NFL Picks Week 1: Why to Watch Every Game and Who Will Win

Adam FromalNational NBA Featured ColumnistSeptember 7, 2011

NFL Picks Week 1: Why to Watch Every Game and Who Will Win

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    The NFL season is upon us, which means that we fans will have the opportunity to watch athletes get paid to play football for the second straight weekend. 

    Each team will be in action between Thursday night and Monday night as they all look to get off their season with a tally mark in the victory column. But only 16 teams can achieve it. 

    Who will they be? 

    On top of that, why should you tune into each game? 

    Read on to find out. 

New Orleans Saints vs. Green Bay Packers

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    Why to Watch

    Seriously? You need a reason for this one? 

    Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers are two of the best signal-callers in the entire NFL and they'll lead their respective teams against each other in the season opener. On top of that, the two teams are fairly decent. I mean, they did win the last two Super Bowls.

    Just rejoice in the fact that there's football going on, drop everything else you have planned and turn on your televisions Thursday night.

     

    Who Will Win 

    New Orleans has had an extra year to get over the Super Bowl hangover (although Bourbon Street doesn't exactly help), but the Packers are anxious to prove to the rest of the league that they're serious about repeating. 

    With James Starks and Ryan Grant eager to prove themselves in the Green Bay backfield and Rodgers set to get even better, the New Orleans defense is going to be scrambling all over the field. 

    Expect a lot of points, just more from the team wearing green and yellow. 

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens

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    Why to Watch

    If you like hard-hitting defensive football then this is the game for you. The Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens both boast premier defensive traditions and this season should be no different than the past. 

    Any time James Harrison, Troy Polamalu, Ray Lewis and the rest of these 22 defensive starters line up on the field, you know the pain is coming. 

    Another intriguing subplot will be seeing how soon Harrison can get Roger Goodell to fine him. I'm betting he barely makes it through the first half. 

     

    Who Will Win

    Would you believe that the Steelers failed to make the playoffs in either season following their last two Super Bowl appearances?

    While I expect that trend to cease to exist after the first 17 weeks of this NFL season, the Steelers nation won't be too happy after the first game. Baltimore, after all, is supposed to be a strong contender for the AFC North crown and they'll prove it here. 

    A fourth quarter comeback led by Joe Flacco will push the Ravens into double-digits in the scoring column and give them the victory. 

Atlanta Falcons vs. Chicago Bears

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    Why to Watch

    The Atlanta Falcons could have one of the more dynamic offenses in the NFL this season. 

    With Matt Ryan at the helm and eager to justify his status as the third-best NFL quarterback according to ESPN's newly released quarterback statistic, the Falcons may take to the air more than ever. That means large doses of Roddy White and Julio Jones, the former an All-Pro wide receiver and the latter a hold-your-breath-he's-so-exciting rookie wideout. 

    The press conference afterward could be fun to watch as well. Just make sure you bring your cheese to go along with Jay Cutler's whine. 

     

    Who Will Win

    The Falcons are one of the favorites in the NFC while the Bears are on the decline. Chicago's defense is only getting older and they didn't do much to upgrade either their wide receiving corps or their decrepit offensive line. 

    Atlanta on the other hand added standout defensive end Ray Edwards, a player who will likely be making Cutler's jersey quite dirty by the time the final whistle blows. 

    Instead of trying to figure out who's going to win this game, let's take a look at a much more interesting question: will the number of sacks recorded by the Falcons or the Atlanta margin of victory be greater?

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Cleveland Browns

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    Why to Watch

    The Cleveland Browns could surprise a lot of people and make some noise in the AFC North this season. 

    After all, Colt McCoy looks like a franchise quarterback and should only improve with the implementation of a West Coast offense following a summer of tutelage at the hands of Brett Favre. The Browns also boast the services of Madden cover boy Peyton Hillis. 

    You need to watch Hillis now before the Madden Curse takes over and the running back snaps in two. 

    As for the Bengals, the only real reason to watch them is to see how well Andy Dalton and A.J. Green can play during their first games in the big leagues. 

     

    Who Will Win

    The Browns take this one in a blowout. 

    McCoy is going to complete 80 percent of his passes as the Browns run up the score on the poor Bengals and let loose the pent up frustration they've been accumulating over the last few miserable seasons. 

    Hillis will run for over 100 yards and this game will be over by halftime. 

Indianapolis Colts vs. Houston Texans

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    Why to Watch

    It seems as though analysts call every season the one in which the Houston Texans will make the breakthrough and advance to the playoffs. 

    Well, this is the one. The AFC South is incredibly weak, especially at the quarterback position with Peyton Manning hurt. 

    So, will the Texans be able to live up to the hype or will Andre Johnson and Matt Schaub fail to connect enough? If there's ever a time to step up, it's against a Colts team minus Manning. 

    Speaking of which, you know you want to watch Kerry Collins attempt to lead the complex Indy offense. 

     

    Who Will WIn? 

    Unless Manning gets emergency neck transplant surgery, the Texans should run away with this one. 

    By the way, I know neck transplant surgery doesn't actually exist. But if it did, Manning should get it. And why settle for a human neck? Personally, I think that Manning should replace his neck with one from a giraffe just to make it even easier to see over the defense. 

    I have no confidence in Collins at all so I refuse to pick the Colts here. 

Tennessee Titans vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Why to Watch

    Luke McCown, a hobbled Maurice Jones-Drew, Mike Thomas, Jason Hill. Ladies and gentlemen, your 2011 Jacksonville Jaguars! 

    No seriously though, you want to watch this game to see how much of a train wreck the Jacksonville offense can become with McCown at the helm after the team surprisingly cut David Garrard. How long will a one-legged Maurice Jones-Drew be able to carry the team before they insert rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert into the lineup? 

    On the Tennessee side, Chris Johnson is why you want to tune into this contest. The most dynamic running back in the game is back from his contract dispute and looking to run rampant against what should be an improved Jaguars defense. 

     

    Who Will Win

    As cynical as I may be about the Jaguars offense following the release of Garrard, I still believe there's enough talent on both sides of the ball to hold off the Titans in a close game. 

    Johnson may be able to get his yards, but will he be able to do enough to make up for the fact that Matt Hasselbeck is starting his first game in a Tennessee uniform? 

    This is a battle between two teams who will most likely finish near the bottom of the AFC and it won't be pretty, but the Jaguars will come out on top. 

Buffalo Bills vs. Kansas City Chiefs

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    Why to Watch

    In case you missed it last year, the Kansas City Chiefs are actually a good team. 

    Talented on both sides of the ball, the Chiefs lay claim to an offense that should be a lot of fun to watch throughout the 2011-2012 season. Jamaal Charles is a speedster whose previous success, much like that of the team, is no fluke. Then you have Matt Cassell distributing the ball to Dwayne Bowe and the rest of the receivers. 

    Arrowhead Stadium will be thumping, just like always. 

     

    Who Will Win

    Did you notice that I didn't say a single thing about the Buffalo Bills in the last section? 

    There's a reason for that. 

Philadelphia Eagles vs. St. Louis Rams

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    Why to Watch

    I may be in the minority here, but this is actually the game I'm most excited to watch during Week 1 of the NFL season. 

    It features Michael Vick (who will be chomping at the bit to prove that his last campaign was no fluke), DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy, Jeremy Maclin, Sam Bradford, Steven Jackson and Danny Amendola (who is one of the more underrated receivers in football) on the offensive side of the ball. 

    Then there's the revamped Philly defense, made all the more dangerous with the addition of All-Everything cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. 

     

    Who Will WIn

    The Rams are going to make the playoffs behind the promising right arm of Sam Bradford, but they still aren't ready to challenge the NFC favorites. 

    Vick and the rest of the lighting-quick Eagles offense can put points on the scoreboard in a hurry and they will. 

Detroit Lions vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Why to Watch

    This statement may seem surprising at first, but both of these teams could wind up in the playoffs as the No. 5 and No. 6 seeds from the NFC. 

    Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson could form one of the scariest quarterback-receiver duos in the NFL for quite some time and the Detroit defense, led by Ndamukong Suh, cannot be taken lightly.  

    As for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Josh Freeman is another promising young quarterback looking to establish himself among the elite at his position. 

    There's a lot to like about each of these two teams as long as you look past the tradition that goes with the names. 

     

    Who Will Win

    Assuming that Stafford can stay healthy for an entire game, the Lions can pull off the upset this Sunday. 

    Freeman may be one of the best at leading comebacks in the fourth quarter, but that's at least partially due to the fact that he's often trailing going into that final quarter. This time, he'll be trailing by enough that a comeback isn't possible.

    Suh is going to get his sophomore season off to a great start and make the running game of the Buccaneers live on the outside all night.

    Let's just hope that there are no controversial calls in this Lions opener.  

Carolina Panthers vs. Arizona Cardinals

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    Why to Watch

    Kevin Kolb vs. Cam Newton and that's about it. 

    These two NFL bottom-feeders both will have new quarterbacks at the helm and both have extraordinarily high expectations. 

    Kolb looked great for the Philadelphia Eagles before Michael Vick took over the starting job and never looked back. Now he'll have to form a bond with Larry Fitzgerald and lead the Cardinals back to the promised land. 

    Newton on the other hand was the No. 1 pick in the draft and is coming off a Heisman Trophy-winning season at Auburn. His insane athleticism may be able to carry him at times, but it remains to be seen just how good he is at actually throwing the ball. 

    I can't believe I'm recommending a game between the Panthers and the Cardinals, but I am. 

     

    Who Will Win

    I have no idea. 

    The Cardinals have the better overall team but Newton proved last season that you should never bet against him. 

    I'm not going to so I'm picking the Panthers in a slight upset. 

Minnesota Vikings vs. San Diego Chargers

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    Why to Watch

    If Phillip Rivers and Adrian Peterson aren't enough to get you going, then you need to go check your pulse and make sure you're still alive. 

    While another Brett Favre comeback would add to the drama of this game, I'm kind of glad it's not happening. After all, this should still be an entertaining game to watch as Donovan McNabb makes his debut in a purple uniform. 

     

    Who Will WIn

    Don't make the mistake of looking at McNabb in his new garb and seeing any resemblance to the longtime Philadelphia Eagle that was incredibly good. After all, McNabb is not too far removed from his benching for Rex Grossman at the end of this past season. 

    While Peterson is good enough to carry his team at times and the defense isn't exactly shabby, the Vikings aren't even an elite team in the NFC. The Chargers on the other hand are one of the best teams in the entire NFL. 

    It wouldn't surprise me too much to see Rivers throw for 400 yards and three scores as looks to build upon the success of his 2010-2011 campaign. 

Seattle Seahawks vs. San Francisco 49ers

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    Why to Watch

    Here are the reasons to watch this one: 

    1. You are a fan of the Seattle Seahawks. 

    2. You are a fan of the San Francisco 49ers. 

    3. You want to see who has the early edge in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. 

    I am having trouble thinking of a fourth reason. 

     

    Who Will Win

    As little confidence as I have in Alex Smith, I have even less in Tavaris Jackson as he makes his debut with the Seahawks. 

    Jim Harbaugh is going to be fired up to get his new squad to play hard. If he can get Vernon Davis to get it going, the 49ers could be a fairly difficult team to beat. 

    Seattle may have won a game in the playoffs last season, but they aren't the same team without Matt Hasselbeck. 

New York Giants vs. Washington Redskins

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    Why to Watch

    Remember how Eli Manning is in the same class as Tom Brady?  

    I for one can't wait to see how he backs up that statement after a lackluster preseason. 

    As for the Redskins, let's just move on. 

     

    Who Will Win

    Eli Manning is not in the same class as Tom Brady no matter what he says. But neither is Rex Grossman. 

    Manning though is a hell of a lot closer to Brady than Grossman is. 

    The extra emotion from the 10th anniversary of the tragic events of September 11, 2001 may give the Redskins a boost. Then again, the Giants will be able to draw inspiration from the events as well.

    This game won't even be close. 

Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Jets

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    Why to Watch

    How do you not want to watch what unfolds when Rex Ryan lines up on one sideline and Rob Ryan stares right back at him from the other side? Their father, Buddy Ryan, is even putting off cancer surgery to watch this game. The least that you can do is turn it on. 

    After all, the Dallas Cowboys are supposedly America's Team and Tony Romo will be back under center after he broke his collarbone last season. Felix Jones and Dez Bryant will attempt to take their games to the next level for the Cowboys as they go against a fearsome Jets defense. 

    Similarly, Mark Sanchez will try to prove to all the doubters that he isn't as overrated as they seem to think. Can Plaxico Burress, making his post-prison debut, help him out with that? 

     

    Who Will WIn

    My dad, a diehard Redskins fan (poor guy), taught me never to pick the Cowboys. 

    Even though that's a good enough reason for me, so too is the fact that the Jets are just really, really good. The creativity and motivation that Rex Ryan provides one defense should be enough to confuse the Dallas offense as the Jets offense struggles to get going.

    But while I'm picking the Jets to win the game, I am going to lean towards Rob Ryan's side during the postgame interviews. That may be an even more interesting battle.  

New England Patriots vs. Miami Dolphins

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    Why to Watch

    Can Chad Henne hold off the boo birds in Miami for even a single half? As embarrassing as it is to admit, I was a Henne supporter going into last season, even owning him on almost every one of my fantasy teams. The same cannot be said this year. 

    The first half of this game will be fun to watch as Tom Brady methodically picks apart a Miami defense that thinks it's better than it is

    The second half...not so much. 

     

    Who Will Win

    I give you my full permission to move to Las Vegas and bet your life savings on the New England Patriots. 

    That said, if the Dolphins somehow pull off a massive upset, you do not have the right to hold me responsible. 

Oakland Raiders vs. Denver Broncos

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    Why to Watch

    Honestly, the best reason to watch this game is because it's the only one taking place at that time on Monday night. 

    Other than that, there aren't too many good reasons unless you want a lot of shots and discussions of Tim Tebow's form while sitting on the bench. 

    Unless Darren McFadden runs for 200 yards, the only way this game becomes really interesting is if either Terrelle Pryor or Tebow somehow finds his way into the game. 

     

    Who Will Win

    The Raiders have won seven straight games in the AFC West, including 59-14 and 39-23 victories against the Denver Broncos last season. 

    Look for that streak to continue as Jacoby Ford surprises a few people with some good play and McFadden runs wild against an incredibly porous Denver defensive line. 

    Tebow may actually find his way into this game with some mop-up duty. 

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    Adam Fromal is a syndicated writer and Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report. Follow him on  Twitter.

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