NFL Picks Week 1: 5 Surefire Upsets You'll Never See Coming

Eric BallFeatured ColumnistSeptember 7, 2011

JACKSONVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 01:  Quarterback Sam Bradford #8 of the St. Louis Rams attempts a pass during a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on September 1, 2011 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Just because it’s popular doesn’t mean it’s right.

The NFL Week 1 slate features multiple games that the public believes are stone cold locks. Yet due to multiple factors like injures, new players adjusting and young players progressing, the term "lock" is non-existent in Week 1.

Here are five games you need to take a second look at before going with the popular pick:


1) New Orleans Saints @ Green Bay Packers

Just because they won a Super Bowl in February doesn’t mean they are going to pick up right where they left off.

The Saints made major upgrades on the D-line and made a great decision in drafting running back Mark Ingram.

The Packers made no real acquisitions of note in free agency and lost top defender Cullen Jenkins.

I fully expect Drew Brees to be the most prepared QB in the league in Week 1 and he will turn that hard work and a top notch O-line into a win for his Saints.


2) Philadelphia Eagles @ St. Louis Rams

At home, in a dome, with upgrades all over the roster—the Rams have a lot of things going their way in 2011.

Sure the new-look Eagles mesmerize everyone, but they won’t be turning into a super-power overnight. It takes time to gel as a unit and learn each other’s tendencies.

It’s going to be ugly early on and expect the raucous Rams crowd to create a turnover or two.

Don’t buy the hype just yet—pick the Rams.


3) Detroit Lions @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Everyone has fallen in love with the Lions; a team that started last year 2-10, a team that can never stay healthy, a team that will be missing their first-round pick, a team that has been horrible for over a decade.

Now they are favored?

The young Bucs are hungry to show their 10-6 record in 2010 was no fluke and will humble the suddenly cocky Lions right off the bat.


4) New York Giants @ Washington Redskins

The Redskins defense is one of the most underrated units in the league heading into the season and I expect them to shut down the Giants air attack, forcing them into a one-dimensional offense. This plays right into the hands of the stout Redskins defensive line.

If Rex Grossman can merely have an okay game against a Giants secondary that is already decimated by injuries, the defense and special teams will do the rest in this NFC East stunner.


5) New England Patriots @ Miami Dolphins

Everyone assumed the Patriots would be the best team after the lockout because of their devotion to the same system.

Yet with so many new parts on defense, how quickly will they gel? What can we expect from DT Albert Haynesworth?

He’s a complete wild card at this point.

Offensively, QB Tom Brady and WR Chad Ochocinco continue to struggle with timing and it’s taking longer than expected to get on the same page. Ocho has played for one offensive coordinator his entire career and grasping the complex New England system is a steep learning curve.

It’s no accident that Brady admitted he would love to have Randy Moss back.

If the Dolphins defense can create turnovers and give QB Chad Henne good field position, the ‘Fins will steal a close one on a last-minute field goal.

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