The first week of the NFL season is a lot of noise. Good noise, but still mostly a collection of scratches and pings and 76 trombones that don’t really fit together into an actual arrangement.

None of the 32 teams have quite gotten everything into sync. Even the Patriots sound more like a sputtering lawnmower engine than the joyless player piano belting out their trademark brand of Wagnerian saloon music.

It’s probably got something to do with limited offseason practice reps, starters sitting out the preseason, etc. However, I’m not here to try and explain the trouble in River City. All I’m attempting to do with my half-assed analogy is tell you that it is damn hard to pick games for the first week of the season!

Damned if we aren’t bringing our little panel back together and picking these games anyway.

Consensus picks

There are only two teams that garnered the favor of the entire panel, sentient being, coin and computer alike.

It’s not like it takes a very sophisticated machine to take the Saints over the Buccaneers, even in Week 1. New Orleans is one of the best teams in a top-heavy NFC, stout enough on defense and absolutely loaded on offense. It’s going to be tough to pick against the Saints until at least Week 3 when they play at Atlanta.

The Ravens got love across the board, too. They host the Bills with starting quarterback Nathan Peterman, who was probably the safest choice among a quarterbacking trio that includes a rookie first-round pick and a dude who Hue Jackson was desperate to bring to Cleveland. Easy pick.

All the humans on our panel chose the Rams to beat the Raiders this week. And why not. Jon Gruden’s plan for the franchise seems firmly rooted in mid-90s football. Only the computer is siding with Grudes here.

The Giants got a lot better in the offseason. Enough to beat the Jaguars? I don’t know about that. Jacksonville’s defense is going to come out of the tunnel with a huge chip on their shoulder. Seriously, the Jaguars are good enough to do for Blake Bortles what Big Blue’s talented roster did for Eli Manning.

Khalil Mack’s impact

Bears at Packers should be easy. Chicago’s a team on a clear upward trajectory, but this is Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay we’re talking about. But now the Bears have one of the best defensive players in the game. I still think the two picks for Chicago could be just a tad early with their excitement.

Surprise picks

It’s not rare to see the Patriots lose their season opener. They’ve done it twice in the last four seasons, including last year’s loss to the Chiefs that tripped up a lot of these very same pickers. I could definitely see them struggling against Deshaun Watson. They don’t have a great history against creative offenses. Houston’s defense could also be a big problem.

The Seahawks-Broncos game gave me the most trouble in making a pick. What made me go with Seattle here was I think that defense, the front part of it anyway, has a nice matchup against Denver’s offensive line. Apparently, I wasn’t alone in that thinking. On the other hand, Brian Schottenheimer is their offensive coordinator, and that’s probably too much for even Russell Wilson to overcome.

The rules

Like last year, everyone picks the winners for this week’s games. These are straight up picks, no spread or anything like that. Our panelists have until Friday to change up to two picks, to account for injuries, etc.

We’ve added another inanimate object to mix alongside the Odds Shark Computer — a 2007 quarter (with Washington State on the back of it). I flip the coin to make those picks, heads is for the home team. It’s good to have a little randomness in the mix, says the person who got beat by a computer last year.

And here are this week’s picks!

NFL picks 2018, Week 1

Games RVB Stephen White Geoff Schwartz Charles McDonald Adam Stites Christian D’Andrea Brandon Lee Gowton Coin flip OddsShark computer
Games RVB Stephen White Geoff Schwartz Charles McDonald Adam Stites Christian D’Andrea Brandon Lee Gowton Coin flip OddsShark computer
ATL vs PHI PHI ATL ATL PHI PHI ATL PHI PHI PHI
PIT vs CLE PIT CLE PIT PIT PIT PIT PIT PIT CLE
CIN vs IND CIN CIN CIN CIN CIN CIN CIN IND IND
TEN vs MIA MIA MIA TEN MIA TEN TEN TEN TEN MIA
SF vs MIN MIN MIN SF MIN MIN MIN MIN SF MIN
HOU vs NE HOU HOU NE NE NE NE NE HOU NE
TB vs NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO
JAX vs NYG JAX JAX NYG JAX JAX JAX JAX JAX JAX
BUF vs BAL BAL BAL BAL BAL BAL BAL BAL BAL BAL
KC vs LAC LAC KC KC LAC LAC KC LAC KC LAC
SEA vs DEN SEA SEA DEN SEA DEN DEN DEN SEA DEN
WAS vs ARZ WAS WAS WAS WAS ARZ WAS WAS ARZ ARZ
DAL vs CAR CAR CAR CAR DAL DAL CAR CAR CAR CAR
CHI vs GB GB GB GB CHI CHI GB GB GB GB
NYJ vs DET DET DET DET NYJ DET DET DET NYJ DET
LAR vs OAK LAR LAR LAR LAR LAR LAR LAR LAR OAK

Picks, picks, picks!

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