Cold Hard Locks RETURNS!
Finally, let the games begin! Free Agency is complete, college stars learned their fate, players battled all through training camp, and fantasy lineups have been set. What a great slate of games to start as well, beginning tonight with a big showdown in Foxboro. Brady is back and so is the biggest sport in America.
Week 1 Cold Hard Locks
(Underlined denotes home team. G-Man and Matty D have same picks unless otherwise noted)
Thursday Night Football
Pittsburgh at New England – Thursday 8:30pm
Great way to start off the season here with two potential and predicted playoff teams squaring off. This isn’t your daddy’s Steelers as the Steel Curtain has been replaced Big Ben and an air raid offense. Although players like Ryan Shazier give hope for a defensive rebirth, it will be Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell leading this team in a tough AFC North. But they must visit a fired up and pissed off Patriots team who will be raising their Superbowl banner for all to see. Tough to see them taking out Brady, Gronk, Edelman, and company; especially without Bell and WR Martavis Bryant out due to suspension.
Prediction – 31 to 24 Patriots
Kansas City at Houston
Interesting game here as two of the league’s best defenses square off with Watt, Houston, Clowney, and Hali will become acquainted with each team’s gunslinger. I am taking Houston here even though I like the Chiefs. But playing at home to start the season bodes well in my eyes and I like Deandre Hopkins making a big play at some point.
Prediction – 17 to 10 Houston
G-Man is taking the Chiefs here because he still misses Andy Reid.
Indianapolis at Buffalo
I hope Indy isn’t sleeping here. Rex Ryan give the Bills a little punch and I see the game being close early. But Andrew Luck has plenty of new toys and I have little faith in the Bills offense (basically just QB Tyrod Taylor). It’ll still be tight.
Prediction – 27 to 17 Indianapolis
Green Bay at Chicago
The Bears just aren’t that good anymore. A porous defense along with a bad offensive line does not help Jay Cutler’s turnover issues. Rodgers may be without Jordy Nelson and have a hobbled Randall Cobb, but Davante Adams, Eddie Lacy, and reacquired James Jones will do just fine against a bad Chicago D.
Prediction – 31 to 20 Green Bay
This is Matty D’s Survival Pool pick of the week. When in doubt, go with the greatest QB on the planet.
Carolina at Jacksonville
The Panthers catch a break here as they attempt to find out how to manufacture offense. Look for Cam Newton to test out rookie receiver Devin Funchess and throw at TE Greg Olsen early and often. Jacksonville, while improving, still doesn’t pack a punch.
Prediction – 16 to 6 Carolina
Cleveland at N.Y. Jets
Let the Jets lick their chops as arguably the worst offense in the league gets to face off against Gang Green and Revis Island. The Browns can play D too so look for this to be the lowest scoring game of the weekend with only Brandon Marshall making enough of a difference.
Prediction – 10 to 6 N.Y. Jets
G-Man is taking Cleveland because apparently he was hit in the head too much during Labor Day Slip&Flip.
Miami at Washington
The dysfunction that is the Redskins organization may be worse than that of Congress. This team isn’t going to be good as all their quarterbacks stink. The offensive line might be worse. Look for a revamped Miami pass rush along with a growing Ryan Tannehill and Jarvis Landry to dominate.
Prediction – 31 to 13 Miami
Seattle at St. Louis
Upset of the Week 1 here. Seattle isn’t the same with All-Pro Cam Chancellor. While I don’t agree with his holdout (3 years left on contract), his absence changes the Legion of Boom. Nick Foles is very, very thankful. Plus the Rams defense may be better than Seattle’s to begin with. Look for this to be a knock out slugfest with St. Louis doing just enough to win.
Prediction – 20 to 17 St. Louis
G-Man is taking Seattle because for the first time he is smarter than me, for a brief moment.
Detroit at San Diego
Great matchup here as two high-powered offenses go head-to-head in California. Not sure why Detroit isn’t getting a little more love this season. Megatron, Golden Tate, a hopefully improved Eric Ebron, and the emerging Ameer Abdullah gives Matt Stafford his best set of weapons yet. The defense took a loss with Suh leaving in free agency but there are still some pieces there included the stud Ziggy Ansah who will be looking for Phillip Rivers all afternoon. Rivers should find some success but I have a sneaky feeling that the Chargers are a tad overrated this year as rookie RB Melvin Gordon and the Chargers defense are being given a little too much love.
Prediction – 35 to 31 Detroit
New Orleans at Arizona
We have two aging quarterbacks with something to prove in this one. Carson Palmer, if healthy, can lead the Cardinals to a division title while Drew Brees can score on anyone. He has lost weapons (Graham and Stills) but Brandin Cooks looks like the real deal. That being said, Arizona has a much better defense than the Saints and are at home. Gotta go with Arians and crew in this one.
Prediction – 27 to 24 Arizona
Cincinnati at Oakland
Not a lot of love for the Bengals after 4 playoff seasons in a row. Tough division, tougher conference, and the inconsistent Andy Dalton are all reasons for concern. But this team lost little of its talent from last year. So I don’t think the improving Derick Carr and rookie Amare Cooper have nearly enough to overcome a deep and balanced Cincy assault. But Khalil Mack will make plenty of noise.
Prediction – 24 to 13 Cincinnati
This is G-Man’s Survival Pool pick of the week because deep down he loves the Red Rifle.
Baltimore at Denver
The best 4pm game is a great matchup between two Superbowl favorites. Questions abound about Peyton’s health and ability but he is still Peyton Manning and he has plenty of weapons to help him. Joe Flacco is somehow still underrated but this Ravens team is a sleeper in the making with a tremendous defense. Problem is that Mile High has a defense of their own and it’s a darn good one.
Prediction – 23 to 20 Denver
Tennessee at Tampa Bay
Humorous that the top two rookies quarterbacks square off in Week 1. Truth be told, there is more offensive firepower for Winston. That’s the difference here as Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson can both ball.
Prediction – 17 to 14 Tampa Bay
G-Man is taking Tennessee as he is still bitter that Chip didn’t trade up for Mariota.
8pm Sunday Night Football
N.Y. Giants at Dallas
Do I have to pick a team here? I hate both and don’t think either will be very good. But The Giants just don’t have the “it” factor yet and I see the Madden curse coming quick and fast for Odell Beckham. Romo and Bryant, plus an improved Dallas pass rush, prove the difference in Big D.
Prediction – 24 to 17 Dallas
Monday Night Football
Philadelphia at Atlanta – 7:10pm
I cannot wait for Monday Night! The revamped, new look Eagles travel to Atlanta to see their new secondary be challenged by Julio Jones and Roddy White. I expect it to be high scoring with Bradford and Ryan trading TD passes. But the difference is that late in the game the three-headed running invasion of Murray, Mathews, and Sproles soaks up the clock and gives Machine Gun Chip a big win.
Prediction – 42 to 31 Philadelphia
Minnesota at San Francisco – 10:20pm
Wrapping up the opening week are two teams going in different directions. I see a lot of potential in Minnesota, especially if Peterson is well Peterson and Cordarrelle Patterson can be his rookie self. The 49ers are still in a tailspin as players retire left and right and a fading Colin Kaepernick plays for his right to start. I have to take the slight upset here with the Vikings showing some moxie and taking down the 49ers early Tuesday morning.
Prediction – 24 to 17 Minnesota
Geordie wants me to mention that he is the 2014 defending champion making this year’s Cold Hard Locks as the rubber match for out current 3 years of battle.