NFL Predictions 2019: Week 1

Remember when I used to post my picks here? Of course you do, everyone does. Well, all the people in my imagination remember. Everyone who attended Trump’s inauguration used to read my picks weekly, believe me.

Green Bay @ Chicago: The NFL celebrates 100 years of existence by eschewing the tradition of having the defending champions host the Thursday night opener and instead featuring the league’s oldest rivalry. These teams used to play on a field made of concrete, wearing the skins of animals they hunted prior to the contest. It rained in the first quarter, snowed in the second quarter and was hotter than the surface of the sun in the second half. Those were football players! Now it’s Aaron Rodgers prancing around while Khalil Mack is afraid to graze his jersey lest he be penalized for a personal foul. I kid, of course. The Bears have the defense, and the Packers have one of the best quarterbacks in a league driven by them. Chicago is at home, and gained a lot of experience last season even if the playoff game ended with a clang. Lots of running, the visitors play better defense than expected but fall short: Chicago 23, Green Bay 21 (GB +3.5/under 46.5)

Tennessee @ Cleveland: The Titans have watched the South collapse around them, but can they take advantage? The Browns are everyone’s Super Bowl darling and I’m starting to doubt the hype. They added a lot on offense and it’s hard to see all those parts coming together immediately. The target is on their back. In this one, I still like them because it’s at home and the enthusiasm will be electric. Tennessee is a competent team with an uninspiring quarterback and no real edges to lean on. They are the “meh” team of the league and that’s not enough on the road: Cleveland 27, Tennessee 17 (CLE -5/under 45.5)

Baltimore @ Miami: Most teams think they can win early on and only later in the season do they realize they have no chance. The Dolphins took care of that hope and seem to be not even hiding the fact they are tanking. Their players have no expectations and therefore I anticipate them playing very hard early on to prove annoying sports writers and doubters wrong. The Ravens are a solid if not spectacular team. Lamar Jackson is never going to be elite and is not going to be the reason any team wins the Super Bowl. He can move the ball and there is enough balance around him to make it work. They are about as exciting as a tuna sandwich, but will get this one: Baltimore 21, Miami 20 (MIA +7/over 37)

Atlanta @ Minnesota: It would not surprise me to see these teams meet again in the playoffs. Matt Ryan gets very little respect as a consistently productive player and with Calvin Ridley now paired with Julio Jones this offense can threaten anyone indoors. The Vikings have defense, and Kirk Cousins needs to show he is not a free agent bust. Dalvin Cook helps his cause, not to mention his own pair of productive receivers in Thielen and Diggs. The teams are similar and I think it will be close. I like defense early, so I will stick by the home team just barely: Minnesota 24, Atlanta 21 (ATL +4.5/under 48)

Buffalo @ NY Jets: The Jets have a lot of buzz and for good reason. The AFC is trash outside the Chiefs and Patriots. The East in particular is a dumpster fire behind the champs. Signing Bell to give help to Darnold is a great move on paper assuming he can perform on a new team after missing a season. Allen is a really good athlete on the other side, but the Bills lack a dynamic offense around him. Usually their defense keeps them in it. I think Buffalo can play spoiler often this season and that’s about it. New York has potential to do serious damage and possibly even unseat the champs in the division, yes I said it: NY Jets 24, Buffalo 17 (NYJ -2.5/over 38.5)

Washington @ Philadelphia: The Eagles parted with Foles and it’s all on Wentz now. They have all the components to make another run it’s just a matter of staying healthy and it starts with him of course. There is no backup plan now. The Redskins are looking like a team that will get their head coach fired. Left tackle Trent Williams likely is done with them and the average fan probably is unaware who their starting quarterback will be. It is Case Keenum until the rookie Haskins is ready, or should I say until their season is tanked. This league is fairly balanced and they are the exception. They lack the talent and I can see this being an early runaway: Philadelphia 31, Washington 13 (PHI -8.5/under 46.5)

LA Rams @ Carolina: Cam Newton has been beaten up in his career and has to take some blame because he will never be mistaken for Marino in terms of quick release. Plus he uses his legs to create plays. I see the Panthers as a bounce back team, especially with McCaffrey generating so much offense. The defense usually pulls their weight. The Rams choked in the Super Bowl and a lot of it was injury related. They were handicapped and up against a guy smart enough to make them look very, very bad. At least they made Brady look terrible as well, but no one talks much about that. Anyway, Goff has his money and Gurley does too I just wonder if he’s healthy enough to perform. The same goes for Kupp. I think this is a bad spot for them. Their offense needs time to warm up. I think the home team gets physical and muscles out a win here: Carolina 20, LA Rams 19 (CAR +2.5/under 51)

Kansas City @ Jacksonville: If the Chiefs think they can just roll their helmets out and dominate until returning to the AFC Championship Game rematch against New England it will be a long campaign. They need to stay focused and humble. Their offense lost Hunt and McCoy is not the player he once was so their backfield is iffy. Hill is an exciting player who at any moment could implode so to speak, and then what? They will be in bad shape, that’s what. Their defense made changes and might be improved, but the offense took a step back. The Jaguars can bring the heat defensively and make this a game as a result. Foles stabilizes their offense in theory, and Fournette can definitely control the clock potentially. This could be an eye opening shocker. Instead it just creates some nerves for three quarters until the visitors ball out at the end: Kansas City 27, Jacksonville 17 (KC -3/under 52.5)

Indianapolis @ LA Chargers: Luck retired and left the Colts in a mess. Brissett is a decent player and can keep them from being a total mess for the short term, that’s about it. Rivers is back trying to make one more run and join his draft mates Ben and Eli with a ring. Unfortunately his lead back Melvin Gordon is crying about money so it’s on him to press for 5,000 yards passing while the defense does their thing. This is a team with a lot of talent and potential that never seems to be realized. This is a good matchup to start for them because Indy poses no real threat: LA Chargers 28, Indianapolis 13 (LAC -3.5/under 48)

Cincinnati @ Seattle: All of a sudden the Bengals have fallen apart. The line is sketchy, Green is hurt and Dalton is still their quarterback. Their division has gotten better around them and it feels like they are in for a long season. Suddenly the Seahawks have reason to believe with Clowney joining their defense. It was supposed to be a rebuild, but adding an elite rusher changes their outlook. If he plays well the entire defense is better around him. The offense is store brand around Wilson, but who cares? They have never had many stars they just make it work. I see them dominating in this one and sending a message: Seattle 31, Cincinnati 10 (SEA -9/under 44.5)

NY Giants @ Dallas: Zeke is signed and the Cowboys overpaid. They made their fans happy though and Jerry Jones will make a ton of money whether they win or not. The Giants are still trotting out Eli Manning and someday will have to pay a lot more to retain their young back Barkley. Beckham is gone and Tate is suspended, so the offense will be tough to come by early. This is not an intimidating place to play, but Dallas has a good defense and should handle their rivals easily: Dallas 26, NY Giants 14 (DAL -7/under 46.5)

Detroit @ Arizona: Kyler Murray makes his debut for the home team and I have some serious questions. Anything could happen. Matthew Stafford seems to be plodding along towards retirement at this point, never finding playoff glory. Neither team is heading anywhere this season. Home field matters and sometimes a bad team plays well enough early on to get it done whereas if the teams met later in the season the result would be much different. I think the Cards catch them by surprise here a little. The Lions have some offense, but have no idea what is in store for them. Every opening weekend there are odd results so I believe this is one: Arizona 28, Detroit 24 (AZ +3/over 46.5)

San Francisco @ Tampa Bay: How good can the 49ers be this season? McKinnon is already out and that takes away a threat on offense where they are lacking playmakers. Jimmy is back at the controls, however, and that’s more important. Winston needs to protect the ball for new head coach Bruce Arians and I am not sure he can. I think the visitors have more talent overall. The Bucs are too erratic and fail to finish this one: San Francisco 23, Tampa Bay 20 (SF +2.5/under 51)

Pittsburgh @ New England: The Steelers will be better than most people think even without Brown. They can play defense, and their offense still has talent. The Patriots suffered some setbacks. Their left tackle is gone in free agency again, and their center has just been replaced due to injury. Gronk retired and that’s a lot for this offense to endure, even with Tom Terrific at the controls. It’s hard to bet against them over the course of the season, but Pittsburgh can absolutely beat them here in primetime. In fact it would not surprise me at all. The only thing is, when I expect New England to choke they never do. They rise up and pull out a miracle, then lose to a crappy random team three weeks later: New England 27, Pittsburgh 24 (PIT +6.5/over 49.5)

Houston @ New Orleans: This is a killer opener for the MNF doubleheader. Honestly it would not be a shock to see this be a Super Bowl matchup. The Texans made some weird moves and let Clowney go for less than they should have, but lost in the shuffle obtained a quality tackle to protect Watson. Their offense is dynamic and the defense is a lot better than some other teams with playoff potential. The Saints are really good though and this is a tough spot for them on the road to start. New Orleans is pissed after being screwed out of a Super Bowl title last season. Yes, I said title not appearance. Anyone who believes their offense would not have rolled the Patriots with Brees, Kamara and Thomas compared to what Goff, Anderson and Cooks did is simply not watching football. They messed up in overtime and Brees threw a pick, but the game should have been over. This is their revenge tour: New Orleans 31, Houston 21 (NO -7/under 54)

Denver @ Oakland: Antonio Brown has already provided a season’s worth of drama and as I type this he appears headed towards suspension by the team. It is a tough blow for a team that counted on his elite contribution. In this matchup, however, it’s not that bad. Their plan is to smash teams with the running game and hurt them deep occasionally. Renfrow can play a larger part in the offense as a rookie while Williams stretches the field. Jacobs is the hard runner they have been lacking since settling for a worn down Lynch most recently. Their offensive line is a lot better with Trent Brown and the defense is better than expected. The linebackers are mediocre, but the secondary is really good. The Broncos have very little on offense and Flacco is not the answer. Their defense is still great, but they can’t score enough. Even with AB not booming I like the home team: Oakland 21, Denver 19 (OAK +2.5/under 43.5)

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