We now have real, live, actual football! I can't believe we survived Lockout 2011 with no ill-effects other than some in-fighting amongst the best Cowboys fans in the land. While the Cowboys don't kickoff until Sunday night, the league initializes the 2011 season with a very tasty game, the New Orleans Saints vs the Green Bay Packers in a matchup of the last two Super Bowl champions. This season, I'll be putting up a weekly prediction column for the weekend's games. I had a respectable run last season with my Fan Posts, finishing just above .500, so we'll see if I can avoid embarrassing myself this season in picking winners against the spread (ATS).
I'll feature five results that I feel most confident about, whether they be ATS, Over / Under point totals, or just a straight up winner, as well as predict an outcome for all three categories for that game. Following that I'll give an ATS prediction for all remaining games on the schedule, and we'll keep track of my results for all categories. If my predictions go south quickly, at least admire me for the cajones to put myself out there week after week. Follow the jump for the picks, and dissect away in the comments.
Lines according to Bodog.com as of 2pm EST today, add'l trends compiled from Offshoreinsiders.com, sportsbook.com and other research. Of course, all advice is for entertainment purposes only.
New Orleans @ Green Bay (-5) O/U: 48.5
Green Bay's points differential from 2010 was 9.3 compared to New Orleans 4.8, a difference of slightly less than the line of -5. Last season, NO didn't fare well against the spread,going 6-10, but I think that opening week games are tricky. The series has gone over five straight games. New Orleans is 9-3 in their last 12 road games on grass, they aren't just built for the dome. I think this game is within 3 or 4 points, 28-24 type of game, less confident in picking the upset as I am the cover.
Pittsburgh @ Baltimore (-1.5) O/U: 36
The Steelers are 6-0 ATS against AFCN and an amazing 7-2 as road underdogs. I think the Baltimore defense is one of the most overrated units for the last couple of years. Good, but not great. Pittsburgh 20-13.
Detroit @ Tampa Bay (-1) O/U: 41
Detroit is 7-1 in the series, and a respectable 13-11 ATS when an underdog. Tampa is one of the most overrated teams of 2010 in my opinion, and is just 3-11 ATS in home games over the last few years. Detroit by 10+ points.
Seattle @ San Francisco (-6) O/U: 38
I am going against every single trend I found and just relying on gut instinct on this one. I think that San Francisco is worse than people think, and Seattle is slightly, insignificantly not as bad as people think. Call me crazy, but I think a lot of their overshooting their Pythagorean Win total by 1.5 games is Pete Carroll magic. I give Carroll the edge over Harbaugh on his one-year head start into the NFL. I look for Seattle to surprise some teams this season, and repeat as champs of the still lowly NFC West. It starts with an upset of Alex Smith's 49ers. Alex Smith as a 6 point favorite in any game? I wouldn't wager on the moneyline, but I will take a chance with the spread. Seattle 17-10
Oakland @ Denver (-3) O/U: 40
Oakland going 6-0 against the AFC West last year is too interesting to pass up. They are 8-2 in this series, 10-2 ATS against division opponents. I think Darren McFadden emerges as a top 5 running back this season, and breaks off a couple huge runs on Monday night's late game. Denver is just 8-8 ATS in home games, and 4-6 as a favorite. Oakland 23-20
Philadelphia @ St. Louis (+5) O/U: 44 ATS: Rams
Cincinnati @ Cleveland (-7) O/U: 35.5 ATS: Browns
Tennessee @ Jacksonville (-2) ATS: Jacksonville (No line on Bodog, using Betus.com.pa)
NY Giants @ Washington (+3) O/U: 38 ATS: Redskins
Carolina @ Arizona (-7) O/U: 37 ATS: Cardinals
Minnesota @ San Diego (-9) O/U: 41.5 ATS: Vikings
Dallas Cowboys @ NY Jets (-5) O/U: 40.5 ATS: Cowboys
New England @ Miami (+7) O/U: 45.5 ATS: Patriots
Atlanta @ Chicago (+3) O/U: 40.5 ATS: Atlanta
Buffao @ KC (off the board)
Indianapolis @ Houston (off the board)