Fearless Rick's Football Picks - Week 1 - late games

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Indianapolis Colts at LA Rams (-3 1/2, 41 1/2), 4:05 pm, CBS - The Colts were a major disappointment last season, finishing at 8-8. The league has figured out QB Andrew Luck and the Colts sorely need a running game and some stoppers on defense.

The Rams were even more of a disappointment their first season in LA, going 4-12 after posting a 7-9 record in 2015, their final one in St. Louis. Jared Goff, after learning much in the second half of the 2016 season, will be the starter at QB and he could be a difference-maker against a suspect Indy defense.

Coin Flip: Los Angeles Rams

Prediction: Rams 20 Colts 13

Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers (-3, 51), 4:25 pm, FOX - This is likely to be the week's most-anticipated game, as both teams are gunning for the playoffs and are generally injury-free.

Aaron Rodgers has a full complement of receivers, the key possibly being Davante Adams of Richard Rodgers in the slot.

Seattle is happy that Russell Wilson isn't hobbling around with a knee brace, and the defense is, as usual, exceptional. Green Bay at home is tough to beat, however, and there may be fewer points scored than expected.

Coin Flip: Seattle

Prediction: Packers 26 Seahawks 18

Carolina Panthers (-5 1/2, 48) at San Francisco 49ers, 4:25 pm, FOX - How much better will the 49ers be with Brian Hoyer at quarterback and Carlos Hyde in the backfield, than they were with either Blaine Gabbert or Colin Kaepernick as the QB? And, how much of a relief is it for the team that they won't be the subject of scorn now that Kaepernick is gone?

There could be a huge difference in the level of play following the disastrous 2-14 campaign of 2016. Hoyer is capable, though hardly a game-changer.

On the Panthers' side, Cam Newton should rebound from a season of injuries and failure, getting back to his form in 2015, when he was league MVP. The 49ers still need help on defense and that will be the difference here.

Coin Flip: San Francisco

Prediction: Panters 38 49ers 13

New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys (-4, 47 1/2), 8:30 pm, NBC - The Giants are somewhat of an enigma. Beyond Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr., there isn't much there, but they manage to outperform other teams consistently. They also beat Dallas twice last season, 20-19 in the season opener in Big D, and 10-7 at the Meadowlands, so, history being repeatable, what's to say that giving the Giants four points isn't a sucker punch?

Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott is going to be suspended six games for violations of the NFL's personal conduct policy, but he is playing in this game. Will he provide the difference? Probably not, though his presence will be a factor. More likely, Giants' RB, Paul Perkins, who improved dramatically over the final four games of the 2016 season, will gash the Dallas defense.

Coin Flip: Dallas

Prediction: Giants 27 Cowboys 17

Monday, September 11

New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings (-3 1/2, 48), 7:10 pm, ESPN - Teddy Bridgewater was supposed to be the future of the Vikings, but he's still out with a knee injury after sitting all of last season. Sam Bradford will lead Minnesota in their home opener, but the bigger issue is likely to be stopping Drew Bree's and crew from running up the score.

Bradford is nowhere near the talent that Brees is, thus the Saints should win outright if their defense is in any way improved from last season when they allowed 454 points. Only the 49ers were worse (480).

Coin Flip: Minnesota

Prediction: Saints 34 Vikings 23

LA Chargers at Denver Broncos (-3 1/2, 43 1/2), 10:20 pm, ESPN - Hope springs eternal for the Chargers, especially after their move to Los Angeles, but this game is in Denver, always a dangerous place for the Chargers. Denver won at home last season, 27-19, but lost in San Diego, 21-13.

Trevor Siemian returns as the Denver QB, but the incomparable - and highly competitive and fiery - Phillip Rivers will be calling the shots for the Chargers. After a 5-11 season, the Chargers made more changes than just moving to another locale. If their defense stands up, the offense will make things happen.

Coin Flip: Denver

Prediction: Chargers 31 Broncos 23

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