Some quick thoughts on the week one NFL games.

New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins ★★★★★
Early game on CBS; Greg Gumbel and Trent Green
The Patriots should be able to take advantage of a weak Miami interior offensive line to put pressure on Ryan Tannehill. Look for the Patriots to create mismatches against Dolphin safeties Louis Delmas and Jimmy Wilson.
Pick • Patriots 23, Dolphins 17
Patriots -3½
under 47½
Final Score: Dolphins 33, Patriots 20 … Dolphins cover by 16½ … over by 5½

 

New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons ★★★★
Early game on FOX; Kevin Burkhardt and John Lynch
The Falcons still have a ways to go before they are back to being as competitive as they were from 2008-2012; they have some recognizable names on offense, but their defense is awful. I’ll be interested in seeing how first-round pick WR Brandin Cooks performs in the New Orleans offense.
Pick • Saints 34, Falcons 21
Saints -3 (four units)
over 52½
Final Score: Falcons 37, Saints 34 … Falcons cover by 6 … over by 18½

 

Minnesota Vikings at St. Louis Rams ★★
Early game on FOX; Kevin Burkhardt and John Lynch
Let the Shaun Hill era begin for St. Louis. The Rams have a good defense, but no offense. Not a strong feel one way or the other for this game.
Pick • Rams 17, Vikings 13
Vikings +4
under 43½ (two units)
Final Score: Vikings 34, Rams 6 … Vikings cover by 32 … under by 3½

 

Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers ★★★
Early game on CBS; Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts
The Steelers have beaten the Browns at home ten straight times, and I would expect that to become eleven by Sunday evening. However, Pittsburgh’s offense has looked anemic and out of synch in preseason, which could be a problem against an underrated Cleveland defense.
Pick • Steelers 20, Browns 17
Browns +7
under 42 (two units)
Final Score: Steelers 30, Browns 27 … Browns cover by 4 … over by 15

 

Jacksonville Jaguars at Philadelphia Eagles ★★★
Early game on CBS; Andrew Catalon and Steve Tasker
I’m always hesitant to go with a double-digit favorite, but there’s probably only one Jacksonville player, guard Zane Beadles, who could start for Philadelphia. The Jags may end up being better than they were the couple of seasons, but that’s not saying much.
Pick • Eagles 34, Jaguars 20
Eagles +10
over 49½ (two units)
Final Score: Eagles 34, Jaguars 17 … Eagles cover by 7 … over by 1½

 

Oakland Raiders at New York Jets
Early game on CBS; Jim Nantz and Phil Simms
Why in the world would CBS send their top broadcasting crew to announce the worst game of the week? Even though I can find no compelling reason why the Jets should win, I can’t back a west coast team playing an early game on the east coast with a rookie quarterback.
Pick • Jets 20, Raiders 17
Raiders +6½
under 41½
Final Score: Jets 19, Raiders 14 … Raiders cover by 1½ … under by 8½

 

Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens ★★★★★
Early game on CBS; Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts
The Ravens ranked just 20th in point differential last year, so it’s tough to back them against a quality team like Cincinnati. However, Baltimore but will be fired up for their home opener; they will be looking for revenge after losing to the Bengals in week 17 last year to be eliminated from the playoffs.
Pick • Bengals 23, Ravens 20
Bengals +1½
under 43½
Final Score: Bengals 23, Ravens 16 … Bengals cover by 8½ … under by 4½

 

Buffalo Bills at Chicago Bears ★★★★
Early game on FOX; Kenny Albert and Daryl Johnston
While the Bears are the better team, this is one of those cases where the lesser team matches up pretty well. Buffalo is committed to running the ball, and last season Chicago had one of the NFL’s worst run defenses.
Pick • Bears 24, Bills 20
Bills +7
under 47½
Final Score: Bills 23, Bears 20 … Bills cover by 10 … under by 4½

 

Washington at Houston Texans ★★
Early game on FOX; Thom Brennaman and David Diehl
The Texans are a better team than their 2-14 2013 record would indicate. Their defensive line is very good, and should be able to take advantage of a soft Washington offensive line.
Pick • Texans 24, Skins 17
Texans -2½
under 44½
Final Score: Texans 17, Washington 6 … Texans cover by 13½ … under by 21½

 

Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs ★★★
Early game on CBS; Kevin Harlan and Rich Gannon
New Tennessee coach Ken Whisenhut put together a solid defense in Arizona; I expect the Titans to improve this season. The Kansas City defense was exposed down the stretch last year, but Jake Locker and Shonn Greene don’t cause sleepless nights for opposing defensive coordinators.
Pick • Chiefs 23, Titans 20
Titans +3½
under 45
Final Score: Titans 26, Chiefs 10 … Titans cover by 19½ … under by 9

 

Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers ★★
Late game on FOX; Chris Myers and Ronde Barber
Cam Newton is injured, and he has an entirely new set of wide receivers this year. Tampa Bay has a new defensive-minded head coach, and they will be without their offensive coordinator calling plays today. The Bucs offensive line will be improved with the addition of Logan Mankins, but it may take a few games for that unit to gel and work together as one cohesive unit. That all adds up to a low scoring game, with turnovers playing a big role in the few scoring opportunities that occur.
Pick • Bucs 16, Panthers 13
Panthers +4½
under 39 (one unit)
Final Score: Panthers 20, Bucs 14 … Panthers cover by 10½ … under by 5

 

San Francisco 49ers at Dallas Cowboys ★★★★
Late game on FOX; Joe Buck and Troy Aikman
The vaunted 49er defense will take a step back, with linebackers NaVorro Bowman and Aldon Smith unavailable. The Dallas defense was historically bad last year, and doesn’t appear to be improved at all.
Pick • 49ers 31, Cowboys 21
Niners -3½
over 49½
Final Score: Niners 28, Cowboys 17 … Niners cover by 7½ … under by 4½

 

Indianapolis Colts at Denver Broncos ★★★★★
Sunday night game on NBC; Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth
With the exception of Andrew Luck, the Colts are collectively an old team that is slowing down. Their middle of the road defense is without Robert Mathis, who is suspended for the first four games of the season.
Pick • Broncos 35, Colts 24
Broncos -7½
over 54½
Final Score: Broncos 31, Colts 24 … Colts cover by ½ … over by ½

 

New York Giants at Detroit Lions ★★★
Early Monday night game on ESPN; Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden
After a horrible start to the 2013 season, the Giants won seven of their final ten games. The Lions were handed a golden opportunity to win the NFC North last year when injuries decimated the Packers and Bears, and let that slip through their hands as they lost their last four games and six of the last seven – much of that due to turning the ball over 34 times.
Pick • Giants 27, Lions 24
Giants +6½ (one unit)
over 46½
Final Score: Lions 35, Giants 14 … Lions cover by 14½ … over by 3½

 

San Diego Chargers at Arizona Cardinals ★★★★
Late Monday night game on ESPN; Chris Berman and Trent Dilfer
Injuries to defensive end Darnell Dockett and safety Tyrann Mathieu will make it difficult for Arizona to defend against a San Diego offense that has plenty of weapons.
Pick • Chargers 27, Cardinals 24
Chargers +3½
over 44½
Final Score: Cardinals 18, Chargers 17 … Chargers cover by 2½ … under by 9½

 

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