Welcome to the first-ever Cowan Corner picks column, where I give the run-down of the NFL slate for the week and tell you who might come out on top.
The opening week of the 2015 NFL season brings us two contenders clashing on Thursday, two top rookie picks facing off and division rivals butting heads in several games. Without further ado, let’s get into the picks.
Patriots over Steelers
Prior to Friday, I had the Steelers taking this one home easily. Now, there is no way I can pick against the Patriots.
The crowd for the season opener in Foxborough is going to be ridiculous as they cheer on their conquering hero, Tom Brady. The game has the potential to turn ugly if the Steelers don’t come to play.
Packers over Bears
Rivalry or no, the Packers are clearly the better team and should win easily on the road. The Packers should be considered a favorite to win the NFC and will start their season strong here.
Texans over Chiefs
Vegas is showing an even score line this game and I agree with it. The game could go either way, but I can’t in the right mind pick Alex Smith on the road against JJ Watt.
Texans win a close game here.
Browns over Jets
Two mediocre quarterbacks go head-to-head to open the season! In the battle of Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh McCown, I have McKown doing just enough to lead the Browns to victory.
Colts over Bills
As much as I admire the Bills for giving career back-up quarterback Tyrod Taylor a starting position this season, there is no way I can pick the Bills over Andrew Luck.
Dolphins over Redskins
In my opinion, having Kirk Cousins as the starter gives the Redskins a better chance to win than Robert Griffin III.
It isn’t much of a chance, but it’s a chance nonetheless. Dolphins still pick up a road win to start the season.
Panthers over Jaguars
Expect Cam Newton to have a good game to start the season and the Jaguars to kick off another year of mediocrity.
Seahawks over Rams
The Seahawks begin what should be another successful campaign with a division win on the road.
The more important story is whether or not Kam Chancellor will rejoin the team. If his holdout keeps going for too long, it might cost the Seahawks games later in the season.
Cardinals over Saints
If Carson Palmer doesn’t blow out his knee again, the Cardinals have a chance to be top contenders this year.
Otherwise, expect another early playoff exit this year if they make the playoffs at all.
Chargers over Lions
Phillip Rivers should have no trouble picking apart the Lions defense. The Lions are a team that has consistently underachieved the last few years and I expect that trend to continue this year.
Bengals over Raiders
Teams from the Eastern time zone have a poor history on the west coast. However, the Bengals seem primed for another playoff run and I don’t see them losing to the Raiders here.
Buccaneers over Titans
The professional careers of Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota begin with this game. This game is very important for both franchises.
I have the Buccaneers winning here because they are playing at home and because I think their team is better overall.
Broncos over Ravens
It doesn’t matter how old he is or who he has playing around him, Peyton Manning is still one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.
Peyton gets to start his 18th pro season at home and I have him winning here to begin another playoff run.
Cowboys over Giants
The Cowboys have no running game to speak of, but they have one of the best offensive lines in football and a solid quarterback in Tony Romo.
They can ride those two factors to a win on Sunday night against a major rival in the Giants.
Eagles over Falcons
This season will go one of two ways for the Eagles. Either the team will go 12-4 and Chip Kelly will be lauded as a genius or they’ll go 4-12 and Kelly will be run out of town by the Philadelphia fans.
I’m thinking the former happens and that will start with a win on Monday night.
Vikings over 49ers
The final game of Week 1 pits a returning Adrian Peterson against the depleted 49ers defense.
I predict the game to be competitive, but the 49ers don’t have anyone left who can stop Peterson up the middle consistently.
Check back next Wednesday for more NFL picks and thoughts on the week that was in football.