Week 1 NFL Picks: Early Odds, Over-Under Projections and Score Predictions

Andrew Gould@AndrewGould4Featured ColumnistSeptember 1, 2014

TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 15: Running back Doug Martin #22 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers runs for a gain against the New Orleans Saints September 15, 2013 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. The Saints won 16 - 14. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

From now until Feb. 1, every Sunday will feature football to fill the day. As for the other six days, we'll spend those predicting the outcome of every NFL game.

Picking NFL contests are just as much a tradition as watching the games themselves. After all, does a win really count for anything unless you correctly told your friends it would happen? Of course it doesn't.

Week 1 presents the toughest, most exciting challenge of the season. We haven't seen these specific teams play a meaningful game yet, and last year's results can only take us so far. Last year's opening week consisted of near upsets, as the Buffalo Bills came painfully shy of knocking off the New England Patriots while the Carolina Panthers gave the Seattle Seahawks a stark challenge.

Can any underdogs finish the job this week? Here are predictions for each NFL game, along with a breakdown of a couple of notable matchups.

NFL Week 1 Schedule, Odds, Over-Unders and Predictions
AwayHomeTime (ET)Over-UnderPrediction
Green BaySeattle (-5)8:30 p.m. (Thur.)4623-17 SEA
New Orleans (-2.5)Atlanta1 p.m.51.532-24 NO
CincinnatiBaltimore (Even)1 p.m.4320-17 CIN
BuffaloChicago (-7)1 p.m.48.534-20 CHI
WashingtonHouston (-2.5)1 p.m.4527-23 HOU
TennesseeKansas City (-4)1 p.m43.523-20 TEN
New England (-4.5)Miami1 p.m.4728-21 NE
OaklandNY Jets (-5)1 p.m.4013-10 OAK
JacksonvillePhiladelphia (-11.5)1 p.m.5338-24 PHI
ClevelandPittsburgh (-7)1 p.m.4119-13 PIT
MinnesotaSt. Louis (-4)1 p.m.43.521-20 STL
San Francisco (-4.5)Dallas4:25 p.m.5131-24 SF
CarolinaTampa Bay (Even)4:25 p.m.3916-13 TB
IndianapolisDenver (-9)8:30 p.m.5538-30 DEN
NY GiantsDetroit (-5)7:10 p.m. (Mon.)4727-14 DET
San DiegoArizona (-3)10:20 p.m. (Mon.)4524-21 ARI
spread, over-under via OddsSharks

All odds, updated as of Monday, Sept. 1 at 2:30 p.m., are courtesy of OddsShark.

San Francisco 49ers (-4.5) at Dallas Cowboys

Are the Dallas Cowboys receiving more respect than they deserve, or are people shying away from the San Francisco 49ers offense after a dreadful preseason?

Either way, the spread is far too low for a 12-4 team with the NFL's third-best point differential last season going against an 8-8 (plus-seven point differential) squad touting the league's worst defense. The 49ers are a far superior team that deserves more wiggle room in the odds.

While the reserves ended the preseason with 40 points against the Houston Texans, the first unit never scored a touchdown. Colin Kaepernick is wisely not wasting any time fretting over those results.

“I’ve never seen worrying help anyone’s problems, or help them get better,” he told ESPN.com's Paul Gutierrez. “So I don’t worry.” 

While they'll go to Dallas without the suspended Aldon Smith, trusted guard Alex Boone, whose absence caused peril in those practice games, will end his holdout and return to San Francisco, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

They'll get served the perfect remedy this season, a horrible Dallas defense that could get even worse after losing DeMarcus Ware. We could see a repeat of last season, where Kaepernick had everyone thinking he was the best quarterback of this generation after torching the Green Bay Packers for 412 passing yards and three touchdowns to start the year.

After that, he regressed to OK, which is good enough for the 49ers to win games. Meanwhile, nothing Tony Romo does in Scott Linehan's shiny new offense—and he'll do a lot—will deter his critics unless the defense holds its weight.

Prediction: 49ers 31, Cowboys 24

Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Even)

The oddsmakers are having trouble deciphering a favorite here, as bettors are all over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers upsetting the defending NFC South champions.

Despite finishing 2013 at opposite ends of the spectrum, both sides are veering closer to each other with reversing fortunes. The Carolina Panthers, never blessed with wide receivers, lost veteran Steve Smith to the Baltimore Ravens.

Oh yeah, they're also uncertain about who will throw to their depleted wideout corps. Cam Newton is dealing with injured ribs, but per Fox Sports, the quarterback is confident he'll suit up this Sunday.

The Charlotte Observer's Jonathan Jones updated his progress on Monday afternoon.

Even if Newton plays, this game holds upset potential. Tampa Bay sports a much-upgraded offense with quarterback signee Josh McCown, rookie wideout Mike Evans and the returning Doug Martin

According to the Tampa Bay Times' Rick Stroud, new head coach Lovie Smith likes what he sees from Martin, who missed most of last season with a shoulder injury.

We went into the draft because we thought that was an area we needed a little bit of help. But I think from watching practice, you've seen Doug has caught the ball a lot better. As I've said all along, Doug is a good football player. It's just that toughness he's going to bring. The first thing for our tailbacks is they need to get positive yards and be able to make guys miss or run over guys in the open field.

Although the over-under line is the lowest of all the 16 games, it still feels too high. Carolina's defense ranked second behind Seattle last year, and Smith will bring an added defensive tenacity to Tampa Bay. Anything else is a considerable upgrade over a system that couldn't even figure out how to properly employ Darrelle Revis.

Given Newton's battered ribs, look for Smith and Co. to start a new era with an upset over Carolina.

Prediction: Buccaneers 16, Panthers 13


    NFL Players Respond to Trump's Pardon Request

    NFL logo

    NFL Players Respond to Trump's Pardon Request

    Josh Alper
    via ProFootballTalk

    Julio Jones Isn't Drinking the TO Kool-Aid

    NFL logo

    Julio Jones Isn't Drinking the TO Kool-Aid

    Mike Freeman
    via Bleacher Report

    Brady Hints at Retiring at 45 with IG Comment

    NFL logo

    Brady Hints at Retiring at 45 with IG Comment

    Joseph Zucker
    via Bleacher Report

    Jameis Reportedly Braces for Ban

    NFL logo

    Jameis Reportedly Braces for Ban

    Kyle Newport
    via Bleacher Report