Site Editor Matt Loede’s NFL Picks for Week One

Chargers win easily in week one
Week one is finally upon us, and as we’ve done each year here on NFL Gridiron Gab, it’s time to throw out predictions as to who is going to walk away a winner this week. With what is going to be a busy weekend, here are my picks for the 16 games on the NFL slate starting with the Thursday night showdown.

Thursday:

Washington at NY Giants (-4)

The Giants start their defense of their Super Bowl win with a Thursday night game vs division rival Washington. The preseason started great for Washington, but as it went on you started to see why many think they will be the 4th place team in the NFC East. The Giants have issues of their own, but the emotion of the Meadowlands crowd combined with a still powerful Giants pass rush will be enough to win this one. NY Giants 24 Washington 13

Sunday:

Cincinnati (-1.5) at Baltimore

The Ravens will go with rookie Joe Flacco at QB, and while the Bengals defense is not very good (what else is new?), this plays right into their hands. Look for Carson Palmer, T.J. and Ochio (remember him, aka Chad Johnson) to have a solid day vs the Ravens D, and the Bengals to feel good about themselves at least for one Sunday. Cincinnati 20 Baltimore 10

NY Jets (-3) at Miami

Who would have ever thought Chad Pennington in Miami vs Brett Favre as a Jet? That’s what is so great about the NFL, you just never know. This showdown will have a lot of emotion, as it’s a first for a lot of things, including the premiere of the Jets and their new-look offense and defense with many offseason additions. Look for them to get a solid day from Thomas Jones rushing the ball, and Favre and the passing game to make some plays downfield. The Dolphins won’t be 1-15 again, but the Jets are simply better, meaning at least after this game they will be 0-1. NY Jets 23 Miami 14

Kansas City at New England (-16.5)

You have to feel sorry for Herm Edwards and his young group of Chiefs who head to Foxboro to be the Pats first victim of 08. New England did little in the preseason, but will come out firing and show why they are the favorites to win it all in 08. Look for at least 4 TD passes for Tom Brady, and good pal Randy Moss to have at least 2 TD’s and 100+ yards vs a young Chiefs secondary. This is one the Chiefs will want to forget as soon as it’s over. New England 38 Kansas City 10

Houston at Pittsburgh (-6.5)

The Texans are looking to repeat their 2-0 start of 2007, but starting in the Steel City won’t be easy. They are banged up at RB, and even if Ahman Green can give them 20+ carries, which is unlikely, this game will come down to if Matt Schaub can win it with his arm and the help of his O-line and WR Andre Johnson. Pittsburgh is loaded on offense, and should score plenty to make this a long afternoon for Houston and a win that sets the Steelers up for a showdown with Cleveland in week two. Pittsburgh 27 Houston 13

Jacksonville (-3) at Tennessee

The Jags are dealing with the tragedy of the shooting of reserve tackle Richard Collier, but have to put that behind them and play a tough road game at Tennessee. Look for a lot of defense here, as both teams are tough to move on, and that should be the case at LP Field. The Titans will look to RB’s LenDale White and rookie Chris Johnson to set up the ball control passing game of Vince Young. The Jags will use a lot of play action against an aggressive Titans D, and David Garrard has to be careful and use his legs and arm to make plays. This is a toss-up, but with it being in Tennessee, I think the Titans win a very close game. Tennessee 17 Jacksonville 14

Detroit (-3) at Atlanta

Look for the Lions, who are sky high after a 4-0 preseason, to start 08 with a win over the lowly Falcons at the Georgia Dome. Rookie back Kevin Smith and newly acquired Rudi Johnson should have room to run, and the Falcons secondary will be no match for Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson. Matt Ryan will have help in his pro debut from offseason pickup Michael Turner, but in the end, the Lions have more than enough firepower to overcome the Falcons. Detroit 28 Atlanta 10

Seattle at Buffalo (PK)

The Hawks were hit with a couple of suspensions on defense this week which will leave them a little thin on D, which the Bills may be able to exploit. They will try to use ball control with Marshawn Lynch and Trent Edwards picking his spots to keep the west coast offense of the Hawks off the field. Seattle counters with their new-look running game, and are hoping that Matt Hasselbeck’s back does not tighten up at any point. Another tough call but the Bills are solid at home and should be enough here to gain a close win. Buffalo 23 Seattle 20

Tampa Bay at New Orleans (-3.5)

The SuperDome will be open for business on Sunday despite the danger of a hurricane passing through early in the week. The Saints are hoping that their offense will blow though the Bucs, a team that handled them last season enroute to the NFC South title. Drew Brees will look to take what the Bucs give him in the cover-2 defense, and look for them to try and highlight the new and improved Reggie Bush. It’s been somewhat of a tough preseason for the Bucs, who have not had QB Jeff Garcia and the running game has been a bit slow. Look for them to be rusty and the Saints to take advantage. New Orleans 31 Tampa Bay 17

St.Louis at Philadelphia (-7.5)

The Rams looked better as the preseason went on, but they are still a team that is going to have its issues. Philly feels it can do what it wants in the passing game vs the weak Rams secondary, and I don’t doubt that either. Look for Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook and a healthy L.J. Smith all to have big days vs the Rams. St.Louis needs to use Steven Jackson a lot, but the Eagles front four will be waiting, making it a long day for him and Marc Bulger. Philadelphia 27 St.Louis 7

Dallas (-5.5) at Cleveland

The feeling is this game of the day is going to be a wild west shootout, but in the end I think the Cowboys have way too much ammo for a Cleveland team that is already dealing with injuries to star players like Derek Anderson, Braylon Edwards and Jamal Lewis. Look for T.O. and Tony Romo to combine for a big day vs the Browns secondary, and Marion Barber to break a few big runs when the Browns are not expecting it. Dallas’ defense will look to pressure some mistakes for Anderson, who was knocked silly three weeks ago by the Giants. Dallas is my pick for the Super Bowl, and even with the Browns being a possible playoff team, this one for them and their fans won’t be pretty. Dallas 34 Cleveland 20

Carolina at San Diego (-9)

The Panthers are going to be without Jake Delhomme’s main target in Steve Smith, who is suspended for clocking Ken Lucas in training camp. That’s not good for a team that will need to score a lot to beat the Chargers at home. San Diego should be able to do as it pleases on both sides of the ball, as they have a lot more playmakers and stars that will in the end make this a long day for Carolina. The run game of the Chargers should be able to control the clock and move the chains all day vs the run D of Carolina. San Diego 29 Carolina 13

Arizona (-2.5) at San Francisco

J.T. O’Sullivan starts for the Niners, showing how bad this team may end up being. Mike Martz makes his debut as the Niners offensive coordinator, and by November he and Mike Nolan will have resumes updated, as they will both be ready to look for jobs at the end of 08. The Cardinals will go with Kurt Warner, and they should, as he gives them the best shot to win, and win now. Warner won’t throw for 300+ each week, but he also will be more careful with the ball than Matt Leinart. Look for a steady day by the Cards as they open up the year with a road win. Arizona 17 San Francisco 13

Chicago at Indianapolis (-9.5)

Part of me thinks this could be a trap game, as the Colts have been without Peyton Manning for awhile, and they also have been nursing their best defensive player, Dwight Freeney, back without rushing him back in as well. The Bears have little to show on offense, but the way that Indy slept walked through the preseason, I think this one may be closer than the odds makers give it. Indy will have to scratch and claw all night to make sure they get it done, but it won’t be easy. Indianapolis 20 Chicago 17

Monday:

Minnesota at Green Bay (-2.5)

What to think here? Two NFC North rivals start the season with tons of questions. Can the Pack really count on Aaron Rodgers to lead them? Is Tarvaris Jackson 100 percent? And even if he is, is he really the answer in Minnesota? Lots to think about here. The Vikings defense though is really solid, and I think they make it a long night for Rodgers in his GB regular season debut. The Vikings have some guy named Peterson as well who should be able to help get some points. Minnesota on the road in a close game. Minnesota 24 Green Bay 20

Denver (-3.5) at Oakland

The more I look at the Raiders, the more of a mess they seem to me. The WR’s are not very good, they have basically a rookie QB, the O-line is ho-hum, and while they have guys that seem like they can run, teams are going to stack the box against them. With that the Raiders could be in for another long season, as Denver here should be able to move on their defense as well as hold the Raiders offense in check. Jay Cutler is without Brandon Marshall, but that won’t be a deciding factor here. These two teams always have physical battles, but the Broncos have too many playmakers to lose in Oakland. Denver 24 Oakland 10


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