NFL Predictions Week 1: Underdogs That Will Open Season with a Win
The great thing about Week 1 of the NFL season is that everyone starts with the same record. It gives teams a real chance to surprise the rest of the league before a bandwagon gets too full.
It is hard to predict which teams will come out strong in the first week, but a few squads listed as underdogs are poised to pull an upset.
These teams are not only solid bets to cover the spread, but there is a very good chance that they can win the games outright.
Arizona Cardinals (+3) over Seattle Seahawks
Both teams have issues, but the Arizona Cardinals are among the more underrated teams in the NFL this season. They ended last season by winning seven of their last nine games once John Skelton took over at quarterback for Kevin Kolb.
Skelton will return this season with some extra weapons, including receiver Michael Floyd and running back Ryan Williams, who missed all of last year due to a torn patella.
Last year's weak spot, the defensive secondary, should also get better with experience and the addition of William Gay.
Finally, even with overall struggles, the Cardinals have been very good at home. They were 6-2 last season and are 10-6 over the past two seasons. Conversely, the Seahawks are 5-11 on the road during that stretch.
Russell Wilson could have a very good career, but it is unlikely that he steps up in Week 1 and leads his team to victory.
Buffalo Bills (+3) over New York Jets
Few teams have had as much drama in a single offseason as the New York Jets. Adding Tim Tebow just exacerbated the issue, and the team seemed distracted in the preseason.
The Jets will struggle to throw the football with two below-average passers, and the defense is not good enough anymore to overcome that. The unit that was once a strength is now the No. 20 in the league in points allowed.
Buffalo was off to a solid 5-2 start last season until everything just fell apart. Fortunately, the team added Mario Williams this offseason to help fix a defense that gave up more points than anyone besides Minnesota and Tampa Bay.
If Ryan Fitzpatrick regains his early-season form, the Bills can be playoff contenders.
San Francisco 49ers (+5) over Green Bay Packers
This game will no doubt be the highlight of the weekend. These teams could be the best two in the league, and the final score will be very telling about the upcoming season.
The Packers had the best team in the league during the 2011 regular season, finishing with a 15-1 record despite having statistically the NFL's worst defense. They slightly upgraded the unit by adding Nick Perry and Jerel Worthy through the draft, but it will not make too much of a difference.
On the other hand, the 49ers have made key additions to the offense that will likely change the entire philosophy. Receivers Randy Moss and Mario Manningham will likely stretch the field better than ever, giving Vernon Davis more room to work in the middle of the field.
San Francisco also added two more running backs in LaMichael James and Brandon Jacobs that will each give a different dimension when they are on the field.
The 49ers already had one of the best defenses in football, and now could have a solid offense to pair with it. If the new players can fit in quickly, this team can be scary good.
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