The NFL is back, and it couldn't come at a better time for this fan. I'll be following along with the Pats-Chiefs game tonight, doing my best to cleanse the taste of the awful Brewers series in Cincinnati from my mouth.
Each Thursday, I will reveal my picks for the weekend's NFL games. I like to keep a running tally with Daily News contributor Rob Lucas, if only to embarrass him further. He's never beaten me in a season, and I'm sure that will continue in 2017.
On to the games!
• KANSAS CITY at NEW ENGLAND (-9). The defending Super Bowl champion has lost this game just once, and that was when the 2013 Baltimore Ravens had to travel to Denver because of a scheduling conflict. So, since the Thursday night Super Bowl champion tradition began in 2004, the champ has never been beaten at home. This, surely, will continue in 2017. Nine is a big number against a solid team like the Chiefs, but I like the Pats in this one.
PATRIOTS 27, CHIEFS 20.
• NEW YORK JETS at BUFFALO (-9). This is just simply an awful football game and a terrible way to start off a season. Both teams are in a rebuilding mode, and the starting quarterback matchup includes Tyrod Taylor against Josh McCown. In week one. These aren't the backups. These are your starters. My goodness. Buffalo isn't good enough to give anybody nine points.
BILLS 13, JETS 9.
• ATLANTA (-7) at CHICAGO. The old Super Bowl loser hangover. Will it rear its ugly head on the Falcons? There is still significant talent on the Atlanta roster, but if a team was going to ever have a Super Bowl hangover, it's the one that blew a 28-3 lead in the big game.
Speaking of blowing, let's talk Bears. Chicago will spend another year in the NFL wilderness, one that houses teams that win 5-8 games. If rookie Mitchell Trubisky can show some promise, than this is a rebuilding season worth having. I think the Bears keep this one close.
FALCONS 20, BEARS 14.
• JACKSONVILLE at HOUSTON (-6). I still remember the first Saints game in the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city. While Harvey's damage was as extensive and J.J. Watt has pretty much raised enough money to rebuild the city from the ground up anyway, it figures to be a special atmosphere at Reliant Stadium Sunday.
The Texans also have a significantly better team that Jacksonville does. I like the Texans in an easy cover here.
TEXANS 27, JAGUARS 10.
• PHILADELPHIA (-1.5) at WASHINGTON. The Eagles, road favorites? Interesting. Philly finished last season 7-9, and Carson Wentz seemed to get worse as his rookie season continued. I really like the Redskins in this one. They've won five straight games in this series, and I think they make it six on Sunday.
REDSKINS 27, EAGLES 24.
• ARIZONA (-2) at DETROIT: One of the more interesting games on the week one slate. The line opened as the Lions favored by 2.5 points, but has swung 4.5 points in the other direction. That's a huge swing, so the public is definitely on the Cardinals in this one. That just makes me want to take Detroit. I probably have too much faith in the Lions, but I like home dogs on opening day.
• OAKLAND at TENNESSEE (-2.5). Here's another line that moved significantly. The Raiders opened as one-point favorite, but the Titans have swayed the public. I heard Brian Billick compare Marcus Mariota to Aaron Rodgers this morning on the way to work, so that's a thing I guess. Oakland emerged on the scene with 12 wins in the regular season last year. Tennessee is the hot team on the rise that people have been jumping on. I'm looking at the home team in this one. Fun game to start.
TITANS 23, RAIDERS 20
• BALTIMORE at CINCINNATI (-3). The Bengals haven't lost to the Ravens at home since 2012, and have beaten Baltimore in six of the last seven meetings. I think that trend continues Sunday.
BENGALS 27, RAVENS 23.
• PITTSBURGH (-9) at CLEVELAND. You have to feel badly for the Browns. Just when it appears their can't-miss defensive lineman Myles Garrett will at least make them watchable this season, the number one pick goes down with an injury in practice and will be out several weeks. I like the Steelers to roll here.
STEELERS 24, BROWNS 10.
• INDIANAPOLIS at LA RAMS (-3.5) The Rams get the significant edge of having to face Scott Tolzien instead of Andrew Luck. I love the Scooter as much as the next Wisconsin resident, but this is indeed a game-changer. LA might not have much on offense, but they do have a stout defensive unit. I like the Rams here.
RAMS 17, COLTS 10
• SEATTLE at GREEN BAY (-3) The Vegas rule states that you give each home team three points to account for the home field edge. That means the oddsmakers say these two teams are exactly even, and that seems about right. It's a huge game for the Packers for a couple of reasons.
If, like me, you believe the Packers need homefield advantage to advance to the Super Bowl this season, this game represents a two-game swing with a prime NFC rival. The tiebreaker automatically comes with a win, and particularly with this being a home game, the onus is on the Packers to protect their turf.
Second, with a game at defending NFC champion Atlanta on the horizon next week, an 0-2 start could be in the offing if the Packers drop the opener. It's a scary thought.
But I think the Packers will be able to move the ball on Seattle's terrific defense, and I think Seattle's offensive line will struggle to contend with a no-doubt aggressive pressure packaged prepared by Dom Capers.
Plus, I'm going to the game and I've never seen Rodgers lose in person. Never! 13-0!
PACKERS 24, SEAHAWKS 20.
• CAROLINA (-5.5) at SAN FRANCISCO: The Panthers are due for a bounceback season, and that starts Sunday.
PANTHERS 34, 49ERS 10.
• NEW YORK GIANTS at DALLAS (-4). The Cowboys will have Ezekiel Elliott in the lineup before his suspension begins next week, and I think the Cowboys will hold serve in prime time.
COWBOYS 24, GIANTS 17.
• NEW ORLEANS at MINNESOTA (-3.5) As much as I'd love to pick the Saints, I don't trust them as a road team.
VIKINGS 27, SAINTS 20
• LA CHARGERS at DENVER (-3.5) Really good game here. I like the Chargers to have a decent season, and the Broncos don't have a QB. Upset special!
CHARGERS 20, BRONCOS 17