Above: Two GOATS

Above: Two GOATS

Pittsburgh (+7) over NEW ENGLAND
(and to win)

The New England Patriots have had quite an interesting 6 months since they were caught with their pants down with the Deflategate scandal. Whether or not you believe them to be innocent, they should show up in Foxboro ready to play- the banner will be raised, the Steelers will be in town, and the fans will be well-lubricated after a day full of Brady worship and drowning themselves in both smugness and Harpoon IPA.
From a pure X’s and O’s standpoint, though, this Patriots team is significantly weaker than last year’s. Brady is back, but looked horrendous in his limited preseason action, and seems visibly shaken by the beating he’s taken in 2015. The receiver position is weakened by the absence of Brandon LaFell, and the loss of Darrell Revis absolutely cripples their secondary. I like the Steelers in this game, unless a sticky-fingered Pats assistant finds his way into the Pittsburgh locker room and gets his hands on the gameplan.

CHICAGO (+6.5) over Green Bay

I think the Packers take this game by a field goal. This Chicago D is going to be atrocious- historically so- but the Green Bay defense isn’t that good either, and the Burrs will be ready to go week one at Soldier Field.The loss of Jordy Nelson makes this a much closer game than anticipated, but Aaron Rodgers is still more than good enough to take down Chicago.

HOUSTON (-1) over Kansas City

Both of these teams believe they’re on the ascent. Both of them consider themselves playoff contenders. Both will be heartbroken to lose an early season game they feel they should win.
I like KC on a neutral field- Alex Smith is competent enough, and they have a solid group of skill position players in Charles, Maclin and Kelce. Their offensive weapons dwarf Houston’s.
But I like the Texans defense better, and in an evenly matched game, home field advantage is important.

Cleveland (+3) over NEW YORK JETS
(and to win)

I think the Jets are going to be awful this year. I’m not overly impressed by their quarterbacks, running backs, tight ends or wide receivers. Their offensive line is okay, but it can’t carry such a dreadful skill position group. If their defense can stay on the field *cough Sheldon Richardson cough* they can steal a few games here and there.
I’m not too particularly impressed with the Browns, either, but I think McCown will do less to lose a game than Ryan Fitzpatrick will, if that makes any sense.
This game is a toss up, but I think Ryan “Every-Announcer-Must-Mention-My-Beard-and-Harvard” Fitzpatrick will throw a game-losing INT in a crucial moment and blow it for the Jets.

BUFFALO (+2.5) over Indianapolis
(and to win)

The Colts are everyone’s dandy team this year. It just looks like everything has slid into place for them. But I don’t trust any team that goes out and adds a bunch of over-the-hill talent and expects to win with it. Andre Johnson and Frank Gore are past it. If they think going to Orchard Park is going to be a cakewalk, they’re going to have quite a rude awakening when they run into a fired-up buffalo team that is going to flatten their weak defensive front into a fine paste. Take the points.

Seattle (-4) over ST. LOUIS

I love me some Nicky Franchise, but that Rams team is going to be awful. The ’07 Giants proved you can win with nothing but a solid pass rush, but that was more of the exception than the rule. The Rams have nothing else going for them, and Jeff Fisher is a fraud. What, pray tell, has he won in this league? If you listen to the media, you’d think he’s got a few Lombardi Trophies in the bank. It’s embarrassing that he and Andy Reid continue to garner such praise despite being in the league this long with nothing to show for it.
Regardless, the Seahawks will suffocate that pathetic excuse for an offense and win going away. No clever special teams tricks will save them this time.

Miami (-4) over WASHINGTON

I’m not the biggest Ryan Tannehill fan in the world, but he shouldn’t have any issues against the Redskins, who will be fighting all year with the Rams and Jets for the first overall pick.
Kirk Cousins is not an NFL starting quarterback, and the Dolphins D will eat him alive. Look for the boo birds to be out early in DC, with patience wearing thin from the Redskin fans. I really don’t blame them, as the last couple years since RG3 went down in a heap in the Wildcard Round have been embarrassing. Those fans deserve better than Daniel Snyder and that train wreck of a franchise.

JACKSONVILLE (+3) over Carolina
(and to win)

Look, I know the Panthers won a playoff game last year, but have we all developed convenient amnesia regarding the circumstances? They were a 7-9 team that got in by virtue of being in an abortion of a division, and they got gifted a home game versus a team with no quarterback. No really, the Cardinals had no quarterbacks left. Ryan Lindley started that game. RYAN LINDLEY. A PLAYOFF GAME. That whole game was farcical and should be perceived as illegitimate.
Point being, the Panthers were not a good team last year, and the Jags won’t be as bad as you think they were. They’ll be feisty at home and should put up a good fight. I think they have every chance to win this game.

ARIZONA (-2.5) over New Orleans

This has all the classic hallmarks of a New Orleans loss. Saints traveling cross country? Drew Brees on the road? Drew Brees past his prime? Stingy home defense? Wild crowd?
I like the Cardinals in this game comfortably, especially with a healthy Carson Palmer.

SAN DIEGO (-3) over Detroit

Losing Ndomakong Suh will mean a lot less personal fouls, but it also means a loss of identity. Just who are the Detroit Lions? What is their gameplan, short of “Throw it to Megatron every play,” with a sprinkle of “Throw it to Tate if Megatron is double covered?” Their defense used to be mean and tough, and I’m very interested to see what they look like this year.
I have a feeling they’re going to be soft, and Philip Rivers eats soft defenses on the regular. I just don’t see the Lions flying to California and beating the Chargers, even with the 3 points.

Baltimore (+4.5) over DENVER
(and to win)

I’m not a passenger on the “Peyton is done for” bandwagon.
I’m the driver. That dude is toast. Stick a fork in him. The Broncos will win 8 or 9 games this year and miss the playoffs, and Manning will retire. It starts with a crushing loss against the Ravens. Joe Flacco will have fond memories of the 2012 Divisional Round game where they force overtime on a last-gasp Hail Mary in one of Peyton’s biggest choke jobs of his illustrious choking career.
Ravens win by two scores at least.

Cincinnati (-3.5) over OAKLAND

I think the Raiders are heading in the right direction. They have a solid young quarterback, a diamond in the rough in Latavius Murray, and a few good young players on defense. The Bengals, on the other hand, are already there. Yes, they blow it in the playoffs every year, but they’re still good enough to handle the Raiders in week one. Their defensive front will have no problems with the Raiders offensive line, and Derek Carr will be running for his life the entire game.

Tennessee (+3) over TAMPA
(and to win)

MARIOTA! WINSTON! Oh, the drama!
They’ll both struggle. It’s week one for two promising young stars. In 5 years, this game may be a battle between two heavyweights; but for now, it’s a battle of which supporting cast can carry their young signal caller. I think the Titans will have a good defense this year, and their offensive line will be alright. And “alright” is enough to beat Tampa bay.

DALLAS (-6) over New York Giants

The Cowboys offensive line will demolish the Giants front seven. When NYG brings extra help, Tony Romo will carve the Giants joke of a secondary into pieces. It doesn’t matter that Odell Beckham will have his way with whatever pathetic corner tries to cover him, because it’ll all be garbage time yardage. Dallas wins big at home.

Philadelphia (-3) over ATLANTA

There’s no learning curve here for the Eagles rebuilt secondary- Julio Jones week one, Dez Bryant week two. I think Matt Ryan will pick on Byron Maxwell and Nolan Carroll a bit, but at least they’ll put up a fight, unlike the bums the Eagles had last year.
The key here is the Falcons lack of a running game. They’ve done nothing to lead me to believe they can run on anyone, let alone Fletcher Cox and company.
The Falcons will have no answer for Chip Kelly’s lightning quick offense, and Sam Bradford will have a solid first week. The game will be high scoring, but the Eagles should win by a touchdown.

Minnesota (-2.5) over SAN FRANCISCO

When I’m not on the “Peyton is Done” bandwagon, I’m firmly entrenched on the “Teddy is the Next Big Thing” bandwagon. The kid is going to be a stud. I think he takes a big first step by going on the road and beating a downtrodden 49ers squad.
How can a team be downtrodden before they play their first game, you ask? It takes a special group, and this Niners team has all the tools. They have the potential to to be a disaster. I believe they have what it takes.


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