Los Angeles Rams vs Buffalo Bills
Spread: Bills -2.5
This should be a fun one to start the season. These are 2 of the best outfits in the NFL and a lot of people would not be surprised at all if this ended up being the SuperBowl. The Bills have one of the most potent offenses in the league but this may end up being a tougher matchup than most for them, the defensive line of the Rams matches up well against a Bills O-line that isn’t the greatest up the middle so I expect Aaron Donald to wreak havoc and Jalen Ramsey will be able to restrict Stefon Diggs, the guy that may end up doing the most damage for the Bills on offense is Gabriel Davis. The Rams on offense will also likely struggle against the elite pass rush of the Bills but with the Bills not being the greatest at corner, Stafford will be able to get his guys open and a big part of this game will be whether Allen Robinson rediscovers his form from before 2021 with Kupp likely to be seeing extra attention given that he is the best slot receiver in the NFL. I like the Rams to win this one though, their strengths match up well with the weaknesses of the Bills and they have a couple of less injuries to deal with.
Rams 27-23 Bills
New York Jets vs Baltimore Ravens
Spread: Ravens -7
I believe the Jets will improve this season, but this is a rough matchup for them. The Ravens are built to attack the weakness of the Jets on defense which is the linebacking corps and covering the middle of the field, the Jets are likely to be strong at corner and safety but the Ravens are unlikely to use their wide receivers a lot given they’re not the greatest group and this game may depend on how aggressive the Jets will be at defending short to medium routes and giving their linebackers safety help on coverage, it risks them being blown over the top of but it will stop Baltimore from grinding out 6-10 yards every play and getting down the field easily. Meanwhile, the Jets on offense will be starting Joe Flacco who doesn’t offer much at all so they’ll need to rely on the run. The issue is the Ravens have an excellent defensive line and Michael Carter struggled against non-dreadful run defenses last season. I expect Flacco to have to throw the ball more than expected and though he may have some success with dump offs, I doubt it will be enough for the Jets to remain competitive.
Ravens 28-14 Jets
Carolina Panthers vs Cleveland Browns
Spread: Panthers -1.5
The Browns have a decent offensive matchup in this game, their run game figures to be very hard to stop given the weakness the Panthers have at DT, Chubb and Hunt should be able to barrel through the middle behind an elite offensive line and consistently pick up large chunks of yardage. The positive for the Panthers defense is they figure to have some joy against the pass game of the Browns who have some underwhelming pass catching options. The Panthers on offense may struggle here, McCaffrey is slated to have a good matchup against underwhelming defensive tackles and linebackers that while they are decent, they probably aren’t good enough to cover him. The issue is none of the other skill position players for the Panthers look to have a good matchup here and thus they may struggle to put too many points on the board. This figures to be a low scorer and the Browns have more elite players than the Panthers so I’ll take them to nick a win on the road here.
Browns 20-17 Panthers
Houston Texans vs Indianapolis Colts
Spread: Colts -7
I actually like this matchup on offense for the Texans, they should be able to run the ball well if Dameon Pierce continues his strong preseason form and the blocking should hold up well enough to give Davis Mills some time in the pocket. Obviously there is a concern that he can be very hit or miss but he tended to save his better games for being at home and while I expect a tough day for Brandin Cooks, the other receivers they have do have decent matchups if they have the quality to get open. The Colts will likely lean on the run given that the Texans have dubious DTs and poor linebackers, this doesn’t bode well given Jonathan Taylor is one of the best RBs in the league and this bodes well for Matt Ryan who is an excellent play action QB, that being said the Texans have definitely improved in the secondary but I worry the Colts have too much talent at receiver and the safeties of the Texans will likely have to push up to try and support the run defense. This game will likely be higher scoring than most expect but I’m not sure the Texans will be able to stop the Colts.
Colts 31-24 Texans
Washington Commanders vs Jacksonville Jaguars
Spread: Commanders -2.5
These are 2 teams I expect to struggle this season and this isn’t exactly a great matchup on paper. The Washington offense in theory should have success, they look likely to win the battle in the trenches and they should have enough receiving talent to take advantage of a Jaguars side with poor linebackers and question marks at safety, but the big question mark is how Carson Wentz plays coming off one of the worst performances of his career in a week 18 matchup with Jacksonville last season. The Jaguars on offense should have some success if they can keep the pocket clean, Washington only have 1 good corner and they were dreadful against the pass last year, the Jaguars O-line will probably get dominated here a bit and I don’t see them doing much on the ground but if Lawrence can get the ball out quickly, there will be opportunities downfield. This figures to be low scoring and I’m going to take Washington to edge this with home advantage with limited confidence.
Commanders 17-14 Jaguars
Miami Dolphins vs New England Patriots
Spread: Dolphins -3.5
The Miami offense will likely rely on yards after the catch and their aerial attack to win here. The Patriots defense has no major weaknesses except maybe at corner but isn’t particularly strong anywhere except at safety, the trenches look fairly even so this looks like the sort of game where their skill position players will need to make the big plays for them, I believe they’re capable of that since the Patriots will be forced to play more zone than usual due to the threat of Hill and the Dolphins can have success as long as Tua’s decision making has improved. On offense, the Patriots will look to lean on the run, they normally have a good offensive line (though it struggled in preseason) and it will be an interesting matchup against a strong Miami defensive front. The matchup between the receivers of the Patriots and the DBs of Miami looks fairly even so the game may be decided on the arm of Mac Jones, he has looked really poor in preseason so I’m taking Miami to get the win here.
Dolphins 24-17 Patriots
Atlanta Falcons vs New Orleans Saints
Spread: Saints -5.5
The Saints on offense should have a solid day, the Falcons look set to be really poor on the defensive line and they only have 1 good linebacker. This should mean the Alvin Kamara will have success and though the receivers of the Saints may struggle to get open, there’ll be gaps in the middle of the field and Winston should get enough time in the pocket to make some plays. It could be a tougher day for the Falcons, the Saints have one of the better front sevens in the league and I imagine the Falcons will not get up to much on the ground. The Falcons only really have 2 threatening receivers in London and Pitts and both of them will have bad matchups here, it’s tough to see the Falcons doing a lot on offense and I can see the front seven dominating in a win for the Saints.
Saints 20-10 Falcons
Detroit Lions vs Philadelphia Eagles
Spread: Eagles -4
The Eagles look like they’ll be a very good team this year if Jalen Hurts has improved over the offseason given they have an excellent offensive line, dynamic receivers and a strong running game. They should have a lot of success against a pedestrian Lions defense and I can see them scoring a lot of points however they want to go in this game with AJ Brown especially looking like he can have a good day. The Lions have a strong offensive line and with the Eagles having a D line that is no better than average, they should be able to run the ball decently and give Goff some time, that being said, the Eagles have a good secondary and I don’t fully trust Goff still. In a game of unreliable QBs, I’m taking the better roster to win and that is certainly the Eagles.
Eagles 27-17 Lions
Cincinnati Bengals vs Pittsburgh Steelers
Spread: Bengals -6.5
The Bengals offense will be interesting to watch here, this is a big test of the credentials of their new O-line against a stout pass rush and I expect Burrow to maybe face some pressure here. That being said, he’ll get some help as Joe Mixon will likely have a field day against a poor linebacking unit and overall rush defense and this may afford him the extra time he needs to get his guys open against a mediocre secondary. The Steelers on offense have some solid players and it seems an even matchup with the Bengals defense except in the trenches where the Bengals look set to dominate and though the receivers should get open at times, Trubisky is a poor QB against pressure and I don’t see the Steelers coming away with a lot of points in this one.
Bengals 24-16 Steelers
Chicago Bears vs San Francisco 49ers
Spread: 49ers -7
The Bears offense looks set to struggle here, they have to deal with one of the deeper D-lines in the league and they have a dreadful O-line on paper. They don’t have a lot of talent in the skill positions and that doesn’t bode well against a defense with no obvious weak spot to exploit. The 49ers offense meanwhile may have some struggles with blocking but they can take advantage of the Bears having poor linebackers and George Kittle could have a huge day here as well as Lance on the ground. Add that Deebo Samuel will be too good for the corners to cover and this looks a very ideal matchup for the 49ers.
49ers 27-13 Bears
Minnesota Vikings vs Green Bay Packers
Spread: Packers -1.5
This could be a tough day on offense for Minnesota. The Packers don’t have a standout weakness anywhere on their defense and their D-line is especially strong against a dodgy offensive line. They’ll need their playmakers to conjure up some magic and Dalvin Cook and Justin Jefferson will be required to play to a very high level for the Vikings to have a chance here. The Packers on offense do look questionable this season. They look very weak at receiver and they’ll be relying on Rodgers to elevate the level of those around him. The Packers will normally look to rely on the run but this may be tough against a strong Vikings defensive line and the good safeties they have. This feels like it may turn into a defensive slugfest and I like Jefferson and Cook over the playmakers the Packers have to pull out something in the clutch so I’ll take Minnesota to grind out a win.
Vikings 20-17 Packers
Arizona Cardinals vs Kansas City Chiefs
Spread: Chiefs -6
The Cardinals offense vs the Chiefs defense is an interesting one. The O-line is the main weakness for Arizona while the Chiefs have a weak D-line and the loss of Hopkins means that Arizona may struggle to dominate a weaker secondary. Neither team has a major advantage anywhere so I imagine Arizona score an average number of points which is around the 21-24 mark. The Chiefs should do better on offense as the Cardinals are weak at linebacker though Mahomes will need to get the ball out of his hands quickly since the edge rushers of Arizona should fare well in this one. The Cardinals are weak at linebacker which brings Kelce very much into the game and though the Chiefs have lost Hill, they have some good depth now at receiver and an elite quarterback can have them put up good numbers. I expect the Chiefs to have too much on offense for Arizona and to win this one.
Chiefs 31-24 Cardinals
LA Chargers vs LV Raiders
Spread: Chargers -3
The Chargers offense should have success here if Herbert can stay protected. That could be a big if though as the Chargers are weak at right tackle and that may be where we find Maxx Crosby. He’ll have to have a big game to win this one as the Chargers looks set to have success against average linebackers and average cornerbacks with Herbert and Ekeler likely to have good days. The Raiders on offense will be a similar story, one of Mack or Bosa is slated to have a huge game here since the Raiders won’t protect their right side well but on the flip side, the Chargers only have 1 excellent play in each of the other position groups while the Raiders are stacked at receiver. Carr will get his guys open given time and I actually like the Raiders to pull off the upset here, they match up well and are maybe being slept on in this division.
Raiders 27-24 Chargers
Tennessee Titans vs New York Giants
Spread: Titans -5.5
The Titans offense looks to have regressed this season, especially on the line front and they may struggle a bit here. They lack depth at receiver and the Giants have enough talent at corner and safety to slow them down. But the concern for the Giants is they are poor at the linebacker position and this should allow Henry to wreak havoc as a receiver and the Titans have tight ends who are red zone threats so if they do get down the field, they should be able to finish off drives. The Giants on offense have finally improved on the O-line and Jones should have more time in the pocket this season. He will need to have improved though as the Titans are excellent at safety and they will be there to pounce on any poor throws from him. The Giants though do look like they’ll win the battle in the trenches and this gives Saquon Barkley the chance to have a big game and I could see them pulling off the upset, but I have enough questions about Jones to say they just miss out on a win.
Titans 21-20 Giants
Dallas Cowboys vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Spread: Buccaneers -2.5
The Cowboys may regress overall on offense this year. I like CeeDee Lamb to have a huge season but the Cowboys have weakened on the offensive line and this may be a worry against a good Tampa defensive front. I also worry about Elliott regressing and though the Cowboys may have an edge with their tight ends against the Tampa linebackers, Prescott may be seeing more pressure than he likes which could cause mistakes. The Bucs offense may also have a tough day, they may have some joy through the middle against poor DTs but Micah Parsons looks set to have a big day for Dallas and the Bucs have a couple of new guys at left guard and center. This may cause some issues and if Brady faces pressure, the Cowboys are good at getting takeaways, but if he doesn’t then the Cowboys secondary will likely struggle against the receiving depth Tampa has. I expect this to be a low scoring and evenly matched game so I’ll take the underdog to edge it.
Cowboys 21-20 Buccaneers
Seattle Seahawks vs Denver Broncos
Spread: Broncos -6.5
The Seahawks offense may be stymied by having Geno Smith at QB, he’s solid but not spectacular and is a major downgrade from Wilson. I also worry about their O-line against this defensive front but if they did get some blocking together, they have the playmakers to get something going. That being said, the Broncos have a nice secondary and lack a standout weakness on defense outside of linebacker depth. The Broncos on offense should have a good matchup here, the Seahawks have some players that definitely can get burnt deep and Wilson loves throwing the deep ball. They also have a nice 1-2 rushing punch that should take advantage of the linebackers of Seattle. I have some worries in the long run about the O-line of Denver and the emotional aspect will be in the favour of Seattle but this should be a winnable game for Denver.
Broncos 24-17 Seahawks