Last season was ruled with an iron fist by the one we call “The Pug”, but with a new season of NFL weekly picks and a new contestant can “The Pug” hold onto his crown and repeat in the first two seasons? Will “Bad Beef” Ed Greene go missing once again this season? Can Trevor defy the odds and capture the crown?
Never fear the Pug is here to defend his title from last year.
Carolina @ Denver.
These aren’t the same two teams from last year. Carolina lost all-pro cornerback Josh Norman, while Denver lost both their quarterbacks, Malik Jackson, and Danny Trevathan. Both defenses are still top notch, but Carolina has the better offense so I’m giving them the nod. Pick: Carolina
Tampa Bay @ Atlanta
This is a tale of teams heading in the opposite direction. The Bucs seem to be making all the right moves to become a playoff contender. The Falcons offense should be on point, but the defense looks to be an area of concern this season. The Bucs should win a close one in their final trip to the Georgia Dome. Pick: Tampa Bay
Green Bay @ Jacksonville
The Jaguars, like the Bucs, are a team on the rise. The Jaguars spent a lot of money and draft picks to improve their defense this offseason. The Packers are getting back number one receiver Jordy Nelson after he was put all of last season. The Packers have gotten off to slow starts the last couple of years, and although they are the superior team, it happens again this year. Jaguars show the world they are for real in an upset. Pick: Jacksonville
New York Jets @ Cincinnati Bengals
The Jets and Bengals are another two team with top of the line defenses. The Jets added an offseason weapon in Matt Forte while the Bengals lost Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones to free agency. These two teams could possibly see each other again come playoff time, but I’m giving Gang Green the nod here, Pick: New York
Wildcard Game of the Week
Miami Dolphins @ Seattle Seahawks
I’m taking the easy way out in the first week and picking what I consider to be a lock. If the Legion of Boom can stop Jarvis Landry, the Dolphins have little left. New Dolphins running back Arian Foster will look to prove he still has tread on the tires, but against the Seattle run defense his effort may come in vein this week. Pick: Seahawks
Carolina Panthers @ Denver Broncos
The Dab has returned to the NFL…. This is quite the no brainer if you ask me. Trevor Siemian is no Peyton Manning and well Cam Newton is still Cam Newton. Sure the Broncos D is still quite fearsome, but not enough to win a game on their own. Pick: Panthers
Green Bay Packers @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Can Aaron Rodgers get back to MVP form, Can Blake Bortles take the next step in his evolution as a passer in the NFL? While I really wanted to pick the Jacksonville Jaguars for this game they are playing Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. Rodgers can not and will not be counted out ever. Pick: Packers
Cincinnati Bengals @ New York Jets
J…E….T…..S, JETS, JETS, JETS….are going to not make the playoffs….period…hell even Ryan Fitzpatrick didn’t want to come back. He held out for the absolute last minute hoping another team would take him. While Andy Dalton is Mr Regular Season so this one’s pretty easy for me as well. Pick: Bengals
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Atlanta Falcons
Last season the Jameis Winston era officially began with the rookie throwing over 4,000 yards through the air. Dirk Koetter and Mike Smith reunited this off-season in Tampa after Koetter was named head Coach following Lovie Smith’s firing. I don’t see Jameis digressing in his 2nd season as a pro. Pick: Buccaneers
Wildcard Game of the Week
Minnesota Vikings @ Tennessee Titans
I am guaranteeing myself a 1-0 record in the Wildcard standings. Yes it’s kind of a no brainer pick especially with Sam Bradford in Minnesota now even with Adrian Pederson running the ball, but I want the easy win week 1 so sue me! Pick: Vikings
Carolina @ Denver: Naturally the season kicks off with a rematch Super Bowl L. Denver still boasts a formidable defense, lead by Super Bowl MVP Von Miller. However, it’s the Broncos offense that is suspect. Cam Newton and the rest of the Panther offense is healthy, and the defense might still make some noise regardless of the loss of All-Pro CB Josh Norman. Pick: Panthers
Tampa Bay @ Atlanta: An NFC South rivalry, with both squads missing the playoffs last year. Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and Devonta Freeman make for a lethal triple threat in the ATL, and the defense picked up veteran Dwight Freeney. The Bucs on the other hand have improved on both sides of the ball, with Jameis Winston having even more targets at his disposal. Then there’s those young pups on that defensive front seven… Pick: Buccaneers
Green Bay @ Jacksonville: The Packers have been touted to have the easiest schedule now that Teddy Bridgewater got injured. While they’re the favorites in their division (as usual), I won’t say their schedule is a cakewalk. Jacksonville has been on the verge of breaking through for the last couple years, and with an upstart offense lead by Blake Bortles and the Allen twins, the Jags will give that Packer D fits. At the end of the day though, its mighty hard to bet against Aaron Rodgers and a healthy Packer offense. Pick: Packers
Cincinnati @ NY Jets: The Bengals have kinda garnered a negative reputation after their playoff exit last season against hated rival Pittsburgh. They were quite the wild bunch on defense, lead by the forever boisterous Vontaze Burfict. The offense is still decent with Andy Dalton and AJ Green. But that Gang Green defense though. Pick: Jets
Wild Card Game of the Week
Los Angeles @ San Francisco: What can I say, I like a rivalry game. The Rams are back in the Golden State after 20 years in St. Louis. Both teams are in a state of transition, and both are looking to make a statement in Week 1. Blaine Gabbert has been named the starter for the Niners, with Carlos Hyde coming out of the backfield. For the Rams, rookie QB Jared Goff is coming home sorts as the Cal product brings last year’s Offensive Rookie of the Year Todd Gurley and all-purpose threat Tavon Austin. It’s a battle for third place in the NFC West. Pick: Rams
CAROLINA AT DENVER
It’s unusual to see a Super Bowl rematch the following season, but when the schedule was released back in April, NFL fans got themselves a rare treat when it was revealed that the Broncos would be hosting the Panthers in the season opener. While Denver’s QB situation is vastly different after the retirement of Peyton Manning, their stellar defense remains largely intact after last season’s championship run. On the other hand, Carolina’s defense lost star CB Josh Norman, but retains a talented and stacked front seven that’s one of the best in the NFL. Oh, and they’ve got some guy by the name of Cam Newton that’s the reigning NFL MVP. He’s pretty good. Plus he should be motivated after that Super Bowl loss to Denver. In what will be a hard-hitting, low-scoring affair, Carolina forces a couple of key turnovers and edges out the Broncos in a close one.
Score: Carolina 17, Denver 13
TAMPA BAY AT ATLANTA
Year 2 of the Jameis Winston era in Tampa Bay kicks off in Atlanta for a crucial NFC South Division showdown, and although the Bucs ended last season on a four-game losing streak, new head coach Dirk Koetter seems to have Tampa Bay back on the right track. After being only the third rookie QB in NFL history to top the 4,000-yard mark, Winston will look to build upon his first season and continue to grow into a franchise QB. He’s got all the weapons he needs and the Bucs’ offense has the makings of what could be a potentially explosive unit. While the defense has to focus on containing RB Devonta Freeman and WR Julio Jones, they should be able to keep them in check just enough to give the offense a chance to pile on the points. Look for Tampa Bay to come away with a big victory in the first divisional showdown of the year.
Score: Tampa Bay 28, Atlanta 17
GREEN BAY AT JACKSONVILLE
The Jacksonville Jaguars are considered by many to be one of the sleeper candidates in the AFC, and the Jags not only made several moves in free agency, but added a pair of potential impact players in the draft in CB Jalen Ramsey and LB Myles Jack. Coupled with an explosive offense led by QB Blake Bortles and WR’s Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, Jacksonville shouldn’t have too much trouble scoring points. On the first Sunday of the season, they’ll need every point they can muster against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. Green Bay gets WR Jordy Nelson back healthy, while RB Eddie Lacy is entering a contract season and appears poised to have a monster year. This game has the potential to be a shootout, but in the end, I think the Packers make just enough plays on defense to hold off the Jags and go 1-0 on the season.
Score: Green Bay 35, Jacksonville 31
CINCINNATI AT N.Y. JETS
It has been a long eight months for the Cincinnati Bengals since they not only shot themselves in the foot in the playoffs against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but took a shotgun and obliterated that foot off the face of the planet in one of the most painful playoff defeats in NFL history. While the Bengals spent the offseason recovering from that loss and searching for answers, the Jets were busy having a standoff with their starting QB, Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick, a journeyman for much of his career, had the best season of his career in 2015, but missed three months of offseason workouts in a contract dispute with the Jets. Eventually, the Jets gave Fitzpatrick a one-year, $12 million deal simply because they didn’t have any other better options. This is one of those games that will come down to the dying minutes of the fourth quarter, but eventually one of the Bengals’ big-name offensive weapons makes a play to seal this one.
Score: Cincinnati 24, N.Y. Jets 20
WILD CARD: NEW ENGLAND AT ARIZONA
After dragging on for what seemed like forever, Deflategate finally came to an end when Tom Brady decided to drop his appeal and serve his four-game suspension, so the Patriots will enter this Sunday night showdown with the untested Jimmy Garoppolo under center. Garoppolo will be making the first start of his NFL career against a team that not only made it to the NFC Title Game last season, but has gone 19-5 at home over the last three seasons. Arizona is considered one of the favorites to make it to the Super Bowl, and there’s no reason to think they can’t start off the 2016 season off on the right foot in front of a nationally-televised audience. While I expect the Patriots to win the AFC East and the last three games of Brady’s suspension, I also Garoppolo to have his struggles against a top-notch defense on the road. Arizona gets the win in the season opener.
Score: Arizona 30, New England 20