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With one game done, it is now time for Dan and I to pick the rest of the week 1 games as the season really gets going tonight.

Falcons @ Bears (+7.5)

We saw last season that the Super Bowl hang over for the losing side can be very real, but I am not expecting the Atlanta Falcons to fall off in the way the Carolina Panthers did last year. Their defence continues to improve, but the loss of Kyle Shanahan as offensive co-ordinator will have an effect although there is plenty of talent on that side of the ball.

The Chicago Bears had a curious offseason, trading up one slot to pick a quarterback having just handed out a big contract to free agent Mike Glennon. They can’t be as injured on defence as last season, but whilst I doubt they will win, I’m not prepared to back the Falcons to cover this line on the road with all that’s happened to them, and so it’s time for my first nervous pick of the year.

Gee’s Pick:            Bears
Dan’s Pick:            Falcons

Jets @ Bills (-6.5)

The New York Jets are definitely going through a process of rebuilding, as are the Buffalo Bills, but whilst the Bills have been trading away players as they try to build a new team culture the Jets look to have virtually torn their roster down to the ground to rebuild it. I’m don’t feel extremely confident about this, but I’m backing the Bills to cover this at home against a Jets team who are going to struggle all year.

Gee’s Pick:            Bills
Dan’s Pick:            Bills

Ravens @ Bengals (-2.5)

I would be very worried about the Baltimore Ravens’ offence if I were a fan of that team. We have not seen Joe Flacco in the pre-season thanks to a back injury, their much vaunted offensive line has been in flux and they are starting out on the road, although their defence should be strong again this year. The Cincinnati Bengals have their own questions on at offence tackle, but I like the young talent and depth on defence, and I fancy them to get off to a winning start at home with Andy Dalton having plenty of options on offence.

Gee’s Pick:            Bengals
Dan’s Pick:            Ravens

Steelers @ Browns (+9.5)

Many have argued that the Pittsburgh Steelers could be the class of the AFC, with the return of dynamic receiver Martavis Bryant to an already scary offence, combined with an improving defence which head coach Mike Tomlin is shaping in his own image, I would not disagree. However, I also like the direction the Cleveland Browns are heading in, and whilst I do not expect them to be pushing for the playoffs, the Browns will cause teams problems this year and I expect them to do better than last season. That said, with first round draft pick Myles Garrett picking up a high ankle sprain on Wednesday, there could well be a feeling of not again surfacing in Cleveland. Still, this is a very high line for a road team and I’m going to back the Browns to cover, I just wish their new pass rusher was starting. I may regret this…

Gee’s Pick:            Browns
Dan’s Pick:            Steelers

Cardinals @ Lions (-2.5)

The Arizona Cardinals travel to Detroit with commentators talking about it being another last chance season for Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald, and possibly Bruce Arians. Still, I have a lot of faith in the coaching staff of the Cardinals, and the presented reason for Palmer’s improvement in the second half of last season being due to them restricting his number of throws in practice does at least make sense given he is thirty-seven. They face a Lions team that have just signed quarterback Matthew Stafford to a huge contract off the back of several strong years under offensive co-ordinator Jim Bob Cooter, but the defence worries me and I think the Lions could have a tough year as a result. After all, for Stafford to have all those fourth quarter comebacks last year, the Lions had to go into the fourth quarter losing in the first place.

Gee’s Pick:            Cardinals
Dan’s Pick:            Cardinals

Raiders @ Titans (+0.5)

This should be a great game between two developing teams. The Oakland Raiders looked set for a strong showing in the playoffs before Derek Carr broke his leg, but everyone is expecting them to be good again this year. I’m not sure how much running back Marshawn Lynch has left in the tank as he comes out of retirement, but if Lynch cam manage the kind of runs that made him famous for Seattle then that could help open up the field for Carr, but questions remain about the Raiders defence.

The Tennessee Titans took a step forward last season, with Dick LeBeau helping to transform the defence (LeBeau will become the oldest person to call an NFL defence this season and was subject of an excellent MMQB podcast that’s worth looking up) and the offence making exotic smashmouth work for their young quarterback. The running game is often a young quarterback’s best friend, and only time will tell if the receivers that were added to the roster in the offseason help open up the offence for Marcus Mariota.

In a game that is a straight choice, I’m going to back the team who made the playoffs last season but I could regret it. This should be a great game.

Gee’s Pick:            Raiders
Dan’s Pick:            Titans

Buccanneers @ Dolphins

Due to hurricane Irma, this game has been postponed to week 11, meaning both teams will play sixteen straight games in what will be a real test for both teams, but that seems kind of insignificant right now.

Eagles @ Washington (-2.5)

There is a lot of buzz about the Philadelphia Eagles, with the overhaul of their receivers giving hope for the continued development of their second year quarterback Carson Wentz. There is also a belief that the defence will be good this year. I can certainly see the reasons for such hope, but I have not seen it in the flesh yet, whereas Washington have been solid for the last couple of season through their own rebuild. The overhaul of their receivers was curious given the team’s success, and we enter another season with questions about Kirk Cousins’ long term future, but he keeps throwing for over four thousand yards a season. I could very easily regret this, but right now I’m backing Washington to win at home

Gee’s Pick:            Washington
Dan’s Pick:            Eagles

Jaguars @ Texans (-4.5)

The Jacksonville Jaguars have a defence that looks like it should be really good, but the offence worries me a lot. It’s all very well committing to the running game, but setting up the pass with the run is really a myth, and what you need is a convincing threat of being able to be either balanced with run/pass, or flexible enough to wrong foot the defence with one of them being predominant. If the Jaguars just try to bludgeon teams with rookie runner Leonard Fournette they will see endless eight man boxes, and I don’t think anyone feels like Blake Bortles currently has the form to take advantage of this. Facing a Houston Texans defence that looks like it could be one of the best in the league, I expect the Jaguars to struggle. There are questions at quarterback again for the Texans, but this team keeps winning their division, and they will be looking to give their city something to rally around after the recent flooding. I think the Texans will win, and although the line does give me pause, it does not stop me picking the Texans.

Gee’s Pick:            Texans
Dan’s Pick:            Texans

Colts @ Rams (+3.5)

We don’t know for how long the Indianapolis Colts will be without Andrew Luck, and right now they don’t see to have much to hang their hats on without him having struggled in preseason. They travel to LA to face a Rams team that even without Aarond Donald should have enough on defence to contain the current Colts offence. The question for Rams fans will be can Jared Goff develop into a starting quarterback under the guidance of an offensive minded head coach, but I fancy the Rams to win this one, and if I’m getting points at home as well then I’m definitely going to take them. Don’t let me down Rams…

Gee’s Pick:            Rams
Dan’s Pick:            Rams

Seahawks @ Packers (-2.5)

This looks to be game of the week, although the Chiefs and Patriots did a fine job of starting the season on Thursday. Still with the Seattle Seahawks defence matching up against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offence, we have one of best matchups in the league. In recent meetings between these two teams it has tended to be the home team who have won, and whilst in recent years the Packers have got off to sometimes sluggish starts, I fancy them to win this one at Lambeau Field.

Gee’s Pick:            Packers
Dan’s Pick:            Packers

Panthers @ 49ers (+5.5)

The Carolina Panthers are trying to overhaul their offence after their struggles last season and to protect their running quarterback Cam Newton, but despite the addition of Christian McCaffrey as a running back who can catch out of the backfield, Newton has never been the most accurate of short passers and given his should surgery, he has not had a lot of time to work with his new receiving options. I will also be worried about the health of Luke Kuechly all season and so whilst I expect the Panthers to be better this year than last, I’m not sure you can immediately expect them to turn things round in week one. Particularly when they are heading to face a San Francisco 49ers team who are beginning their own transformation under a new GM and head coach. I’m not expecting the 49ers to challenge for the playoffs or anything, but I think they will demonstrate progress and if you are giving me five and a half points at home against a team who I think need to prove themselves again, then I am going to take them.

Gee’s Pick:            49ers
Dan’s Pick:            49ers

Giants @ Cowboys (-4.5)

The Dallas Cowboys have never shied away from controversial players, and we are still not sure what the situation for Ezekiel Elliott will be long term, but he is playing in this game. However, the much vaunted Cowboys offensive line has had a reshuffle and the defence lost a lot of players. I’m not sure that this team are necessarily as locked in to repeat last year’s feats as many seem to think. They welcome a New York Giants team who may have a banged up Odell Beckham, but who have been adding to Eli Manning’s passing options in the offseason, and the defence could be very good again even if they might take a step back after last year’s amazing turnaround. Sill, having beaten the Cowboys twice last season, I’m happy to take the four and a half points and hope for a cover.

Gee’s Pick:            Giants
Dan’s Pick:            Giants

Saints @ Vikings (-3.5)

There are two Monday night games this week, and the first sees the New Orleans Saints travel to face a tough Minnesota Vikings defence. The Saints only need their defence to improve from bottom of the league to respectable for them to be truly competitive given that Drew Brees is still throwing for five thousand yards a year. But this is a tough start to the season for them as the Vikings seem to have already developed a good home advantage in what last year was a new stadium, but the offensive line limited their effectiveness on offence although Sam Bradford still managed a record setting level of accuracy. With a bit more stability this year the Vikings are likely to be very competitive, and I’m backing them in this one at home, although I am looking forward to seeing how the Saints might develop.

Gee’s Pick:            Vikings
Dan’s Pick:            Vikings

Chargers @ Broncos (-3.5)

This final game of the week is giving me some trouble to pick, because the Broncos defence has been a little unsettled in the front seven in the last two seasons, and they have just released TJ Ward in the final round of cuts at the end of preseason. They will be hoping to have developed the offensive line enough to help Trevor Siemian and the offensive be more effective as they were very limited last season. With the Chargers moving to LA, there will be a degree of disruption floating round that certainly hurt the Rams last year, but the roster does appear to turning round. The addition of Joey Bosa gave the Chargers defence a real lift when he played, and certainly when I saw the Chargers in preseason I was impressed.

One of these new head coaches will get a win, but I’m finding it hard to predict which one, and with the Broncos needing to win by four to cover this I’m grabbing the points and hoping the Chargers won’t let me down despite traveling to a difficult place to play.

Gee’s Pick:            Chargers
Dan’s Pick:            Broncos

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