Disclaimer: I haven't really been following the off season NFL stories, as I've been busy publishing one book and starting another. So this is kind of a crap shoot. I pick the games straight up, with little regard for the betting lines. Don't get me wrong, I bet, but that's a whole different process. Anyway, here are the first picks of the season.
DENVER (HOME TEAM IN CAPS) 30 Baltimore 24: I think there will be a true revenge factor here. The Broncos literally gave that playoff game to the Ravens. I don't think they'll be that generous tonight.
PITTSBURGH 27 Tennessee 24: When in doubt in the NFL, I generally take the home team. The Steelers, off a down year, have something to prove.
New England 27 BUFFALO 20: I know there were a lot of distractions for the Patriots and they have a real issue at tight end, but the Bills are going with untested rookie EJ Manuel at QB. Brady and Company will find a way to get it done.
Atlanta 30 NEW ORLEANS 28: This is one of the best Week One matchups. Sean Payton is back coaching the Saints and they'll be hungry to show the home crowd that they can contend again. But the Falcons also have a lot to prove. This was a tossup for me.
Tampa Bay 24 NEW YORK JETS 17: I'm being very generous by thinking the Jets can score 17 points. This team and organization is a train wreck right now. The Bucs, while not yet an elite team, are on the rise.
Kansas City 27 JACKSONVILLE 24: Not sure why I'm going with the Chiefs, but I like Andy Reid hooked up with Alex Smith at QB. You add Jamal Charles at RB and you have a pretty formidable combo.
SEATTLE 30 Carolina 20: Let's see, the Panthers have Cam Newton. The Seahawks have Russell Wilson. The Panthers have Cam Newton. The Seahawks have Marshawn Lynch. The Panthers have Cam Newton. The Seahawks have a shut down defense. Okay, you get the picture.
CLEVELAND 27 Miami 24: There is really no logic to this pick.
DETROIT 21 Minnesota 20: Eventually all of that talent that the Lions have should come together. This is another pick 'em game for me, but I'll go with the home team.
INDIANAPOLIS 34 Oakland 17: The Raiders are the worst organization in the league and the product they will put on the field this season will reflect that. Outside of Darren McFadden, they have, well, nothing.
CHICAGO 28 Cincinnati 27: Another really close pick, but I'll give the nod to the Bears at Soldier Field.
ST. LOUIS 24 Arizona 17: The Cardinals are a bit of a mystery to me, but the Rams, in their second season under coach Jeff Fisher, need to make things happen. I like them here.
SAN FRANCISCO 37 Green Bay 34: In the playoffs last season, Colin Kaepernick totally dismantled the Packers. I think they'll make some adjustments, but the Niners are the complete deal and should manage to withstand an Aaron Rodgers assault.
DALLAS 30 New York Giants 20: The Giants have a lot of question marks and the Cowboys are poised to make a run, if Romo can avoid the brain farts.
WASHINGTON 27 Philadelphia 20: As a diehard Redskin fan, this one is a great start to the season. I'm also a Virginia Tech Hokie, so you can throw in the Michael Vick piece of the story as well. I think the difference will be the Washington running game. At least I hope so.
SAN DIEGO 31 Houston 28: The Texans' Gary Kubiak is on the hot seat and this game won't help much. I have no reason for picking the Chargers, other than they have a new coach and they're at home.