The NFL's Week 1 schedule is just two days away from starting, as the New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers will face off on Thursday night at Lambeau Field.
With the return of the NFL regular season schedule comes everyone's favorite past time: Becoming the Nostradamus for NFL predictions.
Of course, not all NFL picks are created equal.
Here are the safest picks to open the NFL's first week of games:
New York Giants at Washington Redskins
A safe early season rule for this year? Pick against Rex Grossman. The Redskins named him the team's starting quarterback, but that shouldn't inspire much confidence in Washington winning games. The quarterback is the most important player on every team, and the Redskins simply don't have a good one.
The Giants have one of the NFL's best pass-rushes, however, and that should serve to make the start of Grossman's 2011 a long one. As long as Eli Manning and the Giants offense don't throw this game away, the Giants should cruise.
New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins
A lot is made about the Patriots' struggles in Miami, but they are just 5-5 in their last 10 games along the South Beach. Some fantastically average Dolphins teams have beaten the Patriots over that time. There is still a measure of risk in taking New England in this game.
On paper, however, the Pats are the clear winner. I'm not sure if Miami has the offensive firepower to expose the Patriots' weakness in their defensive secondary. It'll be closer than people think, but New England is still a safe bet to beat the Dolphins.
Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns
The Bengals remind me a little bit of where the Browns were last season—rookie quarterback, rebuilding franchise, coach on the hot seat. It could be a long season for Cincinnati. However, the Browns look like they could be on their way up.
Colt McCoy appears to have improved from year one to two, and he's the key to whether the Browns build on their five wins from a year ago. He's also the difference between these two teams at the moment. Browns take this game somewhat easily.
Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs
Matt Cassel's rib injury won't likely keep him out of the Chiefs' opener, which is a good sign for Kansas City. Without him, this game might swing the other way. That shouldn't be the case. Cassel's ability to throw the ball down field is just enough to open running lanes for Jamaal Charles, who is one of the NFL's most electric running backs. He's Chris Johnson without the price tag.
The Bills still have a ways to go before they're able to go to Arrowhead Stadium and leave with a win. Chiefs will take an early lead then cruise to their first win of the 2011 season.
Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans
The spread of this game has widen with news that Peyton Manning will likely miss the contest. And it should. Manning is the heart and soul of that franchise, and they're in for a big drop off with Manning on the sidelines.
Houston, on the other hand, looks like a team ready to make the playoffs for the first time in their history. The offense is explosive, with Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson, and the defense should be improved with all the additions they made this offseason.
Even with Manning in the lineup, the Texans were likely to be favorites. Backup Kerry Collins won't be able to expose the Texans as they adjust to the 3-4 defense as Manning likely could. It's Houston's game to win, and their division to lose.