Jazz: Another NFL season is upon us. For our newer readers, Ed Morrissey and I run a competition each week where we predict the results of three default teams, the New York Jets, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Minnesota Vikings (or all of them that are playing that week, anyway). We then pick a few more to come up with six or seven games. We track the results all year for a regular season victor and then a postseason winner. The winner gets the “honor” of setting up the thread for the following week. I took the postseason last year, so I’ll kick things off for 2018. I’m confident that my New York Jets are on their way to a long overdue Super Bowl victory, but why spoil the final results now? We’ll mostly try to keep the politics out of this series, but sometimes the league makes that difficult. Anyway, the Jets have a brand new rookie QB and a strong lineup, so things are looking up!
Ed: Ah, the first week of the football season, when all things seem possible … especially the Browns going o-16 again. For new readers, I notice that Jazz didn’t mention who won the regular season, which was, of course, moi. Can I do that three years in a row? Heck yes, and Jazz can win the postseason three years in a row, too. Anything’s possible! Except a Cleveland Browns Super Bowl. I mean, let’s not get crazy …
Jazz: The Jets open the season on Monday Night football (7:10 pm, ESPN) against the Lions. For some reason, the idiots in Las Vegas think Detroit is a 6.5 point favorite, but our improved secondary will give Matt Stafford a lot of trouble. Our rookie QB Sam Darnold has done a lot of talking and now he’ll have to back it up. I say he’ll pull off the upset. Jets take it under the Monday Night lights 24-21. The Steelers play their divisional rivals the Cleveland Browns (1:00 pm, CBS) which is about the best matchup Pittsburgh could ask for. Cleveland adding Tyrod Taylor at QB isn’t going to do much for their prospects against Big Ben. I’ll take Pittsburgh in a fairly easy outing, 27-13. In another gift to our midwestern friends, the Vikings welcome the San Francisco 49ers (1:00 pm, FOX). The Vikings are ushering in Kirk Cousins at the same time San Francisco is struggling from losing some of their starters to injuries during the preseason. Even without the burden of Colin Kaepernick weighing them down, the 49ers don’t have enough in the tank for the Vikings so I’ll take Minnesota 30-17.
Ed: Bear in mind that we’re all more or less stabbing in the dark in Week 1, which is why most of the spreads on games today will be pretty narrow. One of the larger spreads, though, is in the Jets-Lions game on Monday, a hangover from last year’s performances. I think the Jets will do better than a TD-wide loss, but I don’t think they’ll have enough to beat the Lions in Detroit, losing a 27-24 squeaker. The spread on the Steelers at Browns is smaller, but I think the Browns will miss the mark. Steelers win that one, 31-14. Oddsmakers have the Vikings winning by a TD at home too, and that may be underestimating things, too. Jimmy Garrappolo had the 49ers looking pretty good at the end of last year, but the Vikes are tough at home. I’ll pick Minnesota 31-20 over San Francisco.
Jazz: We’ll grab four more games almost entirely at random since we have no idea who’s going to come out of the gate hot.
- Bengals at Colts (1:00 pm, CBS) – The Colts are fielding Andrew Luck, but he’s not played a game in quite a while. He doesn’t seem to have much to back him up against a generously revamped Bengals defense. This one might be close, but I’ll go with Cincinnati in a close one, 21-17.
- Jaguars at Giants (1:00 pm, FOX) – On the plus side for the Giants they have an extremely talented and experienced QB in Eli Manning. Sadly, New York has many of the same players who won three whole games last season and some new folks who will probably take time to work into the mix. The Jaguars have a terrible record against the Giants, but this week I think they’ll send New York off to another poor start. Jacksonville takes it 21-13.
- Seahawks at Broncos (4:25 pm, FOX) – Denver is fielding a lot of new faces, with nearly a dozen rookies in addition to QB Case Keenum. Still, Seattle hasn’t made many changes to fix what ailed them last season. I’ll take a flyer on a minor upset here and go with Denver 24-20.
- Bears at Packers (8:20 pm, NBC) – Everyone has been talking about all the exciting pickups the Bears have made, especially Khalil Mack. (Who the Jets could have bid on but passed for some mysterious reason.) Chicago should be contenders this year, but that revamped defense hasn’t had much time to come up to speed against somebody like Aaron Rogers. He’s long in the tooth, but still nimble enough to handle Chicago. I’ll take Green Bay 30-14 on the strength of Rogers’ arm.
- Bengals at Colts (1:00 pm, CBS) – Getting Luck back is a big key for Indy, and they have to start off winning at home. It’s Frank “Comeback” Reich’s first NFL head coaching game, too. Colts 26-23 over the Bengals.
- Jaguars at Giants (1:00 pm, FOX) – The Giants were terrible last season, and I agree with Jazz — it’s not clear to me either that enough has changed from the 2017 debacle. Jacksonville has been rebuilding and looking better over the last couple of years. I’ll go with them too, but with a higher-scoring 30-23 finish.
- Seahawks at Broncos (4:25 pm, FOX) – Denver’s favored here, but I’ll pick an upset for no better reason than a hunch. Seahawks 27-19.
- Bears at Packers (8:20 pm, NBC) – Both teams are coming off disappointing seasons, but picking against the Pack at home in a big divisional game is nearly impossible to do. I think it’ll be closer than Jazz predicts, but Aaron Rodgers will find a way to win at home, 24-17.