Rine’s Week 1 NFL Picks

Thursday’s Game

Denver 24, Baltimore 21

Oh, the horror. The NFL season begins with two of the quarterbacks most despised in my house, Joe Flacco and Peyton Manning. The Ravens may be the defending champs, but they’re so well liked in their own town that the Orioles wouldn’t even move their game in order for their football neighbors to be able to open at home. Can we crown the Broncos already? Kidding, of course.

Sunday’s Games

Atlanta 23, New Orleans 17

It would be a pretty safe bet to take the over in this one because these two teams figure to be a couple of the more explosive ones in the league. Drew Brees and Matt Ryan could each surpass 5,000 passing yards this season. The difference will be Atlanta’s offseason acquisition of RB Steven Jackson.

Chicago 26, Cincinnati 13

The word on the street is, that Cincinnati is the class of the AFC North. If walking down that street, I would likely slap everyone on it for being ridiculous. Sure, the Bengals have made the playoffs two seasons in a row, but wake me when they get out of the first round. The Jay Cutler-Brandon Marshall connection will be deadly for the Bears.

New England 36, Buffalo 12

Must be nice for the Patriots to play in a division that has exactly one good team – themselves. It will be interesting to see what kind of numbers Danny Amendola can put up in the New England offense if he can stay healthy. It’s a little known fact that the most explosive player on the field could well be the Bills’ C.J. Spiller. So Buffalo has that going for it.

Pittsburgh 23, Tennessee 13

It’s going to be an awfully interesting season in Pittsburgh, and it could conceivably go either way. The one thing we do know is that Jake Locker is not going to beat the Steelers and Chris Johnson will be held to less than 100 yards. The breakout star for Pittsburgh will be Markus Wheaton, its third-round pick out of Oregon State.

Tampa Bay 6, N.Y. Jets 0

The Buccaneers could end up as one of this season’s surprise teams if the good Josh Freeman that we saw two seasons ago shows up. If he doesn’t, Tampa Bay goes back to being called the ‘Yuckaneers.’ You have to feel for Geno Smith after he fell so far in the draft, then landed with the Jets, otherwise known currently as the most dysfunctional team in the NFL. I give Rex Ryan five weeks before he is unemployed, giving him far more time to work on the physique.

Jacksonville 17, Kansas City 16

People keep saying the Chiefs are going to be better, but when Alex Smith is your big offseason acquisition, it’s hard to see how that can be true. If he can stay healthy – that will be a theme in the league – Maurice Jones-Drew could lift the Jags out of mediocrity. Remember, he is playing for what will likely be his last big contract.

Seattle 31, Carolina 18

A lot is being expected out of the Seahawks this season, and for good reason. The defense is good as their is in the NFL, and Russell Wilson should improve even more in his second season. Meanwhile, the Panthers still have DeAngelo Williams at running back and Steve Smith as receiver. If this was 2006, that would be smashing.

Cleveland 14, Miami 12

The Dolphins spent $60 million to sign Mike Wallace, who was unimpressive throughout the preseason. Then, Dustin Keller went down with a gruesome knee injury that took away Ryan Tannehill’s security blanket underneath, meaning Wallace will face constant double teams without that threat. I like what the Browns did in the offseason, really stacking their defense. It will be good enough … at least this week.

Minnesota 26, Detroit 23

Detroit is arguably the most talented team in the league, but it doesn’t always translate on Sundays. One week up, two down. A defense that is star-studded up front has to deal with the best back in the world right off the hop, something I don’t think it’s ready to do. Adrian Peterson gets a good start on his quest for 2,500 yards.

Indianapolis 36, Oakland 19

Hey, have you heard? The Raiders are terrible. I know, I know. You’ve heard that before. Well, it isn’t about to change this season. The hype surrounding Andrew Luck was a tad excessive last season considering his pedestrian touchdown-to-interception ratio, but this is a good way to build some early confidence.

San Francisco 28, Green Bay 13

Aaron Rodgers is widely considered to be the best QB out there, but ESPN’s Ron Jaworski says Colin Kaepernick has the potential to be the greatest ever. Yeah, OK. Let’s let him play a full season before we put him into the upper echelon. Rodgers is going to struggle to make plays here because his receiving corp is the walking wounded right now.

St. Louis 27, Arizona 21

Once the laughingstock of football, the NFC West is suddenly loaded with talent. Sam Bradford has a ton of toys at his disposal these days, including former WVU receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. The Cardinals have Bruce Arians, but you can’t hide the fact Carson Palmer is the guy throwing the passes.

N.Y. Giants 43, Dallas 9

To nobody’s surprise the Cowboys are in prime time for their opening game. That aggravates a lot of people who are tired of hearing about a team that has won a single playoff game since 1996. But luckily it affords us the opportunity to watch Tony Romo embarrass himself in front of the entire country.

Monday’s Games

Philadelphia 32, Washington 15

Is there anyone aware that Robert Griffin III is a walking miracle, having fought back from a terrible knee injury? If so, then obviously you don’t watch the ”Worldwide Leader,” which gave us a minute-by-minute update on his condition all summer. Funny thing is, he can’t play defense and that is going to be the issue for the Redskins as Eagles coach Chip Kelly unveils his uptempo offense.

San Diego 26, Houston 25

The Chargers have gone from the team everyone liked to pick to win the Super Bowl, to just another also-ran out on the coast that may actually be in danger of relocating. Is this the season the Texans finally break through? Two playoff victories against the Bengals hardly qualifies for elite status.

Shawn Rine can be reached via email at srine@theintelligencer.net