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Week 1 NFL Picks: So It Begins

The 2011 NFL season is officially underway after an arduous and frustrating offseason. Naturally, the NFL didn't disappoint with a season-opening barnburner Thursday night between the Saints and the defending Champion Green Bay Packers. The Pack came out ahead in that one, but there's still fifteen other games to be watched. 

For the coming season, each week we'll provide a prediction of every game based on the spread. We'll have a cumulative record to date to see how amazingly accurate god-awful horribly we do. Given how unpredictable this season could be due to the lockout, this should make for high entertainment. As will always be the case until gambling becomes more widespread, these are strictly for entertainment purposes. All odds come courtesy of Odds Shark (see right hand column for current odds).    

Pittsburgh Steelers (even) over BALTIMORE RAVENS: The Ravens opened at -2 1/2 but the line is now even and this is probably going to be one of the better games of the weekend. In a game between two powerhouse defenses, I'd take the offense with more weapons, and right now that seems to be Ben Roethelisberger and  Pittsburgh. Pick: Steelers

Atlanta Falcons (-2.5) over CHICAGO BEARS: Strong run game. Potent passing attack. Strong defense. The Bears will put up a good fight on their own home "turf," if you want to call it that, but the Falcons are just too much for the Bears this week. Pick: Falcons

CLEVELAND BROWNS (-7) over Cincinnati Bengals: I'm not sure if I'd pick the Bengals over anyone at this point, and that includes the Browns. Andy Dalton in his first NFL start will be no match for Colt McCoy and the Browns at home. Pick: Browns

HOUSTON TEXANS (-10) over Indianapolis Colts: Something came out this week about a certain Colts quarterback not being able to play. With that in mind, I have to go with the Texans here. They've got a shiny new secondary to go with their already powerful offense, and the Manning-less Colts will fall behind early. Playing catch-up won't be Kerry Collins' strong suit, especially against Danieal Manning and Johnathan Joseph in the Houston secondary. Pick: Texans

Tennessee Titans (+1) over JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: Luke McCown takes over for the Jaguars but the Titans will be too much for the in the season opener. Matt Hasselbeck with manage the hell out of this game and if he limits his turnovers, the Titans should have no problems. Pick: Titans

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (-7) over Buffalo Bills: I like what the Chiefs have built in Kansas City. It will be interesting to see how their offense functions without Charlie Weiss calling games, but I think they'll handle the Bills at home. Pick: Chiefs

Philadelphia Eagles (-4) over ST. LOUIS RAMS: Michael Vick and the Eagles will win this one. Though St Louis is on the up-and-up in the NFC West, they're still very young and have a brand new offense to execute. Their defense is strong but Michael Vick's escapability and ability to throw on the run should mitigate what rookie Robert Quinn may be able to accomplish rushing from the edge. Pick: Eagles

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (even) over Detroit Lions: This is going to be a great game, I can just feel it. Both teams are young and hungry. Both teams have budding superstars as quarterbacks, but in this case Josh Freeman has the edge. Because of this and because Tampa Bay is playing at home, I got to go with the Bucs. Pick: Buccaneers

ARIZONA CARDINALS (-8) over Carolina Panthers: As much as I hate to say it, Kevin Kolb will help to improve the Cardinals listless offense. A guy name Larry Fitzgerald catching his passes doesn't hurt. The Panthers will probably not be as bad as they were last year, but with a rookie QB providing leadership, I wouldn't expect much. Pick: Cardinals

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (-9.5) over Minnesota Vikings: The Chargers notoriously start slow. I don't think that will matter in this one. Their offense is healthy and suspension free COUGHvincentjacksonCOUGH. They've got Tolbert and Mathews ready to run. Philip Rivers is pretty good at football. I haven't even talked about their defense yet. Chargers all the way. Pick: Chargers

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (-5.5) over Seattle Seahawks: Sigh. I know. How could I pick the 49ers here? Well, the Seahawks are going with an offensive line that has never played together and has a combined 27 NFL starts under their collective belts. The 49ers are at home. This will be a hard-fought game but ultimately the home field advantage will be the deciding factor here. Pick: 49ers

New York Giants (-2.5) over WASHINGTON REDSKINS: I feel like the Redskins are a mess. They're probably better off than I imagine, but I think the injury ravaged Giants have a better QB and a better team. The Washington home-field advantage will play a part, but ultimately the Giants will come out on top. Pick: Giants

NEW YORK JETS (-5.5) over Dallas Cowboys: I don't see the Jets losing at home here, even though I don't really think Mark Sanchez is very good. The Jets do have a good defense, and the Cowboys are notoriously inconsistent. They'll get rattled early, start to panic about repeating what they did last year, and then lose. Pick: Jets

New England Patriots (-7) over MIAMI DOLPHINS: The Patriots are just so damn hard to pick against, especially when the Dolphins are less than set at QB. Should be an interesting game, but NE will come out on top. Pick: Patriots

DENVER BRONCOS (-3) over Oakland Raiders: Kyle Orton is underrated in my book. The Raiders are not going to be an 8-8 team again this year. The Broncos defense will overwhelm the Raiders offensive line and Jason Campbell will be running for his life the entire game. Pick: Broncos