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Pudge’s Picks – Week 1

September 7th, 2013

Here are my picks for every game this weekend. In case you missed it, I picked the Thursday Night kickoff game and was wrong. The Broncos did win, but the Ravens did not come close to covering 8.5 points the Broncos were favored by. Things looked good for me at halftime, but then the Ravens hit a disastrous patch of quicksand at the outset of the third quarter and the Broncos’ offense blew the doors off them.

FalcFans.com has it’s own ESPN Pigskin Pick’em group, where we’ll be picking against the spread. If you haven’t joined already, you can still get in before Sunday. Don’t worry that you already missed the Thursday game. We drop your lowest-scoring week, so even if you don’t get your picks in until Week 2, it won’t necessarily count against you. So be sure to join up if you want to flex your muscles and show your picking skills.

Piggy-backing off that, I’ll be using the same lines from ESPN to pick these games.

Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

Sean Payton

Atlanta Falcons (0-0) at New Orleans Saints (0-0)
Sunday, September 8 at 1 pm ET on FOX

Line: Saints (-2.5)

History is on the Saints’ side. Sean Payton is 6-2 against Mike Smith, including 3-1 at home. Their only loss coming thanks to a flukey Garrett Hartley missed field goal. Please don’t hate me Falcon fans, but the Falcons are 3-2 in their openers under Mike Smith. Two of those wins came against teams that combined for 2 wins in those respective seasons, the other coming against a 7-9 Dolphins team. They lost to the Steelers and Bears on the road, both of whom wound having winning seasons. This isn’t indicative of the way I think the rest of the Falcons season will go, but I don’t expect the Falcons to win on Sunday on the road against the Saints.

Spread Pick: Saints
Straight Pick: Saints

Minnesota Vikings (0-0) at Detroit Lions (0-0)
Sunday, September 8 at 1 pm ET on FOX

Line: Lions (-3.5)

I like this matchup: Adrian Peterson vs. the Lions defense. I suspect Ndamukong Suh will have a big year and be in the running for Defensive MVP this year, but I’m not sure the weaker Lions’ run defense is going to significantly better than it has been. The Lions’ secondary is weak, but Christian Ponder even with Greg Jennings probably won’t be able to exploit it. I like the Lions’ pass rush and I think they could overwhelm Ponder. But if Peterson gets going, I like their chances. But I don’t think that he’ll go crazy to start the season. If Detroit can’t win this game, it doesn’t bode well for their 2013 season.

Spread Pick: Lions
Straight Pick: Lions

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Geno Smith

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-0) at New York Jets (0-0)
Sunday, September 8 at 1 pm ET on FOX

Line: Jets (+1.5)

Geno Smith will make his first career start and I think he’s going to look bad and throw a couple of picks in this game. The Jets’ defense is tough and could limit Josh Freeman and Doug Martin, but in a game where the turnover margin is likely to be +2, +3 or better in the Bucs’ favor, it’s not going to matter much.

Spread Pick: Bucs
Straight Pick: Bucs

Seattle Seahawks (0-0) at Carolina Panthers (0-0)
Sunday, September 8 at 1 pm ET on FOX

Line: Panthers (+2.5)

Sure, we hear about the Seahawks’ struggles in the Eastern timezone. They are 1-5 under Pete Carroll in the East at a 1:00 kickoff. Well, I think that’s 2-5 on Monday. The Seahawks are just too talented even if they get off to a slow start due to the early playing time. The Panthers’ secondary is too porous, and despite a good front seven, I don’t think it’s going to be effective enough to win this game. The Seahawks’ defense will shut down Cam Newton and that Panthers’ offense thanks to a weak offensive line.

Spread Pick: Seahawks
Straight Pick: Seahawks

New England Patriots (0-0) at Buffalo Bills (0-0)
Sunday, September 8 at 1 pm ET on CBS

Line: Bills (+6.5)

Jeff Tuel is starting for the Bills. He had his moments in the preseason, but the Patriots are going to be a buzzsaw for a rookie quarterback. Unless C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson combine for over 200 yards rushing, I don’t think the Bills stand a chance. I suspect after Thursday night’s performance from Peyton Manning and Wes Welker, Bill Belichick will make a point to feature Danny Amendola heavily on Sunday. The Bills are without their top corner in Stephon Gilmore, so even the other questionable Patriots receivers should also have good games.

Spread Pick: Patriots
Straight Pick: Patriots

Cincinnati Bengals (0-0) at Chicago Bears (0-0)
Sunday, September 8 at 1 pm ET on CBS

Line: Bears (-3.5)

This will be a very interesting matchup. I know the Bengals’ defense is really good. I think the Bears’ offense could be pretty good with Marc Trestman now as Jay Cutler finally gets an offensive-minded coach. But it’s all about the Bears’ offensive line matching up with the Bengals’ defensive line. I think the Bears’ O-line is going to be significantly improved this year, but Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap, and Michael Johnson are just going to be too early a test for them. I like the defense to keep this close, but I like the Bears to win in their home debut. I just can’t trust Andy Dalton on the road yet, especially if Andrew Whitworth might not play and keep Julius Peppers off him.

Spread Pick: Bengals
Straight Pick: Bears

Miami Dolphins (0-0) at Cleveland Browns (0-0)
Sunday, September 8 at 1 pm ET on CBS

Line: Browns (+0.5)

It’s hard not to like the Dolphins in this game. Cameron Wake vs. Mitchell Schwartz, Brent Grimes picking off Brandon Weeden on a deep ball to Josh Gordon, and the Dolphins’ front line slowing down Trent Richardson. But I do have some concerns about the Dolphins’ offense and their ability to score against the Browns’ defense, especially on the road. Will Mike Wallace get going against Joe Haden? Will Lamar Miller find room on the ground? I doubt it. This could be a low-scoring affair. 13-10 Dolphins, appears to be a safe bet.

Spread Pick: Dolphins
Straight Pick: Dolphins

Tennessee Titans (0-0) at Pittsburgh Steelers (0-0)
Sunday, September 8 at 1 pm ET on CBS

Line: Steelers (-6.5)

Mike Tomlin is 8-0 in home games in September and has never lost a home opener while coaching the Steelers. I don’t think the Titans have what it takes to break that streak. The Steelers’ defense isn’t what it once was, but has always been very good at shutting down Chris Johnson. Without Johnson having a big game, I don’t see what the Titans can do offensively to win this one. I don’t love the Steelers offense to win by a touchdown, but against the Titans’ defense with a notoriously weak secondary, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.

Spread Pick: Steelers
Straight Pick: Steelers

Oakland Raiders (0-0) at Indianapolis Colts (0-0)
Sunday, September 8 at 1 pm ET on CBS

Line: Colts (-6.5)

Terrelle Pryor will be starting this week, and he’ll be facing a weak Colts’ defense. But that Raiders’ defense is a lot weaker and I suspect Andrew Luck and Reggie Wayne will have very big games against them. Unless Darren McFadden and Pryor combine for over 200 yards (which is plausible if the Colts’ defense is as bad as I think it can be), the Raiders will struggle to score in this game. Especially with a patchwork offensive line, as they are likely to be down to their fourth-string left tackle. Robert Mathis will feast.

Spread Pick: Colts
Straight Pick: Colts

Kansas City Chiefs (0-0) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-0)
Sunday, September 8 at 1 pm ET on CBS

Line: Jaguars (+2.5)

I’m not that high on the Chiefs this year, but Alex Smith, Andy Reid, and Jamaal Charles should be able to go into Jacksonville and be able to put up points. Gus Bradley is a good defensive coach, but I don’t think he can stop them, at least not to a degree where he keeps the game within a field goal. Blaine Gabbert might not play due to an injured hand, but it doesn’t matter because Chad Henne isn’t any better.

Spread Pick: Chiefs
Straight Pick: Chiefs

Green Bay Packers (0-0) at San Francisco 49ers (0-0)
Sunday, September 8 at 4:25 pm ET on FOX

Line: 49ers (-4.5)

I don’t like the Packers’ O-line going up against the 49ers’ front in this game. I think the 49ers’ offense just grounds Green Bay’s defense into the dirt. Will they get roasted by Colin Kaepernick like they did in the playoffs? Probably not. But I think just like the Falcons last January, their focus on stopping the running QB means they don’t focus enough on stopping the running RBs. Even without great playmakers on the outside, it doesn’t help that the Packers’ top corner, Casey Heyward, will miss this game.

Spread Pick: 49ers
Straight Pick: 49ers

Arizona Cardinals (0-0) at St. Louis Rams (0-0)
Sunday, September 8 at 4:25 pm ET on FOX

Line: Rams (-5.5)

I like the Rams’ pass rush against that weak Cardinals’ O-line. The over/under on sacks on Carson Palmer should be 4, and I’ll take the over. The Cardinals defense is tough, but without Ray Horton, I don’t see them making the difference in this game. Probably another low-scoring game, where neither team scores more than 20 points.

Spread Pick: Cardinals
Straight Pick: Rams

New York Giants (0-0) at Dallas Cowboys (0-0)
Sunday, September 8 at 8:30 pm ET on NBC

Line: Cowboys (-2.5)

Maybe I have the Ogletree game stuck in my head from last year, but I’m siding with the Cowboys. They need a good start this year, and with Victor Cruz being nicked up and the questions at running back for the Giants, I think this is not going to be their week. The Cowboys front seven led by DeMarcus Ware and Sean Lee should have good games with the Giants missing two starters up front. The one thing that gives me pause is that the Cowboys are starting Jeremy Parnell and he’ll be matched up against Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul quite a bit this week. But JPP might not even play as he’s a game-time decision with a back injury.

Spread Pick: Cowboys
Straight Pick: Cowboys

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Robert Griffin III

Philadelphia Eagles (0-0) at Washington Redskins (0-0)
Monday, September 9 at 6:55 pm ET on ESPN

Line: Redskins (-4.5)

RG3 makes his triumphant return, but I like the Eagles in this game. I think Chip Kelly’s offense catches the Redskins off-guard just like Mike Shanahan caught the Saints off-guard in Week 1 last year. Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy, and DeSean Jackson I believe do some serious damage against that Redskins defense, even though I think Brian Orakpo is going to have a good year. As long as the Eagles’ defense doesn’t let Alfred Morris run for 150 yards (which is definitely possible), they should be able to steal this win.

Spread Pick: Eagles
Straight Pick: Eagles

Houston Texans (0-0) at San Diego Chargers (0-0)
Monday, September 9 at 10:15 pm ET on ESPN

Line: Chargers (+2.5)

Count me a Philip Rivers’ fan, but if he throws 4 picks against this Texans’ defense, I would not be surprised. Besides Antonio Gates, he is in the running for the worst supporting cast on offense in the league. And their defense is mediocre at best. The Texans should be able to go on the road, J.J. Watt should wreck things, and Arian Foster/Ben Tate should be able carve up that Chargers’ defense.

Spread Pick: Texans
Straight Pick: Texans

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