The NFL is in full swing for this first week of the season. I am happy to have something to watch on Sundays! The summer was long, hot, and busy. Looking forward to weeks of relaxation in front of the big screen watching football. Let's get into the picks for this opening week of the season.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS vs CLEVELAND BROWNS:
Even with the great play by rookie QB Baker Mayfield in the preseason, QB Tyrod Taylor will get the start Sunday against QB Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers will be without RB Le'Veon Bell due to contract issues. This should not effect them against the Browns. Although the Browns look to improve on last season, this will not be the game they do it in.
CINCINNATI BENGALS vs INDIANAPOLIS COLTS:
The Bengals defensive line is the only thing that has to be said here. The Colts have QB Andrew Luck returning after missing the entire year last season. The rust that he has to knock off will take more than the preseason. Pressure on the Bengals QB Andy Dalton will not be much of a factor with the laid back pass rush of the Colts.
TENNESSEE TITANS vs MIAMI DOLPHINS:
Here is another team with a QB returning from injury. Ryan Tannehill is slated to start for the 'Phins Week 1. He will be up against QB Marcus Mariota who came off a so-so last season. He will have RB Dion Lewis to hand off to this season. Tannehill, on the other hand, will not have a star studded offense to assist him. Of course, this will be a step in the right direction from last year's Jay Cutler experiment. Getting back into game time rhythm will be the theme for Miami.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS vs MINNESOTA VIKINGS:
Ok, so here we have the most money on the field combined with the two QBs this year. Both Niners Jimmy Garppolo ($27M) and Vikes Kirk Cousins ($28M) will play with the biggest yearly salaries in the league this year for quarterbacks. How will this translate on the season? The Niners are coming off of a five game win streak at the end of last season. The Vikes have everyone back on defense and a healthy RB Dalvin Cook. This should be a good one.
HOUSTON TEXANS vs NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS:
Yet, another injured quarterback returning. Texans QB Deshaun Watson is back in the saddle for the offense. Coming back to face a 40 year old quarterback seems like easy pickings unless that quarterback is Tom Brady. Brady and Coach Belichick find ways to get it done. The Texans front seven will give the veteran QB trouble, but to no avail. It may be a struggle, but give the edge to the home team.
New England Patriots
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS vs NEW ORLEANS SAINTS:
Tampa Bay will be without starting QB Jameis Winston for the first four games. He will be replaced with Ryan Fitzpatrick. Will he be able to replicate the great passing game the Bucs had last year? They will need it against an upgraded Saints defense. New Orleans does have issues on the inside if the Tampa offense can exploit it. Remember on the other side of the ball for the Saints is QB Drew Brees. He has been known to make things happen with his young RBs and WRs of late.
New Orleans Saints
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS vs NEW YORK GIANTS:
Can you feel the drama? Tom Coughlin coming back to New York after becoming the executive vice president of football operations in Jacksonville. Jags CB Jalen Ramsey with all the trash talking to Giants WR Odell Beckham, Jr. Giants QB Eli Manning is back in the driver's seat with targets like OBJ and newly drafted RB Sequon Barkley. Oh yeah, New York has a new head coach, Pat Shurmur. Jacksonville is coming off of a spectacular run last season that had them one step from the big dance. They will be bringing that awesome play on both sides of the ball to New York.
BUFFALO BILLS vs BALTIMORE RAVENS:
Buffalo will have QB Nate Peterman at controls Sunday. Everyone remember him as a rookie last year? Five interceptions in one game? That is the same guy. He has made a complete turn around instead of turnover. For the Ravens, defense is still a strong suit for them. Just going to pick this one.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS vs LOS ANGELES CHARGERS:
The Bolts used their draft to choose defensive players to compete against pass rush. They do not plan on getting run all over by the Chiefs like they did last year. They hope to do some of their own running with RB Melvin Gordon. With QB Alex Smith off to Washington D.C., QB Patrick Mahomes will be the starter. Coach Andy Reid is hoping to control the young quarterback's turnover problems.
Los Angeles Chargers
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS vs DENVER BRONCOS:
First, the Fat Boys broke up. Now, this. That's right. The "Legion of Boom" does not go together any more. They broke up like dishes thrown on the floor. So what do the 'Hawks have? They have FS Earl Thomas for at least this game, Head Coach Pete Carroll, and QB Russell Wilson. That should be enough, right? The Broncos have another new QB in Case Keenum and hopefully the same run defense that kept them in games last season. Let's see how this ends.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS vs ARIZONA CARDINALS:
As the revolving door of quarterbacks is constantly turning, the Redskins have picked up QB Alex Smith. They also acquired RB Adrian Peterson with rookie RB Derius Guice out for the season. They have also beefed up their offense with rookie NT DaRon Payne. The Cardinals are getting back RB David Johnson from a season ending wrist injury last year. Johnson combined with WR Larry Fitzgerald and FB Derrick Coleman, the Arizona offense, led by QB Sam Bradford, should be explosive enough to make the Redskins defense work hard.
DALLAS COWBOYS vs CAROLINA PANTHERS:
After losing WR Benjamin Kelvin, a pick up of RB C.J. Anderson and MLB Luke Kuechly leading the defense, the Carolina Panthers are back in business. Hopefully, the Dallas Cowboys have moved on from the drama that was Dez Bryant and can focus on the task at hand. QB Dak Prescott and RB Ezekiel Elliott are going to lead the charge for the Cowboys.
CHICAGO BEARS vs GREEN BAY PACKERS:
A storied rivalry for the ages. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers will be making a comeback after a collarbone injury. He will have new targets by the names of TE Jimmy Graham and RB Jamaal Williams. The offensive line is going to be the trouble spot facing Chicago's newest member, OL Khalil Mack. On the other side of the ball for the Bears is QB Mitchell Trubisky, who will be starting for the full season. He'll have a receiving core around him that could give the Packers' defense problems. At Lambeau. These teams. It's ALL about the rivalry.
Green Bay Packers
Folks, those are my picks for Sunday's games. Atlanta never cooperates so I am starting out 0-1. I plan on having a better record by Monday night. LOL! Who are your picks for today's games? I'll be back for Monday night's picks. Good luck to your teams and picks!
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