AFC Editor Matt Loede’s NFL Picks For Week One

Thursday Night:

New Orleans at Green Bay – The kickoff to the 2011 NFL season with two NFC powers at Lambeau Field. The home team always seems to win this game, and while the Saints are very good, I think the Pack will use the emotion as well as a big game from Aaron Rodgers against the Saints secondary to outscore Drew Brees and the Saints passing game. Green Bay 35 New Orleans 27

Sunday:

Philadelphia at St.Louis– It would not be good for Andy Reid and the NFC’s “Dream Team” to get off to a 0-1 start, and it won’t happen in St.Louis. Mike Vick will exploit the Rams defense with some big plays downfield, and while Steven Jackson will get yards against the Eagles defense, the Eagles will put up enough points to take home an opening day win. Philadelphia 27 St.Louis 21

Buffalo at Kansas City – Last season the Chiefs were a surprise team, but it’s going to be tough to do it again in 2011. Against the Bills at home though, the Chiefs should be able to start the year with a win, though they have to remember last seasons OT win that nearly ended with a tie. Matt Cassel is nursing sore ribs, and the Bills will look to run against the Chiefs to keep their offense off the field. This is going to be closer than people think. Kansas City 16 Buffalo 10

Atlanta at Chicago – Two solid NFC teams battle in Chi-Town in the opener, and the Bears need this game playing a 13-win NFC team from a year ago at home. They have to get Matt Forte in space against the Falcons LB’s, and Jay Cutler needs to protect the ball against the Falcons D. Look for a solid game from Cutler, and for the Bears D to harass Matt Ryan into a couple picks. Chicago 24 Atlanta 14

Detroit at Tampa Bay – The sleeper game of the day, many think one of these two teams will make the postseason in the NFC. The Lions defense needs to make plays, and when they can get to Josh Freeman bring him down. The heat could be a factor, as it’s expected to be at or near 90 for this battle. The Bucs will look to get the ball to Mike Williams, and their D should be able to handle Matt Stafford, though Calvin Johnson could have a big game against the Bucs secondary. Could come down to the end. Tampa Bay 27 Detroit 24

Tennessee at Jacksonville – What a shocker this week as the Jags dumped QB David Garrard just five days before the season started. Now it’s Luke McCown with Blaine Gabbert waiting in the wings. Chris Johnson may not play as much as normal as he missed all camp and preseason with a holdout. The Jags D will force a couple Matt Hasselbeck mistakes, and the day will belong to Maurice Jones-Drew, who will torch the Titans D in the hot Florida sun. Jacksonville 19 Tennessee 10

Cincinnati at Cleveland – The “Battle of Ohio” in Cleveland between the other two teams in the AFC North, the Browns and Bengals start the year both hoping to get off to a good start. It’ll be Andy Dalton for the Bengals, and he’s going to be tested by Joe Haden and T.J. Ward in that Browns secondary. If the Bengals are going to win, they will need Ced Benson to have a big day. Colt McCoy will make just enough plays to get it done, as the Browns get Pat Shurmur his first NFL win. Cleveland 24 Cincinnati 14

Pittsburgh at Baltimore – An AFC North slugfest in Baltimore, it’s a playoff rematch that the Ravens really need to win. The Steelers seem to have their number in big games, and it’s usually due to Ben Roethlisberger outplaying Joe Flacco. That will be the case again Sunday, as the Steelers D will get a big turnover or two as they take home another key win against the Ravens. Pittsburgh 17 Baltimore 14

Indianapolis at Houston – No Peyton Manning = no chance for the Colts. There’s panic in Indy, and rightfully so, as I can’t see a Manning-less Colts team winning more than 4-5 games all season. This won’t be one, as even if Arian Foster isn’t 100 percent, the Matt Schaub-Andre Johnson connection will do enough to hold down the Kerry Collins led Colts to get a win at home. Houston 23 Indianapolis 13

New York Giants at Washington – Rex Grossman is the Skins starter at QB, and the Giants will look to pressure him into mistakes and Eli Manning will look to spread the field against the Skins D. Washington needs to run the ball, and then try to force a turnover or two from Manning to create short fields. This is a tough one to call, but the Giants are the better team on paper, and should do enough for a win. New York 21 Washington 17

Minnesota at San Diego – Last season the Chargers had big numbers and stats, but they never played up to their potential, and for the first time in a few years missed the playoffs. They will host the Vikings and new QB Donovan McNabb here, and need to make sure they hold down Adrian Peterson, who will look to put up big numbers against the Chargers run D. Look for Philip Rivers to have a big day vs the Vikings pass D, and the Chargers D to stop McNabb and the Vikings. San Diego 29 Minnesota 17

Carolina at Arizona – Cam Newton’s debut vs the new look Cardinals with Kevin Kolb. The Cards have been flying under the radar this offseason, and with Kolb at the helm, they should be able to handle the Panthers in this opener. Look for Kolb and WR Larry Fitzgerald to combine for a big day, and the Cards D led by new DC Ray Horton to get to Newton and force a couple mistakes. Arizona 31 Carolina 17

Seattle at San Francisco – Who knows how the 49’ers will come out with new coach Jim Harbaugh? They still have Alex Smith under center, and Frank Gore will still be the workhorse back. Some think the Hawks are the worst team in the NFL, but even without a big name QB, they will look to get to Smith and force a couple big mistakes. The Niners are the better team though, and they will get a couple big plays from Smith and Gore to take home the win. San Francisco 20 Seattle 7

Dallas at New York Jets – Last year the Jets lost their opener to the Ravens, but not this time to Tony Romo and the Cowboys. Dallas won’t have much luck on offense against a Jets D that will have a big year in 2011. Mark Sanchez will look to go downfield to Santonio Holmes and Plax Burress, and should have success against a Dallas D without Terrance Newman. The Jets at home will get the win going away. New York 27 Dallas 17

Monday:

New England at Miami – The Pats did a lot this offseason to cement their place as the best team in the AFC, and Monday night in the opener in Miami will put a show on to impress the Florida faithful making the trip to see them. Their D will get to Chad Henne, and Reggie Bush won’t have much success as the feature back in this opener. Look for Tom Brady and co. to have a big night in the heat and walk out with a big opening night win. New England 35 Miami 17

Oakland at Denver – The Raiders have a new coach and hope that their momentum of an 8-8 season will carry over against Kyle Orton and the Broncos and their new coach John Fox. The Broncos looked to do upgrades across the board on defense this offseason, and should get pressure on Jason Campbell. The Raiders will use Darren McFadden to run all day, but the Broncos won’t allow him to get big chunks of yards like last season. It’ll come down to the wire, but the Broncos will get a late FG to win it. Denver 24 Oakland 23


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