NFL Picks Week 1: Road Teams with Best Chance at Winning Season Opener

Maxwell OgdenCorrespondent IIISeptember 4, 2013

FOXBORO, MA - AUGUST 16: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots talks with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels prior to the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Gillette Stadium on August 16, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

The 2013 NFL regular season starts on Thursday night, and the time for preparation is coming to a close. Rosters are set, starting jobs have been won, and teams are preparing to begin their respective seasons.

The question is, which teams can build the ultimate momentum with victories on the road?

Every team believes that it can win, and when faced with the bright lights, preseason knowledge goes out of the window. We've seen countless contenders crack under pressure and even more teams rise to the occasion and outperform expectations.

When it comes to winning an NFL regular-season game, however, protecting home-field advantage is expected. Winning games on the road, on the other hand, is something that even the best of the best struggle to do.

So who has the best chance to do it in Week 1?


Kansas City Chiefs at Jacksonville Jaguars

Date: Sunday, Sept. 8

Time: 1:00 p.m. ET


Betting Line: Chiefs (-4) via Bovada

During the 2012 NFL regular season, both the Jacksonville Jaguars and Kansas City Chiefs finished at 2-14. They ended up with the first two picks in the 2013 NFL draft, and both selected an offensive lineman. Eric Fisher went to Kansas City, while Luke Joeckel packed his bags for Jacksonville.

That's where the similarities end.

The Chiefs made drastic changes to their roster, going from a 2-14 team to one with postseason upside. Kansas City hired head coach Andy Reid and acquired quarterback Alex Smith and defensive backs Dunta Robinson and Sean Smith, amongst others.

Just like that, the Chiefs created what projects to be a top-tier defensive backfield with Eric Berry, Brandon Flowers, Robinson and Smith leading the charge. The team also rounded out a strong offensive unit.

As for the Jaguars, the only significant difference in 2013 is the health of running back Maurice Jones-Drew and the arrival of Joeckel. Otherwise, this is still the same Jacksonville team that will rely on Blaine Gabbert to lead the offensive charge.

Don't hold your breath.

Kansas City has an excellent opportunity to shine here, using its revamped defensive backfield to disrupt Gabbert. Offensively, Smith will throw to Pro Bowl receiver Dwayne Bowe and hand it off to All-Pro running back Jamaal Charles.

If only one team can win a road game in Week 1, it will be the Chiefs at the Jaguars.


New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills

Date: Sunday, Sept. 8

Time: 1:00 p.m. ET


Betting Line: Patriots (-10) via Bovada

The Buffalo Bills enter the 2013 NFL regular season with a rookie quarterback, EJ Manuel, and a great deal of hope. The New England Patriots make their season debut with a future Hall of Fame quarterback, Tom Brady, and question marks that are masked by legendary head coach Bill Belichick.

If that's not a good enough reason for you to believe in the Patriots' ability to pull off the road victory, try evaluating history.

Since blowing the Patriots out 31-0 on Sept. 7, 2003, the Bills have gone 1-18 against New England. That includes a record of 1-8 in Buffalo; the Bills last defeated New England on Sept. 25, 2011 when they took a 34-31 home win.

With that being said, Brady has led the Patriots against the Bills in three season-opening games, winning two of three but facing a combined deficit of 72-44 in those games—that 31-0 loss is the reason why.

Expect to see the Bills and Patriots play a close game, but the 2003 Brady is quite different from the 2013 version. Even with the absence of a single household name in his receiving corps—Rob Gronkowski's health singles him out—Brady has enough to lead the Patriots past even the best in the NFL.

Buffalo has potential but falls under the category of a team that should be happy with an 8-8 season. The Patriots, meanwhile, continue to be Super Bowl or bust.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New York Jets

Date: Sunday, Sept. 8

Time: 1:00 p.m. ET


Betting Line: Buccaneers (-3) via Bovada

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers went 7-9 during their first season under head coach Greg Schiano. The New York Jets went 6-10 during their fourth season under head coach Rex Ryan.

What is the major difference between these two teams entering 2013? Tampa Bay improved.

The Jets may have found their franchise quarterback with Geno Smith, but there's no telling whether or not he'll pan out. The Buccaneers, meanwhile, have a quarterback in Josh Freeman who's been as inconsistent as any player in the NFL.

The separating factor is that the Bucs have a Pro Bowl running back, Doug Martin, and the Jets are splitting carries between Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell.

If that's not enough, the Jets are anxiously awaiting Santonio Holmes' return to provide any form of certainty at wide receiver. The Buccaneers, meanwhile, have Pro Bowl receiver Vincent Jackson and a very strong No. 2 option with Mike Williams.

Did we mention that Tampa Bay acquired Darrelle Revis from the Jets and now also has a superior defense?

Anything is possible in this game between unpredictable quarterbacks, but the Bucs have the look of a distant favorite. Their roster is superior to the Jets, and even at home, New York doesn't have the necessary talent to be an on-paper favorite against a quality opponent.

It's not a sure thing, but Tampa Bay has a good chance to pull out a season-opening road win.