The first Sunday of the NFL season is upon us and I'll be here every week to predict all the games. Before we get to the games, let's talk about the Thursday night opener.
Denver 49 - Baltimore 27: It was an ass kicking especially in the second half. I bet the over and thought Baltimore would keep it close, but the Broncos just blew it open. The key play was when Welker caught a ball that hit the ground, the Ravens didn't challenge it and the Broncos got a TD soon after. After that it was all over. What can you say about Peyton Manning's 7 TD passes? It tied a NFL record. He actually started off slow in that first quarter, but once they got it going he had one of the best games of his amazing career. The Broncos offense is even better last year with the addition of Wes Welker and new TE Julius Thomas looks like he'll make an impact too. They will be a scary team all year long.
Last season I went 176-79-1 (.690) straight up. This year I'll keep track of my straight up record and my point spread record. I'll use the point spread numbers that are in the TJR ESPN Pick 'Em group because that way it can keep track of it for me (ESPN Pick 'Em straight up is here too). Hopefully I can get at least 65% straight up and 50% point spread or at least a little higher than that. Those are the goals. At this point I'm 1-0 straight up and 0-1 against the spread because I thought the Ravens would cover.
All game times are in the Eastern time zone.
New England at Buffalo 1:00 pm
There's not much to like about the Bills except RB CJ Spiller. If they can establish the run they could keep it close. I think they might start out hot, but eventually the Patriots will take over. Look for the Patriots run game to have a huge game. That Tom Brady guy is pretty good too. You know he watched Peyton Manning throw seven TDs on Thursday. Not saying he will match that, but I think the Patriots are going to be very impressive on Sunday. Patriots 34-20
Tennessee at Pittsburgh 1:00 pm
I'm high on the Steelers this year. I think it will be a bounce back year for them. With a veteran QB like Ben Roethlisberger as healthy as ever and a great coach in Mike Tomlin they will do well. Playing a questionable offense like the Titans in week one will help too. If Tennessee can get Chris Johnson going they can stay in the game, but their passing game is so poor and the Steelers know that. That's why I like the Steelers to dominate the line of scrimmage to win this game rather easily. Steelers 27-14
Tampa Bay at N.Y. Jets 1:00 pm
Picking against the Jets every week is a good strategy. Not a lot of talent there. I feel bad for rookie QB Geno Smith who will have a tough year. Bucs win comfortably with a big day from star RB Doug Martin. It also wouldn't surprise me if former Jets CB Darrelle Revis had a big day against his former team. Buccaneers 24-10
Atlanta at New Orleans 1:00 pm
It's a tough game to pick with the Saints favored by 2.5 right now. I have the Falcons making the Super Bowl and the Saints getting into the playoffs, so I like both of them. I think it will be a shootout. Give me the Falcons to win because I think their run game will be better this year with former Ram Steven Jackson carrying the load and because of him they will have a bit more balance on offense. Ultimately, it will be about Matt Ryan and Drew Brees. Both will have huge games. I think this is the most exciting game of the week. Falcons 37-33
Kansas City at Jacksonville 1:00 pm
I think the Chiefs will be a lot better this year. The Jaguars are not a very good team, but at least with RB Maurice Jones-Drew playing in a contract year they could surprise some people. I'll take the Chiefs in a close game thanks to RB Jamaal Charles, who I think will be second in rushing yards this season to Adrian Peterson. This will be one of the least exciting games of the week. Chiefs 17-13
Seattle at Carolina 1:00 pm
When they played last year in October the Seahawks won 16-12. Cam Newton had one of the worst games of his career. The question is can he learn from it or will he have trouble against a Seahawks defense that may be even better this year? I'm leaning towards Seattle. I don't think the Panthers have enough weapons on offense to put up a lot of points against the Seahawks. Shouldn't they have added more WRs that can stretch the field? Look for Seattle's defensive line to dominate this game. Seahawks 20-13
Cincinnati at Chicago 1:00 pm
I'm all in on the Bengals this year while I think the Bears may struggle with a new head coach. I could be wrong of course, but when I saw that they were playing in week one I had to lean towards the Bengals. I like their defense so much. I think they're the best defensive team in the AFC along with the Texans. I also like that they upgraded the run game with Giovanni Bernard. Since Chicago possesses an above average defense I think it will be low scoring game with the Bengals coming out on top. Bengals 20-17
Miami at Cleveland 1:00 pm
They're two teams that have struggled in recent years with QBs going into year two and both of them should be better than last year. "Should be" doesn't mean that they will be, though. I think the Browns passing game has some question marks, so it will be important for Trent Richardson to have a big game for them. I'm going to go with the Dolphins in a very close game that goes right down to the wire. Dolphins 23-20
Minnesota at Detroit 1:00 pm
The Vikings were a playoff team last year with a 10-6 record while the Lions were 4-12, yet here we are in week one and the Lions are favored by up to 6 points in some places. Usually you get 3 points for home field advantage, so there are people that think the Lions are better? I'm not sure about that. I think Adrian Peterson is going to have a big game after sitting back for seven months about being 8 yards short for the all-time record in rushing yards in a season. I don't know that the Lions defense is improved enough to stop him. Close game. Give me the Vikings. Vikings 26-24
Oakland at Indianapolis 1:00 pm
I doubt I'll pick the Raiders to win much this year. If they win more than three games this year I'd be surprised. Big game for the Colts offense with Andrew Luck tossing three or four TD passes. Colts 31-10
Arizona at St. Louis 4:25 pm
I have to roll with my Rams here. Have to! While I have read a lot of opinions from people about how the Cardinals being better because Carson Palmer is QB, I wonder if these same people realize Palmer hasn't been that good the last few years. He put up garbage stats in Oakland. He didn't win many games against good teams or the great defenses that are present in the NFC West. I think the Rams pass rush (led the league last year in sacks) will get in his face, make things difficult for him and force him into mistakes. I also expect the Rams offense to show off new weapons rookie WR Tavon Austin and TE Jared Cook. The Rams have tough games in the three weeks after this, so it's important they start off on the right foot. I sure hope so! Rams 27-16
Green Bay at San Francisco 4:25 pm
Last year in their playoff game, Colin Kaepernick had a huge game and the Niners won in a rout. The Packers couldn't stop them. Now that the Packers have had the entire offseason to work on trying to stop them, will be able to? I think they'll do a better job, but I don't see them doing enough to win the game. I also think the Niners defense has the personnel to make things difficult for that awesome Packers passing game. If the Packers can get rookie RB Eddie Lacy going perhaps they can pull it out, but I still like the Niners to win. 49ers 33-23
N.Y. Giants at Dallas 8:30 pm
The big stat here is that the Giants have won in Dallas the last four times they have played there. I think it's going to happen again. I really believe in the Giants second year RB David Wilson as a home run hitter that can create matchup problems in the passing game and can break a big run for a score. Both offenses are pretty healthy, so there should be a lot of points. Both QBs have been known to throw interceptions in shootouts like this too. Honestly it's the toughest game for me to pick this week. Going with the Giants because I think they're the better team with better coaching. Giants 34-31
Philadelphia at Washington 6:55 pm (MON)
I like the Redskins big. I think Robert Griffin III will do just fine in his first game back after ACL surgery. The reason he'll do fine? Alfred Morris. The Redskins will run the ball down the Eagles throat and it will open up that deep ball for Griffin to find Pierre Garcon down the field repeatedly. The Eagles may be better in the Chip Kelly offense, but I think it's going to take some time. Redskins 27-14
Houston at San Diego 10:20 pm (MON)
Houston's an elite team. San Diego is probably in the bottom five of the league this year. They really don't have a lot of playmakers on offense that put fear in the defense. I don't think they can really stop the Texans from doing what they want either. Texans 31-13
Five Favorite Bets of the Week
This is pretty simple. I like to bet on the NFL, so every week I'll put down my five favorite bets of the week. They will be point spread or over/under. The lines come from SportsBook.com.
@ Indianapolis -10.5 over Oakland - I don't have a lot of faith in the Raiders. That's putting it mildly.
@ Washington -4.5 over Philadelphia - I feel very confident about this one. Don't believe in the Eagles defense.
Houston -5.5 over @ San Diego - Home field isn't much of an advantage when your team is as inferior as the Chargers.
Minnesota +6 @ Detroit - Six point underdogs on the road looks good to me.
Bengals @ Bears UNDER 42.5 - I like both defenses enough that I think it will be under.
That's all I have for this week. Good luck in your picks. Sorry if I didn't pick your team. Just know that it's hard to be perfect in picking games especially in the crazy NFL. That's why we love it, though. You never know what's going to happen.