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The Crow’s Nest CT Memorial Gambling Degenerates Pick-Em Page

Week 1
Record: 0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS, 0-0 O/U

Happy 2018 NFL Season, Buccaneers Fans!

The endless monotony of combines, drafts, minicamps, OTAs, training camps, and too many preseason games to count is now, mercifully, over, and the real quest to capture Lombardi is ON starting tonight.

This column is a breakdown of each game from a bettor’s perspective, so you may see that situation where I pick a “winner” against the spread (ATS) but have another team winning straight-up (SU). For consistency’s sake, the lines used will be the updated spreads from Caesar’s Palace Sportsbook in Las Vegas at the time of publication. (A warmhearted shout out to the late Tampa Bay radio and TV legend – and hopeless betting degenerate – Chris Thomas, whom this column is fondly dedicated to.)

With all that said, let’s start PICKING!

Thursday (tonight), 8:20pm ET

Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles (PK / 44.5 Over/Under): As is the custom (since the Bucs won the Super Bowl and were forced to play on the road in Week 1), the previous year’s Super Bowl winner gets to host the first game of the season. This year, it’s the Eagles’ turn, but they don’t get the pleasure of playing a team like the Bills or the Bears. Instead, they play an Atlanta team that’s at full-strength and hitting on all cylinders. This line started as PHI -4, and has been dropping like a rock ever since. Even so, with the losses along Philly’s defensive line, a banged-up Carson Wentz, injuries in the WR corps, and the suspension of Nigel Bradham (not to mention the inevitable Super Bowl hangover), I see all the makings here of an emphatic party-crashing by the Dirty Birds. PICK: Atlanta (SU and ATS), OVER 44.5

Sunday, 1:00pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns (+4 / 44): This line started at PIT -6.5 and has been dropping ever since, with the wise guys staying on the sidelines for the most part. The betting public, for some reason, seems to love a Browns team that is coming off an 0-16 (yes, that’s 0-AND-SIXTEEN) season last year and has been less than overwhelming in the preseason. Even with the questions surrounding Le’Veon Bell and a suspect O-line “protecting” Big Ben, I see Pittsburgh prevailing in a low-scoring affair. PICK: Pittsburgh (SU and OTS), UNDER 44

San Francisco 49ers at Minnesota Vikings (-6.5 / 46.5): The line opened at MIN -4.5, so some money has been coming in the direction of the Norsemen. However, Minnesota’s had issues of their own lately. Kirk Cousins just didn’t seem quite right in the preseason – I can’t put my finger on it, but it almost seemed as if he were still somewhat uncomfortable with the playbook – and it may take a while for him to get acclimated. That being said, San Fran’s defense has been just this side of abysmal, and I get the sense that Jimmy Garoppolo, at least this week, will perform more like Brock Osweiler than Joe Montana. If this line were 7, I might entertain a 49ers cover, but not at 6.5. PICK: Minnesota (SU and ATS), UNDER 46.5

Cincinnati Bengals at Indianapolis Colts (-3 / 48.5): For some reason, the public is betting big on the return of Andrew Luck, as this line has moved from IND -1. Again, the wise guys are staying away from this game, but I believe they’ll jump in for some easy money late. Ponder this: A team that finished 7-9 last season and won their last two games is getting points against a team that finished 4-12 last season and seven of their last eight games. Oh, and by the way, Andrew Luck’s offensive line still sucks. PICK: Cincinnati (SU and ATS), UNDER 48.5

Buffalo Bills at Baltimore Ravens (-7.5 / 40.5): This line is tied for the biggest mover of the week, with the spread being bid up from an opener of BAL -3.5. Why, you may ask? Two words: Nathan Peterman. Last time he started a game for the Bills, he threw 4 interceptions. Now, he gets to go to Baltimore. Uh-oh. PICK: Baltimore (SU and ATS), OVER 40.5

Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Giants (+3 / 43.5): Based on limited preseason looks, it seems as if the Jaguars defense has not missed a beat since their NFL-leading performance last year. If the adage is true that defense outperforms offense (in most cases) at the start of the season, that would seem to be good news for the Jags. This line opened at JAX -3.5 and has pretty much held steady. Contrary to popular opinion that this might be a wide-open matchup, I see a tightly-contested, smash-mouth affair, with Leonard Fournette and that overpowering Jacksonville front seven taking over late. PICK: Jacksonville (SU and ATS), UNDER 40.5

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints (-9.5 / 49.5): Lest anyone forget, in Week 17 last year, the Saints marched into Tampa, with the division title still on the line, and in charge of their own destiny. In a game that the Saints pretty much HAD to win to secure the division title outright, they got beat by a Bucs team that had nothing to play for but pride. (Atlanta later did them a favor by beating Carolina and giving them the division title anyway.) This line started at 7 and money has been moving in the Saints’ direction all week. Something tells me, however, that Ryan Fitzpatrick (2-1 as a starter last year) and the Bucs will keep it close. PICK: New Orleans (SU), Tampa Bay (ATS), UNDER 49.5

Houston Texans at New England Patriots (-6 / 51): At some point, you’ve got to wonder when 196-year-old Tom Brady will begin to fade. But the Pats continue to just keep rolling along, and the GOAT continues to defy Father Time and all sense of reason. The Texans, meanwhile, have made it clear that they will live and die on the arm of second-year QB DeShaun Watson. Fun fact: Brady started his first NFL game on September 30, 2001; Watson had celebrated his sixth birthday two weeks before. Insane. PICK: New England (SU), Houston (ATS), UNDER 51

Tennessee Titans at Miami Dolphins (+1.5 / 45): Tennessee comes into Hard Rock Stadium as slight favorites against a Dolphins team that seems (once again) to be in disarray. Tennessee started the week as 2.5 point favorites, but the betting public has been pushing the line down thinking that there’s easy money to be had as the Dolphins are opening at home and QB Marcus Mariota has not exactly lit the house on fire in the preseason. The #1 rule in handicapping is: PRESEASON MEANS NOTHING!! This game is my CT MEMORIAL PICK OF THE WEEK™. PICK: Tennessee (SU and ATS), OVER 45

Sunday, 4:05pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers (-3.5 / 48.5): I live in Kansas City and I see this team’s media coverage firsthand. I believe that gives me a little more “inside” information on this team than usual. Chiefs QB Pat Mahomes is the real deal and will get better as the season goes on, and he will keep his team in a lot of high-scoring games. However, scoring points is not the problem with Kansas City – with a decimated defensive line and secondary, they have a hard time stopping anyone. They are opening the season in Southern California against a Chargers team that will most likely run away with the AFC West. My thinking is that they may run away with this game as well. Hope there are enough digits on the StubHub Center’s scoreboard for this one. PICK: LA Chargers (SU and ATS), OVER 48.5

Sunday, 4:25pm ET

Seattle Seahawks at Denver Broncos (-3 / 42.5): The folks in the Mile High City are thinking that their team has as good a shot as anyone to win the division. (As you saw in the last pick, I beg to differ.) That being said, Denver is historically very, very good at home, and Seattle is historically very, very bad on the road. Seattle has some serious defensive problems, as the “Legion of Boom” has become the “Legion of ‘Poof’” in the last year. Even with the Broncos’ quarterback questions, I see them winning comfortably at home. PICK: Denver (SU and ATS), OVER 42.5

Dallas Cowboys at Carolina Panthers (-2.5 / 42.5): I simply don’t know why this line is so low in this game – it inexplicably opened at CAR -2.5, and hasn’t budged since. Even the value bettors haven’t touched this one. The Panthers are playing at home, they have Cam Newton, and they finished 11-5 in a tough NFC South last season – and I believe that RB Christian McCaffrey is ready for a breakout season. PICK: Carolina (SU and ATS), UNDER 42.5

Washington Team at Arizona Cardinals (-1 / 43.5): Washington has a brand new, shiny quarterback in Alex Smith (okay, maybe not new). The problem is that he is replacing a better downfield passer in Kirk Cousins. That means that they will have to rely on wildly inconsistent RB Adrian Peterson (returning to Arizona after his stint there last season) and a defense that is missing a whole lot of talent. The good news? They are playing a Cardinals team with a new coach, quarterback, scheme, and missing a lot of defensive pieces of their own. I will roll the dice and take the more experienced team in this one. PICK: Washington (SU and ATS), UNDER 43.5

Sunday, 8:20pm ET

Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers (-7.5 / 47): This one will be somewhat quick. Chicago has Mitch Trubisky, Khalil Mack, and all new weapons on offense, in addition to a new head coach. The Packers have Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Rodgers, and Aaron Rodgers. Also, a little fortress called Lambeau Field. This line has pretty much stayed steady all week, maybe moving Chicago’s direction late. All signs point to a Packer blowout, which means that in this grudge match, the Bears will probably cover. I might have thought differently if the line had dropped below 7. PICK: Green Bay (SU), Chicago (ATS), UNDER 47

Monday, 7:10pm ET

New York Jets at Detroit Lions (-6.5 / 45): Surprise! The Sam Darnold Show is arriving early – under the spotlight of Monday Night Football, no less. There is something special about the kid – something so special, in fact, that the Jets felt comfortable trading away previously anointed starter Teddy Bridgewater. I get the sneaking suspicion that the Jets will make this a game, and they may win it outright. PICK: Detroit (SU), NY Jets (ATS), OVER 45

Monday, 10:20pm ET

Los Angeles Rams at “Oakland” Raiders (+4 / 49): The week’s action wraps up with the Raiders at “home” versus a Rams team that fancies their chances not only to win the NFC West, but to compete for a Super Bowl championship. With the loss of Khalil Mack weighing heavily on the psyche of the Raiders’ collective defense, I can see Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, and the rest of the Rams running away early. This will be a high-scoring affair, but only because Derek Carr is going to have to put it up 60 times to keep pace. PICK: LA Rams (SU and ATS), OVER 49

Steve Shute

Steve Shute

Back in 1996, when the World Wide Web was still in its infancy and bulletin boards like the old SP Times "stream-of-consciousness" page (lovingly referred to as "the SPiT") were the main sources to get Bucs information online, Steve Shute decided to build his own site and "scoop" the local media. He created the first fan-focused site dedicated to the Bucs, "The Crow's Nest," which existed from 1996-2001, when the demands of his professional life and the stress of chasing kids and building homes finally got the best of him. Steve has been a rabid Bucs fan since 1978, "since he could remember," and has suffered through the ups and (mostly) downs of following his favorite team, both near and far. He now resides in Kansas City with his wife of 27 years and his five boys, all of whom he is diligently looking to pass his Bucs Fever to. He also works as an IT consultant, and in his spare time, he serves as Mayor of Gardner, Kansas. You can reach Steve at steve@steveshute.com.

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