2019 NFL Week 1 Picks & Previews: Lots of Scoring in First Football Sunday of Year

Football is back, and I just posted my predictions for the season, but now it’s time to take a closer look at Week 1.   I went 148-106-2 in pick’em last year. My goal is to beat that this year and have less than 100 games wrong.

I expect a lot of high scoring games this week, and a couple surprises too.  Week 1 is all about setting the tone for a new season. Which teams will start off on the strongest note?  Keep reading to find out what I think.

Lock of the Week

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Don’t expect much of anything from Washington’s offense this week.  RB Derrius Guice is being trusted to anchor the backfield, but he hasn’t even seen an NFL field yet.  Case Keenum is unproven as a starting QB, and he’ll be missing his most reliable target in TE Jordan Reed.  Meanwhile, a healthy QB Carson Wentz should do big things for the Eagles, especially against a Redskins defense that lost several key pieces this off-season.  Wentz will get the Eagles an early lead and the team will not look back from there.

Upset of the Week (MNF)

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Without WR Antonio Brown, QB Derek Carr lacks elite receivers.  But the Raiders will rely on their depth in this victory. The Broncos secondary no longer has much talent aside from CB Chris Harris Jr.  That will allow younger guys like WR Hunter Renfrow, WR J.J. Nelson, and TE Darren Waller lots of opportunities, so long as the o-line gives Carr protection from a strong Denver front seven.  The Broncos offense will have some good moments with veteran QB Joe Flacco leading them.  But Oakland added ILB Vontaze Burfict and S LaMarcus Joyner on defense, moves that many people have underestimated.  The improved Oakland defense will hold Denver under 20 points and allow Carr to lead the Raiders in an upset.  

The Other Games

TNF (Posted to Twitter Thursday Night – Actual Score: 10-3 Packers)

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As I said in my NFL predictions, the Packers don’t have much going for them beyond QB Aaron Rodgers and WR Davante Adams.  I expect Adams to have a huge game and score Green Bay’s lone touchdown. But the elite Bears D will prevent RB Aaron Jones and the Packers run game from success.  Meanwhile, Chicago’s upgraded offense will outperform an inexperienced Green Bay defense.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

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The Jets will use RB Le’Veon Bell and WR Jamison Crowder to their advantage, as young QB Sam Darnold benefits greatly from his new surroundings.  QB Josh Allen will improve as a passer too, but it won’t quite be enough as the backfield struggles and the Bills fall short in overtime.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

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QB Lamar Jackson will throw the ball a little more.  But the Ravens will still find the most success by utilizing their run-first offense against a weak Miami front seven.  I still expect Jackson to toss a TD, but most of Baltimore’s scoring will be thanks to RB Mark Ingram and the backfield. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick will put up some points, but the Dolphins offense just doesn’t have enough talent to outdo an above average Baltimore D. 
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

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This will be another close one, as the Browns start slow against a strong Titans D.  Plus, at full health, QB Marcus Mariota will lead the Titans to a strong game. But the duo of former LSU WRs Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry will lead the way in a Cleveland OT victory. 
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

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QB Patrick Mahomes lacks the depth he had on offense last year.  But he still has WR Tyreek Hill and TE Travis Kelce to help him lead the Chiefs to victory in Jacksonville.  Expect a strong debut by QB Nick Foles and the Jags offense against a weak Chiefs D, but it won’t be enough to take down Mahomes.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

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Expect a high scoring game here.  If I’m wrong about this game, it’ll probably be because I didn’t predict enough scoring.  The Vikes D is great, but the Falcons have one of the best offenses in the league. They’ll give Minnesota a wake up call.  QB Kirk Cousins will have to keep up with QB Matt Ryan in order to lead Minnesota to victory, but I think he’s capable now that he’s adjusted to Minnesota’s offense.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

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The Rams star-studded WR corps will dominate in this one, as Carolina still lacks the secondary depth to handle so many elite receivers at once.  QB Jared Goff and the Rams offense will have a field day as a result. RB Christian McCaffrey and others will lead the Panthers to put up a fight, even against an elite Rams D.  But the Rams will hold onto the lead.
Sunday, 4:05 PM EST

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The Seahawks may be lacking offensive weapons with WR D.K. Metcalf  banged up. But QB Russell Wilson will find a way to victory against a washed up Cincinnati defense.  QB Andy Dalton will have some success against an unproven Seattle secondary, but under pressure from an elite Seahawks front seven, the Bengals offense will fall short.
Sunday, 4:05 PM EST

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QB Jacoby Brissett will impress in his debut, taking advantage of Indy’s newfound WR and TE depth.  But Brissett is no match for the Chargers, who have one of the most balanced and talented rosters in the league.  Even without RB Melvin Gordon, QB Philip Rivers will lead the Chargers to victory in a shootout.  
Sunday, 4:25 PM EST

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These two division rivals have played 3 season openers against each other in the last 4 years, and in the other 2, Dallas won at home.  I expect the same here. The Giants have some nice pieces on offense that QB Eli Manning will utilize. But Manning will face too much pressure against an elite Cowboys front seven to do much more than that.  QB Dak Prescott will get off to a huge start with RB Ezekiel Elliott and TE Jason Witten on the field and lead Dallas to another Week 1 victory.
Sunday, 4:25 PM EST

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This will be the shootout of the week, as QB Kyler Murray dominates his debut against one of the weakest defenses in the league.  Detroit will also have a pretty successful day offensively, as QB Matthew Stafford and his receivers outperform a Cardinals secondary that will be without star CB Patrick Peterson.  
Sunday, 4:25 PM EST

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Expect another OT thriller here, as QB Jimmy Garoppolo works with some of the same weapons he had in 2017 and some new faces to lead the Niners in a strong offensive game.  QB Jameis Winston will miss WRs DeSean Jackson and Adam Humphries, but he’ll utilize the receivers he has and make it a close one, even against an improved Niners D.
Sunday, 8:20 PM EST (SNF)

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The defending Super Bowl champs debut Sunday Night against a new look Steelers team.  This year, Pittsburgh’s defense will anchor the team, so don’t be surprised if this match-up is lower scoring than usual.  But even without ex-Steelers and current Patriots WR Antonio Brown, the Pats deep WR corps will help QB Tom Brady lead the team to triumphant victory.  Meanwhile, an improved New England defense will hold Pittsburgh’s weaker offense to single digits.    
Monday, 7:10 PM EST (MNF)

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In the first game of an MNF doubleheader, the Texans will look good.  Expect QB Deshaun Watson and his WRs to outplay a young Saints secondary.  But the Saints will come out on top in this one, as QB Drew Brees utilizes his younger receivers and thrives against a Texans D that is still above average, but no longer elite.

That’s all for this week’s picks.  Stay tuned for more NFL articles soon.

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