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NFL Week 1 Predictions
NFL Football Schedule Week 1
Injuries and suspensions of high-profile players have dominated headlines in the NFL preseason. Those hurt include Andrew Luck (Indianapolis), Joe Flacco (Baltimore), Julian Edelman (New England), Anthony Hitchens (Dallas), Spencer Ware (Kansas City) and Ryan Tannehill (Miami). Those suspended include Ezekiel Elliott (Dallas) and Vontaze Burfict (Cincinnati).
Their teams are not the same without them. Their absence often affects the betting line and can make a difference whether their squads win or lose. But this is only Week 1.
There’s lots of time to earn a playoff spot and a trip to the Super Bowl. For those that like to plan ahead, the big game is Feb. 4, 2018 in Minneapolis. (Odds for NFL openers provided by bovada.lv.). The scheduled opener between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Miami Dolphins has been postponed due to the threat of Hurricane Irma to Week 11.
Thursday Night Kickoff
Kansas City at New England — This game features two divisional winners from last year. Tom Brady begins his quest for a record sixth Super Bowl ring. New England relies on their superstar quarterback and a solid defense. Kansas City relies on a strong defense and some steady play from veteran QB Alex Smith. The Patriots won the last time these two met in Foxborough in 2016. They will probably win this one, but the Kansas City defense will keep it close.
BABB’s pick — Kansas City (+9.5), Under (49)
Atlanta at Chicago — The Jay Cutler nightmare is over. Now what, Mike Glennon? The schedule makers haven’t done the Bears any favors either. The Falcons were the most dominant offense in the NFL last season. Even if they’re still haunted by a record-breaking collapse in the Super Bowl, the Bears will have few answers for MVP Matt Ryan and company. Atlanta was also better on the road than at home last year.
BABB’s pick — Atlanta (-7), Under (49)
Evenly Matched Rivals
Philadelphia at Washington — Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins has a lot to play for this season after being slapped with the franchise tag for the second straight year. He’s likely a free agent next winter. The Eagles added two prime targets to their receiving corp. If Carson Wentz can continue to improve behind center, the Eagles could better their 7-9 record from last season. The Redskins swept the season series last year. Both were close games.
BABB’s pick — Washington (+1), Over (47.5)
Pittsburgh at Cleveland — The Browns gave up 188 more points than they scored in a dismal 1-15 season in 2016. And now they are starting a rookie at quarterback in second-round selection DeShone Kizer. Can the Browns stop two of the NFL’s best in receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le’Veon Bell? Not likely. The Steelers won in Cleveland last year 24-9. Ben Roethlisberger is 21-2 in his career against the Browns.
BABB’s pick — Pittsburgh (-9), Under (47)
Home Team Wins
Baltimore at Cincinnati — This game likely comes down to the health of Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, who hurt his back in preseason. It doesn’t help that Baltimore has lost many players to injuries and suspension. The Bengals look to return to the playoffs after missing out in 2016 for the first time in six years. Running back Joe Mixon is a rookie-of-the-year candidate. These division rivals split their series last year, but the home team won both.
BABB’s pick — Cincinnati (-3), Over (42.5)
Arizona at Detroit — It’s time for Matthew Stafford to start earning that huge contract. At $27 million a year for five years, the Lions quarterback will receive almost $1.7 million per game, even though he’s never won in the playoffs. But who’s going to carry the load in the Detroit backfield? Their leading rusher had just 357 yards last season. The Cardinals had an off year in 2016 after making the postseason the last two seasons. They need more production out of a healthy Carson Palmer.
BABB’s pick — Arizona (-1.5), Over (48)
Long Year Ahead
New York Jets at Buffalo — These two division rivals combined for 12 wins last season. They won’t this year. It’s hard to get too excited about the 2017 schedule for either team. Many experts are picking New York to finish dead last and earn the No. 1 pick in the draft. The Bills, with Sean McDermott making his head coaching debut, are in for a long season as well. It’s difficult to pick New York on the road, but the Jets swept the series last year.
BABB’s pick — New York Jets (+9), Over (40) Line turned off due to injuries.
Oakland at Tennessee — This is one of the top games on opening weekend. Both teams have set the bar high this season. Derek Carr and the Raiders, 12-4 last year, added Beast Mode (Marshawn Lynch) in the offseason. Marcus Mariota and the Titans, who haven’t reached the playoffs since 2008, continue to improve every year. Both QBs suffered a broken leg in Week 16 last year but are healthy now. The Raiders have won their last two visits to Nashville.
BABB’s pick — Oakland (+1.5), Under (50.5)
Let the Healing Begin
Jacksonville at Houston — Unless you’re from Florida, who isn’t cheering for the home team in this one? The Texans traded up for Deshaun Watson in the draft, but Tom Savage will get the start in the opener. Blake Bortles was awful in preseason for the Jaguars, and he still won the starting quarterback job. The Houston defense is arguably the best in the league, which will likely help the Texans win their seventh straight over the Jaguars.
BABB’s pick — Houston (-6), Over (39.5)
Youngest Head Coach
Indianapolis at Los Angeles Rams — The Colts have a franchise quarterback in Andrew Luck, but his shoulder woes continue to keep him off the field. Without him, the playoffs are a long shot. The Rams will turn to second-year QB Jared Goff, who had a disappointing rookie season as the team finished 4-12. Sean McVay takes over the reins from the sidelines, making him the youngest head coach in modern NFL history at 31.
BABB’s pick — Los Angeles Rams (-4), Under (41.5)
Seattle at Green Bay — Winning at Lambeau is no easy feat. The NFC West champs visited Green Bay last year and were thumped 38-10 in Week 14 as the Packers picked off Russell Wilson five times. The Packers have improved their receiving corp, giving their superstar quarterback in Aaron Rodgers even more weapons. This matchup could mean home-field advantage come playoff time as both teams are heavily favored to win their divisions.
BABB’s pick — Green Bay (-3), Over (50.5)
East vs. West
Carolina at San Francisco — The Panthers were 2-6 on the road last year and yet they’re huge favorites in their season opener. Many are predicting a big rebound for Carolina — 6-10 last season after reaching the Super Bowl in 2015. Cam Newton needs to stay healthy for that to happen. Kyle Shanahan takes over as head coach as the 49ers, 2-14 last season, continue to rebuild. Carolina beat San Fran 46-27 in Week 2 last year.
BABB’s pick — Carolina (-6), Under (48)
New York Giants at Dallas — The Cowboys lost only three regular season games in 2016 and two were to the Giants. And now they have the huge distraction with the Ezekiel Elliott suspension. Even if he plays in Week 1, how effective will he be? The Giants have their issues, too. Odell Beckham suffered an ankle injury in preseason, but the receiver is also likely to play. There isn’t a bigger rivalry in the league. The Giants have won the last three meetings.
BABB’s pick — New York Giants (+3.5), Over (47.5) Line turned off due to injuries.
AP in New Uniform
New Orleans at Minnesota — Drew Brees brings his high-powered offense into Minneapolis to battle the Vikings, but the star quarterback is not the story in this matchup. Adrian Peterson, the best running back in Vikings history, returns to take on his former team. AP and the Saints’ running game must be contained, which should open up the passing attack for Brees. The Vikings were 5-3 at home in an 8-8 season last year.
BABB’s pick — New Orleans (+3.5), Over (48)
Another Team in L.A.
Los Angeles Chargers at Denver — Preseason play doesn’t often count for much when the regular season rolls around, but the Broncos were perfect in four exhibition games, outscoring their opponents by 59 points. Trevor Siemian looks to lead Denver to the playoffs after a 9-7 season. It’s the debut for the Chargers as a Los Angeles team, who have been hit hard by injuries. It’s also the debut for their coach, Anthony Lynn.
BABB’s pick — Denver (-3.5), Over (43)
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