Ace Picks: Week 1

Making picks can seem like a crapshoot sometimes, with the better teams sometimes falling to the mediocre ones, or with the consensus home pick having a letdown and letting you down when you want to win your pick ’em challenge at work. Pick ‘Em challenges work one of two ways.

  1. Everyone in the Pick ‘Em selects every winner each week, and the wins and losses are tallied up
  2. Everyone in the Pick ‘Em selects teams they believe will beat or cover the spread each week, and those results are tallied up

Whichever format your group selects, you need to make sure you understand what’s being asked of you. If the group format is against the spread and San Francisco is favored by 5.5 against Dallas, if you pick San Francisco they have to win by more than five points to make you a winner in the contest. If you pick Dallas and they lose by less than six then that will make you a winner. It’s all a matter of preference which contest your group prefers.

Me, I like picking against the spread, but for clarity purposes, this weekly article will be all about actual winners and losers. Each week I predict who I feel will win each matchup, based on recent play, conditions, strength of team on offense and defense, and other intangibles. Week 1 is one of the hardest weeks to pick because basically we’re going on a very small preseason sample size for the starters.

That being said, I’m excited to give you my picks for Week 1…

THURSDAY GAME

Green Bay @ Seattle – This is billed as a powerful defense against a powerful offense. Sound familiar? And this game features the 12th man in that it’s being played in Seattle, a raucous atmosphere to be sure. But teams have had a chance to plan for that defensive pressure, and Aaron Rodgers is still Aaron Rodgers. Sadly, though, I still don’t see a way he tackles the Seahawks in Seattle. Defense wins the day in a low scoring affair to kick off the season. Pick: SEATTLE.

SUNDAY GAMES

New Orleans @ Atlanta – After a horrible season last year, the Falcons look to rebound but draw a tough opponent in the battle-tested Saints who have something to prove. Matt Ryan has a healthy Julio Jones and Roddy White, but the running game is suspect even against that Saints run defense. Hard to pick against the home team, but I have no choice here. The score will be close, and a lot of points will be scored, but after the dust clears the Saints will be victorious. Pick: NEW ORLEANS.

Buffalo @ Chicago – Yes, the Bears run defense was porous last season, and I don’t think they’ve quite figured everything out with it yet, so I think Fred Jackson has a big game. However, that Bills defense is pretty bad against both the pass and the run, and the Bears have Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall, and Alshon Jeffery. That will be more than enough against EJ Manuel and a few interceptions. Pick: CHICAGO.

Cincinnati @ Baltimore – The hated rivalry continues. While Cincinnati has gotten the better of the matchup in recent games, Baltimore still has something to prove at home. I love that Cincinnati defense, but I have a feeling Joe Flacco gets it going and Torry Smith has a big game. It will be close, but I think Baltimore pulls it out. Pick: BALTIMORE.

Cleveland @ Pittsburgh – It’s tough for opposing teams to win at Pittsburgh. Well, it used to be tough. Roethlisberger isn’t the same standout quarterback he used to be, and Antonio Brown will be heavily covered by that Browns defense. Can Heath Miller and Le’Veon Bell help prove the old mantra anyway? I think Hoyer has a good day, but it won’t be enough. Pittsburgh wins a low scoring game. Pick: PITTSBURGH.

Tennessee @ Kansas City – If you read my recent article on Survival Football you’ll see that I’m bullish on the Chiefs this week. Jamaal Charles is running well. Alex Smith just got paid. And Andy Reid has a great track record starting at home. I think Tennessee is still learning who they are at this point, and coming into Kansas City to face that defense is not a good way to figure it out. Pick: KANSAS CITY.

Oakland @ NY Jets – Well, I don’t even know what to do with this one. Both teams just don’t inspire me. Geno Smith still doesn’t look quite right, but he’s playing against Oakland, and not much has changed in Raider Nation. As long as Smith keeps the ball in the hands of his own teammates and doesn’t commit turnovers this could turn into a rout. But it’s the Jets, so I’m going to say a close one. Pick: NY JETS.

Minnesota @ St. Louis – This is another one that doesn’t quite inspire me. Matt Cassel might just surprise some people this season, but this is a tough defense to prove that point against. Adrian Peterson should have a good game, but I think the defense keeps him from scoring, which is what Minnesota needs to pray doesn’t happen. I don’t trust them in this one. Pick: ST. LOUIS.

New England @ Miami – Maybe I’m the only one who thinks Miami has a shot in this one. Not sure if/how much Gronkowski plays, and teams know to key in on Edelman and Vereen if Gronk is indeed out. Vereen may still have a good game, but I am not feeling Tom Brady this season. He’s struggled at times against Miami, and I can see Tannehill having a big game. I like Miami to topple the Pats. Pick: MIAMI.

Jacksonville @ Philadelphia – Do I even need to talk about this one? Foles has a high-flying day, and McCoy easily gets 150 all-purpose yards and three scores. Philly in a laugher. Pick: PHILADELPHIA.

Washington @ Houston – Will this be the revival of RGIII, with the aid of Garcon and Jackson, the dynamic duo of receivers he has at his disposal. He looked horrible in the preseason, but maybe he was just holding his cards close to the vest. I sure hope so because the Redskins will not win if he doesn’t find his form. Houston has revamped their atrocious defense from last year, and I like them to take this one. Pick: HOUSTON.

San Francisco @ Dallas – I really like Colin Kaepernick this year, and I hope he too was playing possum in the preseason. But even if he wasn’t, this is still the Dallas defense that is still utterly abysmal. I like Kaepernick and Gore to run all over them, and to attack through the air as well. A lot of points will be scored, but in the end the 49ers start off the season with another win over Romo & co. Pick: SAN FRANCISCO.

Carolina @ Tampa Bay – This one could be close, but will probably be low scoring. That Tampa Bay defense is underrated, and I really don’t like the prognosis for Cam Newton playing with a cracked rib. I don’t think that Carolina defense will be able to stop the running attack of the Bucs, and I like Tampa to win at home. Pick: TAMPA BAY.

Indianapolis @ Denver – Indy was the team that finally figured out how to beat dynamic Denver last year, but they did it at home, and they weren’t able to meet in the playoffs. Peyton Manning is still fired up after that beatdown in the Super Bowl, and he’s played like it in the preseason. I don’t think this one is even close, even without Welker. Emmanuel Sanders and Julius Thomas have big games and Denver rolls at home. Pick: DENVER.

MONDAY GAMES

NY Giants @ Detroit – I like the Lions this year. A lot. If they don’t shoot themselves in the foot like they did at the end of last year. But I like the offensive playcalling from the preseason, and I like how Matthew Stafford looks to start this season. The running game will also step up in this one, with both Reggie Bush and Joique Bell having standout nights. Detroit will have reason to be proud of both their football and baseball teams after this one. Pick: DETROIT.

San Diego @ Arizona – Arizona should have been in the playoffs last season. You know it and I know it, but that won’t change the past. However, the Cards are looking to the future, and are more than ready to get back to the playoffs this year. Michael Floyd will have an impact year playing opposite Larry Fitzgerald, but the spark plug of the offense in this game and throughout the season will be their running back, Ellington. The defense will hold firm too. Pick: ARIZONA.

Good luck with your own picks this week!

The Fantasy Ace

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