The NFL season is upon us and with that comes my annual predictions of all 256 regular season games and 11 playoff games. It’s a time-consuming yet entertaining exercise and in light of recent developments (i.e. Andrew Luck’s surprise retirement), my picks are a lot different than when I tried this previously in June.
On paper I feel maybe 1/4 of the league is capable of winning the Super Bowl. Give me the Patriots, Chiefs, Chargers, Eagles, Packers, Bears, Saints, and Rams and I’ll give you the other 24. Which side are you taking?
I think New England’s reign of terror in the playoffs is over starting this season…but then again I said that in 2018-19 and how did that work out? Finally – if I’m correct about my Super Bowl prediction, there will be a massive storyline that will echo throughout the league. Check those picks below plus winners, best bets, and fantasy football advice for the highly anticipated Week 1!
First, the regular season matrix with picks for all 256 regular season games:
Projected Regular Season Standings:
New England Patriots: 12-4
New York Jets: 8-8
Buffalo Bills: 7-9
Miami Dolphins: 1-15
Cleveland Browns: 11-5
Baltimore Ravens: 11-5
Pittsburgh Steelers: 8-8
Cincinnati Bengals: 3-13
Houston Texans: 10-6
Jacksonville Jaguars: 8-8
Indianapolis Colts: 6-10
Tennessee Titans: 5-11
Kansas City Chiefs: 13-3
Los Angeles Chargers: 10-6
Oakland Raiders: 6-10
Denver Broncos: 6-10
Philadelphia Eagles: 13-3
Dallas Cowboys: 10-6
New York Giants: 4-12
Washington Redskins: 3-13
Green Bay Packers: 10-6
Chicago Bears: 10-6
Minnesota Vikings: 7-9
Detroit Lions: 5-11
New Orleans Saints: 11-5
Atlanta Falcons: 10-6
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 8-8
Carolina Panthers: 7-9
Los Angeles Rams: 11-5
San Francisco 49ers: 10-6
Seattle Seahawks: 8-8
Arizona Cardinals: 4-12
Playoff Predictions – AFC:
(5) Baltimore Ravens over (4) Houston Texans
(6) Los Angeles Chargers over (3) Cleveland Browns
(1) Kansas City Chiefs over (6) Los Angeles Chargers
(5) Baltimore Ravens over (2) New England Patriots
(1) Kansas City Chiefs over (5) Baltimore Ravens
Playoff Predictions – NFC:
(4) Green Bay Packers over (5) Dallas Cowboys
(3) Los Angeles Rams over (6) Chicago Bears
(1) Philadelphia Eagles over (4) Green Bay Packers
(2) New Orleans Saints over (3) Los Angeles Rams
(1) Philadelphia Eagles over (2) New Orleans Saints
Super Bowl LIV
Philadelphia Eagles 34, Kansas City Chiefs 28
Super Bowl MVP: Carson Wentz
I’m taking the Eagles to win their second title in three years with two different QBs!
Awards and Superlatives
MVP: Carson Wentz (Eagles)
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Kyler Murray (Cardinals)
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Josh Allen (Jaguars)
Coach of the Year: Matt LaFleur (Packers)
Passing Yards Leader: Patrick Mahomes (Chiefs)
Rushing Yards Leader: Nick Chubb (Browns)
Receiving Yards Leader: Julio Jones (Falcons)
Week 1 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)
CHICAGO BEARS 23, Green Bay Packers 20 (ATS: Packers +3.5)
I really wanted to pick my Packers to win this one on a Bears missed FG but Green Bay’s time is coming shortly with five of the next six games at home. Though I’m a Packers fan, I truly believe this game could go either way if Green Bay’s offensive line can give Aaron Rodgers ample time to throw.
Baltimore Ravens 26, MIAMI DOLPHINS 10 (ATS: Ravens -5.5)
The Dolphins might be the worst team talent-wise that the NFL has seen in many years though they’re setup to succeed in the future if their scouting department can execute on all of those draft picks they’ve assembled. Baltimore wins with relative ease here.
Atlanta Falcons 27, MINNESOTA VIKINGS 24 (ATS: Falcons +4.5)
My first big upset special of Week 1. I’m not bullish on Minnesota this year whatsoever and with a win this week, Atlanta has the chance to get off to a very good start with a reasonable schedule upcoming. Give me the points and the Falcons straight up on the moneyline with Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and company.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS 26, Kansas City Chiefs 24 (ATS: Jaguars +4.5)
Here’s big upset #2. I love the Chiefs this year and think they’ll go on a long winning streak starting in Week 2…but something about home underdogs in Week 1 has always appealed to me in recent years. Nick Foles wins his Jags debut on a Josh Lambo field goal with no time remaining.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES 30, Washington Redskins 10 (ATS: Eagles -8.5)
The Eagles are great and the Redskins are be coached by a guy who needs a miracle to save his job after the season, Jay Gruden. Easy winner and cover here.
CLEVELAND BROWNS 28, Tennessee Titans 19 (ATS: Browns -5.5)
Did you know that the Browns franchise hasn’t started 1-0 since 2004? Think about that, an incoming high school freshman hasn’t been alive for a season opening Cleveland victory! It’s mind-boggling. But things are changing in Cleveland…and a run to the playoffs starts with a fairly easy win over a Titans team trending downward.
NEW YORK JETS 23, Buffalo Bills 17 (ATS: Jets -3.5)
Last year the Bills smacked the Jets in the Meadowlands, 41-10…with New York returning the favor in Buffalo a month later. Though I’m a little nervous about this pick, I’ll take Adam Gase and Le’Veon Bell’s team to win in their debuts in a lower-scoring affair.
Los Angeles Rams 24, CAROLINA PANTHERS 22 (ATS: Panthers +3.5)
The home underdog Week 1 theory would’ve applied here if I felt better about Cam Newton’s health. But I don’t…and the Panthers come up just short of the defending NFC champs. I don’t mind taking Carolina and the 3.5 points though.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS 30, Cincinnati Bengals 16 (ATS: Seahawks -9.5)
Third easiest pick of the week behind the Eagles and Ravens. The Bengals aren’t good and while I’m not too high on Seattle, there is no possible way they lose in Week 1 to new coach Zac Taylor’s flawed team without their best player, A.J. Green.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS 24, Indianapolis Colts 20 (ATS: Colts +6.5)
I would’ve taken Indy to win had Andrew Luck been under center. But don’t rule out the Colts just yet…Jacoby Brissett might do just enough to keep Indy in the game until late in the 4th quarter. The absence of star RB Melvin Gordon will absolutely affect LA.
ARIZONA CARDINALS 29, Detroit Lions 24 (ATS: Cardinals +2.5)
I’ve been hyping up the Cardinals in Week 1 ever since they took Kyler Murray first overall in April’s draft. While Arizona looked like garbage in the preseason, I’m not a big believer in the Lions either. Going with the rookie HC & QB in Week 1 behind a raucous home crowd at State Farm Stadium.
DALLAS COWBOYS 23, New York Giants 17 (ATS: Giants +7.5)
If Ezekiel Elliott doesn’t play (as it appears when this article was posted), I still think Dallas wins but I’ll take the Giants with the points. I’d be willing to bet Elliott will be in uniform for Week 2 one way or another after a closer than expected win.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS 33, San Francisco 49ers 30 (ATS: Bucs Pick’em)
As you’ll see below, this is my shootout of the week. I don’t trust either defense right now and I also expect both offenses to be much improved over last season. But it’s hard for me to see Bruce Arians losing his debut in Tampa. Start all of your fantasy players in this game…it should be a fun one.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS 26, Pittsburgh Steelers 23 (ATS: Steelers +6.5)
The Patriots always seem to confuse me in opening games. Last year Houston played them down to the wire and the year before, Kansas City boat raced them in Foxboro. While I’m not all that high on the Steelers this season, I think the 6.5 points they’re getting to a team lacking significant offensive weapons (Josh Gordon, Julian Edelman, and James White don’t scare me) is a gift.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS 32, Houston Texans 20 (ATS: Saints -7.5)
I think it’s a make-or-break year for both teams. It’s likely Drew Brees’ final season in the NFL…and considering they don’t have a first round pick until 2022, Houston and coach Bill O’Brien have to show major progress. Look for a comfortable Saints victory in Game #1 with New Orleans’ D scoring a TD on their own.
OAKLAND RAIDERS 24, Denver Broncos 21 (ATS: Raiders -1.5)
I’m torn on this one as well. Vic Fangio has waited a long time to be a head coach and no doubt would love to win his first game. But I have a hard time betting against Jon Gruden in a home opener to start Year #2 with upgraded weapons on offense (Antonio Brown, Josh Jacobs). Raiders in a tight one to end an exciting first (meaningful) week of NFL action this Fall.
Week 1 Betting Locks
(Last Week’s Result, Season Record in Parentheses)
Favorite (0-0): Ravens -5.5 at Dolphins
Underdog (0-0): Falcons +4.5 at Vikings
Bet the Over (0-0): 49ers / Buccaneers Over 50
Bet the Under (0-0): Rams / Panthers Under 50
Week 1 Fantasy Football Guidance
(15+ PPR fantasy points from a non top-10 player)
Last Week: 0-0
QB: Jimmy Garoppolo (49ers)
RB: Kerryon Johnson (Lions)
WR: Chris Godwin (Buccaneers)
(12 or less PPR fantasy points from a top-15 player)
Last Week: 0-0
QB: Dak Prescott (Cowboys)
RB: Joe Mixon (Bengals)
WR: Tyreek Hill (Chiefs)