Another football season is upon us and that means it’s time for prognostication and KP’s Week 1 NFL picks. Last year, I peppered you with a lot of movie nostalgia and creative spins, featuring quotes and themes for nearly every week of the NFL regular season.
Yes, I plan to do that again.
But it has been a bit of a chaotic stretch on the home front and with the Packers and Bears kicking off the season tonight, I felt it necessary to complete Week 1 with some rapid fire selections against the spread, as opposed to really piecing together a themed piece.
This post will be vanilla.
All right stop
Collaborate and listen
Ice is back with my brand new invention
Not THAT vanilla.
OK, fine, so maybe there will be a miniature theme, after all.
Also, forgive the theme confusion and gut reaction picks, with minimal data and regular season stats to back each of them. That is just the nature of Week 1.
The first week can be a bit of a challenge as we sort out depth charts, emerging teams and overall expectations. We also have Zeke contracts (and readiness), Melvin Gordon holdouts, Trent Williams disappearing acts and Antonio Brown tantrums (plus the helmet-non-helmet wearing and recently reported pending suspension). There are no in-depth stats to comb through, at least, not from this season. The preseason doesn’t count.
But hey, in the end, it is all about entertainment, right?
Enough chit-chat, here are my Week 1 NFL Picks against the spread:
KP’s Vanilla, Hopefully Not Too Cold Week 1 NFL Picks
Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears (-3.5)
The Packers have a new coach. That needed to happen. With that said, we do not yet know how the Matt LaFleur – Aaron Rodgers relationship will work, if at all. Bank on there being an improvement, but it might take a few weeks to pan out. The Bears, meanwhile, open at home in what will be a hostile environment. Chicago’s ferocious defense will throw plenty of looks at Aaron Rodgers. Still, Rodgers typically makes few mistakes, but will need the Packers O-line to perform well. This is a great opening game and one I expect to be close throughout. I smell a game-winning FG, so give me the PACKERS and the points.
Atlanta Falcons at Minnesota Vikings (-3.5)
Minnesota will be a solid team and has home field advantage, but I really like the Falcons this year. Atlanta is healthy. Devonta Freeman opens the season at running back, with Julio Jones and Co. catching passes. Keanu Neal is back in the secondary, along with Deion Jones at LB and Takkarist McKinley on the D-line. Atlanta has a lot of balance and the key will be Matt Ryan having a strong performance against a formidable Minnesota defense. He is used to the artificial turf and my gut says Ryan outperforms Kirk Cousins on Sunday. Give me the FALCONS and the points.
Baltimore Ravens at Miami Dolphins (+7.0)
Many expect the Dolphins to eventually land the first pick in the draft next year. That was before Miami traded away additional key pieces (in recent days). Baltimore looks to have a feisty defense that teams will struggle to pass against. Lamar Jackson is a unique talent that is tough to contain. On top of that, many critics say the Ravens will actually throw more than people expect. If Baltimore can have that kind of offensive balance, watch out. RAVENS cover on the road.
Buffalo Bills at New York Jets (-3.0)
I am very curious to see how Le’Veon Bell will perform with his new team (after taking a year off). There is also the expectation that Sam Darnold will take another big step forward. Typically, these teams duke it out and have alternated wins over the last few seasons. I have the Bills as a surprise team in my over/under picks for the 2019 season. With that thought in mind, I like Josh Allen and his new offensive targets in this game. Give me the BILLS to steal an early season road win.
Kansas City Chiefs at Jacksonville Jaguars (+4.0)
Will the elite Jaguars defense return? How will Nick Foles perform with his new team? How much work will LeSean McCoy get now that he’s with the Chiefs? There are way too many questions. Here’s another one: How foolish would we be to pick against Patrick Mahomes, when the opposing team has a lot of question marks heading into the season? Answer: Pretty foolish. CHIEFS cover.
Los Angeles Rams at Carolina Panthers (+3.0)
This game is not getting nearly enough hype. Cam Newton is not listed on the injury report, which is key for the Panthers. Carolina has some new additions, which should improve its overall defense. Still, the Rams are a talented group and it is hard to pick against them. The real question will be the health of Todd Gurley and if he gets injured, whether other backs on the team (e.g. Darrell Henderson) will step up. For now, I’m taking the RAMS to cover in a hostile environment.
Tennessee Titans at Cleveland Browns (-6.0)
Guys, it is 2019 and the Browns are arguably the most hyped team of the season. They are outspoken and on the covers of all sorts of magazines. But can Cleveland match that hype? Will the younger players continue to improve and will the newly acquired veterans add the right chemistry to an already exciting product? For now, playing at home, my best guess is yes. BROWNS cover.
Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles (-10.0)
Typically, we would expect a tight NFC East grudge match in the early weeks of the season. But, I simply don’t trust the Redskins right now. Jay Gruden has stated that Derrius Guice will get the majority of the work in the ground game – GUICE, GUICE BABY! Sorry, just sticking with the above Vanilla Ice theme. While, I love Guice’s talent, Trent Williams remains away from the team and will not play. This is a huge gaping hole to the offensive line. Toss in Jordan Reed still in concussion protocol and there are additional question marks in the receiving game. Case Keenum will need to have the game of his life and a number of players will need to step up. For these reasons, the EAGLES cover at home.
Cincinnati Bengals at Seattle Seahawks (-9.5)
For the Bengals, it’s a new coaching staff, no A.J. Green and a number of younger players that will need to fill in the gaps. Open the season versus the “12th Man”, Russell Wilson and a solid Seattle defense that just recently added Jadeveon Clowney. This sounds like a recipe for disaster and a long weekend for the Bengals. SEAHAWKS cover.
Indianapolis Colts at Los Angeles Chargers (-6.5)
All eyes will be on Jacoby Brissett. There will also be plenty of Andrew Luck mentions during the broadcast (and likely on the field, too). Players trash talk, right? Sure, the Chargers are without Melvin Gordon (holdout), but have proven they can win without him. Derwin James is a loss on the defensive side of the ball, but there is still plenty of talent on this team. Indianapolis is still a very solid team, but the line clearly outline’s everyone’s lack of faith in Brissett. Until he proves us wrong (and if he ever proves us wrong). Time will tell. For now, give me the CHARGERS to cover at home.
Detroit Lions at Arizona Cardinals (+3.0)
Plenty question the overall talent on the Arizona roster and whether Kliff Kinsbury can succeed in the NFL. Kyler Murray and David Johnson make for a nasty combination, so there should be some exciting moments, mixed with plenty of growing pains. As for Detroit, many question Matt Patricia as a head coach. With so many question marks and a tight line, I’m leaning towards the home team. I think Murray makes enough plays against the Lions. Give me the CARDINALS at home.
New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys (-7.5)
Ezekiel Elliott vs. Saquon Barkley – who has the better performance? Will Zeke have any rust after holding out for so long? Can Barkley match last season’s numbers? Will the Giants have enough bodies to throw to in the passing game? The Giants played in a lot of close games last season. Dallas did as well. These are two big NFC East rivals and I do not see a blowout here. Give me the GIANTS and the points.
San Francisco 49ers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0.0)
Bruce Arians is back, which means the Tampa Bay offense could be, too. I think a lot of us (present company included) expect Jameis Winston to have a lot of those 350-yard, three interception passing performances. The key will be whether the Bucs can improve on defense and establish some sort of a consistent running game. In a tossup game, give the edge to Bruce Arians, who can energize a locker room and get the most out of his players. BUCS win at home.
Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots (-6.0)
The Patriots always start slowly and build up steam as the season progresses. It is almost like Bill Belichick wants to allow the media to release its stories that Tom Brady is done and “over the hill”. Lull the football world to sleep. The Steelers have a lot to prove in its first full season without Bell and Brown. There is still plenty of talent on the Steelers roster and I expect this to be a high-scoring (and close) game. Because of that, give me the STEELERS and the points.
Houston Texans at New Orleans Saints (-7.0)
Expect a high-scoring game. That is why the touchdown line is not a surprise. This is certainly not a game I would rank at the top of my list regarding confidence. Both teams could make postseason runs. Houston definitely lost a key piece when Lamar Miller went down, but Duke Johnson and Carlos Hyde are available to help fill the void. We all know what the Watson-Hopkins combination can do. Drew Brees and Alvin Kamara? C’mon. Shootout. Saints by four (give me the TEXANS and the points).
Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders (0.0)
Antonio Brown continues to talk and cause distractions. Recent reports (below) state that Brown will be suspended, as a result. So, while the Raiders added a lot more speed to its offense, there are also a lot of young players that will be expected to contribute immediately. A likely Brown absence will hurt in the near term. I do think Oakland will improve over the course of the season, but I also believe people are sleeping on Denver. Playing in a division with the Chiefs and Chargers will do that. The Broncos pass rush will rattle David Carr. Joe Flacco (elite or not) is also an underrated game manager who will lead the Broncos to a road win in his first game with the team. BRONCOS wear their helmets and win.
Antonio Brown posted the fine letter on social media that Raiders’ GM Mike Mayock sent him. It led to an exchange, which is now leading to further discipline. This is not going away anytime soon.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 5, 2019
Yo man, let’s get out of here
Word to your mother
2018 NFL Season (ATS)
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Music Credits: Vanilla Ice