Mike Ivcic’s Week 1 NFL Preview and Free Picks

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Mike Ivcic’s Week 1 NFL Preview and Free Picks ]]> include($base_url . “/includes/header.htm”); ?>


By Mike Ivcic, UltimateCapper Contributing Writer

Week 1 kicked off with Peyton Manning throwing 7 touchdowns as the Broncos dismantled the defending Super Bowl Champions, Baltimore Ravens. Now it’s on to the rest of my Week 1 picks…


Atlanta Falcons @ New Orleans Saints
Sun, 1pm, FOX
Line: Saints by 3
Talk about a game with huge playoff implications in week one. Atlanta has always struggled in New Orleans, and now the co-favorite in the entire NFC has to walk into the hornet’s nest in week one to take on a rather angry and annoyed Saints team. Sean Payton will be back on the sideline, and I think the Saints will be back to being a threat to raise the Lombardi Trophy (as I outlined in my preseason predictions), so they’ll make the statement here that the NFC South won’t be a runaway for the Falcons this year.
Pick: New Orleans 31, Atlanta 24

Cincinnati Bengals @ Chicago Bears
Sun, 1pm, CBS
Line: Bears by 3
This is a sneaky-good game between two very good, but not great, teams. For both of these teams, this is a game that could really be considered a “must-win” if the franchises want to move up the ladder in their respective conferences. The Bengals need to beat the second-tier NFC teams to prove they should be considered threats to Houston and Denver, but the Bears absolutely cannot afford to lose home games to AFC teams as they try to catch Green Bay and Minnesota and keep Detroit behind them. That means the Bears have more to lose – and that right there is the deciding factor in my pick.
Pick: Chicago 21, Cincinnati 17

Kansas City Chiefs @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Sun, 1pm, CBS
Line: Chiefs by 4
The Chiefs are one of a small handful of teams that has a chance to make the jump from low-rung to potential playoff team if everything breaks their way. The Jags, meanwhile, are not in that same category. One thing that Andy Reid has always been able to do is prepare his team extremely well when given a long time to work (was undefeated after bye weeks with the Eagles until last season), so the Chiefs will dominate this one.
Pick: Kansas City 24, Jacksonville 10

Miami Dolphins @ Cleveland Browns
Sun, 1pm, CBS
Line: Browns by 1
A one-point line is basically a pick ‘em, and in this case it’s a fairly easy choice to go with the home team. The Browns defense is their strength, and I really don’t buy into Ryan Tannehill as a legitimate NFL starting QB, so I think it will be a fairly long day for the Dolphins offense. This Cleveland team is one that many experts think may sneak up on some people this year, too, so if they plan on that it’s incumbent that they beat a peer at home in week one.
Pick: Cleveland 20, Miami 16

Minnesota Vikings @ Detroit Lions
Sun, 1pm, FOX
Line: Lions by 5.5
In the preseason preview, I wrote that the Lions will one of the rebound teams this year, and while I don’t think they have enough to make the playoffs in a loaded NFC, I do think they finish over .500. This is one of those games that they’ll have to win in order to prove me true. I don’t think this is a good matchup for the Vikings, though – the Lions strength on defense in the line, so they should be able to at least contain Adrian Peterson to a reasonable day and force Christian Ponder to win the game, something he’s just not capable of doing. The Detroit offense will carry the day here.
Pick: Detroit 31, Minnesota 21


New England Patriots @ Buffalo Bills
Sun, 1pm, CBS
Line: Patriots by 9
I would absolutely love to pick E.J. Manuel to pull off a major upset in his first NFL start, and if Buffalo doesn’t win it won’t be because of their offense. I really think the Bills will score some points this season, but that defense has major questions that really need to be answered before I put too much stock in this team. That will be Buffalo’s downfall in this game – Tom Brady will just have one too many chances, and the Pats will leave Orchard Park at 1-0.
Pick: New England 27, Buffalo 24

Oakland Raiders @ Indianapolis Colts
Sun, 1pm, CBS
Line: Colts by 9.5
I like the Colts, I don’t like the Raiders. I think the Oakland defense could actually do a nice job in keeping Andrew Luck from getting too many big plays downfield, but that doesn’t mean the Colts offense won’t move the football. Add in Terrelle Pryor getting his first career opening week start, and I’m not expecting too much of a challenge here from the silver and black.
Pick: Indianapolis 24, Oakland 13

Seattle Seahawks @ Carolina Panthers
Sun, 1pm, FOX
Line: Seahawks by 3
Look, I like the Panthers. They’re a decent team with a lot of good, likeable pieces that just got stuck in a really difficult division (and conference) at an inopportune time. If they were an AFC team, there’s a very good chance that they’re a playoff team. Additionally, I’m not as high on the Seahawks as many others, as I think there’s a bit of a step back before Russell Wilson really matures into an elite QB. Still, I just don’t like this matchup for Carolina. They are teams built in a very similar fashion – balance on offense, speed and agility on defense – and Seattle just has more talent, so they’ll win and cover in Charlotte.
Pick: Seattle 34, Carolina 17

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New York Jets
Sun, 1pm, FOX
Line: Buccaneers by 3.5
Geno Smith on the Jets. Darrelle Revis on the Buccaneers. There’s no way to make this line high enough for me to pick New York. In fact, if Vegas was offering a bet on whether Revis would have as many touchdowns as the Jets wide receivers in this game, I would take Revis. This won’t be close – and I have a feeling I’ll be saying that quite a few times this season when writing about the Jets, because the Bucs really aren’t that good.
Pick: Tampa Bay 23, New York 9

Tennessee Titans @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Sun, 1pm, CBS
Line: Steelers by 7
After watching the Ravens defense get burned like a straw pile doused with gasoline, I’m even more confident in my pick of the Steelers to win this division. That said, their strength is defense, no offense – which is exactly the same description that applies to the Titans. This will almost surely be a low-scoring game, which makes a touchdown line just a bit too high for my liking.
Pick: Pittsburgh 16, Tennessee 10


Arizona Cardinals @ St. Louis Rams
Sun, 4:25pm, FOX
Line: Rams by 4.5
Every week there is a game or two that just doesn’t speak to me. This is one of them. I really don’t know what to make of Arizona – I think Carson Palmer is an upgrade, but I still don’t think he’s good, and I don’t trust their defense. Meanwhile the Rams were a vastly improved team last season, but was that simply a one-year blip or can they actually be considered playoff contenders? In cases like this, I always go with past performance until something proves otherwise, so I think the Rams run away with this one.
Pick: St. Louis 30, Arizona 14

Green Bay Packers @ San Francisco 49’ers
Sun, 4:25pm, FOX
Line: 49’ers by 4.5
I was very tempted to make this a top five pick, only because I think the Packers have a huge chip on their shoulder coming into this game. This is also a big spread for two elite teams that are both expected to be Super Bowl contenders – a field goal line, I think, would be more appropriate here. But ultimately, I don’t think the line matters. Green Bay takes this one outright.
Pick: Green Bay 28, San Francisco 24

New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys
Sun, 8:30pm, NBC
Line: Cowboys by 3.5
If this season isn’t “make or break” for Tony Romo and the Cowboys, I don’t know what is. This group has been considered “talented” for so long, yet constantly underachieves and falls short of even reasonable expectations, let alone Jerry Jones’ desire to return to the Super Bowl. Once again, this isn’t a Super Bowl-caliber team, and they’re playing host to a team in week one on primetime television that flat-out owns them since JerryWorld opened. Bet against Eli Manning at your own risk.
Pick: New York 27, Dallas 21

Philadelphia Eagles @ Washington Redskins
Mon, 7pm, ESPN
Line: Redskins by 3.5
The Eagles will score points. There is absolutely no doubt that their offense will put together some interesting drives that will be a lot of fun to watch. But there is no reason to think that the Philadelphia defense will be able to stop the Redskins offense, especially the ground game. I’m not expecting too much from Robert Griffin III with his legs, but I think we need to stop looking at RG3 as a “running QB,” because his arm is equal to just about anyone else’s in the league. Washington’s defense will make at least one big stand, and that will be the difference.
Pick: Washington 38, Philadelphia 31

Houston Texans @ San Diego Chargers
Mon, 10:15pm, ESPN
Line: Texans by 4
Welcome to the career-defining season for Philip Rivers. The Broncos sent the message loud and clear that they’re the team to beat in the AFC, but the wild card spots are most certainly up for grabs to about six or seven teams in this conference, and the Chargers should have expectations on their own side to be contending for one of those spots. I don’t see it, though, and this is one of the games that should be used a way to measure that – can San Diego beat the two-time AFC South champions at home and prove their playoff worth? I say no.
Pick: Houston 24, San Diego 17

Straight-Up: 1-0
Against Spread: 1-0


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