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NFL Week 1 Picks

The staff at SB Nation Dallas predicts how Week 1 in the NFL will play out.

DENVER, CO - AUGUST 20:  A Denver Broncos cheerleader performs during a break in the action against the Buffalo Bills at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on August 20, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - AUGUST 20: A Denver Broncos cheerleader performs during a break in the action against the Buffalo Bills at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on August 20, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
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The full slate of Week 1 kicks off on Sunday, and not a moment too soon. As always, the staff here at SB Nation Dallas will be making picks on every single game during every single week. We also do our best to shed some wit and insight into every matchup as well.

Last year, Liam Ponting was our winner among the staff. Liam's grand prize, is of course, the Black Eyed Peas' latest CD, though that might actually be a punishment. 

Without further ado, here's how we see Week 1 playing out.

Saints vs. Packers - Ok, so this game already happened, but we submitted our picks before kickoff. Pretty exciting game to start off the season. The offensive explosion was expected as I'm fully expecting defenses to struggle early on in the season.
  • Liam Ponting: Packers - The extenuating circumstances of this game don't even matter.  Green Bay is the better team and they happen to be at home.
  • Charley Code: Packers - Oh how I've missed FIGJAM.  Please point to where you display your invisible belt.  Every. Single. Game.
  • Christopher Fittz: Packers - Some say this is a possible NFC Championship Game preview but considering it took all the way into the playoffs and a run by these Packers to decide the dreaded "2010 Best Team in the NFC" race, I'll assume both of these teams finish last in their divisions.
  • Maurice London: Packers - The Packers begin their attempt to repeat by sending a Jon Morosi like message to the second best team in the NFC. 
  • Robbie Griffin: Packers - I hate the first week of picks, because I know almost nothing. I do know the Packers have a brilliant QB facing an awful secondary, with homefield.
  • Brett Perryman: Packers - FIGJAM has even better weapons this year.
  • JP Starkey: Saints - I'm an idiot.
Falcons at Bears - The Bears were one of my sleeper teams last year, but not so much this year. Marion Barber and Roy Williams are around in Chicago to clutter up the offense, and Jay Cutler needs to prove he's not an interception machine. Atlanta, meanwhile, mortgaged essentially a draft class to acquire Julio Jones to bolster the offense for Matt Ryan. Should be a pretty fun game against Chicago's defense.
  • Ponting: Bears - Bears survive despite the influx of guys even the Cowboys didn't want.
  • Code: Bears - Two picks in and I'm already making bad choices.
  • Fittz: Falcons - There's not an NFC Championship on the line so Cutler will play. He will still lose.
  • London: Falcons - How the Bears made the NFC title game last year, I'll never know.
  • Griffin: Bears - I love Matt Ryan, but I'll give the Bears' D the slight edge at home.
  • Perryman: Falcons - Final two plays of the game: Bears down four, ball at midfield. Cutler hits Roy Williams on a slant. Roy busts it and is gone, but he accidentally knees the ball loose. Johnny Knox falls on it at the one foot line, and the Bears get a timeout with two seconds left. They opt for a power run at the goal line and give the ball to Marion Barber. The line blasts open a hole and Barber takes to the air. He launches himself, extends the ball out in front of him and lands untouched. No gain, Falcons win.
  • Starkey: Falcons - Jay Cutler is not good enough to keep up with Atlanta's offense.
Bengals at Browns - This game constitutes one of the uglier matchups on the schedule. Andy Dalton brings his ginger hair to Cleveland to take on Colt McCoy and the exciting Browns offense! But hey, at least Peyton Hillis is on the cover of Madden, right? 
  • Ponting: Browns - The state of Ohio wearily bats an eye, and then continues to talk about Jim Tressel.
  • Code: Browns - I pick Colt McCoy and his dumb wife. Wait, is he still in the NFL?
  • Fittz: Browns - Andrew Luck is on the line for the Bengals so the Browns will win.
  • London: Browns - As a fan who recently went through a very public kidnapping, thoughts and prayers with Carson Palmer who's had kidnappings done on him.
  • Griffin: Browns - Who cares? Seriously, who cares?
  • Perryman: Browns - McCoy tops Dalton in their long awaited showdown, as the pair combine for 260 yards passing.
  • Starkey: Browns - "How does Marvin Lewis still have a job?"  is the NFL equivalent to "How is John Lackey still in a rotation?"
Bills at Chiefs - Despite the fact that the Bills are perennially awful and the Chiefs made the playoffs last year, this game is actually pretty interesting. Matt Cassel is a bit dinged up, but the Chiefs do have Jamaal Charles to lean on. I have been impressed with Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback at times, and it wouldn't surprise me to see the Bills play the Charlie Weis-less Chiefs pretty hard in Kansas City.
  • Ponting: Chiefs - Buffalo's still pretty bad.
  • Code: Chiefs - The young Chiefs will continue the success of 2010.
  • Fittz: Chiefs - The official witty comment proof game of the week.
  • London: Chiefs - I see you, Chan. You're still a terrible human being.
  • Griffin: Chiefs - The Bills, I think, will be the team you should try and get the opposing defense for in fantasy this year. The Chiefs' O is good enough for that to be a win.
  • Perryman: Chiefs - The Bills still look turrible.
  • Starkey: Chiefs - I like Buffalo's uniforms, but that's about it. 
Eagles at Rams - Mike Vick takes the dream team to St. Louis to take on Sam Bradford and the Rams. Josh McDaniels is now the offensive coordinator in St. Louis, so it should be interesting to see how the Rams do against Philadelphia's excellent secondary. Likewise, it'll be interesting to see how Philadelphia's offensive line holds up for Vick against Steve Spagnuolo's defense.
  • Ponting: Eagles  -I anticipate good things from Bradford this year (I have them winning that division) but it won't be enough against Philly.
  • Code: Eagles - Mike Vick. He's on my fantasy team. Dogs are stupid.
  • Fittz: Rams - I learned last season that picking the Eagles to lose is just about the only fun a non-contending Cowboys fan can have.
  • London: Eagles - I'll set the over/under of games Vick plays before his o-line destroys him at 6. They have a winner in Vince Young though.
  • Griffin: Eagles - This game could start my initial Sunday off right. But it won't.
  • Perryman: Eagles - EJD isn't a fun place to play, but all of us hoping that the Eagles are a paper tiger will get a wake-up call.
  • Starkey: Eagles - I expect St. Louis to play Philadelphia tough, but DeSean Jackson does something amazing to help the Eagles win followed by something incredibly stupid to make everybody hate him.
Lions at Buccaneers - Two young, pretty solid teams in this game. Detroit will be tasked with winning on the road in Florida, which is never easy, especially in September for a domed team. Still, it'll be exciting to see how Matt Stafford and Detroit's offense play, as well as their excellent defensive line. Josh Freeman is one of the better young quarterbacks in the league, so this matchup is certainly a good one.
  • Ponting: Bucs - Tough game for the Lions, who I actually think are the better team. Still, there's a marginal difference between them and the Bucs and the Bucs are at home...I'll take Tampa.
  • Code: Lions - Stafford is back and Suh's fresh off his roid binged summer of lock out and roids.
  • Fittz: Bucs - The game that proves once and for all that preseason NFL football is 100% meaningless.
  • London: Lions - Might be my favorite matchup in week one. Stafford vs Freeman. Delicious.
  • Griffin: Bucs - I am very tempted to take a Lions team I think is one step from breaking out. But I'm sticking with Josh Freeman being one smaller step from breaking out, and seeing a secondary full of other teams' castoffs.
  • Perryman: Lions - Going against the grain here, but I see myself picking the Lions most of the time while Stafford is upright.
  • Starkey: Lions - I don't believe in Tampa Bay.
Titans at Jaguars - Matt Hasselbeck is in Tennessee, which might actually be a good fit. Jacksonville cut their starting quarterback earlier this week. Along with Cincinnati at Cleveland, this is one of the more boring, uninspiring games of the week.
  • Ponting: Jaguars - Neither of these teams are really worth talking about.
  • Code: Jaguars - The Titans suck.
  • Fittz: Titans - I don't even think I know who the starting quarterback for the Titans is. It's not Kerry Collins. He's the Colts starting QB. It's not Vince Young. He's off second-teaming on the "Dream Team" in Philly. It's not Jake Locker. He's still awaiting his chance to be awesome. But I know it isn't Luke McCown.
  • London: Titans - I can name maybe two Titans but they're not losing to Luke McCown.
  • Griffin: Jaguars - I think Tennessee has a real shot with Jacksonville's QB controversy, but I'm still going with Home Team.
  • Perryman: Jaguars - Really no idea here. Two mediocre looking teams with boring, old QBs.
  • Starkey: Titans - Poor Maurice Jones-Drew. 
Steelers at Ravens - I'm setting the over/under on the commentary team saying the word "tough" and "gritty" at 55.5. And I think I'll take the over. Regardless, this is one of the best matchups of Week 1. Both teams look like potential playoff teams, and both teams have some sketchy leaders on their team in Roethlisberger and Lewis. Good football nonetheless.
  • Ponting: Ravens - I assume the NFL scheduled this to gauge early on whether or not medical staffs will abide by the Madden rule.
  • Code: Ravens - I'd call this one a pick em and I'm going with the home team. Gimme the blackbirds.
  • Fittz: Steelers - I learned last season that the Steelers somehow always win.
  • London: Ravens - Is it really a rivalry if the Steelers always win in the playoffs? Maybe it'll change this year.
  • Griffin: Ravens - This is the year Joe Flacco goes from good to star.
  • Perryman: Ravens - They're destined to split their matchups, so no edge is really gained here either way in the end.
  • Starkey: Steelers - I hate both teams, and the Steelers probably more, but they'll still win this game somehow. 
Colts at Texans - Houston fans have to be all jacked up for this game, which is essentially their Super Bowl. Not only that, but obviously, Peyton Manning won't be playing in this game - or any game for the foreseeable future. It'll be interesting to see how lost the Colts offense looks with Kerry Collins behind center. 
  • Ponting: Texans - Peyton Manning's broken, Houston takes advantage.
  • Code: Texans - Texans. This is their year to go one and done in the playoffs. Plus I still have the T shirt. Although, I think it shrunk over the summer.
  • Fittz: Texans - 8-8 division champions here we come!
  • London: Texans - Very interested in seeing how the Texans screw this year up despite the stars aligning perfectly.
  • Griffin: Texans - I don't think the loss of Manning really kills the Colts the way people act, but I think it does make this the Texans' game to lose.
  • Perryman: Texans - Houston dominates Indy, hangs banners and hands out rings after the game.
  • Starkey: Colts - Collins delays the tears of unfathomable sadness for another week.
Panthers at Cardinals - Two eras begin in this game: the Cam Newton era for Carolina and the Kevin Kolb era for Arizona. I'd wager good money that the Kolb era goes better than the Newton era, but that's why they play the games. Larry Fitzgerald is enough reason to pay attention to this game.
  • Ponting: Cardinals - Cam Newton's gonna be awful this year.
  • Code: Panthers - Oh boy did I miss Jimmy Claussen. I hope someone tears his entitled head off.
  • Fittz: Cardinals - Get in on the ground floor of Cam Newton being a bust.
  • London: Cardinals - FREE STEVE SMITH!
  • Griffin: Cardinals - This is also a game I don't care much about.
  • Perryman: Cardinals - Whisenhunt reminds us this year that he's one of the better coaches in the league.
  • Starkey: Cardinals - Rookie quarterback on the road? No thanks.

Vikings at Chargers - We won't have to watch Brett Favre anymore at least, but this game could be a fun one with Donovan McNabb floundering about for Minnesota. Or maybe he can revive himself too, since his running back is pretty good. Phillip Rivers and the Chargers should be pretty motivated to start strong after last year's disaster season.
  • Ponting: Chargers - San Diego's at home and is the better team.
  • Code: Chargers - Rivers at home, McNabb is it? I forget. Doesn't matter. AP can't save this one.
  • Fittz: Chargers - Purple Jesus is dying for your sins, America.
  • London: Chargers - The Chargers should put it together this year. Maybe.
  • Griffin: Chargers - Brian Burke, a smart fella, had the Chargers ranking as the best team in the NFL last year, just ahead of the Packers and Steelers. The record didn't support it, but it does make me feel they have serious potential in '11.
  • Perryman: Chargers - Rivers wins by 3 TDs and celebrates by taunting 10-year-old Vikings fans in the parking lot.
  • Starkey: Chargers - Jared Allen will have to knock Rivers out in the first quarter for the Vikings to have a chance.
Seahawks at 49ers - This game beats out Cleveland/Cincinnati for least appealing quarterback matchup. In fact, this could be the worst matchup of the week. San Francisco has some exciting players in Patrick Willis, Frank Gore and Vernon Davis to pay attention to at least.
  • Ponting: 49ers - Pete Carroll's voodoo luck dragon will not be enough this year.
  • Code: 49ers - Just going with the home team here. I have no idea. How am I supposed to know? They both suck all the time.
  • Fittz: Seahawks - I can take another year of the 49ers not winning the infinitely winnable NFC West.
  • London: 49ers - Tavaris Jackson vs. Alex Smith. This game should be fun.
  • Griffin: 49ers - Bad home team beats bad road team to start bad division off.
  • Perryman: 49ers - These two teams are way too bad to deserve to have a shot at winning their division.
  • Starkey: 49ers - This game would be depressing to watch.
Giants at Redskins - Ah, the token NFC East game of the week. The Giants have been pretty banged up by injuries throughout the preseason, though that's not nearly as bad as having Rex Grossman as your Week 1 starting quarterback. This game should be a decent barometer as to how good the Giants could be this year, though. 
  • Ponting: Giants - I'm pretty sure the Giants don't even have a secondary anymore. Despite this, they'll still beat the Redskins.
  • Code: Giants - Dumbface strikes again.
  • Fittz: Giants - Not to sound like ESPN, but this seems like the least fierce rivalry in the NFC East and it's still probably a top 15 rivalry in the NFL.
  • London: Giants - The Giants secondary is a mess but they're facing Rex Grossman.
  • Griffin: Giants - I take glee in how few points I think the Redskins can score in this game.
  • Perryman: Giants - Going with Shanahan's eyes popping out over Coughlin's head exploding in Week 1.
  • Starkey: Giants - I almost want to take the Redskins, just so I could really, really root for listening to WFAN on Monday.
Cowboys at Jets - America's Team versus America's Team of the Night. The Jets will likely have a lot of people pulling for them on Sunday night, since the game is in New Jersey on September 11. This game would be a lot more interesting if Dallas were at full strength, but alas, they aren't. Still, it's a good test for Tony Romo and the Dallas receivers against the Jets secondary. Romo just needs time to throw.
  • Ponting: Jets - I have a feeling this game is going to be pretty ugly.
  • Code: Jets - The Cowboys are going to be a bad football team this year. It makes me happy to hear optimistic Cowboy fans predict 8 wins for Jerry's kids.
  • Fittz: Jets - I predicted the Cowboys would win a wild card spot. It won't be because they start 1-0.
  • London: Jets - The Cowboys defense is still pretty bad, the Jets defense is not.
  • Griffin: Jets - I'm pretty pessimistic about the Cowboys this year, but I do think this spread is too large. Jets should win at home, but I don't think the Cowboys are huge underdogs in week one.
  • Perryman: Jets - Way too many moving parts for Dallas right now and a terrible first matchup for a young OL.
  • Starkey: Jets - Mark Sanchez isn't that good, but is good enough to win this game.
Patriots at Dolphins - Monday Night Football geared just for me! You'd think Tom Brady and the Pats would take the Dolphins to the house, but Miami usually plays New England tough at home. If for nothing else, it's worth watching the reigning MVP with Chad Ochocinco et al. 
  • Ponting: Patriots - This will be even uglier.
  • Code: Patriots - Tom Brady still has pretty hair.
  • Fittz: Dolphins - It's not an NFL season until the Patriots lose. I'd like it to be an NFL season early.
  • London: Patriots - MNF is awful right now. Pats/Dolphins? That's the best you could do?
  • Griffin: Patriots - Why is this our first Monday Night game? Remember when Monday Night Football meant something?
  • Perryman: Patriots - Brady might be in a baseball cap by halftime.
  • Starkey: Patriots - I hope the Patriots are in run-the-score-up mode early on in the season.
Raiders at Broncos - I hate that there are two Monday Night Football games on the first week of the season. Kyle Orton managed to beat out Tim Tebow to be starting quarterback of the Broncos, but that's something you or I could do as well. 
  • Ponting: Broncos - Weekly Von Miller sack total prediction: 1 1/2.
  • Code: Broncos -  I hope TebowJesus plays football in the game.
  • Fittz: Raiders - Still time to get in on the second floor of Tim Tebow being a bust.
  • London: Raiders - Eww.
  • Griffin: Raiders - Do you? ESPN clearly does not. Broncos insane QB situation sets them back just enough to lose to the Raiders at home.
  • Perryman: Broncos - 30,000 people in Tebow jerseys see 500 Raiders fans with Pryor jerseys on and realize how dumb they look.
  • Starkey: Raiders - Raiders win, Al Davis fires Hue Jackson immediately after the game.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.