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Picks for Week 1:
Cleveland (+3.5) vs Steelers
-I think the Browns defense will either play very well or get absolutely roasted by Antonio Brown and Co. If the former prevails, along with the fact they don’t have to face Le’Veon Bell, I think Tyrod Taylor can lead this team to a 3 point loss or better.
Vikings (-6.5) vs 49ers
-The Vikings defense is always worth betting on. Jimmy Garoppolo is good but how good? Beating a top 2 or 3 defense good? On the road? I don’t think so.
Bengals (+3) @ Colts
–Andrew Luck is back, but if John Ross and Tyler Boyd can take away any attention from A.J. Green, I think Cincy’s defense will do enough to keep Andrew Luck in check.
Ravens (-7.5) vs Bills
-It’s a prove-it season for Joe Flacco. Do I believe in his ability to be a comeback player of the year candidate? No. But I do believe in that defense still. They lost Jimmy Smith, but that D-Line is ferocious.
Jaguars (-3) @ Giants
-As I highlighted in my team preview, I think Blake Bortles and that defense can lead this team to get another AFC Championship game. It starts this Sunday against Eli Manning.
Saints (-9.5) vs Buccaneers
-It’s Drew Brees at home against Ryan Fitzpatrick. Enough said.
Texans (+6.5) @ Patriots
-The defense is in one piece, at least, for now. Tom Brady will probably answer the call, but Deshaun Watson played well enough to beat New England last year, had it not been for a perfect throw from his Hall of Fame counterpart.
Titans (-1.5) @ Dolphins
-I’m not sold on either of these quarterbacks yet, but even less so with Ryan Tannehill. The Titans are deeper on offense. A screen pass to newcomer Dion Lewis is the difference. Write it down.
Chargers (-3.5) vs Chiefs
-Is this the year Philip Rivers has luck on his side? No, not Andrew, the Irish kind. The answer is probably no, but it’s hard to pick against a team with this many weapons lining up wide. I don’t think he’ll need much special fortune against the Chiefs secondary, anyway.
Broncos (-3) vs Seahawks
-I think Case Keenum will do great things in Denver. I also think Courtland Sutton will be a star. He’ll get his first career touchdown on Sunday as they get win number one while hosting Russell Wilson.
Panthers (-3) vs Cowboys
-Dallas will have an uphill battle in getting to the post-season, this year. Not having a true No. 1 receiver makes things more difficult, of course. Cam Newton will get the job done with the help of Christian McCaffrey.
Redskins (+1) @ Cardinals
-I have a lot more faith in Alex Smith than “Sammy Sleeves”. In the battle for the most check-downs, Smith is simply better. He is also pretty mobile, whereas Sam Bradford is…well, not. Alex Smith to Chris Thompson for the win.
Bears (+7.5) @ Packers
-Sure, the Packers have every right to be favored, but the Bears’ entire roster improved drastically from a year ago. That includes adding to an already impressive defensive unit, with none other than Khalil Mack. I think it’s a close game. Bears win.
Jets (+6.5) @ Lions
-This is probably a Jets loss, but I don’t trust Detroit’s defense to totally keep the clamps on rookie Sam Darnold. I think the Jets lose by a weird deficit like, say, 5.
Rams (-4) @ Raiders
-The second half of the annual Monday night doubleheader, Jared Goff and the Rams destroy the Raiders by 17, maybe more. Losing Khalil Mack and a good No. 3 wideout could not have come at a worse time.