NFL Picks Against the Spread: Why the Houston Texans are a Lock Over Colts
Week 1 is upon us and I see a changing of the guard this year. I see a few new teams knocking off some established ones and taking divisions away from teams that have owned them for near decades.
But that's in the long run.
For now let's talk about this first week and who will get off on a good foot and who will stumble a bit.
As you can see from the picture I like Houston, and not just because they signed Leinart.
Thank you, I'll be here all week.
Anyway, let's get to the underdogs and favorites.
Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints
The Line: Saints -5
This game is one of those that you might think, wow, it was really close last year in the playoffs and the Vikings have revenge on their mind, so take the points.
Not me. Too many questions early for the Vikes.
Is Favre ready after missing most of the summer. How will they adjust to Sidney Rice being gone? How is Percy Harvin feeling? Will they miss Chester Taylor?
The defense looks pretty good again, but it gets crazy in New Orleans. Those folks don't need a reason to go bonkers so opening night is more than enough.
Adrian Peterson will look great and Favre will lead a comeback. But it won't be enough to stop Drew Brees and his aerial show. Reggie Bush will probably have a big game as well.
Saints 31 Vikings 24
Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills
The Line: Miami -3
Folks who bet professionally like to take the home underdog at times, especially if the spread is by a field goal or less.
But the Bills are the only team in the AFC East that doesn't have a shot at winning the division. T.O. is gone, but I'm not sure he meant that much to them.
They do have Chan Gailey, who is a pretty good offensive coach and will help them get out of the cellar in terms of offensive stats.
But it's all about the Dolphins in this one. Chad Henne has Brandon Marshall to throw to and Ronnie Brown is back to share the load with Ricky Williams.
And it's not cold enough to matter that it is in Buffalo. Not cool schedule makers. This game should have been in December.
But it isn't. Miami 21 Bills 10
Oakland Raiders at Tennessee Titans
The line: Titans +6
This is one of those games that could get interesting. I feel like the spread is really high on this game.
Jason Campbell is going to surprise some people. Will the Raiders do it in week one? I don't think so but I think they will definitely keep it close.
The Titans started really slow last year (0-6), but I doubt that will happen again.
Vince Young is now the unquestioned starter and Chris Johnson is aiming at NFL records.
Both defenses are pretty good so I think it will come down to quarterback play, and I like Young more than Campbell at this point.
I think Michael Bush is key for Oakland as the every down back, but running backs with broken thumbs worry me. He might not even play.
Titans 24 Raiders 20
Denver Broncos at Jacksonville Jaguars
The line: Broncos +2.5
Jacksonville is going to be crazy this weekend as they cheer for their quarterback. I'm talking about Tim Tebow returning home.
Unfortunately for Tebow fans, he won't see much playing time in this one because I think it's going to be close throughout.
Look for a well rested Maurice Jones-Drew to run well, assuming he is healthy.
The Broncos are still trying to figure some things out so they will have some good plays mixed in with some horrible ones.
David Garrard is a mystery as usual. When he plays well, the Jags usually win.
He will. They will.
Jags 20 Broncos 15 (Tebow comes in to go for two!)
Carolina Panthers at New York Giants
The line: Giants -7
The Eli Manning to Steve Smith connection worked well last year and will probably continue. The Matt Moore to Steve Smith connection is a work in progress. Especially since we don't know how the Carolina Steve Smith's arm is doing after he broke it playing flag football.
DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart both are 1,000-yard rushers and that is rare for one team to have two backs like that.
The Giants have a new defensive coordinator so it's tough to predict how he plans on stopping these two guys.
But a season opener at home against a .500 team from last year? You go with the home team to cover.
Giants 24 Panthers 14
Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans
The line: Colts -2.5
This is the game that will make me look like a genius or an idiot.
Manning has even more weapons now that Anthony Gonzalez is healthy. And he has developed his two young guys, (Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon) under fire to complement Reggie Wayne.
And when things get tight he has his old reliable tight end, Dallas Clark.
Manning is a four-time MVP with a gang of good receivers and a solid running game, so this one is in the bag, right?
Not so fast, I say! Houston needs this game really bad to gain some swagger.
Houston has to get over the hump some time, right? Why not at home to start the season with the crowd behind you.
Look for Matt Schaub to hit Jacoby Jones and Andre Johnson early and for Arian Foster to run the ball late. And look for the Texans to upset the reigning AFC champions at home.
Texans 31 Colts 28
Atlanta Falcons at Pittsburgh Steelers
The line: Steelers + 2.5
Wow, a home underdog. And it's the Steelers. This is one of those games that if you are a gambler, you might want to give it a go.
I am a gambler and I think that the handicappers are wrong.
Dennis Dixon came within an injury of winning the Heisman trophy a couple years ago and possibly a national championship. He is that good.
I see the Steelers winning this one with good defense and lots of Rashard Mendenhall. Dixon will also find Hines Ward down the middle and Mike Wallace deep down the field.
I know Michael Turner and Matt "Matty Ice" Ryan are due to come back to what they were two years ago, but if the Steelers have anything, it's heart.
Steelers 27 Falcons 24
Cleveland Browns at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The line: Browns +3
If you have money on this game, you are probably from one of these towns. I'm kidding
Anyway, neither team is built to last long in the playoff hunt but we can say that Tampa's quarterback Josh Freeman showed some promise and some serious moxie last year.
Who doesn't like a little moxie in their quarterback?
If Cadillac Williams is truly healthy, I look for Tampa's running game to outdo Jake Delhomme and the Browns aerial assault.
Although I do like Joshua Cribbs doing something of consequence during the game.
Bucs 14 Browns 10
Cincinnati Bengals at New England Patriots
The line: Bengals + 4.5
One of the top three games of the week.
A few things we know about this game:
A) The assumption is that Tom Brady will have his new contract by kickoff.
B) Carson Palmer has the most weapons he has ever had.
C) T.O. and Ochocinco will eventually find love, even if they have to date every questionable chick that VH-1 can come up with.
As far as the game goes, I think this one is going to come down to last team with the ball. I think Randy Moss scores, Wes Welker scores, Cedric Benson scores, Ocho scores, etc...
Like I said, one of the best matchups of the opening weekend.
Patriots 31 Bengals 28
Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears
The line: Lions +7
Wow, Vegas either really likes Chicago or thinks it's the same old Lions.
I think Jay Cutler and Mike Martz continue playing nice. I think Matt Forte returns to his rookie form and I think the defense welcomes back Brian Urlacher and welcomes in newcomer Julius Peppers.
There won't be a lot of running room for Jahvid Best or time for Matthew Stafford to get it to "Megatron" (Calvin Johnson).
Seven is a lot of points, I say again. But Chicago will cover and then some.
Bears 24 Lions 7
Green Bay Packers at Philadelphia Eagles
The line: Green Bay -3
This kind of shocks me that it is only three points that the bettors think separate these two teams. Isn't Green Bay the chic sleeper pick to go to the big game?
Doesn't Philly have a new quarterback?
I think by the end of this year, the Eagles will finally appreciate all that McNabb has done.
This one won't even be close. Aaron Rodgers has a great defense and a lot of weapons. Look for him to hit Jermichael Finley with two scores and for Ryan Grant to get in the end zone.
Packers 28 Eagles 17
San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks
The line: Seahawks +3
Pete Carroll is back in the pro game and has his first game at home. What are the chances that he tells the guys to go out there and have some fun?
Meanwhile, Mike Singletary will most likely threaten someone's life at some point during the pregame speech.
I like the Niners in this one and all year. Patrick Willis is the best linebacker in the league and he'll continue to prove it.
Something else to keep an eye on. Will Taylor Mays get close enough to the sideline to get a clean shot at Carroll?
Alex Smith to Vernon Davis, FTW!
Niners 20 Seahawks 13
Arizona Cardinals at St. Louis Rams
The line: Cardinals -3
And so begins the Derek Anderson regime. But with a lot of bad karma and some injuries. Is Larry Fitzgerald healthy? We know Beanie Wells isn't.
We know Anquan Boldin is gone and of course, so is Matt Leinart.
I like the Rams in this game to shock the world and send Ken Whisenhunt back to the drawing board.
Steven Jackson runs crazy and rookie Sam Bradford does just enough.
The UPSET SPECIAL.
Rams 17 Cardinals 14
Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins
The line: Cowboys -3.5
I wanted to declare a home victory for Donovan McNabb in his first Redskins game. I really did.
But too much drama this preseason with Washington.
And even thought the Cowboys offense hasn't looked that great lately, they have a lot of weapons and more stability.
I think Romo makes some key passes to Miles Austin and then the running game takes over.
I still have the Redskins as a sleeper team. Just not this week.
Cowboys 27 Redskins 17
Baltimore Ravens at New York Jets
The line: Ravens +2.5
This is the big one for all you Hard Knocks and Jets fans.
And no excuses because Darrelle Revis is back.
No word on how much T.J.Houshmandzadeh will play for Baltimore, if at all. But I like Anquan Boldin to get the best of a rusty Revis.
I look for Revis getting winded and Jets fans starting to mumble under their breath about maybe giving Mark Brunell a shot after this game. The love affair with Mark Sanchez will be on the rocks.
As good as the Jets defense was last year, they won't be able to overcome turnovers and lack of scoring by the offense.
I like the Ravens in the upset.
Ravens 21 Jets 17
San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs
The line: Chargers -5
No Vincent Jackson, no problem.
The Chiefs have every coach and front office guy from the Patriots championship years on salary.
But they don't have any of the players.
The jury is still out on Matt Cassel. But it ain't on Phillip Rivers.
Chargers 27 Chiefs 14