Falcons and Patriots Will Open Division Crown Defenses With Victories
Fikkle Fame’s NFL Picks for September 7th-11th, 2017
It’s time once again for Fikkle Fame’s Fearless and Foolhardy NFL Predictions, where every week we show that your guess is as good as ours. In Week 1, everybody is tied for first place, even Cleveland, Chicago, and Jacksonville. If you are a fan of those teams, enjoy it while it lasts.
Game of Thursday September 7th
Kansas City at New England. Patriots favored by 8 1/2. O/U: 48. A good matchup of teams that could see each other again in the playoffs, the defending Super Bowl champions Patriots will be fired up playing the league opening game at home on national television. The Chiefs are very good but this hill is a little too steep. Patriots 31 Chiefs 21.
Games of Sunday September 10th
New York Jets at Buffalo. Bills favored by 8. O/U: 48. The Bills will once again resume their quest to reach the playoffs (17 years without an appearance and counting) after coming close in recent years but falling short. The Jets are in some sort of rebuilding mode yet. Or again. Bills 34 Jets 17.
Atlanta at Chicago. Falcons favored by 7. O/U: 49.5. The Bears, 3-13 in 2016, spent a ton of money to get Tampa Bat backup quarterback Mike Glennon, then used the 2nd overall pick in the draft to pick Mitch Trubisky out of North Carolina. They have risked a lot of money on unproven quarterbacks, they only had five draft picks and are rolling the dice on three from non FBS schools, and they lost wide receiver Alshon Jeffery to Philadelphia. Perhaps Bears general manager Ryan Pace is the smartest man in the room. No, that’s not it. Meanwhile, Atlanta won the NFC Championship and spectacularly blew the Super Bowl. The Falcons have something to prove, and it starts here. Falcons 41 Bears 14.
Baltimore at Cincinnati. Bengals favored by 3 O/U: 42.5. Baltimore has had quite a bit of turnover on its roster, and QB Joe Flacco has been hurt in the preseason; he’s listed as questionable for the game. The Ravens are hard to figure at this point, and were a poor road team in 2016. The Bengals probably don’t have enough to challenge for the AFC North title but they’ll win some games including this one. Bengals 24 Baltimore 20.
Pittsburgh at Cleveland. Steelers favored by 9. O/U: 47 LeVeon Bell finally ended his holdout and will be rusty a while, but the Steelers couldn’t have picked a better opponent for Bell to get back in shape against. Cleveland was just 1-15 last year. The Steelers also have Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown to supply some offense. First round draft pick T. J. Watt, brother of JJ, will start at right outside linebacker in place of veteran James Harrison. Browns’ tackle Joe Thomas is entering his 11th NFL season and has played EVERY SNAP–9,934 of them–of those first 10 seasons. The six time All-Pro is having a Hall of Fame career in obscurity. Steelers 34 Browns 20.
Arizona at Detroit. Cardinals favored by 1 1/2. O/U: 48 After winning the NFC West with a 13-3 record in 2015 and making it to the NFC Championship game the Cardinals fell off to 7-8-1 last year. Detroit has made the playoffs two of the last three years as a Wild Card, but has been unable to advance. The Lions are a very good team at home, and will edge the slightly favored Cardinals. Lions 31 Cardinals 30.
Jacksonville at Houston. Texans favored by 5 1/2. O/U: 39.5. JJ Watt returns to the field after missing most of last season with a back injury. Watt raised millions of dollars in flood relief for victims Hurricane Harvey. In what should be an emotional game for the Texans players and Houstonians as they try to return to some semblance of normal, the Texans should beat the lowly Jaguars. Texans 34 Jaguars 20.
Tampa Bay at Miami. This game has been postponed until November 19th due to Hurricane Irma.
Oakland at Tennessee. Titans favored by 2. O/U: 51 Two teams that were much improved in 2016, the Raiders (12-4) made the playoffs for the first time since 2002, while Tennessee went from 3-13 to 9-7. The Raiders lost QB Derek Carr to a broken right leg the second to last game of the regular season on December 24th, and were beaten 24-6 by Denver in the playoffs. Titans QB Marcus Mariota also broke a bone in his right leg the same day as Carr. They are both back. Both teams have very good shots at the playoffs this season. We’ll go with the Raiders in a mild upset. Raiders 34 Titans 31.
Philadelphia at Washington. Eagles favored by 1. O/U: 47.5. With Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson leaving for other teams via free agency, Washington QB Kirk Cousins will now work with new acquisitions Terrelle Pryor and Brian Quick. As the oddsmakers suggest, this is a matchup of two fairly even teams. They can be around .500, but won’t challenge Dallas or the Giants for the NFC East crown. We’ll give a slight edge to Washington at home. Redskins 24 Eagles 21.
Indianapolis at Los Angeles Rams. Rams favored by 3 1/2. O/U: 41.5 Colts QB Andrew Luck is still recovering from surgery for a torn labrum and Scott Tolzien will get the start. The Colts had some road big victories last year at Green Bay and Minnesota, but finished 8-8 and out of the playoffs. The Rams started the season 3-1, but then fell off a cliff, finishing 4-12. Head coach Jeff Fisher was dismissed and replace with 31 year old Sean McVay, the youngest head coach in NFL history. The Rams may need a couple of games to get back on track and get used to the new regime, so we think the Colts can take this one. Colts 27 Rams 21.
Seattle at Green Bay. Packers favored by 3. O/U: 50.5. After the Packers got off to a 4-6 start last year, QB Aaron Rodgers predicted his team would “run the table” the rest of the way, and sure enough they did, finishing 10-6 and winning the NFC North. They then beat the Giants and Cowboys in the playoffs before losing big to Atlanta in the NFC Championship. The Packers beefed up the offense by signing Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett and Rams tight end Lance Kendricks to go with holdover Richard Rodgers, so expect more two tight end sets on offense. The Seahawks were 10-5-1 last year and won the NFC West, then beat Detroit in the playoffs before they too, lost to Atlanta. While Seattle is nearly unbeatable at home (7-1 last year , they are average at best on the road (3-4-1). Ex Packer running back Eddie Lacy will play his first game as a Seahawk against his old team. This should be one of the more entertaining games of the weekend, as Packers-Seahawks games of recent vintage tend to be. Packers 27 Seahawks 21.
Carolina at San Francisco. Panthers favored by 5 1/2. O/U: 48. Last season, the Panthers fell from to 6-10 and last in the NFC South after going to the Super Bowl the previous year. They open against the 49ers, who were even worse at 2-14 in 2016, so even if they under achieve again they should win this one. Panthers 35 49ers 24.
New York Giants at Dallas. Cowboys favored by 4. O/U: 47.5. Ezekiel Elliot’s six game ban was upheld, at least for the time being, but he will play this week as part of the agreement. The Giants beat the Cowboys twice last year, and we think they pull an upset and win this one, too. Giants 23 Cowboys 21.
Games of Monday September 11th
New Orleans at Minnesota. Vikings favored by 3 1/2. O/U: 48. It’s going to be really weird seeing longtime Vikings running back Adrian Peterson on the field in Minnesota wearing a Saints uniform. Peterson will back up Mark Ingram in the Saint’s pass heavy offense. Last year the Vikings overcame the season ending injury to QB Teddy Bridgewater by signing Sam Bradford who was better than most people expected. Bridgewater remains out so Bradford will again be the quarterback. Vikings 38 Saints 34.
Los Angeles Chargers at Denver. Broncos favored by 3 1/2. O/U: 43. The Chargers played their first season, 1960, in Los Angeles before moving to San Diego, as one of the original AFL teams. They won their first ever game on September 10th, 1960, a 21-20 victory over the Dallas Texans, who later became the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chargers won their division in 1960, losing in the AFL Championship 24-16 to the Houston Oilers, now Tennessee Titans. This year, the returning Los Angeles Chargers will not win their first game of the season or advance to the Conference Championship or Super Bowl, and will have a hard time even making the playoffs. Broncos 28 Chargers 21.