Ed: The NFL regular season is back, and so are our weekly prediction posts! The season kicked off on Thursday with Denver’s 21-20 win over Carolina, which I missed because I spent the evening taking a knee. I’ll be checking on the games today, but I may spend more time on the bench — at a park, of course, enjoying one of the dwindling number of days left in a glorious Minnesota summer. Why, what did you think I meant?
Jazz: You’ll note Ed’s byline on this particular post. That’s because of the somewhat informal rules we’ve developed over the years for our NFL prediction game. The loser of each week winds up writing the post for the next one. We divide our game into two segments… the regular season and the post-season. I claim the spoils because of my spectacular post-season victory margin from 2015. (Okay… it was by one game, but it counts.) My regular season record against Ed was, er… somewhat less spectacular, but I’ve purchased a new set of I-Ching sticks and I’m confident I’ll do better this time around. And with the New York Jets almost certain to win the Superbowl this year, what could possibly go wrong?
Ed: The Pittsburgh Steelers get a late start in Week 1, playing the early game on Monday night at Washington (ESPN, 7:10 pm ET). The line has the Steelers favored by three in a high-scoring game. Their defense is probably still a question mark, but Big Ben and the offense should produce a 31-24 win on the road. The Bengals go on the road to play the Jets today (CBS, 1 pm ET), and I’m certainly rooting for a New York win. I’ll pick the Jets in an upset, 24-21. The Vikings go on the road, putting off their opener in the taxpayer-funded palace that Minneapolis residents will spend years paying off, going to Tennessee (Fox, 1 pm ET). Teddy Bridgewater’s out for the season, so all eyes will be on Shaun Hill, who gets the start over just-signed Sam Bradford. With Adrian Peterson in the backfield, all Minnesota’s O has to do is not lose, and they’ll do that with a 28-17 win over the Titans.
Jazz: I was kind of shocked to see that Ed’s Steelers were only a three point favorite over Washington for Monday night. Even with Le’Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant out, it seems like they would be more of a lock. But Washington was much stronger than anticipated last year and they’re from the stronger conference. Still, I have to go with Ed and take Pittsburgh 27-19. The Jets game should be a no-brainer. Sure, the Vegas line has them down 3, but the team has been rebuilt in a way that will overcome even the hurdles that kept them to only ten wins last year. Jets take the opener with a warning shot to the rest of the division 28-23. As for the Vikings, how the heck do I know? The Titans are one of the most unpredictable teams in the league as far as I’m concerned. Minnesota is a slight favorite, but since Tennessee always jacks me over when I go with the line, I’ll take the Titans in a close one, 24-21.
Ed: Let’s rack up a few more games to get the new season off to a big start:
- Packers at Jaguars (Fox, 1 pm) – Green Bay should be ready for another big season, and the QB situation in Minnesota gives them an opening to restore their dominance in the NFC North. Expect them to get off to a fast start with a 34-24 win over Jacksonville.
- Giants at Cowboys (Fox, 4:25 pm) – The line has this even, and it might end up being the game of the week. Another Tony Romo-Eli Manning battle is a great way to start the season … except that Romo’s out. I’ll go with Manning and the visitors instead in a nailbiter, 34-31.
- Patriots at Cardinals (NBC, 8:30 pm) – I’m a little stunned to see Arizona listed as a seven-point favorite against the Pats, but I agree — Arizona will win a relatively close game, 28-21.
- Rams at 49ers (ESPN, 10:25 pm) – The Rams moved back to Los Angeles in the off-season, but don’t have to open their season at the Colisseum. Win! I’ll pick the Rams since San Francisco seems more interested in political statements this year than football. LA(!) 27-20 over kneel-happy Frisco.
- Packers at Jaguars (Fox, 1 pm) – The Pack is favored by a touchdown over the Jags and they spent all last season humiliating me every time I picked against them in an upset. Let’s see if I can’t learn from my past mistakes. I’ll go with Green Bay in a romp, 35-21.
- Giants at Cowboys (Fox, 4:25 pm) – Eli Manning just looks stronger every year in some ways and this game is a coin toss. Yes, Tony Romo broke his back (literally this time) and the Boys are on the ropes, but Dak Prescott got some rave reviews in the preseason. I’ll go with the home field advantage and take Dallas 28-24.
- Patriots at Cardinals (NBC, 8:30 pm) – As long time readers know, my hatred for the Patriots knows no bounds and I’m apt to pick against them at the worst of times. This is not one of those times because they’re without Mr. Deflategate and they’re playing a strong Cardinals team with an offense that should be more than up to the task. Arizona wins it 24-13.
- Rams at 49ers (ESPN, 10:25 pm) – I’m going to try to follow Ed’s lead and leave the politics out of this game and what may turn out to be an unsavory spectacle. Let’s all give a warm welcome back to the Rams and start them off with a 31-27 win.
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