Week one of the NFL season is finally here! We got a taste of how good the season will be on Thursday night. As we head to Sunday, plenty of good games stack up in the opener. Before we get to the picks, let’s discuss some teams as we open the season.
Both the Bucs and Dolphins have to play 16 games in a row without a bye. It was absolutely stupid that the NFL couldn’t move the game to a neutral site. Why didn’t they? Well, the owners would lose money. That’s it. It doesn’t go any deeper. Player safety has been talked about as a priority of late, but it didn’t show here.
Speaking of the Bucs, they are a team with high expectations this season. Them, the Titans, and the Raiders all have sky high expectations. Usually, one team with high expectations deliver, and others don’t completely live up. The Raiders could be a team that has to fight for a playoff spot, and the Bucs could miss altogether with a tough schedule.
Also, the Patriots are fine. Too many are saying the dynasty is over after Thursday night. The Chiefs were just better that night, and frankly, Kareem Hunt was better. Brady and Belichick are there. The Pats have a defense that needs to figure things out, and they will by the postseason. The offense is fine. Let’s not overreact.
One last thing. For all of you in Florida along with those already affected, we are thinking and praying for you guys. As Tim Duncan said, “Pray first, then act”. We will act. Stay safe everyone.
Now, for the picks.
Bengals 23, Ravens 20
The Bengals and Ravens are both still building championship rosters. However, this will be a good one. The Ravens build the front of their defense up in the draft, and that could be an issue for a Bengals team that lost Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler. Running the ball effectively is huge for this Bengals team. Joe Mixon won’t start this game, but he very well could be the feature back by the end. The Bengals have a decent enough team on defense to get pressure on Flacco, which will decide this game.
Bills 16, Jets 13
The winner of this will be leading the AFC East after a week. Yep, you heard that right. So who comes out on top? Very hard to say. The Bills traded away multiple stars in the offseason as they plan to reload in the draft. The Jets don’t have a viable starting quarterback. It’s almost a pick ’em here. One thing the Bills do have is a great running offense. LeSean McCoy has a chance to put up serious numbers this week. Also, rookie Zay Jones is ready to break onto the scene. Those two, plus the edge at quarterback, give the Bills a win.
Steelers 27, Browns 17
The Browns could come out a shock the Steelers at home to start this game. Their front seven could give Le’Veon Bell issues early, especially because he held out during the preseason. The Browns could also stun the young Pittsburgh secondary by going deep, thanks to their strong armed starter. But, at the end of the day, the Steelers have too many weapons.
Texans 20, Jaguars 13
The Texans bring back one of the best defenses in the league. JJ Watt makes that front even better, which should scare teams. The biggest issue for them resides on offense. The Jags have a better defense than people realize, so this game could be closer than originally thought. The Jags could pound the rock with Leonard Fournette to keep things close. This probably comes down to a costly turnover by Blake Bortles.
Titans 33, Raiders 27
These two are big time contenders this season, and this should be a great opening game. The Raiders come in with an explosive offense and a top offensive line. But, their defense is very suspect. The Titans should have no issue running on them. Marcus Mariota also comes in as one of the best quarterbacks in the red zone. He still hasn’t thrown a pick there in his career. Whoever gets a stop gets the win, and I like Tennessee’s defense just a bit more.
Falcons 26, Bears 17
This could be a trap game, so pay attention. The Bears have the front to make the Falcons seriously uncomfortable. Plus, they can run the ball effectively with Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen. This makes it tough for the Falcons to pile on the points. However, the Falcons have two speedsters off the edge that could make things tough on Chicago in passing down situations. The Bears should keep it close, but the Falcons have the offense to press through.
Cardinals 31, Lions 24
Expect a shootout type of look in this game. The Cardinals have the explosive unit, but everything seemed off last season. Now, as a dark horse, they are ready. The defense is loaded with playmakers, and Chandler Jones and Markus Golden will wreak havoc. No Taylor Decker especially hurts today. The Lions will still find ways because of Matt Stafford, but the inconsistency of their pass rush will doom them.
Eagles 26, Redskins 21
The Eagles and Redskins always play close games, and this won’t be different. Kirk Cousins is ready to prove himself once again, but losing Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson hurts big time. The Eagles also presents a real good front, and they can make things difficult for Cousins.
Panthers 22, 49ers 19
The Niners front keeps this game close. Carolina continues to avoid drafting talent at offensive tackle, so Cam Newton suffers for it. Plus, Reuben Foster begins his campaign for rookie of the year. The Niners will keep this close, but the more talented team wins.
Rams 30, Colts 17
The Colts absolutely won’t win with Andrew Luck out. Plus, the defense has holes everywhere. Jared Goff has a plethora of new weapons, and Todd Gurley could start his third season on a high note.
Seahawks 27, Packers 24
The Packers have had Seattle’s number the last two seasons, but Seattle has a new piece this year. Sheldon Richardson is a beast in the middle, and he will make things uncomfortable for a Packers line without Bryan Bulaga. Neither team will get a sniff in the run game, but the pressure on Rodgers will ultimately give Seattle the extra position.
Giants 28, Cowboys 26
The Cowboys season starts out with a team they couldn’t beat last season. The Giants come in loaded on defense again, but they also have more weapons on offense. Brandon Marshall and Evan Engram will make things difficult for the young secondary. Prescott also hasn’t played well against the Giants, and the offensive line is a little weaker this season.
Vikings 23, Saints 17
Drew Brees plays very well in domes, but the Vikings are on another level defensively. They bring everyone back, plus Jaleel Johnson is a new piece in the middle. Adrian Peterson will come out hungry, and the rushing attack for New Orleans will keep it close. However, Minnesota is primed for a big year.
Broncos 21, Chargers 20
The toughest game to pick of the week. The Chargers are a much better team on paper this year, but we haven’t seen them in full go. The Broncos play good defense, and a home game makes it more difficult. Rivers and company will keep things close, but I have a feeling Denver sneaks away with one at home.
Jake Schyvinck covers the NFL and NFL Draft for The Sports Guys. Follow him on Twitter @JSchyvinck13.