As average as it gets for yours truly in week one action, I now sit at 8-8 on the year so far. Time to rub the crystal ball with a little more conviction…
Week One Picks
Buffalo 27 – Miami 23
This has been a rough matchup for Miami in recent years, regardless of how the two teams finish their seasons. It seems winnable for Miami in particular because of the huge win over the Patriots they’re coming off of. Of course, that’s also priming for a letdown. I’m leaning towards the latter.
Detroit 20 – Carolina 14
In time, I expect the Panthers to look similar to the 2013 version that won the NFC South. However, I smell a bit of an upset here in Carolina. The Lions may have mystified me based on their porous competition (Giants) last week, but the whole team looked like a team for the first time in years. That sort of effort, with their talent, can be a threat to any other in the league.
Cincinnati 33 – Atlanta 20
The Falcons shocked a lot of people with their inspired play against the Saints last week, myself more than most. I still think they’re a team with holes, particularly in the running game and across their defense. The types of holes a better Bengals team, at home, can and should exploit.
Cleveland 27 – New Orleans 24
Upset of the week, perhaps? The Saints are not as steady on the road, and that does factor into this decision, but what’s more vital to this matchup is how energized both teams will be coming off of near-wins against divisional foes last week. That, plus Cleveland’s home field advantage and progressing offense, equals a possible upset that I’m banking on.
New England 30 – Minnesota 24
With or without Adrian Peterson (I won’t be touching that story, don’t worry), I couldn’t see the Vikings getting past a motivated and embarrassed Patriots team this week, even at home. I do think, however, that Minnesota will keep it honest and show more of the fight that allowed them to blow out the Rams last week.
Arizona 30 – New York 13
I think we all need to get used to seeing the Giants struggle. Unlike years past, they simply don’t have the personnel to rise above the competition. It’s no slight of Tom Coughlin or new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, just a bitter fact that teams like Arizona are going to give us examples of during a long, long year for Giants’ fans.
Tennessee 33 – Dallas 26
It’s not difficult for a veteran team like the Cowboys to correct mistakes, but it is difficult for a defense as bad as theirs to correct a talent deficiency. The Titans beat a depleted-yet-better-than-Dallas team in Kansas City last week, and they’re on the right path. Look for a similar outcome, but with a little more work out of Dallas’ offense.
Washington 24 – Jacksonville 17
I gave serious consideration to flipping a coin before realizing that Washington has too much talent to lose games like this. Of course, all that talent means nothing when turnovers become routine. If Washington can fix that, and get RG3 playing more confident, they’ve still got a chance this year. This would be as good a time as any to get the ball rolling (or not rolling, in this case).
Seattle 31 – San Diego 21
The Seahawks looked way too good against the Packers for me to think a road trip is going to hurt them, especially not one down the coast. The Chargers have the ability to pull off the upset, but Seattle has the ability to nullify that, and one outweighs the other too much to pick it any other way.
Tampa Bay 20 – St. Louis 13
The offensive drought in St. Louis will continue against a stout Buc defense. Beyond that, this is going to be a messy game by all indications, something akin to last week’s Jets-Raiders mashup.
Denver 34 – Kansas City 17
Last year, a fit and talented Chiefs team looked to take their division away from the eventual AFC Champions. They couldn’t win either game, and this year, the Chiefs are sinking fast while the Broncos are just a’rollin’ along. They’ll keep rollin’ this week.
Green Bay 40 – New York 24
This is going to be ugly. While the Jets boast a tremendous front seven, the Packers boast Aaron Rodgers, who treats pressure like a bothersome fly. New York doesn’t have the firepower to keep up, and the Packers’ defense is already more dynamic with Julius Peppers taking pressure off of Clay Matthews. Geno Smith is going to feel the heat.
Houston 17 – Oakland 13
JJ Watt puts up about 10 dynamic plays; sacks, blocked passes, maybe an INT or forced fumble. He pretty much wills his team to victory. Again. The Raiders have a long, long way to go. Derek Carr doesn’t look too bad, though.
San Fransisco 28 – Chicago 17
With the possibility of Brandon Marshall AND Alshon Jeffery missing or at least being limited in this game, almost all hope of the Bears pulling off the upset goes up in smoke. I’m not 100% sold on this 49ers team yet, but starting 2-0 while waiting for core players to return from injuries is certainly huge.
Philadelphia 38 – Indianapolis 31
Offensive onslaught. Both ways. Neither defense has the bodies to cover one another, so this comes down to clever Chip Kelly playcalling, keeping the ball out of Andrew Luck’s hands early and often enough to pull out a close, exciting one. Fantasy owners: sit the defenses, start everyone else.
EJ Manuel, QB, Buffalo Bills
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers (No brainer perhaps, just don’t want to see anyone get nervous about the matchup.)
Giovanni Bernard, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
Fred Jackson, RB, Buffalo Bills
Reggie Wayne, WR, Indianapolis Colts
Vincent Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Scott Chandler, TE, Buffalo Bills
Brent Celek, TE, Philadelphia Eagles
Mason Crosby, K, Green Bay Packers
Denver Broncos D/ST
Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons
Tony Romo, QB, Dallas Cowboys
Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Stevan Ridley, RB, New England Patriots
Roddy White, WR, Atlanta Falcons
Victor Cruz, WR, New York Giants
Charles Clay, TE, Miami Dolphins
Martellus Bennet, TE, Chicago Bears
Matt Bryant, K, Atlanta Falcons
New York Jets D/ST