The 2011 NFL Season opened yesterday and continues this weekend which is awesome for football fans and sad for baseball who will watch its attendance numbers dwindle as there are no exciting pennant races remaining and football is awesome! This season instead of trying to write something educated and brilliant for every game, I am going to limit it to the five games I feel most confident about (similar to the Hilton Super contest without putting thousands of dollars on the line) and then my picks for the rest of the games without any analysis. If that doesn’t make you happy then pretend that my analysis says; this quarterback is better than that quarterback!
In Order of feeling the best about! Home Team is in CAPS and line provided by www.sportsbook.com
Atlanta Falcons (-2.5) Over CHICAGO BEARS
This is my favourite pick of the week without a doubt. I couldn’t be much lower on Cutler and the Bears and I am very high on the Falcons. Chicago may be at home against a dome team but it’s still early and relatively warm so the Bears advantage won’t as pronounced. I expect the Falcons to dominate in every facet of the game but particularly on offence. Also it is practically guaranteed that Cutler will throw at least one pick and probably a pick-six.
Pittsburgh Steelers (+1.5) Over BALTIMORE RAVENS
Ben Roethlisberger’s record against Baltimore is excellent and Baltimore did nothing in the offseason to improve its team against the Steelers. Baltimore’s secondary should be vulnerable to the deep throw against Pittsburgh and I expect a big game for Mike Wallace or Heath Miller. Unless Flacco has a superb game or Ray Rice runs roughshod over last years number one rush defence (both seem unlikely) the Steelers should pull out the victory and thus cover the spread.
Dallas Cowboys (+5) Over NEW YORK JETS
I feel really strong about this game because I think that the Cowboys will have a really strong offence and their defence should be able to hold off Mark Sanchez. It’s the battle of the Ryan brothers and while I would rather have Rex as a coach I think that Rob has the better team. Lining up offensive talent against each other shows just how much more talented Dallas is. They have a better QB, a better set of WRs (I can’t believe Plaxico Burress is starting), a better TE, and better running backs. I don’t think that New York’s defence will be able to handle all of the talent Dallas has and certainly not enough to overcome the four points Dallas is currently being given.
MIAMI DOLPHINS (+7) Over New England Patriots
If Miami is as bad as people are projecting this could be really bad but there a lot of reasons to suggest that they cover this spread. One, I keep coming back to the Monday Night game two years ago where it was Buffalo against New England and Buffalo should have won the game (there was an unfortunate fumble) and Buffalo covered the spread. Miami’s defence should pressure Brady and limit the running game (which may make the throwing game explode) and keep the game close. In addition, Miami has an excellent O-line and using Reggie Bush properly they should be able to move the play on New England. I don’t think that Miami wins the game but on Monday Night Football you’re playing for pride and mystical forces will conspire to keep the game close enough for New England from running away with the game and Miami will cover the spread.
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (-8.5) Minnesota Vikings
The spread seems pretty large but this is an indication for how much I dislike the Minnesota Vikings. Peterson is a talent but they’ll need a big game from Donovan McNabb to even complete and that hasn’t been in the books since he was traded from Philly. With a full offseason with Vincent Jackson and a healthy Antonio Gates, Phillip Rivers should have little trouble throwing on the Vikings secondary. The Chargers have a good defence and have this game at home so they should have a relatively easy time at this. One slight hesitation that I have is that the Chargers are notoriously slow starters under Norv Turner. Nonetheless, I think they can handle the Vikings who have had more changes in the off season than the Chargers have.
Remainder of picks
New Orleans Saints (+4) Over GREEN BAY PACKERS (that goal line stop really hurt but that wasn’t really pass interference so it breaks both ways I suppose)
CLEVELAND BROWNS (-6.5) Over Cincinnati Browns
Indianapolis Colts (+9) Over HOUSTON TEXANS
Tennessee Titans (+2) Over JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
Buffalo Bills (+6) Over KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Philadelphia Eagles (-4.5) Over ST. LOUIS RAMS
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (-1.5) Over Detroit Lions
ARIZONA CARDINALS (-7) Over Carolina Panthers
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (-5.5) Over Seattle Seahawks
New York Giants (-3) Over WASHINGON REDSKINS
Oakland Raiders (+3) Over DENVER BRONCOS
Games of the Week to Watch
Steelers @ Ravens – It always seems like a great game when these two teams play each other. A must win game for both teams in Week 1? Not quite but its closer then most.
Eagles @ Rams – Do we know what this Eagles team is at? What level will Michael Vick play at? How much have the Rams and Bradford improve? There are questions abound and two competent teams although part of me is worried that the Eagles will run away with this game. Either way I want to watch.
Cowboys @ Jets – I personally dislike both teams but NBC’s Sunday night crew is one of if not the best production team for an NFL game. Plus these two teams are supposed to be good this season.