Week One Preview: Ride Quarterbacks To Wins
The first week of games shows the great divide in quarterback play. With just a few exceptions, all of this week's favorites have the better quarterback.
Titans @ Steelers
Ben Roethlisberger is the fastest quarterback to two Super Bowl rings. He's done it while absorbing a lot of hits (46 sacks in 2008). Roethlisberger will be found on the ground often against the Titans, but he'll make enough plays to get the W.
The Pick: Steelers +6 and Over 35.
Redskins @ Giants
The Redskins spent the offseason trying to upgrade at quarterback. The Giants just signed their quarterback to a lifetime deal. I think that about sums up where the offenses are heading.
The Pick: Giants +6 1/2 and Over 37.
Jets @ Texans
Looking to repeat the same magic as the Ravens of 2008, the Jets turn to Mark Sanchez. The problem is that the Jets' defense, while good, is not at the same level as the Ravens. Sanchez will need to win more than a few games on his own.
As long as Matt Saub can stay upright, he has the accuracy and the offensive weapons to win this game. A lot of hard counts to draw the eager Jets offside will limit their pass rush and open the game.
The Pick: Texans +4 1/2 and Over 43 1/2
Dolphins @ Falcons
Two worst-to-first franchises, each with identical records in 2008.
Chad Pennington continues to prove that he's one of the league's winners. If he stays upright for 16 games, his teams make the playoffs. The Wildcat offense should offer more big gains through the air with the arrival of Pat White.
Matt Ryan is off to avoid a sophomore slump with the arrival of security blanket Tony Gonzalez and the big play capability of Roddy White.
The difference in this game looks to be on defense where Pennington should have more freedom, as the Falcons experience some growing pains with many new starters.
The Pick: Dolphins - 4 and Under 43 1/2
Chiefs @ Ravens
Matt Cassel is questionable with a knee injury. The Chiefs fired their offensive coordinator a week before a game against Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and the rest of the Ravens' potent defense. This could get ugly early.
The Pick: Ravens + 13 and Under 36
Eagles @ Panthers
Can the Panthers trust Jake Delhomme after his awful home playoff loss to the Cardinals?
Donovan McNabb is an NFL bridesmaid, making it to five NFC championships. A new offensive line and new toys on offense make this a now or never year. A hot start is an absolute must to avoid a quarterback controversy.
The Pick: Eagles + 1 1/2 and Over 43 1/2
Broncos @ Bengals
Carson Palmer looks healthy and Chad Ochocinco is primed for a huge season. For the first time in a long while, the Bengals are quiet off the field.
The Broncos are in complete chaos. Their top two quarterbacks are both questionable, and their top receiver has just returned from a suspension. The best elixir for this team might be the start of the season.
The Pick: Bengals + 4 and Over 43 1/2
Vikings @ Browns
Brett Favre should not have come back. He will just leave another team disappointed. The Vikings will lead in all categories, but a late pick, in a game that should have been over, is the difference.
The Pick: Browns -4 and under 40
Jaguars @ Colts
Peyton Manning is still on the field, meaning that 10 wins is a near certainty. Big margins of victory are no longer assured with the changes in coaching and personnel.
The Jaguars always play the Colts tough, particularly on the road. A healthier offensive line should make a big difference. An outright upset is definitely possible.
The Pick: Jaguars - 7 and Over 44 1/2
Lions @ Saints
Drew Brees is the top offensive player in the game. The Lions begin a new era with top pick Matt Stafford. Unfortunately that era will be marked by more losing. Detroit should have started Culpepper.
The Pick: Saints +13 and Over 49
Cowboys @ Buccaneers
Romo is a hot starter and has found a perfect opponent in the rebuilding Buccaneers, who just fired their offensive coordinator. Expect a lot of short fields and easy scores.
The Pick: Cowboys + 6 and Over 39
49ers @ Cardinals
The Arizona Cardinals are a prime candidate for the Super Bowl hangover effect. Kurt Warner is another year older and Boldin starts the year with a lingering hamstring injury.
The 49ers have taken on the personality of their coach. They will be ready on week one. Shaun Hill needs to just manage the game.
The Pick: 49ers - 6 1/2 and Over 46
Rams @ Seahawks
Matt Hasselbeck, the O-Line, and receiving corps are healthy. Add one of the only true home field advantages in the NFL today for a comfortable win.
The Rams are arguably the worst team in football. Steve Spagnuolo and Tums will become fast friends.
The Pick: Seahawks +8 1/2 and Over 41 1/2
Bears @ Packers
A battle of two young guns and teams expected to rise into playoff contention. Rodgers was the MVP of the preseason. Expect his hot play to continue against a Bears' defense that was ranked 30th against the pass in 2008.
Cutler has developed great chemistry early with TE Greg Olsen and RB Matt Forte. That won't be enough to overcome the new 3-4 defense piloted by Dom Capers.
The Pick: Packers +3 1/2 and Over 46
Bills @ Patriots
Tom Brady returns, and Randy Moss and Wes Welker are again the top receiving tandem in the AFC. Expect a couple of early bombs right out of the gate as the Pats look to establish a dominant pose. Belichick has run up the score before.
Trent Edwards will be better off wearing track shoes rather than cleats. He'll be running for his life behind a completely new offensive line—including three rookies—that features not a single player returning to the same position. Adding to Edwards' worries are a new coordinator and the terrible T.O. now gracing Buffalo's sidelines. A long and desperate season awaits in Buffalo.
The Pick: Patriots + 11 and Over 47 1/2
Chargers @ Raiders
A classic back door cover as the Chargers should be up early. Giving 9 1/2 points on the road is just too much even to start the season.
The Pick: Raiders - 9 1/2 and Under 43
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