Take the Cannoli: Week 1 NFL Picks
"He said to give him a call, when the party started."
"Well, give him a call."
- The Godfather
This Sunday, fantasy football apps will crash, grills will be ignited, and millions will gather in rapt attention for the first full Sunday of NFL football in nine months. There will be some surprises. Teams that were written off to be playing for draft position will shock fans with a stunning victory and a playoff contender will face plant. Beginning this week, and continuing throughout the season, we will try, often in vain, to pick NFL games against the spread. Pick is in bold.
Kansas City at New England (-9)
Since the NFL started the trend of Super Bowl champions playing on the first Thursday, typically at home, the champ often wins. The Chiefs are just good enough to make this game competitive. The Patriots will spread out the Chiefs and assault them with quick throws to counteract their blitzes and force the Chiefs offense to throw downfield and beat man coverage on the outside. Patriots will control the game, but Chiefs nail a backdoor cover with a late touchdown.
New York Jets at Buffalo (-8.5)
It's no secret the Jets are terrible. But are the Bills good enough to be more than a touchdown favorite at home with a new coach? I don't think so. I think the Jets keep this close, prompting a week of "Are the Jets better than we thought?" until they start getting their ass kicked every week. For some curious reason, when these teams get together, they tend to score a lot of points, especially in non conventional ways. Bet the over(39..5) if you are into that kind of thing.
Atlanta (-7) at Chicago
I'm oddly bullish on Chicago, despite a rookie quarterback. Seven of their losses last year were by a touchdown or less. Atlanta has a new offensive coordinator and a potential Super Bowl loser hangover to deal with. Falcons are the more talented and the better team, but I could see them get off to a clunky start to the season.
Jacksonville at Houston (-5.5)
Blake Bortles against Houston's defense makes me feel that this line could be a point or two higher. Texans like to pressure the quarterback and force throws into narrow windows. Borltes has a hard enough hitting a stationary target without pressure. His release has been overworked and ends up looking like an unfolding lawn chair. Texans aren't exactly a superpower, but they should waltz through this puntfest.
Philadelphia (-1) at Washington
Be wary of a shaky young quarterback favored on the road. I'm not very high on Carson Wentz. Redskins had an offseason of changes on staff and in the front office. It will be interesting to see what Matt Cavanaugh can do with what was one of the more creative offenses in the NFL last season and with Kurt Cousins. This game is a coin flip, but I think it comes down to the quarterback, and Washington has the advantage.
Arizona (-1.5) at Detroit
This is the last ride of this version of the Cardinals, and I think they have a 2010 Vikings feel to them. They have tons of toys on defense, but have to replace Calais Campbell on the inside. I don't think their multiplicity on defense will faze Stafford.
Oakland at Tennessee (-2)
The Oakland defense is terrible and the Titans offense is creative and physical. I can't shake the feeling that Mike Malarkey will keep the Titans from making the playoffs, but it shouldn't stop them from grinding up Oakland. Also take the under(-51.5)
Ravens at Bengals (-3)
Ravens are a year away from making noise. Bengals will likely put some points up, maybe even con a few people into thinking they are a contender.
Pittsburgh (-8.5) at Cleveland
Feels like these two play every year to start the season. I don't think the Steelers offense will come out of the gates humming. The Browns have Gregg Williams manning the defense this year, and I am sure he has a myriad of wild blitzes to throw Pittsburgh's way. Steelers win, but its a low scoring and close affair.
Indianapolis at L.A. Rams (-3.5)
Normally not having Aaron Donald would be an automatic loss for the Rams. However, against the Colts offensive line, everyone else should have a field day. Andrew Luck likely will not play, and Wade Phillips will feast on a backup qb. Rams win this going away.
Seattle at Green Bay (-3)
Not many teams have had the Seahawks and Russell Wilson's number the last few years, but the Packers appear to be one of them. The last two teams the Seahawks have lost to Green Bay, injuries have significantly hampered them. They are relatively healthy to start the season and should be able to run the ball against Green Bay. The Packers usually do a good job at keeping Wilson in the pocket, and forcing tight throws into man coverage. The Seahawks passing game may be clunky, but I feel a herculean performance from the Seattle defense coming this weekend.
The rest of the games:
Panthers(-5.5) over 49ers
Giants over Cowboys (-4)
Saints over Vikings (-3.5)
Chargers over Broncos (-3.5)