NFL Week 3 Picks

And the madness continues to sprawl. The margins are tight, the competition is fierce, the endings are dramatic. There’s so much parity at the pro level of the game, that fantasy leagues have parity. A couple of my fantasy leagues are 1-1 top to bottom through two.
I didn’t do too bad all things considered, going 11-5 on this blog and 12-4 on my Yahoo! Picks (only because I had hedged my own prediction since it was such a toss up haha). That brings the total count to 21-11 so far.
Let’s carry on.
Chiefs at Eagles
An exciting Thursday night game for sure. This will be the stiffest defense the Eagles will have faced thus far in the young season. They have a talented secondary and an active, aggressive front. The Eagles won’t have to worry about scoring a boatload of points however. A handful of successful drives would be all they need to beat the Chiefs and they have the personnel to pull it off.  The key will be to keep their electric ground game going against a tough KC run D. Without it, they won’t be able to get Vick and D Jax rollin’
I still expect the home team to will out a win here. They lost the Charger game late and it stung because they knew they had a big day offensively. The defense will be just a bit better but it’ll be enough.
to be continued…
and before it is…
There’s a quick bit I’d like to comment on before we carry through.
I was recently told that I suck at this and that I shouldn’t be a gambling man lol well, for starters, I’m not one. I’m a creature of order and there are simply too many unmitigated external variables in gambling for me to operate comfortably so I don’t bother. However, I’m a football man. I love the game, I study its many parts and, in our present day of widespread parity, it’s all that more exciting to assess and discuss. Those who call me out on my picks are likely the same trolls who harassed Ray Rice about how his injury inconvenienced their precious fantasy teams. 
lol I did it again, this time inadvertently. I usually set my picks on Yahoo! immediately after the Monday night game, the previous week of football still fresh in my mind, before I even check out the games on Rewind, before I read any literature, before I watch any NFL TV. I go off my hunches and apparently, they’re more right, more often than when I overthink things and do silly things like pick the Eagles over the Chiefs in Andy Reid’s return to Philly. He frustrated Vick to no end with that awesome Chiefs defense and forced that super speed offense of Chip’s into a one dimensional shadow of itself. As a result, the Chiefs are now looking like one of the strongest surprises of the new season. Their defense is sick, Smith brings calculated, accurate balance to the offense and that has in turn unleashed Jamaal Charles. Nice, Andy, very nice.
And according to Yahoo!, I already knew that lol
Let’s just go with those early hunches, then, yeah?
Packers at Bengals
I was tempted to ride with the upset here. Then I realized that the Bengals looked good beating a decimated and struggling Steelers team. In other words, I’m still not totally sold on Cincy as a legit contender and the Pack is stupid good. That said, they’re in a great position to get over their kinks and make a real statement that could dictate how the rest of their season goes. And at home, with a strong pass rush that keeps Rodgers off balance and a bounce back by AJ Green, I think they do it.
Rams at Cowboys
Normally, I’d respect the trend NFC East teams have been showing us of not getting it done outside of their division but I think this is the week its bucked. They have all manners of weapons on offense, are coming off a tough loss against the Chiefs that they could have won and have an underrated defense heading home. The Rams are no slouches and have the pass rush to harass Romo; I just don’t see them getting this road win.
Cardinals at Saints
Rather quietly, the Saints are showing they can be a legitimate contender in the NFC. They’ve won a couple of close ones but they gritted both out and have now logged two division wins to kick the season off. If nothing else, it is a good start. As for the Cards, the upgrade at QB is nice but many of the problems that plagued them last season still do and aside from the Lions haven’t beaten anyone in the last 14 games. That will prove costly against New Orleans.
Browns at Vikings
The Browns have thrown in the towel. Although the Vikes have all sorts of glaring weaknesses, they really shouldn’t have any trouble with the Browns at home especially now that Cleveland has traded away T-Rich and are starting Hoyer under center. Their defense is still rigid but the rest of this team isn’t going to make any noise this week.
Chargers at Titans
The Bolts have looked much better offensively under McCoy. Rivers almost looks like that Rivers of a few years ago. That’ll be put to the test against a surprising Titans team that, like the Chargers, gave up a late lead to the Texans. That’s the only difference between 2-0 for either team. On paper, I like San Diego here; they’ve got the vertical game working, Mathews looks decidedly better and the defense is stingy. However, their middling offensive line is going to get harassed by Tennessee’s pass rush and they aren’t particularly good against the run. The Titans are slowly gaining national attention and I think they pull this upset off at home and fly under the radar no more.
Bucs at Pats
I thought about taking the Bucs on the road. The Bucs certainly have their issues but their defense is tough at both levels and the Patriots are wounded and wobbly. The Bucs will do what the Jets tried to do but do a better job of it; run the ball, play tough defense, take advantage of the New England secondary on deep balls and try to make less mistakes. Knowing that it’s the Bucs means I won’t hold my breath on all that, though.
Lions at Redskins
It’s eventually going to come together for RGIII and the Skins. I think it’s this week. The Lions can’t be trusted especially without their sexy new toy Bush out. Their defense is so porous, I think RGIII will find his rhythm much earlier than the 3rd quarter when he’s been showing up the last couple times out. The Redskins defense has been minced and can very easily get the whooping again here but I think they hustle right out the gate and, for once, not play from behind feeding the rock to Morris and using RGIII’s legs to their advantage while ahead late.
Giants at Panthers
I’m tempted to pick the Panthers as I’ve been high on them since before the season started. Sadly, they’ve looked middling on offense and their defense just can’t win games by itself. Ultimately, Cam is just going to have to go off because otherwise this team isn’t very exciting at all. On the other hand, you know the Giants are incensed. They’ve looked awful, their running game is in shambles, Eli is as frustrated as ever, Coughlin’s having heart palpitations and all in all, an 0-2 start in a difficult division is about as bad a start as it gets. They can’t afford to let that slip any further.
Texans at Ravens
This was going to be an uphill battle anyway for the Ravens who’ve looked disjointed and overmatched so far through two games (their win over the Browns means almost nothing in terms of their overall look, either). But with Ray Rice out and even though I know Bernard Pierce is a beast, I still think this is going to be rough going. The Texans still don’t look good yet so at least it’s possible, especially in Baltimore. Not this week.
Falcons at Dolphins
The Phins look pretty good at that shiny 2-0 spot with its new look squad keeping pace with New England. Lamar Miller finally flashed some of what has the city buzzing and Tannehill has looked, at worst, adept in the passing offense. Most importantly, their defense has been strong and this spells issues for a Falcons team that may have to start looking at some of these games as crucial ones considering how fast the Saints will have run off with the NFC South. They lose to a surprising Miami team.
Bills at Jets
A toss up. On one hand, I like what I’m seeing out of the Bills but their bad outweigh the good. On the other hand, I feel the same way about the Jets. 
Colts at Niners
Well, the trade that shook the football world will be on full display in a great matchup between the Colts and Niners. Word is T Rich is still getting a good chunk of snaps even though he’s new to the offense. Regardless, the Colts are really that much better with a legitimate running game to go with their passing attack. The Niners though aren’t havin’ any of that. They’re going to be looking to bounce back at home and are likely to do it.
Jaguars at Seahawks
The funny thing here is that Vegas is putting a really steep bet on this match up to the tune of 20 point underdogs lol truth is, while the Jags really are that bad and the Hawks really are that good and 20 points are entirely possible… it’s peculiar to me only because the Seattle offense has been quiet so far. They got some chunkage from Marshawn Lynch but almost nobody outside of him has produced at a high level just yet. Anyway, there is only one
Bears at Steelers
The Bears have surprised me a bit. I expected them to struggle even with the nice new offensive mindset. Instead, they’ve been very good at moving the ball. The Steelers can also move the rock well enough but they can’t punch any of it in. Running game is a mess, Big Ben is still on the run, and the defense just ain’t what it used to be. I think that even on the road against a quality team such as Pitts, the Bears continue their surge.
Raiders at Broncos
Well shoot. I can’t say I expect the Raiders to win. I do think they will play them tougher than most are predicting. The Raiders are still on wobbly ground because they haven’t been decisively good, not even in the Jaguars game that they dominated. They now contend with arguably the best QB of the era and a team that has averaged 45 points a game through two lol But no reason to overlook the fact the Raiders and Broncos always have good games, are rivals in a division, seeing each other 2 times a year.  In primetime? Forget about it. The Raiders are going to lose but it won’t be by nearly as much as everyone thinks. Pryor will use his legs to stay mobile, McFadden goes off and the defense will be in Manning’s face as much as they can be and throw off his timing.



NFL Week 2 Picks

Well, this year is off to a 9-7 start. I got smoked on some fairly poor calls (namely the misappropriation that the Ravens would be any good, that the Steelers weren’t over the hill and that RGIII was ready for primetime). Otherwise, I got really unfortunate with a lameduck meltdown by the Bengals, a sloppy Giants team and another where-did-the-Browns-go-against-a-team-they-ought-to-have-beaten. 
Let’s get to it.
Jets at Patriots
One thing is for sure about the Jets; they are far more resilient than most would have predicted as I didn’t expect them to do much against Tampa and they somehow snuck out. The Patriots struggled with keeping the Bills at bay and walked away pretty dinged up, especially in their passing game with Amendola and Vereen out, Brady nipped a bit and Thompkins underwhelming in spite of a ton of targets. That said, they should still push the Jets around and harass Geno Smith the same way they harass every young QB that comes to Foxborough. The Jets may have edged by a potential last place team but they’re going to have much more trouble tonight.
I expect a strong effort by the Pats in spite of their injuries with Ridley, Edelman and Thompkins really coming through for them and to beat the spread.
Redskins at Packers
The Pack could have very easily walked out of SF with a strong statement victory to kickoff the new season but instead were wasted by a questionable call. The good news is that they weren’t murdered on the ground by Kaepernick. The bad news is that they got shredded by him in the air. The task at hand now is to contain a QB with a similar skill set in RGIII who shook off a great deal of rust through the course of the Monday night game to show what he may be doin the rest of the way. The Redskins, though healthy on D, are not as stout as the Niners on that side of the ball and will get the brunt of the new balanced Packer offense.
The Packers are going home and will handily beat the Skins by more than the 7 ½ point spread with a balanced dose of Lacy and A-rod’s typical explosive passing.
Browns at Ravens
I’ve never been more disappointed by a defending champ of nearly any sport (at least that I can think of) as I was by the Ravens last Thursday. It would have been one thing to get beat by the Broncos but you can’t call that game anything but a whoopin’. The loss of leadership on the defensive side is very blatant. The loss of reliability due to Boldin’s departure and Pitta’s injury has left a gaping hole in the passing game and relegated Rice to MJD status. The Browns though are also in the doghouse as far as I’m concerned. Their secondary is an obvious weak point. They didn’t get much on the ground. Weeden had to throw 52 times.
Although the Ravens are favored by a TD at home, I’m completely unimpressed by their squad. Flacco doesn’t have enough weapons to effectively take advantage of Cleveland’s only real glaring weakness. I expect a bounce-back performance by Trent Richardson. Browns on the road.
Rams at Falcons
It was a spirited victory by the Rams for sure against a division rival in what was a sweet comeback. However, they’re running into a Falcons team that lost a tough opener on the road. The Rams showed they have the balance now to contend in the NFC West even if they are still one tier below the Seahawks and Niners. The Falcons, though, are in that tier and will be looking to win their home opener and get back to the level that got them to the NFC Championship game last season.
The Rams will play the Falcons tough but Matty Ice has too many weapons and their defense will have home field to harass Bradford and company. Atlanta beats the spread.
Chargers at Eagles
The Chargers played much better than I expected. Their offense looked crisp in the first half, their run defense stingy as it has been for some time now and were it not for Houston’s elite defensive unit showing up in the 2nd half in a big way, probably would have won. However, where they were able to succeed against the Texans in the first half of their game, they will not be so lucky against the Eagles who can run the ball far more effectively and with that snap-quick offense that everybody’s raving about can put defenses on their heels. Speaking of which, the pro game transition for Chip Kelly’s offense is some sweet stuff; the game only got interesting because the Eagles went conservative to preserve their lead and the Skins took advantage.
I expect there to be room for the Chargers to work offensively but I don’t anticipate that they’ll be able to contain Vick and the Eagles offense in Philly. I do think they’ll cover the 7 point spread, however.
Vikings at Bears
Sadly for the Vikings, they ran into a buzzsaw when they tangled with the new look Lions offense and, as expected, didn’t have enough in the passing game to complement Adrian Peterson. They have an even tougher task this week as they travel to Chicago where the Bears look considerably better on defense than I had expected them to. That of course spells trouble for the Vikes who couldn’t get much going against Detroit’s porous defense. That Bears offense, by the way, looks nice as they were able to put up some points and ultimately beat a very good Bengals defense.
The Bears are only favored by 6 ½ points but I wouldn’t be surprised if they win by multiple scores at home with a nice showing from Marshall and Forte in the offense.
Da Bears
Panthers at Bills
Although I expected the Panthers to come out losers in their tilt with the Hawks, I was still very impressed that they weren’t dominated and by how tough they were against the run which is Seattle’s strength. The Panthers defense is one of the better units in the league and we know what Cam Newton can do. The Bills looked much better than I thought they would in giving their division rivals a heck of a fight but Carolina’s defense is a bit tougher than New England’s, especially against the run which means that CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson won’t find nearly as much room as they did last weekend.
Cam and Smith will hook up on some deep throws and D’angelo Williams should eat up some turf as the Panthers beat the spread and win by a field goal or so even if they’re on the road.
Titans at Texans
The big shocker from week 1 was Tennessee harassing the Steelers after a sloppy start that looked like they were headed for trouble. Once they settled in, it was obvious that the Steelers couldn’t move the ball against their underrated defense and they scored just enough points to get by. I still don’t think it means much for them in the big picture as the Steelers might be much more troubled than previously expected. The Texans showed in the second half of their game with San Diego that their defense can shut anybody down with the return of Cushing to the mix. Whereas Pitts had very little to offer on the ground, the combination of Foster and Tate should make enough tread to get this game at home.
That was a nice start to the season for the Titans but they’re on their way to 1-1.  The Texans are favored by just shy of 10 points but I think a TD and a FG is a fair expectation for them to win by.
Dolphins at Colts
The Colts have to be concerned about their run defense (yet again). They let the Raiders run all over them even though they were decent against McFadden. Fortunately for them, Tannehill can’t really run all that well and unless Lamar Miller shows us something different, they might not get much from him either. Still, that is about the only way the Phins show up in Indy and win. The Colts have a really nasty resilience streak as Luck continues to prove he’s got it. They get a back to back home game to jump out to a quick 2-0 start in order to keep up with Houston.
I still don’t expect much on the ground from either team but the Colts should still be able to win this at home. Only way that doesn’t happen is if Miller goes off for Miami. Vegas thinks it’ll be really close at 2 ½ … I think that’s a fair call. Colts by a field goal, though.
Cowboys at Chiefs
Andy Reid has coached against the Cowboys for over a decade. Even with the changes in big D, he probably knows their team as well as he knows his own. The Chiefs finally have an offense to be reckoned with as they came away in week 1 with the largest margin of victory of any team. Whereas the Giants made what seemed like a few dozen mistakes against the Cowboys last week, Alex Smith is a far more cautious, accurate QB and backed by a tough defense in gritty Arrowhead, I don’t like Dallas’ chances. The Boys got lucky playing against a sloppy, disorganized Giants team but won’t be so lucky this week.
The Chiefs will meticulously pass against the Cowboy defense and their underrated defensive unit will frustrate Romo all day now that they are not expected to be on the field for 60% of every game. Expect them to beat the spread.
Saints at Buccaneers
The Saints are back. I’ve been telling everyone who’ll listen that Payton and Brees are two of the most fiercely competitive folks I’ve seen come through the league and are out there with a monumental chip on their shoulder due to last year’s shenanigans. Their wide open brand of offense is back and as long as they don’t get into shootouts with equally explosive offenses, they should win a lot of games this year. The Bucs look soft offensively mostly because their QB continues to underwhelm. They’ll get much better production on the ground from Doug Martin this week but I’m not sure it’ll be enough. Tampa Bay is probably finishing last in the division this season and bottom of three of the conference when all is said and done.
The Saints have too much firepower even against a division rival that plays them tough. It won’t be a blowout since they’re on the road but I expect them to still win by a score. A field goal is a decent call by Vegas but I’m going with a single TD.
Lions at Cardinals
This one’s probably gonna crack the 48 total points called for it in Vegas a both of these offenses will torch the roof off the place. Megatron and Fitzgerald are going to go off as Stafford and Palmer will be throwing for most of the afternoon. Arizona has a better defense so it’ll make it any interesting game especially with the Cards being home. Will it be enough to slow down Detroit’s new look offense with Reggie Bush clearly making himself comfortably at home? There’s an undeniable balance to this offense and that was on display against Minnesota this past Sunday.
Vegas has this as a push but I’m thinking Detroit’s onto something and will outscore the Cards on the road. It’s possible their sieve of a defense gives up just as many points as they put up but I’m counting on their superior ground game to eat up the clock and control the tempo.
Broncos at Giants
The Manning Bowl will likely be reduced to Peyton shredding the Giants and Eli getting frustrated throwing into tight coverage all afternoon. It’s possible that the Giants can fix their ground game in time to control the clock and do what Baltimore failed to do in keeping the ball out of Peyton’s hands but I wouldn’t bet on it. Peyton has maybe the best weapons of any QB in the NFL right now with both Demariyus and Julius Thomas, Welker and Eric Decker and while Eli has a nice receivers corps himself, his offensive line looks suspect. Let’s face it, Coughlin’s Giants are the most schizophrenic team of the past decade and we simply do not know what we’re going to get from them on any given Sunday. Whereas they were a complete mess in Dallas last Sunday, they are just as likely to come out and be on point at home.
Because of their unpredictability, I will gladly avoid them. Peyton and the Broncos have shown they are legitimate Super Bowl contenders with their undressing of the defending champs and I expect another stellar effort from them. They’ll beat the spread and win by two scores on the road.
Jaguars at Raiders
In one of the few instances where the Raiders are favored, the unknown here is actually in favor of Jacksonville. With Gabbert out, Chad Henne takes over and it is possible this ex-starter is primed to take advantage of the opportunity and come out slinging it. MJD couldn’t find any daylight against KC but against a Raiders defense known for giving up the run, could be in for a big day. Still, generally speaking, Oakland’s defense has been a pleasant surprise, frustrating a very good Colts offense all day while harassing Luck throughout. Also, Jacksonville is going to have its hands full with Pryor who showed a great deal of promise with a fantastic display on the ground and a decent one through the air in spite of some glaring mistakes that he vowed to address. He is going through some obvious growing pains but there is optimism here.
I’m excited to say that the Raiders surprised me and that where they came up just short against a strong Indy team, they look set to win at home against a Jags team that got smoked last week by KC. The Raiders should get a better looking effort from Run DMC and beat the 5 ½ point spread en route to a .500 record.
49ers at Seahawks
Game of the week. In a match up of fierce rivals who may also be the top two teams in their conference, the least we can expect is a heavy dose of the run game, some nifty, explosive quarterbacking, stingy, hard hitting defense and a little chippyness. The game is already being preceded with all manners of trash talk ranging from fan jingles making fun of the Niners culminating with Niner players referring to their opponents as the “she-hawks” and calling out an already physically rough team to be even more so. The most exciting thing about the match up is that the two teams really do mirror each other stylistically and really do have the same strengths which makes for a great day of football and an exciting day of betting if that’s your cup. The edge has to go to the Hawks because of their traditional home field advantage with their noted “12th man” but it isn’t much of an edge.
Cliches are considered taboo but I’ll indulge us all: This can go either way. No, really. I do expect Kaepernick to utilize his wheels much more this week than he did last week because Seattle’s secondary is probably the best in football and there’s no way he throws for another 400 yards and a pocketful of scores against them. In the end, though, Marshawn Lynch gets it going in week 2, the Seahawk defense gets grimy late and they eek another one out.
Steelers at Bengals
I’m sure that before the season, the scheduling powers thought this was a good idea. It might still be just because of the divisional climate but let’s face it, these are two teams headed in completely different directions. If there’s one thing we know about the Steelers now is that their line is decimated, the run game doesn’t exist and Big Ben is forcing throws to receivers that are not accustomed to being highlighted. Their defense is old and the mystique is gone. The Titans made them look like the Jags for one week. On the other hand, Cincy should have by all accounts won their first game of the year but had a shocking second half meltdown that saw them lose their lead and their first game of the year in spite of coming into the year as a trendy pick to make a run at the AFC Championship.
The Bengals are home and are going to look to bounce back and I fully expect them to do so. They’ll need to give Bernard more touches in the run game and everything else will fall into place. Their defense is too tough for Pittsburgh’s hollow offense and their offense is very nicely balanced this year. They’re favored by a TD but I’m expecting at least 10 points.
Dig it

NFL Week 1 Picks

The Kickoff.
Football, of course, has returned from the depths of those meaningless months that litter the calendar between February and August to deliver us from darkness. Months of speculation, fantasy draft posturing, twitter-scouring, and crystal-balling have brought us to the verge of a new season and now we have the task of sorting through all of the muck and whatever else information we’ve gleaned from the preseason to make sense of what is to come.
So like the prognosticators across the nation that are offering up their soothsaying on everything from division pecking orders to who will win the big game, I’d like to share some priceless truths of my own lol or something like that, at any rate.
The league plays out this year like a sprawled mess, the sort of league we’ve come to love. There is a distinct air of a changing of guard, a coming of a new alpha, the rise of a dynasty for this decade. There are teams on both sides that have established themselves as players while pools of new contenders are ever growing on both sides. In the AFC, we respect the Ravens, acknowledge the Broncos, know the Patriots are still there and should know the Texans are too. The Bengals seem poised to join that conversation. Maybe Indy. In the NFC, the Niners are not alone at the top of it and have to play that team twice. The Falcons look to have gotten better. Packers are more balanced. The Saints could be back and you could never discount the Giants it seems. How does that play out?
I think it’s Seattle. That dogfight in the NFC West is going to produce two hardy warriors but the one that survives ultimately will be beast. But we can talk odds starting week 2.
But I get way ahead of myself. Let the games begin. They do, and we’re treated to
Ravens at Broncos
A rematch of last year’s AFC Divisional game as a great start to the present season. After all, that was one of those games you remember watching years after you did, what, with all the deep throws, come backs and tentative suspense. Due to wholesale departures for the Ravens in the offseason including mainstays Ed Reed, Ray Lewis and Anquan Boldin, not many are up on the defending SB champs. As a result, they’re heavy dogs in this tilt with the Broncos who added Wes Welker to an already impressive receiving corps. That said, I’m thinking the Ravens aren’t getting much respect here. They upgraded on D with Dumervil (who’s going to want to light the Broncos up) and while they’ve lost guys in the passing game, their ground game is still strong and complements Flacco.
The Broncos do get a bit of an edge because of Peyton and home field but we’ve seen now what Flacco and co. can do under the lights and given how overlooked they are in this match up, I wouldn’t be surprised if they pull off the upset to begin their title defense. And if you’re betting, DEFINITELY take the cover.

Patriots at Bills
While the Pats always look on the verge of falling apart when they lose key guys or load up on a bunch of no namers in key positions, they almost never do. In fact, even with Hernandez gone, Gronk out for the first few weeks, and Welker gone to Denver, Brady has an impressive young crew to work with and it’ll likely be enough to win the East again. Conversely, their division mates in Buffalo have yet another dismal season to look forward to and one thing is for certain; they’ll either have a rookie QB coming off surgery or an undrafted rookie QB coming off obscurity under center for the foreseeable future.
The Pats have looked either stellar or awful this preseason. My guesses are on the Pats looking real strong against the Bills this week.

Bengals at Bears
Like the Ravens, Chicago underwent a sort of retooling with longtime anchor on defense, Brian Urlacher, gone and a whole new coaching staff, and likewise offense, in town. They still have many of the pieces on offense that made them a tantalizing trendy pick to be a serious contender but they’re about to go toe to toe with a Bengals team whose run game is finally about to complement the Dalton/Green combo. Unlike the Bears who’ve taken a step back in this sense, though, Cincy’s defense is an elite unit and will be the difference in this game and many more down the line.
Cincy’s defense will be enough to limit Chicago’s scoring and their run game the difference on the other side of the ball. Cincy is the new hot thing and Chicago is in a rebuild mode regardless of how good it might look.

Dolphins at Browns
In spite of the noisy offseason, the Dolphins’ prospects are really no better than those of the Browns who are slowly but consistently improving. Truth is, I like Cleveland’s offense more than Miami’s and as long as Weeden plays the way he has through preseason, the Browns should take this game. Cleveland’s defense is an underrated unit, as well and will be the difference in this game, especially at home. Cleveland’s receivers are unproven, though and the weakest link for this team. The Dolphins are going to continue to rely on Tannehill even though their passing game still just isn’t convincing me. Lamar Miller can save this offense but that’s a lot of load.
Browns should stifle Miami’s questionable O and I expect Weeden to parlay his intriguing preseason into a successful opening act. Pick the Browns with confidence.

Vikings at Lions
The talk in Detroit, understandably, is about Reggie Bush and how he’ll take some of the pressure off of the Starscream (yeah that’s Stafford’s surprisingly unpenned yet telling nickname) and megatron combo. The question is whether it’ll be enough to make the Lions a serious team as what usually ends up happening is a unit-wide failure on the defensive side of the ball and almost no contribution from the ground game, key elements of successful teams. The Vikes are a more balanced team but they live and die, at least now, by the performance of the best player in the NFL Adrian Peterson.
Lions will show off their new fancy passing game, utilizing Bush especially and hanging on defensively just enough to keep the Vikes from scoring more often.

Raiders at Colts
I hate doing this. I really do. The Raiders are one of the worst teams in the NFL. They are awful in the passing game, haven’t shown anything on the ground yet (it’s possible and I AM holding my breath that McFadden has simply been coddled thus far due to his fragile nature), and their defense, though improved, is going to get abused by taking the field over 60% of every game. The injured offensive line that is already no good to begin with will get murdered and that means whatever QB they trot out there is also going to get murdered. The Colts are a strong bet to win their division with the expectations for Andrew Luck skyrocketing after an impressive rookie campaign and he’s got weapons in Wayne, Hilton and, now, DHB.
The Colts are going to pass their way to a victory with a spirited effort by DHB with the Raider defense on the field too long and exhausted. Pryor just won’t be able to will his team to an opener on the road.

Falcons at Saints
In a lot of ways, the Falcons are the better team. They were supposed to go to the Super Bowl were it not for a total 2nd half meltdown against the Niners. Their passing game is maturing and remains their strength. The ground game is improved with S JAX and his ability to catch out the backfield and that means that even with their defense having not truly been improved, they are capable of being right back in the NFC championship.  Conversely, the league got a reprieve last year with the Saints due to the discordant season they had with Payton’s suspension and all the drama that surrounded the team. And still, the Saints had that explosive upside where they could drop 50 on you before you cracked your first beer.
The Saints are going to be at home and are starting a brand new slate with a nutty offense, their coach’s official triumphant return and a divisional short term memory. The Falcons are very nice and I still think they’re the better team. But New Orleans is a city that loves to party.

Buccaneers at Jets
The Bucs are giving Josh Freeman one last run, I think. Rather than the positive trajectory that his start would have indicated, he’s been frustratingly declining. He has the weapons though, especially with the rise of Doug Martin, to challenge the Falcons and Saints for the division but the Bucs are so unpredictable across the board, it is hard to tell. The Jets are a mess as they have been for years now but at least their defense can still stop people. Their passing game is a question mark, their run game is relying on unreliable pieces and they are in a division that’s already won.
At home, the Jets are usually stout on D so they could frustrate the Bucs but I think there’s too much firepower coming to town and a lot to prove for Freeman.

Titans at Steelers
The Steelers are dealing with what can be best described as a paradigm shift in team philosophy. For the past year or so, they’ve really deviated from the run-heavy, between the tackles, defensive stalwart character and moving towards a pass-happy, light defensive team. Big Ben is near the end of his peak but he still has a slew of weapons as long as the young offensive line can give him time. The Titans are continuing to rebuild their defense but at least CJ2K is going to look decent enough this year behind a reworked offensive line. Their passing game still sucks but at least they are growing whereas before they weren’t.
Steelers should have this game at home with a strong display of big passing games.

Seahawks at Panthers
The Panther defense is going to be one of the better units in the NFL, Cam will shake off some of that sophomore slump he had goin on last year and the Panthers are going to surprise people with an-above-.500 season. They  open their season with a difficult task of beating what may be one of the top three teams if not a potential champ in Seattle. The Hawks have a running game that’s diverse and deep, a passing game that is spearheaded by Russell Wilson and one of the best if not the best defense in the NFL.
The Panthers are going to be nice this year but this is a very tough assignment to start the season.  Even though they’re at home, they’re going to be dominated by one of the trendier but more intriguing SB contenders, the

Chiefs at Jaguars
This used to be a game that looked boring on the schedule, only now the Chiefs are on the uptick and the Jags, well, they’re at least trying. The Chiefs have a QB finally to go with their solid defense and that should also open things up for Charles in the ground game, as well. The Chiefs may not make much noise in the bigger picture but they should be good for seven to nine wins and one of them should come this week against the Jags. MJD will be great for JAX as long as he stays healthy but that’s mostly important to fantasy owners and whoever he’ll be playing for next year when he’s earned a fat contract.
Chiefs are going to run the ball well, Alex Smith will distribute the ball effectively and the Jags are going to struggle with that KC defense.

Cardinals at Rams
The story out west is that the NFC West continues to be a hotly contested division even with the hotshot Niners and Hawks leading the way. The Cardinals brought Carson Palmer into the mix to make Larry Fitzgerald relevant again. Granted, their offensive line is whack and Palmer may break back there but at least the Cards will be more competitive than they were down the stretch last year. The Rams continue to be a middle of the pack performer although they do play their divisional rivals tough. Tavon Austin will give 
Bradford an explosive weapon to complement the blue collar approach the team takes on both sides of the ball.
I’m not quite sold on the changes being made down in Arizona. This game will be low scoring, both defenses holding it down with the Rams having just enough extra to secure a win at home.

Packers at 49ers
One of the games of the week, no doubt. The Niners are at the top of power rankings as expected after falling just short of the championship. The Packers are healthy and have improved their rushing attack which was often the only thing standing between the Packers and real balance. However, even with Eddie Lacy giving A-Rod that extra weapon on offense, beating the Niners in San Fran to start the season is a tall order. The Niners are well rested and determined to get back to where they left off, a botched play away from being champs. It’ll be interesting to see how Kaepernick deals with the sophomore blues but if he can keep it together, this game should be a victory.
The Pack will cover but don’t expect the Niners to fold to kick off the 2013 season at home.

Giants at Cowboys
America’s game. As good a way to start off a new season as there is with this old school matchup on Sunday night. One has to wonder how much better the Cowboys can be if DeMarco Murray gets it going. Romo has guys to throw the ball to but he shouldn’t be dropping back on every snap; we know what happens when he does that. The Giants are going to have to rely on David Wilson a lot this year as their running back depth is shot. Granted, he’s a beast but Eli has shown to be very vulnerable in one dimensional offenses so he’ll be needed.
Normally, I’d say going into Dallas for a primetime game to start the season isn’t a good situation for opponents but Eli loves these kinds of games. The Boys are favorites in this one but I’m going out on a limb.

Eagles at Redskins
No, no, there’s no East coast bias lol Ok so there is. We get yet another NFC East rivalry in primetime with the new look Eagles visiting the up and coming Redskins. I’m excited to see this new Chip Kelly offense and rumors of a rejuvenated, motivated Vick. The Eagle defense is still a hot mess so it’s possible that all the talk about that crazy offense in Philly is for naught. The Redskins are just glad to be healthy again. If RGIII and Garcon can stay on the field, along with the continued rise of Alfred Morris, the Skins could make some serious noise in the East given that I’m still not sold on either the Giants or the Cowboys as having a clear shot at the division.
The Eagles will score a ton of points. They might even win this game. However, there is too much disparity in the defenses to expect them to beat the Redskins in Washington.

Texans at Chargers
The Texans are getting love across the board but really, I am excited to see how good these guys end up being. Foster’s problems are overblown, Cushing is back and Deandre Hopkins is the real deal. That means the Texans have an explosive passing game (check), one of the best ground attacks in the NFL (check), one of the top defenses in the NFL (check) and an easy division (with the exception of the Colts but they should be better than them)(check). As for the Chargers, the only team that can do worse than them in the AFC West is the Raiders and while that may be a lock, that really isn’t a lock. It’s scary to think that this once perennial contender has been reduced to Ryan Mathews as its only real bright spot.

The Texans will open with a strong win on the road.

dig it