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Week 1 NFL Upset Alert: History Is On Cleveland’s Side

Top NFL Pick: Browns +2.5 (-110) at Bet365


Week 1 is here, and we’re going to find the best betting odds for our top picks of the week. Three games interest me: Bengals vs. Browns, Titans vs. Saints, and Raiders vs. Broncos.

For your best bets, I will recommend that you invest in all three underdogs. I like putting three-quarters of a unit on the underdog to cover and the remaining quarter on the underdog to win.


Cincinnati Bengals vs. Cleveland Browns

Sunday, September 10, 2023 – 01:00 PM EDT at Cleveland Browns Stadium


Series History

Cleveland has dominated the series history between these teams, especially when they play in Cleveland. Overall, they are 8-2 SU in their last ten games against Cincinnati.

Dating to 2018, the Bengals have won all five of their last five home games against the Bengals.

The Browns’ last home win against Cincinnati was particularly convincing: they won 32-13.

Pass Protection 

While it’s easy to be enamored with the Bengals because they have one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks, the hard reality is that no quarterback can be effective when lying on his back.

Pass protection has been a consistent problem for Cincinnati. Last year, they ranked 18th at limiting the rate at which their quarterback gets sacked.

This unit is largely the same. While they’ve improved at left tackle with the addition of Orlando Brown, Brown still needs to find chemistry with the other offensive linemen.

Cleveland’s Pass Rush 

Even if chemistry were not an issue for Brown and company, Cleveland’s defensive line has improved significantly, which more than makes up for any improvement in Cincinnati’s pass protection.

The Browns’ big addition is defensive end Za’Darius Smith. A Pro Bowler last year who accumulated ten sacks, Smith will play opposite of star Myles Garrett. Having two strong edge rushers is significant because it prevents the opposing pass protection unit from ganging up on either edge rusher.

Moreover, Dalvin Tomlinson will be effective especially against the run. According to PFF, he was the third-best interior defensive lineman in free agency.

Cleveland’s Offense 

With three Pro Bowlers – at left guard, right guard, and right tackle – Cleveland’s offensive line will be stronger than Cincinnati’s.

Most importantly, the Browns’ pass protectors are now familiar with the playing style of quarterback Deshaun Watson, specifically his mobility and his proclivity to extend plays.

Watson has a superb supporting cast: recent All-Pro selection running back Nick Chubb is reliably efficient and productive.

Amari Cooper at wide receiver is a four-time Pro Bowler whose downfield prowess will help Watson exploit Cincinnati’s overhauled safety group and the Bengals’ cornerback group that misses Eli Apple.

NFL Pick: Browns +2.5 (-110) at Bet365

NFL Pick: Browns ML at +120 at Bet365


Tennessee Titans vs. New Orleans Saints

Sunday, September 10, 2023 – 01:00 PM EDT at Caesars Superdome


New Orleans’ Key Absences 

The Saints will miss two key players: One is Trai Turner, their Pro Bowl left guard.

The other is star running back Alvin Kamara.

Tennessee’s Defensive Line 

Turner would have helped the Saints improve in pass protection – last year, they ranked 17th at limiting the rate at which their quarterback gets sacked.

Whereas New Orleans’ offensive line largely consists of inconsistent players whose injuries have hindered them from gaining chemistry with each other, Tennessee’s defensive line is reliable, especially at full strength.

Most prominently, Tennessee boasts Denico Autry, who achieved eight sacks in twelve games last year, and Jeffery Simmons, who accrued 7.5 sacks and nine run stuffs in 15 games last year.

Harold Landry, who had twelve sacks in his last healthy season, is also a significant contributor to his team’s pass rush.

Comparing Wide Receiver Outlooks 

Tennessee’s pass rush will help out its secondary, which is spearheaded by Kristian Fulton, whose success against Indianapolis wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr., among others, has established him as a very good cornerback in coverage.

Sean Murphy-Bunting, who allowed 22 receptions on 40 targets last season, will complement Fulton, giving the Titans’ cornerback group a proven depth that New Orleans lacks with its uncertain youth.

Tennessee’s well-rounded pass rush and deeper cornerback group will help it contain New Orleans’ pass attack while, on offense, the Titans boast the top wide receiver on the field in five-time All-Pro selection DeAndre Hopkins

Running the Ball

Tennessee has the means to remain stout against the run inside the 20 and overall.

Anyways, with Kamara absent, the Titans have a tremendous edge at running back with Derrick Henry, who faces a Saints run defense that, at 24th, ranked 24 spots behind Tennessee’s last year.

Whereas New Orleans will have to be one-dimensional and rely on its pass attack against Tennessee’s pass rush and improved secondary group, the Titans’ offense can be more balanced with Henry and Hopkins moving downfield.

NFL Pick: Titans +3 (+100) at Bet365

NFL Pick: Titans (+160) at Bet365


Las Vegas Raiders vs. Denver Broncos

Sunday, September 10, 2023 – 04:25 PM EDT at Empower Field at Mile High


Series History 

Las Vegas is a reliable bet because it has won six in a row against Denver.

Last year, the Raiders won at 2.5-point underdogs in a low-scoring contest in Denver. They also showed that they can score a lot on the Broncos’ well-reputed defense, winning 32-23 at home.

Josh Jacobs

Raiders’ running back Josh Jacobs has provided much of the motor behind his team’s ongoing success against the Broncos. In both games against them last year, he exceeded 100 yards.

Broncos’ Pass Defense 

While Denver’s well-reputed defense can’t carry its team by stopping Jacobs, its pass rush will be at least as helpless. Last year, the Broncos ranked 26th in sack rate.

During the offseason, the Broncos lost Baron Browning, who accrued five sacks in 14 games last year, to injury, while adding little to their pass rush.

While the Broncos boast a top-level cornerback in Patrick Surtain, the Raiders have an even stronger talent in wide receiver Davante Adams.

Last year, in two games matched up against Surtain, Adams was targeted 14 times and caught nine passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns, including a game-winner.

Denver’s Offense 

Especially with Adams and Jacobs being productive for Las Vegas, Denver’s outlook is negative because it can’t rely on its offense to keep pace.

Last year, the Broncos ranked last with 16.9 points per game. Quarterback Russell Wilson turned out to be a dud, and he won’t be able to receive support from Jerry Jeudy, his top wide receiver, who is injured.

The Broncos’ offense still does not have much playmaking ability.

NFL Pick: Raiders +3.5 (-110) at Bet365

NFL Pick: Raiders (+167) at Bet365

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