My favorite part of the NFL Season. Making my picks, both straight up and against the spread, and then comparing the guys on CBS and ESPN.
Thursday Night Football
Atlanta @ Philadelphia (PK) (O/U 44.5) – The season opener. The defending champs look to start their season off strong, but without Carson Wentz. Nick Foles won that SB, but hasn’t looked good in the preseason. Matt Ryan and co. should be much more comfortable in year two with OC Steve Sarkisian. Falcons take advantage of no Wentz and force Foles to poor decisions. Falcons 27-23.
Early Sunday Afternoon Football
Pittsburgh (-4) @ Cleveland (O/U 44) – It looks like LeVeon won’t be showing up. That is reflected in the line. That will hurt the Steeler offense and make this a tight one. Big Ben struggles on the road, but he owns the state of Ohio. Steelers 20-17.
San Francisco @ Minnesota (-6.5) (O/U 46) – The Kirk Cousins era begins in Minnesota and he’ll go up against Garappolo-mania, who hasn’t lost a game as a starting quarterback. He also hasn’t played against a defense like the Vikings. Vikings 24-16.
Cincinnati @ Indianapolis (-3) (O/U 48.5) – Andrew Luck returns after missing all of last season, but his blindside protector is going to miss the game. That spells bad news against one of the most underrated front fours in the league. Andy Dalton should be able to find AJ Green and others as well. Bengals 27-20.
Buffalo @ Baltimore (-7.5) (O/U 40.5) – Well, Nathan Peterman is starting. It can’t go worse than his lone start of his NFL career did, when he was benched at halftime after throwing five first half INTs. It still won’t be pretty against a tough Baltimore defense. Baltimore 24-9.
Jacksonville (-3) @ New York Giants (O/U 43.5) – Odell Beckham v. Jalen Ramsey. That’s going to be a show. But, there is much more going on that just those two. Overall, the Jags are the more talented bunch. Bortles plays game manager and the Giants get beat at home. Jaguars 21-17.
Tampa Bay @ New Orleans (-9.5) (O/U 49.5) – The first game since the Minneapolis Miracle for the Saints and they get a great matchup. Tampa Bay, without Jameis Winston, will struggle, especially with Mike Evans being shadowed by Marcus Lattimore. Brees should be able to spread the ball around and let his playmakers do what they do. Saints 34-17.
Houston @ New England (-6.5) (O/U 51) – Only one can hope this year’s game will be as good as last year’s when Tom Brady threw the game-winning touchdown with under a minute to go. Deshaun Watson is back, and might have some rust, but the Texans should be able to score some points to go back and forth with the Pats. But, they won’t have enough. Patriots 28-24.
Tennessee (-1.5) @ Miami (O/U 45) – I am not too high on either club, but Tennessee is the more talented group. However, it’s never easy for a first time head coach, especially on the road. The Dolphins make one more play. Dolphins 21-20.
Late Sunday Afternoon Football
Kansas City @ Los Angeles (-3.5) (O/U 48) – The top two teams in the AFC West get to go to battle in week one. Kansas City takes a step back with key losses on defense as well as the transition to Pat Mahomes. The Chargers are primed for a big year behind their defensive line. Chargers will take advantage of Mahomes’ inexperience. Chargers 34-28.
Seattle @ Denver (-3) (O/U 42.5) – How times have changed since these two met in the Superbowl a few years back. The Seattle defense is a shell of its self, and Denver hasn’t figured out a post-Peyton plan. Both offenses should struggle, therefore it should come down to defense. Denver’s is better. Broncos 17-13.
Dallas @ Carolina (-3) (O/U 42.5) – Another 3-point spread between teams with playoff aspirations. These two teams are fairly even, but Carolina has the slight edge on defense. Normally Dallas’ offensive line could make up for some of their imperfections, but they aren’t the same and banged up. Cam Newton should be able to make enough plays. Panthers 23-21.
Washington @ Arizona (-1) (O/U 44) – Both teams have significant holes on their team which will keep them from being real contenders for playoff spots, but they should have a competitive hard nosed battle. Sam Bradford is still healthy and should be able to control the clock with more weapons than Alex Smith has. Cardinals 28-23.
Sunday Night Football
Chicago @ Green Bay (-7.5) (O/U 47.5) – Aaron Rodgers back, and Khalil Mack now lining up on the other side in one of the NFL’s oldest rivalries. Mack will be on a pitch count, which hurts Chicago’s chance to win. Rodgers is going to find ways to put up points, specifically by looking newcomer Jimmy Graham’s way. Packers 30-20.
Monday Night Football
New York Jets @ Detroit (-6.5) (O/U 45) – The youngest QB to start a season opener, Sam Darnold,, on Monday Night Football. Darnold has never seemed phased by the pressure, but he is turnover prone playing against a defense that takes chances. That might not end up well for the Jets. Lions 27-21.
Los Angeles Rams (-4) @ Oakland (O/U 49.5) – Jon Gruden’s return. Not going to go well. The Rams are significantly better, and Oakland’s defense is a disaster without Khalil Mack. A snoozer wraps up week one. Rams 38-17.
Lock of the Week: Cincinnati (+3) at Indianapolis
Other Best Bets:
Under in SF-MIN
LAR (-4) at OAK
ARI (-1) v. WAS