NFL Picks Week 1: Reviewing Expert Predictions, Vegas Odds and Opening Schedule

Michelle Bruton@@michelle_nflFeatured ColumnistSeptember 5, 2019

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) throws a pass during the second half of an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2018. The Steelers won 17-10. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

Predicting Week 1 NFL matchups is something of a fool's errand, isn't it? We followed the free agency and draft additions, we followed training camp updates religiously, and we tuned into the preseason. 

And yet, when it comes to predicting how these teams will actually perform on the field this year, the only thing that matters is game action. We'll see our first of it Thursday after 215 long days with no football. 

Plenty of NFL teams have new head coaches, new assistant coaches and new quarterbacks this year, and with all those wild cards in place, there's no question we'll get some wonky, surprise results after the Week 1 action. Still, we'll do our best to take stock of these 16 games and predict the outcomes, relying on the experts as well as our own judgment. 

Expert predictions are via NFL Pickwatch, which consolidates expert picks from around the web. The percentage is not a likelihood of winning, but how many analysts picked that team.

       

Week 1 Schedule, Odds and Expert Predictions

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Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears (-3)

Date and Time: Thursday, Sept. 5 at 8:20 p.m. ET

Expert Prediction: Packers (52 percent)

The Bears are at home, and while they may have one of the league's best defenses in 2019, if not the best, Aaron Rodgers is healthy and the Packers are throwing a new-look offense at Chicago. Catching the Bears unawares will ultimately work in the Packers' favor here.

Pick: Packers

      

Kansas City Chiefs (-3.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars

Date and Time: Sunday, Sept. 8 at 1 p.m. ET

Expert Prediction: Chiefs (86 percent)

Expect a classic clash between a high-powered offense and a stingy defense here. Sure, Jacksonville is well-situated to slow down the Chiefs' offense, led by Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, but ultimately, the Jaguars just won't be able to match the Chiefs blow-for-blow on offense.

Pick: Chiefs

       

Atlanta Falcons at Minnesota Vikings (-4)

Date and Time: Sunday, Sept. 8 at 1 p.m. ET

Expert Prediction: Vikings (76 percent)

The Vikings are the clear Vegas favorites here, but this game is difficult to project. Both teams have big-name playmakers, from the Vikings' Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen and Dalvin Cook to the Falcons' Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley and Devonta Freeman. But ultimately, Matt Ryan is the X-factor here, and he'll give Atlanta the win on the road.

Pick: Falcons

      

Tennessee Titans at Cleveland Browns (-5)

Date and Time: Sunday, Sept. 8 at 1 p.m. ET

Expert Prediction: Browns (93 percent)

Vegas is buying into the Browns hype. Are you? There's no question Cleveland is loaded with weapons, from Baker Mayfield to Odell Beckham Jr. to Jarvis Landry to Nick Chubb. The Titans, meanwhile, have some question marks. Can the new offense maximize Marcus Mariota? Can a healthy Delanie Walker make a splash? Until they can answer some of these questions, we'll go with Vegas straight-up.

Pick: Browns

       

Buffalo Bills at New York Jets (-3)

Date and Time: Sunday, Sept. 8 at 1 p.m. ET

Expert Prediction: Jets (66 percent)

Both teams are rolling out second-year quarterbacks in Josh Allen and Sam Darnold. But the Jets have the clear advantage on the ground in Le'Veon Bell and have a stout run-defending unit to further hamstring the Bills. With a one-dimensional offense, expect the Bills to fall to their division rival.

Pick: Jets

      

Baltimore Ravens (-6.5) at Miami Dolphins

Date and Time: Sunday, Sept. 8 at 1 p.m. ET

Expert Prediction: 

Date and Time:

Expert Prediction: Ravens (100 percent)

This might just be the easiest pick of the week. No disrespect intended to the Dolphins, but this still feels like a team trying to find its way. Ryan Fitzpatrick could turn on some of the "Fitzmagic," for sure, but the Ravens are right where they want to be, with new franchise quarterback Lamar Jackson and weapons Hayden Hurst, Mark Andrews and Mark Ingram.

Pick: Ravens

      

Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles (-10)

Date and Time: Sunday, Sept. 8 at 1 p.m. ET

Expert Prediction: Eagles (100 percent)

Scratch that; this is the easiest pick of the week. Carson Wentz still needs to prove he can be both healthy and effective over an entire season, but many of the Eagles' Super Bowl pieces are still here. Expect Philadelphia's pass rush to make life difficult for Case Keenum all day.

Pick: Eagles

         

Los Angeles Rams (-2.5) at Carolina Panthers

Date and Time: Sunday, Sept. 8 at 1 p.m. ET

Expert Prediction: Rams (69 percent)

The Rams are good enough to win this game regardless, but the outcome just might come down to Cam Newton's health. He's not listed on the Panthers' injury report, and if he's truly at full strength, this could be a barn burner. But the Rams, with their stout defense, get the edge here.

Pick: Rams

       

Indianapolis Colts at Los Angeles Chargers (-6.5)

Date and Time: Sunday, Sept. 8 at 4:05 p.m. ET

Expert Prediction: Chargers (93 percent)

The Colts added enough pieces this offseason to be a postseason contender, but it's a tall order for Jacoby Brissett to pull it all together. Despite their breadth of talent, the Colts just won't be able to match up against Philip Rivers and Keenan Allen. The question marks around Melvin Gordon give the Colts a chance, though. 

Pick: Chargers 

      

Cincinnati Bengals at Seattle Seahawks (-9.5)

Date and Time: Sunday, Sept. 8 at 4:05 p.m. ET

Expert Prediction: Seahawks (100 percent)

The Bengals certainly have talent and a deep backfield, but the deck is stacked against them here. They're missing A.J. Green, walking into CenturyLink and Pete Carrol's well-oiled machine and going up against Russell Wilson.

Pick: Seahawks

      

New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys (-7)

Date and Time: Sunday, Sept. 8 at 4:25 p.m. ET

Expert Prediction: Cowboys (100 percent)

There are always some surprising Week 1 upsets every year, so don't count anything out. But, on paper, this is the Cowboys' game to lose. Ezekiel Elliott is locked down, Amari Cooper is coming into his own and Dak Prescott is running the show. Plus, Dallas has dominated the Giants at home as of late.

Pick: Cowboys

        

San Francisco 49ers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (even)

Date and Time: Sunday, Sept. 8 at 4:25 p.m. ET

Expert Prediction: Buccaneers (62 percent)

What will the 49ers look like with a healthy Jimmy Garoppolo? We still don't know. We do know George Kittle and Matt Breida could be breakout weapons for him. As for Jameis Winston's Bucs, while streaky, they finished strong last season after Winston won the starting job back from Fitzpatrick. They'll get the nod here since they're at home and more of a known commodity.

Pick: Buccaneers

       

Detroit Lions (-2.5) at Arizona Cardinals

Date and Time: Sunday, Sept. 8 at 4:25 p.m. ET

Expert Prediction: Lions (62 percent)

The Cardinals have two huge wild cards in new head coach Kliff Kingsbury and rookie quarterback Kyler Murray. We also have little idea of what this offense will look like aside from being an all-out Air Raid. The Lions gave Matthew Stafford some playmakers in tight end T.J. Hockenson and wideout Danny Amendola, but Detroit has no idea what to expect against Arizona. We'll consider that advantage, Atlanta.

Pick: Cardinals

      

Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots (-5.5)

Date and Time: Sunday, Sept. 8 at 8:20 p.m. ET

Expert Prediction: Patriots (90 percent)

An always-interesting matchup, it's nonetheless really hard to pick against the New England Patriots at home. Once again, the defending champs will be raising their championship banner ahead of hosting the Steelers. Once again, they'll probably win. 

Pick: Patriots

      

Houston Texans at New Orleans Saints (-7)

Date and Time: Monday, Sept. 9 at 7:10 p.m. ET

Expert Prediction: Saints (93 percent)

This Monday night game could turn into a shootout and has the potential to be the highest-scoring game of Week 1. It's hard to bet against Drew Brees, Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara and Jared Cook, though, plus the Saints are stout up front. Expect them to take this one at home.

Pick: Saints

      

Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders (even)

Date and Time: Monday, Sept. 9 at 10:20 p.m. ET

Expert Prediction: Raiders (68 percent)

Another mystery team heading into Week 1, we have a hazy idea of what the Oakland Raiders will look like this year under new head coach Jon Gruden and new general manager Mike Mayock. Antonio Brown's offseason has been a wild ride, but only one thing matters now: Can he produce? Joe Flacco is, in turn, a wild card for the Broncos, but this seems like a game they can win.

Pick: Broncos

      

All odds via Caesars

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