If you listen to the podcast during the regular season you already know that we love talking about gambling on NFL games as we give our weekly against the spread picks in each week’s preview episode.

These articles will highlight the three games that I’m focusing on each week and provide some additional insight and analysis in addition to what we talk about on the podcast.  So while we’ll talk in depth about the games on each week’s preview podcast, be sure to check out these weekly articles as well for an additional breakdown.

Let’s take a look into my top-three games to bet on from the NFL schedule for week one.

Los Angeles Chargers -3 vs. Kansas City Chiefs

My most confident play this week is the Chargers favored by three over the Chiefs.  We can all agree that the position of quarterback is the most important in the NFL, and in this game, you have a future Hall of Famer in Philip Rivers facing off against Patrick Mahomes who has played very few meaningful snaps at a professional level.

Not only do I think this is the Chargers year to take the AFC, as discussed in our recent 2018 NFL Season Predictions Podcast as I have them projected to play the Vikings in the Super Bowl, but I think we’ll see Rivers at his best in 2018 as he makes a run for league MVP.  I’m going to side with the proven QB in this matchup, especially when you consider the fact that Mahomes will be going up against a Chargers’ defense that finished third in the NFL in passing yards allowed last season, surrendering less than 200 yards per game.

The matchup against Kansas City should help the Chargers’ offense begin the season on a high note with Rivers finding success against a passing defense now without Marcus Peters while Melvin Gordon falls into a matchup against a Chiefs’ run defense that finished just 25th in rushing yards allowed per game last season.

I’m maxing out the Chargers with a 5-unit play this week.

Carolina Panthers -3 vs. Dallas Cowboys

Here’s my extremely quick snapshot of the 2018 Carolina Panthers season – they are either going to finish first or second in the NFC South and make the playoffs, or they are going to be around a 10-win team that fails to make the playoffs due to how deep the division and conference is in general.

Despite not being very deep at wide receiver outside of Devin Funchess and rookie D.J. Moore, I think Cam Newton and the Panthers will find enough balance on offense through the likes of Greg Olsen to keep teams guessing so that they can’t focus too much on stopping the electric playmaker in Christian McCaffrey.

The Cowboys on the other hand, not so much.  If the Panthers can slow down the Cowboys’ run game, it could be a long day for Dak Prescott and his offense as reports from the offseason haven’t been all that favorable for the Cowboys’ passing game without Dez Bryant and Jason Witten.  Keep in mind that while players, schemes and performances change from year to year, the Panthers were third in the NFL last year in rushing yards allowed, giving up less than 90 yards per game.

The Panthers are a 2-unit play for me this week.

Jacksonville Jaguars -3 @ New York Giants

Let me start by saying I promise I won’t be betting only on favorites this season, that just happens to be the case this week as each of my picks are three-point favorites.

While the Giants should be one of the most improved teams in 2018 with the return of Odell Beckham Jr. and the selection of Saquon Barkley, I couldn’t think of a worse way to begin the season than a game against last year’s top defense in the Jaguars.

Even if the Giants’ offense lives up to the preseason hype with all of their young playmakers, you’ll typically notice that NFL defenses are ahead of offenses for the first couple weeks of the year.  Advantage, Jacksonville.

The downfall for the Jaguars remains Blake Bortles at quarterback, but I don’t see them having to rely too much on the passing game in this one as Leonard Fournette has a big day against last year’s sixth-worst defense in terms of rushing yards allowed per game.

The Jaguars are a 1-unit play for me this week.


For more insight on these picks along with DJ’s top-three against the spread picks for the first week of the NFL check out our latest podcast as we talk gambling advice and give our daily fantasy sports starts/sits!

Ben Morgan is a co-host and blogger for the Loaded Box Podcast.  Check out his article archive and find more from the Loaded Box on Twitter & Facebook