Saturday, September 10, 2011

NFL Week One Picks

So here's what I put together for my NFL Week One picks. A word of caution, I would not recommend using these if you are looking to put money on the line. For whatever reason, despite my love of sports, I cannot pick games to save my life. We had an office pool last year, and I didn't win a single week. And we only had like six or seven guys making picks. It was terrible. Not to mention embarrassing. Anyhow, here's to hoping this year goes better. So without further ado:

Saints @ Packers

I actually got this one right, so that has to be a good sign, right? While this was not a popular pick in Who Dat Nation, I couldn't in good conscience pick against the defending champs, now healthy, at home.

Falcons @ Bears

I'm a big fan of Matt Forte, the Bears running back, but I'm not a huge fan of Chicago's offense. And unlike a lot of people, I don't think the problem is Jay Cutler. I mean, this is Cutler's receiving corps: Earl Bennett, Devin Hester, Sam Hurd, Johnny Knox,undrafted rookie Dane Sanzenbacher, and ex-Cowboy Roy Williams. Knox led the receivers last year with 51 catches, and no receiver had more than 5 touchdowns last year. Additionally, tight end Greg Olsen is gone which I think is going to leave a big hole. Atlanta meanwhile has a budding quarterback in Matt Ryan teamed up with a game breaking receiver in Roddy White. They also drafted wide receiver Julio Jones out of Alabama, they still have Michael Turner who is a 1000 yard back, and don't forget the ageless wonder Tony Gonzalez who still gets the job done at tight end. I don't know that Atlanta goes 13-3 again this year, but I like them in Week 1. Pick: Falcons

Bengals @ Browns

If you question what Cleveland is capable of, I want you to consider a two game stretch last year where the Browns went into New Orleans and beat the Saints 30-17, and followed that up with a 34-14 thrashing of the Patriots. Yes, I'm aware they also lost to Buffalo, Cincinnati, and barely escaped an upset against Carolina, but the fact is, these guys have potential. Peyton Hillis came out of nowhere to run for 1177 yards, and Colt McCoy should finally give them stability at the quarterback position. I mean shoot, last year they spent half the season with either Jake Delhomme or Seneca Wallace under center. The Bengals meanwhile were hurt by the strike. Top picks Andy Dalton (QB) and A.J. Green (WR) didn't get a full offseason to get acclimated to the NFL and while I think both are going to be very good players, maybe even later this season, I don't see them lighting it up on the road in Week 1. Pick: Browns

Bills @ Chiefs

While I don't expect to see Kansas City winning the AFC West again, I do like them in this matchup. The Chiefs led the NFL in rushing last year with Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones, but the Chiefs certainly aren't one dimensional. Matt Cassel is more than capable under center and he'll have a big time receiver in Dwayne Bowe - 15 touchdowns a year ago - and I think Steve Breaston will be a much better target for him than Chris Chambers was last year. The loss of tight end Tony Moeaki is going to hurt, but I expect to see more looks to go to the versatile Dexter McCluster as a result. Buffalo on the other hand, still has a ways to go before they're going to be a contender. Even with a healthy Shawne Merriman, I don't see the Bills defense slowing down the Chiefs. Pick: Chiefs

Eagles @ Rams

I think Sam Bradford is going to be an exceptional quarterback in this league for a long time, and Danny Amendola has been a staple on my fantasy team for a few years now, but I'm going to go with 'The Dream Team' in this one. The Eagles boast a secondary with studs Asante Samuel, Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie, and Nnamdi Asomugha, and an offense with an absurd number of weapons: Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, ex-Giant Steve Smith, Brent Celek, LeSean McCoy, Ronnie Brown... I'm not ready to crown the Eagles NFC Champs just yet, not with teams like New Orleans and Green Bay out there, but I like them enough to pick them here over the Rams. Pick: Eagles

Lions @ Bucs

North meets South as a couple of franchises that are both heading in the right direction face off in Week 1. I like a healthy Matthew Stafford and Jahvid Best over Josh Freeman and LaGarrette Blount here. The Lions beat Tampa in Tampa last December with Drew Stanton under center and Maurice Morris handling the bulk of the workload in the backfield. I see this one going the same way. Pick: Lions

Titans @ Jaguars

If David Garrard was still playing, I'd be a little more hesitant about making this pick. But now that the Jags cut him just days before the season opener and are opting to go with Luke McCown, who threw all of 18 passes during the preseason, I feel pretty good about Tennessee's chances. I have no idea what to expect from Chris Johnson as he didn't play at all in the preseason, or Kenny Britt for that matter who's been hampered by injuries, but I think Tennessee is in better shape than the Jags right now. Pick: Titans

Steelers @ Ravens

These two rivals met three times last year, with the 3 games being decided by a total of 13 points. So you can bet this will be another great, hard hitting football game. The last time these two teams met, Baltimore blew a 21-7 halftime lead and lost 31-24 to eliminate them from the postseason, so you can bet the Ravens haven't forgotten that one. The Ravens lost Derrick Mason, Todd Heap and Willis McGahee, but brought in Ricky Williams and Lee Evans so those losses shouldn't hurt TOO much. It should noted that Baltimore did not beat Pittsburgh last year when Ben Roethlisberger was on the field instead getting their win with Charlie Batch at quarterback for the Steelers. But in a matchup that's this even, I have to defer to the home team. Pick: Ravens

Colts @ Texans

The Colts are going to have a much tougher time playing without Manning than the Texans are going to have potentially playing without Arian Foster.  Derrick Ward was a 1000 yard back with the Giants in 2008 and averaged over 6 yards a carry for the Texans in a backup role last year. The Colts will start Kerry Collins in place of Manning, so now we'll really get a chance to see just how good Manning's supporting cast is. I don't think they're good enough here. Pick: Texans

Giants @ Redskins

Rex Grossman is starting for the Redskins. That should be all you need to know here. All kidding aside, I think Tim Hightower has the potential to have a breakout season running in Mike Shanahan's offense. I just don't think it's enough to beat the Giants on Sunday. Pick: Giants

Seahawks @ 49ers

I'm going with San Francisco here if for no other reason than I'm not sold on Tarvaris Jackson as an NFL quarterback. Now, you could also argue that Alex Smith isn't exactly among the elite at the position, but Smith has Frank Gore, Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree and Braylon Edwards at his disposal. Jackson's not exactly without weapons to throw to himself, but there's a reason he didn't pan out in Minnesota. Pick: 49ers

Vikings @ Chargers

The Chargers had all kinds of injury issues last year and Philip Rivers still threw for 4710 yards. Darren Sproles is gone, as is Legadu Naanee, but the Chargers should have Vincent Jackson, Antonio Gates and Malcom Floyd all on the field and at Rivers' disposal. The Vikings counter with 34 year old Donovan McNabb who threw 14 touchdowns and 15 interceptions last year for Washington. He does have Adrian Peterson on his team which will certainly take the pressure off him, but I think this is San Diego's year. Pick: Chargers

Panthers @ Cardinals

Cam Newton's numbers in the preseason: 24 for 57 (42%) for 300 yards and a touchdown. And that was against some pretty basic schemes. Now he's going to see the real deal, and I think he's going to go through some significant growing pains. Arizona on the other hand will start Kevin Kolb who is looking to establish himself as a starter in this league and I think he's more than ready for that challenge. Pick: Cardinals

Cowboys @ Jets

I'm not a Jets fan at all, but there's no doubt that the Jets can play defense. And I think they're going to get up for this game being that it's the season opener, at home, and against a storied franchise like the Cowboys. Dallas meanwhile never seems to win these 'big' games. This is certainly a game that Dallas CAN win, as they have weapons like Felix Jones, Jason Witten and Miles Austin and a solid quarterback in Tony Romo, but they'll need to play near perfect football against the vaunted Jets D, and I just don't see that happening this early in the season. Pick: Jets

Patriots @ Dolphins

Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams are gone as the Reggie Bush era begins in Miami. Bush has yet to show he can be a feature back running effectively between the tackles so it will be interesting to see how he does with the Fins. In two games against Miami last year, the Patriots outscored the Dolphins 79-21. I don't know that Chad Henne is ready to go toe to toe with Brady and win. Pick: Patriots

Raiders @ Broncos

Denver gave up 2473 rushing yards last year, 2nd worst in the league. Oakland ran for 2494 yards last year, 2nd most in the league. In two head-to-head meetings last year, Oakland beat Denver 59-14 and 39-23. The Raiders ran for 328 yards and 5 scores in the first game, and 264 yards and 3 scores in the second. I expect more of the same in this one until Denver shows they can stop the run. Pick: Raiders

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