NFL 2018 Season - Week 16
 

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Quarterback Shuffle
by Dennis Ranahan

The opening day of the National Football League weather will include rain in Cleveland, Baltimore and New Jersey, and raining quarterbacks beginning careers with new teams at a number of sites.

The NFL has 30 teams in action today and tomorrow night and seven of them will be starting new quarterbacks. That list includes one rookie, one second-year man and five QB’s with new teams. The rookie is New York Jets first round pick Sam Darnold, who will get his first NFL action tomorrow when the Jets visit the Detroit Lions in the first of two Monday Night Football matchups.

In Los Angeles, the Kansas City Chiefs will be introducing their new starting quarterback, Patrick Mahomes. He was the Chiefs first round pick a year ago and made veteran Alex Smith expendable. Smith is now with the Washington Redskins, who visits Arizona this afternoon in a game that will feature a pair of quarterbacks new to their teams and one-time first picks in the draft. The Cardinals opening day starter is Sam Bradford, who is now with his fourth professional team after the St. Louis Rams took him with the first pick in the 2010 draft.

The Cleveland Browns have Tyrod Taylor, who led the Buffalo Bills to the playoffs last year, behind center with first pick in the draft Baker Mayfield waiting his turn. The Denver Broncos will be led today by veteran Case Keenum, who last year as a Minnesota Viking led his team to the NFC Championship Game. He is replaced in Minnesota by former Redskin Kirk Cousins.

Which brings us to the Vikings opening day battle against the San Francisco 49ers. Over the entire off-season I have been fixed on the problems the 49ers will more than likely confront this season. They were a 1 and 10 team when recently acquired quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo stepped into the starting role and closed out the season with five straight victories. That bright finish drove expectations for this year's Niners team through the roof, and by my calculations their expectations far exceed their actual talent level.

When that happens, a team is in a motivational ditch and problems are sure to follow.

The fact that the 49ers are now opening on the road against one of the teams expected to vie for a Super Bowl this year, would seem to add to San Francisco woes. But, while the public is in alignment with that thinking, they have driven the point spread from an opening number of 4½ points up to the current line of Minnesota favored by 6½ points.

The Vikings success is mostly pinned to their tough defense, but the offense may be a work in progress with both a new quarterback and new offensive coordinator, John DeFilippo. The past two season DeFilippo was on the Philadelphia Eagles staff and credited with the development of Carson Wentz and the work Nick Foles did in capturing last season’s Super Bowl.

Winning football wagers require the right team, right motivation and right wagering proposition. In the final analysis, this bloated point spread and new offensive scheme in Minnesota erases what we thought would be one of our money rated plays today.

This week’s Top Pick and all our rated plays are now posted on this site … and it does not include the matchup in Minnesota.

As for the public, their three favorite plays today in order of wagering volume are the Pittsburgh Steelers (-4½) over the Cleveland Browns, New Orleans Saints (-10) over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New England Patriots (-6) over the Houston Texans.

In addition to the plays currently posted on this site, if a Bullet Play develops leading up to the 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time kickoffs that game will be added to the recommended plays at 9:45 a.m.