It feels like it has been long time since Drew Brees and Peyton Manning battled it out in Super Bowl XLIV but another NFL season is finally upon us. After another boring four weeks of preseason the real games will begin Thursday with a repeat of last year’s NFC Championship game, Minnesota at New Orleans.
Week 1 is always pretty difficult to judge because everyone is talking up their team and no one is really sure what weaknesses each team will have. I still remember Buffalo giving away their first game against New England last year and Oakland being surprisingly good against San Diego but both still found a way to lose. I expect this week to present its fair share of surprises as well.
Three important points:
1) Picks will be against the spread
2) Spread will be provided by http://www.sportsbook.com
3) Home team will be in caps
So without further ado,
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (-5.5) over Minnesota Vikings
I have no idea how good Brett Favre will be this year and he is the only reason that the Vikings will have any chance at all this season. I do know that Drew Brees is a top 3 quarterback and that Sean Payton is a much much better coach than Brad Childress. At home, with emotions running very high, the Saints should come out flying and get to Favre often enough that he probably will be wondering why he came out of retirement again.
Carolina Panthers (+6.5) over NEW YORK GIANTS
Carolina was brutal last year with Jake Delhomme at QB but when they eventually benched their one-time franchise QB for Matt Moore they did much better. If Carolina had one more receiver than Steve Smith they could be a very dangerous team but as it is they will have to rely on the two headed attack of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathon Stewart. I don’t know what to make of the Giants. Eli Manning in my opinion is a middle of the pack QB and I don’t expect much from RBs Bradshaw and Jacobs. The defence could be good but it could also be the team that gave up 40 points 5 times last season including 41 against Carolina. With so much unknown in this season I’ll take the points.
Miami Dolphins (-3) over BUFFALO BILLS
I will start of by saying that I am higher on the Bills than most. As much as I would like them to have the first pick in next year’s draft, I just don’t see it happening. Trent Edwards may be terrible but the Bills have some good running backs. I think C.J. Spiller will have a great year and break out many WOW! plays and barring more injuries Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch will both have fairly good years. Lost in last year’s horrible season was the fact that the Bills were the second best in the league against the pass. That being said they were also the third worst defence in the league against the run and the Dolphins, with their Wildcat offence, love to run. They should shred Buffalo’s run defence and the Bills having to throw and play catch up will not succeed. Dolphins should run away with this game.
Atlanta Falcons (-2) over PITTSBURGH STEELERS
I was surprised to see this line here even with Ben Roethlisberger suspended. That being said I am still taking them. The Falcons have a good QB in Matt Ryan and a good running back, when healthy, in Michael Turner. The Steelers are starting their third string quarterback. Nuff’ said.
Detroit Lions (+6.5) over CHICAGO BEARS
Call me crazy but I like the Lions in this game. The Bears do not impress me one bit. Jay Cutler is hardly a crunch time QB and the addition of Julius Peppers doesn’t impress me or make their defence much better. Detroit on the other hand has Matthew Stafford who improved the course of last season and Jahvid Best who has rookie of the year buzz right now. Also, first round draft pick, Ndamukong Suh looked like a beast in the preseason and should make Detroit’s defence instantly better. Lions might not win but they should keep it close.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (-4.5) over Cincinnati Bengels
I think the Bengels will be half decent this year and I don’t hate the addition of Terrell Owens but until I see their offence actually work together I won’t be a complete believer. New England doesn’t look like they have a great defence but with Tom Brady being two years off of knee surgery, I don’t think that they will need to be. I expect Moss and Welker to both have big games and for a lot of points to be put up in this game with New England scoring at least a touchdown more than Cincy.
Cleveland Browns (+3) over TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Ugh possibly the worst game of the week. Sad to say that Jake Delhomme is an improvement at QB for the Browns and Joshua Cribbs is a fantastic talent. I don’t think Josh Freeman has the tools or the targets to be a solid QB in this league. In a game between two terrible teams, give me the points.
Denver Broncos (+2.5) over JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
Denver has a lot of injuries and traded away its best wide receiver. It looks like Denver might be blowing things up to start all over but then they went and signed Kyle Orton for another year. I’d feel better about Jacksonville if I knew the injury status Maurice Jones-Drew. If he’s healthy the Jags have a chance. If he’s not then it’s going to be a long season in Jacksonville.
Indianapolis Colts (-2) over HOUSTON TEXANS
Have the Colts ever lost to the Texans *checking Google* yup just once in 2006. The Colts are 15-1 against the Texans lifetime which means Manning is 15-1 against the Texans and he is still ridiculous. Schaub may be good, maybe great with Andre Johnson, but he just doesn’t compare. Texans will play them tough but the Colts will find a way to win.
TENNESSEE TITANS (-6) over Oakland Raiders
Chris Johnson >>>> Darren McFadden. Vince Young led the Titans to a 8-2 record last season after replacing Kerry Collins and should have a good season this year. Jason Campbell is an improvement over of JaMarcus Russell (hell I would be) but Oakland won’t be good enough to stop Chris Johnson and his quest to hit 2500 yards.
Green Bay Packers (-3) over PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
Aaron Rodgers will have a fantastic year and it doesn’t matter how well their defence performs because they will almost always outscore the opponent. I don’t mind that Philadelphia switched to QBs to Kevin Colb but the fact that they are the youngest team in the league worries me. Green Bay looks like they should be a Super Bowl contender this year and Philadelphia should be the perfect stepping stone for them in week 1.
San Francisco 49ers (-3) over SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
Is there anything to like about the Seattle Seahawks? Can anyone outside of Seattle even name their running backs? Pete Carroll may have been a good cheater in college but I am not sure if those skills are transferable at all to the NFL. The 49ers are some people’s sleeper pick this year and I expect them to sweep their divisional games or at least go 5-1. Frank Gore should have a big game and Alex Smith might make some believers out there but unless you’re a fan of either team this game really isn’t worth watching.
ST. LOUIS RAMS (+4) over Arizona Cardinals
Hands up if you’re betting on a QB whose quarterback rating last year was 42.1. Yeah I will take the rookie with a $50 million guaranteed contract and Steven Jackson who I expect to have very big game.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS (+3.5) over Dallas Cowboys
I think both these teams are overrated. Dallas could have a very dangerous passing game if Tony Romo finds his receivers and Dez Bryant is as good as he says he is but I really worry about their defence. Nothing about it excites me. On the other hand you have the new Redskins. McNabb is definitely an upgrade over Jason Campbell at QB but I am a little worried about his durability and about how the Shanahan-Haynesworth feud is affecting the teams chemistry. Taking all that into consideration I am still taking the Redskins because I think they will be fired up for their new coach and their home opener. It should be enough to overcome the Cowboys.
Baltimore Ravens (+2.5) over NEW YORK JETS
I feel like the Jets are way overrated this year. They only won 9 games last year because the Colts decided to sit their starters. Mark Sanchez is going to have to be better than he was last year for me to have any faith in them and LT was done last year. Baltimore on the other hand should be really good this year even if their defence have suffered major injuries already. I really like Joe Flacco and expect him to have a big year throwing for 4,000 yards plus. He has a lot of experienced receivers around him and Ray Rice should have another big year. This offence is going to be really good this year.
San Diego Chargers (-4.5) over KANSAS CITY CHEIFS
The Cheifs may be improved this season but I can’t really see them beating the Chargers even if the Chargers are minus Vincent Jackson. Phillip Rivers is a better QB than Matt Cassell and he’ll finally have support in the running game with rookie Ryan Mathews who better have a good game as he’s starting for my fantasy team this weekend.