Hello NFL fans!
I was late to the process last week and failed to post my week 1 picks, but I will look to get my predictions up hereon forth. Week 1 was interesting, and as always proved entertaining and a refreshing reminder that September is here, and the best sport in the land is back at it (if we can ignore the Roger Goodell factor and the NO FUN LEAGUE references thrown about over the last few years).
Baltimore Ravens (1-0) at Cincinnati Bengals (1-0)
In an early AFC Central battle, I will go with the road team and select the Ravens; they dominated a hapless Buffalo Bills squad in Week 1, while the Bengals managed to score a victory over the Colts led by a returning Andrew Luck. I don’t trust Andy Dalton (who does?), and the Ravens D combined with, for one game against the Bills, an offense that looked like it can actually move the point and perhaps put some points on the board, this is an easy pick for me to make. Marvin Lewis means well, but his teams are guaranteed to underwhelm – here comes an egg at home on Thursday Night. The better question? How many people will bother to tune in to watch this game?
The Pick = Baltimore Ravens
Houston Texans (0-1) at Tennessee Titans (0-1)
The former team from Houston hosts the current team from Houston. Mariota is already banged up (big surprise? I think not) for the Titans, while Deshaun Watson was very average but back nonetheless and appeared in good health in a tight loss to the Patriots. I feel the loss of Delanie Walker for the season will be a tremendous hit for the Titan offense to absorb, and JJ Watt has to be chomping at the bit to catch up to his brother – he cannot be upstaged in the Watt household, can he? Between Watt and what I expect to be a solid performance from Watson upcoming, I will opt for the newer Houston team to prevail in a close game.
The Pick = Houston Texans
Minnesota Vikings (1-0) at Green Bay Packers (1-0)
Aaron Rodgers added to his mythical lore with an insane comeback on Monday Night to lead the Packers to an improbable victory. But his status for Week 2 is uncertain, and to add to their troubles, the Packers now host the 1-0 Vikings led by their new knight in shining armor in Kirk Cousins. Cousins was average at best in a tough Week 1 opener against the 49ers. I envision team chemistry developing, and a competent offense that can control the ball and keep the Packers offense off the field. If Rodgers doesn’t play, well, that is fate accompli then. Either way, Rodgers or no Rodgers, be it a game at Lambeau Field, I will go once more with the road team here.
The Pick = Minnesota Vikings
Cleveland Browns (0-0-1) at New Orleans Saints (0-1)
I am unsure if I am more surprised that the Saints decided to revisit their more familiar fantasy football friendly pre-2017 style of high scoring football that led to more losses than a playoff hopeful can survive, or that the Browns enter this game with a better record, all while NEITHER team has a win on their record as of yet. That said, I am not going to go out on a limb and presume that Taylor will do to the Saints what Fitz-magic brought to the table last weekend. I am familiar with the powers of Fitz-magic, and also familiar with how a Saints D can look on a Sunday where they fail to do anything (that was kind of the norm prior to last season). The Browns have potential, but for me the play is to go with Drew Brees, Sean Payton, Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas AT HOME. Easy choice, and I break my trend and side with the hosts in this one.
The Pick = New Orleans Saints
Carolina Panthers (1-0) at Atlanta Falcons (0-1)
Habits die hard, so I will open with my pick of going with the road team here as well. I have never much cared for the Falcons, but losing critical defenders in LB Deion Jones and S Keanu Neal will prove a tremendous blow considering how much impact each had on that defense. The upside for the Falcons is that they are at home, but the Panthers have some nice players, a developing team that should contend for the NFC South crown when all is said and done. I have never been one to feel Cam Newton is my QB, BUT, given a choice of Newton or Matty Ice to win a game, I am going with Newton. And with an explosive weapon like Christian McCaffrey, that is just a dangerous and formidable tandem to face – and I await the Atlanta answer without Jones and Neal in the fold. This one could go south on me, but I will go with the road team yet again! (anyone feeling a trend yet?)
The Pick = Carolina Panthers
Indianapolis Colts (0-1) at Washington Redskins (1-0)
Andrew Luck is back, and all of Indy rejoiced, and even the fantasy football community celebrated the return of the QB with beautiful stat lines. His return against the Bengals was admirable, if not enough to secure win. The Colts were able to move the ball, and that was assuredly a welcome site. But now they visit the capital and march into a matchup with the Washington Redskins and the under-appreciated Alex Smith taking over at QB. Smith may be labeled a game manager or any other moniker that attempts to detract from what he brings to the table. So what does he bring? He doesn’t turnover the ball, and he moves his team down the field, avoiding costly mistakes along the way. At home, a revitalized (for now) Adrian Peterson to drive a running game, a still-healthy Jordan Reed at TE and the every dangerous Chris Thompson as the pass catching threat out of the backfield – I foresee a Redskins victory to remain undefeated early on. Larger challenges lie in the weeks ahead for the Redskins.
The Pick = Washington Redskins
Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0)
Defending Super Bowl Champions vs. Fitz-magic (the beard, the ex-Jets, the ex-Ivy League Harvard gunslinger…ok maybe that last part is taking it too far). When we now consider that the opposing QB remains Nick Foles as the return of Carson Wentz remains a mystery to us all – some may be inclined to believe the Bucs have a shot. Well, I do not feel that way. Defending champs take this one, and anyone who adds Fitzpatrick because of his career-game last week will be setting themselves up for major disappointment and pain. Yet another road win here!
The Pick = Philadelphia Eagles
Kansas City Chiefs (1-0) at Pittsburgh Steelers (0-0-1)
All good things come to an end, right? Well, it is time to change gears and show some home teams a little kindness. I am admittedly a huge Andy Reid fan, but with that comes the reality that his teams are often awesome and fun to watch n the regular season, with the occasional mis-step and then inevitable failure at the end of a season. He currently has a new toy at QB, one that can throw the ball a million yards and is mobile and fun to watch. He has a lightning quick and dangerous WR to throw the ball to in Tyreek Hill, and then the NOW BEST TE in the NFL in Travice Kelce (apologies to the Gronk, but playing a full season matters and reality is that everyone gets surpassed at some point – definitely no slight on Gronk and as a Jets fan he truly is the one guy I both respect and HATE to watch go up against the Jets. But unlike Brady, I like him…another story for another lifetime for this tormented Jets fan). Back to business…Steelers opening with a TIE??? What oh what is happening in the wide wide wide world of sports??? No way a Mike Tomlin team is going to fall to winless after 2 weeks, and definitely not at home. Bell or no Bell, Big Ben returns to form, and Pitt gets the job done here in what could prove to be quite a shootout. And Mahomes making his first visit into Pittsburgh may not prove to be as fun as last week was for him and team overall.
The Pick = Pittsburgh Steelers
Miami Dolphins (1-0) at New York Jets (1-0)
We now move on to the tale of two teams that most likely expected to enter this one at 0-1. Surprise! We get the Adam Gase creative offense run by the ever un-inspirational Ryan Tannehill, while the NY media is printing like never before and buzzing of the greatest thing since sliced bread. As I wrote on Tuesday, Darnold opened his career in classic Jets form but then showed us the side that has everyone believing the answer has finally arrived for the QB-depraved franchise – I rather liked Todd Bowles’ comment about knowing after 100 games…6 seasons of starts sounds fair to me for the label of Franchise QB! But I did mention a change in gears, and I again look at the home field factor. Home Opener, a crowd excited to see their new QB with win in hand and adversity encountered and overcome – both of these teams are not as good as it feels they can be after last week, but the Jets will find a way to win here. But rest assured, it will likely be interesting as Jets-Dolphins games have been over the past 36 years that I have watched them go at it.
The Pick = New York Jets
Los Angeles Chargers (0-1) at Buffalo Bills (0-1)
Josh Allen will start for the Bills. Chargers are an AFC West hopeful. Nothing good to be found here, and a road team will make the rookie wish he could go back to college for a bit longer. Chargers take this one easily.
The Pick = Los Angeles Chargers
Detroit Lions (0-1) at San Francisco 49ers (0-1)
The Lions looked UGLY against the Jets while the 49ers gave the Vikings plenty in their opener. Jimmy G finally lost a start, so does he lose a second straight and start a new (and bad) streak? I have to imagine the Lions will play better this week, but I actually like the team that SF has put together and since they are at home, I will go with them here. There is no reason why Mora Jr. will not be able to see that game tape from Monday Night and find similar ways to attack that Lions D, and with similar (or better) success. I almost feel bad for Matt Patricia (and then remember he had his time in the sun working for the Hoodie)
The Pick = San Francisco 49ers
Arizona Cardinals (0-1) at Los Angeles Rams (1-0)
The Rams are a popular pick to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. I am unsure they will get there, but the team is stacked, and I think at home they are an easy selection here over a Cardinals team that struggled offensively against Washington last week. I figured Sam Bradford to be a nice signing. but week 1 was not pretty, and now he gets a really tough Rams D to contend with. I hope he can remain upright long enough to keep Josh Rosen on the bench for a few more weeks before that inevitable switch occurs. While not talking spreads here, I will take the Rams and the points here!
The Pick = Los Angeles Rams
Oakland Raiders (0-1) at Denver Broncos (1-0)
Chucky!!! Jon Gruden has done what was required to bring “The Process” to the NFL. Sadly, it is not going to work. The Raiders are terrible, and the Broncos are not. Case Keenum is underappreciated and will get himself another regular season victory here, as his team is simply the better one. Mile High cooking doesn’t hurt either.
The Pick = Denver Broncos
New England Patriots (1-0) at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-0)
This is the TOUGH game of the week to handicap (for me at least). Because the game is in Jacksonville, I am picking the Jaguars. They played the Pats well in the AFC Championship last year, and that defense is the real deal. The Pats O is missing a suspended Edelman, an injured Sony Michel, and sports an o-line that lost its best to the Giants in the offseason. The pieces are in place for a Jaguars victory here – I would have felt better if Leonard Fournette was healthy, but I think the D does enough here to even overcome the embattled Blake Bortles.
The Pick = Jacksonville Jaguars
New York Giants (0-1) at Dallas Cowboys (0-1)
The Giants have their own shiny, new toy in Saquon Barkley, and I believe that he will be a difference maker for them in this game and the entire season. Having a dual threat 3-down back is a valuable and hard to find commodity, and one with his combination of power and speed is more uncommon. The Cowboys look every bit unlike the team that we saw thrive in Dak Prescott’s rookie year – the offensive line is not as strong, the receiving crew is at best non-descript, and their defense is not top 5. The Giants win this one and keep the state of New Jersey undefeated in the NY Football ranks (while the only actual football team in the state of NY will be 0-2 heading into this Sunday Night matchup).
The Pick = New York Giants
Seattle Seahawks (0-1) at Chicago Bears (0-1)
Last but not least, the team that plays closest to where I now live. The Bears played one helluva game for 30 minutes last week. Then it would seem they forgot that the game is 60 minutes long. Rodgers came out of that locker room, got some Willis Reed level inspiration, and led a comeback that, quite frankly, never should have been completed. Bears had the Packers beat, and they laid down and handed them the game. Mitch Trubisky showed me ability, Howard is running strong, and they have the skill players around Mitch for him to continue building upon the opener. The Seahawks, on the other hand? The talent level is not what it once was, the Legion of Boom is no more – I see the Bears putting up points on the Seahawks, something I wouldn’t have considered writing as recently as two years ago, and definitely not with a young QB like Trubisky at the helm. But, alas, it is a brave new world and the Bears are a team to contend with. Mack was just plain sick for basically 0 practice time – I would fear this Bears D as they learn and grow together this season. Will be a tough game, but the Bears will win it.
The Pick = Chicago Bears