NFL Picks Week 1
Has it been 7 months? 7 Months since James White capped an incredible comeback by the Patriots to win Super Bowl 51 and give the Pats their 5th title in the last 15 years. Tom Brady leads the Pats back for another run to another title but there are other contenders lurking about and trying to get to Minneapolis. Ive been in Minneapolis in February and more often than not its not a real nice place to be weather wise, but for the 32 NFL teams that is where they want to on the first Sunday in February playing in the 52nd Super Bowl being played at U.S. Bank Stadium. But that is still a shimmering gleam on the horizon. Its still summer (albeit late summer) and all the teams are still in contention. So here we go again. Another set of mostly infallible picks. Ill provide a guide to the weeks games, with who’s playing , where, the weekly line on the game, a fast fact on the game and some info on the game. This years only change in teams are the Chargers who return to Los Angeles where they were founded in 1960 from San Diego where they spend the past 56 seasons. They will inhabit the rinky dink, Stub Hub Center in Carson as they await the new LA football venue that they will cohabitate with the Rams who currently reside in the LA Coliseum where they once played from 1946-79
I get the lines from a variety of sources and will note where with the caveat, and this is quite important, that the lines are for comparison and entertainment purposes only. Now you can bet the lines if you want, it’s a free country but if you lose, I don’t want to hear whining or complaints that I gave you bad info. Now that we have that out the way lets get to the picks
Due to the impending impact of Hurricane Irma on Florida, The Bucs-Dolphins game has been rescheduled to week 11 which both teams luckily have a common bye week.
September 7 (Records listed are final 2016)
Chiefs (12-4) at Patriots (14-2)
Gillette Stadium; Foxboro, MA 8:30 (NBC)
Favorite Patriots by 9
Fast Fact The Chiefs have never won in Gillette Stadium, their last win in Foxboro was in 1998
The Pats begin their title defense with a clash with a visit from a tough Chiefs team that was a playoff team last year and lost a bruising divisional playoff game to the Steelers. Will the Pats go 19-0? Ummm no, could they match their 14 win season from last year? That’s more probable than anything. As long as Tom Brady stays upright and healthy he make the Pats a front line contender to win more games than not. As much as I like the Chiefs and think that they will be a legit problem for most of their opponents, I just cant see them going into Foxboro and beating the champs on their turf on a banner night.
Pick –New England
Jets (5-11) at Bills (7-9)
New Era Field; Orchard Park, NY 1:00 (CBS)
Favorite Bills by 8 ½
Fast Fact The Bills are the only team in the four North American sports leagues (MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL) to have not made the postseason in the 21st century
The grinning jeering Rex Ryan ghost looms over this matchup, but (thankfully) hes gone and the Bills begin a New Era (pun intended) with rookie coach Sean McDermott at the the helm, he faces a Jets team that has already deigned to self destruct before the season even starts and looks like that they are in the Sam Darnold/Josh Rosen derby from the jump. The Bills have some talent on both sides of the ball and that should be plenty enough to run the Jets ragged.
Falcons (11-5) @ Bears (3-13)
Soldier Field, Chicago 1:00 (FOX)
Favorite Falcons by 7
Truth be told, we’ll see how the post Super Bowl choke hangover affects the Falcons here. The preseason really doesn’t indicate how much a team is still in that mode. Matt Ryan still pilots an elite offense and the defense should have little problem against a Mike Glennon led offense that is keeping the seat warm for Mitch Trubisky. The Falcons shouldn’t have much trouble even on the road.
Ravens (8-8) @ Bengals (6-9-1)
Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati 1:00 (CBS)
Favorite Bengals by 3
Fast Fact The Bengals have won the last six meetings in Cincinnati
The Bengals seemed to find the dumbest ways to lose games last year, but if it’s a team I trust less than any it’s the Ravens. Super Bowl ring or no, Ive still never been sold on Joe Flacco and I just don’t like him trying to pass as “an elite” QB. Add the Ravens weak offensive line has been further hampered by the retirement of I do like Andy Dalton, who gets more criticism in his own town than he really should have to. The Bengals have a bevy of talent at the receiving corps with the redoubtable AJ Green as its fleet anchor and Tyler Eifert as a reliable TE target. Im looking for Joe Mixon to make an immediate impact and the Bengals to start strong.
Steelers (11-5) @ Browns (1-15)
FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland 1:00 (CBS)
Favorite Steelers by 8 ½
Fast Fact Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger is 20-2 against the Browns, 10-1
Deshon Kizer’s rookie primer will be a stern one, face the Pittsburgh Steelers in his very first pro start. While not as scary as some in the past, they still are formidable. I’ll be interested to see how much work recalcitrant RB LeVeon Bell gets as he finally ended his holdout and signed his one year franchise tender. I think he gets enough carries to get toughened up and the Steelers will do enough to bully the Browns into a win
Pick- Pittsburgh (Lock of the Week)
Cardinals (7-8-1) @ Lions (9-7)
Ford Field, Detroit 1:00 (FOX)
Favorite Cardinals by 2
Fast Fact This matchup features two of the NFL’s oldest teams
This is an interesting early season matchup. The Lions are coming off a playoff season many didn’t really expect while the Cards, playoff contenders as of late, regressed badly to a losing campaign in 2016 but still have a multitude of tools on both sides of the ball. Matt Stafford and Carson Palmer are wily vets that can light up scoreboards in an instant. David Johnson has blossomed into an elite back and will tax the Lions occasionally suspect defense. A western team coming east to play an early game is usually dead meat but something tells me that the Cards are ready and will edge the Lions in a mild upset
Pick Arizona (Upset of the Week)
Jaguars (3-13) at Texans (9-7)
NRG Stadium, Houston 1:00 (CBS)
Favorite Texans by 5
Fast Fact This will be the first major sporting event in the Houston area after the devastating Hurricane Harvey pounded the Texas Gulf Coast last week
The Texans look to cheer their region with a bit of a distraction, and they get a pretty soft opponent to do it with. Though the Texans are starting the milquetoast Tom Savage they have enough offensive weapons that he need only be a caretaker Besides the Texan defense should have no issue running roughshod on Blake Bortles who maddeningly still has a starting job
Raiders (12-4) @ Titans (9-7)
Nissan Stadium, Nashville 1:00 (CBS)
Favorite Titans by 2 ½
Fast Fact Raiders Derek Carr became only the 5th QB to throw 80 touchdown passes in his first 3 seasons
Heres a matchup of a pair of young dynamic quarterbacks who breakout seasons were cut short by injury. Both teams used this breakout for startling turnaround seasons and will use this game as a measuring stick of their continued playoff viability. I like Derek Carr, period. Hes a gutty, gritty QB that the Raiders haven’t had on a consistent basis since Rich Gannon and the Raiders halcyon days with Chucky Gruden. Having dynamic receivers like Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree don’t hurt a bit. The Titans meanwhile are on the rise with Marcus Mariota throwing precision passes and a sledgehammer running game. This looks like a repeat of the 17-10 slugfest game the Raiders won last year, but for some reason I think that they got a few wins by slim margins and that kind of luck doesn’t ride year to year. I think the Titans flip it and win a tight one
Eagles (7-9) @ Washington (8-7-1)
FedEx Field; Landover, MD 1:00 (FOX)
Favorite Eagles by 1
Fast Fact Washington is coming off its first back to back winning seasons in nearly 20 years
Both these teams are teams in flux, Washington is remaking is receiving corps over and Kirk Cousins is hoping his personal gamble of signing a one year tender pays off. Meanwhile the Eagles are still getting used to Carson Wentz who now has a bevy of running backs and strong receivers in Alshon Jeffery Torrey Smith and Zach Ertz. These games always delve into bruising slobberknockers if you will and I really don’t think that this will be any different despite the array of offense. Flip a coin here.
Colts (8-8) at Rams (4-12)
Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles 4:05 (FOX)
Favorite Rams by 3 ½
Fast Fact The Rams were at one time owned by the father of the current Colts owner, the owners of the Colts and Rams traded franchises in 1972
The Rams remain a hot mess despite the presence of Todd Gurley, Tavon Austin and recently acquired Sammy Watkins, but lacking in a lot of skill positions on defense but they get a super sized break in their opener as the Colts will be missing Andrew Luck. Can the Rams figure out a way to take advantage of this? I keep wanting to say yes but we are talking about the Rams here. Im thinking that Scott Tolzien will lean very heavily on Frank Gore and there are worse receivers to have at ones disposal than T.Y. Hilton. Heres another upset begging to be called but I’ll resist. Ill likely regret it but these are the Rams were talking about.
Seahawks (10-5-1) @ Packers (10-6)
Lambeau Field, Green Bay 4:25 (FOX)
Favorite Packers by 3
Fast Fact This is a rare matchup of the Bennett brothers Martellus (Packers TE) and Michael (Seahawks DE)
Probably the days best game, the Packers high speed high powered offense facing off against the rugged Seahawk defense which added to the their embarrassment of riches with the addition of Sheldon Richardson. Throw out that 38-10 waxing the Pack dropped on the Seahawks last year, with a healthy Earl Thomas the Seahawks secondary will be a challenge for all-everything QB Aaron Rodgers. Meanwhile the sometimes suspect Seahawks offense will face a very suspect Packers defense, though I like Russell Wilson, he doesn’t have a real strong running game to complement him. It wont be a rout like last year but its still hard to bet against the Pack at Lambeau
Panthers (6-10) @ 49ers (2-14)
Levis Stadium; Santa Clara, CA 4:25 (FOX)
Favorite Panthers by 5 ½
Fast Fact The Niners haven’t won against a team not named the Rams in over a year
The Panthers fell hard from a 15-1 2015, and Cam Newton went from the future of the funk to just funky. Shoulder issues, post super bowl blahs and a weak running game all factored into a downer season. The Niners were a true bottom out team, just plain bad with only wins over the sorry Rams as their only positives in a horrid campaign. The road back to respectablilty is long and the Niners wont find it starting with a Panthers team that isn’t as good as the 15 win squad but nowhere near as bad as the 6 win squad.
Giants (11-5) @ Cowboys (13-3)
AT&T Stadium; Arlington, TX 8:30 (NBC)
Favorite Cowboys by 4
Fast Fact These teams face off in Dallas in primetime in the season opener for the 3rd straight year
Will he or wont he? Zeke Elliott’s suspension saga is bordering the theater of the absurd now. Apparently he will play this week and sit the next six. Does that make sense? I didn’t think it did. In any case, the Pokes need no extra drama when facing the G-Men who feel that they should be the feared team in the NFC East. Old vet Eli Manning has his usual accomplices at the ready in Odell Beckham Jr and added Brandon Marshall. All that said, I still think that Elliott wants to show out in a primetime performance before going on the shelf. And the Pokes still have that guy Dak Prescott and he has shown that he is ready for primetime.
Monday September 11
Saints (7-9) @ Vikings (8-8)
US Bank Stadium, Minneapolis 7:10 (ESPN)
Favorite Vikings by 3 ½
Fast Fact Saints RB Adrian Peterson is the Vikings all-time leading rusher with 11,747 and holds over a dozen team records
Adrian Peterson gets a primetime start at US Bank Stadium for the 2nd straight year but this time its in the colors of the Saints and his promise to lay a smack down on his former team has made him felina non grata (cat not welcome) in his old stomping grounds. The Vikings are still looking for some offensive sparks and hope Dalvin Cook and Latavis Murray can do the job Peterson once did. But I think that Vikings defense will be looking for some get back at their old teammate and knowing his moves might prove to be just the edge needed to get by the Saints.
Chargers (5-11) @ Broncos (9-7)
Sports Authority Field @ Mile High, Denver 10:20 (ESPN)
Favorite Broncos by 3 ½
Fast Fact New Broncos Coach Vance Joseph and your humble scribe share the exact same date of birth (9/20/72)
Its going to take a while to say LA Chargers but to the Broncos it’s the same nuisance of a squad that they always seem to have trouble with at home. I would love to say that the Chargers will be able to pick apart Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy (their former coach) apart but I keep getting the feeling that oft traded, traveled Brock Osweiler will get into the mix and I still have little or any faith in his laconic efforts. Push comes to shove, its hard to bet against a revved up and rowdy Mile High crowd at night.
Last Year 165-89-2