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NFL Week One: Jammal’s picks

  • Jammal Smith.

Published: Sep 06, 2013

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Thursday’s game

Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos, 8:30 p.m.

The reigning Super Bowl champs start their title defense against a Denver team that is heavily favored to win it all this year. While the Broncos are the better team on paper, I feel like the Ravens are at their best in the role of underdog and are more comfortable earning respect than given it by default. While I expect this game to be to close, the absence of Von Miller and Champ Bailey will hurt Denver in this game especially in the closing moments. Joe Flacco will have to be sharp to counter the two to three touchdowns Peyton Manning will be responsible for, and I expect him to do just that. The popular pick may be the home team, but I’m rolling with the champs on this night.

Ravens 24, Broncos 21


Sunday’s games

New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills, 1 p.m.

The storylines for this game will be more interesting than the actual game, because the football world is wondering how Tom Brady will fare with mostly new offensive personnel given that his top four receivers from last year are either injured, incarcerated, or found a new team. On the other end, Buffalo is putting its faith in rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel, who I feel will be the second best quarterback in the AFC East. New England is still the bully of this division, and I expect them to handle business come Sunday with a balanced effort.

Patriots 31, Bills 17


Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m.

This year will be a huge one for the perception of Cam Newton, as we will figure out if he has the potential to be a great quarterback in this league or if he is just an average quarterback. He will have his hands full with a Seahawks team that has high expectations this year and is looking to make a statement. Despite all the hype, I believe that Seattle will have an above average year and win 9-10 games – which may not be enough in the NFC this year. However, one of those wins will come on Sunday behind a strong performance by Russell Wilson and the Seahawks ‘D’.

Seahawks 20, Panthers 13


Cincinnati Bengals at Chicago Bears, 1 p.m.

The Bengals can make a lot of noise this season and take the next step as a legitimate playoff team, but they will need to be consistent for 16 games to be taken seriously as a contender. Meanwhile, the Bears are on the brink of rebuild mode, and a subpar season could be in the works especially after the mishandling of a great coach in Lovie Smith and great player in Brian Urlacher. This game will feature two of the best quarterback-wide receiver tandems in the league, and I have a feeling that the Jay Cutler-to-Brandon Marshall connection will be tough to stop on Sunday. I would like to side with Cincy on this one, but I give a slight edge to the home team.

Bears 27, Bengals 21


Miami Dolphins at Cleveland Browns, 1 p.m.

The Dolphins are similar to the decent looking girl in your class who has the potential to be the best looking girl in school if she really wanted to, but is just content being average. I know the majority of the people who read this wants Miami to blossom, but Ryan Tannehill will ultimately decide if that happens. It will be seen on Sunday whether or not he has made strides in his development. The Browns won’t be an easy opponent, especially with the addition of Norv Turner as an offensive coordinator. This could be a year where Brandon Weeden produces at the quarterback position to complement Trent Richardson’s bruising play, and I believe Cleveland will squeeze out a victory at home.

Browns 28, Dolphins 17


Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions, 1 p.m.

With two of the most unstoppable players in the league in action for this game in Adrian Peterson and Calvin Johnson, the entertainment level for this game will be very high. Detroit will be an improved team, but they will have to prove strong mental toughness in order to be a playoff team. The Vikings overachieved last year, but as long as Peterson is in the backfield they will always have a chance. If Christian Ponder can’t make the big throws, Minnesota won’t be as successful as last year. Although Peterson will rush for a big day, I believe the Lions will be victorious at home behind a strong day from Matthew Stafford.

Lions 24, Vikings 17


Oakland Raiders at Indianapolis Colts, 1 p.m.

The Raiders quest for the number one draft pick starts on Sunday, and I don’t expect this to be pretty for them. On another note, I believe Andrew Luck will put up monster numbers this season and remind people that he is as talented as his fellow draftees Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson.

Colts 34, Raiders 13


Kansas City Chiefs at Jacksonville Jaguars, 1 p.m.

Everybody is expecting the Chiefs to make some kind of noise this season because of the arrival of Andy Reid and Alex Smith. In my opinion, they will probably win eight games at the most. Don’t let this very winnable game against the Jaguars fool you.

Chiefs 20, Jaguars 10


Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints, 1 p.m.

This is the first of the four must watch games for Week One, as two of the sleeper picks in the NFC will face off in what I expect to be a high scoring divisional contest. With all of the “Bounty Gate” controversy behind them, the Saints will be an entirely different team with the return of Sean Payton and the arrival of Rob Ryan as the defensive coordinator. On the other end, the Falcons have added some proven veterans in Steven Jackson at running back and Osi Umenyiora on the defensive line, who both will be impact players. Matt Ryan and Drew Brees will turn this game into a shootout, and it will boil down to which team will have the ball last. It’s hard to go against my Falcons on the first week of the season, but the Saints will put the NFL on notice that they are back in the playoff mix.

Saints 35, Falcons 34


Tampa Bay Buccaneers at N.Y. Jets, 1 p.m.

The Jets will start their rookie quarterback Geno Smith, who threw one touchdown and three interceptions against second and third string defensive units. On Sunday, he will have to go up against a defense that added Darrelle Revis, who I expect to be back in his dominant form after missing last year. Rex Ryan’s days are officially numbered in New York.

Buccaneers 24, Jets 12


Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers, 1 p.m.

The Steelers will be playing with a chip on their shoulder this year, as many people are projecting a down year for them. It’s hard to bet against Ben Roethlisberger under these circumstances and I think this team will eventually rise to the occasion as the season progresses. As for this game, if they can contain Chris Johnson and avoid giving up big plays in the passing game, then Pittsburgh should be able to pull it off.

Steelers 20, Titans 14


Arizona Cardinals at St. Louis Rams, 4:25 p.m.

Both of these teams should be drastically improved from last year and I believe the NFC West will be the toughest division in football this year. Sam Bradford put together a solid campaign and he has some offensive tools around him to keep that momentum going. Arizona now has a capable quarterback in Carson Palmer to get Larry Fitzgerald the ball, and I expect that duo to be tough to stop on Sundays. As for this game, I believe the Cardinals will get off to a hot start and create enough distance, which will be enough to pull out a victory.

Cardinals 27, Rams 17


Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers, 4:25 p.m.

The second must-watch game of the week may probably be the most intense contest, as the Packers look to knock off the reigning NFC Champions. The 49ers are loaded at every position led by their young star Colin Kaepernick, who has all the tools around him to lead his team to the Super Bowl again. However, he will have to outplay Aaron Rodgers. While Green Bay is capable of pulling off an upset, I believe the 49ers will impose their physical prowess on Sunday and keep the pressure on Rodgers and disrupt his rhythm. If they manage to win the battle in the trenches and open up holes for the running game and the read option, then the 49ers should control this game. I like San Francisco on Sunday, but it might not be the last time these two teams meet.

49ers, 23, Packers 17


N.Y. Giants at Dallas Cowboys, 8:30 p.m.

The third must-see game belongs to these NFC East foes, who can either be in the class with the NFC’s best or a pair of underachieving teams. The player to watch out for is Dez Bryant, who I’m expecting to take the league by storm this year and dominate. Of course that means Tony Romo will have to be great this year, which isn’t a certainty. Looking at the Giants, most people forget that they won 10 games last year and remember their inconsistent play. I believe they will be better this season and facing a Dallas team that they’ve beaten six out of the last eight times will get the year off to a good start. I think the Cowboys will struggle defensively in this game because of the change in defensive scheme from 3-4 to 4-3 and give up some big plays. It should be a close game, but I like the G-men.

Giants 31, Cowboys 27


Monday’s games

Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins, 7:10 p.m.

This is my pick for game of the week because the long anticipated return of Robert Griffin III to the gridiron is finally here, and he will go up against a division rival that is hoping to take the NFL by storm with its high octane offense. While I believe RG3 will return to form at some point during this season, the fact that he didn’t throw a pass all pre-season means he may need some time to adjust to game speed again. Meanwhile, Philly has executed Head Coach Chip Kelly’s scheme to perfection and the speed the offense plays with will produce a lot of points. The forgotten man in this game is LeSean McCoy, who I expect to have a huge game in the running and passing game. I believe the Eagles will get off to a hot start and create some separation, which will be enough to fend off a late surge led by RG3. The safe pick would be Washington, but I’m rolling with the Eagles on Monday night for the upset.

Eagles 35, Redskins 31


Houston Texans at San Diego Chargers, 10:20 p.m.

The Texans look to take the next step in the AFC and their journey starts against a rebuilding Chargers team. The Philip Rivers era may be coming to an end in San Diego and I think he will have a tough time on Monday against a Houston team that was a top-10 defense without the services of Brian Cushing and Ed Reed. If Houston can run the ball effectively and minimize their turnovers, they should be in full control of this game.

Texans 24, Chargers 13

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