We’re finally here! The Packers and Bears will face off in the season opener, which means it’s time for us to predict every game during Week 1 of the NFL season! There are a lot of intriguing games on hand this week, including that NFC North rivalry game; this will be a very fun week with a lot of close matchups. Which teams will come out on top in their first game? Let’s discuss.
TNF: Packers (0-0) at Bears (0-0)
Spread Pick: CHI (-3)
Over/Under Pick: Under (46.5)
Score Prediction: Packers 17 Bears 21
Usually, the reigning Super Bowl champion gets to host the first game of the season. However, the NFL reworked that rule to accommodate for the arguably the best rivalry in football, in order to represent the league properly in its 100th season. As a result, fans should be rewarded with an exciting, very close game. These two teams are as even as it gets; the Packers have the advantage at quarterback, but Chicago’s defense should still be dominant this season. Usually, offense comes out on top in these types of matchups, but the Bears’ strength happens to be much more significant than the Packers’ strength. If cornerback Kyle Fuller can handle Davante Adams in one on one coverage, Green Bay doesn’t have other weapons to function properly, especially since their rather weak interior offensive line may struggle in run and pass-blocking against one of the best front sevens in football. Add in the fact that this is Matt LeFleur’s first game as a head coach of the Packers, and that the atmosphere should be extremely lively in Chicago, and the Bears have enough advantages to be victorious in a low-scoring, tight game.
Rams (0-0) at Panthers (0-0)
Spread Pick: LAR (-2.5)
Over/Under Pick: Under (50)
Score Prediction: Rams 27 Panthers 20
Though there are plenty of entertaining games this weekend, this matchup between the Rams and Panthers will definitely be one of the most intriguing. Between Cam Newton and Todd Gurley’s health, the schematic changes to Carolina’s defense, and the changes both teams had during the offseason, this is the matchup of the unknown. In a scenario like this, taking the better team is always the safe and better option, and that’s the Rams. Carolina’s secondary is improving, but their cornerbacks are still not strong enough to handle Los Angeles’ potent trio of receivers; Jared Goff should find plenty of success this season. Plus, we have no idea what the Panthers offense will look like, but we do know they don’t have the playmakers necessary to outpace the Rams offense. This is a tricky game, but Los Angeles looks like the far superior team at the moment.
Titans (0-0) at Browns (0-0)
Spread Pick: CLE (-5)
Over/Under: Under (45.5)
Score Prediction: Titans 13 Browns 30
On Sunday, we’ll be able to see an environment we’d never thought possible; excitement in Cleveland over a playoff-caliber football team. When the hyped-up Browns make their season debut Sunday, the city of Cleveland will be rocking in a way they never have for football. That in itself would likely be too much for the Titans, but this also looks a one-sided matchup on paper. Without left tackle Taylor Lewan (suspended), Tennesee will have no chance blocking against Myles Garrett and Olivier Vernon, which is troublesome since quarterback Marcus Mariota has a tendency to hold onto the ball too long. Furthermore, although Tennesee has a strong secondary, their corners, particularly Malcolm Butler, tend to be very volatile, and could fall victim to a very explosive Browns offense. If this game were in Tennesee, perhaps it would be closer, but since it’s in Cleveland, the Browns should win in a blowout.
Chiefs (0-0) at Jaguars (0-0)
Spread Pick: KC (-3.5)
Over/Under Pick: Under (51.5)
Score Prediction: Chiefs 34 Jaguars 14
NFL fans are expecting a classic top offense versus top defense game when the Chiefs travel to Jacksonville this Sunday, but instead, they’ll likely receive a reminder as to why Kansas City is so dominant, and the Jags are not. Jacksonville’s defense is not on par to where it once was, as they lack depth at linebacker and safety, and against a very explosive offense, those weaknesses will be exploited countlessly. The epic receiver-cornerback matchup between Tyreek Hill and Jalen Ramsey? It also probably won’t be as close as imagined; Hill is often unguardable and Ramsey can sometimes be too undisciplined to handle guarding a receiver with such game-breaking speed. Yes, the Chiefs defense remains an issue, but the switch to a 4-3 should help them tremendously, and it’s not like an old-school offense led by the volatile Nick Foles is much of a threat. This may be the best value of any of the games this week regarding the speed; the Chiefs only being favored by 3.5 points is laughable.
Ravens (0-0) at Dolphins (0-0)
Spread Pick: BAL (-6.5)
Over/Under Pick: Under (38.5)
Score Prediction: Ravens 17 Dolphins 3
What does it look like to see an openly tanking NFL team? Well, the NFL world will get to find out on Sunday; the Dolphins will host the Ravens. Surely, Miami’s front office is hoping that after dishing out left tackle Laremy Tunsil, they’ll avoid the same fate as the Jets of 2017, who arguably were tanking, but won too many games and had to trade up to land Sam Darnold in the draft. However, trading Tunsil likely ensured Miami the #1 pick. This team has no pass protection whatsoever for quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, nor do they have any talent at receiver. With a defense that scheme up pressure behind one of the best secondaries in the NFL, Baltimore should easily contain Miami’s offense. Then, all they’ll need is a ball-control offense led by a strong running game, which they have, and they’ll come away with an easy victory. This fits perfectly into the Ravens’ path to winning; it’ll be low-scoring, but they’ll win with little extra effort needed.
Falcons (0-0) at Vikings (0-0)
Spread Pick: MIN (-4)/PUSH
Over/Under Pick: Under (47)
Score Prediction: Falcons 20 Vikings 24
Last season was a disappointing season for both the Falcons and Vikings; they were Super Bowl contenders heading into the season, but neither made the playoffs. With a new season comes a new sense of optimism regarding both teams, and although Atlanta may be the better overall team, it’s the home team who will ultimately be victorious. Minnesota’s cornerbacks aren’t top-notch currently, which could become a problem against Matt Ryan and the Falcons’ explosive offense. However, the Vikings at least have a pass rush to take advantage of the two rookie starters, Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary, on the offensive line. On the other hand, the Falcons’ poor pass rush won’t be able to exploit Minnesota’s weak offensive line, and with the cornerback depth very thin, it’ll be difficult for Atlanta to contain both Adam Theilen and Stefon Diggs. That’s what this game will eventually come down to; Minnesota is better equipped to make enough big plays to win this game.
Bills (0-0) at Jets (0-0)
Spread Pick: BUF (+2.5)
Over/Under Pick: Under (40.5)
Score Prediction: Bills 17 Jets 13
Among the top storylines of Week 1 has to be with the second-year quarterbacks in New York this Sunday. Both Josh Allen and Sam Darnold were top-ten picks in 2018, and although neither had the best of rookie seasons, they still have the capabilities to become potential franchise quarterbacks. Ultimately, this game will be dedicated based on which signal-caller plays better, and in my opinion, that’ll be Allen. He may on the road, but the difference in defenses cannot be overstated. Whereas Allen gets to face one of the league’s worst pass rushes and secondaries with a revamped supporting cast, Darnold has to face off against a very talented secondary with a solid pass rush. In the end, I’ll trust a defense led by Bills head coach Sean McDermott over an offense led by Jets head coach Adam Gase; it’ll be a boring, close affair, but Buffalo should be able to pull off a major upset on the road.
Redskins (0-0) at Eagles (0-0)
Spread Pick: PHI (-10)
Over/Under Pick: Under (44.5)
Score Prediction: Redskins 0 Eagles 31
Without a doubt, the largest talent discrepancy between teams this weekend has to be in Philadelphia this week. While the Eagles enter the season as Super Bowl favorites with a nearly flawless, the Redskins are severely broken down leading into this affair. Take it from this perspective; can u imagine an offense led by Case Keenum, a receiving corps led by Paul Richardson, and an offensive line without Trent Williams to put up any points verus a rather stout Eagles defense? Said offensive line features Ereck Flowers on the interior, which so happens to be where Fletcher Cox and Malik Jackson will line up, while without Williams, Washington will have a tough time blocking both Derek Barnett and Brandon Graham. Then, we flip to the other side of the ball, where a mediocre at best secondary will have to contend with one of the best passing attacks in the entire NFL. Simply put, there’s no chance the Redskins come close to winning this game.
Colts (0-0) at Chargers (0-0)
Spread Pick: IND (+6.5)
Over/Under Pick: Under (44.5)
Score Prediction: Colts 21 Chargers 23
After star quarterback Andrew Luck ended his career with an abrupt retirement, the stock on the Colts has completely dissolved. However, they aren’t the only team dealing with issues at the moment. Los Angeles will be without safety Derwin James, tackle Russell Okung, and cornerback Trevor Williams due to injury, and for what it’s worth, running back Melvin Gordon is still holding out. Therefore, this game is a lot close than it would look if both teams were at their current full health; making the 6.5 points the Chargers are favored by a clear red flag. Now, the loss of Okung is a definite issue, especially going up against a quality pass rusher in Justin Houston, but Houston’s partner in crime, Jabaal Sheard is out due to a knee injury; Los Angeles’ dynamic passing attack, led by quarterback Phillip Rivers and receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, as well as tight end Hunter Henry, to flourish against a decent, but non-spectacular secondary. Add in the fact that besides not having Williams or James, the Chargers still have a solid secondary and a terrific pass rush that will have to be able to contain a Colts offense led by quarter Jacoby Brisset, and they’ll still be able to win this game, although it’ll be closer than expected.
Bengals (0-0) at Seahawks (0-0)
Spread Pick: SEA (-9.5)
Over/Under Pick: Under (44.5)
Score Prediction: Bengals 7 Seahawks 24
Is any team, outside the Colts, having a worse offseason than the Bengals? After a positive offseason where they revamped the offense by hiring head coach Zac Taylor and drafting tackle Jonah Williams, this was a team that looked to have a chance to be sneaky competitive this season. However, that no longers to be the case. Williams is likely out for the year with a shoulder injury, top receiver AJ Green will miss the first half of the season with an ankle injury, and tackle Cordy Glenn will miss this game due to a concussion. All of a sudden, an offense that had the chance to be intriguing now looks awful on paper. The Seahawks don’t exactly have a lot of talent in the secondary, and edge rusher Jadeveon Clowney may only have a limited role in this game, but there’s no way an offense with undrafted receiver Damion Willis and without two starters on the offensive line will be able to exploit that at all. Meanwhile, the Bengals defense is also very weak, particularly in their front seven; a run-heavy offense led by running back Chris Carson should single-handedly win this game for Seattle, and that’s without even mentioning the explosiveness bound to occur with an offense with Russell Wilson at quarterback. The Seahawks almost never lose at home, and it certainly won’t be the Bengals that will change that.
Lions (0-0) at Cardinals (0-0)
Spread Pick: DET (-2.5)
Over/Under Pick: Under (46)
Score Prediction: Lions 21 Cardinals 10
A Lions-Cardinals game would usually be a game not worth stressing over, but with so many different details to watch with this game, that it may actually be one of the most exciting games of the week. How will Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury’s offense fare in their debuts? What will a reshaped Lions team look like in 2019? All of this will be answered in Arizona this weekend, but for now, this game is a whole lot of uncertainty. The one feature we can count on, however, is a weak Cardinals defense, especially with cornerbacks Patrick Peterson (suspension) and Robert Alford (injury) sidelined from this game. Detroit may be more of a run-first offense by philosophy, but the personnel – quarterback Matthew Stafford, receivers Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr., and rookie tight end TJ Hockenson – is in place for them to expose a very weak secondary.
Giants (0-0) at Cowboys (0-0)
Spread Pick: DAL (-7)
Over/Under Pick: Under (45.5)
Score Prediction: Giants 0 Cowboys 27
The NFC East is clearly top-heavy this season; yet another matchup within the division appears to be one-sided. Looking to defend their divisional title, the Cowboys, who enter the season in a positive mood after signing running back Ezekiel Elliot to a contract extension, will have the luxury of hosting the putrid Giants. After trading Odell Beckham Jr. and losing Golden Tate due to the suspension, New York’s current starting outside receivers are Cody Latimer and Bennie Fowler. Slot receiver Sterling Shepard and tight end Evan Engram are solid players in their own rights, but there is no threat to this offense in the passing game, especially with a very conservative quarterback in Eli Manning. Obviously, their offense is centered around star running back Saquon Barkley, but his abilities as a runner and receiver may be limited as he faces two of the premier linebackers in the league, Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch. Furthermore, Dallas’ offense should be improved this season with center Travis Frederick in the fold, and facing a lackluster pass rush, quarterback Dak Prescott should be very efficient in this game. Add it all together, and this should be at least a four-score win for the Cowboys.
49ers (0-0) at Buccaneers (0-0)
Spread Pick: SF (+1)
Over/Under Pick: Over (51)
Score Prediction: 49ers 34 Buccaneers 30
If you want lots of scoring and excitement, then you’ll want to tune-in to Tampa Bay on Sunday afternoon; the 49ers and Bucs are bound to engage in a shootout. These two teams have arguably the two worst secondaries in the NFL, while both offenses have a lot of talent on the offensive side of the ball. It’s easy to imagine a vertical passing offense schemed by head coach Bruce Arians and executed by quarterback Jameis Winston and receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin to dominate against a group of defensive backs that’s essentially Richard Sherman and nobody else worth noting. However, the same can be said about head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense led by quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo against a secondary that’s likely even worse. Though this will be a very flashy game, it’ll actually be decided in the trenches, which gives San Francisco the upper-hand. Whereas the Bucs figure to have a well-below average pass rush, the 49ers have two potent edge rushers Dee Ford and Nick Bosa, as well as DeForest Buckner on the interior. Facing a Bucs offensive line that remains very weak, they should be very successful this week, despite both Ford and Bosa dealing with injuries; it’ll be harder for Winston to hold onto the ball long enough for long yardage plays to establish than for Garoppolo, who also has the luxury of a much better rushing attack. It’ll be close, especially since it’s in Tampa, but the 49ers are the better team, and they’ll come away with a huge road victory to start off their bounce-back season.
SNF: Steelers (0-0) at Patriots (0-0)
Spread Pick: PIT (+5.5)
Over/Under Pick: Under (49)
Score Prediction: Steelers 7 Patriots 12
Though they didn’t get the host the first game of the season, the environment will still be crazy when the Patriots unveil their sixth Super Bowl champion, nevertheless against the team that they tied for most Super Bowl titles, the Steelers. With Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady as the teams’ two quarterbacks, you may assume that this game will be a high-scoring affair. Yet, the opposite will be true. It’ll be the two defenses that’ll show off on Sunday, as it’s almost like these teams were built to beat each other. New England’s offense is built to run inside a lot, but that’ll be hard to do against a stout front seven headlined by defensive lineman Stefon Tuitt, Cameron Heyward, and Javon Hargrave, as well as rookie linebacker Devin Bush. Likewise, Pittsburgh’s offense is centered around two skill position players, running back James Conner and receiver Juju Smith Schuster, but with a strong run defense and a deep secondary that includes the best cornerback in football in Stefon Gillmore, it’s impossible to see the Steelers putting up many points in this game. In my opinion, the difference in this game will come down to turnovers, and in that case, I’ll take the efficient Brady over the often erratic Roethlisberger, especially since Brady is 5-0 in his career versus Roethlisberger. This game will be very close, but New England has too much talent to not find a way to win, though I wouldn’t be super surprised if Pittsburgh were to pull off the upset.
MNF: Texans (0-0) at Saints (0-0)
Spread Pick: HOU (+6.5)
Over/Under Pick: Over (52.5)
Score Prediction: Texans 38 Saints 24
In the traditional two-game slate of Monday Night Football, the Saints will host the Texans a 4:10 PM Pacific Time, an hour earlier than usual. They’ll be looking to start their revenge tour from their heartbreaking loss in the NFC Championship game to the Rams, but as per usual, their season will start off on the wrong foot. The Saints are just 1-9 in their first two games over the past five seasons, with their only win coming against the Hue Jackson-coached Browns. How is that trend supposed to change as they face a playoff contender in the Texans? New Orleans once again failed to address their secondary, and as punishment, they can expect to be burned by the combination of quarterback Deshaun Watson and receiver De’Andre Hopkins, which is certainly one of the most explosive duos in football. Then there’s receiving back Duke Johnson Jr, who could have a field day exploiting the Saints’ group of stiffer, slower linebackers. Additionally, the Texans are strong defensively upfront, as well as at linebacker and safety, which is necessary to beat an offense that relies on the rushing attack and the short passing game. Houston is already a bad fit for New Orleans on paper, but when you add the Saints’ normal struggles at the beginning of the season, and the Texans are the clear favorites to win this game; the fact that New Orleans is favored by 6.5 points ludicrous; picking Houston as a supposed “underdog” is easily the best bet of the week.
MNF: Broncos (0-0) at Raiders (0-0)
Spread Pick: DEN (-2)
Over/Under Pick: Under (42.5)
Score Prediction: Broncos 20 Raiders 10
On the second game of the Monday Night Football slate, we thought we would be getting the hyped-up debut of receiver Antonio Brown as a Raider. Alas, the 31-year-old’s Raiders career ended before it started; he was released today and signed a one-year contract with the Patriots. Personally, I was super low on Oakland before this news, and though they stood close to zero chance in this matchup versus the Broncos, but now, whatever hope they did have has evaporated. There’s just no area where the Raiders are better than the Broncos at. With or without Brown, their poor offensive line that’s without guard Gabe Jackson was always going to have trouble with pass rushers Von Miller, Bradley Chubb, and even Shelby Harris on the interior. Plus, now that Brown isn’t there to draw the attention of cornerback Chris Harris Jr., quarterback Derek Carr, when he’s not under pressure, will have no open receivers to throw to; he’ll likely revert back to his old checkdown ways, and rookie running back Josh Jacobs may be asked to single-handedly carry this offense, which won’t work at all. Yes, Denver’s offense has a very limited ceiling, but as long as quarterback Joe Flacco plays an effective game-manager role, which should be easy against arguably the worst defense in the league, head coach Vic Fangio’s terrific defense should be able to easily carry them to victory. They’re another terrific bet based on their value- they’re only two-point favorites.