Fearless Rick's NFL Football Picks - Week 1 early games

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Week 1 Late Games

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WEEK 1 NFL Picks

All times Eastern

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Thursday, September 8

Carolina (-3, 42) at Denver, 8:30 (NBC) - Regular season kicks off with a rematch of Super Bowl 50, which was only super for the Broncos, as they romped over the Panthers, 24-10, capping off Peyton Manning's brilliant HOF career.

What will be different about this game - besides the setting being at the home of the NFL champs - is that Mark Sanchez will be taking snaps for Denver, meaning the offense won't be as good as it may have once been.

Carolina surely sees this as a chance for redemption, but the last time these teams met defense set the tone. Denver's defense was arguably the best in the league last season and could be even better this time around.

Coin Flip: Denver

Prediction: Broncos 24 Panthers 17


Sunday, September 11

Tampa Bay at Atlanta (-3, 47 1/2), 1:00 (FOX) - In 2015, the Falcons started out 6-1 and finished up 2-7, for a somewhat suspect 8-8 record.

Tampa Bay was just bad all season (6-10), except when they played the Falcons, beating them twice, 23-20 in overtime in Atlanta, and, 23-19, at home.

Whichever Atlanta squad shows up on game day, they're probably going to look a lot like a team that Tampa can beat. That's the way this one is going to go.

Coin Flip: Tampa Bay

Prediction: Buccaneers 24 Falcons 14


Buffalo at Baltimore (-3, 44 1/2), 1:00 (CBS) - Plenty to like in this match-up as both teams are looking for improved efforts over what happened in 2015. The Bills missed the playoffs for the 16th straight season, while the usually reliable Ravens never recovered from a 1-6 start, finishing with a 5-11 mark.

Baltimore has trouble running the football and the there are holes in its defense. The Bills have ample weapons with which to attack, including LaSean McCoy and Sammy Watkins, and maybe a top three defense. If Buffalo gets it going early, it could be a long afternoon for the Ravens.

Coin Flip: Baltimore

Prediction: Bills 31 Ravens 20


Chicago at Houston (-6 1/2, 44), 1:00 (FOX) - In the realm of "oh, God, how bad can this team be?" the Bears may have no equals this season. They've been going in the wrong direction with this franchise for the past five years and management has apparently given up, sticking with the same old players and routine.

On the flip side, Houston captured the AFC South last season and is looking to do the same and advance further through the playoffs. A mismatch? You better believe it.

Coin Flip: Chicago

Prediction: Texans 27 Bears 6


Green Bay (-4 1/2, 48) at Jacksonville, 1:00 (FOX) - Were the Packers to lose this game, it would rank as one of the biggest opening weekend upsets in recent memory. However, seeing as the Packers are favored and expected to return to the playoffs (possibly winning the NFC North in a breeze, now that the Vikes have lost QB Teddy Bridgewater for the season), a loss for Green Bay just does not register in any significant, meaningful, rational way.

Coin Flip: Jacksonville

Prediction: Packers 30 Jaguars 19


San Diego at Kansas City (-7, 44 1/2), 1:00 (CBS) - Seeing is believing, so it is true that the Chiefs are heavily-favored over a divisional foe. Kansas City could easily be the class of the division, whereas the Chargers will be on the receiving end of more than their fair share of losses.

San Diego seems to not have all the parts working. The Chiefs - who fell to the Patriots, 27-20, in last season's divisional round, have nothing but blue skies ahead. KC should get the win, but it probably is going to be closer than the line indicates.

Coin Flip: San Diego

Prediction: Chiefs 26 Chargers 23



Oakland at New Orleans (-1, 51), 1:00 (FOX) - Let's face it. Drew Brees is yesterday's news and the Saints are a good story from four years ago.

Today's headlines will belong to young guns like Oakland QB Derek Carr, who led the Raiders to a 7-9 mark last season, their best performance in years.

The Raiders are building something in Oakland. Not a stadium, but a franchise.

Coin Flip: New Orleans

Prediction: Raiders 38 Saints 27


Cincinnati (-2 1/2, 41 1/2) at NY Jets, 1:00 (CBS) - This one requires little in the way of critical thinking. While the Jets are probably a 9-7 team at best, the Bengals are seriously considering a trip to the Super Bowl.

Should go easily to the guys in stripes here, and that does not mean the refs.

Coin Flip: NY Jets

Prediction: Bengals 24 Jets 14


Cleveland at Philadelphia (-4, 41), 1:00 (CBS) - This contest will tell us more about how bad the Browns are (hunch says they're really awful) rather than about how good the Eagles are.

While there will be doubters all season long in Philly, Cleveland's record of unvarnished mediocrity should remain intact this year, starting right off with a big road loss.

Coin Flip: Philadelphia

Prediction: Eagles 38 Browns 10


Minnesota (-2, 41) at Tennessee, 1:00 (FOX) - Understandably, the Titans were in the basement of the league last season and the Vikings went to the playoffs. While a new year offers new hope for both squads, the Titans actually seem to be in a better position to emerge with a victory here, if only because they don't have a starting QB (Sam Bradford) who probably doesn't know more than a handful of Minnesota's plays.

Marcus Mariota may not be the second coming of Donovan McNabb, but he does have similar traits and is the trusted on-field leader. Tennessee's defense is only a little bit improved over last season, which is about all it needs to be to score a victory at home.

Coin Flip: Minnesota

Prediction: Titans 24 Vikings 20

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