By Doug Halberstadt
Writing my weekly National Football League picks columns is one of my favorite things about the NFL regular season. The real games begin tomorrow night (Thursday, Sept. 9). Here’s my week one picks to get things started for another season.
The opening game of the 2010 season is a rematch of last year’s NFC Championship game. The Minnesota Vikings will open up on the road in an attempt to avenge their disappointing loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints. I think everything favors the Saints in this rematch.
As good as the NFL did in scheduling the rematch between the Vikings and the Saints to open the season, they did an equally bad job in having the Cleveland Browns travel to Tampa Bay. The Dogs are looking to improve on last year’s dismal 5-11 record. They did finish the regular season with four straight wins. Tampa Bay was even worse last year; they finished the season 3-13. In a battle of the inept versus the unknown, I’m taking the unknown, and that means the Browns in my book.
The Dolphins open their season in Buffalo against the Bills. Last year, Miami was 7-9. Buffalo finished 6-10. I like the Dolphins to pick up a big opening-week road win. The Bengals face the Patriots. Both teams were 10-6 last season and won their respective divisions. I like both quarterbacks in this game, Tom Brady for the Patriots and Carson Palmer for the Bengals. I think Brady’s experience will overshadow Palmer and his superstar duo of wide receivers, Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens. I think this will be a high-scoring game, with the Pats coming out on top.
Perennial Pro-Bowler and league MVP Peyton Manning will bring his Colts team to the Lone Star State to face the Houston Texans. Looks to me like another opening-week win for Manning and the Colts. Denver is at Jacksonville. In my opinion, the Broncos were one of the luckiest teams of last season. They won some games on last-minute plays that could have easily gone against them. This year, they’ve added former University of Florida all-world quarterback Tim Tebow. He’s doubtful to see the field. He is listed as the third quarterback behind former Chicago Bears starter Kyle Orton and his back-up, Brady Quinn. Look for the Broncos’ luck to continue in 2010. I like them to open the season with a road win.
The Carolina Panthers will face the New York Giants in the New Meadowlands Stadium. New York will open up their new stadium with a victory. The Atlanta Falcons will fly north to Pennsylvania to meet the Steelers. I like the Steelers at home in this one. The Raiders are in Tennessee to take on the Titans. Look for Titans quarterback Vince Young to spoil the Raiders’ opening week.
The Bears open up their 2010 season against the worst team in the league from last year, the Detroit Lions. That should prove to be great news for the Bears. I look for the Monsters of the Midway to start the season off on the right foot. In the other NFC North game, the Packers play the Philadelphia Eagles. This game should go to the Packers, and it will.
The Arizona Cardinals travel back to their old home in St. Louis to try to hand the Rams an opening-week loss. Consider it done. The San Francisco 49ers go north to Seattle to search for gold against the Seahawks. I like Head Coach Mike Singletary’s team. San Fran should get an opening-day win.
The Sunday night game features long-time rivals. The Washington Redskins host the Dallas Cowboys in our nation’s capital. The Cowboys are one of the teams that is supposed to compete for a Super Bowl berth in their home stadium this year. To do so, they must start with a win. They will.
There is a double-header Monday night. The Baltimore Ravens take on the New York Jets in the early game. I like the Ravens. In the final week one game, the San Diego Chargers are in Kansas City. This is another great rivalry game. I think the Chiefs have enough to get by the Chargers in week one.
There you have it, my fearless picks for the opening week of another great NFL season. I hope you enjoy checking each week to see the current picks and to see how right or wrong I was from the previous week as much as I enjoy preparing this column each week for the next 16 weeks.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the Sept. 8-14, 2010 issue