Scott Shapiro's Week 1 NFL Six Pack
Few things excite me more than a loaded day of football action. Fortunately we get the first of 17 full NFL Sunday slates in just a few more sleeps.
I had a strong 2018, with my selections on BetAmerica going 44-33-5 against the number, but I will have my work cut out for me to repeat that success in what should be another awesome season.
Last year I provided readers with a four pack of games each weekend, but in 2019 I will ramp things up and chat about the six contests I feel most strongly about. I will also continue to provide my Thursday night preview every week.
Without further ado, here is my Week 1 NFL Six Pack.
One of the most significant storylines during the preseason was the shocking retirement of Colts franchise quarterback Andrew Luck. The first pick in the 2012 draft led the Colts to a 10-6 record and a playoff berth a season ago and was one of the more valuable assets in the league, but their Luck's replacement, Jacoby Brissett, seems to be getting disrespected by many. Brissett struggled two years ago when forced into duty, but this is a different Indianapolis roster around him. The Colts now have one of the NFL’s best offensive lines, a top-tier head coach, a better group of offensive weapons and a much better defense. They are still contenders in the AFC South.
Jacoby Brissett is ready and confident to lead the Colts in 2019 after Andrew Luck's shocking retirement announcement.With @NFL Game Pass, you can study Brissett's past starts for the Colts in Luck's absence in 2017: https://t.co/T8eLfkXfhl pic.twitter.com/eks18GcZCm — SNF on NBC (@SNFonNBC) August 29, 2019
Indy heads west to take on a Chargers team that won 12 games a year ago, but Los Angeles lost stud safety Derwin James with an injured foot, has a banged-up offensive line and lacks a significant home-field advantage at Dignity Health Sports Park.
I am not sure the Colts can escape with a Week 1 victory on the road, but they should keep this one close.
Pick: Indianapolis +6.5 BEST BET
Patrick Mahomes took the NFL by storm last year, when he led the Chiefs to a 12-4 record and their first playoff win at Arrowhead Stadium in 25 years. Kansas City brings back most of its dynamic offense, but the Chiefs will need to improve their defense if they hope to achieve their ultimate goal. They should be poised for another big year under head coach Andy Reid, but will have their hands full in Jacksonville.
The Jaguars regressed last year, after they nearly made it to their first Super Bowl in 2017. Jacksonville made a few important moves after the disappointing 5-11 season, including the acquisition of quarterback Nick Foles to replace underachieving starter Blake Bortles. Foles is not Peyton Manning, but he is a significant upgrade at quarterback, which should result in a much-improved offensive attack for head coach Doug Marrone. Combine that with a defense loaded with talent, and you have a team that is a legitimate threat to win a questionable AFC South.
Look for the Jags to come out fired up and give the Chiefs all they can handle in North Florida.
Pick: Jacksonville +3.5
In one of Week 1’s most attractive matchups, the defending champs will take on the Antonio Brown-less Pittsburgh Steelers.
There is little doubt New England is once again one of the favorites to hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy, but expecting them to come out of the gate in mid-season form is ambitious. Tom Brady is of course back, but he will be without one of the best tight ends ever to lace ‘em up in Rob Gronkowski, as well as his veteran center David Andrews. As usual Bill Belichick is likely to use the first couple of games as an extended preseason.
The Steelers lost two of the best skilled position players in franchise history, but still have a Hall of Fame quarterback, one of the NFL’s best offensive lines and a solid defense, led by one of the league’s best pass rushes. Make no mistake—Pittsburgh is a playoff team and an AFC contender in 2019. The Steelers should have a chip on their shoulder and will play the Pats tough in Foxborough.
Pick: Pittsburgh +6
The Seahawks are one of two teams favored by more than a touchdown in Week 1 and for good reason. Their opponents have a banged-up offensive line and are without star receiver A.J. Green. The Bengals will struggle to move the ball at CenturyLink Field, especially given Seattle's addition of Jadeveon Clowney.
The Seahawks offense should be solid behind Russell Wilson, but it will lean heavily on the running game, especially with a lead, which will keep the clock moving Sunday.
This total is too high.
Pick: Under 44
A pair of second-year quarterbacks will meet in this AFC East clash at MetLife Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Both Sam Darnold and Josh Allen are likely to take significant steps forward, but this game should be more about the defenses.
The Jets defense added C.J. Mosley from the Ravens and brought in veteran defensive mind Gregg Williams to run the show. The Bills defense remains their strength, led by head coach Sean McDermott and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier.
With plenty of time to prepare for their division rivals, look for the defenses to be ahead of the offenses in this one.
Pick: Under 41
The debut of Kliff Kingsbury’s air raid offense should be fun to watch, as should Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray’s first start, but the Cardinals have a bottom-five offensive line and a porous secondary that Matthew Stafford should light up.
The Lions may be the worst team in a strong NFC North, but they should be able to control play and come away with a road win to start their 2019 campaign.