Saturday, September 8, 2012

NFL Week 1 Picks

Yes, its back. The NFL Season is finally here and with that it is the return of my picks! Nothing changes from last year. I will post my picks here with some analysis. I know I missed Thursdays game. I will try to tweet my pick for that game before hand so I have proof of it. Good thing I didn't do that this week. Hopefully I can get some of these games right.

Indianapolis Colts vs Chicago Bears
Tough way for Andrew Luck to break into the league. Luck had a decent pre-season, but he is walking into a very tough match-up against the Chicago Bears and their defense. Luck can expect to face some heavy pressure from Julius Peppers and Brian Urlacher. It will be tough for the Colts offense to get anything going either on the pass or on the ground. Jay Cutler, meanwhile, finally gets the #1 WR he has been so desperately missing since he has come to Chicago. Cutler and Brandon Marshall were very good together in Denver and Chicago is expecting the same thing from them. The Bears also have a great one-two punch in the backfield with Matt Forte and Michael Bush. The Bears can't afford any slip ups if they want to compete for the NFC North Title, and I think they win this one rather easily.

Chicago 31  Indianapolis 13

Philadelphia Eagles vs Cleveland Browns
So, do we really think Mike Vick will make it out of this game un-injured? Vick was banged up in two different games during the pre-season. Now he is facing a Browns team whose strength is their defense. However, the Eagles have some fire power on offense that should be able to overcome a good Browns defense. LeSean McCoy should be a workhorse for the Eagles this year. That should take some pressure off of Vick. The Eagles defense also got better with the addition of DeMeco Ryans to their absolutely weak linebacking unit from last year. The Browns are going to be a young team, especially on offense. They have a starting rookie quarterback in Brandon Weeden and a starting rookie running back in Trent Richardson. And most rookies on offense struggle to get going every year. I think you can expect the same from the Browns this year. The Eagles have too many veterans that know how to win for the Browns to over come.

Philadelphia 28  Cleveland 10

New England Patriots vs Tennessee Titans
You want to know something scary? The Patriots had a very good offense last year and they added more weapons in the off-season with the addition of WR Brandon Lloyd. Lloyd, Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski is a great array of weapons to have. I don't care what kind of problems Brady had with his offensive line in the pre-season. He is still Tom Brady. New England just needs to improve their dead last defense from last year. The Pats can put up points, but the defense needs to not get walked all over. The Titans are handing the reigns over to Jake Locker. Locker showed signs of being a good QB last year, but he needs to show he can keep it up all year. One plus for him is that he gets Chris Johnson ready to go. Johnson missed training camp last year but had a full one to get ready for this year. Problem is, Tennessee doesn't have much on defense to stop Tom Brady. Losing Cortland Finnegan was a big loss. I think the Titans keep it close, but the Patriots pull this one out in the end.

New England 35  Tennessee 27

Atlanta Falcons vs Kansas City Chiefs
To me, this is one of the most intriguing games of the weekend. The Falcons are a team picked by many to win the NFC South this year. They have one of the better offenses in the league and one of the best 1-2 wide receiver tandems in the league in Roddy White and Julio Jones. I do, however, question how effective Michael Turner will be this year. Turner started to wear down a bit toward the end of the year. The Chiefs are a team that many people think can make the Playoffs this year. Yes, they played well under Romeo Crennel last year and they stopped the Packers from going undefeated. But they also still have Matt Cassel as their starting QB. I never thought Cassel could be a top starter in the league. He is an adequate QB at best. The Chiefs have a strong defense but I don't think it is enough to get past a very good Falcons team.

Atlanta 24  Kansas City 20

Jacksonville Jaguars vs Minnesota Vikings
I don't know if there is a more uninteresting game on the NFL slate all year. These are two teams expected to finish near the bottom of the league. The Jaguars have a new coach in Mike Mularkey that thinks he can fix young QB Blaine Gabbert. From what U saw of Gabbert last year, I don't know how much fixing is possible. He doesn't look strong in the pocket. Jacksonville gets Maurice Jones-Drew back, but he missed all of training camp. We saw the effect that had on Chris Johnson. Minnesota will have Adrian Peterson, but I doubt he plays more than 20 plays. Both teams will struggle to move the ball on offense. The Vikings defense is better than the Jags so I give them the edge in this one.

Minnesota 17  Jacksonville 12

Washington Redskins vs New Orleans Saints
The big news coming out before this week's game is that the suspensions of the players from Bounty Gate have been over turned by an appeals court. That has to give the Saints some extra motivation, even though Johnathan Vilma is not expected to play. I'm not very high on the Saints this year. I think the absence of Sean Payton will have some effect on their play. I don't think the defense will be good again. I think the Redskins could surprise some people this year. Are they a Playoff team? No. But could they get a few big wins along the way and finish 7-9 or 8-8? Absolutely. I think Robert Griffin will be a very good QB in the league. He has Michael Vick like potential, and I think he has a better arm than Vick. The defense also has two very good pass rushers on the outside in Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan. I think the Redskins keep this game very close, but at least for Week 1, the Saints veteran instincts win out.

New Orleans 30  Washington 24

Buffalo Bills vs New York Jets
The Bills are a very sexy Playoff pick this year. They improved their woeful pass rush in the off-season by adding Mario Williams and Mark Anderson. Pairing them with DTs Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus gives them possibly the best front 4 in the league. But the Bills Playoff hopes are on the shoulders of Ryan Fitzpatrick. He played very well in the first half of last year before a rib injury hindered him in the second half. If Fitzpatrick plays half as well as he did in the first half of the year the Bills Playoff chances are good. C.J. Spiller should be more of a factor after he carried the load in the second half of the year. The Jets are a team that looks like a giant train wreck currently. Mark Sanchez has as many doubters as you can think of. And now he has Tim Tebow looking over his shoulder. Their offense struggled in the pre-season and while the defense is good, it isn't good enough to win them games. How long until Tim Tebow starts in New York? I like the Bills here in a close, low scoring game.

Buffalo 17  New York 13

St. Louis Rams vs Detroit Lions
The Lions were a popular pick to make the Playoffs last year if everyone stayed healthy. They did, and the Lions made the Playoffs and gave the Saints a run for their money. Detroit's offense should still be very good this year. Throw a triple team at him, and Calvin Johnson will still find a way to catch the ball. The man is one of the best WRs in NFL history. Matthew Stafford showed why he was drafted #1 overall. The defense should get better and they still have one of the best front fours in the league. The team just can't let their off-season issues get to them. Multiple players were arrested last year. The Rams face another tough Week One game after they had the Eagles last year. Jeff Fisher is expected to improve the team. The defense is already better in the secondary with the addition of Cortland Finnegan. The Rams started over 10 different cornerbacks last year. Sam Bradford struggled to stay healthy last year and the team didn't add too many weapons to help him out this year. The Rams will be better than what they were last year, but not good enough to beat the Lions.

Detroit 34  St. Louis 21

Miami Dolphins vs Houston Texans
The Dolphins are a mess. They signed Chad Johnson for what reason? Why did they trade Brandon Marshall and Vontae Davis? They have almost no star power on the team and are starting a rookie QB, on the road, against one of the best defenses in the NFL. Ryan Tannehill will struggle in this one. The Texans return almost all of their starters and get back Matt Schaub and a healthy Andre Johnson. Adrian Foster will be a game time decision, but Ben Tate will do just as well if Foster doesn't play. Expect the Texans to run away with this one.

Houston 35  Miami 6

San Francisco 49ers vs Green Bay Packers
Talk about a match-up of heavyweights in Week 1. Its a hard nose defense vs a high powered offense. Its a possible NFC Championship Preview. And who knows, the results of this game could help determine home field in that game. The 49ers should signs of new life under Jim Harbaugh last year. I always thought Harbaugh would be a good coach and last year proved it. He turned Alex Smith into a viable starting QB. And now Smith has more weapons on his team with the additions of Randy Moss and Mario Manningham. And the defense returned every single on of their starters from last year. The Packers had a great season last year but stumbled in the Playoffs. Their defense gave up big points last year and the offense had to constantly bail them out, and it caught up to them against the Giants. Aaron Rodgers knows how to manage a game and has some strong weapons at his disposal. its tough to focus on stopping just one of them. The team also added Cedric Benson to help out a running game that struggled last year. I think this one will be high scoring. The Saints scored a lot of points against the 49ers last year, and I think the Packers offense is better. A high scoring affair that ends with a last second field goal for the Packers victory.

Green Bay 37  San Francisco 34

Seattle Seahawks vs Arizona Cardinals
Both of these teams feel like they can compete with the 49ers in the NFC West. But their team make-ups tell a different story. Seattle went out and spent money to get Matt Flynn to play QB for them this year. But instead, rookie QB Russell Wilson won the starting job. I like what I've seen out of Wilson so far, but he is still a rookie QB. Seattle may be without Marshawn Lynch who has been suffering from back spasms this week. Arizona, meanwhile, will be going with John Skelton at QB. It appears the Kevin Kolb experiment may be done there as well. Larry Fitzgerald will still find a way to get his stats, but that offense will struggle this season. Seattle's defense is a bit better than the Cardinals, so I give them the edge here.

Seattle 23  Arizona 16

Carolina Panthers vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Carolina seems to be a pick by some to make the Playoffs this year. I think they will be a good team, but the Playoffs seems like a bit of a reach. Teams will now be ready to prepare for Cam Newton this season after he exceeded expectations last year. But it will still be tough for team's to contain Newton's play making ability. The problem with Carolina is that their secondary struggled last year and will more than likely struggle again this season. They will get Jon Beason back and have added rookie Luke Kuechly at linebacker, but that can only help so much. Tampa Bay went out and spent some big money this off-season on the additions of WR Vincent Jackson and G Carl Nicks. They also have a new coach in former Rutgers head man Greg Schiano. But the team's hopes will rely on QB Josh Freeman. Freeman took a major step backwards last year after a solid 2010 campaign. Tampa Bay looks to struggle on defense as well, and that could be a problem in the strong NFC South. I'm taking Carolina here.

Carolina 28  Tampa Bay 20

Pittsburgh Steelers vs Denver Broncos
A rematch of last year's AFC Wild Card game but the Denver QB is different. Peyton Manning makes his regular season debut. He looked good in his last pre-season game and now it is time to see how he handles a full regular season game. Manning has some strong weapons around him in WRs Eric Decker and Demarryius Thomas. Manning also has a pretty strong defense with pass rushing forces Von Miller and Elvis Dumervill. The Steelers are in their first game and will likely be without James Harrison at linebacker. They could also be without QB Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben is awaiting the birth of his baby and has said that if the child is coming on Sunday he will not play. That would be a big loss for the Steelers. They will also be without Safety Ryan Clark, who has a rare disease that affects him in the mile high air of Denver. I was not high on Pittsburgh this year and this is not a good start for them. I think the Broncos pick up a win here.

Denver 24  Pittsburgh 21

Cincinnati Bengals vs Baltimore Ravens
Anyone who tells you they picked the Bengals to make the Playoffs last year is either from Cincinnati or has a time machine. The Bengals took advantage of a soft schedule last year and finished with a 10-6 record and backed their way into the Playoffs. Rookies Andy Dalton and A.J. Green played well and many people expect them to get even better this year. The defense is what carried the team last year as it was a top ten unit. But Cincinnati also did not beat a team with a winning record last year, and they get an immediate test in Week 1 against Baltimore. The Ravens are an aging team that may be on their last legs. Their defense is lead by Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, but they don't have much time left. They also don't have Terrell Suggs to start the season. On offense, the question about whether or not Joe Flacco can lead this team to a Championship still remains. Of course, he didn't drop a TD pass in the end zone last year or miss a chip shot field goal to send the game into OT. The Ravens still have Ray Rice who is very tough tackle in open space. I like Baltimore to win this one.

Baltimore 20  Cincinnati 16

San Diego Chargers vs Oakland Raiders
After much discussion in San Diego, the Chargers decided to keep Norv Turner as head coach. It was a head scratching move to me. Turner has had plenty of talent in San Diego during his tenure but has never gotten the team to the Super Bowl. Despite losing Vincent Jackson, the Chargers still have talent. But they also will be without RB Ryan Matthews and WR Vincent Brown who are out with injuries. Oakland showed some signs of flash last year but they went out and got a new coach in Dennis Allen. Carson Palmer remains a question mark as he has his up and down games. Palmer has some solid receiving options in WRs Denarius Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey. The team lost a big piece on defense in pass rusher Kamerion Wimbley. They have enough talent on the defensive side to make up for it with Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly. I don't think either of these teams will do too well this season, and I think Oakland pulls out a mild upset in a likely shootout.

Oakland 33  San Diego 28

If I Were A Betting Man, I Would Make These Picks...
Buffalo +3 at NY Jets: The Jets can't score on offense. How they are favored is beyond me.
Houston -13 vs Miami: Who is Ryan Tannehill suppose to throw to?
Washington +7.5 at New Orleans: Game will be closer than Vegas thinks.
Oakland -1 vs San Diego: Essentially a pick em. I like Oakland here.

Until Next Time,
Justin C
Follow Me On Twitter @JCWonka

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