Early NFL Odds & Picks: 2022 International Games

May 8, 2022 - 8:47 PM

This year, the NFL International Series is back in full force, with five games outside of the U.S. this fall. England will host three games, Minnesota vs. New Orleans, New York Giants vs. Green Bay, and Denver v.s Jacksonville. The NFL will also return to Mexico for the first time since 2019 with San Francisco vs. Arizona and travel to Germany for the first time ever with Seattle vs. Tampa Bay.

A few sportsbooks have been kind enough to release some early odds for us, and I’ve got some early picks that I like.

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My favorites:

Green Bay -6.5 vs. New York Giants 

Green Bay will host the New York Giants at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Green Bay will travel across the pond for the first time in franchise history. This will be the Giants’ third trip to England. They are 2-0 with wins over the Dolphins in 2007 and Rams in 2016.

My early projections make Green Bay an eight-point favorite in this game, and I’ll side with my numbers when picking this game. I think New York has done a fantastic job this offseason. They brought in a head coach and GM pair that had a lot of success in Buffalo and had a great draft. Some boards had Kayvon Thibodeaux and Evan Neal as the top two or three players, so that injection of talent is enormous for this Giants roster.

On the other side of the ball, Green Bay lost one of the best pass-catchers in the league. However, the Packers still have one of the best offensive lines in the league and have been able to piece together a competent group of weapons for Aaron Rodgers to work with. The Packers have also built one of the best defenses in the league. ESPN’s Mike Clay has the Packers as the second-best defense in the NFL in his unit grades, and I’ve got them as the third best by my numbers.

The Giants hired an offensive-minded head coach and have a lot of potential on that side of the ball, but I think Rodgers and the Packers’ new shut-down defense will be able to cover 6.5 in this game.

San Francisco -2.5 vs. Arizona

I’ve been very high on the 49ers over the past two seasons and low on the Cardinals, so this was an easy pick. I’ve already got a bet on the Cardinals under nine wins (before the DeAndre Hopkins news), but that same bet burned me last season.

In the NFL’s return to Mexico, these two division rivals will face off at Estadio Azteca. I make the 49ers four-point favorites in this one. Surprisingly, the 49ers still haven’t traded Jimmy Garoppolo, which leaves questions about who will be under center for San Fran and if Trey Lance is the player we thought he was when he went No. 3 last April.

Regardless, San Francisco should have a solid quarterback under center, and if Deebo Samuel stays, which looks likely, he’ll have a loaded supporting cast. I also think San Francisco has one of the most underrated defenses in the league, ranking fifth in my unit grades. ESPN’s Mikey Clay agrees with me again here, as his unit grades have the 49ers with the NFL’s fourth-best defense. Hopkins will be back for this game, but I think the 49ers should be heavier favorites here. Give me San Francisco as less than field goal favorites south of the border.

Other picks:

New Orleans +1 vs. Minnesota

I make this game a pick. Both teams have new coaches in place. Minnesota has patched their holes this offseason, and Kevin O’Connell should be an upgrade for this team. The Saints lost Sean Payton but remained aggressive this offseason. They filled significant needs with good players and now have a roster that can compete. This game is a toss-up, but I lean on the side of the Saints.

Jacksonville +6.5 vs. Denver

Russell Wilson vs. Trevor Lawrence is a fun quarterback matchup for England to experience. Wilson has the much better supporting cast in Denver, but I think they may be underrated with Jacksonville finally achieving competence at the head coach position. They also have a lot of experience playing in Europe. This will be their ninth overseas game, four more than the next closest franchise. I make Denver five-point favorites, so I’ll side with the Jaguars in this one.

Tampa Bay -9 vs. Seattle

The NFL travels to Germany for the first time ever. German fans will get a treat as they watch the greatest quarterback of all time face off against the Drew Lock experience. Seattle may not think they are rebuilding, but the roster sure looks like it. I make Tampa Bay 10.5-point favorites, so I’ll put my trust in Tom Brady and the Bucs to cover this spread.

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