NFL Week 1 Picks: Predicting the Winner of Every Season Opener

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NFL Week 1 Picks: Predicting the Winner of Every Season Opener
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Stop pinching yourself—you aren’t dreaming. Week 1 of the NFL regular season is just days away. Because of that, it’s close enough to pick the outcome of all the matchups. Here are predictions for every single contest that kicks off the 2012 campaign.

 

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Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants

New York is the team to beat until someone knocks it off. Considering that Eli Manning and company scored a total of 68 points on the Cowboys last season, Dallas is unlikely to be the team to do so.

Prediction: Giants by six

 

Indianapolis Colts at Chicago Bears

Feel free to buy into every little bit of the Andrew Luck hype. However, don’t be such a homer you believe he’ll single-handedly take out a stacked Bears squad that boasts three Pro Bowl-caliber offensive weapons this season.

Prediction: Bears by 10

 

Philadelphia Eagles at Cleveland Browns

Five key playmakers on the Browns offense are first- or second-year players—Brandon Weeden, Trent Richardson, Greg Little, Josh Gordon and Travis Benjamin. That isn’t a recipe for success against a talented, veteran Eagles team.

Prediction: Eagles by 17

 

St. Louis Rams at Detroit Lions

Don’t expect Jeff Fisher’s tenure with the Rams to start off so hot. While St. Louis should be much improved from last season (it couldn’t get much worse), the Matt Stafford to Calvin Johnson connection will have its way with the Rams secondary (Andrew Luck would bet money on that).

Prediction: Lions by 14

Leon Halip/Getty Images

 

Miami Dolphins at Houston Texans

Matt Barkley, here they come. If the loaded Texans don’t absolutely embarrass the Dolphins—whose passing game likely won’t show up—it’d be a shocker.

Prediction: Texans by 21

 

Atlanta Falcons at Kansas City Chiefs

Atlanta is an extremely talented football team and could challenge for an NFC title. However, at Arrowhead Stadium against a Chiefs club that’ll be one of the most improved teams in the league, Kansas City will upset the Falcons.

Prediction: Chiefs by three

 

Jacksonville Jaguars at Minnesota Vikings

Maurice Jones-Drew is back. Combine that with Blaine Gabbert’s flashes of being a respectable starting QB this preseason, and the Jags actually may not be a complete joke this year.

Prediction: Jaguars by three

Patrick Smith/Getty Images

 

Washington Redskins at New Orleans Saints

Robert Griffin III won’t fare much better than Luck in his regular-season debut. New Orleans may be shaken up after Bountygate, but not enough to stop Drew Brees from shredding the Skins.

Prediction: Saints by 10

 

Buffalo Bills at New York Jets

Mark Sanchez/Tim Tebow has looked like garbage this preseason. Throw in the fact that the Bills always explode out of the starting blocks, and you should expect panic in New Jersey.

Prediction: Bills by seven

 

New England Patriots at Tennessee Titans

Without Kenny Britt—who’s arguably the Titans' most important offensive performer unless Chris Johnson returns to CJ2K form—Tennessee has no shot. Jake Locker could’ve been dealt a friendlier matchup in his first NFL start.

Prediction: Patriots by 13

Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

 

Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals

Leading the Cards to a 6-2 record when he actually played, John Skelton is the most underrated winner in the league. Against rookie third-round pick Russell Wilson, Zona should roll.

Prediction: Cardinals by seven

 

San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers

This contest could easily turn out to be the NFC championship game. Green Bay is at home and dominated the vast majority of the 2011 season, so it’d be surprising if the Packers began the year 0-1.

Prediction: Packers by three

 

Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Cam Newton recorded jaw-dropping numbers last season. Now that he actually has a year of experience and an entire summer of training under his belt, he’ll be too special for the Bucs to stop.

Prediction: Panthers by seven

Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

 

Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos

Does Peyton Manning possess the same magic as Tim Tebow? After a year off and multiple neck surgeries against a defense hungry for revenge, that’s a serious question.

Prediction: Steelers by seven

 

Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens

Until the Bengals piece together a respectable rushing attack, Cincinnati won’t be a legitimate contender—unless Andy Dalton and A.J. Green take over the league, of course. And the young duo won’t do so as sophomores—not against a relentless Ravens defense.

Prediction: Ravens by 10

 

San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders

With Ryan Mathews unlikely to suit up, Philip Rivers coming off a down year and no No. 1-caliber wide receiver in sight, there aren’t many reasons to be optimistic about the Chargers offense in Week 1. Oakland is at home, and Darren McFadden is actually healthy, so it’s the Raiders’ game to lose.

Prediction: Raiders by 13

 

David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.

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