Cohen’s Corner Week 1 NFL Picks

Last season I had a respectable 171-85 (66.8%) record picking NFL games straight up while still finding a way to stay above .500 against the spread (141-114-1, 55.3%). Can I improve on that in 2018? Looking ahead at this week’s slate, I don’t see a ton of upsets on the docket…here we go:

Week 1 NFL Picks
Last Week: 0-0 Straight Up (SU),  0-0 Against the Spread (ATS)
Overall: 0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS
(Picks against the spread in parentheses; home teams in caps)

PHILADELPHIA 20, Atlanta 17 (ATS: Falcons +3.5)
Super Bowl hero Nick Foles rightfully gets the chance to start the 2018 opener for Philly (not that Carson Wentz isn’t better but he’s just not fully healthy)…and while the former Arizona Wildcats QB was absolutely terrible in the preseason, I expect a halfway decent performance in a low-scoring, defensive-minded Eagles win.
Pittsburgh 27, CLEVELAND 20 (ATS: Steelers -5.5)
No Le’Veon Bell, no problem for Pittsburgh as backup James Connor rumbles for 125 yards and a score as the Browns lose yet again – for the 38th time in 39 games I believe.
Tennessee 23, MIAMI 13 (ATS: Titans -1.5)
New coach Mike Vrabel’s influence will make the Titans’ D that much better while at the same time, the two-headed ‘Thunder and Lightning’ backfield of Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis overpowers Miami for 150+ yards and two touchdowns.
BALTIMORE 24, Buffalo 6 (ATS: Ravens -6.5)
Nathan Peterman is the Opening Day starting QB for a reigning playoff team…are you kidding me? The Ravens will feast on the second year turnover machine and win in dominating fashion on Sunday.
NEW ENGLAND 30, Houston 27 (ATS: Texans +6.5)
The Texans came within a field goal of beating the Patriots in Foxboro last September and I predict the same thing happens once again this time around. It will be great to see Houston back to full health including future superstar, Deshaun Watson and future Hall-of-Famer, J.J. Watt.
Jacksonville 24, NEW YORK GIANTS 16 (ATS: Jaguars -3.5)
I believe Jacksonville covered the spread during every odd week in 2017. Might as well stick with the trend in 2018 until it burns me…
MINNESOTA 31, San Francisco 20 (ATS: Vikings -5.5)
Jimmy Garoppolo has never lost a game as a starting QB in the NFL…until this Sunday. Minnesota’s march to a Super Bowl begins with a convincing victory in Kirk Cousins’ Vikings debut.
NEW ORLEANS 34, Tampa Bay 20 (ATS: Saints -9.5)
I’ll take Bucs coach Dirk Koetter as the first HC to be fired in 2018…he won’t make it with this sorry squad past Week 6.
INDIANAPOLIS 20, Cincinnati 17 (ATS: Colts -2.5)
I still believe the Colts will be miserable this season but Lucas Oil Stadium will be so jacked up for QB Andrew Luck’s regular season return that Indy won’t lose this one.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS 34, Kansas City 29 (ATS: Chargers -3.5)
This one should be fun…I mean, a lot of fun! Look for an old-fashioned shootout in LA’s tiny soccer stadium. I’d be surprised if QBs Philip Rivers and Patrick Mahomes didn’t combine for 650+ passing yards.
CAROLINA 26, Dallas 21 (ATS: Panthers -2.5)
I wanted to pick Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey as my NFL MVP earlier this week but at the last minute sided against it. I think he’ll be that good this season and after he drops 150+ rushing / receiving yards on the Cowboys, you might agree.
ARIZONA 27, Washington 17 (ATS: Cardinals PK)
I expect Arizona to be crisp on both sides of the ball while Washington very well could struggle to run the football with old man Adrian Peterson as the lead running back. Steve Wilks and Sam Bradford comfortably win their debuts.
DENVER 22, Seattle 16 (ATS: Broncos -2.5)
I’m very bearish on the Seahawks’ chances this season. They’ve lost a lot and don’t possess a ton of weapons outside of QB Russell Wilson on offense. Denver should execute the short passing game effectively in Case Keenum’s debut en route to victory.
GREEN BAY 27, Chicago 20 (ATS: Bears +8.5)
As a Packers fan, I’m scared. In getting Khalil Mack from the Raiders last week, the Bears and their defense are fired up and riding a wave of momentum. This one stays close throughout but Aaron Rodgers fires a late TD pass to new addition Jimmy Graham to secure Green Bay a victory in their 2018 debut.
DETROIT 24, New York Jets 14 (ATS: Lions -6.5)
I have a feeling that by December, the Jets will be the better of these two teams. But on Monday night, that won’t be the case. Detroit cruises to an easy win.
Los Angeles Rams 27, OAKLAND 17 (ATS: Rams -2.5)
I would’ve picked Oakland to win this game prior to their awful Khalil Mack trade last week. Now how can I pick the Raiders and their inferior units on both sides of the ball to beat the suddenly powerful and dynamic Rams?

Last season I had some crazy weekly fantasy guidance that didn’t make a ton of sense…hopefully I’ll provide more useful insight in 2018:

Week 1 Fantasy Football Guidance
‘Boom & Crush’ Record (15+ PPR fantasy points from a non-must start player)
Last Week: 0-0
Overall: 0-0

‘Be Careful’ Record (12 or less PPR fantasy points from a top-15 player)
Last Week: 0-0
Overall: 0-0

Boom & Crush:
QB: Philip Rivers (Chargers vs. Chiefs)
RB: Derrick Henry (Titans at Dolphins)
WR/TE: JuJu Smith-Schuster (Steelers at Browns)

Be Careful:
QB: Russell Wilson (Seahawks at Broncos)
RB: Kareem Hunt (Chiefs at Chargers)
WR/TE: Odell Beckham, Jr. (Giants vs. Jaguars)

For more college football analysis and thoughts, listen to The Daily Blender, weekdays from 1-3pm on 1580TheFanatic. You can tune in here.

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