It’s Back! NFL Week 1 Picks

Oh my God it’s back again.

Felt appropriate there. Either way, football is back, baby! And that means one thing: Life as we know it, on Sundays, will come to a screeching hault as I sit in front of the TV for hours on end. Well two things, then: It’s time to start making weekly NFL picks. But first a quick reminder that last year this guy finished with a 162-95 record during the regular season, which was better than 5 of ESPN’s NFL “experts,” who you’ll be able to follow all season right here.

Enough gloating though. Let’s get to it. This year, I’ll be including your weekly lines as they appear in my local resource, the Washington Post.

Baltimore Ravens (+7.5) @ Denver Broncos, Thursday @ 8:30

Since the NFL’s official Kickoff Game was introduced in 2002, the home team is 9-2 (8-1 since the defending Super Bowl champ began hosting the game in 2004). Something’s going to have to give this year as Peyton Manning and the Broncos are going to be playing host to the Ravens, who were unable to force the Baltimore Orioles to reschedule their Thursday night contest against the Chicago White Sox. I’m leaning with the home team on this one, and not just because of that trend. This Ravens team is going to look extremely different than the one that hoisted the Lombardi in New Orleans last February. Meanwhile the Broncos added a versatile weapon in Wes Welker, still have a top-notch defense, and are going to be playing with a huge chip on their shoulder for more reasons than oneBroncos win 36-24

New England Patriots (-9.5) @ Buffalo Bills, 1pm

This one doesn’t need a novel long explanation like the last game. You have a 14 year veteran QB going against a rookie. Just for fun, here are a few of Tom Brady’s career splits versus the Bills. He’s won 20, lost just 2, has a 65% completion percentage, 5,407 yards, 51 TDs, and 17 INTs, all of that good for a 103 QB rating. Pure dominance. Pats win 35-17

Cincinnati Bengals (+3) @ Chicago Bears, 1pm

Probably one of the more intriguing matchups of the weekend, these are two teams that have some serious aspirations as far as winning their division goes, but they also have some serious questions. The Bears fired longtime head coach Lovie Smith last season after going 10-6 (a controversial move that’s still getting talked about in some circles), their offense doesn’t look much different, and their defense—like Baltimore’s—lost it’s heart and soul. Cincy will hand the keys to the offense off to Andy Dalton for the third season and they’re hoping a couple of young, speedy rookies (Notre Dame TE Tyler Eifert, and UNC RB Giovani Bernard) can contribute immediately. On the other side of the ball Cincy swiped former Steeler linebacker James Harrison, one of the hardest (not always legally) hitting tacklers in the game. This is a coin flip, so I’ll chalk it up to consistency on the sidelines and a last second field goal. Bengals win 24-23

Miami Dolphins (PICK) @ Cleveland Browns, 1pm

Miami, this year, reminds me a lot of the Eagles from 2011—the year of the Dream Team (and ironically, they [the Dolphins] approached this past offseason completely different than their MLB counterpart in South Florida). Didn’t work well up here, so I have no reason to believe it’ll end any differently down there, and the lack of support in the backfield isn’t going to help 2nd year gun-slinger Ryan Tannehill, who, despite finishing the season hot, had a rough rookie campaign. For Cleveland, they’re still Cleveland. They like to start the season by giving their fans hope, so I’ll stick with them for at least this week. Browns win 23-20

Minnesota Vikings (+4.5) @ Detroit Lions, 1pm

The Vikings have Adrian Peterson, a huge plus for them. The Vikings also have Christian Ponder, a huge, HUGE minus for them. They added an aging, oft injured Greg Jennings, and that’s about it. The Lions went out and added the always dangerous Reggie Bush, who should give a boost to the league’s 23rd ranked rushing attack from a year ago, and they helped solidify their defensive front through the draft. Oh, and there’s Megatron. The line is a little tight for how this one should go. Lions win 38-24

Oakland Raiders (+9.5) @ Indianapolis Colts, 1pm

These Raiders could see themselves entering 2008 Detroit Lions territory this season. (They’re starting Terrell Pryor for Christ’s sake.) We’re talking IMperfect season, people. Andrew Luck will have a field day in his first game of Act 2. Colts win 27-3

Atlanta Falcons (+3) @ New Orleans Saints, 1pm

This one deserved a prime time slot. Forget San Diego and Houston, this game should’ve been the second Monday night game, time zones aside and all that wonderful New Orleans jazz. We’re talking about a team that’s considered among the favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl going against a team that gets their first-class head coach back from a year long suspension and still has Drew Brees. Another toss-up here, so I’ll go with the side that I think is going to be playing with more emotion. Saints win 28-27

Tampa Bay Bucaneers (-3) @ New York Jets, 1pm

Take a look at clusterfuck in the dictionary (I think it’s in there…) and you’re sure to find the Jets logo listed as the primary definition. It’s bad for New York’s other team. Like, seriously bad. They thought that they found their man who could unseat Mark Sanchez at quarterback through the draft, but Geno Smith wasn’t all that impressive during his first preseason and only got the nod to start Week 1 because of a (completely idiotic and preventable) shoulder injury that Sanchez suffered when he was put in late in the 4th quarter during the team’s third preseason game. Oh, the Bucs will be half decent this year as well. Bucs win 31-13

Tennessee Titans (+7) @ Pittsburgh Steelers, 1 pm

The Steelers have a long road a head of them as they try to get back to the playoffs after an 8-8 season. There are countless question marks in the backfield, on both the offensive and defensive lines, and with who’s going to step up in the absences of Mike Wallace and James Harrison. The Titans are hoping CJ2K  can run the team back to the playoffs after a four-year drought. Tennessee brought in former Saints defensive coordinator Greg Williams—back from a season-long suspension for his involvement in Bountygate—to help clean up a defense that allowed a league-worst 29.4 points per game last year. I’m inclined to go with the upset here, and might have done so if this were being played in Nashville, but I like the Steelers D at home. Steelers win 17-14

Seattle Seahawks (-3) @ Carolina Panthers, 1pm

I’ve been waiting for the Panthers to just bust it out for the last two seasons with Cam Newton under center and a fast (but not exactly impressive) receiving core. The lack of a real running game that doesn’t rely on the quarterback to account for half of that yardage, and Newton’s turnover issues and inability to close out games (the Panthers lost 6 games last season by 6 points or less) have really hindered those efforts. They’ll host the Seahawks in Week 1, a team that many experts are picking to go all the way this year. Russell Wilson looks to (somehow) improve on a season that saw the rookie lead his team to a playoff win, and nearly an NFC Championship Game berth after storming back with 21 points in the 4th quarter to take a one-point lead, only to go down on a last second field goal. Something tells me they’ll be alright this year. Seahawks win 28-21

Kansas City Chiefs (-3.5) @ Jacksonville Jaguars, 1pm

Andy Reid debuts as Kansas City’s head coach on the road in a market that could give less than two shits about its football team. And Alex Smith will have KC fans thinking they signed the next Len Dawson or Joe Montana. Just remember, it’s Week 1, Chiefs fans. And these are the Jags. Just wait until Andy starts calling 60 pass plays a game to 10 run plays with Jamaal Charles in the backfield, or when he decides to mismanage the shit out of the clock and cost his team a win or ten. Chiefs win 24-17

Arizona Cardinals (+4.5) @ St. Louis Rams, 4:25pm

Despite losing their all-time leading rusher in Steven Jackson, hopes remain high in St. Louis entering 2013 after closing out last season winning four of their last six. Jeff Fisher enters his second year as the Rams head honcho, and he has a roster that averages just 24.98 years old—the youngest in the league. Sam Bradford is going to have speed all around him with the additions of wide out Tavon Austin (draft) and running back Daryl Richardson (Jackson’s backup last year). Meanwhile, Arizona added some veteran experience in Carson Palmer and Rashard Mendenhall in hopes of keying their turnaround. Two words: Not. Happening. Mendenhall is good for maybe eight games a year, and Palmer is faarrr past his prime. Youth trump experience in this one. Rams win 37-34

Green Bay Packers (+4.5) @ San Francisco 49ers, 4:25pm

This first week is chalk full of excellent matchups, and this is just one more to add to that list. Another postseason rematch featuring two teams with big expectations heading into 2013. San Fran also topped the Packers early in the regular season with Alex Smith under center. GB has enough talent (and speed) at the wide receiver position, and a pretty decent quarterback to boot, that losing Greg Jennings won’t hurt much, if at all. The lack of moves to improve the backfield should be of concern to cheeseheads, though. As for the 49ers, they’re yet another early favorite to get back to the big game this year, but I’m going to reserve judgement there until I see what Colin Kapernick has to offer in his second go-’round, now that no one will be caught off guard. Packers win 23-21

New York Giants (+3) @ Dallas Cowboys, 8:30pm

No division is going to be more difficult to figure out than the NFC East this year. Unfortunately, it’s not because it’s full of powerhouses, rather, no one is a clear runaway favorite. It’ll be nice to get a close look at all teams early on (and in prime time) this week. Neither of these two teams really impressed me in the preseason, and neither are really looking any different. Both have some fire under their asses after mediocre 2012’s. The Giants have one the last four in the Big D, so that’s what I’ll go with in this one. Giants win 33-24

Philadelphia Eagles (+3.5) @ Washington Redskins, Monday 6:55pm

And so the Chip Kelly era officially begins. Mike Vick was given the nod in the QB competition a few weeks ago and looks to have been revitalized as a result of said competition. His health will always be a concern, but I don’t see any reason for Chipper to not use him like the mobile quarterback that he is until the tires fall off the truck and he can’t move anymore. Washington gave the nod, officially, to RGIII this week after an offseason dominated by talks about how he would recover from knee surgery after tearing his ACL in the postseason. This is going to come off as biased, but I think the rust Robert Griffin is going have to shake off is going to be a bit much in this first matchup, and that tips the hand in Philly’s favor. Expect a shootout either way though. Eagles win 67-58

Houston Texans (-3.5) @ San Diego Chargers, Monday, 10:15pm

San Diego is 4-0 against the Texans in their recent meetings, but since they met in 2010, both clubs have sped in opposite directions. The Texans are now a perennial contender in the AFC South, while the Chargers haven’t had a winning season since 2010 and haven’t been to the playoffs since ’09. I like the Schaub-Foster-Johnson combo much better than Rivers-Matthews-Floyd. Texans win 26-21

3 responses to “It’s Back! NFL Week 1 Picks

  1. Great post man I love picking/debating weekly NFL games! I will say this as far as the Ravens game is concerned. Every week I always pick an upset and I will admit I am a Baltimore fan but the conditions just seem right for them to win. The Broncos will be without Elvis Dumerville (now with the Ravens), Champ Bailey, Von Miller, and their starting center. With the loss of the two pass rushers in Miller and Dumerville(who combined for over 30 sacks last year) Joe Flacco will have all the time in the world i think which will limit Peyton Mannings possessions. It will be close but I think the Ravens win 27-24.

    • Thanks for the comment! Definitely appreciate your points, but am gonna stick with my gut. I think your offense is going to be just fine. So many great weapons in Smith and Rice and Flacco. Its just the hits you guys took on the other side of the ball that I think are going to be too much to overcome, especially going out against an offense like Denver’s in Week 1. No Ed Reed, no Ray Lewis, no Carry Williams, no Dannell Ellerbe, no Paul Kruger. Some massive names there.

      Gonna be a great year of football though!

      • No doubt man and don’t get me wrong I think Denver will win but the conditions seem right for a possible upset so I decided this was going to be my upset pick. By the way the Ravens defense will be a lot better than last year so don’t sleep on them. May not fair to well against Denver but then again what team will? Haha

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