NFL Picks Week 1: Bold Predictions for Teams Set to Defy the Odds

Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistSeptember 5, 2013

Aug 24, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) calls a play in the first quarter of the game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium.  The Cowboys won 24-18. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The process to pick how an NFL game will turn out is a tricky one marred in countless variables.

NFL odds and predictions are formed after a thorough analysis of both teams, injuries, the past and more. Like any form of prediction, these odds and point spreads oftentimes can end up wildly inaccurate.

Such is the beauty of the NFL.

Week 1 of the NFL season presents some interesting challenges for oddsmakers. The lines have been drawn up after an offseason of research, but that doesn't make them infallible.

Here are a few bold predictions for NFL teams set to surprise oddsmakers and fans alike on opening weekend.

 

Note: All odds courtesy of Vegas Insider.

 

Cincinnati Bengals Will Overcome Chicago Bears (-3) on the Road

The Cincinnati Bengals and Chicago Bears are two similar franchises looking to take the next step. What separates them is simple—Cincinnati needs continued development from the same staff, players and philosophies, while Chicago is reinventing the wheel on both sides of the football.

There is a new-look offense in Chicago under head coach Marc Trestman, which could play well into the hands of the oft-elite defensive unit of Cincinnati, which is returning all of its starters from a year ago save one (Manny Lawson left in free agency, so Cincinnati brought on James Harrison as a replacement).

The defense in Chicago looks a bit different as well without Brian Urlacher in the middle.

Cincinnati fielded the No. 6 overall defense last year. Led by Geno Atkins, the elite defensive line that tallied over 40 sacks on its own last season should have little trouble getting to Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, whose offensive line—comprised of three free agents and a rookie—is still gelling.

Offensively, Cincinnati can use a combo of power and speed in the running game with BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard, respectively, but it can also use A.J. Green and tight ends Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert to keep the Chicago defense honest.

Cincinnati left tackle Andrew Whitworth may miss the opener per Fox Sports, but Andy Dalton and Co. will still be able to use the quick passes of the West Coast offense to dictate the tempo of the game. Cincinnati will walk out of Solider Field winners regardless of what the odds say.

Prediction: Bengals 23, Bears 17.

 

Tennessee Titans Will Embarrass Pittsburgh Steelers (-7)

The Tennessee Titans enter their matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers as severe underdogs despite quietly putting together a very good offseason.

Most importantly, Tennessee added some serious beef to its offensive line. No. 10 overall pick Chance Warmack is a bulldozer at right guard, and former Buffalo Bill Andy Levitre joined via free agency and has always been a force in the running game.

All of this translates to a great ground game from the Titans. It's exactly what they need to complement a passing offense that Jake Locker should orchestrate well thanks to targets like Kenny Britt and Kendall Wright.

Pittsburgh may be at home, but with starting rookie running back Le'Veon Bell missing the contest, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is going to direct a one-dimensional offense that Tennessee can adequately prepare for in the coming days.

It's not a sexy pick, but Tennessee will defy the constraints the oddsmakers have written for them on the way to victory.

Prediction: Titans 17, Steelers 10

 

Green Bay Packers Will Extract Revenge on San Francisco 49ers (-4.5)

Many have already written off the Green Bay Packers in Week 1 against the San Francisco 49ers with Colin Kaepernick's 444 total yards and five touchdowns fresh on the mind from last postseason.

That would be a huge mistake, as Green Bay is set to shock the world on opening weekend.

Like hinted at above, a one-dimensional offense can sink teams in a hurry, and that's exactly what happened to Green Bay in the postseason last year as the team went without a serious running game.

Green Bay has found a remedy to that situation in the form of rookie running back Eddie Lacy, who will help to keep defenses honest and take some of the pressure off quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Add in the fact the Packers have had all offseason to prepare for one of the NFL's deepest teams and this one could go either way. If it turns into a shootout, safe money would be on Rodgers over Kaepernick, especially with Rodgers more motivated than ever.

Prediction: Packers 38, 49ers 30

 

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