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LiveBall Sports Week One NFL Picks

Picks and discussion from those who write a lot without being right a lot.

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Vikings at Saints Pick for this Thursday nighter was the Saints, made via Twitter.

Browns at Bucs Both of these teams figure to be improved over last year, and not by a small amount either.  Josh Freeman versus the young, loaded secondary of the Browns in a can’t miss match-up in a game that is otherwise forgettable.  The player I’d love to have on my fantasy team more than any other in this game is Jerome Harrison: he’s the guy who I like to go for multiple TD’s in this one.  Jake Delhomme will play equal parts efficient and boring.  Freeman will throw a TD and an Interception.  The Browns will start 1-0.

Dolphins at Bills Should be a good one.  I don’t say that sarcastically, and no, I don’t plan on watching.  It should be a legitimately good game between two teams who can’t afford to fall to 0-1 in the AFC East division.  The Bills need this game worse, and have a good track record at home in September.  You could make the argument that Trent Edwards can be trusted more than Chad Henne at this point in their respective careers.  Both teams are loaded with running backs.  I like the Bills, but I also know that the Dolphins are going to make more downfield plays.  Their receivers against the Bills secondary will dictate who comes out on top.  That team, I believe, is the Dolphins.

Bengals at Patriots This is going to be an air show.  The Bengals have a great cornerback tandem, but they don’t have a great pass defense unit.  Neither team can really get after the other team’s passer.  The Pats still do the passing thing better than any other team.  For about two and a half quarters, the Bengals passing game is going to be able to keep up with the Pats’, and the game will be within a touchdown one way or the other.  The final margin is going to be between 13-17 points, in favor of the Patriots.

Colts at Texans The Texans may want this game worse, and I don’t doubt they do, but there’s little evidence to suggest that desperation makes teams perform better.  The Colts want to really punch the Texans in the mouth, and they’ve had their number since, well, since the Texans have existed.  Peyton Manning is still the leagues best quarterback.  If the Texans rush for 5.5 YPC or better in this game, they will have a chance, but if they don’t, the most inevitable outcome of the day is that the Colts will start 1-0.  Again.

Broncos at Jaguars Tim Tebow is a nice headline in this game.  He’s going home to play in the NFL before he plays anywhere else.  He’ll make some impact, but against the swiss cheese Jags defense, Eddie Royal and Kyle Orton are going to have themselves quite the day.  The Broncos win by a comfortable two TD margin.

Atlanta at Pittsburgh Probably the hardest game to pick today.  To pick the Steelers would mean that you have to expect their defense to bounce back to roughly 2008 levels, because they are facing one of the premier NFC teams and are without their starting quarterback, and last year’s starting Right Tackle and Center.  Still, that’s the prediction here, the Steelers start off 1-0 in a game that comes down to the wire.

Oakland at Tennessee Take the under on points scored in this game, and take the Raiders to cover because this game is going to be field goals everywhere.  Interesting dynamic here: Jason Campbell is a better quarterback in the second half of games than the first half.  Vince Young is better in the last three minutes than the first 57.  Still, it’s likely the TD or two that will be scored in the first half of this game that will determine who wins this game: you want to be the team that gets that TD.  Raiders to cover, Titans to win.

Panthers at Giants Sometimes a team beats down another team so badly on the road when they played last year, Week 16, that even though I think the Giants will be much better as a team this year, I see no way they can possibly close the match-up gap with the Panthers.  This team is still going to miss Antonio Pierce (retired) in the middle.  Not forever, but at least in this one.

Lions at Bears Sure, it’s tempting to pick an improved Lions team over a Bears team that went 0-4 in the preseason and looked dismal.  But it’s also likely the wrong pick.  The Bears are more talented nearly everywhere on the field, and the Lions haven’t beaten them (or anyone, really) since 2007.

Cardinals at Rams I don’t want to simplify this game to the Rams having the better quarterback (they do), because the Cardinals defense being a lot better matters just as much if not more, but for this one game, at home in the Edward Jones Dome, I like the Rams to handle that Cardinals pass rush, and beat Derek Anderson and the Cardinals.

Packers at Eagles How fantastic is this match-up?  So many variables in this game.  Can Kevin Kolb play up to Donovan McNabb’s level?  Can the Packers protect Aaron Rodgers to free him up to make pinpoint passes downfield?  Two great west coast offense gurus as well in Andy Reid and Mike McCarthy.  For a pick, give me the Eagles at home, but even the act of picking this game, I think, takes away from the intrigue.

49ers at Seahawks Seattle could surprise if they can block the 49ers pass rush, but their offensive line is already hurt, which limits Justin Forsett’s impact on the game.  I honesty don’t know if Alex Smith can outplay Matt Hasselbeck, but I’m thinking they’re won’t be much successful passing in this game.  Call it a hunch.  Give me the 49ers to win late against the Hawks.

Cowboys at Redskins Picked this one earlier in the week.  A Clinton Portis rushing TD is the only time either team finds paydirt.  An intentional safety taken by Mike Shanahan brings the final score to 13-8, in the Redskins favor.  Neither quarterback gets much going.

Ravens at Jets It’s hard not to like the Jets at home, but Mark Sanchez is going to help every player on Baltimore’s defense play with the anticipation of Ed Reed, who is out for the first six games.  He will be intercepted just once, but complete 50 percent of his passes in a close Jets loss.  The Ravens will begin one and oh.

Chargers at Chiefs I have the Chargers beginning not just with a single loss, but with three of them before they get a win.  The Chargers will be okay without Vincent Jackson, but in this game, with two shut down corners for the Chiefs, the Chargers could really miss the elite receiver.  And their LT, Marcus McNeill, who could get paid because of what Tamba Hali does in this game for the Chiefs.

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