NFL Picks Week 1: Full Predictions for Opening Weekend
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The NFL season slate opened with a Dallas Cowboys victory, and it should include surprise victories for Jacksonville, Buffalo and San Francisco by the time the last snap is taken Monday night in Oakland.
With the defending champion New York Giants proving their mortality on opening night, they reminded the rest of the league how wide open contention for the Super Bowl can be when looking at all 32 teams.
All games betting lines are from Bovada, and we'll look at both the spread and a straight-up winner from the first Sunday and Monday of the regular season.
Indianapolis Colts (+10) @ Chicago Bears
Andrew Luck has big shoes to fill, and I'm not talking about Curtis Paynter's. Life without Peyton Manning officially begins for the Colts, and they do it on the road at Soldier Field. Jay Cutler and the dark horse Bears win, and remind the Colts of Manning's first season of growing pains.
Prediction: Bears cover, 27-10
Philadelphia Eagles (-9.5) @ Cleveland Browns
Michael Vick looks to stay healthy for a full season for the playoff-starving Eagles. The Weeden-Richardson era shows promise, but not enough to knock of one of the NFC's most talented squads.
Prediction: Eagles cover, 31-14
Buffalo Bills (+3) @ New York Jets
Preseason shouldn't mean much in determining regular season fate. But the Jets were so bad that it does give pause to the idea that they might not have the gusto to back up their Super Bowl aspirations. Fred Jackson has a big game for Buffalo.
Prediction: Bills cover and win, 21-16
Washington Redskins (+7.5) @ New Orleans Saints
RGIII doesn't have the weapons to compare with some of the other teams in the NFL, namely squads like the Saints, but I think he surprises some people out of the gate with his decision-making and poise. New Orleans misses Sean Payton, but finds a way to win their home opener.
Prediction: Redskins cover, Saints win 23-17
New England Patriots (-6) @ Tennessee Titans
Yet another rookie QB must face a team expected to do big things. Jake Locker takes over for the Titans, while the Patriots weapons are too much for Tennessee. I think this one is closer than people think, though, and the offensive line in New England is still a question mark heading into Week 2.
Prediction: New England 27, Tennessee 17
Jacksonville Jaguars (+4) @ Minnesota Vikings
With Adrian Peterson questionable and Christian Ponder's weapons still a question mark, I like the Jags to pull off the upset in Minnesota. Rookie Justin Blackmon goes for a big day and Blaine Gabbert makes progress.
Jacksonville covers and wins, 20-14
Miami Dolphins (+12.5) @ Houston Texans
Houston has too many weapons if they all can stay healthy. Miami's new coaching staff gets a rude awakening this weekend, and Houston proves frontrunner status in the AFC South.
Prediction: Houston covers, 35-13
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St. Louis Rams (+7.5) @ Detroit Lions
I look for a high-scoring affair from these two young squads. Sam Bradford is back from injury and Matthew Stafford has more people to throw to than ever. Big day for both QBs, but Detroit's defense holds late.
Prediction: Rams cover, Lions win 35-28
Atlanta Falcons (-3) @ Kansas City Chiefs
Big play weapons Julio Jones and Roddy White will be on display in Kansas City, especially after Brandon Carr left in free agency. Kansas City should be able to control the tempo with a Jamaal Charles-Peyton Hillis combination, but Atlanta proves to be too much.
Prediction: Atlanta covers, 24-20
San Francisco (+5) @ Green Bay
The last of my big upsets resides in Green Bay, where all the shiny new offensive toys are on display while Green Bay again raises questions of if their defense is good enough. San Francisco runs for 150 and throws for 250 in big win on the road.
Prediction: San Fransisco covers, wins 28-24
Carolina Panthers (-3) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Carolina gets the season started right against a divisional rival on the road. Josh Freeman hasn't quite matured enough to lead the young group, but Doug Martin has a nice day for the Bucs.
Prediction: Carolina covers, 24-7
Seattle Seahawks (-3) @ Arizona Cardinals
Who knows what the QB situation will be in Arizona. For all the talent they have on both sides of the ball, it's going to be a dogfight to stay in games. Same for Seattle, who quietly had one of the best defenses in football last year. In a close game, Seattle pulls it out behind a stunningly poised Russell Wilson.
Prediction: Seattle covers 13-7
Pittsburgh Steelers (+2) @ Denver Broncos
Which team should be on upset alert this weekend?
The Peyton Manning show will be in full swing, and he'll do plenty to keep fans from uttering that five letter word that strikes the heart strings of so many (T-E-B-O-W). Unfortunately, it won't be enough due to Jonathan Dwyer's breakout game on Sunday night.
Prediction: Pittsburgh wins 23-17
Cincinnati Bengals (+6.5) @ Baltimore Ravens
The first of two Monday night games shows Baltimore is just as good defensively as ever, and Andy Dalton struggles against his division rival in the first game of the year.
Prediction: Ravens cover, win 17-10
San Diego Chargers (+1) @ Oakland Raiders
The Norv Turner era is close to ending. San Diego falters on the road to a surprisingly tough defense in Oakland, and Carson Palmer spreads the ball around nicely in a defensive struggle.
Prediction: Oakland covers 10-7
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