Hello and welcome back to the Cowan Corner picks column where I run down the slate of NFL games for the week and tell you who I think will win.
For those of you who might be new to the column, I finished last season with an overall record 163-102-2 including a 7-4 record in the playoffs.
The start of the 2017 NFL season is finally here with plenty of interesting matchups to kick off the campaign. Without further ado, let’s get into the picks beginning with the Thursday night game.
Patriots over Chiefs
The last time these two teams met in the regular season, the Chiefs dominated in a 41-14 win. The Patriots then rebounded and went on to win the Super Bowl while the Chiefs missed the playoffs entirely.
Coming off of their fifth Super Bowl win together, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick will be opening the season in front of a lively and very receptive crowd.
Even without Julian Edelman, I’m expecting a decisive Patriots win here to kick off their season.
Bills over Jets
This game has the potential to be the least interesting of any of the noon games for the opening week.
Both defenses are solid, but the Bills have a clear edge due to the playmaking abilities of LeSean McCoy and Tyrod Taylor. I’m not expecting much to happen for the Jets with Josh McCown under center so I will go with the Bills.
Falcons over Bears
The Falcons endured one of the most heartbreaking losses in NFL history at the Super Bowl in February when they blew a 28-3 lead to the Patriots.
However, they will return to the field five months later with all of their key pieces back and should be able to put together another solid run. The Falcons will definitely be one of the teams to beat in the NFC this season and I don’t see them having much trouble with the Bears.
Bengals over Ravens
I see both of these teams as being on fairly equal footing at the moment which seems pretty normal in the AFC North.
I would give the slight edge to the Bengals given they are playing at home and AJ Green has also historically dominated the Ravens.
Green will likely be key for the Bengals in this game and should make enough big plays for them to come out ahead.
Steelers over Browns
Now we go from a game between two equal teams to a one-sided game in a historically one-sided rivalry.
It will be interesting to see how DeShone Kizer does in his debut for the Browns, but I can’t see them beating the Steelers here, especially not with No. 1 overall pick Myles Garrett missing in action due to an injury at a practice this week.
Lions over Cardinals
The Cardinals go into this game as the slight favorite, but I think the Lions will pull this one out.
Carson Palmer is a major question mark for the Cardinals at this stage in his career while Matthew Stafford has been a consistent top passer for the past several seasons.
I think the difference between Stafford and Palmer from a skill standpoint will be enough to bring the Lions to a win.
Texans over Jaguars
The Texans have won their last six games against the Jaguars and enter this season with a scary defense thanks to JJ Watt and Jadeveon Clowney both being healthy this season.
The Texans are going to be a handful on defense for just about any team and especially against a historically underachieving team like the Jaguars.
Titans over Raiders
This has the potential to be one of the most interesting games of the week as two young, up-and-coming teams face off.
Marcus Mariota and Derek Carr are two of the best young quarterbacks in the league and both teams are solid on both sides of the ball.
I’m expecting this game to be close, but I think the Titans will have a slight edge playing at home.
Redskins over Eagles
I went back and forth with this prediction a few times and I’m still not 100 percent confident in my choice here.
I think Kirk Cousins is much better at quarterback than Carson Wentz at this point and the Redskins will have some home field advantage.
I think that will be enough to get them a win.
Rams over Colts
Nothing says top-quality NFL action like Scott Tolzien versus Jared Goff in Week 1. In all seriousness, this game could be very ugly as neither offense is exactly known for their effectiveness.
The Rams have a better defense and Tolzien’s poor performances in past starts should be a good indication of how this game will go.
Packers over Seahawks
These two teams have had some great games against each other in past season and this year’s game should be no different.
The Seahawks defense will be tough as ever this year, but Aaron Rodgers should be able to do enough against them to pick up a win for the Green Bay faithful to start the season.
Panthers over 49ers
The Panthers went from Super Bowl runner-up in 2015 to missing the playoffs entirely last season.
They will definitely be looking to return to form this season and will begin the year against the rebuilding 49ers.
The 49ers aren’t expecting to win much this season and this week will be the first of many losses.
Cowboys over Giants
The Cowboys are expecting big things this season after the rookie duo of Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott led them a 13-3 record in 2016.
Elliott will have to serve a six-game suspension, but due to the timing of the decision will be allowed to play this opening week game.
I expect Elliott to be a difference maker as the Cowboys begin the year with a big win over their rival.
Vikings over Saints
Adrian Peterson’s first game as a Saint will fittingly enough be against his former team, the Vikings. However, while the Saints always have a potent offense, I think the defense of the Vikings will be enough to lead them to victory in the first of the two Monday night games this week.
Broncos over Chargers
The first week of the season concludes with the Broncos hosting the Chargers and I’m expecting an easy win for the Broncos.
The Broncos still have a top-tier defense this season and Trevor Siemian did a solid job of stepping into the starting role last season. I think the Chargers just don’t have the personnel to match up with the Broncos here.
That does it for this week’s picks. Check back next week for more NFL picks and analysis of the week that was in football.