NFL Game Picks: Week 1
Another NFL season means that it’s time for another round of weekly game picks. There’s plenty of action to cover in week one, so let’s jump in right away.
Atlanta Falcons @ Philadelphia Eagles:
The defending Super Bowl champions are given a fastball in the season opener. In what looks very much like an exact rematch of last year’s divisional round game, a Carson Wentz-less Eagles squad will have to fend off the Falcons at home. The major question here is whether or not Nick Foles will be able to reproduce what he did last postseason. Even if he’s not as sharp as he once was, a dominant Philly defense and a raucous home crowd could be the difference maker.
The pick: Philadelphia 27, Atlanta 17
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cleveland Browns:
On paper, this looks like a clear win for Pittsburgh, but the Browns have put together a recent history of playing the Steelers close. Still, the nearly unbeatable connection between Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown may be too much for the young Cleveland defense to handle. Le’Veon Bell or not, the Pittsburgh offense looks like it’s ready to roll again in 2018. The edge goes to the Steelers.
The pick: Pittsburgh 30, Cleveland 20
Cincinnati Bengals @ Indianapolis Colts:
It may only be week one, but as a matchup between two teams expected to struggle this year, this game could very well indicate how the 2018 season plays out for either squad. It will be especially interesting to see how quickly Andrew Luck bounces back to his caliber of play if he does at all. This ought to be a close one, but Indianapolis takes it with the home-field advantage.
The pick: Indianapolis 19, Cincinnati 16
Tennessee Titans @ Miami Dolphins:
Here’s a sneaky contender for one of the best matchups in week one. There are a couple of good storylines in this one, as Mike Vrabel makes his head coaching debut for Tennessee and Ryan Tannehill returns to quarterback the Dolphins after a year of absence. Neither team has a major advantage in this one; perhaps the Titans have the edge simply because they have a more talented roster.
The pick: Tennessee 26, Miami 21
San Francisco 49ers @ Minnesota Vikings:
The quarterback play is the talk of the town here. Jimmy Garoppolo returns to action after his stellar outing in 2017, while Kirk Cousins looks to make a splash in his new purple and yellow uniform. With that being said, there’s no doubt which team is better at this moment in time: Minnesota. Factor in that they’re playing for a fierce home crowd and you’ve got the formula for a Vikings victory on Sunday.
The pick: Minnesota 31, San Francisco 17
Houston Texans @ New England Patriots:
These two teams put up a spectacle in 2017, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see it again this year. With both teams at full strength (minus Julian Edelman for the Patriots), this one could very well go down to the wire. Much of it depends on whether or not Deshaun Watson can bounce back to his 2017 form right away.
The pick: New England 33, Houston 28
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints:
It’s a brutal start of the season for the Buccaneers, who are without Jameis Winston for the first three games. Week one is no exception, as the powerhouse Saints host the Bucs on Sunday afternoon. A Tampa Bay victory would be deeply surprising, but we’ve seen crazier things happen before. New Orleans remains the favorite though.
The pick: New Orleans 37, Tampa Bay 16
Jacksonville Jaguars @ New York Giants:
This is definitely one of the most intriguing games in week one, but it’s still a mismatch. Even with a healthy Odell Beckham and Saquon Barkley raring to run, Jacksonville’s defense is just too stacked. Eli Manning hasn’t looked sharp in a long time, and it’s hard to imagine he’ll suddenly flip the switch against one of the top defenses in the league.
The pick: Jacksonville 23, NY Giants 14
Buffalo Bills @ Baltimore Ravens:
Needless to say, this is not a good matchup for Buffalo. It will be quite difficult to produce a victory with an inexperienced quarterback in Nathan Peterman starting behind a shaky offensive line against one of the AFC’s top defenses on the road. It’s possible, as anything is possible in the NFL, but the outlook is not bright.
The pick: Baltimore 23, Buffalo 7
Kansas City Chiefs @ Los Angeles Chargers:
As two of the top teams in the AFC, both Kansas City and Los Angeles want to start the season on the right foot, but only one can. Each team has one major hurdle to overcome; for Kansas City, it’s a sophomore quarterback with only one career start, and for Los Angeles it’s injuries. But if both teams can show resilience and roll with the changes, we’ll have a dandy of a division race in the AFC West.
The pick: LA Chargers 31, Kansas City 28
Seattle Seahawks @ Denver Broncos:
It’s a rematch of Super Bowl XLVIII, if you can really call it that, considering how much these rosters have changed in the past five years. At first glance, both teams look like they could be incredibly average this year, though this first game could really tell the truth about which direction each is headed in. The Seahawks have Russell Wilson, so let’s hand them the edge.
The pick: Seattle 20, Denver 13
Washington Redskins @ Arizona Cardinals:
This might be the most difficult week one game to call, as neither team has really shown any indication of what’s in store for 2018. With David Johnson back on the field, Arizona’s offense steps up to another level, so perhaps they have the advantage. But it’s unlikely that Alex Smith and the Redskins will go quietly.
The pick: Arizona 22, Washington 19.
Dallas Cowboys @ Carolina Panthers:
Talk about trending up vs. trending down. Carolina has made key additions to the offense this past summer, namely rookie wideout D.J. Moore and new offensive coordinator Norv Turner. Dallas has done just the opposite, losing Jason Witten to retirement, Dez Bryant to free agency and Travis Frederick to health concerns. Dallas would like to get a win on the road in week one, but it’s going to be a daunting task.
The pick: Carolina 30, Dallas 17
Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers:
Since 2015, Green Bay has had Chicago’s number every year. Is this finally the year the Bears show up the Packers in Lambeau? It could happen, but it won’t be easy. Chicago is certainly more talented this year, and the last-minute addition of Khalil Mack is a massive boost, but Aaron Rodgers is Aaron Rodgers. Expect this one to be closer than in years past.
The pick: Green Bay 24, Chicago 20
New York Jets @ Detroit Lions:
Sam Darnold makes his NFL debut on the bright lights of Monday Night. It’s not the greatest scenario to have your rookie quarterback in, but the Jets will have to make do. It won’t be easy either, as Detroit’s offensive talent easily outclasses New York. If the Jets want to win, they’ll like have to rely on big defensive stops. That’s not easy to do against Matthew Stafford.
The pick: Detroit 32, NY Jets 18
Los Angeles Rams @ Oakland Raiders:
Storylines are bountiful in this one, as the Rams sport the heaviest-hitting roster in the league, while the Raiders are trying to recover from the confusion that’s surrounded them the past few weeks. Not having Khalil Mack anymore definitely smarts, but in the case of this week one, it probably won’t matter anyway. Los Angeles could easily dominate.
The pick: LA Rams 42, Oakland 14
DJ Bauer is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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