The NFL season is officially underway as the Green Bay Packers won a shootout thriller over the New Orleans Saints Thursday evening. For the coming season, each week we'll provide a prediction of every game based on the spread. We'll have a cumulative record to date to see how poorly we do. Given how unpredictable this season could be due to the lockout, this should make for high entertainment. As will always be the case until gambling becomes more widespread, these are strictly for entertainment purposes. All odds come courtesy of Odds Shark (see right hand column for current odds).
BALTIMORE RAVENS (pick 'em) over Pittsburgh Steelers: The Ravens opened at -2 1/2 and the line has quickly come down. The Steelers have a lot going for them but I continue to believe the Joe Flacco experience will improve. It would probably cost me a lot of money if I bet on him in Vegas.
Atlanta Falcons (-2.5) over CHICAGO BEARS: I'm a big fan of the Falcons this year and think they're ready to take the next step. Much will depend on how Julio Jones develops in a lockout-shortened season, but I like the raw physical talent. The Chicago Bears are a team I see regressing in 2011.
CLEVELAND BROWNS (-7) over Cincinnati Bengals: Chalk this one up to the fact that the Bengals are going to be abysmal. I'm not completely sold on Colt McCoy and the Browns offense but the Bengals are atrocious.
HOUSTON TEXANS (-9.5) over Indianapolis Colts: In reality, much like Vegas is taking this one off the board, I probably would hold off on any gambling involving the Colts. People are dumping on them, but maybe they rally. Or, the improved Texans steamroll them and begin the Colts run for Luck. I'll stick with the latter this week.
Tennessee Titans (+1) over JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: Sorry Luke McCown, I just don't see it. And as a Matt Hasselbeck fan, I think he could surprise some folks with a trip to the rejuvenation machine. Consider the Titans a sleeper.
Philadelphia Eagles (-4) over ST. LOUIS RAMS: I was tempted by the Rams and Sam Bradford, but even though Philly won't be quite as good as people would think, it's going to take some time for that to happen.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (pick 'em) over Detroit Lions: The Lions are in the midst of a resurgence and will continue to improve this season if they can stay healthy. However, while many expect a Bucs regression, I'm going all in on Josh Freeman and company in 2011.
ARIZONA CARDINALS (-8) over Carolina Panthers: I actually think Kevin Kolb could prove to be a solid starting quarterback in the NFL. The Panthers won't be as bad as last year, but they've got a ways to go. And if Kolb struggles in this game, well overreactions might be in order.
Minnesota Vikings (+9.5) over SAN DIEGO CHARGERS: I think the Chargers likely win this game but it's a close one. I don't trust the Chargers before the second half of the season and will stick with that philosophy for now. That and Purple Jesus is a beast.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (-5) over Seattle Seahawks: It seems like lately this series features each team winning one game big. In spite of some folks thinking the 49ers are preparing to "Suck For Luck" but I'm not buying it. I think we see a surprisingly solid offense on Sunday.
New York Giants (-2.5) over WASHINGTON REDSKINS: Speaking of sucking for luck, I present Rex Grossman, Redskins starting QB. Division rivalry or not, the Redskins are in for a rough season and it starts on Sunday.
New England Patriots (-7) over MIAMI DOLPHINS: I think the Patriots have their question marks, but the Dolphins have even more and I think the Patriots open 2011 by steam-rolling the Dolphins on Monday Night Football. I think we'll se a Pats offensive explosion.
Oakland Raiders (+3) over DENVER BRONCOS: The Raiders are a team I generally would not bet on because they are so wildly unpredictable. They have a lot of upside and plenty of downside. I think they win this one outright in a bit of a surprising upset.