As a new, weekly feature, I will be putting my prognosticator's cap on - and offering up bold predictions for every game on the NFL schedule. You are welcome to join the fun - and offer your picks in the comments section. Nothing wrong with a little bit of competition. I will be making two sets of selections: straight-up winners - and which teams cover the spread. The odds are courtesy of OddsShark.com, via SB Nation (link).
The accompanying chart presents the format [and selections], for each game: home team - away team - the spread - my straight-up winner - which team covers/beats the spread - and the outcome of the game:
|Home||Away||Spread||Straight Up||Vs. Spread||Score|
|St. Louis||Arizona||StL 4 1/2||St. Louis||St. Louis||24 13|
|Denver||Baltimore||Den 7 1/2||Denver||Baltimore||24 21|
|Buffalo||New England||NE 9||New England||New England||30 14|
|Pittsburgh||Tennessee||Pitt 7||Pittsburgh||Tennessee||20 17|
|New Orleans||Atlanta||NO 3||Atlanta||Atlanta||34 31|
|NY Jets||Tampa Bay||TB 3||Tampa Bay||Tampa Bay||21 10|
|Jacksonville||Kansas City||KC 3 1/2||Kansas City||Kansas City||24 10|
|Carolina||Seattle||Sea 3 1/2||Seattle||Seattle||23 19|
|Chicago||Cincinnati||Chi 3||Chicago||Chicago||20 16|
|Detroit||Minnesota||Det 5||Detroit||Minnesota||24 20|
|Indianapolis||Oakland||Ind 10||Indianapolis||Indianapolis||31 10|
|San Francisco||Green Bay||San 4 1/2||San Francisco||Green Bay||21 20|
|Dallas||NY Giants||Dall 3||Dallas||NY Giants||23 21|
|Washington||Philadelphia||Was 3 1/2||Washington||Philadelphia||30 27|
|San Diego||Houston||Hou 4||Houston||Houston||27 17|
TST's Ryan Van Bibber lent some insight into the Rams' match-up with Arizona, in an article on Tuesday (link):
"For now, a majority of the action has the Cardinals covering the spread. The Rams were 11-5 against the spread last season, the best mark in a long time for the team. However, recent history for both teams paints a different picture for opening day. The Rams are 2-10 against the spread in their last 12 season openers, and a woeful 1-6 when favored.
Predictions are pointing toward a low-scoring affair. Odds Shark's model currently calls for a 17-13 Rams win. That matches history where eight of the last 10 games between these two teams have gone under the over/under mark."
Arizona will be a much improved team in 2013. They brought in QB Carson Palmer, and upgraded the offensive line. The keys to this game will be pressuring Palmer - and exploiting Arizona's deep secondary [two new safeties]. Although improved, the Card's offensive line still has question marks. The line suffered a huge blow - when they lost guard Jonathan Cooper for the season - with a broken leg. Arizona will have no way to prepare, in advance, for the new-look Rams offense. The defenses will keep this game relatively close. Key match-ups: Levi Brown/Eric Winston vs. Robert Quinn/Chris Long. Who does Patrick Peterson cover? Who covers Patrick Peterson? Can Chris Givens and Jared Cook exploit a depleted Arizona secondary?
5 Intriguing Must-Watch Games
Green Bay @ San Francisco - A re-match of last years divisional playoff game (won by the Niner's 45-31). Both teams have Super Bowl aspirations - and both have a tough stretch of games to open their seasons. Rams fans will be watching this game with keen interest.
Philadelphia @ Washington - The return of RG3 - and the debut of Eagles coach Chip Kelly [and his warp-speed offense] - make this an intriguing, must-see game.
Baltimore @ Denver - The defending Super Bowl champs visit the Broncos - in a re-match of last years divisional playoff game [won by the Ravens, in dramatic fashion]. How much will the Broncos miss Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil? Is Baltimore's revamped defense better than last years?
Atlanta @ New Orleans - The home opener for New Orleans marks the return of head coach Sean Payton. The Saints face a division rival with Super Bowl aspirations - and a new running back familiar to the Rams faithful for many years...Steven Jackson.
Seattle @ Carolina - There could be a whole lotta' read-option goin' on - in a match-up of two of the best "new breed" quarterbacks - Russell Wilson and Cam Newton. A game that may have implications for the Rams, later in the season.
Are you ready for some football!!!