Thursday, September 10, 2009

Picking the NFL in Week 1

The NFL kicks off the season tonight in Pittsburgh.

Ready or not, here it comes. And here are my picks for the first week of the NFL season:
  • Tennessee at Pittsburgh, tonight at 7:30 p.m. (Central) on NBC — I don't know if the Titans are as good as last season's record (13–3) suggests, but I'll still pick the defending champion Steelers to prevail in tonight's opener.
  • Miami at Atlanta — Unlike some people, I'm not convinced that Miami was a fluke last year. But I'm also not sure that Atlanta was a fluke, either. I'll take the home team.

  • Kansas City at Baltimore — The Chiefs had one of the worst teams in the NFL last year. The Ravens had one of the best. Doesn't require a degree in rocket science to pick the Ravens in this one.

  • Philadelphia at Carolina — I know some people are hoping the Eagles will stumble in the first few weeks so a movement to get Michael Vick in at quarterback will get some traction. The Panthers are underdogs by 1½ points, but I will take the Eagles by three — even though the Panthers were unbeaten at home last season.

  • Denver at Cincinnati — The Bengals are favored and I will go with them in this game, but I'm not sold on either team. In this particular matchup, my pick is based more on my absence of confidence in the Broncos. The Bengals will face their own challenges as the season wears on.

  • Minnesota at Cleveland — Brett Favre always seems to play well in the early stages of a season. Cleveland seemingly has settled on its opening day quarterback. The Vikings have more talent across the board than the Browns. I think Minnesota is a sure thing.

  • New York Jets at Houston — The Jets no longer have Favre, and I think they will slip back into sub–.500 territory this season. Opening the season on the road won't help, even if the opponent is the Texans. I'll take Houston.

  • Jacksonville at Indianapolis — Is it my imagination or is Jacksonville always being trumpeted as a team on the rise? The Jaguars didn't quite make it last year, when they went 5–11. The Colts went 12–4 and got into the playoffs. The Colts are favored on Sunday. I'll take the Colts.

  • Detroit at New Orleans — The Saints are favored by nearly two touchdowns against a team that has lost its last 17 straight. I don't think the Lions will go winless again this year, but this isn't going to be the game that breaks their streak.

  • Dallas at Tampa Bay — The Cowboys are favored — perhaps in no small part because the Bucs fired their offensive coordinator. I'm not sure the Cowboys deserve to be favored, but I'll go with them primarily because Tampa Bay is in such disarray.

  • San Francisco at Arizona — Last month, I predicted that San Francisco would win the NFC West. Because of that, I will predict that the 49ers will prevail over the Cardinals, even though Arizona is a 6½–point pick.

  • Washington at New York Giants — New York is favored by 6½ points. The Giants whipped the Redskins twice last year. But the Giants don't have anything at wide receiver. Who will Eli Manning be throwing to? I'll take the Redskins in an upset.

  • St. Louis at Seattle — The Seahawks are favored by 8½ points, which I find astonishing, even if the opponent is St. Louis. If I was picking against the spread, I'd take the Rams. But I'm not so I'll take the Seahawks.

  • Chicago at Green Bay — The Packers are back in the forecasters' good graces this season, but they will have to earn their way in to the playoffs like anyone else. I think the defense will be better this year. The offense already was looking pretty good so the defense is the key.
  • Buffalo at New England — The Patriots are favored by 11 points, but they have Tom Brady back and they're playing at home. The real question for the Patriots is their defense, but, even with Terrell Owens, the Bills' offense may not be good enough to compete. I'll take the Pats.

  • San Diego at Oakland — The Chargers are favored by nearly 10 points. When you consider that only three teams in the AFC gave up more points than the Raiders did last year and no teams in the AFC scored more points than the Chargers did, it isn't unreasonable. Give me the Chargers.

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