Football betting: Top five contest picks of the weekend

With the rise in popularity of football betting contests, the Yahoo Sportsbook staff is offering its top football picks for this weekend’s slate. And much like those contests, these lines locked as of Thursday night, so they won’t reflect subsequent movement.

All lines from BetMGM.

Nick Bromberg

1. Pitt (-3) at Tennessee

This spread is giving the Tennessee name recognition the benefit of the doubt. Pitt is clearly the better team.

2. Tulsa at Oklahoma State (-12.5)

Tulsa kept it close against OSU in 2020 but lost to UC Davis to kick off the 2021 season. This one should be an easy OSU win.

3. Cleveland Browns at Kansas City Chiefs (-6.5)

I don’t know how you bet against Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes in Week 1, especially with the Chiefs’ offensive line upgrades.

4. Denver Broncos at New York Giants (Over 41.5)

Teddy Bridgewater should make the Broncos’ offense competent and that should be enough for the over.

5. Chicago Bears at Los Angeles Rams (Under 47.5)

I would think differently about this total if Justin Fields were starting for the Bears.

Frank Schwab

1. Jacksonville Jaguars (-3) over Houston Texans

We know the Urban Meyer jokes. It doesn’t erase the fact that the Texans are going to be the NFL’s worst team.

2. Minnesota Vikings (-3) over Cincinnati Bengals

Right, another 3-point road favorite. But I don’t see how Joe Burrow isn’t rusty, and Minnesota will be much improved.

3. Las Vegas Raiders (+4.5) over Baltimore Ravens

You want to see a crazy home crowd? Tune in on Monday night.

4. Tennessee Titans vs. Arizona Cardinals (Over 51.5)

I highly doubt this is the last time a Titans over is in this space for me.

5. Washington Football Team (+1) over Los Angeles Chargers

If I’m going to ride with WFT to win the NFC East, I’ve got to take them as a home underdog in Week 1, right?

Sam Cooper

1. Air Force at Navy (Under 41)

Any time two service academies face off, it’s an automatic under play for me. Since 2005, the under is 38-9-1 in games that feature two of Air Force, Army or Navy.

2. Texas A&M (-17) over Colorado

Colorado cannot throw the ball at all, and Texas A&M actually played with some tempo on offense last week. The Aggies roll.

3. Pittsburgh (-3) over Tennessee

Tennessee wants to run an offense with "Air Raid" concepts but doesn’t have the quarterback to do it. If UT couldn’t throw the ball vs. Bowling Green, it won’t do it very well against Pitt.

4. California (+11.5) over TCU

Cal is 16-8-1 ATS as an underdog under Justin Wilcox, with a 9-4 ATS mark as a road underdog. This is way too many points.

5. Seattle Seahawks (-2.5) over Indianapolis Colts

Carson Wentz is 0-5 straight up and 1-4 ATS vs. Seattle in his career. The only time Wentz and the Eagles covered vs. the Seahawks was by a half-point on a meaningless TD and two-point conversion with 12 seconds remaining last year.

Pete Truszkowski

1. Ohio State (-14.5) over Oregon

Ohio State has two extra days of rest and preparation. The Ducks travel to the East Coast to play a 9 a.m. game in terms of their body clocks. The last six times Oregon has been a double-digit underdog, it’s lost by an average of 25 points. Kayvon Thibodeaux, potential No. 1 pick, is questionable for Oregon.

2. Iowa State (-4) over Iowa

Fade the Week 1 overreactions. Iowa looked dominant against Indiana. Iowa St. barely beat Northern Iowa. I was much higher on the Cyclones than the Hawkeyes going into the season, and that won’t change because Iowa State slept through their opener against an FCS school.

3. Washington (+7) vs. Michigan

Washington losing to Montana was embarrassing, but this is an overreaction. The look ahead line prior to Week 1 had Michigan as a 1-point favorite in this game. I’m still not buying Michigan despite its impressive Week 1 performance.

4. New York Jets (+4) vs. Carolina

I don’t think there are many people who are bigger fans of Zach Wilson than me. Similarly, I’m a known Sam Darnold hater. I must put my money where my mouth is.

5. Pittsburgh vs. Buffalo (Over 48.5)

The Buffalo Bills might not run the ball all season. The Steelers improved their rushing attack by drafting Najee Harris to take the pressure off Ben Roethlisberger. It’s early in the season, so Big Ben should be healthy and rested to feed three good receivers. I think we’ll see some big offensive numbers in this one.

Greg Brainos

1. Minnesota Vikings (-3) at Cincinnati Bengals

The Vikings will be able to do whatever they want against the Bengals defense and should be able to get consistent pressure on Joe Burrow. Skoooooool!

2. Los Angeles Rams vs. Chicago Bears (Under 46.5)

This is the fourth year in a row they’re playing each other and the previous three all went under. I can’t see Dalton putting up many points against the Rams in primetime.

3. Cleveland Browns (+6) at Kansas City Chiefs

The Browns may win straight up. Their defense is strong enough to keep Pat Mahomes somewhat in check, and the Chiefs don’t have an answer for the Cleveland run game.

4. Tennessee Titans vs. Arizona Cardinals (Over 51.5)

This game is going to have more points than a finger gun contest.

5. New England Patriots (-3) vs. Miami Dolphins

I think people are really sleeping on the Patriots this year. Bully ball is back and Bill Belichick has won five of his last six season openers.

Joe Garza

1. Tennessee Titans vs. Arizona Cardinals (Over 51.5)

Two very bad secondaries, two good offenses and a healthy Julio Jones for maybe the only time this season mean points. Lots of them. 

2. Minnesota Vikings (-3) at Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals secondary is so bad that Eli Apple is starting. Minnesota should roll.

3. Texas (6.5) at Arkansas

I hate Texas, but I loved how coach Steve Sarkisian used RB Bijan Robinson in the passing game. Some serious modern NFL concepts on display.

4. San Francisco 49ers (-7.5) at Detroit Lions

The Lions will be without their left tackle, so we could need a Jared Goff turnover tracker. Not even Jimmy G can scare me off this one.

5. New York Jets at Carolina (Over 43)

The number is too low and this could low-key be a shootout. Lot of skill players on the field.

Cody Brunner

1. Pittsburgh (-3) over Tennessee

I wanted to take the under here to stray from the others, but Pitt covering just feels like a lock. UT still figuring things out against a perennially good defense doesn’t bode well.

2. Michigan State (-26.5) over Youngstown State

Neither of these teams were great last year. But being underwhelming in the Big Ten means a bit more than slacking in the MVC. Also, Sparty acquitted itself well in its opener against Northwestern.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans (Under 45)

Considering the personnel and rookie head coaches, this one could be all over the place. But I’m banking on it being ugly.

4. Green Bay Packers (-3.5) over New Orleans Saints

I’m an unabashed Packers fan, but I think Aaron Rodgers and Co. deliver here. They’ve won every Week 1 game since 2014, and all but one of them were by more than 3.5.

5. Buffalo (+14) against Nebraska

Gonna be honest: I don’t know a lot about this post-Lance Leipold Bulls team, but I know Nebraska isn’t worth a damn. Two touchdowns seems like enough to cushion any surprise.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting