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NFL Pro Football 2010 Week 1 Picks

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Fearless Rick's NFL Week 1 Picks - Early Games

Rick Gagliano | September 9-12

All times Eastern - Click here for late games.

Thursday, September 9

Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints (-5 1/2, 48) 8:30 pm - A reprise of last year's NFC championship game, won by the Saints, of course. This being the opening week of the season, there isn't much to go on except what the oddsmakers are putting forth, and that happens to be our favorite line, -5 1/2, a strong signal that the people making the line are hedging and don't really have a solid opinion.

The Saints' record at home is remarkable, at 8-2 straight up in their last 10 home games. However, they are a mere 2-5 in their last 7 ATS, confirming our belief that the Vikings will cover and possibly win the game outright.

We all know how competitive Brett Favre is, and what a powerhouse offense the Vikings possess, but this game will likely turn on the Minnesota defense, which looks to be better than ever.

Prediction: Vikings 27 Saints 23

Sunday, September 12

Miami Dolphins (-3, 37 1/2) at Buffalo Bills 1:00 pm - The Bills are actually doing some things right, like starting C.J. Spiller at running back. The rookie has demonstrated explosive speed and quickness, was the steal of the draft and it's good to see the new Buffalo brain trust giving him a shot.

This is one of 8 games featuring a home underdog, a number I've never before seen, opening week of the season or otherwise. What happened to home field advantage? This game is especially troublesome because this is a very fierce rivalry and Buffalo isn't going to succumb easily to Miami's offense, wildcat or traditional. One thing the Bills have - besides Spiller - is a pretty good defense. They'll show up here and maybe cause a few turnovers.

Prediction: Bills 20 Dolphins 17

Oakland Raiders at Tennessee Titans (-7, 41) 1:00 pm - If anybody's been paying attention to preseason, they might have noticed that the Raiders have played fairly well, winning three of four, their only loss a contested 28-24 beat by the 49ers.

That's not to say that the Titans aren't capable of holding sway at home, only that this line seems to be pretty certain that Tennessee will win going away. From what the Titans displayed in preseason, they still have some work to do, and, let's not forget, this is a team that started 2009 off with six straight losses. Sure, the Raiders were 5-11 last year, but that was mostly due to having JaMarcus Russell at QB. Jason Campbell, though far from perfect, is a significant upgrade at that key position. The Titans should come away with the W, but this isn't likely to be a blowout.

Prediction: Titans 23 Raiders 20

Cincinnati Bengals at New England Patriots (-5 1/2, 43) 1:00 pm - How the boys in Vegas make the Pats a favorite by more than a field goal - even at home - boggles the mind. Maybe they just don't believe in the TO-Ochocinco connection, or maybe they think coach Belichick will magically make his defense better.

The fact remains that New England is going to have serious problems on the defensive side of the ball this season, so the offense will be forced to pile up points against all opposition. That's a pretty tall order against what may turn out to be one of the most productive offensive units in the league, here. Besides, Cincinnati's strongest suit just may be their defense. The Pats aren't going to get many easy ones against that bunch.

Prediction: Bengals 31 Patriots 24

Carolina Panthers at NY Giants (-7, 41) 1:00 pm - Now, the Giants may be the most intriguing team on the planet, with the most questions surrounding them in their opener. Will this be a run-first offense, or will Eli Manning guide an imporved passing game? Will the defensive front line be as ferocious as advertised? Are there any players in the secondary?

We may not get answers to all of those questions right away, but it's a pretty sure thing that the G-Men will take it to Carolina pretty well, as will most other teams in the league. The Panthers are on the hook to be one of the league's patsies this season. They have little in the way of offense beyond their running game and don't appear to have a defense capable of stopping any team for long. Manning should find his receivers running free in the porous Panther secondary.

Prediction: Giants 34 Panthers 14

Atlanta Falcons (-2 1/2, 38) at Pittsburgh Steelers 1:00 pm - Here's a road favorite that actually makes sense. The Steelers are going to go with Dennis Dixon as their starting QB while Ben Roethlisberger atones for his lustful ways by serving a four-game suspension. That's going to put a lot of pressure not only on Dixon, but probably on the defense, which is pretty good, but, being human, prone to weariness if kept on the field too often.

Pittsburgh will probably try running Rashard Mendenhall at the Falcons repeatedly, but their passing game is going to suffer with Dixon behind center, like it or not. For the Falcons, everybody's healthy and looking to get back to the playoffs after a rough campaign in 2009. I'd make the odds of Atlanta reaching the post-season a much better prospect than Pittsburgh's, and this game could go a long way toward that end.

Prediction: Falcons 21 Steelers 14

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Cleveland Browns at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-2 1/2, 36) 1:00 pm - Unofficially, this is the Toilet Bowl. Both teams have no chance of making the playoffs as currently configured. QBs Josh Freeman (Tampa) and Jake Delhomme would probably be backups on any other team. One would tend to side with the home team team only because both squads are equally bad and maybe some fan love might foster a better performance. The best outcome for Cleveland fans is a loss, so that Colt McCoy will get a shot earlier than planned.

Prediction: Buccaneers 20 Browns 14


Denver Broncos at Jacksonville Jaguars (-2 1/2, 39 1/2) 1:00 pm - Both teams are looking for better results than achieved in 2009, but prospects are still dim. While the Broncos are notable for losing 8 of their final 10 games last season in a complete meltdown, the Jags weren't much better in crunch time, dropping five of their last six and their last four in a row.

On paper, the Broncos have a better offense, the Jags the better defense, though that's a questionable call. The big question here is how well David Garrard will throw the football in obvious passing situations. That was often the problem last season, when teams keyed on Maurice Jones-Drew on first and second downs, forcing the Jags into a one-dimensional mode. If Garrard isn't up to the task, Denver can ruin this home opener in a big way.

Prediction: Broncos 28 Jaguars 17

Indianapolis Colts (-3, 47) at Houston Texans 1:00 pm - Plain and simple, this is a bad line. The Colts looked ridiculous in preseason and probably aren't ready for the regular season to begin. The hangover of losing the Super Bowl is still going to linger and the Texans are a team on the rise.

Indy's defense appears to be particularly weak, capable of stopping neither the run nor the pass and Houston has weapons spread out all over the field. It should also be noted that even though the Colts won both games against the Texans last year, they were close, with Indy taking their home game by 3 points and winning at Houston by 8, though that win made the Colts 11-0.

Manning and his team will have targets on their backs everywhere they play this year and they just don't seem to be as good as they were a year ago. Maybe other teams have been coached up and are better. Leaning strongly towards a Houston win here.

Prediction: Texans 34 Colts 30

Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears (-7, 42 1/2) 1:00 pm - The Bears pounded Detroit twice last season, 48-24 and 37-23, so it seems fitting that Chicago would enter this contest as touchdown favorites at home. The two key issues are the maturation of Lions' QB Matthew Stafford and the demise of Jay Cutler as Chicago QB. The Bears will be leaning heavily on Cutler because the running attack is non-existent, but they haven't given him enough options in the passing game outside of deep throws to Johnny Knox or Devin Hester or over the middle tosses to Greg Olsen.

The Bears are really an easy team for which to prepare in that regard. Stop the run, cover the deep routes and the tight end. Those are assignments even the Lions defense can understand and execute, so, if the defense holds these guys to 30 points, Stafford should be able to get a late score for the win. He's good enough and has the talent on the wings to do it, but Detroit's defense may be even better than they need to be.

Prediction: Lions 24 Bears 17

All times Eastern - Click here for late games

Copyright 2010, 2011, Rick Gagliano, Downtown Magazine. All rights reserved. Downtown Magazine is located in the Uinted States of America and is not affiliated with the National Football League or the NCAA. For more information, contact us here. Use of this site is for entertainment purposes only.


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