Bengals (-2) over RAVENS
The Bengals cannot possibly finish above .500 with Ocho Cinco still creating drama and an undermining owner bringing back Chris Henry. That’s enough bad karma right there to doom their season. But in week one, Cincinnati forgets about all their issues and wins on the strength of superior quarterback play (Palmer versus the rookie Flacco).
Jets (-3) over DOLPHINS
The Dolphins have a new coach, a new quarterback and a 31-year-old starting running back (who I nevertheless hope has a big season). The Jets improved their O-line (Alan Faneca), their D-Line (Kris Jenkins) and you might have heard they also have a new quarterback. As much as Chad Pennington would love to beat his old team, it’s not gonna happen. Favre’s magic carries the Jets through at least week 1.
Chiefs (+15.5) over PATRIOTS
In 2004, Peyton Manning set an NFL record with 49 touchdown passes, yet the Colts failed to win the Superbowl. In 2006, they figured out how to run the ball and won the big game. Last year, Tom Brady broke Manning’s TD record and the Patriots routinely beat double-digit spreads. This year, Tom Brady hasn’t yet played and the Pats didn’t even win a pre-season game. Plus, I don’t see the Spy-gate anger carrying over through the off-season. So New England will chill out after remembering that regular season wins don’t really matter. They’ll still win a lot of games, but won’t be running away with them and going for it on fourth down with 20-point leads.
Texans (+7) over STEELERS
Young Shanahan and a Denver run-blocking scheme, plus improved QB play will help Houston improve on last year’s 8-8 record. Whether or not they win tomorrow, they will keep it close.
Jaguars (-3) over TITANS
I’m surprised this line is so low. I love the way David Garrard takes care of the ball (18 TDs and only 3 INTs last year) and their defense is solid. Add the bitter memory of losing to Tennessee in last year’s opener and I see a big win tomorrow.
Lions (-3) over FALCONS
Three point favorites against a rookie QB?!! Tooo eeeeasy… Not to mention a new head coach and a career backup starting at RB. Plus, who’s going to cover Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson with DeAngelo Hall in Oakland? One win down, 9 to go for Jon Kitna and the Lions.
Seahawks (+1) over BILLS
Seattle traditionally starts off slow. Don’t’ expect big numbers from Matt Hassel beck and the offense until at least week 4. But do expect solid, if conservative, coaching. If they could, the Seahawks would win by ½ a point. They won’t win big, but they’ll win.
SAINTS (-3) over Buccaneers
New Orleans gets back to their 2006 form by beating the 2007 NFC South Champs. In a pretty evenly matched game, home0field in the Superdome is enough for an ATS win or at least a push.
EAGLES (-8.5) over Rams
Superior line-play by the Eagles keys a blow-out. Steven Jackson gets comfortable with a new contract and struggles with an o-line that, because of so many injuries last year, barely knows each other.
BROWNS (+6) over Cowboys
Cleveland keeps it close at home.
Panthers (+9) over CHARGERS
Nine points is too much for Jake Delhomme, Tommy John and a bounce-back Carolina team. Even without Steve Smith, the Panthers will keep it close.
Cardinals (-2.5) over FORTY-NINERS
J.T. O’Sullivan wishes he had Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald to throw to.
Vikings (+2.5) over PACKERS
Adrian Peterson beats a defense with a hurting A.J. Hawk and Jared Allen helps the Minnesota defense keep Aaron Rogers in check in his first start.
Broncos (-3) over RAIDERS
I refuse to ever bet against Mike Shanahan when he’s facing Al Davis. I’m pretty sure Mike will still hate Al even after he dies.
Note: I will escape from the evil grasp of full-time tax-consulting in a little over a week. I am very much looking forward to having the extra time to focus on football.