Straight Up - 1-0
vs. Spread - 0-1
Over/Unders - 1-0
Sorry this is late guys. Had a power outage here that set me back. No internet meant no ability to research or get up to date lines, nonetheless post this, so it's coming in here Saturday night, which is far later than I'd like it. Luckily, it still give you plenty of times to get either your pool picks or bets in well in advance of kickoff. NFC preview/Playoff Predictions are coming later tonight as one column, but should be up before kickoff tomorrow.
And the picks...
Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens (-1) O/U 36
While this line is set at the proper point based on public perception, I think both the spread and over/under are a few points off. I think the Ravens are better than the Steelers, but they are at least even and should be getting the full three points of respect at home. The Ravens know they need to win this game to have any shot to win the AFC North, and are going to come out playing much better than anyone expects. And both of these offenses are good and each team has strengths and weaknesses on special teams. There should be a decent amount of points scored. I think the Ravens win by three and the score is higher than you would expect.
Prediction - Ravens 23 Steelers 20
Picks - Ravens -1 and Over 36
Detroit Lions at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-1) O/U 41
I hate that this game is happening week one because I really like both of these young teams. The Lions are exciting as long as Matthew Stafford is under center and the Buccaneers had a surprisingly good season last year with a great season from Josh Freeman. This game has the potential to be one of the most exciting games of the season that no one sees this Sunday, as it's only being shown locally and for some reason in most of Kansas. I think both offenses score plenty of points, so I'm going to once again go with the undervalued home team and the over here, as they make the most sense.
Prediction - Buccaneers 31 Lions 27
Picks - Buccaneers -1 and Over 41
Atlanta Falcons (-1.5)* at Chicago Bears O/U 40.5
This was a line that started off fishy at Atlanta -3, but has been hammered down to -1.5. People seem to have forgotten that this Bears team made it to the NFC title game last season, and is very good at home. The Falcons offense just wants to lineup and beat you by out executing you, but that is the same thing the Bears want to do on the defensive side of the ball. They should do a good job containing this Falcons offense most of the day. I think Cutler will get the job done with the excellent field position he's given and score enough points to get a victory in a low scoring game.
Prediction - Bears 20 Atlanta 14
Picks - Bears +1.5 Under 40.5
Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs (-5.5) O/U 40
I don't know where the defense is going to come from in this contest. The Chiefs have a solid pass rush, but Fitzpatrick is going to spread the ball around and pick on the Chiefs over the middle of the field. The Bills meanwhile, have absolutely no one who makes me think they'll be able to stop the Chiefs' offensive line from opening gigantic holes for Jamaal Charles. I'm thinking the Bills score a few garbage time touchdowns, but the Chiefs are a force enough at Arrowhead to get the job done easily in spite of any Matt Cassel injury effects.
Prediction - Chiefs 27 Bills 20
Picks - Chiefs -5.5 Over 40
Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans (-9) O/U 43.5
This line was moved very high when Peyton Manning was reported out, but has been bet back down some and looks like it might get to 8.5 by kickoff. I don't know why. Even if Arian Foster doesn't play, this Indy team is not going to be good in it's first game without Manning, and definitely not on the road. I think the Texans are going to win the AFC South this year, and this game will be their first step along that road. I don't think this game goes over though, because I don't trust the Collins led offense to score their share of the points.
Prediction - Texans 31 Colts 10
Picks - Texans -9 and Under 43.5
Philadelphia Eagles (-4) at St. Louis Rams O/U 43.5
I'm firmly not a believer in the dream team, and that makes me very interested in the St. Louis Rams here on Sunday. The Rams defense is exactly the kind of defense that can stop Michael Vick. Steve Spagnuolo is going to dial up blitzes no matter who is under center, and if they can get a hit or two on Vick early, it could change the whole game. On the other side of the ball, the Eagles defense has all of these amazing corners, but no film to use to know how they will have to deploy them. The only sure thing among the Rams' receivers is that Danny Amendola will be in the slot, but we have no other way of knowing who Bradford is going to want to throw the ball to. I think the Rams come out looking sharp at home and shock some peopel on the way to a win over the Eagles.
Prediction - Rams 21 Eagles 17
Picks - Rams Straight up and +4 and Under 43.5
Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns (-6.5) O/U 35
I know that Vegas couldn't make the line any higher because it's the Browns, but getting the Browns here giving less than a touchdown is a total steal. The Bengals offense and defense both are very unimpressive, and Colt McCoy looks like he is the real deal. I see a blow out here, just not enough points from the Bengals side to get this total up over the 35 points.
Prediction - Browns 28 Bengals 6
Picks - Browns -6.5 Under 35
Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars (-1) O/U 37
This line did not move far enough after David Garrard was released, and that makes the Titans an easy choice here. Anytime you can be getting points betting against one of the McCowns, you have to do it. I'm not worried about Chris Johnson missing the preseason with his hold out, and I think Matt Hasselbeck will be more than serviceable for them this season. Maurice Jones-Drew should be able to have a big day even against the eight-man fronts, but the Titans are the pick here, in a low scorer.
Prediction - Titans 24 Jaguars 10
Picks - Titans +1 Under 37
New York Giants (-3) at Washington Redskins O/U 39
The Giants' injury problems have been bad, but they haven't been as bad as people are saying. They signed Brian Williams as an extra defensive back, and are going to slide former corner Antrel Rolle down to nickel corner when they need him. More importantly, the Redskins don't have the receiver depth or quarterback to take advantage of their injured secondary and missing pass rusher in Osi Umenyiora. The Giants offense didn't look great in preseason, but even without a decent third receiver or tight end, they should be able to use their great starting receivers and running back duo to move the ball effectively. It won't be pretty, but they should get the job done and cover in Washington.
Prediction - Giants 24 Redskins 20
Picks - Giants -3 Over 39
Carolina Panthers at Arizona Cardinals (-6.5) O/U 37
I really don't like either of these teams and pity the people that are going to have to watch this game on Sunday afternoon. Normally I'd be inclined to take the points in this type of match-up, but I really don't like taking any rookies on the road in week one, and I especially don't like Cam Newton here. I'm picking the Cardinals here because I have to take a team, but I'm not excited about it and don't expect to see many points scored.
Prediction - Cardinals 21 Panthers 10
Picks - Cardinals -6.5 Under 37
Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers (-5.5) O/U 38
Never bet on Tarvaris Jackson on the road, especially without his best receiver. Also don't like either team to score much, so take the under.
Prediction - 49ers 20 Seahawks 13
Picks - 49er -5.5 Under 38
Minnesota Vikings at San Diego Chargers (-9) O/U 41.5
While I think the McNabb led Vikings are gonna win a few games this year, this isn't going to be one of them. This is going to be one of the obvious games of the haves versus the have nots in the league. San Diego has an elite quarterback, and is going to score points in bunches against the Vikings. Meanwhile, the Vikings offense relies on Adrian Peterson. While the 100 million dollar man is excellent, they can't score at the rate that San Diego can. The Chargers are going to win by two touchdowns here unless McNabb sneaks one in in garbage time.
Prediction - Chargers 31 Vikings 17
Picks - Chargers -9.5 Over 41.5
Dallas Cowboys at New York Jets (-5.5) O/U 40.5
The Cowboys have problems this season, but they aren't ones that the Jets are going to be able to take advantage of. The secondary is beat up, but the Jets can't pass the ball well anyway and while the Dallas line isn't that great on a per player basis, it's all about assignments against the Jets' defense. The Jets don't have a pass rusher to really blow you out on his own without Rex Ryan scheming up blitzes. I think Romo does a god job of getting the ball out quickly, and the Cowboys score enough to win this game and barely break the over.
Prediction - Cowboys 21 Jets 20
Picks - Cowboys Straight Up and +5.5 and Over 40.5
New England Patriots (-6.5) at Miami Dolphins O/U 45.5
I'm big on Miami this season, and I think they can win this game on Monday night. They have quietly been developing the young players on the defense for the last few years to deal with the Patriots in their division, and I think they should be able to slow them down some tonight. The Patriots' defense is good, but doesn't really amaze me when I look at it on paper this year, and I think Miami can move the ball on them and score. I'm taking Miami in a low scoring upset.
Prediction - Dolphins 20 Patriots 17
Picks - Dolphins Straight Up and +6.5 and Under 45.5
Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos (-3) O/U 40.5
People are just hammering the Broncos this week, but I don't fully understand it. The Raiders absolutely eviscerated the Broncos in Mile High in week Seven last year 59-14 and then beat them at home in week 15 39-23. I know John Fox is a much better head coach, but I think the Raiders will continue their divisional domination here against the Broncos and score plenty.
Prediction - Raiders 30 Broncos 17
Picks - Raiders Straight Up and +3 and Over 40.5
That's it for the picks. Don't forget to check out my twitter for updates and opinions throughout Sunday's games and my NFC predictions and playoff predictions coming out later tonight.
-Fred "Big Derf" Tobin