Football has finally returned, and the 2012 NFL season will kickoff on Sunday, September 9, and continue on Monday night with two primetime games.
It's been a long time since we've witnessed regular season action, and with a wide range of offseason moves by each team, it can be difficult to predict which teams will show up ready to perform in 2012.
There are obviously the typical teams that remain competitive every year, but each NFL season features a handful of teams that come out of nowhere and play competitive football.
This piece will look at which Week 1 favorites are seemingly the safest picks as far as covering the spread.
As we all know, there's no such thing as a true "lock." The NFL is unpredictable, and that's why we have so much fun watching on Sundays.
But with that said, these teams are going against odds that seem too good to be true.
Favorites to Cover the Spread
New England Over Tennessee
The New England Patriots open their season on the road against the Tennessee Titans, but even playing an away game won't hinder the dangerous New England offense.
The spread is favoring the Patriots to win, ranging from -4 to -6.
In other words, they don't feel the juggernaut Patriots offense can outscore an average team, such as Tennessee, by more than one touchdown.
Of course, the Patriots have it in them to beat the Titans by at least two or three scores, so this is a tough one to ignore.
Seattle Over Arizona
In the NFC West, the common perception is that the San Francisco 49ers are on top and the St. Louis Rams are on the bottom, while the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks are equals in the middle.
That might be the way the media sees it, but it's far from the truth.
In reality, Seattle is a much superior team compared to Arizona, who will struggle to even outrank the Rams in the division.
Seattle has the best secondary in the NFL and a tough defensive line, which will eventually result in the team finishing with a top-10 defense.
Arizona, on the other hand, has some talent on the defensive side, but their offense is beyond miserable.
Larry Fitzgerald is still a factor, but the Cardinals have an awful offensive line, below-average quarterbacks and a mediocre backfield.
Put that against the Seattle defense, and the Seahawks should easily cover the spread.
The Seahawks are favorites in the spread, ranging from -2.5 to -3.
Note: Check Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch's injury status before the game.
Green Bay Over San Francisco
The San Francisco 49ers shocked the NFL last season with a 13-3 record and arguably the best defense in the league.
This season will put them to the test, which will let us know if the 49ers are for real or just a flash in the pan.
They travel to Green Bay for their opening game, which will certainly put that defense to the ultimate test in a harsh Lambeau Field environment.
Though the 49ers will likely win their division and have another solid year under Jim Harbaugh, it's hard to dislike Green Bay's odds in covering the spread.
Green Bay is unanimously considered a -5 favorite, which is awful generous to San Francisco considering the Packers have possibly the best offense in the league.
Green Bay will not put up an obscene amount of point against the 49ers defense, but they should have no problem winning by at least a touchdown.
New Orleans Over Washington
Many people are skeptical when it comes to putting faith in the New Orleans Saints following the bounty scandal during the offseason, but people are forgetting that Drew Brees will produce no matter what.
On the contrary, the media is giving the Washington Redskins a little too much credit due to nothing more than an exciting rookie quarterback.
We saw the same thing when the Redskins signed Donovan McNabb. They were suddenly seen as a threat, but turned out to be below average.
Yes, Robert Griffin III offers far more upside than an aging McNabb and should have a great career, but people are pretending that there won't be some rookie growing pains.
Washington is being overrated by major media outlets simply due to the popularity of the team, which provides us with a great opportunity to take advantage of the hype.
The Saints are favored in the spread, ranging from -7.5 to -9.5.
Considering the Saints are at home in the dome, it shouldn't be too difficult for them to win by more than 10 points.
Note: All spread information is according to Odds Shark.
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