This is pretty self-explanatory folks. Each week, I’m going to write out my picks, game by game, pick my winner, and explain why I picked who I picked. Got it? Then hold on tight, here we go.
NFL Picks. Week One, 2018
The Atlanta Falcons vs. The Philadelphia Eagles
This was a bit of a trend for me towards the end of last season. I wrote my picks for the divisional round, the conference championships, and the Super Bowl, and do you know what remained the same week after week? I picked against the Philadelphia Eagles. You would think that I learned my lesson, wouldn’t you? Well, I haven’t.
I think Nick Foles understood the Eagles offense better than most defensive coordinators did last year, and the team fully embraced the underdog mentality on the way to the Super Bowl. Months have passed, rosters have changed, and while I think that incredible defense will be fun to watch, I don’t think this team repeats.
Against a crazy crowd in Philadelphia, I think an angry Atlanta team comes to town and steals the week one upset. Julio Jones is healthy, and barring a miracle, Matt Ryan has realized that throwing him the ball, especially in the redzone, is a good idea. Throw in the young and exciting Calvin Ridley and I think the Falcons could really shock some people in 2018.
Winner- The Atlanta Falcons
The Buffalo Bills vs. The Baltimore Ravens
The Buffalo Bills are starting Nathan Peterman at quarterback. You remember Nathan Peterman, right? He’s the guy who threw five interceptions in fourteen attempts last year, almost costing the Bills their playoff spot. This game is in Baltimore, where the Ravens have an underrated defense and an offense with a lot to prove. Joe Flacco is essentially on a contract year, Michael Crabtree wants to prove he’s still got it, and head coach John Harbaugh is trying to make sure he sticks around long enough to be Lamar Jackson‘s head coach next season.
Winner- The Baltimore Ravens
The Pittsburgh Steelers vs. The Cleveland Browns
Is it possible for there to be a trap game in week one? On paper, the Pittsburgh Steelers should steamroll the Cleveland Browns. The Browns have won one game in the last two years and the Steelers are the favorites to win the division. However, Le’Veon Bell is nowhere to be found, the Browns have some momentum thanks to “Hard Knocks” and I mean, c’mon, the Browns have to win a game eventually, right?
I still think the Steelers win, but don’t be surprised if the Browns give them a little fight, especially if back-up running back, James Conner, struggles to fill Bell’s shoes.
Winner- The Pittsburgh Steelers
The Cincinnati Bengals vs. The Indianapolis Colts
Oh man, I hate picking games like these. I don’t trust either of these squads, and while both teams have stars, they aren’t complete units. To be honest, I’m only picking the Bengals because I can name more of their players off the top of my head than I can Colts. If Andrew Luck is back to form, then I believe I’ll have picked wrong. But for now, my gut says I have to take Joe Mixon, A.J. Green, and the Bengals.
Winner- The Cincinnati Bengals
The Tennessee Titans vs. The Miami Dolphins
The Miami Dolphins are one of the worst teams in the National Football League as far as pure star power is concerned. Their most famous players are a mediocre quarterback coming off of an injury, a 35 year old running back, and a 36 year old pass rusher. Did I mention they play in Tom Brady‘s division? Yikes.
Now, I’m not the biggest fan of the Titans roster, but I believe in a few of their pieces. Marcus Mariota has shown flashes of brilliance, Derrick Henry is ready to take over as the feature back, and second year wide receiver, Corey Davis, might finally break out this season. When comparing these two rosters? I don’t hesitate to pick the Titans.
Winner- The Tennessee Titans
The San Francisco 49ers vs. The Minnesota Vikings
I want it to be known that I have not bought the Jimmy Garoppolo hype yet. I agree with what Jalen Ramsey said about offensive smoke and mirrors, and I want a full sixteen game sample size before I say that I believe he’s earned that insane contract. However, if he could come out and put up big numbers against the Minnesota Vikings, who have one of the best defenses in football? That would go a long way in changing my mind.
However, I wouldn’t bet on it. In fact, here I am, betting against it. Give me Kirk Cousins managing the game with passes to Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, with a heavy dose of Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray on the ground for the win. Throw in a pick six from Harrison Smith while we’re at it.
Winner- The Minnesota Vikings
The Houston Texans vs. The New England Patriots
I really struggled with this pick. I toyed with giving the Houston Texans a huge, league-changing win in week one. They’ve got the pieces. If Jadeveon Clowney ever wants to grow up and play like the first overall pick opposite of J.J. Watt? They could terrorize Tom Brady and his depleted receiving corps while Deshaun Watson lives up to his hype, airing it out to DeAndre Hopkins. I really thought about it. But for the time being, I’ll go with ol’ reliable, the evil empire. Especially because I don’t know how all of the recently recovered Texans will rebound in 2018.
Winner- The New England Patriots
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. The New Orleans Saints
I’m extremely high on the New Orleans Saints this year. I think they could make some real noise and do serious damage in the NFC. I love the combination of veteran leadership and young talent. I think the NFC South is loaded, but I think the Saints will come out on top, and they’ll start by beating up Ryan Fitzpatrick‘s Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Speaking of which, are there any teams that Fitzmagic hasn’t started for at some point? Just curious.
Winner- The New Orleans Saints
The Jacksonville Jaguars vs. The New York Giants
It seems like just yesterday that Jalen Ramsey was saying Odell Beckham Jr. deserved most of Eli Manning‘s hype, and now we get to see if the young corner can put his money where his mouth is. I’m excited to watch the mouthy corner stalk the former Madden cover athlete around the field while Eli makes a point to beat him. I’m also excited to see Saquon Barkley‘s regular season debut as Tom Coughlin takes on his old team. This should be a fun game, but assuming Blake Bortles doesn’t do Blake Bortles things, the Jaguars win.
Winner- The Jacksonville Jaguars
The Kansas City Chiefs vs. The Los Angeles Chargers
Somehow, Andy Reid developed a reputation as a quarterback whisperer over the years, and I’m still not sure how that is. In his nineteen years of coaching, he’s had as many seasons with a top ten passing offense (nine) as he as with a bottom twelve passing offense. In his entire coaching career, he’s only had one quarterback go over 4,000 yards in a season, and that was Alex Smith in 2017.
Now he’s got Patrick Mahomes, who can’t finish a practice without throwing seven interceptions, facing off against a talented Los Angeles Chargers team that is furiously fighting off the injury bug but remains alive for now. Give me Philip Rivers, Melvin Gordon, and Keenan Allen in a pretty win where they buck their hideous “slow start” trend.
Winner- The Los Angeles Chargers
The Washington Redskins vs. The Arizona Cardinals
This is where my picks start getting risky. The Arizona Cardinals are not a good team, and it seems a little goofy to pick them, especially in week one, but I’m just too skeptical of the Washington Redskins. Their offensive line is bad, really bad, and if the preseason was any indication, they have no depth at all. Enter a team that features Chandler Jones, the man who led the NFL in sacks last year.
And yeah, the offense is 80 years old, but that just means the Redskins are facing an offense featuring a healthy and well rested Sam Bradford, David Johnson, and Larry Fitzgerald to contend with. It’s a funky pick, but one I’m rolling with. Hail.
Winner- The Arizona Cardinals
The Dallas Cowboys vs. The Carolina Panthers
There are few teams that are more adequately prepared for the Dallas Cowboys than the Carolina Panthers. What are Dallas’ strengths? That big offensive line makes holes for their extremely talented back, Ezekiel Elliott. Zeke? Meet Luke Kuechly, the best inside linebacker in the National Football League. Throw in Dontari Poe, Kawaan Short, and Julius Peppers? Not to mention, the absence of Cowboys center, Travis Frederick?
That’s without mentioning the new and improved Panthers offense, starring Torrey Smith, Cam Newton, Christian McCaffrey, and perhaps the debut of rookie, D.J. Moore? My money is on Carolina. Watch that NFC South, I’m telling you, that’s where the NFC Champion is coming from.
Winner- The Carolina Panthers
The Seattle Seahawks vs. The Denver Broncos
I got on the “don’t sleep on Seattle” train at the beginning of the preseason, and I haven’t fallen off yet. They got rid of a lot of their marquee players, and they didn’t exactly add a ton of new ones, but I still trust them more than I trust a Denver Broncos team leaning on draft picks from 2011. I have little-to-no faith in Case Keenum on an offense where he actually has to lead the team, and Russell Wilson is still healthy. The Seahawks aren’t going to win the NFC West, but I think they’ll win week one, in mile high.
Winner- The Seattle Seahawks
The Chicago Bears vs. The Green Bay Packers
I can’t even begin to tell you how close I came to picking the Chicago Bears to win this game. They have a talented young defense full of stars. The addition of Khalil Mack took this group from “pretty good” to “really dangerous” literally overnight. However, I don’t trust the offense yet. I haven’t seen anything from Mitch Trubisky that tells me he’s a franchise quarterback yet, and I stress yet, and it’s hard to pick against Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. As a Raiders fan, I say GO PACK GO, as in, GO PACK GO raise the value of those first round picks we have, but as a child of the windy city, I say #BearDown.
Winner- The Green Bay Packers
The New York Jets vs. The Detroit Lions
Why is this game on Monday Night Football? Whatever happened to the days when we’d get the Dallas Cowboys vs. the New York Giants or the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. The Baltimore Ravens in this time slot? Instead we get the worst team in the NFC North taking on a team that could ideally be okay, assuming several things go their way in dramatic fashion. However, it’ll be interesting to see how Sam Darnold does under the bright lights in primetime.
Winner- The Detroit Lions
The Los Angeles Rams vs. The Oakland Raiders
This kills me. I really wanted to pick my Raiders to start off 1-0, giving Jon Gruden a bit of a break from the hail of criticism falling on him after trading Khalil Mack, but I don’t see it. The Rams are going to load up the box with those infamous Wade Phillips blitzes, making it impossible for Marshawn Lynch to run while pressuring Derek Carr. I don’t feel good about Carr being pressured to throw while the Rams have corners Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters back there, watching.
There’s a chance that Gruden has some secret up his sleeve to beat the pressure, but until he proves it, he traded the benefit of the doubt along with a second round pick to the Chicago Bears. Here’s hoping Chucky finds some wins back in 1998.
Winner- The Los Angeles Rams