Scott Shapiro's Week 1 NFL 4-Pack
After a low scoring tussle that came down to the final play on Thursday night, the majority of the National Football League teams get their season started on Sunday.
Here is my Week 1 4-Pack:
Minnesota (-6.5) vs San Francisco
The defense gave up just 12.5 points per game at home in 2017 and they should continue to dominate their opposition at U.S. Bank Stadium once again this season. With a secondary that includes two All-Pros in Xavier Rhodes and Harrison Smith and a pass rush led by Everson Griffen expect a long day for QB Jimmy Garoppolo.
On offense, the Vikings spent big money to bring in former Redskin Kirk Cousins. Cousins does not have a great offensive line in front of him, which is concerning long term, but that should not be an issue on Sunday. The Niners pass rush is far from dominant and their secondary is highly likely to struggle with Stefon Diggs on the outside and Adam Thielen in the slot.
Vikings by double-digits.
MINNESOTA 2 units
Denver (-3) vs Seattle
Case Keenum may not remind Broncos fans of John Elway or Peyton Manning, but he is a clear upgrade from what head coach Vance Joseph had at the helm last year. The veteran signal caller from the University of Houston should get much more out of Demaryius Thomas and Emmuanel Sanders who both appear poised for bounce back years.
The should be better in 2018, but this play is much more about fading Seattle. Sure, quarterback Russell Wilson is back, but he is without star power on that side of the ball outside of a banged-up Doug Baldwin. Furthermore, a defense that carried the Seahawks appears a shadow of its former self with a number of key losses from a group that carried this franchise for a number of years.
Keenum and the Broncos use their home field advantage and find a way.
DENVER 2 units
Kansas City at Los Angeles (Total 48 points)
The Chiefs defense is likely to be one of the league’s worst and they very well could be without veteran safety Eric Berry who has been sidelined with a heel injury. Outside of Justin Houston, Kansas City lacks pass rushers, which should give Philip Rivers plenty of time to find Keenan Allen, and the rest of his strong receiving corps. Los Angeles should go off in this matchup.
On the other side of the ball, the Chiefs face a talented defense but still should have no problem putting points on the board, especially if playing from behind. Patrick Mahomes may struggle at times as he takes over for Alex Smith, but with Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Sammy Watkins and Kareem Hunt surrounding him he should still be able to move the ball on Sunday.
OVER 1 unit
Chicago (+7) at Green Bay
A healthy Aaron Rodgers is hard to bet against, especially at home to start the season, but this number seems a bit too high to me.
Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio is one of the league’s best and has to be licking his chops with the late addition of dominant pass rusher Khalil Mack. Mack will likely have a limited role since he has only been with the team a short time, but Green Bay has no one that can remotely match up with him. Look for the Pack to move the ball, but I do not expect them to score at will, especially with a young receiving corps that may take a couple of weeks to gel with the league’s best QB.
I expect the Bears defense to carry them to some extent in 2018, but with former Chiefs offensive coordinator at head coach the offense should be much improved. They lacked weapons last year, so they went out and signed free agents Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel and Trey Burton and drafted Anthony Miller in the second round. Much will depend on how much QB Mitchell Trubisky moves forward in season number two, but he should be able to have enough success in Lambeau Field to keep this one close
CHICAGO 1 unit
Season to date (1-0)