2010 Weekly Predictions: Week 1

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As I begin my third year of predictions I’d like to state my main goal ahead of time and that is to improve from the previous year. I finished with a 166-99 (62.6%) overall record in my first year of predictions and improved that to 175-91 (65.7%) in Year 2. Improving for a third straight year is the goal and my bold goal is to top 70% (or, a record of 187-80).

In addition to my normal predictions where I simply choose a winner and predict the final score, I’m going to venture into uncertain territory and also pick games against the spread. It’ll be an interesting year.

Here are my predictions for Week 1, always one of the toughest weeks of the season.

Point spreads come from Vegas.com as of Thursday afternoon.

Last Week: N/A
Last Week against the spread: N/A

This Week: 11-5
This Week against the spread: 8-6-2

Overall: 11-5
Overall against the spread: 8-6-2

Minnesota Vikings (0-0) at New Orleans Saints (0-0)
I feel sorry for Brett Favre but won’t be shedding any tears soon. He was physically abused in the NFC Championship game last year by this Saints defense and was almost driven into retirement. That was the last game of the year, though, and he had an off-season to recover. How will this soon-to-be 41-year-old man make it through an entire season after taking a thorough beating in Game 1? I think the Saints keep alive the win streak in Thursday night season openers that has been going on since the NFL started scheduling the defending Super Bowl champions to play on opening night.
Prediction: New Orleans 31, Minnesota 17
Actual Score: New Orleans 14, Minnesota 9
Spread Pick: New Orleans -5 ½
Actual Score: New Orleans 14, Minnesota 9

Cleveland Browns (0-0) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-0)
This game should be a Sunday afternoon snooze fest. Both teams will be fighting to stay out of the cellar all year and could struggle to put up points in this one. I expect the Bucs to defend their home field with defense and the run game.
Prediction: Tampa Bay 16, Cleveland 13
Actual Score: Tampa Bay 17, Cleveland 14
Spread Pick: Tampa Bay -3 (It would be a push according to my score prediction)
Actual Score: Tampa Bay 17, Cleveland 14

Miami Dolphins (0-0) at Buffalo Bills (0-0)
The Bills could be the worst team in the NFL, but we probably won’t get an accurate assessment until at least a few games have passed. They have the advantage of playing this one at home, but I don’t think their run defense can stop the Dolphins’ ground game and I’d be surprised if the offense gets much of anything going against Miami’s defense.
Prediction: Miami 24, Buffalo 10
Actual Score: Miami 15, Buffalo 10
Spread Pick: Miami -3
Actual Score: Miami 15, Buffalo 10

Cincinnati Bengals (0-0) at New England Patriots (0-0)
Tom Brady got into a car accident Thursday but walked away from it just fine. Still, much will be made of that. Randy Moss is upset about his contract and Wes Welker is returning from a knee injury. That doesn’t sound awfully inspiring, but the last time the Patriots lost a regular season home game with Brady at the helm was in November of 2006. The Bengals had a solid run game last year and added T.O. to the passing game. They’ll be tough, but I think the Patriots stand pat (pun intended) and win the opener.
Prediction: New England 27, Cincinnati 20
Actual Score: New England 38, Cincinnati 24
Spread Pick: New England -4 ½
Actual Score: New England 38, Cincinnati 24

Indianapolis Colts (0-0) at Houston Texans (0-0)
It’s difficult to predict an opening week loss for the Colts considering how well they’ve played during the first half of the season over the past decade. But what awaits them is one of the top passing attacks in the NFL and a defense that will be energized by its home crowd. The Texans’ run game will be the biggest determining factor if they can pull off the upset, but I’m going with Houston regardless.
Prediction: Houston 28, Indianapolis 21
Actual Score: Houston 34, Indianapolis 24
Spread Pick: Houston +2 ½
Actual Score: Houston 34, Indianapolis 24

Denver Broncos (0-0) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-0)
Denver shocked the football world last year by jumping out to a 6-0 start to their season, but fell off considerably and wound up finishing 8-8. I don’t expect a similar scenario this season. Although the Jaguars have their own troubles, I like their run game and their defense should be able to contain the great Kyle Orton.
Prediction: Jacksonville 20, Denver 14
Actual Score: Jacksonville 24, Denver 17
Spread Pick: Jacksonville -2 ½
Actual Score: Jacksonville 24, Denver 17

Atlanta Falcons (0-0) at Pittsburgh Steelers (0-0)
This game would be a lot easier to predict if either it were played in Atlanta or Ben Roethlisberger was taking snaps instead of Dennis Dixon. I’m not 100% sold on Rashard Mendenhall. If the Steelers win this game, it’ll be because of their defense. I’m going to go with what I consider the upset, though, because I like the cohesiveness and the direction of the Falcons.
Prediction: Atlanta 24, Pittsburgh 20
Actual Score: Pittsburgh 15, Atlanta 9
Spread Pick: Atlanta -2 ½
Actual Score: Pittsburgh 15, Atlanta 9

Oakland Raiders (0-0) at Tennessee Titans (0-0)
Many are predicting the Raiders to be a surprise team this year and while I agree that they’ll be better than last year, I don’t expect them to go on the road in Week 1 and beat the Titans. The Raiders were the fourth-worst run defense last year and they’re taking on a running back in Chris Johnson who topped 2,000 yards last year.
Prediction: Tennessee 23, Oakland 16
Actual Score: Tennessee 38, Oakland 13
Spread Pick: Tennessee -6 ½
Actual Score: Tennessee 38, Oakland 13

Carolina Panthers (0-0) at New York Giants (0-0)
They may have a dynamic duo at running back and one of the best receivers in the game in Steve Smith, but Carolina lost two pieces of their defense, including pass rusher Julius Peppers, and they have unproven Matt Moore and rookie Jimmy Clausen vying for the quarterback job. Against teams with poor run defenses, they should be able to pull off some victories, otherwise they’ll struggle all season, as they’re bound to do this week.
Prediction: NY Giants 24, Carolina 13
Actual Score: NY Giants 31, Carolina 18
Spread Pick: NY Giants -6 ½
Actual Score: NY Giants 31, Carolina 18

Detroit Lions (0-0) at Chicago Bears (0-0)
How does a team with three straight playoff-less seasons and a new offense in place overlook anybody? The Bears will come out with their best effort and won’t dare to look past a Lions team that had just two wins in the last two seasons. While they still have problems on the offensive line and in the defensive backfield, I think we’ll see a much more polished team than the one that went 0-4 in the preseason. Detroit greatly improved their defensive line, so I fear for Jay Cutler’s health, but they have more holes on defense than the Bears do. It could be close, but the Bears win their home opener.
Prediction: Chicago 27, Detroit 21
Actual Score: Chicago 19, Detroit 14
Spread Pick: Detroit +6 ½
Actual Score: Chicago 19, Detroit 14

Arizona Cardinals (0-0) at St. Louis Rams (0-0)
I think the Rams should be marginally better and the Cardinals significantly worse, but neither change will be enough for the Rams to pull off the Week 1 upset, at least I don’t think so. I saw some nice things from Sam Bradford in the preseason that leads me to believe he can help jumpstart this ball club back to respectability, but I have to see it in the regular season before I make that call. The Cardinals should get it done with defense and their run game.
Prediction: Arizona 20, St. Louis 10
Actual Score: Arizona 17, St. Louis 13
Spread Pick: Arizona -4
Actual Score: Arizona 17, St. Louis 13

Green Bay Packers (0-0) at Philadelphia Eagles (0-0)
As a Bears fan, it’s disheartening to admit this but the Packers are going to the Super Bowl this year… and may even win it. Unless an injury occurs to Aaron Rodgers — which isn’t altogether out of the realm of possibility due to the number of shots he takes from holding on to the ball too long — this offense is “scary good” and their defense is opportunistic. While I don’t expect them to lead the league in takeaways for the second straight year, it’ll be good enough. In this game, the Eagles have gotten worse with the losses of Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook, there’s no other way to put it.
Prediction: Green Bay 27, Philadelphia 16
Actual Score: Green Bay 27, Philadelphia 20
Spread Pick: Green Bay -3
Actual Score: Green Bay 27, Philadelphia 20

San Francisco 49ers (0-0) at Seattle Seahawks (0-0)
I don’t know what to make of the Seahawks in this game. Over the course of the season, I think they’re going to be bad because they’re in rebuilding mode and Pete Carroll is a bad NFL head coach, anyway. But in a home opener, the playing field is leveled a bit. I like San Francisco’s defense and their run game, and if they had a better quarterback I’d feel better about them. Nonetheless, I think they’re good enough to win this one on the road.
Prediction: San Francisco 20, Seattle 17
Actual Score: Seattle 31, San Francisco 6
Spread Pick: San Francisco -3 (It would be a push according to my score prediction)
Actual Score: Seattle 31, San Francisco 6

Dallas Cowboys (0-0) at Washington Redskins (0-0)
The Cowboys in the preseason didn’t look like the team that many are predicting will play the first “home game” in a Super Bowl in league history. But they have a solid backfield with a good quarterback and a defense that gets after people. I’m not sure how the Mike Shanahan experience will play out in Washington or how much Donovan McNabb has left in the tank. Dallas should pull this one out.
Prediction: Dallas 24, Washington 20
Actual Score: Washington 13, Dallas 7
Spread Pick: Dallas -3 ½
Actual Score: Washington 13, Dallas 7

Baltimore Ravens (0-0) at New York Jets (0-0)

I’m quite intrigued to see this game because of how closely each team mirrors the other. Both teams have been surprises the past two years and both have made extra moves in the off-season and are trying to make a push to the Super Bowl this year. I give the Ravens the edge at quarterback but I like Rex Ryan’s defense. I think the Jets sneak away with the win.
Prediction: NY Jets 20, Baltimore 17
Actual Score: Baltimore 10, NY Jets 9
Spread Pick: NY Jets -2 ½
Actual Score: Baltimore 10, NY Jets 9

San Diego Chargers (0-0) at Kansas City Chiefs (0-0)
The Chargers are one of the favorite picks to make the Super Bowl from the AFC due to a top quarterback, solid defense, a promising young running back, and a weak division. They’ll get their first shot at a divisional foe this week against a Chiefs team that is implementing a new offense. I like the Chargers in this one.
Prediction: San Diego 27, Kansas City 17
Actual Score: Kansas City 21, San Diego 14
Spread Pick: San Diego -4 ½
Actual Score: Kansas City 21, San Diego 14

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