Tennessee Titans v. Pittsburgh Steelers (-6.0)
This game is interesting to me. We get to see if the Titans are for real, and if they can keep up with the pace they set last year. The Steelers get to show that they haven't missed a step since their Super Bowl win, and that they are still the force to recon with in the AFC. I think this game will come down to who plays better defense, and who stops the run better. The Steelers do have the better run defense, and they had it even before Albert Haynesworth left for Washington, but the Titans do have the better running game, sporting on of the best running back tandems in the NFL with Chris Johnson and Lendale White. That being said, everyone knows that a dominating defense will usually slow down or stop a good offense, and with Kerry Collins scaring no one, Johnson and White better have one hell of a game. A game that I don't think they are capable of having, and I really think that Roethlisberger and the boys cover the spread easily, and kick off their quest for a repeat the right way.
Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers (-6.0)
Miami Dolphins v. Atlanta Falcons (-4.0)
Another interesting game between two teams who won't surprise teams the way they did last year. I think this is Matt Ryan's year to show that he is a legitimate franchise quarterback, and he has all the weapons around him to prove it. He will be taking on a solid pass rush, however, with Joey Porter and Jason Taylor rushing off the edge and putting pressure on him. This is also the year for Ted Ginn Jr. to prove he is a legitimate receiver, and a year that Pennington will really be under pressure for surging backup Chad Henne. This game, to me, comes down to the Falcons offense against the Dolphins defense. I think that Ryan can lead this team against a very average defensive backfield and pick apart the Dolphins through the air, and he can also depend on Michael Turner to keep the Dolphins defense on their toes. I'll take the Falcons to win this game by a touchdown.
Pick: Atlanta Falcons (-4.0)
Kansas City v. Baltimore (-12.5)
I think that this game features two teams that are going in slightly different directions, and they may surprise you. I think that the Kansas City Chiefs will win more games then they did last year, and the Baltimore Ravens will win less. The Chiefs completely revamped their team, and they got better. They got a better quarterback who shouldn't turn the ball over as much, and their defense got better with the acquisitions of Mike Vrabel and Tyson Jackson. The Ravens, however, just got one year older of defense and won't have their top two corners from last year (Chris McCalister and Samari Rolle), safety Brian Leonard or one of the centre pieces of the defense in Bart Scott. I think the Ravens win this game, but the Chiefs will cover the spread.
Pick: Kansas City Chiefs (+12.5)
Philadelphia Eagles (-2.5) v. Carolina Panthers
Earlier in the week, I felt a little different about this game, but I think the Panthers defiantly have a chance to make some noise in this game. They went 8-0 at home last year, while the Eagles went only 3-4-1 on the road, including a tie against the Bengals, and an embarrassing performance against the Ravens. I see Delhomme throwing the ball only about 20 times, and they just keep the chains moving on a defense that is in shambles and just hold the ball. I then see McNabb trying to force things, and the constant injury problems with Brian Westbrook should slow him down a tad. Although I do expect the Eagles to be a force and in the hunt come December, they have historically started slow, and the Panthers at home are hard to ignore.
Pick: Carolina Panthers (+2.5)
Denver Broncos v. Cincinnati Bengals (-4.5)
I really like Carson Palmer this year. Like REALLY like him. I think he builds that chemistry with Ochocinco again, and they have quite the year. Now, I'm not calling for a playoff appearance or anything, but they will be respectable. The Broncos on the other hand, look like they could finish last in arguably the weakest division in the NFL. They shipped out a franchise quarterback, their star wide receiver isn't happy, and that already horrible defense didn't get any better this off-season. Hell, one could argue that it got worse with the loss of Dre Bly. Another thing to keep in mind is that the Bengals recorded all of their wins and their tie at Paul Brown last year, and that was with Ryan Fitzpatrick leading them.
Pick: Cincinnati Bengals (-4.5)
Minnesota Vikings (-4.0) v. Cleveland Browns
I actually can't believe the spread for this game. One team has probably the most questions of any team in the NFL going into the season, and the other managed to pick up the missing piece that many believe are keeping them from becoming legitimate Super Bowl contenders. Not to mention they also have the best running back in the game, who should really run all over the other defense on this game. The other team sports a very questionable offense, with a scary lack of playmakers and a little bit of a quarterback controversy going. The defense has no real playmakers either, and they best player on this unit doesn't even want to be there. The only thing they really got going for them is that they are at home. Still don't know who I think will take this one?
Pick: Minnesota Vikings (-4.0)
New York Jets v. Houston Texans (-4.5)
This is another game that is fairly interesting, that has some fairly big implications for a week one game. We get to see how the Jets will fare under a new, very defensively oriented coach, and with a rookie quarterback at the helm. We also get to see if the Houston Texans are for real, if Matt Schaub can stay healthy, and if they can finally top a tough AFC South. I expect this game to come down to how much the Jets can get to Schaub. If they can get to him a lot, and put him under pressure, they should win this game. However, if Schaub is given even just a little time, he should easily be able to find one of his many playmakers with less coverage in the defensive backfield. Don't forget, this is a Rex Ryan team, and there is no doubt they will be giving the Texans offensive line headaches with different looks and schemes all game. I think the Texans win this game, but only on the leg of Kris Brown, so I'll take the Jets to cover.
Pick: New York Jets (+4.5)
Jacksonville Jaguars v. Indianapolis Colts (-6.5)
The Colts have a lot of questions surrounding them. How will they respond to a totally revamped coaching staff? How will the defense hold up without their best player and leader? The Colts do, however, still have Peyton Manning, so I'm going to have a real tough time all year going against them for that one reason. In my opinion, I think this game sits on the shoulders of the Indianapolis run defense, and Maurice Jones-Drew. If the Colts can hold him to under even 150 yards, they will put themselves in a great position to win this game. You know Peyton Manning will move the ball, you just got to make sure that you let Peyton get on the field, and if they can't come up with a stop every once and a while, you could see Peyton watching helplessly as the Jags move down the field slowly and methodically. I do think, however, that the Colts can get the job done.
Pick: Indianapolis Colts (-6.5)
Detroit Lions v. New Orleans Saints (-13.5)
This game has the makings of a complete blowout. The Lions are starting a rookie quarterback, and are, of course, coming off that 0-16 season. They did fix the defense a little bit, but it's a real shame that they take on the best offense in the NFL week one, or I could see that maybe making an impact in their game. They are taking on the New Orleans Saints, and Drew Brees is coming off of a 5,000 yard season, and should just steam roll over the Lions defense that has an extreme inability to get to the quarterback. Add that to the fact that the Saints offensive line only let Brees get sacked 14 times last year, and he should have all the time in the pocket to pick apart a team that will consider one win an improvement.
Pick: New Orleans Saints (-13.5)
Dallas Cowboys (-5.0) v. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This will be the year if we see Tony Romo and company are for real. No longer do they have the Terrell Owens excuse, and Romo can now just focus on hitting the open guy. However, you can't ignore what they lost when they gave up the future Hall of Famer in T.O., and they may have a little trouble going down the field with the deep ball. Lucky for them, they take on a Tampa Bay team with more questions then answers. The once dominant defense is now just getting old, and the offense will need to run the ball to be successful. I think DeMarcus Ware gets to Byron Leftwich at least two times, and the Cowboys keep the Bucs offense on their heels all day. I also expect Marion Barber and Felix Jones to show that they are one of the more effective running tandem in the NFL, and will be all year.
Pick: Dallas Cowboys (-5.0)
San Francisco 49ers v. Arizona Cardinals (-6.0)
I want to see if the 49ers can really be a respectable team this year, and this would be the game to prove it. They are taking on a team that can move the ball through the air, even if you know that's what is coming. They are going to need to put pressure on Kurt Warner, and make sure he doesn't have much time to find the likes of Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin (if he's even playing).Patrick Willis will play a huge role in this, and should really clog some holes and help his defensive lineman get to Warner. I also think that Frank Gore really has a great year, and they use Glenn Coffee to change the pace, and give Gore a little less of the load. I think the 49ers push the Cardinals this week, and give the Cards a scare to kick off their defense of the NFC title. Although San Francisco may not win they game, I say they keep it close.
Pick: San Francisco 49es (+6.0)
Washington Redskins v. New York Giants (-6.5)
The Giants team is built to win games. They are built from the inside-out, and sport one of the best defensive and offensive lines in the game. Sure, they have some questions on the perimeter, and don't have a legitimate number one receiver, but I think one of the young guys will show they can handle the role. They will have no problem running the ball, with Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw in the backfield. The Redskins do have promise, but need Jason Campbell to really breakout this year. He's finally got the same offense two years in a row, and has some decent playmakers to make things happen. I, however, look for the Giants to pressure and give him trouble all day, and make things hard for both Campbell and Clinton Portis.
Pick: New York Giants (-6.5)
St. Louis Rams v. Seattle Seahawks (-7.5)
Many think this is a comeback year for the Seahawks, and I agree. They've got Matt Hasselbeck back healthy, and the receiving core has also gotten healthy and also added a bona-fide number one receiver in T.J Houshmandzadeh. The defense will have to get better, especially against the pass, and should with Marcus Trufant starting the year healthy. We all know Steve Spagnolo will want to put pressure on Hasselbeck, as he is the master mind that led that dangerous Giants pass rush. The thing is I don't know if he's got the personnel to do so. The Giants had some great talent to rush the passer, while the Rams really only have a young, still developing Chris Long to do this. Another thing is can the Rams' offensive line keep Bulgar on his feet, and healthy? Can they do the same for Steven Jackson? We'll just have to wait and see.
Pick: Seattle Seahawks (-7.5)
Chicago Bears v. Green Bay Packers (-4.0)
The Packers looked like a machine this pre-season, with their 1st team offense scoring on their first 12 drives. Cutler and co. have also looked good, and Cutler should go a long way in keeping defenses guessing a little more, rather then just loading the box to stop Matt Forte. This game, I think, is the most important of week one. It can really set the tone for this division the rest of the year. The game will come down to a couple things, I believe. Will Rodgers be able to pick apart a very average Bears defensive backfield, or will the Bears get pressure on him. Also, how will the Packers adapt to their new 3-4 defense, and be able to slow down Matt Forte and force the inexperienced receiving core to show what they can do with Cutler. I think those two things go opposite ways, as Rodgers should have success through the air, and Forte on the ground. So, I look at where the game is being played, and that gives the Packers the slight edge.
Pick: Green Bay Packers (-4.0)
Buffalo Bills v. New England Patriots (-11.0)
Little has been made of how much the Pats defense really did lose this off-season. Tedy Bruschi, Rodney Harrison, Mike Vrabel, Richard Seymour. Although these guys are all getting old, they were all starters and leaders on that defense. But it also can't be said enough what the return of Tom Brady means. The Bills, a month ago, looked pretty good to me. They seemed like they may push for an AFC wild card spot, and they had everything in place to have a good, solid season. Then they played this pre-season. I know it doesn't mean much, but it meant enough to fire their offensive coordinator, and showed how ineffective that no huddle really is for them. Add to that the fact that the Bills are starting three rookies on the offensive line, and I'll take Brady and the boys to walk all over the Bills this Monday night.
Pick: New England Patriots (-11.0)
San Diego Chargers (-9.5) v. Oakland Raiders
The Raiders are another team that really don't look good. Their coaches are beating on each other, and they have no legitimate receiver to speak of. They only bright spot on the defense right now is Nnamdi Asomugha, who is feeling a little banged up. I also think that this is the Chargers year, and the year they finally show that they are worth of being called a Super Bowl favorite. LaDainian Tomlinson should have a bit of a bounce back year, even after a year with 1,100+ yards and 10+ touchdowns, and if Rivers plays even at half the level he did last year, this offense will be tough to stop. JaMarcus better show up this year, but I don't think he gets a very good start against a tough Chargers defense that should pressure him all day.
Pick: San Diego Chargers (-9.5)