Ramblin’ Fan’s NFL Picks and Predictions: Week 1


Welcome to a brand new football season and with it renewed excitement for the Rams. Though things have not got off to the most auspicious of starts for St. Louis, there is no doubt the team still boasts some extremely strong pieces that could make this season a winning one. However, there is not just excitement and intrigue for the Rams, but every team in the NFL. The new season means that any given team has the chance to walk away with the Lombardi trophy and bragging rights. However, each “Super Bowl” season has to start somewhere. So, without further ado, here are your Week One NFL picks and predictions.

What is the spread? In the gambling world, a “spread’ is a term used to handicap games by allowing a team to lose or win by a certain number of points while still winning for a bettor. If the Rams are +3 against the Seahawks, that means that the Rams could win outright or they could lose by two points and still be a victory for a bettor. In the same situation as above, the spread could also read as the Seahawks -3 which again would mean they have to win by three or more points to cover the spread.

Thursday Night Season Opener:

Green Bay Packers @ Seattle Seahawks (-6)
The Seattle Seahawks begin their title defense against the high-octant offense of the Green Bay Packers. Seattle led the NFL with fewest points (14.4 ppg) and yards allowed (273.3 ypg) while also leading the league with 28 interceptions. Aaron Rodgers will have plenty of weapons to work with as he will have Jordy Nelson, freshly healed Randall Cobb and Eddie Lacy to attack the Seahawks top D. Expect a tight game with a lot of exciting offensive plays, but the defenses will make the difference in this one. Seahawks win 24-21 (Green Bay covers spread)

New Orleans Saints @ Atlanta Falcons (+3):
The Saints offense brings the same high-octane offense to the field in 2014 as last season. The offense features Drew Brees and a receiving corps with Marques Colston, Brandin Cooks and Jimmy Graham. The biggest change last season was the Saints defense with Rob Ryan at the helm. If they can replicate their success, only allowing 18 ppg last season, this could be a big year in the Big Easy. The Falcons are a team that is hard to get a grasp on. Despite having a potent air attack manned by equally enigmatic Matt Ryan, their defense has held them back. The Falcons are just too scrambled to put up a good fight against the Saints. Saints win 35-21 (Atlanta fails to cover spread)

Minnesota Vikings @ St. Louis Rams (-4)
The Minnesota Vikings are a team in transition. New head coach Mike Zimmer decided to start Matt Cassel at quarterback instead of Teddy Bridgewater, an offense that could experience growing pains either way. Adrian Peterson will be his usual All-Pro self, but both Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson will need to take steps forward if the offense is to have balance. The biggest factor for the Vikings is Zimmer’s talent with the secondary with two potential top flight corners in Xavier Rhodes and Captain Munnerlyn. The Rams are a team in limbo. With Sam Bradford out the team has decided to go with consistent and bland Shaun Hill at quarterback. Hill won’t win the Rams games, but it is unlikely he will win any either. The offensive line could be special if all the pieces fall into place, which could mean huge things for Zac Stacy. Defensively is where the Rams shine with arguably the top D-line in all of football. The key battle is going to be the Rams D-line vs. the Vikings O-line. If the Rams can pressure Cassel expect him to mess up, but if the Vikings O-line keeps their QB clean then it could be a bad day for the Rams. Rams win 21-18 (Vikings cover the spread)

Cleveland Browns @ Pittsburgh Steelers (-6.5)
Somehow the drafting of Johnny Manziel has made people forget that the Browns are in shambles. The offense looked good last year only to oust the mastermind and replace him with their 378th choice in Mike Pettine. This is a team that has no organizational; direction and a few decent pieces across an entire roster. The Steelers are a team that is being hit hard by age and poor drafting. Offensively the team goes as far as Ben Roethlisberger will take them. On the defense, the team has suffered from the ravages of time and has become mediocre at best. My pick for snoozefest of the week. Browns win 13-10 (Browns cover the spread)

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Philadelphia Eagles (-10.5):
The savior of the Jaguars is here! And he is warming up the bench. This is a team that in the process of rebuilding properly and seem to have no problem with letting future star Blake Bortles rest behind okay-at-best Chad Henne. The Eagles are bringing back a high potent offense that features some of the most electrifying players in the game. Playing the Jaguars in week one is the kind of game to get Nick FOles off to an easy and hot start. Eagles win 28-10 (Eagles easily cover the spread)

Oakland Raiders @ New York Jets (-5.5):
This could be an interesting game. Can Derek Carr reverse the family curse and become a good NFL quarterback. Don’t expect a great start either way. Carr is coming into an offense with two over-the-hill running backs, an offensive line that lost one of the top left tackles in the game in free agency and no real weapons. The Jets are a team that is just kind of there. They have the worst starting QB in the NFL in Geno Smith, but it is only his second year. They have a defense that will always be better than average thanks to Rex Ryan, but they lose the easy games. Jets win 16-10 (Jets cover spread)

Cincinnati Bengals @ Baltimore Ravens (-2):
Offense should be easy to come by for the Bengals. The team boast a slightly better than average quarterback in Andy Dalton, one of the top receivers in the game in A.J. Green and a backfield that could confuse and shred defenses. The big question mark is how the defense will perform. Will the D continue to reach its potential without guru Mike Zimmer on the sideline? Baltimore is only two years removed from winning the Super Bowl. Joe Flacco is steady if not boring, but he does have the always exciting Torrey Smith catching the ball. Defensively this team is not what it used to be and is now just okay. Bengals win 28-21 (Bengals cover the spread)

Buffalo Bills @ Chicago Bears (-7):
The Bills get more and more Bills-like. The team has some real potential with players like Sammy Watkins and C.J. Spiller, but the offense will only go as far as E.J. Manuel brings them in the pass-happy NFL. The Bears are looking like they could be real dark-horse contenders for the Super Bowl this season. A team with too many offensive weapons to count and a defense that can do enough to get them by. Expect a beatdown. Bears win 35-10 (Bears cover the spread)

Washington Redskins @ Houston Texans (-3):
The Redskins offense could be special if RGIII can stay healthy. His arm and ability to move his feet could make for an offense featuring the most electrifying quarterback, lighting fast receiver DeSean Jackson and a top-notch back in Alfred Morris. The defense again will revolve around Brian Orakpo and getting after the QB. The Texans are a team one good QB away from competing. Obviously this team is better than last year, but if Ryan Fitzpatrick or Ryan Mallett becomes the answer this team will be scary on both sides of the ball. Texans win 28-17 (Texans cover the spread)

Tennessee Titans @ Kansas City Chiefs (-3.5)
This may be Jake Locker’s last season as the Titans starting quarterback. Locker has yet to play a complete season for the Titans and have been only okay when he has been in the lineup. Unfortunately for Locker there is little help for his development aside from hoping several young players develop around him. The Chiefs are coming off a season nobody saw coming and for that their team was picked apart in free agency. Last season’s easy schedule and above average roster made them appear amazing at times, but they will not get those benefits this season. Titans beat Chiefs 17-14 (Titans cover spread)

New England Patriots @ Miami Dolphins (+5):
News of Tom Brady’s downfall has been exaggerated. Brady managed to complete 60% of his passes while throwing 25 touchdowns compared to 11 interceptions. Just like Brady said, when he sucks he will retire. The Dolphins are a bit of a mess. A young quarterback that needs to take a step forward, a backfield that has several heads and not body and a defense that is pedestrian. AFC East opponents always play the Patriots hard, but don’t expect any miracles. Patriots win 27-14 (Patriots cover spread)

Carolina Panthers @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-2):
Both the teams are surrounded by question marks. Carolina’s major concern in wide receiver where their only options to catch the ball are majorly other team’s castaways and rookie Kelvin Benjamin. The Buccaneers are hoping that their new quarterback and coach combo of Josh McCown and Lovie Smith can resurrect an offense that was unwatchable at times last season. Buccaneers win 14-10 (Buccaneers cover spread)

San Francisco 49ers @ Dallas Cowboys (+4.5):
The San Francisco 49ers have looked abysmal in the preseason, but that can’t continue can it? Colin Kaepernick is a multi-tool quarterback with an amazing ensemble. Meanwhile, the 49ers defense is full of studs specifically at linebacker where they can lay legitimate claim to having the three top players at the position (when Aldon Smith comes back from suspension). The Cowboys spent another offseason of virtually doing nothing and the team does not look to be much better than last year. The defense was historically bad and Jason Garrett looked lost as a head coach. 49ers win 31-21 (49ers cover spread)

Indianapolis Colts @ Denver Broncos (-7.5)
The Colts can very realistically go all the way this season. Andrew Luck is on the verge of becoming a top five quarterback in the NFL, he has several viable weapons at receiver and the defense is solid though not awe-inspiring. The Broncos will only go as far as Peyton Manning will take them. Manning, who looked better than ever last year, has begun to show his age despite his numbers. If the Colts are wise, they will make Manning throw the deep ball which he simply does not have the arm strength for anymore. Colts win 42-35 (Colts cover spread)

Monday Night Football:

New York Giants @ Detroit Lions (-5):
The New York Giants were a hot mess last season. The entire team looked terrible, but especially the offense and Eli Manning. If Manning can get better protection he is sure to decreased the interception numbers (he has to, I don’t know if he can possibly throw more). Detroit will once again be an entertaining and aggressive team. Their high-octane offense is matched only be a defense that cares little for anything but sacking the quarterback. Lions win 24-21 (Giants cover spread)

San Diego Chargers @ Arizona Cardinals (-3.5)
The Chargers are a team that has been on the verge for seemingly the past decade. The team is poised to be another above average team with Phillip Rivers and Ryan Matthews leading the way. The biggest concern will be the mental toughness for a team that is now infamous for imploding. The Arizona Cardinals are a playoff team…in any division other than the NFC West. A dynamic offense can put up big totals, despite Carson Palmer’s limitations, and the defense can keep them in games. Chargers win 28-24 (Chargers cover spread)