Week 1 NFL Picks: Predictions of Teams Sure to Beat the Line
The 2013 NFL season officially kicks off on Thursday night, but it is Sunday's games that will feature several teams that will beat the line.
Fans will obviously be anxious to see if the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens can keep it close against the Denver Broncos. The Ravens are 7.5-point underdogs, which is incredible given they are the defending champs.
With only one game Thursday, though, fans will turn their attention to Sunday when there is a a full slate of games. Home teams are being favored more than they might be later in the season, so keep an eye on the road teams.
Here is the full schedule for Week 1 followed by predictions of teams that will beat the line. All lines are courtesy of Bovada as of 2:25 p.m. ET, Sept. 5.
|9/5||8:30 p.m.||Baltimore Ravens (+7.5)||Denver Broncos||Broncos|
|9/8||1 p.m.||Cincinnati Bengals (+3)||Chicago Bears||Bengals|
|9/8||1 p.m.||New England Patriots (-10)||Buffalo Bills||Patriots|
|9/8||1 p.m.||Miami Dolphins (+1)||Cleveland Browns||Dolphins|
|9/8||1 p.m.||Minnesota Vikings (+5.5)||Detroit Lions||Vikings|
|9/8||1 p.m.||Oakland Raiders (+10)||Indianapolis Colts||Colts|
|9/8||1 p.m.||Atlanta Falcons (+3)||New Orleans Saints||Falcons|
|9/8||1 p.m.||Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3)||New York Jets||Buccaneers|
|9/8||1 p.m.||Tennessee Titans (+7)||Pittsburgh Steelers||Steelers|
|9/8||1 p.m.||Seattle Seahawks (-3.5)||Carolina Panthers||Seahawks|
|9/8||1 p.m.||Kansas City Chiefs (-4)||Jacksonville Jaguars||Chiefs|
|9/8||4:25 p.m.||Arizona Cardinals (+4.5)||St. Louis Rams||Cardinals|
|9/8||4:25 p.m.||Green Bay Packers (+4.5)||San Francisco 49ers||49ers|
|9/8||8:30 p.m.||New York Giants (+3)||Dallas Cowboys||Giants|
|9/9||7 p.m.||Philadelphia Eagles (+3.5)||Washington Redskins||Redskins|
|9/9||10:15 p.m.||Houston Texans (-4)||San Diego Chargers||Texans|
Cincinnati Bengals (+3) at Chicago Bears
The Cincinnati Bengals have made the playoffs in back-to-back seasons, and they improved their offense through the draft. The Chicago Bears haven't made the playoffs since the 2010 season, and they lost longtime linebacker Brian Urlacher to retirement. The Bears are likely favored because the game is at Soldier Field, but the Bengals look like the smart pick to beat the spread.
Quarterback Jay Cutler has a strong arm, but he hasn't played in 16 games since 2009. He benefited from reuniting with receiver Brandon Marshall last season. The 6'4" wideout had 1,508 yards with 11 touchdowns on 118 receptions.
He's an elite receiver, but Cincinnati has a defense that can make life rough for Cutler. Corner Leon Hall can contain Marshall and get help when needed.
The defensive line is going to cause Cutler to make bad decisions. Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson led the defense that ranked third in the NFL with 51 sacks last year.
On offense, A.J. Green is going to make life tough on Charles Tillman. The 6'4" receiver has quickly become Andy Dalton's favorite target and security blanket. He can catch passes even when doubled. He had 1,350 yards with 11 touchdowns on 97 catches in 2012.
Pro Bowl tight end Jermaine Gresham and rookie Tyler Eifert will occupy the middle of the field. That will enable Green to get open down the field.
Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis topped the 1,000-yard mark last season, and rookie Giovani Bernard adds speed out of the backfield.
Cincinnati is balanced on offense and defense. It knows that a victory over the Bears could give the team momentum early in the season as it looks for a third straight postseason appearance.
Home-field advantage won't be enough for the Bears in this game, and the Bengals will be able to beat the spread in Chicago.
Miami Dolphins (+1) at Cleveland Browns
The line for this game has been shifting as the game draws closer, with both teams adding weapons in the offseason and looking to compete in 2013.
Miami improved its team in the offseason with a big-splash signing of receiver Mike Wallace, who penned a five-year deal. The move is a promising sign for Miami, who hopes he can lead the team to the postseason.
Ryan Tannehill had a season of streaks as a rookie. The 25-year-old quarterback didn't have great overall numbers, but he did lead the team to a 7-9 record. In the seven wins, he threw eight touchdowns to only one interception. He struggled in losses and had four multi-interception games.
Miami had two overtime losses early in the season and two more losses by a combined seven points. The record could have been much better with a big play or two in those games. The Dolphins beat the Bengals and the Seattle Seahawks last season, so they had a few big wins.
Now they get to play a Cleveland team that hasn't won an opener since 2007. Quarterback Brandon Weeden didn't show enough as a rookie last year to win the starting job, so he had to outperform Jason Campbell in the preseason.
The Browns hope Trent Richardson can carry the offense again this season. However, the Dolphins ranked 13th in the NFL in run defense.
Receiver Josh Gordon is suspended, so Greg Little is going to have to be the Browns' playmaker at wideout.
The Dolphins were a respectable team last year, and the Browns changed coaches yet again in the offseason. Miami should be able to get a solid win in this game.
New York Giants (+3) at Dallas Cowboys
Eli Manning and the New York Giants have owned the Dallas Cowboys in their new stadium. They are 4-0 at AT&T Stadium, formerly known as Cowboys Stadium.
Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz have each topped 1,000 yards in a season. The receivers form one of the best tandems in the NFL—when healthy. It's the first week of the season, so Manning will have both of his top receivers on the field.
Dallas ranked 19th in the league in pass defense. The Giants have the receivers to beat the defense, and Manning is experienced enough to exploit the defense's weaknesses.
Running back David Wilson looked good in the final four weeks of his rookie season, and he will be the starter this year for the Giants. The Cowboys ranked 22nd in stopping the run, so he would bring a nice balance to the offense if he picks up where he left off.
The Cowboys are talented on offense. Dez Bryant, Miles Austin and Jason Witten give quarterback Tony Romo pieces to work with. However, he hasn't been able to be efficient against the Giants.
Romo threw for 744 yards in two meetings last season. He threw three touchdowns and one interception in a victory in Week 1, but he threw only one score with four interceptions at home in a loss.
New York will give up yards to Romo, but it will keep the game close enough to pull out a late victory.
The Giants have won every meeting at AT&T Stadium, so they will be able to beat the line.
*All stats are courtesy of NFL.com
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