Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears (-3.0)*
Finally football is back — for real this time. Not only will the NFL kickoff with a historic matchup between rivals as old as time, but Goodell and Co. gave the Chicago Bears a tremendous stage to begin their redemption tour. The last snap for Matt Nagy’s Bears resulted in the infamous double-doink, eliminating them from the playoffs during a hopeful season.
Additionally, the Bears have a bone to pick with the Packers after last season’s prime time Week One game. Following an outstanding performance by Chicago’s defense, Aaron Rodgers surgically picked them apart in the fourth quarter to lead a comeback in vintage Rodgers fashion.
The 2019 Bears and Packers’ offenses will look a bit different from last season’s. Despite leading the Titans offense to a limp 27th overall in points scored last season, the Packers higher ups have significant faith in new head coach, Matt LaFleur’s, ability to utilize Aaron Rodgers to lead a Super Bowl contending organization. LeFleur’s talents as an offensive mind will truly be put to the test tonight facing Khalil Mack and the Bears’ defense that ranked #1 last season in points allowed, yards per play, turnovers, and first downs allowed. Wow, thats a lot of domination.
Chicago Bears -3.0
The way I see it: if the Bears win, they will cover. I see this Bears team as one of the few in the NFL that can compete with the high-powered offenses in the NFC, and I foresee them representing the NFC in Super Bowl LIV
Confidence: I am very confident about this pick, but would never bet my mortgage against Aaron Rodgers.
Player to watch: Bears rookie RB David Montgomery
Kansas City Chiefs (-4.0) @ Jacksonville Jaguars
The Chiefs are another team that simply cannot wait to forget about their last football game. A devastating overtime loss to the Patriots in the AFC Championship following a fourth down stop that was erased by an offsides penalty is guaranteed to make your blood boil if you’re a Chiefs fan. Rather than sulking in their misery (definitely not calling out the Saints), Kansas City’s front office went to work, adding strength to their defense that allowed the second most yards last season, bringing in former first-team All-Pro safety Tyrann Mathieu.
On the other side, the Jaguars changed the entire dynamic of this season by acquiring one player: Nick Foles. Whether or not the Jags can return to their championship form from two seasons ago is still up for question, a question that Jacksonville natives are eager to be answered this Sunday and the next 16 games going forward.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Jaguars need to give me a reason to believe in them again, and I do not believe this will be that week. The Chiefs are simply a better team and better coached than their counterpart.
Kansas City Chiefs -4.0
It almost feels like Vegas knows something I don’t because to me, this line should be at least three more points in the Chiefs’ favor.
Player to watch:
Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette
There has never been a question to his talent, but his ability to open the game up has been hindered by injuries, off-field issues, and the Jaguars weak passing game. I am interested to see how his production will be affected by the Jaguars new and improved passing attack.
Baltimore Ravens (-7.0) @ Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins are currently the betting favorite… in having the worst record in the NFL this season. Last week the Dolphins traded former first round OT Laremy Tunsilfor an enticing haul of draft picks, showing that focussing on the future will take precedence for this Miami Dolphins team.
Meanwhile, the Ravens will be running an offense different than any other in the current NFL. When asked about Lamar Jackson’s carries compared to Cam Newton’s record for rushing attempts as a quarterback, John Harbaugh said, “I’d bet the over on that one. I’d bet the over for sure on that one.” While Jackson’s talents are unlike any quarterback in the league, the offense that surrounds that type of play style is very easily defended.
This was seen last season in the Ravens’ matchups against the Los Angeles Chargers. In the regular season, the Chargers lost to the Ravens. But it was clear that their defense came out in the second half of that game with a sound game plan for Jackson.
That game plan was utilized two weeks later when the Chargers swarmed Jackson to defeat the Ravens in the Wild Card round. The more Jackson plays, the more film there is on him, the better chance teams have to defend him. That is retracted, however, if and only if Lamar Jackson shows tremendous leaps in his throwing accuracy and decision making.
Baltimore Ravens -7.0
While I am not high on this Ravens offense, I am beyond low on this entire Dolphins team. Fitzmagic in a Week One game gives me some scary flashbacks, but I do not see the Ravens losing this game, and when they win, it will not be a one score game.
Player to watch:
Ravens QB Lamar Jackson
As I said, Jackson’s ability to be a force in this league is completely dependent on whether or not his pass game can improve, which is exactly what I will be looking for in this matchup.
Buffalo Bills @ New York Jets (-3.0)
A classic divisional matchup that has not had any significance since the Bills’ Week 17 win over the Jets in 2015 that stopped Gang Green’s playoff run before it began. But now in 2019, both of these teams have found their quarterback of the future and are eagerly awaiting to see what kind of jump they will make in year two.
Sam Darnold and Josh Allen showed New York fans of all kinds the type of talent that will reign in this league following the departure of previous greats (ie. Brady, Roethlisberger, Rivers, etc.). But when it comes to the supporting cast, the Jets have the Bills beat by a long while. Jets adding offensive tools like WR Jamison Crowder and Pro Bowlers RB Le’Veon Bell and OT Kelechi Osemele as well as C.J. Mosely and Quinnen Williams on defense, the Jets will certainly be in the running to be this season’s most improved team.
New York Jets
New York Jets (-3.0)
I’m sure you’re sick of seeing all favorites in this column, but when I am very confident in a team’s chances of winning, I am never fazed by three points.
I think that the Jets are the better football team, are the home team, and have more potential on the season than the Bills. However, division matchups between these two teams are often grudge matches and have the tendency of going either way. Both teams have much to prove which could prove to be dangerous betting on this game.
Player to watch:
Jets WR Jamison Crowder
Crowder, coming off an injury-riddled season with Washington, has been a standout player in training camp for the Jets and is likely to see a large percentage of Sam Darnold’s targets this season.
Los Angeles Rams (-3.0) @ Carolina Panthers
Traveling to the East Coast to play in an early game as a West Coast team has been touted as a disadvantage in the NFL. Clearly, Vegas seems to think the long distance travel and time difference will be a disadvantage to the Rams — being that they would normally be favored by more in this matchup.
But talent should surpass that when considering a matchup, and the reigning NFC champions do have more talent on their side of the ball. Cooper Kupp, who suffered a torn ACL last season, is ready to go. Todd Gurley, who hasn’t been healthy in a year, is back — at least according to Sean McVay.
The Panthers are still looking to bounce back from their 15–1 season that resulted in Super Bowl failure. That starts with Cam Newton’s health and if he can play without having to battle through nagging injuries. If Cam can reach production that meets 75% of how he played just four years ago, the Panthers could actually be in a good position to compete with the Saints and Falcons for the NFC South, but that needs to be seen before ample predictions can be made.
Los Angeles Rams
Los Angeles Rams (-3.0)
Just as I felt with the Chiefs game, I believe this is a line that should be far more leaned towards the Rams. If and when the Rams begin the season 1–0, they will do so by more than 3 points. This is an offense that is too dynamic to be stopped in Week One while they’re healthy and hungry.
Players to watch:
Panthers WRs D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel
D.J. Moore is heading into his second season after showing flashes of his potential last year in an offense that lacked weapons with Greg Olsen sidelined for many weeks with injuries. Curtis Samuel may be even more interesting as reports from Panthers’ training camp showed tremendous excitement for what Samuel’s athleticism can bring to the table this season. Both are worth watching and determining for yourself who the No. 1 WR should be for Cam Newton.
Atlanta Falcons @ Minnesota Vikings (-4.0)
Falcons v. Vikings is a matchup of 2018 disappointments. Both teams entered last season with playoff and Super Bowl aspirations but neither performed to their expectations, ultimately falling short of the Wild Card bubble. But do not let their shortcomings last year give you a false perception of this season. These are two competitive teams, and a competitive game is exactly what I expect to come out of this game.
Both Matt Ryan and Kirk Cousins as well as Devonta Freeman and Dalvin Cook have a lot to prove this season, as they all hope to join the conversation as a top player in their respective positions. The Falcons and Vikings have far more similarities than meets the eye, and their week 1 matchup will kickstart one of them on their way to a fresh start.
Atlanta Falcons +4.0
This is a game that I find to be incredibly unpredictable. That being said, it is not a game I would ever feel comfortable choosing a winner, but since I believe the Falcons have a 50/50 shot at this game, +4.0 makes my opinion skew in favor of Atlanta.
Player to watch:
Falcons RB Devonta Freeman
Coming off of a season-ending injury, the Falcons allowed his partner-in-crime Tevin Coleman to exit, leaving the backfield to just Freeman and Ito Smith. If he can stay on the field, Freeman will have a chance to regain respect as one of the top running backs in the NFL.
Washington @ Philadelphia Eagles (-9.5)
The NFL really loves these Week One rivalry games. All four NFC East teams will face off against each other this weekend. Unfortunately, it is the two expected top teams versus the two teams that are heavily rebuilding. For Washington fans, there is a conflict of interest in this game because there surely is a significant desire in our nation’s capital to bring in the rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins, but at the same time, no Washington fan would ever be willing to give up an inch to the Eagles.
For Philly, this is a game that gives Wentz and their new slate of running backs a chance to get their feet wet. The Eagles running back corps now includes former Bear Jordan Howard and Penn State standout Miles Sanders, who will play along with Darren Sproles and Corey Clement in Doug Pederson’s planned committee.
This game will more than likely be just another learning point for Washington as they rebuild, and another victory for the Eagles en route to a hopeful playoff run.
Don’t do it.
As much as I think the Eagles will easily handle Washington, a 9.5 point spread is enough to scare me in this game.
Player to watch:
Sanders has been labeled as Philly’s most ‘complete back’ and has the opportunity to break down Pederson’s committee and become their lead man.
Tennessee Titans @ Cleveland Browns (-5.5)
There is excitement in Cleveland and it has nothing to do with LeBron. The Browns open the season as the favorite to win their division, something that Cleveland hasn’t conquered since 1989 when they were in the AFC Central with the Houston Oilers… both no longer exist.
The Dawg Pound has more than enough reason to be anxious to see their team after Baker Mayfield showcased to the league why he was selected No. 1 overall in the 2018 draft. Not to mention the surgance of RB Nick Chubb in the back-end of his rookie season. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, they have Odell Beckham Jr. lining up across from his LSU teammate and lifelong friend Jarvis Landry. Meanwhile all the Titans have to be excited about is not having to face Andrew Luck twice a year. This game should not be a contest.
Cleveland Browns (-5.5)
The Mayfield-era Browns at home against the Titans win this game, I have no doubt. In my opinion, the Browns should be 9.5 point favorites in this game.
Player to watch:
Titans WR Corey Davis
Davis is one of many young receivers in the NFL that has serious break-out potential this season, and if the Titans want to compete this season, Marcus Mariota will need a star at his disposal.
*All lines per TheScore