Now that the Patriots dynasty has been toppled and, of course, never to be heard from again, we bring you the Week 1 NFL picks. Fortunately, we didn’t have to pick the Patriots game before the game, after the first quarter or at halftime of Thursday night’s 42-27 loss at Gillette Stadium.
The Chiefs weren’t one of the five road favorites this week. In fact, last year’s AFC No. 2 seed was an 8 1/2-point underdog, which tied them with the Browns as the second-biggest underdog of the week. But the Browns are getting their 8 1/2 points at home.
Here are this week’s picks:
Saints plus-3 1/2 at Vikings: Vikings by 3
It’s hard to pick Drew Brees to ever lose to the Vikings, Gophers or any other Minnesota outfit. But I like the Vikings defense when it’s at full strength, at home and in prime time. And, famous last words, Adrian will be contained.
Ravens plus-2 1/2 at Bengals: Bengals by 3
Joe Flacco will be a brighter shade of rust than Andy Dalton’s head.
Steelers minus-8 1/2 at Browns: Steelers by 21
Myles Garrett, the No. 1 overall draft pick, belongs to the Browns. He knocks down quarterbacks of all sizes. He was playing well. So, therefore, he was contractually obligated with the football gods to suffer a high ankle sprain in practice four days before the season opener against a big quarterback who is 21-2 against the Browns.
Jaguars plus-5 1/2 at Texans: Texans by 7
This one is scary in that it seems way too easy to predict. The best defense in the league gets J.J. Watt back and opens at home against Blake Bortles. Am I missing something?
Raiders plus-1 1/2 at Titans: Titans by 3
We’ll find out whose broken right fibula — Oakland’s Derek Carr and Tennessee’s Marcus Mariota — is further along since being snapped on Christmas Eve.
Jets plus-9 1/2 at Bills: Bills by 3
I know the Jets are trying to tank the season for a quarterback next spring. But being the largest underdog on the card? At Buffalo? Take the points. The Jets have to try a little this year, don’t they?
Eagles minus-1/2 at Redskins: Eagles by 7
I’m a much bigger believer in Carson Wentz’s near future than Kirk Cousins’ over-hyped near past.
Falcons minus-6 at Bears: Falcons by 14
The last time we saw Atlanta, Tom Brady was rallying from 25 down to beat them. The next time we’ll see Atlanta, they’ll be facing Mike Glennon, who has the same number of career wins as Brady has career Super Bowl wins.
Cardinals minus-1 1/2 at Lions: Lions by 3
I still worry about a Lions defense that set an NFL record for highest completion percentage allowed (72.7) last year. But I worry less about it at Ford Field, and with Ziggy coming back.
Colts plus-3 1/2 at Rams: Rams by 6
When Scott Tolzien meets Jared Goff, go with the home team? Or a tie (see: Tolzien vs. Ponder, ’13).
Panthers minus-5 1/2 at 49ers: 49ers by 3
This is my upset special. Brian Hoyer is a pesky guy who won’t go away. Cam Newton is coming off the shoulder injury and threw only two preseason passes. The timing for an upset is ripe.
Seahawks plus-3 1/2 at Packers: Packers by 7
A preview of my NFC title game. (And a lot of other people’s, it seems). The Packers win this one, but not the one in January.
Giants plus-3 1/2 at Cowboys: Cowboys by 6
Go with the best O-line in football, the home team and a slow-moving appeals process that was slow enough to keep running back Ezekiel Elliott eligible for at least Week 1 and not suspended for six games.
Chargers plus-3 1/2 at Broncos: Broncos by 7
Go with Denver’s defense against an aging quarterback who threw a league-high 21 picks for a bad Chargers team a year ago.