NFL Week 1 Picks: Predictions for Teams Set to Validate Odds

Andrew GouldFeatured ColumnistSeptember 8, 2013

DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 09:  Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions drops back to pass during the second quarter of the pre-season game against the New York Jets at Ford Field on August 9, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images

The thrill of sports often stems from finding unsung heroes who overcome the odds. For those special, uncommon upsets to pay off, we must first toil through the favorites taking care of business.

Look elsewhere for an upset watch, since these NFL favorites will demonstrate why they entered the weekend picked to emerge victorious.

In some instances, the expected winner might not make sense based on last year's performance. How does a 4-12 squad get the edge over a playoff team? Soon enough, however, it will all be explained on the field.

After these games, Vegas will come out smelling like roses, as the following teams prove the odds correct.

Note: Odds are courtesy of Vegas Insider.


Minnesota Lions at Detroit Lions (-4)

The Vikings won their last four regular-season games to snatch an unlikely playoff spot. The Lions, on the other hand, finished the season with an eight-game losing streak, following their first playoff appearance in more than a decade with a last-place disappointment.

Naturally, Detroit is the favorite.

Why? Bettors are rightfully skeptical of Minnesota's success, which relied too much on an overworked 27-year-old running back fresh off tearing his ACL.

It took 2,097 rushing yards from Adrian Peterson to carry the Vikings into the postseason. Even if Peterson stays fully healthy, his previous full season consisted of a more normal 1,383 yards on the ground.

What if Peterson grows weary of playing Superman?

That means Christian Ponder will actually have to make plays. Until that happens, Minnesota's second-biggest scoring threat is Blair Walsh, and that's not an honor anyone wants to bestow on the kicker.

Detroit lost six single-digit games to playoff teams, and that doesn't include two tough losses against the 10-6 Chicago Bears. After attempting the most passes in the NFL last year, Matthew Stafford can give him arm a rest and give the ball to newly acquired Reggie Bush.

The Lions compiled the third-most yards but ranked 17th in points last season. Expect them to find the end zone more this season, starting this weekend against Minnesota.

Prediction: Lions 28, Vikings 17


Arizona Cardinals at St. Louis Rams (-4.5)

Once Kevin Kolb went down to injury and the unsustainable magic of constantly winning close games dispersed, the Arizona Cardinals lost 11 of their final 12 bouts.

But that was with Ryan Lindley and John Skelton playing some of the worst quarterback you'll ever see. Carson Palmer is a serviceable veteran capable of throwing the ball in Larry Fitzgerald's area code. 

Overlooked as everyone laughed at Lindley and Skelton was a bumbling offensive line that led the NFL with 58 sacks surrendered. That offensive line faces off against Chris Long, Robert Quinn and a defense that tied for the league-high in sacks.

With a questionable group of running backs, the Cardinals won't be able to keep St. Louis' pass-rushers too honest. Rashard Mendenhall should play, but he has only averaged more than 4.1 yards per carry in one season.

After starting out the season strong, Arizona's defense stumbled down the stretch, allowing 26.9 points per game during the latter half of 2012. While Sam Bradford could struggle without Danny Amendola moving the chains, he has some major deep weapons in Tavon Austin and Chris Givens.

Arizona lost by 14 points to St. Louis in each of their two 2012 divisional meetings. The same could happen to kick off the 2013 campaign.

Predictions: Rams 20, Cardinals 13