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 who might be new to the column, I finished last year’s regular season at 156-100, but sputtered in the playoffs with a 3-8 record. Here’s hoping I can regain my momentum with a new season upon us.
The opening week of the NFL season usually yields interesting matchups as teams look to establish themselves as contenders early. Without further ado, let’s get into this week’s picks.
Panthers over Broncos
Leading off the 2016 season is the game which ended last season as a Super Bowl rematch headlines the first Thursday night game of the year.
The Broncos had one of the best defense in football history last year and that defense dominated the Super Bowl. However, the Broncos are a very different team this year on both sides of the ball.
Their defense will still be pretty good, but the Panthers have a huge edge on the offensive side of things with Cam Newton under center.
Packers over Jaguars
The Packers have been one of the best teams in the NFL for a while now and they face off with a young, but talented Jaguars team to start off the season.
I think the Jaguars could keep it close, but Aaron Rodgers and his team will come out victorious.
Ravens over Bills
Neither of these teams really has the making of a contender this season, but the Bills are in especially rough shape with the injuries and suspensions they are currently dealing with.
The Ravens are hard to beat at home and should pick up a victory to open the season here.
Texans over Bears
JJ Watt is expected to be back in action after sitting out the preseason following back surgery. Watt is one of several quality defenders for Houston and the defense of the Texans should decimate the Bears.
Eagles over Browns
RG3 is not the answer in Cleveland and he will be the latest in an unbelievably long list of bad Browns quarterbacks since 1999.
Eagles rookie Carson Wentz is an unproven commodity in the NFL at quarterback, but I’ll take that over Griffin and the Browns.
Buccaneers over Falcons
This was a coin-flip game for me as I really don’t see either team being very good, but I had to choose someone.
I will go with the Buccaneers who did show some promise over the course of last season.
Vikings over Titans
The injury to Teddy Bridgewater was a devastating one to the Vikings franchise, but the front office in Minnesota is hoping the addition of Sam Bradford will alleviate that issue for now.
I don’t think much of Bradford as an NFL quarterback, but the Vikings are still a better team than the Titans in just about every aspect so that makes my choice easy.
Bengals over Jets
This should be a very entertaining game as both teams are strong on both sides of the ball. The matchup to watch will likely be AJ Green going up against Darrelle Revis and I will give the slight edge to Green and the Bengals here.
Raiders over Saints
The Raiders were a team I greatly enjoyed watching last season and they should be entertaining again this year led by a young core of Khalil Mack, Derek Carr and Amari Cooper.
This game should be a high-scoring one, but I think the Raiders will have an edge with their defensive front.
Chiefs over Chargers
The Chiefs are a very good home team and should continue that trend as they open their season against a division rival.
The Chiefs are also on a four-game winning streak against the Chargers and I expect that trend to continue.
Seahawks over Dolphins
The Seahawks are still one of the best teams in the NFC and should open up their season with a big win at home against a Dolphins team which is somewhere in the middle of the AFC.
Colts over Lions
Injury or not, Andrew Luck was bad last season and will need to improve for the Colts to have any hope of a playoff berth.
However, the Lions are a bit of a mess per usual and the loss of Calvin Johnson to retirement will only increase their woes this season.
Giants over Cowboys
The injury to Tony Romo has forced rookie Dak Prescott into a rushed starting role and he will be joined by fellow rookie Ezekiel Elliot in the backfield.
Unfortunately for Cowboys fans, I doubt the young backfield will lead to success especially against a Giants team which spent a ton of money to improve their defensive unit.
Cardinals over Patriots
If Tom Brady was starting, I would have gone the other way here. Without Brady, there is no way I can pick the Patriots to put up enough points to beat a very well-rounded Cardinals team.
On the bright side, Patriots fans will get a chance to see if Jimmy Garoppolo has a future in the league.
Steelers over Redskins
The first of two Monday night games for this week brings us quite the mismatch. Even without suspended playmakers Le’Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant, the Steelers should win this game easily.
Rams over 49ers
Who is choosing these Monday night games? This is another mismatch and one that doesn’t really make a lot of sense unless the Rams were making their Los Angeles debut.
However, this game will instead be played in San Francisco and should be another lopsided affair to close out the game.
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.