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NFL Pro Football 2011 Week 1 Picks

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Fearless Rick's NFL Week 1 Picks - Early Games

Rick Gagliano | September 8-11

All times Eastern - Click here for late games.

Thursday, Sept. 8

New Orleans Saints at Green Bay Packers (-4 1/2, 47) 8:30 pm - What a great way to open the NFL season, with two of the best QBs in the game, Drew Brees for the Saints and Aaron Rodgers for the wold champion Packers.

Taking the Packers last season ATS was a winning proposition, as Green Bay covered nine of 16 regular season games. The Saints were just 6-10 ATS and just 1-4 ATS in its last five road games.

Oddly enough for a Super Bowl champion, the Packers have lots of new faces in the lineup, mostly on defense, but they appear as ready as ever to defend their title. Even the best defenses have trouble with the Packer offense. The Saints will fare no better.

Prediction: Packers 27 Saints 21

Sunday, Sept. 11

Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens (-3, 36) 1:00 pm - Consider this a grudge match. The two AFC North teams put up identical 12-4 records last season, though the Steelers won both meetings, 31-24 at home and 13-10 in Baltimore.

Since the game figures to be close and the Steelers may have the Ravens' number - to say nothing of how well Pittsburgh played in preseason - there seems to be little choice but to take the points and the Steelers, who look like absolute beasts on defense this season.

Prediction: Steelers 20 Ravens 14

Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns (-7, 35 1/2) 1:00 pm - It's been a while since the Browns were such heavy favorites, but considering the woeful state of affairs in Cincinnati, the line makes plenty of sense. The Bengals lost a lot of key offensive players, like Ochocinco, TO, and QB Carson Palmer, plus RB Cedric Benson was just released from jail on Sept. 4, and is not likely to play.

Andy Dalton will start at QB and have AJ Green and Andre Caldwell as main targets. Another young gun, albeit with a year's experience in the league, Colt McCoy, starts for the Browns and may have a field day against one of the league's worst defenses. The Browns get a little better every year and a win here would be a great start.

Prediction: Browns 31 Bengals 14

Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans (-8 1/2, 43 1/2) 1:00 pm - Well, the worst-case-scenario has arrived for the Colts. Peyton Manning, still recovering from off-season surgery is out indefinitely, leaving Indy with poor choices at quarterback.

Aged veteran Kerry Collins will get the start, but even were Manning available, the Texans look like they're finally on their way to making the playoffs anyhow, having buzzed through their first three playoff games with wins over the Jets, Saints and 49ers, before mailing it in at Minnesota in a 28-0 loss.

Matt Shaub, Arian Foster and Andre Johnson may hang 30 on the Colts, while the Houston defense slams the door shut.

Prediction: Texans 34 Colts 10

Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars (-3, 38 1/2) 1:00 pm - Jacksonville finally made the move that made sense, letting go of QB David Garrard, who has failed to produce over the past three seasons. Luke McCown will get the start at QB, with capable rookie Blaine Gabbert backing him up, though McCown could be the surprise of the AFC this season if Maurice Jones Drew can get up the field on first down (a likely scenario).

The retooled Titans won three of four in the preseason, their only loss a 17-16 squeaker at St. Louis, allowing just 42 points combined. The defense looks solid and Matt Hasselbeck adds experience to the offense. Weighing all the various factors at play here, it's virtually a coin flip, though Tennessee appears to be on the right path.

Prediction: Titans 24 Jaguars 21

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Atlanta Falcons (-3, 40 1/2) at Chicago Bears 1:00 pm - Tough way for the Bears to open their 2011 campaign, against one of the best teams in the league, though they do retain home field advantage. Matt Ryan and the Falcons were pretty much unstoppable last season and the Bears' solid defense will be put to the test. Bear in mind, that while Chicago allowed 17.9 ppg last season, the Falcons were right behind them at 18.0 and Atlanta has a superior offense.

Prediction: Falcons 26 Bears 20

Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs (-6, 40) 1:00 pm - The Buffalo Bills have all the appearances of one of the NFL's worst teams this season. They're weak at QB and any number of positions, having dealt away some of their best players on both offense and defense.

The Chiefs put up vastly superior numbers over the Bills on both offense and defense last season, with the two teams playing similar schedules. KC made the playoffs, while Buffalo was a disappointing 4-12.

The Bills will be deficient until management decides to open its wallet, which may occur when owner Ralph Wilson passes on, an event that may not come for years. Until then, Buffalo just plain stinks.

The lone caveat is that Matt Cassel suffered a rib injury against the Packers in their final preseason game but claims he's good to go. The Chiefs also lost TE Tony Moeaki for the season in that game with a knee injury.

Prediction: Chiefs 24 Bills 13

Philadelphia Eagles (-4 1/2, 44) at St. Louis Rams 1:00 pm - a slap in the face to Sam Bradford and the Rams, being underdogs at home, though they are up against the team everyone believes will win the NFC East and possibly reach the Super Bowl.

Rams fans can take heart in the fact that Steven Jackson is healthy and St. Louis has one of the better O-lines in the league. The question is whether the defense - especially the secondary - can contain Mike Vick, LeSean Jackson and the Philly offense. If they can, they have a shot. If not, well, the Eagles will steamroll them.

The Rams were 4-0 in the preseason though the competition wasn't that severe, but appear ready to challenge for the NFC West title. While the Eagles have the nucleus of a great team, the Rams are on the rise. Turnovers could play a big role here and the Rams are in a comfort zone in the dome.

Prediction: Rams 34 Eagles 31

Detroit Lions at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-1 1/2, 41) 1:00 pm - The Bucs were the best team in the NFL to not make the playoffs last year, finishing with a 10-6 record, but the Lions are a solid team as long at Matthew Stafford remains healthy.

Catching Tampa Bay at home for the opener isn't exactly friendly for the Lions, and the line indicates that this one is likely to go down to the final ticks of the 4th quarter, but the Bucs had a dream season last year which they're unlikely to repeat, while the Lions have nothing but upside in front of them.

Prediction: Lions 23 Buccaneers 20

All times Eastern - Click here for late games

Copyright 2011, 2012, 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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