Thursday, September 10th
8:30 pm NBC Gillette Stadium
It’s irresponsible to think that a dismissal of charges would spurn on a better performance out of a veteran hall-of-famer. Then again, Tom Brady has been proving us wrong every year for the past decade. His emotion will stick to others and marinate in the roar of a still temperate Foxborough. Add to that the absence of Martavis Bryant and the team’s leading rusher and second-leading receiver Le’Veon Bell both due to suspension and the understaffed Steelers should be in for a vindictive performance from their opponent.
Winner ATS: New England
Sunday, September 13th
1:00 pm CBS NRG Stadium
Let’s face it; any time your “even battle” for the quarterback position is between Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett, you’d be foolish to enter the home opener with plain confidence. Hoyer has shown us some things with his time in Cleveland, and the Houston defense will likely be strong between Watt, Cushing, and Clowney. But the dink and dunk nature of Alex Smith and the absence of Arian Foster will be too much for a Houston team inching out of the NFL no man’s land.
Winner ATS: Kansas City
1:00 pm CBS Ralph Wilson Stadium
I’ve seen predictions for the Colts to win the AFC this season. The addition of Andre Johnson and Frank Gore certainly helps the cause. But there’s something about Rex Ryan and his loose style that should scare much of the AFC East and NFC East this season. The addition of LeSean McCoy with the unpredictability of Tyrod Taylor should give the Colts a rocky start.
Winner ATS: Buffalo
1:00 pm FOX Soldier Field
History and rivalry—except it’s not cold. Yet. The Bears kept their three top receivers from last season (Matt Forte was one), but their main defensive magnet in Brandon Marshall is out of there. Regardless, I think there may have been something to the whole Brandon Marshall as a distraction to Cutler. The Packers spend the first few games assessing their ability anyway, especially without Jordy Nelson.
Winner ATS: Chicago
1:00 pm FOX EverBank Field
I’m not 100% on what a single season in the NFL has done for Blake Bortles. That mixed with a healthy Cam Newton gives the edge to Carolina. Plus Riverboat Ron. Jacksonville will absolutely give a fight because everyone has the same record, but I don’t think there’s enough there for them.
Winner ATS: Carolina
Cleveland at N.Y. Jets (-1)
1:00 pm CBS MetLife Stadium
Mike Pettine worked some miracles with the Browns last season. But, and this is a pretty strong caveat, their strength of schedule last season was borderline historic. If they didn’t get at least six wins, the owners should have been forced to sell the team and potentially disenfranchise the team. There. The fact is that the Browns have people suspended all over the place. GM Ray Farmer, OL coach Andy Moeller, and WR Josh Gordon (still?) are all lost in I don’t know what. Know this, we would have cared a whole lot more about their scandal involving higher ups sending text messages down to the sideline during a game had the team actually been good. If that had been the Patriots, we’d still have one hand on the pitchfork. For the Browns, we send our crickets.
The Jets have surprisingly challenged the Browns by way of impossible incompetence. This time, we’re punching our quarterback in the face. C’mon, Jets. Really? How many more hits can your franchise take before the league considers seceding from New Jersey all together and moving the Giants to a stadium atop Central Park? Bill Belichick resigning after a day on a napkin, Fireman Ed’s resignation, Rex Ryan’s tattoo of his girlfriend wearing a Mark Sanchez jersey, said Mark Sanchez’s butt fumble.
I mean. C’mon. This game is bad. I don’t blame the NFL for tossing it in among the 1:00 onslaught to save the sports world from the “race” towards the MLB playoffs. We know who’s good at this point, baseball. Call it here and we’ll be fine. But, if I had to pick a winner of this game, give me the Jets.
Winner ATS: New York
1:00 pm CBS FedEx Field
Here’s the deal: Kirk Cousins has been good against one team: the Philadelphia Eagles. The rest of the time, he’s faltered his way to sheer mediocrity. Add to that the fact that I think the Dolphins will be a force in the AFC and I’m an unofficial Dolphan. Yes, the Dolphins. I’ve listened to an unhealthy amount of South Florida local radio over the past few months—for what, I’m not really sure. But there is consensus that Ryan Tennehill is actually good. Imagine that. You actually give a quarterback three years to try and figure things out. It’s only the most difficult position in all of sports. Add to that his veteran-esque savvy in ignoring literally everything that a reporter asks him by circumventing the question about his O-line not blocking into a lecture about how his preparation was way below average and he pretty much has this whole quarterback thing nailed.
Winner ATS: Miami
1:00 pm FOX Edward Jones Dome
The Seahawks have started seasons 2-2 and 3-3 under Russell Wilson, only to go on to 11-5 and 12-4 records, respectively. Nick Foles’ performance in the preseason was nothing to gloat over, and I have a feeling the transition to a new offense will not turn out well for him.
Winner ATS: Seattle
4:05 pm FOX Qualcomm Stadium
The Lions flirted last season with the realm of top tier in the league. However, the Chargers, too, have spent enough years with Philip Rivers to have veteran poise. The Chargers started last season 3-0 at home, including a victory over the eventual NFC champion Seattle Seahawks. This may be a year in which the Chargers get over the hump.
Winner ATS: San Diego
4:05 pm FOX University of Phoenix Stadium
For as poorly as the Saints turned out last season, it wasn’t indicative of Drew Brees. Brees was second in competition percentage and tied for first in total yards. Unfortunately for the Saints, their defense was a problem and remains a problem. Cam Jordan’s legal situation paired with a still porous defense in the preseason indicates an impending feeling out period to start the season. Add to it the loss of Jimmy Graham on offense, and the Saints have some changes to work through.
Winner ATS: Arizona
4:25 pm CBS O.co Coliseum
Andy Dalton’s record outside of the 1:00 slot was alarming last season. Yes, it’s the Raiders, but this is the feeling out phase of the season. Another year under Derek Carr and the addition of Amari Cooper could be a formula for some long sought after chemistry. I like dogs and home teams early in the NFL.
Winner ATS: Oakland
4:25 pm CBS Sports Authority Field
This marks a rematch of the 2013 opener when the Broncos smoked the Ravens by three touchdowns and Peyton Manning threw for seven touchdowns. I don’t really see this game going terribly differently. Yes, this version of the game differs in that the Ravens have Steve Smith and the Broncos do not have Eric Decker. But Peyton is the sharpest at the beginning.
Winner ATS: Denver
4:25 pm CBS Raymond James Stadium
The NFL often does a remarkable job of scheduling. Here we see a rematch of the quarterbacks from last year’s college playoff in Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston. Both had shaky starts to the preseason, as expected. However, Winston feels like the more NFL-ready. His college offense focused more on the passing game than Mariota’s, making his transition more natural. The pairing of Winston and Mike Evans will likely be one to watch this season.
Winner ATS: Tampa Bay
8:30 pm NBC AT&T Stadium
It’s disappointing to see how little people respect Tony Romo. He led the league in completion percentage last season amid a slew of injuries that would have kept others sidelined. However, that team will be missing half of its offensive production from last season with DeMarco Murray in Philadelphia. The Giants will eventually have the tandem of Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz, but Beckham should be enough to mess with a weaker Dallas defense. The still unsigned Jason Pierre-Paul will hurt the Giants, but I like them with this large of a number in Dallas where the away team seems to have just as many fans and the home team.
Winner ATS: New York
Monday, September 14th
7:10 pm ESPN Georgia Dome
Atlanta is a nasty place to play. Matt Ryan put on a show last season despite missing large pieces in his offensive line and having a weak defense. Julio Jones was the savior on offense and will likely play that role this year. That said, the Eagles looked about as unstoppable as any team in the league during the preseason. The addition of DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews, and multiple pieces on defense should make the Eagles a strong contender in the NFC.
Winner ATS: Philadelphia
10:20 pm ESPN Levi’s Stadium
My guess is that the NFC North is going to be the most competitive division in the league this season. The Vikings had flashes last season where they held their own. Bringing back Adrian Peterson can’t hurt. The 49ers are missing 15 of their 22 starters from last season, and I simply don’t think they’ll be able to overcome that large of a change so early in the season.
Winner ATS: Minnesota
Spreads courtesy of Vegasinsider.com