NFL Sunday Week 1 Picks (Sun. Sept. 13, 2015)

September 13, 2015 on 5:29 pm | In NFL | No Comments

It’s time for the first NFL Sunday of the 2015 season.  On Thursday night, things kicked off with the defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots holding off the Pittsburgh Steelers 28-21 behind four Tom Brady touchdown passes, three to tight end Rob Gronkowski.

Technically, the ‘line’ in Vegas ended up being 7 points in most places, making it a ‘push.’

Yours truly Matthew Hatfield and my pops, Mike Hatfield, will do our picks.  So far, I hold the 1-game lead by virtue of New England’s win over my dad.

Matthew Hatfield 1-0 (0-0-1 ATS)
Mike Hatfield 0-1 (0-0-1 ATS)

Week 1 Slate:

Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears . . . How much will the loss of wide receiver Jordy Nelson sting the Packers?  He was the go-to guy for QB and NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers, who will now look to Davante Adams and rookie Ty Montgomery to step forward in his absence and complement Randall Cobb.  Chicago ranked #30 against the pass a season ago, making that the main area new Bears Head Coach John Fox must improve for his team to be a playoff contender.

Matt Says:  Green Bay 28-17 (GB -6)
Mike Says:  Green Bay

Kansas City Chiefs at Houston Texans . . .
Led by the NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt, the Texans have hopes of getting back to the playoffs after a two-year absence.  To start off 1-0, containing the Kansas City running game that features Jamaal Charles, who has rushed for 14 touchdowns in his past 13 games, will be imperative.

Matt Says:  Houston 17-14 (Hou +1)
Mike Says:  Kansas City

Cleveland Browns at New York Jets . . .
This will be the coaching debut of Todd Bowles, former Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator, as the New York Jets Head Coach.  It’s two unlikely starters at quarterback in Ryan Fitzpatrick for the Jets and Josh McCown for the Browns, but look for the defense that steps up and creates the most turnovers and makes more big plays to prevail.

Matt Says:  NY Jets 20-13 (NYJ -3.5)
Mike Says:  Cleveland

Indianapolis Colts at Buffalo Bills . . .
Former Baltimore Ravens backup Tyrod Taylor gets his first start at quarterback in Buffalo as he edged out Matt Cassel and E.J. Manuel in the preseason for the job.  A lot of people like Rex Ryan’s Bills as a darkhorse team for the playoffs with a defense that figures to be among the league’s stingiest, plus dynamic playmakers on offense in RB LeSean McCoy and WR Sammy Watkins.  Indy QB Andrew Luck is looking to make a run at MVP this season and get the Colts to the Super Bowl after losing to New England in the AFC Championship last season.

Matt Says:  Indianapolis 28-21 (IND -1)
Mike Says:  Indianapolis

Miami Dolphins at Washington Redskins . . .
Are the Redskins totally sure who they want to play quarterback for them this year, whether it’s Kirk Cousins, Robert Griffin III or Colt McCoy?  Cousins is slated to get the nod here, but will face a Dolphins defense that has two premier pass rushing threats in Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake, who is second in team history with 63 sacks behind Jason Taylor’s 131.  Miami QB Ryan Tannehill also is the only player in club history to pass for over 3000 yards in each of his first three seasons as remarkably Dan Marino did not accomplish that feat.

Matt Says:  Miami 23-13 (MIA -4)
Mike Says:  Miami

Carolina Panthers at Jacksonville Jaguars . . .
These two teams that were expansion squads about 20 years ago haven’t faced off since September 25, 2011 when the Panthers edged Jacksonville 16-10.  Another low –scoring defensive battle wouldn’t surprise us.  Remember, Carolina got off to a slow start last year and is going to try to avoid repeating that this year in their quest of a third straight NFC South division crown.

Matt Says:  Jacksonville 20-17 (Jag +3)
Mike Says:  Carolina

Seattle Seahawks at St. Louis Rams . . .
To me, this is an upset alert game for the two-time defending NFC Champion Seahawks.  Pro Bowl safety Kam Chancellor has decided to hold out due to contract issues with management, and going on the road to take on a St. Louis team with one of the toughest defensive lines in football could make it difficult for Marshawn Lynch to run the ball.

Matt Says:  St. Louis 21-14 (STL +3.5)
Mike Says:  Seattle

New Orleans Saints at Arizona Cardinals . . .
In two seasons, Bruce Arians has done a very good job in the desert, leading the Cardinals to a Wild Card berth last year before losing to NFC South division winner Carolina in the opening round of the playoffs.  Keeping QB Carson Palmer is a must, and despite the defense having to replace some key components, there are a lot of good pieces still in Arizona.  New Orleans has one of the most prolific passing games engineered by Drew Brees, but the Saints have traditionally been much better at home than on the road.

Matt Says:  Arizona 31-28 (AZ -2.5)
Mike Says:  Arizona

Detroit Lions at San Diego Chargers . . .
There were trade talks and rumors during the off-season regarding Chargers signal caller Philip Rivers, who has won four division titles and ranks second among active NFL QB’s with 36,507 passing yards.  Rookie tailback Melvin Gordon will try to bring some balance to a running game that ranked near the bottom of the league.  As for Detroit, the Lions boast one of the most feared passing combos with QB Matt Stafford and WR Calvin Johnson, but lost a significant player up front on defense in Ndamukong Suh to Miami.

Matt Says:  San Diego 27-16 (SD -3.5)
Mike Says:  San Diego

Tennessee Titans at Tampa Bay Buccaneers . . .
It’s the debut of the top two quarterback draft selections from this year, Marcus Mariota from Oregon for the Titans and Florida State product Jamies Winston with Tampa Bay.  Tennessee has won six of the past seven meetings in the series.

Matt Says:  Tampa Bay 19-16 OT (TB -3)
Mike Says:  Tennessee

Cincinnati Bengals at Oakland Raiders . . .
Jack Del Rio takes over as the Head Coach in Oakland, a team many think will be improved this year after a 3-13 finish last season.  Two second-year players to watch in this one are Cincy RB Jeremy Hill, who led NFL rookies in rushing yards last season with 1124, and Raiders QB Derek Carr, the league’s top rookie passer with 3270 yards.

Matt Says:  Cincinnati 26-18 (Cin -3)
Mike Says:  Cincinnati

Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos . . .
The last time the Broncs played host to the Ravens, QB Peyton Manning threw for 462 yards and seven touchdowns in the opener in 2013, avenging the playoff loss to Baltimore from the prior season.  Manning and the Broncos weren’t happy with their postseason loss at home to Indianapolis from this past January, so don’t be surprised to see them have a strong start, even if the Ravens end up having a better year in the long run.

Matt Says:  Denver 35-17 (Den -4.5)
Mike Says:  Denver

New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys . . .
Believe it or not, the Cowboys have won four straight in the series.  That’s hard to believe given the Giants’ success under Head Coach Tom Coughlin and QB Eli Manning, winning a pair of Super Bowls.  But Big Blue has missed the playoffs three straight seasons after winning their last Lombardi Trophy, something Dallas has its sights set on this year with one of the best offensive lines in football as well as the plenty of offensive talent in QB Tony Romo, WR Dez Bryant and veteran TE Jason Witten.

Matt Says:  Dallas 31-21 (DAL -6)
Mike Says:  Dallas

Philadelphia Eagles at Atlanta Falcons . . .
Ex-Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn takes over in Atlanta, a team with plenty of offensive firepower in the form of QB Matt Ryan and WR’s Julio Jones and Roddy White.  For some reason though, the Falcons have had some underachieving seasons, and they must work on a pass defense that ranked #32 – dead last – in the league last year.  Philly has a new QB in Sam Bradford, formerly of the Rams, as well as a new RB in DeMarco Murray, once of the Cowboys.  Getting a road win against a team with the passing game the Falcons have would be a major plus.

Matt Says:  Atlanta 30-17 (ATL +3)
Mike Says:  Philly

Minnesota Vikings at San Francisco 49ers . . .
It’s rare that a team like the Vikings, which has finished below .500 in four of the last five seasons, is favored on the road against a Niners squad not long removed from three consecutive appearances in the NFC Championship game.  But San Francisco saw some key players leave, multiple staples on the defense retire, and have a new Head Coach in Jim Tomsula replacing Jim Harbaugh (now at Michigan).  Meanwhile, Minnesota is a trendy Wild Card pick with RB Adrian Peterson back to support developing QB Teddy Bridgewater.

Matt Says:  Minnesota 14-9 (MN -2.5)
Mike Says:  San Francisco

Matt Hat’s Hits:
LOCKS – Green Bay -6, Denver -4.5 and San Diego -3.5
UPSET SPECIALS – St. Louis and Jacksonville

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