the Super Bowl.
Here at NESN.com, we’re starting another run at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperContest.
For those who don’t know, the SuperContest is a weekly NFL handicapping contest where contestants pick their top five games against the spread with a whole bunch of money on the line come season’s end. When it comes to football handicapping, there’s no bigger deal than the SuperContest.
Every week, NESN.com’s Mike Cole and Ricky Doyle will have their SuperContest picks for Team NESN, which once again is under the umbrella of our good friends at OddsShark.
Here are their Week 1 picks:
Minnesota Vikings (-6.5) vs. San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, 1 p.m.
U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis
Look, Jimmy Garoppolo might be great someday, but we’re willing to bet that won’t be Sunday on the road with a depleted offense against one of the best defenses in the NFL. And here’s something you might not know: The Vikings are 24-10 against the spread at home since Mike Zimmer took over in 2014.
Cincinnati Bengals (+3.5) vs. Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, 1 p.m.
Lucas Oil Field, Indianapolis
The big story here will be Andrew Luck’s return. The problem from a Colts’ standpoint, however, is Indy still hasn’t done much to build around the quarterback. Despite drafting Quenton Nelson, the offensive line is still leaky at best, and now it’s tasked with trying to slow down a pass rush led by Pro Bowlers Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap. Gotta love that half-point, too.
Houston Texans (+6.5) vs. New England Patriots, Sunday, 1 p.m.
Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, Mass.
You won’t get rich betting against the Patriots, everyone knows that. But this feels like a tough matchup for Tom Brady and Co. We still don’t know for sure what that offensive line will look like, which now is tasked with slowing down J.J. Watt and the rest of that very good Houston pass rush. Defensively, the Patriots probably are better than they were last season, but still, the Texans were able to hang 33 points on New England last season before Brady and the offense bailed them out. Houston should hang around.
Carolina Panthers (-3) vs. Dallas Cowboys, Sunday 4:25 p.m.
Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte
Luke Kuechly is healthy (for now), which means the Panthers’ defense should be humming. They’ll need it, too, against the Cowboys’ rushing attack. If Carolina can slow down Ezekiel Elliott, it’s going to put Dak Prescott in a position where he’s going to have to make plays, and we wonder whether he’ll be able to do that given the limited amount of weapons he has at his disposal.
Detroit Lions (-6.5) vs. New York Jets, Monday, 7:10 p.m.
Ford Field, Detroit
Sam Darnold looked pretty good for the Jets in the preseason, but that was the preseason. On the road, in a loud building in primetime is a little bit different. That might be especially true against a Detroit defense that forced 32 turnovers (third in the NFL) last season. And we’ll go out on a limb and say new Lions coach Matt Patricia might know a thing or two about beating the Jets.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images