By Danny Picard
BOSTON — Welcome back to another season of “Pic’s Picks,” where I give you five NFL games to bet on, every week, against the spread.
Last season, I was able to make these picks for The Boston Herald. It was an idea that I proposed to them. This year, the plan was the same, tentatively, up until the night before the season officially began, when I was informed by the Herald on Wednesday that they were “going in a different direction."
It didn’t leave me any time to look for another outlet, so here we are, on my own website. As Bill Belichick would say, it is what it is.
On the bright side, at least I’m back to picking my own games, something I was not allowed to do with the Herald, which was another absolute head-scratcher.
Let’s rid ourselves of stupidity and get back to picking MY games and MY winners, shall we?
Week 1 can often feel like a game of blindfolded darts. I’m here to try and guide you down the best path to seeing green. Let’s start strong. Here are my picks for Week 1:
BALTIMORE RAVENS (-9.5) over Houston Texans
-Lamar Jackson has a new contract and a new offensive coordinator. He missed the last five games of the 2022 regular season with a knee injury. Though, Jackson might’ve been a little over-protective of himself, given his demand for a large contract in the offseason, which he ended up getting. Jackson is only 26 years old. He’s elite. And now that he no longer has to worry about money, his primary focus will be on a championship. I feel like people are sleeping on him. And the scary thing is, he probably senses that too. Ravens roll at home over the no-name Texans.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (-4.5) over Indianapolis Colts
-The Jaguars had nine wins last season and won their division. They also won a playoff game. And they did it all because Trevor Lawrence made that big leap from Year 1 to Year 2. Now, in Year 3, his trajectory seems awfully similar to that of Philly’s Jalen Hurts, who finished second in MVP voting last season. Could this be an MVP-caliber campaign for Lawrence, in his third year? He has the fifth-best odds to win MVP, at +1600. It wouldn’t be the worst bet you’ve ever made in your life. Neither would this pick in Week 1 in Indianapolis, against a Colts team that had four wins last season.
TENNESSEE TITANS (+3) over New Orleans Saints
-Many are high on the Saints for multiple reasons. One being that they added Derek Carr to be their quarterback. The other being that their division stinks, especially with Tom Brady no longer playing for the Buccaneers. This game is in New Orleans, and so the three-point spread makes sense. But would you really be shocked if Derrick Henry and the Titans left the Superdome with a win? I know I wouldn’t be. Tennessee added DeAndre Hopkins, so, if Ryan Tannehill can be just an average quarterback, the Titans offense will prove to be very tough to stop this season. Give me Tennessee with a big statement win on the road to begin the year.
MIAMI DOLPHINS (+3) over Los Angeles Chargers
-This game has the highest over-under of the weekend at 51. It's kind of a ballsy pick, but in a shootout in LA, I like Miami’s three-headed monster on offense of Tua Tagovailoa, Tyreek Hill, and Jaylen Waddle every time I look at this matchup. Miami was a playoff team last season, but Aaron Rodgers’ presence with the Jets has taken the Dolphins off everyone’s radar in the AFC East, it seems. Well, that might change if Tua goes on the road in Week 1 and puts up 35-plus on the Chargers, which very well could happen. I’m taking Miami to cover.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (+3.5) over Philadelphia Eagles
-It’s Tom Brady Day in Foxboro, but I really don’t think that will affect Mac Jones’ performance at home against the defending NFC Champion Eagles. What will affect Jones’ performance is his offensive line. I do believe that Ezekiel Elliott’s presence in New England’s backfield will be much more important to Jones’ success this season than people are willing to admit. Look, I don’t have the Pats making the playoffs this year. And I do have the Eagles making another deep playoff run. But in Week 1, at home, I think Belichick will at least have his defensive game plan sharp enough to keep this one extremely close. After all, he’s had all offseason to prepare for Hurts. The half-point here is huge. Patriots cover at Gillette.
Follow Danny on instagram @DannyPicard.