The 2014 NFL regular season begins on Thursday, September 4, with the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks hosting the Green Bay Packers. On Sunday, the Rams open their regular season at home, against Adrian Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings.
This week also marks the return of "Dubs' Pigskin Picks and Rams Preview". I'll be predicting the winners - both straight-up and against the spread - for all 256 NFL regular season games. Plus I'll be previewing each Rams game during the season. As an added feature, "Hot Picks Against The Spread" returns for another season. Each week, three games will be highlighted as the best bets for winning against the spread.
Pickwatch is a site devoted to tracking weekly picks results from NFL experts, analysts, media types, and pundits (link). Last year, they tracked 83 experts on a weekly basis. I'll be competing against them again his year, and will publish the weekly results!
2013 Pigskin Picks Record
|Week||Wins Straight Up||Wins vs Spread||Hot Picks vs. Spread||Rams Straight Up|
|Season||177 79||155 101||38 13||10 6|
|(Tied for 1'st)|
2013 NFL Team Records
The accompanying chart presents the 2013 straight-up, against the spread, and over/under records for all 32 NFL teams:
|Team||Overall Record||Against The Spread||Total - Over/Under|
|Green Bay Packers||8-7-1||4-3-1||4-4-0||6-10-0||3-5-0||3-5-0||9-7-0||3-5-0||6-2-0|
|Kansas City Chiefs||11-5-0||5-3-0||6-2-0||9-7-0||2-6-0||7-1-0||7-9-0||3-5-0||4-4-0|
|New England Patriots||12-4-0||8-0-0||4-4-0||8-8-0||6-2-0||2-6-0||9-7-0||5-3-0||4-4-0|
|New Orleans Saints||11-5-0||8-0-0||3-5-0||8-7-1||7-0-1||1-7-0||5-11-0||4-4-0||1-7-0|
|New York Giants||7-9-0||4-4-0||3-5-0||7-9-0||3-5-0||4-4-0||7-9-0||4-4-0||3-5-0|
|New York Jets||8-8-0||6-2-0||2-6-0||9-6-1||6-2-0||3-4-1||8-8-0||3-5-0||5-3-0|
|San Diego Chargers||9-7-0||5-3-0||4-4-0||9-6-1||5-3-0||4-3-1||7-9-0||4-4-0||3-5-0|
|San Francisco 49ers||12-4-0||6-2-0||6-2-0||10-5-1||4-4-0||6-1-1||8-8-0||3-5-0||5-3-0|
|St. Louis Rams||7-9-0||5-3-0||2-6-0||7-9-0||5-3-0||2-6-0||9-7-0||5-3-0||4-4-0|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||4-12-0||3-5-0||1-7-0||6-10-0||4-4-0||2-6-0||8-8-0||5-3-0||3-5-0|
Dubs' Pigskin Picks - Week 1
The accompanying chart presents the format - and my selections - for each game this week: home team - away team - the spread - straight-up winner - which team covers/beats the spread - and the outcome of the game:
|Home||Away||Spread||Straight Up||Vs. Spread||Score|
|Seattle||Green Bay||Sea 6||Seattle||Green Bay||21 17|
|Atlanta||New Orleans||NO 3||New Orleans||New Orleans||27 17|
|St. Louis||Minnesota||StL 4||St. Louis||Minnesota||20 17|
|Pittsburgh||Cleveland||Pit 6 1/2||Pittsburgh||Pittsburgh||21 13|
|Philadelphia||Jacksonville||Phi 10||Philadelphia||Philadelphia||28 17|
|NY Jets||Oakland||NY 5||NY Jets||NY Jets||23 14|
|Baltimore||Cincinnati||Bal 1 1/2||Cincinnati||Cincinnati||23 20|
|Chicago||Buffalo||Chi 7||Chicago||Chicago||24 14|
|Houston||Washington||Hou 2 1/2||Houston||Houston||23 20|
|Kansas City||Tennessee||KC 4||Kansas City||Tennessee||24 21|
|Miami||New England||NE 5 1/2||New England||New England||27 17|
|Tampa Bay||Carolina||TB 3||Tampa Bay||Tampa Bay||20 16|
|Dallas||San Francisco||SF 5||San Francisco||San Francisco||30 21|
|Denver||Indianapolis||Den 7 1/2||Denver||Denver||33 24|
|Detroit||NY Giants||Det 6||Detroit||Detroit||21 14|
|Arizona||San Diego||Ari 3||Arizona||Arizona||21 17|
Hot Picks Against The Spread
New England over Miami - The Patriots' offense should benefit from the WR's having a year together with QB Tom Brady. The additions of Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner to New England's secondary should pay big dividends.
Pittsburgh over Cleveland - Can the Browns' offense overcome the loss of WR Josh Gordon for the season? The Steelers finished 2013 on a three-game winning streak, and look to improve on last years 8-8 record.
Minnesota Vikings @ St. Louis Rams
The Vikings are looking to rebound from a disappointing 5-10-1 record last season. They fell victim to inconsistency on both sides of the ball, one of the worst defenses in the NFL, and a quarterback carousel. Matt Cassel is now entrenched as the Vikings' starting QB, Mike Zimmer replaced Leslie Frazier as the head coach, and the defense underwent a partial makeover in the offseason. How will the Vikings respond to the changes?
Keys For The Rams Vs. Minnesota
- The Rams must get off to a fast start in Sunday's game. In each of their seven victories last season, the Rams were either tied or leading at the half.
- Winning the turnover battle. In six of their seven wins last year, the Rams had a positive turnover differential, and a zero differential in the other victory.
- The Rams will be looking to exploit the Vikings' pass defense, which ranked 31'st in the NFL last season.
- Containing Adrian Peterson. Peterson is the key to the Vikings' offense. The Rams were much improved against the run in 2013, finishing 9'th in the league.
- Pressuring QB Matt Cassel. The key matchups: Robert Quinn and Chris Long vs. Phil Loadholt and Matt Kalil. The Rams have a pass rush that could give the Vikings' offensive line fits. With Trumaine Johnson out for 4-6 weeks, the Vikings' trio of Greg Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Kyle Rudolph could create match up troubles for the Rams.
- Minimizing mistakes and penalties. The Rams have the youngest team in the league (for the third consecutive year). There could be some growing pains in the early part of the season.
I took a look at the Rams' "Keys To A Winning Season" in an article for TST earlier this week (link).
Prediction: Rams 20 - Minnesota 17
Let the games begin!!