Week 1 Upsets

September 08, 2010 3:33 PM

by Evan Abrams of Coopers Pick, Special to GT

We are a day away from the start of the NFL season, and the only thing on my mind is upsets. With so many good teams going on the road in week one, upsets are going to be inevitable. Every year, week one brings an extreme amount of drama to the game because of how much we over value a few different teams in the league before we even see them play. In 2008, the Carolina Panthers went into San Diego in week one and beat them in an upset that is very common at beginning of each season; a team that shows up and shakes the foundation of the power rankings in the NFL. 

This season is absolutely no different; there are so many varying predictions with people putting out their NFL Picks each week but with matchups such as Lions and Bears, Raiders and Titans, Dolphins and Bills, Cardinals and Rams and Chargers and Chiefs, upsets are going to happen in week one… it is just being able to pick them out of the bunch. I think week one this year really gives the opportunity to cash in on some really lopsided lines.


The Lions last won a week one matchup in 2007, when they defeated the Raiders in Oakland 36-21. I believe the Lions have the best looking roster the team has had in a long time, and will go out of their way in week one to prove that. With the Lions currently holding a money line of +220, I believe there is serious value in the Lions pulling the upset in Chicago in week one.


The last five meetings between the Titans and Raiders have been decided by 10 points or less, with the Titans leading the series 3-2. I strongly believe this line has been inflated due to the projected year of Chris Johnson. The Titans have lost a number of players on their defense and I really think this game will be much closer than people think it will be. Jason Campbell is just not going to make the type of mistakes Oakland has been used to the last couple of years with JaMarcus Russell. Going back to last year, Oakland is 3-1 in their last four games, and I really think they are improving as a team and will be ready for their opener versus the Titans.


The Dolphins, Bills matchup for week one is an intriguing one because of the division matchup as well as the fight for avoiding the basement in the AFC East.  Looking at the football odds, Miami is 7-1 ATS in their last eight matchups versus the AFC East and the Bills are 3-10 in their last 13 games at home; both of these statistics do not lend to an easy bet for the Bills, but I think the “other” New York team has a real legitimate shot to pull the upset here. The Bills have won 4 of their last 5 home matchups versus the Dolphins since 2005 and I think the bookmakers are over valuing the addition of Brandon Marshall by Miami as well as the wildcat formation.


The Cardinals have not lost to the Rams since 2006 [7-0], but they have also never been this depleted on the offensive side of the ball. In each one of their seven victories, the Cardinals have had the reassurance of quarterback Kurt Warner on their sideline, but this year is much different. With no Kurt Warner and Anquan Boldin to help cushion the possible weaknesses in other aspects for the Cardinals, I think it is a distinct possibility the Rams will sneak up on Arizona in week one and pull off the upset in Sam Bradford’s first career start. Derek Anderson has thrown 13 touchdowns and 19 interceptions in the 10 games he has played on field turf in his career and has thrown 12 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in the month of September. These two statistics are a telling tale for the type of success you can project for Anderson and the Cardinals in the first quarter of the season and that is why I could see an upset brewing in week one.


With Vincent Jackson possibly holding out the entire season for the Chargers and Shawne Merriman questionable Monday night with an Achilles injury, I think this is the perfect opportunity for the Chiefs to pull the upset at home. Last season on Monday night football in week one, the Chargers were seconds away from being upset by the Raiders in Oakland before Darren Sproles bailed them out with a late touchdown. I think this will be the year the upset will be completed by the Chiefs at Arrowhead and there might be new leadership at the top of the AFC West. In my opinion the AFC West this year is really up for grabs, and Kansas City really has a chance to take over that spot and make the playoffs. In the past 5 seasons, the Chargers have wasted plenty of opportunities to both succeed in the playoffs and make the Super Bowl, and every year they seem to fall short of expectations. Kansas City has not won a home versus San Diego since 2006, and I think this is the year the yellow and red rise above and shock the football world.