It is finally that time of year. The time of year when I can correctly predict only four of the sixteen games in a week and sweep it under the rug. However, I can also proclaim myself a genius if I manage to get a winner and the exact score right on a game. It is time for Week 1 Pick Ems.
Last year in the regular season, I finished 175-96 with one winner and score guessed completely correctly. I also went 8-5 on Playoff Pick Ems. That is solid, but I guess that means my goal for games guessed correctly this year will have to be 176, not counting playoff games. This is doable, and, hopefully, we can start hot in Week 1. Let’s get started on Pick Ems for the first time this year.
Week 1 Pick Ems
Buffalo Bills at Los Angeles Rams
Winner: Los Angeles Rams
Summary: The first matchup of the year will be a battle of Super Bowl favorites. The reigning champ Rams host the hungry and frustrated Bills who got their season ended by a coin flip last year. The Rams seem to be slightly better on paper, but the Bills will be more determined. Overall, I expect the Rams to sneak out a win with some late-game heroics by Stafford and Kupp, as they connect on a touchdown late to go up by seven.
New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons
Winner: New Orleans Saints
Summary: The Saints are one of the more unpredictable teams heading into the season. They started four quarterbacks last year and were one Week 18 Rams collapse away from being in the playoffs anyway. They were 5-2 under starter Jameis Winston and they added some good talent in the offseason. For that reason, I am high on them. They have to avoid a trap game here against Atlanta in Dennis Allen’s head coaching return. I think Winston and Kamara lead a strong offensive showing and a stingy defense prevents any chance for an upset here. I’ll take the Saints all day.
New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins
Winner: Miami Dolphins
Summary: The little brothers of the AFC East will try and take advantage of a weak Patriots roster this year and get some revenge for the last twenty years of Patriots dominance, and the Dolphins get the first crack at it. I think this will be a chess match that ends with the better roster on top, as the Dolphins march down the field and kick a game-winning field goal as time expires to start 1-0 and get the hype train rolling.
Baltimore Ravens at New York Jets
Winner: Baltimore Ravens
Summary: The Ravens are finally healthy and have a chance to make some noises with familiar faces back. They have the Jets without Zach Wilson in Week 1, which is a great way to start. I think Lamar does just about everything for them, and he finds Rashod Bateman and Mark Andrews for scores as they run away early and kneel it out for an easy win here.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals
Winner: Cincinnati Bengals
Summary: The Bengals are meeting the Steelers without Ben Roethlisberger for the first time in a long time and they’ll try and take advantage of a presumably weak Steelers offense. The Steelers’ defense won’t make it easy though, so this will be close regardless. Burrow throws for two scores and Mixon finds the endzone as well to keep them barely ahead in the return of Mitch Trubisky against the reigning Super Bowl losers.
Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans
Winner: Indianapolis Colts
Summary: The Colts have their third straight season with a veteran journeyman under center, but Matt Ryan could be the best of all of them. He’ll have a great line and running back to lean on, and a solid and young receiving corps poised to grow. They should walk into Houston and handle business as long as they don’t shoot themselves in the foot. Matt Ryan impresses in his debut, and Jonathan Taylor runs for over a hundred yards here in Week 1.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Washington Commanders
Winner: Jacksonville Jaguars
Summary: Most people may pick the Commanders here, but I know what the Jaguars do to the new Washington QB. I can’t bring myself to pick them because of it. Trevor Lawrence has a better cast around him this year, and should greatly improve. This game will go into overtime before the Jaguars kick the game-winning field goal to go up 1-0. We’ll ignore the fact that the Jaguars started 1-0 and ended 1-16 two years ago and just enjoy the win.
San Francisco 49ers at Chicago Bears
Winner: San Francisco 49ers
Summary: The 49ers have moved on to the intriguing Trey Lance after years of success with game manager QB Jimmy Garoppolo. This will be an easy first test for Lance because the Bears don’t look too good on paper. I think they’ll take it easy on him and rely on the run game as they often do. Though Lance will show signs of greatness throughout the game. Fields does what he can on the other side, but they are no match. How long until the “Free Fields!” chants start at Soldier Field?
Philadelphia Eagles at Detroit Lions
Winner: Philadelphia Eagles
Summary: This game was a lot harder for me to pick than most would think because in a previous article I called the Eagles overrated and the Lions underrated. With that being said, I think the Eagles will come out swinging and fend off a feisty Lions team that won’t go away easily. It will be the Eagles rushing attack that wins this game, eventually wearing the Lions down.
Cleveland Browns at Carolina Panthers
Winner: Carolina Panthers
Summary: The Browns are without Deshaun Watson, and Baker Mayfield has something to prove. This is the perfect recipe for an upset, and I see one brewing in Carolina. Even with all the quarterback drama, this game will be about the running backs on both sides, both of whom will impress and carry their teams all day long. I see Christian McCaffrey being the X factor and getting his team the win on Sunday.
Kansas City Chiefs at Arizona Cardinals
Winner: Kansas City Chiefs
Summary: This will probably be the most fun game on during the Sunday slate and it could go either way. In a battle of high-powered offenses that may have growing pains without their WR1s, it will be a messy shootout. Kliff Kingsbury’s padawans will battle it out and each throw for over 300 yards. However, the Chiefs will touch the ball last, and Harrison Butker will knock down a field goal to push the Chiefs to 1-0.
New York Giants at Tennessee Titans
Winner: Tennessee Titans
Summary: This is not going to be a fun watch compared to the others, as the Titans will likely just play their usual slow-paced run game against a weak Giants team. New York will put up a fight thanks to having a healthy Saquon Barkley back, but it won’t lead to a win as the clock-controlling Titans will hold on. Tennessee gets a good win to start a season where they are expected to regress.
Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers
Winner: Los Angeles Chargers
Summary: I am excited to watch this game, especially after the drama of Week 18 last year. These teams will be at each other’s necks and they will be evenly matched in many aspects. I think the factor of revenge for Brandon Staley and his players will be too much to overcome for the Raiders on the road. The Chargers rally and kick a field goal to win as time expires, much as the Raiders did to them to end last year. Football is poetic.
Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings
Winner: Minnesota Vikings
Summary: Another upset here as I have the Vikings taking down the Packers here. Maybe it’s just a jab at the Packers, as many remember their 38-3 loss to the Saints in Week 1 last year. The Packers lose in an upset, Rodgers whines about the receivers and coaching, he does hard drugs, and then they win the division. It is like clockwork.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Dallas Cowboys
Winner: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Summary: These two teams played a great game in primetime during Week 1 last year, and I expect another one this year. I don’t see the Cowboys regressing as much this year as some other people think, but the Bucs seem to have their number. I think they will again on Sunday night. This will be a game of two high-powered offenses, but it’ll be the Tampa Bay defense that steps up to win them the game in Todd Bowles’ first game as the leader of this squad.
Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks
Winner: Denver Broncos
Summary: The main storyline of this game will obviously be the quarterback controversy. Russell Wilson will take on the team that he won a Super Bowl with and spent about a decade with. Meanwhile, the Seahawks look to establish an identity in the post-Russell Wilson era. They won’t be able to do it on Monday night, as Broncos Country rides to a win and Wilson looks good in the process.
With the season just days away, make sure to check out my article on under-the-radar storylines heading into Week 1.