Duke vs. Alabama Week 1 Pick
Duke Blue Devils (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
Date/Time: Saturday August 31st, 2019. 3:30PM (EST)
Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium Atlanta, G.A.
Point Spread:DUKE +35/ALA -35 (BetNow)
Over/Under Total: 58
The Alabama Crimson Tide will kick off their 2019 campaign on Saturday when they meet the Duke Blue Devils inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium in the annual Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Classic. The Crimson Tide are currently the 2nd ranked team in the country with 12 returning starters from last year’s squad that made their 4th straight National Championship Game appearance under Nick Saban. This year’s Alabama team returns talent at the skill positions and is ready to reload talent in the trenches from the nation’s top recruiting classes. Perhaps Alabama’s most significant question marks reside on the defensive side of the football along the defensive front where the lack of imposing pressure on enemy quarterbacks became apparent down the stretch in 2018. Luckily Alabama has a pretty lenient schedule to start off their 2019 campaign and the defense should have time to improve before the group is seriously challenged.
The Crimson Tide’s defense will be the point of focus next Saturday when they meet the Blue Devils inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Blue Devils lost “long time” starting quarterback Daniel Jones amidst an offense that only ranked 65th overall averaging just over 400 yards and 29 points per game. Along with Jones, the Blue Devils also lost the majority of their talent at the skill positions including a pair of starting receivers and running back. In fact, the Blue Devils return just four starters on offense. Needless to say, Head Coach David Cutcliffe has an uphill challenge in year 12 in Durham on the offensive side of the football, and that is the primary reason I am not scared of laying 35 points with the Crimson Tide in week 1!
Blue Devils offense will struggle in 2019The Blue Devils return the least amount of offensive talent compared to any other team in the ACC. Let’s face it, replacing former starting quarterback Daniel Jones will be an enormous challenge in itself. Finding reliable talents to protect new starting quarterback Quentin Harris will be a challenge and so will finding go-to players at the skill positions. Unfortunately for Duke fans, there are a ton of questions and slim possibilities for answers. Quentin Harris is a lifetime .500 passer and has struggled in fall camp, and the offense has reportedly struggled significantly against their own defense.
When you hear news like that coming from within the Blue Devils organization, it should be alarming. I should not have to explain to everyone the talent differential between Alabama’s defense and Duke’s offense. Simple recruiting statistics can speak to the type of talent between the two schools. My biggest fear for Duke is that Harris is a subpar passer that has shown vulnerability under pressure in his limited action. Regardless of Alabama’s early question marks on defense, they will have the speed to provide pressure, and the Crimson Tide pass defense should be outstanding. Inevitably, Duke simply does not match-up well against Alabama, and I would be surprised if they score more than 10 points in this game.
Crimson Tide offense will remain dangerous in 2019In 2018, Alabama had the most successful season in the Nick Saban era on the offensive side of the football. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa threw for nearly 4,000 yards with 43 touchdowns. WR Jerry Juedy hauled in 63 passes for 1,315 yards which ranked in the Top 10 among all wideouts in college football. Meanwhile, running back Najee Harris led the ground attack by averaging 6.7 yards per carry in what became a running back by committee backfield. This year all of those talents return along with nearly the entire receiving corps which includes threatening targets like Henry Ruggs III, Devonta Smith, and Jaylen Waddle. There are a few holes to fill along the offensive front, but I refuse to be skeptical of the offensive line because Nick Saban has routinely captured the best offensive linemen in the country year after year. Therefore, the Crimson Tide offense has a real chance to be among the best groups in Alabama history and those words should not be taken lightly.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Alabama -35