Week 1 of the NFL is finally here! You can start the grill, put down the tailgate, and prepare for the ultimate Sunday tradition again. Now that the games count again, what can you expect each team to do? You know at the very least that it will be nothing like last year.
Every year, the majority of the teams in the playoffs were not there the year before. This year should be no different. As easy as it would be to just look at the playoff teams from last year and pencil them in again, many of them will not be back. So what does Week One hold in store for the fans? Check out Week One NFL Football Picks by the World’s Top NFL Handicappers.
Kansas City vs. Baltimore (Baltimore -12 1/2). This game depends a lot on the injury situation with Matt Cassel. The Chiefs went out and spent $60 million on their franchise quarterback, and they will be a completely different team if he’s under center.
He’s been practicing all week, but is listed as questionable. The Ravens still boast one of the best defenses in the league. Expect a low scoring, slug-fest in Baltimore.
Philadelphia vs. Carolina (Philadelphia -2 1/2). Donovan McNabb gets to try out all of his new toys in the Philadelphia offense. He’s got a bolstered offensive line and a new receiver and running back to help carry the load.
On the other side of the ball, the Panthers still have a very solid team. They have a stellar running game and a tough defense. Will McNabb be able to toss the ball around or will the Panthers ground him before he gets started?
Denver vs. Cincinnati (Cincinnati -4). When you’re a four-point underdog to a team that won five games last year, it usually means you’ve had a pretty rough offseason.
In Denver, question marks abound. Will Brandon Marshall be ready to shut up and play ball? If so, the Denver offense might actually be decent with a pass-happy coach calling the shots.
On the other side, Carson Palmer appears ready to go after a season-ending injury last year. Will he return to form?
Minnesota vs. Cleveland (Minnesota -4). The Brett Favre era officially begins in Minnesota as they take the field against the Browns. Will he look like the Favre of old or the one that limped to the finish line last year?
If he looks good, Minnesota could be a team to be reckoned with. They also have a guy by the name of Adrian Peterson running the ball for them.
Cleveland’s defense will have a tough matchup against the running game of the Vikes.
New York Jets vs Houston (Houston – 4 1/2). The Texans will try to pick up where they left off last year with a top five offense. The question is, did they fix their defense yet?
The Jets have a new head coach in Rex Ryan, so they will have an emphasis on defense as well. Look for a good game in this one between two good teams.
Jacksonville vs Indianapolis (Indianapolis -7). No preseason surgery has kept Manning on the shelf this year. He has had a full offseason to practice with the team and should be ready to roll in Week One. Although they lost Marvin Harrison, they still have a slew of talent on offense.
Jacksonville has a lot of question marks that should be answered in Week One. How will Maurice Jones-Drew handle the spotlight?
Detroit vs New Orleans (New Orleans -13). Nothing like pairing the best offense in the league against the worst defense in the league from last season.
Detroit is hoping that things have changed in the offseason. New Orleans will still have a good offense with Drew Brees under center.
It will also be interesting to see the Matt Stafford era begin in the Motor City.
Dallas vs. Tampa Bay (Dallas -6). The T.O. show has officially left town in Big D, and they’re ready to put it behind them. Romo is healthy again and ready to throw the ball.
Tampa Bay basically threw everything out and started over after a 9-7 year last season. No one really knows what to expect from them.
San Francisco vs Arizona (Arizona -6). The defending NFC Champions look to kick off their defense in style against the Niners. If Kurt Warner can stay healthy again, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be a top offense again this year. They might even be better with new running back Beanie Wells in town.
The Niners are still waiting on Michael Crabtree to sign. Hopefully someone else can catch a ball in his absence.
Washington vs New York Giants (New York 6 1/2). The Giants will immediately try to create some chemistry in the passing game now that Burress is gone. They really don’t know who will step up, so expect a lot of running early in the game.
For Washington, we’ll get to see if the $100 million-man in Albert Haynesworth will make a difference.
St. Louis vs. Seattle (Seattle -8). Seattle has their quarterback healthy again as well as a shiny new receiver to throw to. They should have a pretty decent offense.
The Rams will be improved as well with a revamped offensive line and healthy quarterback. Expect a close game in this one.
Chicago vs. Green Bay (Green Bay -3 1/2). Green Bay is favored in this game, despite the Jay Cutler experiment in full bloom in Chicago. Will “Crybaby Jay” be able to lead the Bears to the upset?
Aaron Rodgers quietly had a solid season last year and looks to expand on that this year.
Buffalo vs. New England (New England -10 1/2). “The Golden Boy” returns to his throne in New England. Tom Brady will take the stage and look to bounce back from his season-ending injury last year. Will he immediately return to top form?
As if that wasn’t enough of a storyline, you’ve got T.O. taking the field for Buffalo. This should be a fun game to watch regardless of what happens.
San Diego vs. Oakland (San Diego -9). The Chargers are healthy and have all of their guns back for the opener.
On the other side of the ball, Jamarcus Russell will look to prove the doubters wrong. Will the Chargers roll or will the Raiders put everyone on notice?
Check out Vernon Croy’s Expert NFL Football Picks for Week One.