2018 NFL Week 1 Picks and Previews: Every Win Counts

It’s that time of year again.  Football is finally back!  Today, I will share my predictions for each of the Week 1 games, and I have included a video preview for the Patriots game.   In the future, I may include 2-3 other game previews in addition to a Patriots preview.  I think the NFL is going to be especially competitive this year, so every win counts, even if it’s against a below average team.  Comment with your thoughts and I hope you’re all as excited as I am to watch some regular season football.

Lock of the Week

The Broncos are coming off a really strong draft that helped revamp their offense alongside the signing of QB Case Keenum.  I think the Broncos young pair of running backs will flourish against a declining Seahawks defense.  I don’t think Case Keenum will ever repeat his spectacular 2017, but I do see him having a strong game and taking advantage of the newfound WR depth in Denver.  In the 2017 draft, Denver finally found a third receiver to play alongside Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, Courtland Sutton, and I see him playing a significant role right off the bat.

This Broncos defense is also nearly as strong as it was last year.  Considering Seattle’s 2017 offensive struggles, I think Denver could easily hold the Seahawks under 20 points.  This will allow Denver to blow Seattle out and get revenge on Seattle for routing the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII.

Upset of the Week (MNF)

I think this will be a close call, but I can’t see this stacked Raiders offense losing to the Rams in Oakland.  They have a trio of talented receivers, a good mix of long-time veterans and younger guys in the backfield, and a decent QB and tight end group.  They also have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL.  The Rams are one of my two overrated teams of the year.  Sure, they made some exciting moves this off-season, but they lost a lot to free agency in the process.

The Raiders defense may not be looking so good after losing DE Khalil Mack, but their secondary isn’t as bad as it seems.  I see the secondary keeping QB Jared Goff’s receivers well covered, leaving Goff struggling to find open men.  Meanwhile, I don’t see the Raiders offense putting up 30+ points against a relatively strong Rams defense.  But I do see them getting by with just enough to pull off the upset in this one.

TNF (Posted on Twitter on Thursday – Actual Score: 18-12 Eagles)

QB Carson Wentz may be out, but backup QB Nick Foles can still lead teams to victory when it matters.  I don’t see Foles playing quite at Super Bowl level in this one, but competition motivates him.  I think Foles will throw for 2 touchdowns despite being slowed down by the Falcons front seven.  Look out for a big game out of WR Mike Wallace as well.  With WR Alshon Jeffery injured, coverage will be drawn towards TE Zach Ertz and WR Nelson Agholor, Philly’s next two best pass-catchers.  For the Falcons, I think veteran WR Julio Jones and rookie WR Calvin Ridley will have a strong week.  But it won’t be enough for a victory with QB Matt Ryan and Atlanta’s RB duo struggling against the Eagles defensive front.

Sunday’s Games

It’s sure to be an intense game with two of the NFL’s best quarterbacks facing off.  I think both QBs, Tom Brady and Deshaun Watson, will have strong games.  But they will be held back by their lack of wide receiver depth, especially Houston, who will be without WR Will Fuller (hamstring).  However, this opens up an opportunity for a strong game by WR DeAndre Hopkins.  I also see RB Lamar Miller having a strong game with sophomore RB D’Onta Foreman injured.  Meanwhile, as the Patriots typically do, expect Tom Brady to find creative ways to score despite the lack of WR depth with Julian Edelman suspended, and that will lead them to a Week 1 victory.

The Ravens have one of the stronger defensive fronts in the league, and I can’t see QB Nathan Peterman having a strong game against Baltimore after his regular season struggles in 2017.  I don’t see Joe Flacco doing much better, but I think veteran WR Michael Crabtree will find a way to produce against the strong Buffalo secondary, and I think WR John Brown will begin to look like his old self, leading the Ravens in receiving while Crabtree is facing heavier coverage.  I don’t think the Bills stellar run game will be enough to outdo the Ravens, but I do think they will force overtime.  From there Baltimore will secure the victory with strong defense and a well-crafted winning drive.

This will be an interesting game.  We have a match-up between two younger quarterbacks looking to take it to the next level.  I think both Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill and Titans QB Marcus Mariota will have promising showings in a close one.  Even without WR DeVante Parker, I think the Dolphins wide receivers will step it up in this game to make it close.  But I think the Titans receivers are ready to tear apart Miami’s secondary.  Expect a big game from veteran TE Delanie Walker, even against S Reshad Jones.  You also could see a very strong game out of WR Corey Davis.  This is only the beginning of what I think will be Corey Davis’ breakout year.  Walker and Davis will lead the Titans past Miami in a close one.

I think the Steelers will manage a victory here.  But the Browns will make it closer than we’ve seen in a game between these two teams in a long time, with a strong offensive showing.  I don’t think QB Tyrod Taylor will look that good against the Steelers D.  But I think he’ll manage to find open receivers such as WR Jarvis Landry and TE David Njoku for portions of the game.  With RB Le’Veon Bell likely out, expect RB James Conner and RB Stevan Ridley to step it up against the Browns D in Bell’s place.  I think the Steelers offense will just be too much for Cleveland’s rebuilding D, especially with a strong game from WR Antonio Brown and a strong debut from rookie WR James Washington.

Andrew Luck is finally back.  I think he’ll look like his old self, but I see him struggling to find reliable receivers.  Besides T.Y. Hilton, Luck doesn’t have many of them.  Meanwhile, I think the Bengals offense, led by WR A.J. Green will dominate a Colts defense that isn’t looking great.  I think Cincy’s defensive front will look good and shut down the Colts’ young run game.  But I don’t think the Bengals secondary will look much better than Indy’s without S George Iloka.  That will at least allow T.Y. Hilton to have a strong game and make this a little closer.

I don’t think Jaguars QB Blake Bortles will be especially strong against the Giants D, but he’ll find enough open receivers to edge out a victory.  Meanwhile, the Jaguars stellar defense will help secure Jacksonville’s lead by holding the Giants under 20 points and 2 touchdowns.  However, I see WR Odell Beckham Jr. outplaying Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey and scoring New York’s only TD in an epic WR-CB match-up.  But I think rookie RB Saquon Barkley and the Giants run game will be shut down by the strong Jacksonville front seven.

I think QB Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers receivers will have a decent game here.  But the Vikings defense will limit them significantly, allowing the Vikes to blowout the Niners with Minnesota’s offense outplaying a mediocre 49ers D.  I think QB Kirk Cousins will find plenty of open men to throw to in the end zone, and I expect a strong game out of the Vikings RB duo (Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray) with Cook healthy.  I think the one Vikings receiver that will struggle is Adam Thielen, who will likely be matched up against star corner Richard Sherman.  But Vikings WR Laquon Treadwell will show promise after a slow start to his NFL career and play a role in Minnesota’s victory.

This Buccaneers front seven is extremely underrated, and I don’t see the Saints run game thriving against them with RB Mark Ingram suspended.  But with Bucs QB Jameis Winston also suspended, I don’t think Tampa Bay will put up enough points to outdo the Saints in New Orleans.  The Saints are the other team I see as overrated, but I still cannot see them losing to a Winston-less Bucs offense at home.  I think the Saints defense will play well enough.  Offensively, Drew Brees and Michael Thomas will work together to secure the Saints a victory.

With QB Patrick Mahomes II starting for the Chiefs, I don’t think the offense will look as good as it did last year.  But I do think RB Kareem Hunt, WR Tyreek Hill, and TE Travis Kelce will help Mahomes and the Chiefs keep this game close.  However, I see the Chargers offense looking pretty good in this game.  WR Mike Williams will look strong at full health, and QB Philip Rivers and RB Melvin Gordon will also put up strong performances, leading the Chargers to victory despite sloppy defense by both teams.

The Panthers had a very strong pre-season, and I think they can carry the momentum into the regular season against the Cowboys.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see Panthers QB Cam Newton throw 3-4 touchdowns in this one.  Cowboys QB Dak Prescott will keep this interesting as I expect him to throw at least 2 touchdowns.  However, I think RB Ezekiel Elliott will have a tough time against a really strong Panthers front seven.

I don’t think Cardinals QB Sam Bradford will quite look like his old self.  But I see him staying healthy and tossing a couple touchdowns in his first start since early last season.  I expect QB Alex Smith and RB Adrian Peterson to have strong days as well, making this close.  But I think the Cardinals win in the end, led by a dominant day for RB David Johnson in his return, and a strong performance by CB Patrick Peterson in man-to-man coverage against Redskins WR Jamison Crowder.

SNF

With QB Aaron Rodgers back at full speed, expect a strong game by the Packers offense.  I see Rodgers tossing at least 2 touchdowns, and TE Jimmy Graham having an especially strong day.  Graham was a great signing, and Rodgers and Graham will make for an amazing QB-TE combo.  Rodgers hasn’t had that for a long time.  The Bears offense will look strong in this game as well.  But I cannot see them putting up as many points as Green Bay does with Rodgers at full health, making the Pack victorious in Rodgers’ return.

MNF

I expect QB Matthew Stafford to look sharp in prime time against a mediocre Jets D.  His receivers should have a strong showing as well, with WR Kenny Golladay showing flashes of dominance, and veteran WR Golden Tate looking better than he was last year.  I also think RB Ameer Abdullah will step up his game this season, starting with this prime time match-up.  Meanwhile, the Jets offense will look revamped with WR Quincy Enunwa healthy and RB Isaiah Crowell and WR Terrelle Pryor Jr. on board.  But I still don’t think it is going to be enough.

That’s all for my NFL Week 1 picks and previews.  Be sure to comment with your thoughts, and enjoy the first Football Sunday of 2018.

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NFL Week 7 Picks

NFL Week 7 Picks

Yay!  Another great week last week.  I went 12-2, and now am 61-32, ahead of Pete Prisco.  If you count my Thursday Night pick, it’s 62-32.  So, let’s keep this up.  Is the NFL turning out the way I expected, after a cuckoo week 1-3, or am I just getting smarter and keeping up with experts opinions better?

Lock Of The Week

Chargers, 28, Raiders, 26

week-7-lock

The Chargers will blowout the Raiders again.

These Raiders definitely are getting better, and are no longer the worst NFL team, (that’s a 4-way tie for Titans, Bucs, Redskins and 49ers).  Derek Carr is becoming a much better quarterback, and his weaponry improved when they added Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree and Clive Walford.  But one thing for sure, remember how I said Latavius Murray would suck?  He sorta has the past couple weeks.  That should give backup Roy Helu a chance to finally break out against an empty Chargers rush defense.  Taiwan Jones or Marcel Reece could even contribute.  And, the passing game can work around Brandon Flowers and Eric Weddle.  Flowers will surely have Cooper covered, but Michael Crabtree will really have his chance to shine, along with tight ends Clive Walford and Mychal Rivera.  One will have a weak linebacker guarding them, and that one will score.  The other one won’t because they’ll have Eric Weddle.

But the Chargers are in a better position, if they can remain healthy.  The rush could be in trouble, but the passing game can save the Chargers’ butts.  Passing back Danny Woodhead could even see a big game, let alone Keenan Allen and Antonio Gates.  And even if Allen, Gates and Stevie Johnson are all out, they still have guard-less Malcom Floyd and Jacoby Jones, and no matter what Ladarius Green is primed for a breakout as Gates could be limited even if he plays.  Charles Woodson may be an annoyance to Keenan Allen or Antonio Gates, but the rest of the receiving game should be fine, and still be at full speed, giving San Diego the edge.  Besides, although Oakland may score some reception touchdowns where unguarded, but the running game doesn’t have enough to take advantage of the weak rush D.

Notable Locks: Rams over Browns, Seahawks over 49ers

Upset Of The Week

Jaguars, 7, Bills, 6

week-7-upset

The Jaguars will run away with the win and turn around the Bills.

Look, the Bills are DONE until they can maintain health.  They’re missing QB Tyrod Taylor, RB Karlos Williams and healing RB LeSean McCoy and WRs Percy Harvin, (non injury related) Sammy Watkins, Marquise Goodwin and Marcus Easley.  That leaves the starting six (excluding lineman) looking like this:

QB E.J. Manuel
RB Daniel Herron
RB Anthony Dixon
WR Robert Woods
WR Chris Hogan
TE Charles Clay

CHRIS HOGAN????  WHO’S THAT? It has gotten that bad.  At least (knock on wood), Charles Clay can play, and hopefully Harvin and McCoy can suck it up.  Then it would be Manuel, McCoy, Herron, Harvin, Woods, Clay.  Not bad.  But no offense means no scoring, and no scoring means this game will be a bore-a-thon.   At least Dan Carpenter can knock in a couple field goals to keep the audience awake.

But everyone will wake up in the fourth quarter, when the Jaguars take charge and the Bills defense finally wears off.  They have plenty of improving weapons.  No T.J. Yeldon, but Denard Robinson, Allen Robinson, Julius Thomas (if active) and Marcedes Lewis should be enough the get the game winning touchdown.  Even without Thomas the snoozy, banged up Bills offense will fall to an improving Jaguars team that is destined to get more than four wins for the first time in ages.  They already have won, and have another easy one this week, so 2 down, 3 to go.  That just means winning one of every three from Week 8 on.  Is it possible?  Keep an eye on these Jaguars and they might surprise you big time.

Notable Upsets: Titans over Falcons, Lions over Vikings

Other Games

Seahawks, 34, 49ers, 24
Patriots, 30, Jets, 17
Dolphins, 10, Texans, 6
Chiefs, 27, Steelers, 14
Cardinals, 23, Ravens, 20
Rams, 17, Browns, 7
Colts, 33, Saints, 13
Titans, 20, Falcons, 13
Panthers, 27, Eagles, 23
Giants, 24, Cowboys, 23
Redskins, 28, Buccaneers, 27
Lions, 31, Vikings, 30

Team Of The Week
1. This team hadn’t been to the super bowl before the 21st Century.
2. This team has three well known modern mottos.
3. This team has a star quarterback, cornerback and running back.
4. This team plays near a famous video game company’s American headquarters.
5. This team lost Super Bowl XLIX.
What team is this?  Guess in comments.
Last Week: Jets

NFL Week 1 Picks: Football Is Back

Football is back and better than ever!  So are my picks.  I’ve included a team of the week guessing segment at the bottom.

Lock Of The Week

Bengals, 30, Raiders, 13

The strong Bengals defense, made up of Vontaze Burfict, AJ Hawk and Geno Atkins has by far enough capability to stop a near last place Raiders offense.  Trent Richardson and Michael Crabtree, the latest additions, will be stopped by their guards most of the game, and Derek Carr will be a clear sack target.  The Raiders offense clearly has a lack of weapons to compare to strong Bengals D-Line and overall defense, ranked 4th overall by my preseason fantasy rankings.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball, it may be hard to run for it, with Charles Woodson and Justin Tuck on watch, but Weapons like A.J. Green and young tight end Tyler Eifert.  They’ll be facing a weak Raiders secondary.  So, there isn’t much to explain.  The Bengals are clear winners of this meeting.

Notable Locks

Carolina over Jacksonville

New York Jets over Cleveland

Philadelphia over Atlanta

Upset of the Week

Rams, 24, Seahawks, 23

Although the Seahawks have a leading defense, the loss of superstar safety Kam Chancellor will be a setback on the “12 man team”.  So, the Rams passing game should step it up, even if the best they got is Tavon Austin and Jared Cook.  Austin and Kenny Britt are primed for a breakout with Zac Stacy broken down.  They can partially outsmart the Seahawks secondary, and get at least a few TDs out of it.  Running the ball?  That’ll be tougher, especially with Bobby Wagner and Michael Bennett covering them.  Maybe they can squeeze out a clutch rushing TD, but probably not.

Meanwhile, Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson aren’t in a great position either.  Robert Quinn, Alec Ogletree and Aaron Donald should stop them.  Passing?  They can try Jimmy Graham a couple times but he can’t score infinite touchdowns.  The wide receiver options are slim, with Golden Tate and Percy Harvin, 2013’s main targets, elsewhere.  The ‘Hawks are left with Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse and rookie Tyler Lockett.  They also have clutch options Ricardo Lockette and Chris Matthews.  The Seahawks are panicking at this point.  Looks like it’s jut an off day for The Legion of Boom.

Notable Upsets

Chicago over Green Bay

Other Games

Patriots, 23, Steelers, 21

Jets, 23, Browns, 7

Dolphins, 24, Redskins, 14

Colts, 30, Bills, 17

Broncos, 31, Ravens, 6

Texans, 30, Chiefs, 14

Buccaneers, 28, Titans, 24

Panthers, 17, Jaguars, 14

Chargers, 20, Lions, 17

Eagles, 37, Falcons, 24,

Cowboys, 27, Giants, 24

Bears, 27, Packers, 26

49ers, 27, Vikings, 20

Saints, 21, Cardinals, 17

Team Of The Week

Clues

  1. The coach coached a playoff team in the 2014 season.
  2. This team has not been above .500 for 2 or more years
  3. An important receiver departed this team this off season
  4. This team is in the NFC
  5. This team was named after the city’s most popular baseball team

What team is it?

Guess in comments.

NFL In Detail 2.0: Oakland Raiders

The Raiders are one of three teams who made a few big moves, but still are bottom teams along with the Titans and Jaguars, all in the AFC.
Fantasy and Training Camp Outlook
QB

Derek Carr is a developing starter in Oakland, and they struggle to find a backup. But I think if Carr struggles, start Christian Ponder at quarterback. He tops Matt McGloin in the race for backup. Ponder got a little playing time with the Vikings last year, but was a third string quarterback. He can take his career up a notch.
RB

They lost key RB Darren McFadden, long time Raider, but have plenty of reserves. They snagged strong third string Roy Helu, and former Colt underdog Trent Richardson, and still have Latavius Murray and fullback Marcel Reece. Murray will fight Richardson for the lead spot, while the other is left a reserve. Most say Murray, but veteran Richardson should take it from young Latavius Murray in my opinion. They also let go of veteran Maurice Jones-Drew, left a free agent.
WR

Hopefully Michael Crabtree can rebound to take the lead role, but if not, they only have Andre Holmes, former Pat Kenbrell Thompkins, and developing rookie Amari Cooper. Meanwhile those guys do show power, and could be decent. I have an especially good feeling about Cooper.
TE

Mychal Rivera could be the starter again, but I would give it to rookie Clive Walford. The smart drafting Raiders snagged him and Cooper in the first three rounds.
Defense

This defense is one of he worst in the league, but Justin Tuck and Khalil Mack should lead the defense. I expect it to improve from last year, probably leaving the Jags in the bottom spot.
The Raiders now have a few sparking veterans, but are dominant in young talent drafted ver the past couple years. Smart in the draft, and free agency.