It’s my favorite time of the year, Sam Adams has released their Octoberfest beer, and what goes better with beer than football! Again, all picks are straight up, points are only shown as a reference. It’s a short week, so let’s get to it.
Dallas Cowboys (+4) at New York Giants
The Giants are the defending champs and from what I’ve seen during the preseason, they’re going to be in the hunt for another title. The Cowboys have some great players, but they’re missing something. What that is, I don’t know, and the Cowboys don’t know. It’s a rare Wednesday night kick against their division rivals and I look for the Giants to put the Cowboys away early. Giants win this one going away.
Indianapolis Colts (+9.5) at Chicago Bears
The Old Man is a long time Bears fan and this is the first time in a very, very, VERY long time that I’ve been excited about the Bears offense. The addition of Brandon Marshall will be fun to watch as will the development of rookie Alshon Jeffery. When the schedule first came out I, like many others, was thanking the NFL for giving the Bears an additional preseason game by scheduling the Colts. However, this game will be closer than I originally thought. The Colts offensive line will be one of the best in the league this year and the Bears have had issues pressuring the QB of late and against the run. Thankfully the Colts don’t have a strong running game and the Colts D is worse at stopping the run than the Bears. Look for Forte and Bush to have big games. Bears win.
Atlanta Falcons (-2) at Kansas City Chiefs
The Falcons are another team that has looked good in the preseason. Julio Jones will, I think, establish himself as one of the premier wide receivers in the league this season. The Chiefs suffered through several injuries last year to key player after key player, and yet they were in the playoff hunt due to being in the AFC West. This season, their D is not as strong and they’ve already suffered a few injuries on that side of the ball. Another key for the Chiefs is how well Jamaal Charles bounces back from his knee injury. Even though the Falcons don’t play as well on the road in outdoor stadiums as they do in domes, and the Chiefs are tough at home, the Falcons will be good enough to win.
Philadelphia Eagles (-8) at Cleveland Browns
It’s a rematch of the week three preseason clash between these two teams and the Browns are looking to get even! Okay, maybe not that dramatic, but the Browns got whooped pretty good by the Eagles a few weeks ago and I think this go around could be worse since the Eagles will play their starters! I look for the Browns to have another long year and the Eagles, they’re intriguing. Last season I wrote that the Eagles would not do well because they were not playing as a team. This season….I’m not sure. One big issue is their QB. Mike Vick is great, but very much like the lamp in “A Christmas Story,” he’s “fragile” (pronounced “fra-jill-a”). This one won’t be close, Eagles start off the season with a W.
Buffalo Bills (+3) at New York Jets
Plain and simple, the Jets have one of the best defenses in the league but on offense….it’s offensive, and not in a good way. The only touchdown in the Jets preseason was a drive led by Greg McElroy. You know, the guy they brought in to back up Sancez….okay, maybe not that guy! This is a tough one to call. Division game, in state game…upset here. The Bills squeak by the J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS in a low scoring affair. Let the “Tebow’s the man” chatter commence, or McElroy, whomever you choose.
Washington Redskins (+9.5) at New Orleans Saints
The Redskins finally have a franchise QB. I think Robert Griffin the III is the real deal. To me he’s a hybrid of Mike Vick and Cam Newton. The keys to the Redskins season will be how quickly Griffin adjusts to the NFL game and if he’s durable enough to last. The Saints? They’ve had a relatively quiet, easy going off season, so what could go wrong? I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a team deal with as much turmoil as I have the Saints. Then add to that Hurricane Issac, you’ve got a recipe for a bad season. I think the Saints will win this game, but I’m not sure how they’ll fare overall. Only time will tell. Saints win this one going away.
New England Patriots (-6.5) at Tennessee Titans
This will be a tough game for the Pats. Their offensive line isn’t what it used to be, and the Titans pass rush has gotten much better. There are a lot of folks out there who think the Patriots will get back to the Super Bowl this season, I’m not so sure. Tennessee is going with Jake Locker as their starter this season, and they have plenty of questions. Will Chris Johnson be the Chris Johnson of old? Can Kenny Britt come back from injury and also keep his head on straight once he does? Can Locker be “the guy?’ Pats win this one but look for Brady to take a couple of big hits during this one.
Jacksonville Jaguars (+4) at Minnesota Vikings
This game should feature two of the top running backs in the league. The question is, will it? Adrian Peterson is coming back from major knee surgery, how he’s so far ahead in his rehab is beyond me. And as of this writing, Maurice Jones-Drew has just reported to camp. He’s had no practice, so how much will he play? Both of these teams are going nowhere fast this season. It’s a toss up, but I’m going to go with the Vikings simply because they’re at home. Thankfully this is not the Sunday night game of the week!
Miami Dolphins (+10) at Houston Texans
Hopefully Vontae Davis got a hold of grandma and told her not to watch the Dolphins on NFL Sunday Ticket this year. Hard Knocks has been interesting this season. I don’t think HBO could have picked a better team to feature. I mean, you had Chad Johnson, the trade of Davis, the injury to Garrard, and rookie hazing. The thing missing? Football. The Dolphins, in my mind, have pretty much packed it in this season. The vets aren’t happy, they have no big weapons at wide receiver, and as a team they just seem to lack chemistry. The Texans…once again many are saying this could be their year. It could be. The Texans should win the AFC South and if Schaab is healthy, they could make some noise in the playoffs. Texans win by 20 or more.
Saint Louis Rams (+8.5) at Detroit Lions
If rams met lions in real life, it would be a bad ending for the ram. In the NFL world, it’s going to be the same result! Detroit, Chicago, and Green Bay will be battling it out for the NFC North crown this season. To be in contention, you have to win the games you’re supposed to win. This is one of those games for the Lions. Although they don’t have a solid running attack at the moment, look for the Lions to put up 40 or more points in this one.
San Francisco 49ers (+5.5) at Green Bay Packers
What a match up for week one! Two of the favorites to represent the NFC in this years Super Bowl duking it out at Lambeau Field. You can’t ask for more. Two things to watch. Can the 49ers D contain the Packers offense? Can the 49ers offense put up enough points with Alex Smith at QB? Tough call for week one. I really like the 49ers but you have to go with the home team in this one. Packers have the better O and win.
Carolina Panthers (-2.5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
These teams will be fun to watch this season. Both have great young quarterbacks, decent receivers, and quick, strong running backs. The Bucs took a major hit on the O line when guard Davin Joseph went out for the season with a knee injury. This is a big loss for the Bucs and could have long lasting ramifications. I see this game coming to a stop…literally. One of these defenses will need to make a stop in order to win the game. I thin the Bucs will do that and win their home opener. Look for this to be one of the more entertaining games of week one.
Seattle Seahawks (-2.5) at Arizona Cardinals
Remember Matt Flynn from the Green Bay Packers? He was the hottest backup QB on the market after going crazy in one game last season for the Pack. Many teams wanted him, and the Seahawks got him. Question is, is he the next Kevin Kolb who, ironically, is on the opposite sideline. I think both guys will be holding clip boards while John Skeleton and rookie Russell Wilson lead their teas on the field. It’s an early divisional battle and I think the Seahawks win going away. I really like Wilson and I think the Seahawks will be a pain in the rear for many teams this season, starting with the Cardinals.
Pittsburgh Steelers (+1) at Denver Broncos
The last time these teams met, Tim Tebow went all Tebow over the Steelers. This year, it’s Peyton Manning. It’s the first Sunday night game of the year and I think Peyton has been prepping for this one for a long time. I think the Manning household has been all Steeler footage all the time. The Steeelers D is tough, but this is a big night for Denver and I’m going with Manning and company.
Cincinnati Bengals (+6) at Baltimore Ravens
It’s game one of a Monday night doubleheader and it’s a good one. Both of these teams could win the AFC North, and I look for a hard hitting, smack em’ up side the head contest. The question for the Bengals is the running game, no more Cedric Benson, but plenty of Green-Ellis who, in his entire NFL career, has never fumbled. The Bengals will need him, and the rest of the team, to hold on to the ball as the Ravens have one of the more opportunistic defenses in the league. I’m going with the Ravens in this one.
San Diego Chargers (-1.5) at Oakland Raiders
Game two on Monday night features another division contest. Both the Chargers and Raiders have explosive players on offense, but both offenses tend to shoot themselves in the foot. Philip Rivers is coming off a terrible season. He’s also lost some of his offensive weapons to trade and injury. If the Raiders can get consistent play from Carson Palmer, they could easily win the AFC West. They’re that close. This game will come down to mistakes, who makes the fewest. I’m taking the Raiders at home.
That’s it for week one. Take it to the bank!