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

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Preseason Week 1 Late Games

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WEEK 1 NFL Preseason

All times Eastern

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Wednesday, August 9

7:30 pm Houston Texans at Carolina Panthers (-3, 36) - Houston was a playoff team (9-7) in 2016, while the Panthers slumped to 6-10 and were out of it by week six, when they were 1-5. After their bye week, the Panthers went 5-5, so they did improve a bit.

Carolina will be adding RB Christian McCaffrey - out of Stanford - to complement QB Cam Newton, who needs to rebound after a troubling 2016 season. Houston will likely start Tom Savage, but expect top draft pick Deshaun Watson (Clemson) to get plenty of playing time.

Both teams have talent galore, but the Texans have more of it in the right places, especially on both lines, which could lead to a dominant performance.

Coin Flip: HOUSTON

Prediction: Texans 27 Panthers 13


Thursday, August 10

7:00 pm Atlanta Falcons at Miami Dolphins (even, 36 1/2) - Miami QB Ryan Tannehill is listed as questionable for this game, but don't expect the Dolphins' QB to see much, if any, on-field action. Jay Cutler was signed and will likely be the starter. That gives the Falcons a big edge, besides the fact that Atlanta was 11-5, and lost the Super Bowl to New England, 34-28, in overtime, blowing a huge 3rd quarter lead.

There's much to prove on both teams, but Atlanta would be well served to forget about the Super Bowl collapse and focus on the present. If the Falcon players and coaches can get down to business, the Dolphins, with a questionable offense, will not challenge.

Coin Flip: ATLANTA

Prediction: Falcons 21 Dolphins 10


7:00 pm Minnesota Vikings at Buffalo Bills (even, 37) - After losing starting QB Teddy Bridgewater in last year's preseason, the Vikings won their first five games with Sam Bradford behind center, but then went 3-8 the rest of the season.

Bridgewater is back, but he'll be a bit rusty and won't see action beyond the first quarter. The same applies to Buffalo, but, after finishing last season at 7-9, firing head coach, Rex Reed and changing over almost the entire coaching staff, there's reason for optimism in Buffalo and that should get a kick start here.

Coin Flip: MINNESOTA

Prediction: Bills 23 Vikings 9


7:30 pm Jacksonville Jaguars at New England Patriots (-5, 40 1/2) - Well, this has to be the preseason no-brainer of the week. The Patriots won the Super Bowl and have MVP Tom Brady at quarterback, while the Jaguars went 3-13 in 2016 and allowed 400 points (25 ppg).

New England had the league's best point differential (+191); Jacksonville was -82. It wouldn't be going out on a limb to suggest the Super Bowl champs will win this in a breeze no matter how long Brady plays.

Coin Flip: NEW ENGLAND

Prediction: Patriots 27 Jaguars 14


7:30 pm Washington Redskins at Baltimore Ravens (-1, 37 1/2) - In what's probably one of the more evenly-matched games of the weekend, the Ravens and Joe Flacco hope to improve their passing game against the Redskins, led by QB Kirk Cousins, who emerged as one of the most game QBs in the league last season.

Baltimore was just .500, at 8-8, last season. The Redskins went 8-7-1, but missed out on the post-season by losing to Carolina and the Giants at home in two of the final three weeks of the regular season. If there's one thing consistent about Washington, it's their inconsistency. After a 4-2 start, they were 4-5-1 the rest of the way.

The Ravens drafted a boatload of defenders, so, if they're any good, don't expect the Redskins to score much.

Coin Flip: WASHINGTON

Prediction: Ravens 19 Redskins 10



8:00 pm Denver Broncos at Chicago Bears (even, 36) - With the departure of Jay Cutler, the quarterbacking job is up for grabs in Chicago. Mark Sanchez and Mike Glennon are known quantities, so look for first round draft choice, Mitchell Trubisky (North Carolina) to take the bulk of the snaps. That's a tall order against one of the best defenses in the league, which is why the line is even and may even tilt more toward the Broncos before game time.

Denver's quarterbacking is also a question mark, with Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch and Chad Kelly sure to get long looks. Considering that there may be many miscues on offense on both sides, defense should dominate and Denver has that in spades.

Coin Flip: CHICAGO

Prediction: Broncos 16 Bears 6


8:00 pm Philadelphia Eagles at Green Bay Packers (-2, 39 1/2) - Carson Wentz starts his second year as the starting QB for the Eagles, and that's good news. Of course, the Packers have a healthy Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson, which should cause fits for the Eagles' secondary.

Green Bay won the NFC North with a 10-6 record last year, whereas the 7-9 Eagles missed the playoffs after a surprising 3-0 start. Philly also finished well, beating the Giants and Cowboys at home to end the regular season, so don't dismiss their chances for an upset here.

Coin Flip: PHILADELPHIA

Prediction: Eagles 24 Packers 21


8:00 pm New Orleans Saints at Cleveland Browns (even, 38 1/2) - The Saints slumped to 7-9 in 2016 while the Browns put in one of the worst NFL performances of all time, going 1-15, their only win a 20-17 win over the Chargers on Christmas Eve. Cleveland scored just 264 points last season, second-worst to the Rams (224), so the question is whether Brock Osweiler or Cody Kessler can generate some points.

Against the Saints, who allowed 454 points last season, scoring - even for the Browns - shouldn't be a problem. Since this game doesn't matter, Cleveland will probably win, giving their long-suffering fans another false glimmer of hope.

Coin Flip: NEW ORLEANS

Prediction: Browns 24 Saints 17

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