2011 NFL Weekly Predictions: Week 1

September 10th, 2011 - 7:00 pm

Football season is here again and we all can finally exhale and get ready for a great season. I’m now entering my fourth season of predictions and I’ve made steady improvements from year to year. I finished 166-99 (62.6%) in 2008, 175-91 (65.7%) in 2009, and 179-88 (67.0%) in 2010. It’s my goal this year to top 70%. Last year was also the first year I picked against the spread — in addition to my straight-up picks. I finished with a 149-111-5 (56.2%) record, which isn’t all that good, but I hope to make progress in my second year.

A look at my NFL weekly predictions for Week 1.

Point spreads come from bodog.eu as of Thursday afternoon.

NOTE: Full predictions will come out Saturday.

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

This Week: 10-6
This Week against the spread: 5-10-1

Overall: 10-6
Overall against the spread: 5-10-1

New Orleans Saints (0-0) at Green Bay Packers (0-0)
The reigning Super Bowl champions are 7-0 since the NFL began scheduling them to host the Thursday night regular-season openers. I see no reason why that streak will stop this year. The Packers won the Super Bowl last season due to immense depth, which was able to step up in the face of adversity when roughly a dozen and a half players were placed on injured reserve. It’s possible that the Packers’ offense can be better than it was a year ago, but it’s their sustained defensive prowess that could take them back to the Super Bowl this year. I expect New Orleans to have a great season, but the Packers should be too much for them in the season opener.
Prediction: Green Bay 27, New Orleans 14
Actual Score: Green Bay 42, New Orleans 34
Spread Pick: Green Bay -5
Actual Score: Green Bay 42, New Orleans 34

Pittsburgh Steelers (0-0) at Baltimore Ravens (0-0)
Pittsburgh has both the defense and offense to win the Super Bowl this year. The Ravens defense is aging and the offense still isn’t good enough led by Joe Flacco.
Prediction: Pittsburgh 17, Baltimore 14
Actual Score: Baltimore 35, Pittsburgh 7
Spread Pick: Pittsburgh +1
Actual Score: Baltimore 35, Pittsburgh 7

Atlanta Falcons (0-0) at Chicago Bears (0-0)
The Falcons were the NFC’s best last year — according to record — led by a potent offense and opportunistic defense. But the Bears play well in home openers and it’ll be their balanced offense and a good performance by Matt Forte that does the trick in this one.
Prediction: Chicago 23, Atlanta 17
Actual Score: Chicago 30, Atlanta 12
Spread Pick: Chicago +3
Actual Score: Chicago 30, Atlanta 12

Cincinnati Bengals (0-0) at Cleveland Browns (0-0)
The Bengals have lost a lot of weapons on offense and the Browns have a surprisingly effective running back in Madden coverboy Peyton Hillis and a good young quarterback in Colt McCoy. Browns win at home.
Prediction: Cleveland 20, Cincinnati 10
Actual Score: Cincinnati 27, Cleveland 17
Spread Pick: Cleveland -7
Actual Score: Cincinnati 27, Cleveland 17

Indianapolis Colts (0-0) at Houston Texans (0-0)
The Colts will have a completely different look when they take the field without quarterback Peyton Manning for the first time in well over a decade. This division is now Houston’s to lose and I think they win the opener behind a strong offensive attack and an emerging defense.
Prediction: Houston 24, Indianapolis 16
Actual Score: Houston 34, Indianapolis 7
Spread Pick: Indianapolis +9
Actual Score: Houston 34, Indianapolis 7

Tennessee Titans (0-0) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-0)
Running back Chris Johnson is expected to play Sunday and the Titans will need him if they want to win this game. Jacksonville chose to let David Garrard go and move in a different direction. This should be a low-scoring, defensive battle that the Titans will capture.
Prediction: Tennessee 14, Jacksonville 13
Actual Score: Jacksonville 16, Tennessee 14
Spread Pick: Tennessee +1
Actual Score: Jacksonville 16, Tennessee 14

Buffalo Bills (0-0) at Kansas City Chiefs (0-0)
The Bills defense figures to be their strength this year. They’ll have to rely on it and their run game to win games. But the Chiefs have a strong offense led by Jamaal Charles and a good receiving corps and I think they win this one at home.
Prediction: Kansas City 23, Buffalo 14
Actual Score: Buffalo 41, Kansas City 7
Spread Pick: Kansas City -5 1/2
Actual Score: Buffalo 41, Kansas City 7

Philadelphia Eagles (0-0) at St. Louis Rams (0-0)
The Eagles can take their first step toward the Super Bowl against an up-and-coming Rams team. Backup quarterback Vince Young dubbed the Eagles a “dream team” after Philly went out and signed big names off the free agent market. The Rams could give them trouble, but I expect the Eagles to ultimately survive.
Prediction: Philadelphia 27, St. Louis 24
Actual Score: Philadelphia 31, St. Louis 13
Spread Pick: St. Louis +4 1/2
Actual Score: Philadelphia 31, St. Louis 13

Detroit Lions (0-0) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-0)
Detroit is the sexy pick to make the biggest leap this year but I don’t see it happening just yet. First, Matthew Stafford has to stay healthy for a full season. Second, the team has to learn how to close games, which they haven’t been able to do. Tampa Bay — last year’s darling — will close out the Lions behind a strong run game and good defense.
Prediction: Tampa Bay 21, Detroit 17
Actual Score: Detroit 27, Tampa Bay 20
Spread Pick: Tampa Bay -1
Actual Score: Detroit 27, Tampa Bay 20

Carolina Panthers (0-0) at Arizona Cardinals (0-0)
The Panthers made several moves this offseason to try to rebuild for the future. It’ll be a work in progress for new coach Ron Rivera and his team and I don’t expect them to hit on all cylinders just yet.
Prediction: Arizona 17, Carolina 13
Actual Score: Arizona 28, Carolina 21
Spread Pick: Carolina +7
Actual Score: Arizona 28, Carolina 21

Minnesota Vikings (0-0) at San Diego Chargers (0-0)
Minnesota has fallen far from grace but as long as they have Adrian Peterson, they should be competitive. The Chargers, a much more polished team at this point, are likely to win this game with comfort, though.
Prediction: San Diego 28, Minnesota 14
Actual Score: San Diego 24, Minnesota 17
Spread Pick: San Diego -9
Actual Score: San Diego 24, Minnesota 17

Seattle Seahawks (0-0) at San Francisco 49ers (0-0)
The Seahawks won the NFC West with a lousy 7-9 record last year and I expect the division to be similar this year. The 49ers ought to win this game at home with their ground game.
Prediction: San Francisco 20, Seattle 17
Actual Score: San Francisco 33, Seattle 17
Spread Pick: Seattle +5 1/2
Actual Score: San Francisco 33, Seattle 17

New York Giants (0-0) at Washington Redskins (0-0)
The Giants suffered some injuries in the preseason that will set them back, but they should still be competitive this year. I’m not sure Washington will be in the mix for the NFC East, but I think they have a good shot at winning their home opener.
Prediction: Washington 20, NY Giants 17
Actual Score: Washington 28, NY Giants 14
Spread Pick: Washington +3
Actual Score: Washington 28, NY Giants 14

Dallas Cowboys (0-0) at New York Jets (0-0)
Dallas is likely to show signs of improvement from last year but I think the Jets have a bit too much in store for them. With their defense and run game, the Jets should win this one at home.
Prediction: NY Jets 24, Dallas 20
Actual Score: NY Jets 27, Dallas 24
Spread Pick: Dallas +5 1/2
Actual Score: NY Jets 27, Dallas 24

New England Patriots (0-0) at Miami Dolphins (0-0)
The Patriots look just as potent as they were a year ago and I see another big season for them starting with a road win against the Dolphins. Miami has problems at quarterback and their defense will struggle to contain the Patriots offense.
Prediction: New England 30, Miami 17
Actual Score: New England 38, Miami 24
Spread Pick: New England -7
Actual Score: New England 38, Miami 24

Oakland Raiders (0-0) at Denver Broncos (0-0)
Oakland swept divisional play a year ago but I think they start 0-1 in the AFC West this year. The Broncos have a multi-faceted offense that should take advantage of a Raiders defense sans Nnamdi Asomugha.
Prediction: Denver 20, Oakland 14
Actual Score: Oakland 23, Denver 20
Spread Pick: Denver -3
Actual Score: Oakland 23, Denver 20