Kansa City Chiefs @ New England Patriots
The season opener this Thursday night sees the Chiefs in Patriots territory. You can’t really look past the Patriots to win this, coming off their 5th Super Bowl win and many newborn sacrifices. Brady and Gronk are both playing, that’s all you need to know really.
Baltimore Ravens @ Cincinnati Bengals
They don’t call them the Bungles for nothing, but Cincinnati don’t look too bad – they’ve always got AJ Green. Rookie star Joe Mixon isn’t the starting RB yet, but hopefully that just means the team isn’t in a desperate state that requires immediately starting him. The Ravens are always tough, even moreso in divisional games, but the Bengals should take the W home here (that’s yank for win).
Atlanta Falcons @ Chicago Bears
The Super Bowl runners-up, versus a team coming off a 3-13 season. Jay Cutler retired from the Bears, then quickly un-retired to join the Miami Dolphins, replacing an injured Tannehill. That he’d arguably be an upgrade for Chicago says a lot. So, Falcons to win, convincingly, if we’re doing pick ’em.
Arizona Cardinals @ Detroit Lions
Expect the Lions to try hard, put up a good fight, but ultimately walk off the field in a cloud of defeat. As is the Detroit way. Whilst the Cardinals regressed last season, David Johnson makes them a formiddable team. Both teams could put up somewhere in the region of 20 points, with Arizona putting up slightly more than the Lions.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cleveland Browns
On paper this one sees the Browns getting stomped on. Reality might be slightly kinder though, as the Browns are an improved team. With rookie star quarterback DeShone Kizer, things are looking up. Sure, the rest of the team still sucks, but the receivers have had a slight upgrade in the form of Kenny Britt and Sammie Coates. Expect the Steelers’ trio of Big Ben, Bell and Brown to only moderately murder Cleveland.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Houston Texans
The Texans are the bookies’ favourites here, as every team against Jacksonville usually is, but Houston are also suffering from an offense that looks unconvincing. Rookie QB Deshaun Watson should have been a huge upgrade for Houston, but that hasn’t been apparent at all during pre-season. The receivers are looking a little battered, with an injured Will Fuller, an only-just-recovered Braxton Miller and a suspended-for-one-game Jaelen Strong. The Jaguars on the other hand, have star rookie running back Leonard Fournette, and the probability that Allen Robinson could have a much improved year, reverting to his 2015 form, assuming Blake Bortles can throw a ball. Houston still look good for the win, but only just.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Washington Redskins
According to Vegas this is as close to an even game as there is this week, and it makes sense. Two hardened NFC East rivals. Both with reasonably competent young QBs and a decent set of receivers. Both a bit low budget in the running back department this year, although the Eagles have aquired Blount from New England. A toss up really, but let’s say the Redskins with the home advantage.
New York Jets @ Buffalo Bills
Josh McCown is the Jets’ starting QB. They basically don’t have any wide receivers of note. Forte will probably break a leg when he steps on the pitch. The only question is whether the Bills will win this convincingly, or embarrassingly.
Oakland Raiders @ Tennessee Titans
The Raiders got good last year. The Titans got good last year. Oakland just brought Marshawn Lynch out of retirement. Tennessee had an annoyingly good draft. This game could be interesting. The Titans are slight favourites, and I’d have to go with them, being one of the brightest young teams in the NFL right now.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Miami Dolphins – Cancelled
Hurricane Irma done messed this one up.
Indianapolis Colts @ Los Angeles Rams
The Colts don’t have much Luck right now. So Scott Tolzien (who?) gets to fill his shoes. Yes, the Rams suck (I generally avoid such lazy language but the word fits the Rams quite well), but with a new Head Coach and the hope that Goff isn’t as bad as last year, the LA Rams might get the chance to win their season opener at home.
Carolina Panthers @ San Francisco 49ers
Kaepernick is no longer a 49er – too moral for the NFL – so instead the 49ers give the wheel to Brian Hoyer. Brian Hoyer. Brian Hoyer. Brrrrian Ho-o-o-oyer. He sank the Browns and Texans, this season we get to see him (further) sink the 49ers. So yes, Panthers win.
Seattle Seahawks @ Green Bay Packers
Two great teams, that both get better as the season goes along – meaning either team could underwhelm this week, or lose out in a close faught battle. Green Bay have the home advantage and are slight favourites, with Rodgers being an MVP contender. Seattles defense could be more valuable than Green Bay’s quick shooting offense in a hesitant first week game though. The Seahawks have looked stronger in preseason, but the Packers come out on top against Seattle more often than not. Give this one to Green Bay.
New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys
Despite Zeke’s six game suspension, he’ll be playing this week as the NFL didn’t turn up to court on time. Odell Beckham Jr. on the other hand, is likely to sit on the sidelines with his bad ankle. The Cowboys and Giants are always competitive, but the spotlight is on the Cowboys this season and the odds should favour them.
New Orleans Saints @ Minnesota Vikings
The bookies have the Vikings as favourites – they’re playing at some, solid in defense, horny helmets, etc. The Saints have weapons though. Michael Thomas has stepped up to WR1, and could be a top 5 receiver this year – the man busted out big time towards the end of last season. Adrian Peterson should also be eager to run against his former team. Just to switch things up, I’m going with the Saints here.
Los Angeles Chargers @ Denver Broncos
This has some of the same ingredients as the previous game, a high powered offense against a tough D. The messy quarterback situation at Denver helps the Chargers, and again Denver are the favourites but you can’t rule out LA here. Expect the Broncos to grind out a tough win, but don’t be surprised if the Chargers put on a performance.