NFL Picks Week 1: The 5 Biggest Stone-Cold Locks in NFL's Opening Week
We thought there would be no season, but alas, the 2011 NFL regular season is upon us—and it's going to be one of the best yet.
The New Orleans Saints travel north to take on the Green Bay Packers in the NFL season opener, and since it's two elite quarterbacks against one another, the game is going to be a toss up.
There will be a few close games this weekend, but, as always, there are definite locks you need to know about.
If you're looking to beat your buddies in a pick 'em challenge or your co-workers in an office pool, you've come to the right place.
Here are the top five locks of Week 1 in the 2011 NFL season.
5. Houston Texans over Indianapolis Colts
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There has never been more pressure on Gary Kubiak and the Houston Texans to win the AFC South. Peyton Manning is out for two to three months with neck issues, which means it's time for Matt Schaub to take over the division.
The Texans shouldn't have any problems at home against the Colts. Sure, Indianapolis picked up Kerry Collins, but he doesn't know the offense well enough to lead this team to victory.
Plus, the Colts run game has been lacking for years and the new-look Texans defense under Wade Phillips will enjoy shutting them down. The Texans will win easily, as they begin their journey to AFC South champs.
4. Denver Broncos over Oakland Raiders
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Sure, the Oakland Raiders swept the AFC West in 2010, but the odds of that happening in 2011 are very slim—especially since they open the season against the Denver Broncos.
The Raiders haven’t won a season opener since losing the Super Bowl in 2003. That’s eight years of starting the season off with a loss—and it's about to be nine. The loss of Nnamdi Asomugha will be felt in this game more than most people think as the Broncos air it out.
Kyle Orton will prove to everyone why he is the starter and not Tim Tebow. He has to show Broncos fans that he can win games for them. The best way to do that is to start the season off with a win over their division rivals at home on Monday night.
3. Cleveland Browns over Cincinnati Bengals
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Never trust a rookie quarterback in his season opener, especially one who is far from ready to start an NFL game. Plus, factor in how far back Andy Dalton really is because of the NFL lockout, and you'll realize why this is one of the safest bets of Week 1.
The Bengals are one of the worst teams in the NFL, and second-year quarterback Colt McCoy and the Browns are going to prove it. Expect Peyton Hillis to avoid the Madden curse for Week 1 and run all over Cincinnati.
After the Browns wipe the field with the Bengals, perhaps Mike Brown will regret not getting good value in return for Carson Palmer.
2. New England Patriots over Miami Dolphins
Tom Brady has fallen to the Dolphins twice in the last five years. The best quarterback in the NFL is not going to start his season off with a loss to possibly the worst team in the division.
The Patriots are the top team in the AFC this year and they will prove it by demolishing the Dolphins. Brady vs. Chad Henne is no contest at all, and after this game Miami will heavily pursue David Garrard.
Due to an inconsistent quarterback and a very weak run game, the Dolphins don't stand a chance. New England's defense won't have any problems shutting down rookie Daniel Thomas and Reggie Bush, who is far from a feature back.
1. Arizona Cardinals over Carolina Panthers
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In the biggest lock of Week 1, Kevin Kolb will show his doubters that he deserves to start in the NFL. Granted, he'll only have beaten up on the Panthers so he'll still need more quality wins, but he will win big over Carolina, which will excite Cardinals fans.
Going back to the rule of thumb, never a trust a rookie quarterback in his NFL debut. Cam Newton may have the size and the speed, but he still needs a lot of work on his arm and his brain. Expect several poor decisions from the No. 1 overall pick.
The Cardinals will easily win, thanks to great play from rookie Patrick Peterson, Kevin Kolb and top wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. This is a great warm-up game for the Cardinals as they prepare to hopefully win a weak NFC West.