Football is back my friends! After a long offseason, it’s that time we have all been waiting for. Fans everywhere are eager to watch their favorite teams and root for their fantasy teams. Week one represents hope for these fans everywhere as it represents a clean slate. Here we go, folks. It’s time for week one predictions. Make sure to Tweet @treydaubert if you’re upset with my picks. All spreads are courtesy of William Hill sports book.
Kansas City At New England: Thursday Night (KC +9)
The reigning Super Bowl champions opening up the season on Thursday night. New England might be even better than that team that won the Super Bowl last year. Sure, the Patriots lost Julian Edelman, but enter Brandin Cooks, Dwayne Allen, Phillip Dorsett, Mike Gillislee, you name it. The Patriots will be just fine. Oh, by the way, in Tom Brady’s last 51 home games against AFC teams he’s 50-1. The lone loss came in week 17 in 2014 where Brady sat out the second half.
Forget the 9 point spread, New England had all offseason to prepare. Good luck Kansas City, you have a quarterback that can’t throw the ball further than 10 yards down the field. Take New England.
Jets At Bills: Sunday 1 P.M. ET (NYJ +9)
The tank is on! It’s hard for me to imagine the Bills beating anyone by 9 points this season so go with the Jets. Yes, I know it’s hard to pick the Jets but Josh McCown should at least keep them viable right? Both front offices have tried to sell the farm in an attempt for a top tier quarterback. Why shouldn’t we expect this game to be close?
The Bills love to run the ball leading the league in yards per carry in 2016 (5.3 yards per attempt). However, the strength of the Jets team starts at defensive line. Leonard Williams has the potential to become a hall of fame caliber player and Mo Wilkerson is also no slouch. Take the points and thank me later.
Atlanta At Chicago: Sunday 1 P.M. ET (CHI +7)
I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t bet this game but I’m leaning towards the Bears. Yes, the Bears. This Atlanta offense clearly won’t be the same without Kyle Shanahan. Even if the Falcons are still explosive, it might take them a week or two to get things going with Steve Sarkisian.
7 points is a lot in the NFL. Mike Glennon also figures to be an upgrade over what they got from Matt Barkley a year ago. Jordan Howard is also a reliable running back to grind out possessions. Maybe I’m crazy but my gut tells me Chicago at least keeps it to a one score game. Chicago also has the most week 1 wins in NFL history (54).
Baltimore At Cincinnati: Sunday 1 P.M. ET (BAL +3)
Joe Flacco always plays to the level of competition. Therefore, I like when he’s getting points. When you have the best kicker in the league (Justin Tucker) Baltimore is an obvious pick getting three points.
Cincy also has to deal with the loss of Vontaze Burfict for the first three games. Starting off the season without the leader of you defense could cause problems. The addition of Jeremy Maclin should result in more big plays for the Ravens to get the job done.
The one weapon that has torched the Ravens in recent years is A.J. Green. That advantage should be mitigated with the additions of Marlon Humphrey, Brandon Carr, Tony Jefferson, and a totally revamped secondary in Baltimore. This Ravens defense could be a top 5 group with the new pass rush of Tim Williams and Tyus Bowser spelling the savage Terrell Suggs.
Pittsburgh At Cleveland: Sunday 1 P.M. ET (CLE +9)
The Cleveland Browns are going to get smoked. NFL bettors should be happy this line isn’t double digits. Does anyone realize how bad DeShone Kizer truly is? Kizer won 4 games at Notre Dame, was benched twice, and completed 58.7 percent of his throws. What in the world makes me think those things will improve against the Pittsburgh Steelers?
This one’s easy. The Steelers won this matchup on the road last year 24-9. Cleveland will also be without Myles Garrett after he injured his ankle. The Browns just can’t ever have nice things, take the Steelers.
Arizona At Detroit: Sunday 1 P.M. (DET +1)
It’s hard for me to bet against a superior head coaching advantage with multiple weeks to prepare. Vegas is telling you Arizona is favored so I’m going to lean that way. Bruce Arians is also a thousand times better than that lame duck Jim Caldwell.
In the early portion of the season, in a dome, Carson Palmer should be just fine to get the job done. Arizona also has a great secondary with Tyrann Mathieu and Patrick Peterson matching up well against a team that loves to air it out. Cardinals take the opener.
Jacksonville At Houston: Sunday 1 P.M. ET (JAX +5)
Tom Savage has never thrown a touchdown pass in his three-year career. I repeat, Tom Savage has never thrown a touchdown pass! Crazier things have happened in week one. If Jacksonville can get out in front early, and replicate that Dallas rushing attack with new man Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville should be the pick.
That Jacksonville defense has some talent to it. Myles Jack, Jalen Ramsey, and Telvin Smith give them a young core. Regardless, are we sure Tom Savage can beat any team by more than five points? If I’m wrong, that number one rated Texans defense will likely score some points in their own right. I guess that’s what I get for taking Blake Bortles.
Oakland At Tennessee: Sunday 1 P.M. ET (OAK +2)
If you read my bold prediction piece, you know I’m really down on Tennessee. That gimmicky Exotic Smashmouth isn’t sustainable. Either is Marcus Mariota’s rushing attack as we already saw him go down late last year.
I’m not betting against a 12-4 Raiders team with Derek Carr on the heels on an MVP caliber season. Are we forgetting that the Titans haven’t made the playoffs since 2008? Khalil Mack is going to fluster Marcus Mariota. The fact that the Raiders are getting 2 points is laughable.
Philadelphia At Washington: Sunday 1 P.M. ET (WAS +1)
The Eagles are my pick to win the NFC East this year. For that to happen, they need to take care of division opponent Washington. The Eagles were 5-1 a year ago with Lane Johnson in the starting lineup. Guess what? He’s back and Philly posts one of the best offensive lines no one is talking about.
Remember Carson Wentz started out hot during his rookie year. Wentz threw five touchdowns and zero interceptions during his first three games last year. With Wentz’s continued progression and the entrance of Torrey Smith, Alshon Jeffrey, and LeGarrette Blount. Washington swept the season series in 2016 so expect Philly to come in with a new fire and new found motivation.
Indianapolis At Los Angeles Rams: Sunday 4:05 P.M. ET (IND +3.5)
Is anyone even going to watch this game? Welcome to Scott Tolzien vs. Jared Goff, the most hideous quarterback matchup of week 1. The LA defense should be much improved with Wade Phillips running the show but Aaron Donald will miss the game due to a contract dispute. I’m always going with the points if I’m unsure so give me Indy.
Asking Jared Goff to beat anyone by more than a field goal is a challenge. The Colts should also be more improved on the defensive side of the ball. Jabaal Sheard and Jonathan Hankins were brought in free agency. Malik Hooker, Quincy Wilson, and Terrell Basham also round out a nice draft for Indy. It’s do or die time for Chuck Pagano. Here’s your chance to show that your defense prowess is worth keeping.
Seattle At Green Bay: Sunday 4:25 P.M. ET (SEA +3)
The home field advantage is the key here. Vegas usually gives three points to the team who’s at home so it’s virtually a pick em game. This game isn’t one I would bet on but I’m leaning towards Green Bay here.
Seattle seems to be going through a lot of noise. Richard Sherman has called out his coaches. We saw this at times during the end of Pete Carroll’s USC tenure. He runs a loose ship and things can go haywire at times.
The Packers also have the pieces to match Seattle’s defensive personnel. The Packers had the best pass blocking unit according to Pro Football Focus in 2016. They also added Martellus Bennett who gives the team a big red zone piece Aaron Rodgers has never had.
Carolina At San Francisco: Sunday 4:25 P.M. ET (SF +5.5)
Vegas is giving Kyle Shanahan a lot of respect being only 5.5 point dogs after taking over a horrible roster. I like Carolina to bounce back in a big way as Cam’s season openers tend to set the town for his year. No better way to get it rolling than a 49ers team that’s a year or two away.
I also love Carolina’s defensive personnel where they should control the line of scrimmage with Kawaan Short and Star Lotulelei. Shanahan needs to run the ball to keep this close but it’s going to be tough sledding against those guys. Brian Hoyer will probably take his fair share of licks with Luke Keuchly charging at him. Panthers win by at least 7.
New York At Dallas: Sunday Night (NYG +4)
The Giants won both meetings a year ago so expect Dallas to come out firing. The Cowboys should have an emotional boost with Ezekiel Elliot in the lineup for week one. While Dak Prescott was electric in his rookie season, expect him to continue to improve making it more difficult for the Giants to stack the box like they did a year ago.
It’s tough to imagine Dez Bryant not being more of a focal point after an entire offseason with Prescott at the helm. Remember Tony Romo was supposed to be the guy last year.
New York also has some injury concerns. Brandon Marshall is questionable. So is Odell Beckham but he could be faking it considering he is moon walking on a “sprained ankle”. As long as Ereck Flowers is the left tackle, I’m out on the Giants. Even Dallas’ weak pass rush should be able to exploit the offensive line woes of New York. Vegas obviously knows something up because on paper, 4 points seems to be too much for Dallas to give up. New York gets beat big here.
New Orleans At Minnesota: Monday Night (NO +3)
Defense wins championships. In a matchup of contrasting styles, take the Vikings defense to get the job done. Minnesota ranked 6th in points allowed in 2016 (19.1). Compare that to New Orleans ranking 31st in points allowed (28.1). That’s asking Drew Brees to put up a lot of points against an elite defensive roster and coaching staff.
Sam Bradford isn’t a franchise quarterback, but he should be able to move the chains. He did complete 70 percent of his throws after all and the Saints can’t stop a five-year-old from moving the ball. The Vikings should also have a viable running game with Dalvin Cook. Take the Purple and Gold here.
Los Angeles Chargers At Denver: Monday Night (LAC +3.5)
This one’s tough to call but I’ll take the points. Again, who is Trevor Siemian beating by more than a field goal? To make matters worse, the offense will only regress without Gary Kubiak running the show.
The Chargers lost a lot of one possession games in 2016 and figure to be more competitive. Well, maybe not, they hired a running back coach after all to lead the team. That running success could catch the Broncos by surprise.
Wade Phillips is no longer the defensive coordinator who single handily won them a Super Bowl. Enter Vance Joseph who is an odd hire, to say the least. I don’t have a good feeling here so opt for the points. Philip Rivers gives the Bolts the quarterback advantage.