John: Welcome to Week 1 of the official NFL picks column here at thejohnreport.net. I don't plan on writing much in the intro every week. However, for this Week 1 I'd be remiss if I didn't mention my 2010 NFL Season Preview, where I predicted the Baltimore Ravens would face the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl. Give it a look if you haven't already.
As for the weekly picks column, I'll be joined by my good friend Pat Lamorte each and every week all the way until the Super Bowl. That's 21 weeks of us, people. Get used to it. We'll preview each game, Pat will offer his fantasy football take (I'm a serial fantasy football player with seven teams going this year, which is about my usual), and I'll end the column with my best bets for the gamblers out there. Yes, I do that too. I told you I love the NFL. All aspects. I just wish my St. Louis Rams were better. What can ya do, right? Anyway, here's Pat.
Pat: Thanks to the JC for letting me tag team with him, wrestling reference FTW (that’s For The Win, not F*** the World for you Taz(z) fans) for this NFL season. John and I hooked up, platonically, on Twitter last year and he did some writing for my fantasy football site, RotoRant. The site is dormant now; we’ve moved bases to Twitter, answering questions and giving fantasy info there. We'll plug it now, it’s @RotoRant. Feel free to tweet us if you have any fantasy questions! You can follow my personal account, @Plamorte, too. OK on to football!
Pat: First week of the season, on a Thursday no less and we’re treated to a rematch of the 2009 NFC Championship. If Favre doesn’t retire before this game (seriously I hate myself for even making a retirement joke but it was too easy), it should be another good one, but I like the Saints in this one, at home as the defending Super Bowl Champs. Saints 28, Vikings 24
Fantasy pick: Vikings RB Adrian Peterson. Saints can be run on and with one less weapon through the air for Favre (see Rice, Sidney) I see good things as usual for AP with a fumble mixed in of course.
John: It's a rematch of what was arguably the game of the year last season. The Vikes should have won the NFC in that game. I am bitter because I could have won a nice amount of cash in a playoff pool I was in, except they gave it away with turnovers. I think it's going to be tough to go into that stadium to open the year and win. The home teams usually win the Thursday nighter. The fans are jacked and it's tough on the road team. I like the Saints here. Brees will have them clicking on all cylinders and I think they will come through while also covering the spread. Saints 31-23
Pat: These teams are about even, both with question marks at QB and WR. In the end Broncos play better defense. Broncos 14, Jaguars 10
Fantasy pick: Well you’re starting MJD no matter what, so my pick is Broncos RB Knowshon Moreno, Orton is at QB, and can you name a Broncos WR other than Royal? That’s what I thought.
John: This is an ugly game between two teams who aren't that exciting to watch. I'm going with the Jags at home because I think Maurice Jones-Drew will carve up the Denver defense. I can't envision myself paying too much attention to this one while watching Sunday Ticket. Jaguars 20-13
Pat: The Raiders will upset some teams this year, but not this week. Titans won’t do much in the air, but CJ and Vince Young will take care of it on the ground. Titans 21, Raiders 13
Fantasy pick: CHRIS JOHNSON, always. Titans D a good play too.
John: My pick in a Survivor pool. The Raiders can be feisty, but on the road against a strong Titans team that has the most explosive person in football? I'm going with Chris Johnson and crew. Love that guy. I speak for all fantasy football players when I say please don't get hurt, Chris. Titans 27-14
Pat: Ochocinco, T.O., and Moss on the same field, someone get them a reality show! Oh wait...Brady just got a new contract so I expect him to go out and earn it. I look forward to hearing Chad’s reasoning on Twitter after the loss. Patriots 28, Bengals 17
Fantasy pick: Brady. He’s going to have a huge year.
John: I'm not that high on Cincy while I think the Pats will be better than they were last year. I'm sensing a monster year from Tom Brady, who I am picking as the league MVP. I know the Bengals have good corners, so the guy I'm telling you to look out for is Pats rookie TE Rob Gronkowski. The middle's going to open up and Brady's going to find him. Just watch. Good game, but the Pats will win it late. Patriots 24-17
Pat: This is going to be sloppy, like a Henry O. Godwinn slop drop. Both teams have nice core pieces to be good down the line but not this year. Expect some points here, and "eeny meeny miney mo," I go with the Bucs. Bucs 27, Browns 24
Fantasy pick: Well let’s just say don’t use their defenses! Go with Bucs TE Kellen Winslow (make a “tight end” joke and you deserve to be in a Khali match with the task for making it five stars).
John: This will either be a game with a lot of points because they suck on defense or few points because they suck on offense. I'm going lots of points. Big day from Browns RB Jerome Harrison lifts them in this titanic tilt between two of the league's worst. Browns 31-27
Pat: Oh no ,the Colts went 0-4 in the preseason! Ha, that doesn’t mean anything, it’s the Colts and as long as Peyton Manning is there, they’ll be successful. Houston can keep up offensively; it’s their D that’ll have trouble with Peyton and Company. Colts 34, Texans 28
Fantasy pick: If you play fantasy football it’s obvious who to start here: guys like Wayne, Manning, and Clark for the Colts and Johnson/Schaub for Texans, all of whom will produce. Don’t dismiss Joseph Addai though. He's not a lock for 100 yards, but he’ll score a TD.
John: The Texans' career record against the Colts in their eight years in the NFL is 1-15. Peyton Manning owns them, but last year the games were really tight. The Texans have had the whole offseason to prepare for this one game. Can they beat their nemesis? I say no…by a field goal. Colts 27-24
Pat: DA BEARS! DITKA! SAUSAGE! I’m from the Chicago area but don’t take this as a homer pick. The Lions are better but still bad, and I’m hoping the Martz offense will click (I consider 17 points an explosion) at home on opening Sunday after a winless preseason. Bears 17, Lions 14
Fantasy pick: Cutler is ready to run (throw) wild in Martz's offense. There will be INT’s but there will also be plenty of yards and TD’s, and it helps that the Lions were dead last vs. the pass in 2009.
John: Don't be shocked if this is an upset. The Bears offense looked terrible in the preseason. It doesn't matter for some teams, but for one with a new offense it does matter. The Lions, meanwhile, look like they could have some weapons on offense since Matt Stafford had great chemistry with Calvin Johnson while Jahvid Best provides them with explosiveness out of the backfield. Still, Chicago should win and I think home field will matter here. Bears 23-17
Pat: SI’s Peter King picked the Steelers to win the Super Bowl but I have to disagree. This is a different matchup if Big Ben is in there as I’m not too confident in Dennis Dixon, and the Falcons are really about to turn the page in 2010 in becoming a great team. Falcons 20, Steelers 17
Fantasy pick: Dixon at QB hurts the receiving options for Steelers and though the Falcons will produce enough to win, I don’t see a standout fantasy option for them, as the Steelers D is still good. So I’m going with Rashard Mendenhall. He can run, catch, and will be the centerpiece of the Steelers offense until Big Ben is back.
John: Atlanta's favored by 2.5 points on the road here. If Ben Roethlisberger was playing I bet Pittsburgh would be favored by 3 points. That means backup QB Dennis Dixon is a 5.5 point difference.
Still, I'm going Pittsburgh. I like Atlanta this year and I have them making a good playoff run, but this is a tough place to win. The Steelers defense is going to be sharp, they're healthy, and they have a chip on their shoulder. With Troy Polamalu back healthy they are as good as any defense in football. Or maybe all the Steelers fans I know drill that into my head? I dunno. Anyway, I like home underdogs when that home dog is a playoff team…at least to me. I think Dennis Dixon will do just fine. Limit his mistakes and they can win this game. Steelers 23-20
Pat: The Bills will probably be one of the worst teams in the NFL this year and they’ll start off the year with a dud versus an improved Dolphins team. Not a huge blowout but it won’t be close. Dolphins 21, Bills 7
Fantasy pick: ‘Fins RB Ronnie Brown. The Bills were AWFUL versus the run last year. Ricky Williams will get his touches, but Brown is the man if he’s healthy. Plug him in and enjoy.
John: The Bills are awful. I like CJ Spiller a lot, but the rest of the team is just brutal. I expect Miami to feed them a heavy dose of Brandon Marshall early to set up the running game later. They should win fairly comfortably. Dolphins 27-10
Pat: New stadium, new defensive coordinator, I like the G-Men this year. The Panthers dumped Jake Delhomme this offseason and handed the ball to Matt Moore. Is he ready to lead this team back to the playoffs? We’ll see, but the Giants are the better team. Giants 24, Panthers 17
Fantasy pick: Giants WR Steve Smith, the new go-to guy in NY, a great play in PPR leagues.
John: Now that the Giants defensive line is healthy again, they are a tough group especially at home. I think they'll be able to put up some points too. Two seasons ago these were the top two seeds in the NFC. The question is which one of them can reach that level again.
I don't know if either can, but in this game I'm going Giants. I think it's a bounce back year for them thanks to consistent QB play from Eli Manning, a good running game, and one of the best defensive lines in the game. The Panthers can win if their RBs carry them. I just think the Giants will score more in the end. Giants 31-21
Green Bay at Philadelphia 4:15 p.m.
Pat: This pains me as a Bears fan but the Packers are friggin’ good. Rodgers and company are going to score a ton of points and that D isn’t too shabby either. I don’t think the Eagles are as good as some think; the D is regressing and I’m not sure Kolb can make plays happen like McNabb could, though he has better accuracy. Packers 27, Eagles 16
Fantasy pick: Packers TE Jermichael Finley. He’s going to be mentioned in the same group as Clark and Gates by the end of the year.
John: It feels like a shootout to me. The Pack can score on anybody, while they are susceptible to teams that like to pass. I think Kevin Kolb should be fine against this defense, especially at home. I like the Pack thanks to their disgusting offense led by Aaron Rodgers to win what might be the most entertaining game to watch in Week 1. Good for fantasy players too. Packers 37-31
Arizona at St. Louis 4:15 p.m.
Pat: Some people are calling for an upset here partially because Derek Anderson is the QB, and Larry Fitz isn’t 100 percent. Bradford will be a good NFL quarterback but expect growing pains. No upset here but it’ll be close. Cardinals 21, Rams 13
Fantasy pick: Cardinals RB Beanie Wells. He finished 2009 really strong and has surpassed Hightower on the RB depth chart. Oh, and the Rams D kind of blows.
John: I know I shouldn't do it, but I can't help myself. Upset for my beloved St. Louis Rams! Sure, why not? The last few years the Rams haven't had much success against the Cards largely because of Kurt Warner. He's retired, so in his place is Derek Anderson. Not that scary. The Rams biggest problem last year was that they couldn't finish games. The QBs sucked. Now Sam Bradford's there and I have some hope. Maybe I'm crazy. Maybe I'm too biased. I don't care. It's the home opener and it's a new era. I smell a victory…not that I'm used to that smell as a Rams fan of late. Going with my gut instinct! Rams 21-20
Pat: A perfect preseason for the Niners has people talking; the preseason doesn’t mean much but this team looks good. Kudos to Singletary for helping Alex Smith and Vernon Davis become good players when everyone thought they blew their chances. Welcome back to the NFL Pete Carroll. 49ers 17, Seahawks 10
Fantasy pick: Frank Gore. Seahawks have a below average run D and Frank is gold for PPR and TD leagues.
John: I think Seattle's one of the five worst teams in the league while the Niners might have the best defense in football. That makes this one easy to me. Niners 24-10
Pat: I’m always pulling for my fellow EIU alum Romo! It helps that the Cowboys are a good team. Unfortunately for the Redskins they play in a great division. They’re like the Blue Jays of the NFL. Lot of points here I’m thinking. Cowboys 38, Redskins 17
Fantasy pick: ‘Boys WR Miles Austin, if he isn’t too busy thinking about Kim Kardashian’s large assets, he’ll be busy catching passes from Romo all afternoon.
John: I think Washington is going to struggle early in the season. With a new coach and new QB it should mean a slow start for that group. I like Dallas for a lot of reasons: fast offense, physical defense, and they kept their team relatively intact. It's a tough environment, but they should be fine. They're the better team. Romo should have a nice game playing with all the weapons at his disposal. Cowboys 31-17
Baltimore at NY Jets 7:00 p.m. (Mon)
Pat: The Jets are turning into the team to hate with all the crap they’re talking. It won’t take long to shut them up. Flacco/Rice/Boldin > Sanchez/Greene/Edwards. Ravens 17, Jets 10
Fantasy pick: Both teams have great defenses, so it’s hard to see a huge game from anyone but you can always trust Ray Rice to do some kind of damage.
John: I'm going Ravens. To me, they're the more complete team because I have little faith in Mark Sanchez leading the Jets to anything. The Ravens might not be able to pass on them that much, but they can move the ball with Ray Rice. I think Sanchez throws a couple of picks, the Ravens take advantage of the short field and scoop up the road victory. Ravens 23-17
Pat: I don’t think the absence of Vincent Jackson makes a difference when the Chargers still have Philip Rivers. The Chiefs just aren’t that good. Chargers 24, Chiefs 10
Fantasy pick: Philip Rivers, even without Jackson, can make plays.
John: The Chiefs are frisky at home. The Chargers are the better team, though. Usually in Week 1 the better team should win because they have such a long time to prepare. Too much Rivers to Gates in this one. Chargers 30-20
JC Against The Spread
Every week I'll pick four games against the spread or using the over/under. These are my best four picks of the week. Last year I went 38-30-2 (.559) on these including playoffs. Anything above .500 against the spread is good to me. I use pinnaclesports.com for this.
TITANS -6 over Raiders: I think they will win comfortably.
49ers -3 over SEAHAWKS: This is a bet against Seattle, really.
Broncos/Jaguars UNDER 39.5: I feel like it will be low scoring.
STEELERS +1.5 over Falcons: Home team that's a slight dog, works for me.
We'll see you next week.
Pat Lamorte - Twitter.com/plamorte