Week one is highlighted by the Packers at 49ers in a rematch of last year’s division round playoff game, and also includes what should be a very entertaining game between the Saints and Falcons in Sean Payton’s return to the sidelines after a one-year suspension. Thanks to those two heavyweight matches there are some other quality Sunday afternoon games that are not garnering much attention. Usually a pair of ten-plus win teams playing each other would be the weekend’s highlight, but in this case Cincinnati at Chicago ranks no better than third best (fourth if you include Thursday’s game between the Ravens and Broncos). If that’s not enough there is also Darrelle Revis returning in his first game back from an ACL tear against his former team as Tampa Bay takes on the Jets, and in addition the NFL’s best running back going against the league’s best receiver when the Lions host the Vikings.
Early Games on CBS
New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills
Ten-Year Anniversary of ‘They Hate Their Coach’
C.J. Spiller will make defenders look bad, but the Buffalo defense will make New England running backs look like Hall of Famers. At some point the Pats will coax rusty rookie EJ Manuel into a critical turnover, and that will be enough for a win. Typically I won’t touch road teams that are favored by this much, but I’m making an exception here.
Pats -9½ (1 unit)☒; over 51☒
Pick • Patriots 34, Bills 20✔
Result: Patriots 23, Bills 21
Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers
Did you know that the Titans gave up more points than any other team in the NFL last year? Probably not, because for reasons I cannot comprehend every single analyst on television only talks about yardage and never about points when commenting on team defenses. When exactly was it that the NFL decided that the winner of games would be determined by total yards rather than points scored?
Titans +7✔; over 42☒
Pick • Steelers 24, Titans 20☒
Result: Titans 16, Steelers 9
Kansas City Chiefs at Jacksonville Jaguars
Week One Toilet Bowl
What else are you going to say about a game between a pair of teams coming off 2-14 seasons? Alright, maybe that’s a bit harsh. Andy Reid and Alex Smith get fresh starts with the Chiefs, and Maurice Jones-Drew returns from his foot injury.
Chiefs -3½✔; under 42½✔
Pick • Chiefs 23, Jaguars 13✔
Result: Chiefs 28, Jaguars 2
Cincinnati Bengals at Chicago Bears
The Two Best Defenses That Nobody Notices
Over the last three years the Bears have started the season with records of 9-3, 7-3, and 7-1. Injuries, lack of depth and Lovie Smith have hurt them down the stretch. Too many people are not even considering the Bears to be a post-season contender; this defense is playoff caliber.
Bears -3(-push-); under 42½ (2 units)☒
Pick • Bears 20, Bengals 13✔
Result: Bears 24, Bengals 21
Miami Dolphins at Cleveland Browns
I’ll go with the Browns defense to derail the opener for the Off Season Champions
Browns -1☒; under 41½ (2 units)✔
Pick • Browns 20, Dolphins 16☒
Result: Dolphins 23, Browns 10
Oakland Raiders at Indianapolis Colts
The good news for Raider fans is that it appears they are finally looking at the long term and not just the immediate future. The bad news for Raider fans is that their team is in full rebuilding mode this year. Similar to the Pats game I normally wouldn’t take a double digit favorite, but I’ll make an exception here; Terrelle Pryor is no Andrew Luck.
Colts -10 (1 unit)☒; under 46½✔
Pick • Colts 31, Raiders 13✔
Result: Colts 21, Raiders 17
Early Games on Fox
Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints
The Return of Sean Payton
Payton is 6-2 against Mike Smith, with the Saints beating the Falcons in each of the last three games these two have met. While Steven Jackson makes an already formidable Atlanta offense even more potent, their defense leaves much to be desired.
Saints -3✔; under 56½✔
Pick • Saints 31, Falcons 24✔
Result: Saints 23, Falcons 17
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New York Jets
The Jets defense is good, but their offense is so bad it’s hard to pick them to win anything other than a top five pick in next April’s draft. Tampa Bay’s offensive line is very good, and they have improved their secondary with the additions of Revis and Dashon Goldson.
Bucs -3 (2 units)☒; under 39½ (1 unit)✔
Pick • Buccaneers 23, Jets 13☒
Result: Jets 18, Buccaneers 17
Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers
The Seahawks traveled across three time zones last October to beat the Carolina 16-12; the Panthers’ only touchdown came on an interception return, and Seattle limited the Panthers to just 190 yards of offense. Expect something similar in this game. Seattle had the best defense in the NFL last year, and has extra time to prepare for the extended trip this week.
Seahawks -3 (2 units)✔; under 45 (3 units – Play of the Week)✔
Pick • Seahawks 24, Panthers 13✔
Result: Seahawks 12, Panthers 7
Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions
Adrian Peterson versus Calvin Johnson
Vikings are without DE Kevin Williams. Minnesota overachieved last year while Detroit underachieved. The Lions win this one, but will implode before the season is over; the Vikings should keep it close enough to cover.
Vikings +5½ (1 unit)☒; under 46½☒
Pick • Lions 24, Vikings 21✔
Result: Lions 34, Vikings 24
Late Games on Fox
Arizona Cardinals at St. Louis Rams
Semi-annual conflict game for old time St. Louis football fans
Carson Palmer is an improvement at QB as is Rashard Mendenhall at RB, but until the offensive line is fixed it won’t make any difference. Even without Steven Jackson the Rams have enough talent at WR for Sam Bradford to win this game.
Rams -4½☒; over 41½✔
Pick • Rams 27, Cardinals 17✔
Result: Rams 27, Cardinals 24
Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers
Game of the Day: Playoff Rematch
The 49ers won both meetings between these two last season, beating Green Bay in Week 1 (30-22 as six-point underdogs), and then again in the second round of the playoffs (a dominating 45-31 performance as three-point favorites). The Pack added Eddie Lacy to improve their running game (they haven’t had a RB rush for as much as 800 yards in a season since ’09, and they’ve gone 43 straight games without a RB rushing for 100 yards) but the 49er defense will hold him in check. The Packers are now deeper defensively and won’t give up another 579 yards of total offense this time, but the 49ers still have the upper hand with superior defensive personnel.
Packers +5☒; over 48½✔
Pick • 49ers 27, Packers 24✔
Result: 49ers 34, Packers 28
Sunday Night on NBC
New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys
Jerry Jones brought in all of Jon Gruden’s old assistant coaches and coordinators to the Dallas coaching staff, in preparation to hire him to replace Jason Garrett. Does Jones still fire Garrett if the Cowboys win the division?
Giants +3☒; over 50✔
Pick • Cowboys 28, Giants 27✔
Result: Cowboys 36, Giants 31
Monday Night on ESPN
Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins
Debut of Chip Kelly’s Oregon Offense to the NFL
Robert Griffin could be a bit rusty and Kelly’s fast paced offense will be difficult to prepare for in a season opener. Kelly’s biggest challenge is not installing the offense, but getting his players – Michael Vick in particular – to understand the importance of ball security; the Eagles turned the ball over a league-worst 37 times in 2012.
Eagles +3½✔; over 52 (1 unit)✔
Pick • Washington 34, Eagles 31☒
Result: Eagles 33, Washington 27
Houston Texans at San Diego Chargers
J.J. Watt gets close and personal with Philip Rivers
Chargers +5✔; under 44½☒
Pick • Texans 20, Chargers 17✔
Result: Texans 31, Chargers 28
Last Thursday’s Game: Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos
Broncos -7½✔; under 48☒
Pick • Broncos 31, Ravens 16✔
Result: Broncos 49, Ravens 27
Straight Up: 12-4 (75%)
Dogs to win s/u: none
Against the Spread: 7-8-1 (47%)
ATS picking favorites: 4-5-1
ATS picking underdogs: 3-3
ATS Confidence Picks: 1-4 (-$340)
One Unit Plays ATS: 0-3 (-$330)
Two Unit Plays ATS: 1-1 (-$10)
Three Unit Plays ATS: none
Four Unit Plays ATS: none
Five Unit Plays ATS: none
Over Under Total: 10-6 (63%)
Picking Over: 4-2
Picking Under: 6-4
O/U Confidence Picks: 4-1 (+$480)
One Unit Plays O/U: 2-0 (+$200)
Two Unit Plays O/U: 1-1 (- $20)
Three Unit Plays O/U: 1-0 (+300)
Four Unit Plays O/U: none
Five Unit Plays O/U: none
Best Bet of the Week: 1-0, +300 (Seattle-Carolina under 45; final total was only 19)
2-Team Teasers: none
3-Team Teasers: none
2-Team Parlays: none
Week One Total: (1500 risked; net +140)
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