NFL Picks Week 1: Bleacher Report's Expert Consensus Predictions

Michael Schottey@SchotteyNFL National Lead WriterSeptember 3, 2013

NFL Picks Week 1: Bleacher Report's Expert Consensus Predictions

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    The NFL is back, and now the games matter!

    No one is more excited for Week 1 of the NFL season than Bleacher Report's lead writing crew. For your reading enjoyment, we've provided our picks and will do so all season long. In future weeks, we'll even be "keeping score" of our predictions so we can keep each other honest. There may or may not be bragging rights involved as well. 

    This week is going to come roaring out of the gate with a fantastic Baltimore-Denver matchup that ended up in Mile High because of an Orioles game in Baltimore. From there, fantastic divisional matchups like Atlanta-New Orleans, Minnesota-Detroit and Philadelphia-Washington will have our interest piqued. 

    Of course, the storyline of Week 1 is new faces in new places. How will Chip Kelly fare in Philadelphia? What about Carson Palmer in Arizona, or Alex Smith in Kansas City?

    Disagree with our picks? Great. Give us yours in the comments below, and tell us why you're right and we're wrong. 


    Michael Schottey: National Lead NFL Writer (Twitter)

    Matt Bowen: National Lead NFL Writer (Twitter)

    Mike Freeman: National Lead NFL Writer (Twitter)

    Ty Schalter: National Lead NFL Writer (Twitter)

    Matt Miller: National Lead NFL Draft Writer (Twitter)

    Erik Frenz: AFC East Lead NFL Writer (Twitter)

    Andrea Hangst: AFC North Lead NFL Writer (Twitter)

    Chris Hansen: AFC West Lead NFL Writer (Twitter)

    Knox Bardeen: NFC South Lead NFL Writer (Twitter)

    Brad Gagnon: NFC East Lead NFL Writer (Twitter)

    Tyson Langland: NFC West Lead NFL Writer (Twitter)

    Zach Kruse: NFC North Lead NFL Writer (Twitter)

    All betting lines are from Bovada (via ESPN) and are intended for informational purposes only. All picks are straight-up.

Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos (Thursday Night Football)

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    B/R Consensus Pick: Broncos (8-4)

    Vegas: Broncos (-7.5)

    Schottey: Ravens 24-21

    The Ravens defense is a lot better than last year. They'll throw the kitchen sink at Peyton Manning and catch the timing offense before it's properly tuned. 

    Bowen: Ravens 20-17

    Can the Broncos lose at home on opening night? Sure they can versus this Ravens defense. Baltimore forces two turnovers in the second half to set up Joe Flacco in scoring position.

    Schalter: Broncos 27-17

    I like the Broncos offense to click early against a Ravens defense that's still jelling after a tumultuous offseason. Broncos D can protect a lead.

    Freeman: Ravens 20-18

    The Ravens won't be the bunch of suckers everyone is predicting. Ray Rice dominates this game.

    Miller: Broncos 20-17

    The Ravens may be better on defense this year, but the offense will struggle without Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta. Oh, and the game is in Denver.

    Frenz: Ravens 21-20

    A road team can't win the opening game of the season? Don't tell that to the Dallas Cowboys. The Ravens defense figures to be severely underrated for the amount of talent they have across the board and can hold Peyton's Broncos to 20 or under.

    Hangst: Broncos 28-20

    The Ravens should have a solid season, but their questions on offense won't be answered in Week 1. The result is an inability to outscore Denver, though their defense will play well.

    Hansen: Broncos 27-21

    Denver craves revenge for last year's playoff loss, and the Ravens are still putting new pieces together.

    Bardeen: Broncos 27-17

    Peyton Manning should start strong and put this offense on cruise control for the 2013 season.

    Gagnon: Broncos 20-17

    Opening-night momentum is killed because the Ravens have to take the show on the road. Even without Von Miller, the Broncos are the better team here.

    Langland: Broncos 24-21

    Even without Von Miller, the Broncos will squeak out a victory, thanks in large part to a certain 12-time Pro Bowler.

    Kruse: Broncos 30-20

    The Ravens' moving parts are still jelling, on offense and defense. I'll take Peyton Manning and three stud wide receivers in a nationally televised game.

    Official Final Score: Broncos 49-27

    The Ravens defense just wasn't prepared for the high-octane Broncos offense led by Peyton Manning. Manning threw for 462 yards and tied an NFL-record with seven touchdown passes. 

Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints

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    B/R Consensus Pick: Saints (9-3)

    Vegas: Saints (-3)

    Schottey: Falcons 31-27

    Look, it's great that Sean Payton is back, but I'm not buying that his absence was the only thing wrong with the Saints last season. The Falcons have assembled a great team and should be able to win a ton of individual matchups in this one. 

    Bowen: Saints 34-30

    Brees and Ryan light up the scoreboard, but I'm not betting against the Saints at home.

    Schalter: Saints 35-33

    This will likely be the best game of the week. A motivated Sean Payton and the Saints host a Falcons team in "Super Bowl or bust" mode.

    Freeman: Saints 30-25

    Sean Payton makes that much of a difference. Payton and Brees are too much for the Falcons.

    Miller: Saints 31-28

    A pissed-off Sean Payton should scare people. The Saints will see this as a revenge game, and they'll win it.

    Frenz: Saints 30-28

    The Saints' high-powered offense gets the team back on the right track with a home win after a tough 2012, but their porous defense leaves this one close to the end against an equally intimidating Falcons offense.

    Hangst: Falcons 35-34

    Ultimately, the Saints' continued struggles on defense will doom them in a close loss to their biggest divisional foe.

    Hansen: Saints 35-31

    I don't trust Rob Ryan's defenses because they give up big plays, but that actually might work when Drew Brees is your quarterback. I expect a lot of explosive plays; the Saints will just make a couple more at home with Coach Payton back on the sideline.

    Bardeen: Saints 34-30

    The Saints' new defense gives Atlanta's offensive line fits. Atlanta is 2-8 in New Orleans over the last 10 games and 1-4 in the Big Easy with Mike Smith as head coach.

    Gagnon: Saints 30-20

    Atlanta is the better team, but the Falcons can't win in New Orleans.

    Langland: Falcons 35-28

    I have a hard time putting any faith in the New Orleans defense, especially against Matt Ryan. Atlanta wins in a shootout.

    Kruse: Saints 34-31

    The defenses in this game will predictably struggle in stopping two of the best scoring offenses in football. The return of Sean Payton gives New Orleans the boost it needs at home.

Cincinnati Bengals at Chicago Bears

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    B/R Consensus Pick: Bengals (7-5)

    Vegas: Bears (-3)

    Schottey: Bengals 28-20

    Quarterback Jay Cutler isn't exactly the coolest cucumber under pressure, and the Bengals have one of the toughest front fours in all of football. Turnovers should win this one for Cincinnati. 

    Bowen: Bengals 19-17

    The Bengals defensive front is the best in football. That's too much for the Bears' rebuilt offensive line in Marc Trestman's coaching debut.

    Schalter: Bengals 28-24

    There may be panic in the Windy City after dropping the home opener to the Bengals, especially as Cutler takes more heat than the revamped offensive line was supposed to allow. No worries, though; the Bengals are just good.

    Freeman: Bears 20-17

    We see the good Jay, and he rides a solid running game to victory.

    Miller: Bears 17-14

    This could be the best game no one is talking about. The interior play from both teams will keep this interesting, but in the end the home team wins.

    Frenz: Bengals 28-20

    The Bengals defense swarms a retooling Bears offensive line, and Jay Cutler's "backfoot mania" continues. Brandon Tate pulls his best Devin Hester impersonation, with a return touchdown putting the Bengals over the top.

    Hangst: Bengals 17-10

    Cincinnati's defensive front will get the best of Chicago's O-line, allowing the Bengals to pick up a road win in their season opener.

    Hansen: Bears 17-14

    Should be an exciting game between two good defenses. It's hard to trust Jay Cutler, but he gets the edge against Andy Dalton. Matt Forte could be the difference.

    Bardeen: Bengals 24-14

    This may be the start of a special season for the Bengals. Cincinnati dominates in all phases of the game.

    Gagnon: Bears 20-17

    Both teams should be real contenders this year. I only give the Bears a small edge because I'm pumped about that new coaching staff in their home debut.

    Langland: Bears 17-14

    As tempting as Cincinnati is to pick, Chicago always plays well at home. Look for the Bears' new-look offense to control the game and the line of scrimmage.

    Kruse: Bengals 24-20

    A sneaky good game, with a sleeper Super Bowl pick visiting a rebuilt Bears team with a new head coach. I want to pick the Bears badly here, but Cincy is so talented on both sides of the ball.

Miami Dolphins at Cleveland Browns

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    B/R Consensus Pick: Dolphins (7-5)

    Vegas: Browns (-1)

    Schottey: Dolphins 16-10

    I've been hard on the Dolphins and their general manager, Jeff Ireland. However, overpaying for guys doesn't matter once they hit the field, and this team should be improved in 2013. Look for the defense to absolutely rattle the Browns. 

    Bowen: Browns 17-9

    This could be an ugly football game with Trent Richardson taking over in the fourth quarter to give the Browns the opening-day win.

    Schalter: Browns 21-14

    The Browns begin their surprising season by clamping down on the banged-up Dolphins offense.

    Freeman: Dolphins 21-9

    Ryan Tannehill begins his march to becoming one of the league's better quarterbacks.

    Miller: Dolphins 12-6

    No Josh Gordon at wideout will keep the Cleveland offense from being able to win—even if the defense holds Miami under 14 points.

    Frenz: Dolphins 20-17

    Ryan Tannehill, at present, is a better quarterback than Brandon Weeden and has more weapons at his disposal, giving the Dolphins the edge in this one.

    Hangst: Browns 21-17

    The new era of Browns football opens mercifully at home. Though they won't have Josh Gordon, they have enough talent elsewhere on the roster to get the better of Miami.

    Hansen: Browns 24-20

    Cleveland deserves this one. After a good offseason, I think the Browns can edge the Dolphins with good defense and an improved offense.

    Bardeen: Dolphins 17-14

    Miami should show the NFL that spending big on free agents works. But it'll be Tannehill that saves the day.

    Gagnon: Dolphins 24-23

    This is a toss-up between two teams that are supposed to be better with young quarterbacks. I still give Miami the small edge early as the Browns get acclimated.

    Langland: Dolphins 21-17

    Ray Horton's defense will keep Cleveland in the game, but Tannehill's second-half performance will lead Miami to victory.

    Kruse: Browns 23-20

    The Browns at 1-0? Why not. Walking out of Cleveland won't be a cakewalk for anyone in 2013.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New York Jets

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    B/R Consensus Pick: Buccaneers (12-0)

    Vegas: Buccaneers (-3)

    Schottey: Buccaneers 17-9

    I'm down on both of these teams, but the Jets are flailing already. The Bucs' new defensive pieces should take advantage. 

    Bowen: Buccaneers 16-10 

    I can't see the Jets offense producing points regardless of who is starting at QB. I'm taking the Bucs to win this one.

    Schalter: Buccaneers 17-3

    The Revis Bowl is not going to go well for the home team. The Buccaneers have flaws, but their defense is way too talented for a Jets offense which looks to be in shambles.

    Freeman: Buccaneers 20-7

    Darrelle Revis intercepts Geno Sanchez twice. It will happen. Because they are the Jets.

    Miller: Buccaneers 42-0

    The Jets may be the ugliest offensive team we see all season. The stout Tampa defense will crush Rex Ryan's ballclub.

    Frenz: Buccaneers 14-12

    This should be a defensive struggle. Geno Smith will throw two picks, giving the Buccaneers ample opportunity to put this away.

    Hangst: Buccaneers 21-6

    The Buccaneers may be a team to watch this year, or they may be as maddeningly inconsistent as ever, but no version of them falls to this Jets team in Week 1.

    Hansen: Buccaneers 20-10

    The Jets are a disaster, but their defense is probably getting overshadowed by the quarterback situation and the off-field antics. New York will keep it closer than expected, but it's hard to see this game going in its favor.

    Bardeen: Buccaneers 16-7

    This game has the makings of an ugly offensive display. The Bucs win only because it's the Jets on the opposite sideline.

    Gagnon: Buccaneers 23-0

    You get the feeling the Jets are finally on the verge of hitting rock bottom.

    Langland: Buccaneers 19-9

    The Jets should keep the game close because of their defense, but in the end the better of the two offenses will prevail.

    Kruse: Buccaneers 20-10

    How do the Jets score points? Regardless of who is playing quarterback for New York, the Bucs should roll in Darrelle Revis' return to the Big Apple.

New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills

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    B/R Consensus Pick: Patriots (12-0)

    Vegas: Patriots (-10)

    Schottey: Patriots 33-13

    Like the Jets, it doesn't matter who starts at QB for the Bills. The Patriots defense is going to throw everything at EJ Manuel, and the offense is going to set a pace Buffalo has no chance of matching.

    Bowen: Patriots 30-13

    The Patriots have owned the Bills during Tom Brady's career, and that won't change with the injury issues at the quarterback position in Buffalo.

    Schalter: Patriots 23-21

    The Bills should surprise early, with new defensive looks slowing the Pats down and C.J. Spiller rolling. Eventually, Brady and Danny Amendola solve the Stephon Gilmore-less Bills secondary.

    Freeman: Patriots 28-10

    Tom Brady does what he does—turns ordinary receivers into good ones—and he picks the Bills apart.

    Miller: Patriots 45-6

    The Bills lack the talent to keep pace with the Patriots on either side of the ball. Tom Brady's new young weapons will explode.

    Frenz: Patriots 35-16

    The Patriots offense might look different, but with Tom Brady at the helm, we can almost always expect a fireworks show. The Bills will likely score more points with EJ Manuel starting, but don't expect him to out-duel one of the game's best in his first NFL game.

    Hangst: Patriots 31-10

    Tom Brady is wanting for playmakers, but that doesn't mean he can't make plays with the receivers he has.

    Hansen: Patriots 35-10

    If the Bills win, it would be the upset of Week 1.

    Bardeen: Patriots 30-14

    Brady doesn't need superstars; he makes superstars. He also exposes weaker teams like Buffalo easily.

    Gagnon: Patriots 35-7

    Look for the Patriots to make a statement and take out offseason frustrations on an opponent in disarray.

    Langland: Patriots 28-13

    EJ Manuel or Tom Brady? Brady all day. Patriots win big.

    Kruse: Patriots 34-13

    Tom Brady isn't losing to a banged-up rookie quarterback. Patriots big.

Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers

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    B/R Consensus Pick: Steelers (12-0)

    Vegas: Steelers (-7)

    Schottey: Steelers 27-16

    The Titans offensive line should actually win some battles here, but CJ2K will have to wait for future weeks to really get his 2,000-yard campaign rolling. Jake Locker throws a couple of interceptions to seal the deal here for Pittsburgh. 

    Bowen: Steelers 21-13

    The Titans will try to control the tempo by running the football, but Ben Roethlisberger closes this game out in the fourth quarter.

    Schalter: Steelers 20-10

    The Titans running game is going to catch some teams by surprise, but not Pittsburgh, and certainly not at Heinz Field.

    Freeman: Steelers 28-14

    Big Ben throws for three scores, and the Steelers D contains Chris Johnson.

    Miller: Steelers 27-13

    Jake Locker has looked better in the preseason, but he's not ready to move the ball on this defense.

    Frenz: Steelers 20-9

    The Steelers were handed a bitter defeat by the Titans in Week 6 in the NFL Network's Thursday night showcase, and they likely haven't forgotten. The defense takes out its aggression on Chris Johnson and Co.

    Hangst: Steelers 23-20

    Last year, the Steelers were bested by a Titans team that wasn't thought to be much of anything. This year, the Titans will again give them a fight, but the Steelers will come out on top.

    Hansen: Steelers 28-20

    Pittsburgh lays a few eggs every year, but rarely in Week 1. The Titans have talent, but they just aren't consistent because of their quarterback. Steelers should roll, but the Titans will make it look close with a late score.

    Bardeen: Steelers 24-14

    The Titans might be better than this scores predicts, but Pittsburgh has something to prove this season.

    Gagnon: Steelers 21-20

    This will be a battle. Pittsburgh took some hits in the offseason, and the Titans are better than most people think.

    Langland: Steelers 21-16

    Jake Locker versus Dick LeBeau's defense (on the road) has to be the easiest pick of Week 1. Pittsburgh controls the game for all four quarters.

    Kruse: Steelers 24-10

    Locker scares me against any defense, much less a Dick LeBeau unit on the road. Steelers get the turnovers necessary to cruise.

Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions

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    B/R Consensus Pick: Lions (10-2)

    Vegas: Lions (-5.5)

    Schottey: Lions 33-26

    The Lions defense isn't going to stop Adrian Peterson, but eventually Christian Ponder will have to throw. When that happens, Detroit's defensive front is going to apply all sorts of pressure he won't be ready for in Week 1. 

    Bowen: Lions 24-17

    Minnesota will play a lot of Cover 2 to take away the deep ball versus Calvin Johnson, but Ponder's inability to make plays on third downs is the story here.

    Schalter: Lions 27-23

    Without Antoine Winfield, Calvin Johnson will be hard for the Vikings to stop. The Lions pass rush should give Christian Ponder fits.

    Freeman: Lions 22-20

    Ndamukong Suh finally gets his temper under control. The D-line slows Adrian Peterson.

    Miller: Lions 17-14

    My faith in Christian Ponder is non-existent, and the Detroit pass rush will frustrate him all day.

    Frenz: Lions 23-17

    The Vikings still only have one true offensive weapon in Peterson, and the Lions figure to have a much more balanced approach on offense this season.

    Hangst: Lions 17-10

    Detroit's longtime nemesis has been Adrian Peterson, but I see them being able to bottle him up in their first meeting of the season, leading to a low-scoring win.

    Hansen: Vikings 24-20

    The Lions seem to fool people every year, but I just don't trust their coaching or secondary. The Vikings have a few more weapons to tinker with, and Peterson doesn't care that Detroit has a great defensive line.

    Bardeen: Vikings 20-17

    Purple Jesus should drive this bus home all afternoon.

    Gagnon: Lions 27-21

    The Lions are an improved squad from last year. They will come up big in their home opener against a familiar opponent.

    Langland: Lions 24-20

    The 2013 Detroit Lions will look like the 2011 Detroit Lions. And it all starts Week 1 with a win over their NFC North pals.

    Kruse: Lions 20-17

    Which quarterback makes the game-changing mistake? I'll take Christian Ponder, who should be getting harassed by the Lions defensive line for most of the afternoon.

Oakland Raiders at Indianapolis Colts

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    B/R Consensus Pick: Colts (12-0)

    Vegas: Colts (-10)

    Schottey: Colts 30-10

    This game is not going to be pretty for the Raiders—in any way, shape or form. Andrew Luck is going to make Oakland and its fans pray for April and the draft to come as quickly as possible. 

    Bowen: Colts 34-14

    Luck should produce big numbers versus a Raiders team that has plenty of holes on the depth chart.

    Schalter: Colts 35-14

    This is a harsh matchup for Oakland. Keep an eye on Darrius Heyward-Bey, who should be extra motivated.

    Freeman: Colts 30-7

    The Raiders are the least talented team in football, and they will make that abundantly clear in Week 1.

    Miller: Colts 35-9

    Oakland may not win a game all year. Don't expect the Raiders to get off to a miracle start against Chuck Pagano's Colts.

    Frenz: Colts 29-13

    Terrelle Pryor as starter? Did it really matter, anyway? Not in this game, where Pryor or Matt Flynn figured to be out-dueled by Andrew Luck at Lucas Oil Stadium.

    Hangst: Colts 31-13

    The Colts came out of nowhere last year to secure a playoff spot after some thought they'd be the worst team in the league. The Raiders are thought to be one of the worst heading into this season, but they won't be shocking the Colts in Indianapolis with Terrelle Pryor under center.

    Hansen: Colts 31-23

    The game could be more interesting with Pryor at quarterback. I think the Colts might have a disappointing year, but they should roll at home.

    Bardeen: Colts 27-14

    The Raiders might be playing the Colts, but they're competing with the Jets for title of league's worst in 2013.

    Gagnon: Colts 35-20

    Two teams moving in very different directions, or at least at very different speeds. Colts roll in their home opener.

    Langland: Colts 34-10

    The Colts look to be one of the best teams in the AFC, while the Raiders appear to be one of the worst. Andrew Luck will be too much for Oakland's weak secondary.

    Kruse: Colts 27-17

    Andrew Luck at home against Terrelle Pryor is a no-brainer.

Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers

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    B/R Consensus Pick: Seahawks (9-3)

    Vegas: Seahawks (-3.5)

    Schottey: Panthers 17-14

    We actually saw this matchup last year, and it was a surprisingly competitive contest (16-12 Seattle in Week 5). It's a long trip in Week 1 for the Seahawks, and I think Cam Newton and an improved Panthers defense is going to be ready and waiting for the upset special. 

    Bowen: Seahawks 23-14

    I'm looking forward to seeing Newton and the Panthers match up against the Seahawks secondary, but the story here is Russell Wilson. He'll be too much for the Panthers in the second half.

    Schalter: Seahawks 24-21

    The Panthers can run on the Seahawks, but Newton will be under too much pressure to win.

    Freeman: Panthers 22-20

    Cam Newton shocks the Seahawks.

    Miller: Seahawks 28-13

    The Seahawks historically do not travel well, but historically the Panthers do not play well. I'll take the Seahawks to get an easy win on the road.

    Frenz: Seahawks 30-12

    Start up the Super Bowl bandwagon, as the Seahawks dominate on both sides of the ball, containing Newton and lighting up a porous secondary.

    Hangst: Seahawks 23-13

    The Seattle Seahawks are the team the Carolina Panthers wish they could be. With a few more key pieces, perhaps they'll get there next year.

    Hansen: Seahawks 23-14

    Seattle's defense is going to be tough all year, and the Panthers need someone to help their young signal-caller. Carolina's defense should be able to slow down Russell Wilson, just not enough to get the win.

    Bardeen: Seahawks 27-14

    Seattle is one of the better NFC teams, and Carolina won't have figured out its offense yet in Week 1. Cam Newton stumbles without the read-option.

    Gagnon: Panthers 27-24

    The Seahawks are the better team and proved late last year that they can win outside of Seattle. Still, I'm going out on a limb here with Carolina. I think the Panthers take a big step forward this year, and it starts with a statement win here.

    Langland: Seahawks 27-17

    Marshawn Lynch, not Russell Wilson, will be the deciding factor for the Seahawks. Once he gets going, the Panthers might as well wave the white flag.

    Kruse: Seahawks 23-13

    The Seahawks held the Panthers to 190 total yards in a win at Carolina last season. Expect that defense to continue giving Cam Newton problems.

Kansas City Chiefs at Jacksonville Jaguars

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    B/R Consensus Pick: Chiefs (10-2)

    Vegas: Chiefs (-4)

    Schottey: Chiefs 35-10

    The Chiefs can run the ball effectively, pass at a high percentage and pick up stops on defense—these are all things that the Jaguars will have trouble doing with any frequency. I love where Jacksonville is going, not where the team is now. Rout. 

    Bowen: Chiefs 27-17

    We get our first look at running back Jamaal Charles in Andy Reid's playbook. He will fill up the box score versus the Jags.

    Schalter: Chiefs 20-10

    Kansas City's defense is just too much for Gabbert and the Jags.

    Freeman: Jaguars 13-10

    Maurice Jones-Drew carries the team as he always does.

    Miller: Chiefs 31-9

    The Chiefs are for real this year—and I know I said that last season. This time I mean it. The Jaguars offense just can't keep up.

    Frenz: Chiefs 16-9

    The two worst teams in football from a year ago struggle to put points on the board, but the better-coached team comes out on top. Whatever the line is, take the under.

    Hangst: Chiefs 17-16

    This game will be more about how the two defenses fare than how well the offenses can move the ball and generate points. The edge goes slightly to the Chiefs.

    Hansen: Chiefs 24-10

    Kansas City's defense is better than people think, and it kept them in a lot of games last year. With a competent offense, the Chiefs should be able to slip past the Jaguars by a couple of scores.

    Bardeen: Chiefs 20-10

    K.C. embarks on a campaign to more than quadruple its win total from a season ago.

    Gagnon: Chiefs 24-10

    The Chiefs are way better than 2-14, especially after a strong offseason. The Jaguars remain a mess.

    Langland: Jaguars 14-13

    Yes, Jacksonville was awful last year, yet that doesn't mean it will be awful in 2013. Gus Bradley's defense will force Alex Smith into making a few crucial mistakes to pull out the tight win.

    Kruse: Chiefs 27-10

    The Chiefs start the Andy Reid era with a bang. The attacking front seven of Kansas City should give Blaine Gabbert more than he can handle pressure-wise.

Arizona Cardinals at St. Louis Rams

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    B/R Consensus Pick: Rams (9-3)

    Vegas: Rams (-4.5)

    Schottey: Rams 17-9

    The Cardinals have a joke of an offensive line, and the Rams are going to bring pressure from angles Carson Palmer hasn't even dreamt of. The Cardinals defense will keep it close, though. 

    Bowen: Rams 20-16

    The Cardinals upgraded the quarterback position, but the Rams picked up some talent as well. Tavon Austin's second-half punt return for a TD is the reason St. Louis starts 1-0.

    Schalter: Rams 17-15

    Yup, that's a safety in there. The Cards offense will struggle in the red zone and fail to put up any meaningful points all four quarters.

    Freeman: Cardinals 33-14

    What's been lost in the Carson Palmer mini-hoopla is that Arizona has a damn good defense.

    Miller: Rams 24-13

    The Rams D is among the league's best. The Cardinals offense has new toys, but it is still too unproven to compete.

    Frenz: Rams 30-10

    Arizona still isn't in any kind of shape to contend in the NFC West, while St. Louis bolstered its offensive weapons this offseason.

    Hangst: Cardinals 13-10

    The most excitement—and biggest plays—in this game could come from the special teams of both sides.

    Hansen: Rams 20-17

    I don't trust Carson Palmer in a close game against a great defense, but he'll put a touchdown on the board late to give the Cardinals hope.

    Bardeen: Cardinals 27-14

    Arizona may or may not be able to put points on the board with regularity, but it can definitely stop St. Louis from scoring at will.

    Gagnon: Rams 23-16

    These NFC West games can go either way, but St. Louis won both matchups last year and probably had a stronger offseason.

    Langland: Rams 21-14

    Sam Bradford and the Rams' high-powered offense will jump out to an early lead and never look back.

    Kruse: Rams 20-14

    Don't forget about these two in the rough-and-tough NFC West. The Rams get in the win column first by rattling Carson Palmer up front with one of the game's best front fours.

Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers

13 of 16

    B/R Consensus Pick: 49ers (9-3)

    Vegas: 49ers (-4.5)

    Schottey: 49ers 33-28

    Have the Packers figured out mobile quarterbacks yet? I doubt it. Plus, this game is on the wrong Bay, and a hostile Niners crowd is going to make this rough on the Packers.

    Bowen: 49ers 27-23

    I want to believe in the Packers defense this year. But can they limit Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers? Not this week.

    Schalter: Packers 35-30

    Mike McCarthy and the Packers have had this game circled since last January. Packers win a high-scoring contest.

    Freeman: 49ers 38-28

    The Packers still haven't figured out a way to stop the read-option.

    Miller: 49ers 31-24

    Kaepernick went off against Green Bay last time these two met. With no impact additions made in the offseason, the Packers will have the same problems.

    Frenz: 49ers 28-27

    Even with significant questions on the offensive line, the Packers still manage to put up points against a stingy 49ers defense. Still, it's hard to erase the memory of Colin Kaepernick torching their defense in the playoffs seven months ago.

    Hangst: 49ers 30-23

    The Packers head into San Francisco seeking revenge over the 49ers, but the Niners offense will again confound Green Bay's defense enough to snag the win.

    Hansen: Packers 30-28

    The Packers improved in the offseason and won't get gouged by the read-option again. Whoever has the ball last will probably win it, but I trust Aaron Rodgers just a little more than Colin Kaepernick right now.

    Bardeen: Packers 27-21

    Rodgers has arguably been the best quarterback in the NFL for some time. Now he has a running game to help. Unfair.

    Gagnon: 49ers 27-23

    I love the Packers, but not enough has changed to make me believe they can overcome the problems they had against San Francisco in January.

    Langland: 49ers 31-27

    This game could go either way, but San Francisco's run game will set the tone. Frank Gore and the hog mollies up front will run wild on the visitors.

    Kruse: 49ers 27-23

    I'm not convinced the Packers are good enough on D to handle an offense as talented, powerful and versatile as the 49ers. Aaron Rodgers helps keep it close, but San Francisco is still the class of the NFC.

New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys (Sunday Night Football)

14 of 16

    B/R Consensus Pick: Cowboys (8-4)

    Vegas: Cowboys (-3)

    Schottey: Giants 20-19

    The Cowboys' new-look defense is going to pressure Eli Manning. But the big difference in what should be a close game will be David Wilson, who may surprise many in his increased role in the Giants running game.

    Bowen: Cowboys 19-16

    Sean Lee, DeMarcus Ware and the Cowboys' new Tampa 2 defense forces multiple turnovers in the opening-day win over the Giants.

    Schalter: Cowboys 24-17

    Dallas makes a surprisingly smooth transition to the Tampa 2. DeMarcus Ware feasts.

    Freeman: Giants 27-20

    The Giants are comfortable in Jerry's house, and we will see David Wilson become a star.

    Miller: Cowboys 21-17

    In a rematch of last year's Week 1 game, the Giants will again fall prey to the Cowboys' overall speed.

    Frenz: Cowboys 30-29

    The Cowboys pick up that elusive home win over the Giants when Tony Romo *gasp* makes a few clutch fourth-quarter throws to set the Cowboys up in field-goal range to end the game.

    Hangst: Cowboys 23-20

    The ever-unpredictable NFC East sees its first divisional clash go to the Cowboys. But the lead in the division will change hands numerous times in the coming months.

    Hansen: Cowboys 27-24

    The networks love this game, and it always seems to be close. The Giants are a little banged up, so I'm going with the Cowboys at home by a field goal.

    Bardeen: Cowboys 24-14

    This will be one of those situations where the best team on paper wins.

    Gagnon: Cowboys 30-20

    The Cowboys are simply better, healthier and carrying more momentum. They won this exact game last year at the Meadowlands.

    Langland: Giants 23-21

    The Cowboys are much improved on both sides of the ball, but I'm still taking Eli Manning and the Giants in Week 1.

    Kruse: Giants 34-31

    These Cowboys-Giants games in Dallas are seemingly always shootouts. The Giants still haven't lost in Jerry Jones' new stadium, and that continues here.

Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins (Monday Night Football)

15 of 16

    B/R Consensus Pick: Washington (9-3)

    Vegas: Redskins (-3.5)

    Schottey: Redskins 24-13

    RGIII's back? Yes, Redskins match the tempo of the Eagles and make fewer mistakes to win this divisional matchup. 

    Bowen: Redskins 31-20

    Chip Kelly's offense is going to score points, but can they stop RGIII and the Redskins? I don't see it.

    Schalter: Eagles 35-33

    Vick is going to come roaring out of the gate, and Washington can't stop both him and LeSean McCoy.

    Freeman: Redskins 21-9

    RGIII has just four incompletions and scores all three TDs.

    Miller: Eagles 31-28

    Chip Kelly comes out swinging as his read-option keeps the Redskins' underskilled defense confused all game.

    Frenz: Redskins 28-24

    The Eagles offense will put up points, but all signs point to the Eagles having a tough time stopping the Redskins rushing attack. Alfred Morris goes off for over 150 yards and two scores.

    Hangst: Eagles 31-28

    A reinvigorated Michael Vick outperforms Robert Griffin III, who will still be in adjustment mode after his recovery from knee surgery. This game won't disappoint, however, with both offenses likely to move at a fast pace.

    Hansen: Redskins 30-28

    Coach Kelly's wrinkles on offense will make it close, but his defense will not be able to stop the home team.

    Bardeen: Redskins 34-24

    Washington will be too much on offense, but boy will this game be fast-paced and fun to watch.

    Gagnon: Redskins 30-28

    I just don't think the spotty Eagles defense can do much to stop Washington's ridiculous running game.

    Langland: Redskins 28-24

    Chip Kelly's offense will prove to be exciting on game day, but there are too many question marks on the defensive side of the ball. The Redskins are the more complete team, which will give them the edge in the end.

    Kruse: Redskins 24-13

    The Chip Kelly era gets off to a difficult start, while RGIII does just enough in his first game back to secure a home win for Washington.

Houston Texans at San Diego Chargers (Monday Night Football)

16 of 16

    B/R Consensus Pick: Texans (12-0)

    Vegas: Texans (-4)

    Schottey: Texans 28-13

    J.J. Watt is going to tattoo himself to Philip Rivers' midsection by halftime in a game that should get out of hand late. 

    Bowen: Texans 28-9

    The Houston defensive front should dominate and be found in the San Diego backfield all night.

    Schalter: Texans 28-13

    Philip Rivers versus an elite pass rush. Not going to be pretty.

    Freeman: Texans 24-10

    Blowout. J.J. Watt gets three sacks.

    Miller: Texans 31-6

    The Chargers have a ton of new faces, but none of them are prepared for the Houston Texans. At least watching D.J. Fluker vs. J.J. Watt will be fun.

    Frenz: Texans 31-17

    All signs point to a Texans defense that will be powerful and potent once again. Mike McCoy is an offensive wizard, but the Texans are a tough challenge for any coach, much less a first-year man with a retooled offense.

    Hangst: Texans 21-10

    The era of Chargers dominance has passed, while the Texans continue to do what they do best: run an efficient, run-heavy offense and a defense perfectly positioned to shred San Diego's offensive line.

    Hansen: Texans 24-20

    The poor Chargers are the victims of very little national buzz, but they will be competitive. The Texans will actually have to win this game with the pass.

    Bardeen: Texans 24-7

    The Texans will be too much for a bad Chargers team.

    Gagnon: Texans 27-17

    The Texans are much more stable, and the Chargers were only 3-5 at home last year.

    Langland: Texans 23-17

    It doesn't matter who plays running back for the Texans, both Arian Foster and Ben Tate will gash the Chargers up the middle all game long.

    Kruse: Texans 30-10

    The Texans are simply better on offense, defense and special teams. Week 1 ends with a blowout in San Diego.

    Michael Schottey is the NFL National Lead Writer for Bleacher Report and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Find more of his stuff at The Go Route. 


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