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Sunday, 10 September 2017

NFL Week 1 Picks 2017 (September 7-11)

I am anticipating the NFL Picks will come out much earlier than they will be in Week 1 because I won't be away on holiday until late in the week as I have been this past week.

There may be a couple of times when I won't release them until Sunday morning, but the aim is to try and get them ready to be out by Saturday evening, although work factors and personal factors can't always be determined for an entire season.

Next week I will have a much fuller thread for the NFL Week 2 Picks, but for Week 1 it is all about the games I like as we get set for another six months of fascinating match ups and great plays on the way to the Super Bowl which is held in Minnesota in February.

Hopefully it will be a good season for the NFL Picks as well as the Miami Dolphins, although I can only control the former and keep my fingers crossed for the latter.

For the early games I will say a few words and for the later games/Monday games I should have fuller breakdowns below.

Atlanta Falcons @ Chicago Bears Pick: The biggest question for the Atlanta Falcons this season is going to be how they respond to their Super Bowl disappointment. It is one thing losing the Super Bowl, it is another all together when you lose from a 28-3 lead and basically going down as the victim of one of the biggest comebacks in history.

That has to be a concern for the Falcons fanbase, but they are a big favourite to see off the Chicago Bears in Week 1. The Falcons look settled on both sides of the ball compared with a Chicago team who look to be in full rebuild mode.

Injuries have already hurt the Bears who have lost their Quarter Back and Number 1 Receiver from 2016 and also saw Cameron Meredith go down with an injury in preseason. In a tough NFC North, the Bears do look the weakest team and there is a real feeling they could be picking in the top five of the Draft next April.

Atlanta do have a big game on deck which is a concern, but I don't think they overlook Chicago as they look to make a statement that the Super Bowl is firmly behind them. I don't think the Bears score enough to stay with the Falcons, but I will only have a single unit on this with this being Week 1 and taking a big road favourite in a spot where most expect them to win easily.

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cleveland Browns Pick: This is a huge spread for the Pittsburgh Steelers to cover, but they do look one of the top teams in the AFC and they are facing a Divisional rival who are still rebuilding. The Cleveland Browns could be in more another season of pain under Hue Jackson as they start a rookie Quarter Back in a bid to kick start a franchise which has been struggling for years.

Cutting Joe Haden and seeing the Corner land in Pittsburgh is a blow for the Dawg Pound in the stands, but also could be a big factor in the game. Haden will be able to relay exactly what is expected to come from the Browns and that should give Mike Tomlin every chance of producing the perfect game plan.

There shouldn't be any real problems on the Offensive side of the ball for Pittsburgh with Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell all expected to play key roles in 2017. I also don't anticipate any overlooking of Cleveland with all the Divisional games so important for teams and I like the Steelers.

Pittsburgh have won three of their last four visits to Cleveland by double digits and I will have an interest in their covering this number too.

Oakland Raiders @ Tennessee Titans Pick: There are some numbers that make for very strange reading in the NFL season and this is one in Week 1 that I can't get my head around. I think the Oakland Raiders may be one of the best teams in the NFL and they are getting a Field Goal start meaning they would be considered even with the Tennessee Titans on a neutral field.

I like Tennessee too, I think they make the Play Offs as long as their key players remain healthy so the Titans are not over-rated. However I still think they are below the Raiders in terms of where their team is, and so the points look attractive.

Tennessee may match up well with Oakland with their ability to run the ball going up against the Raiders weakness from 2016. That should mean the Titans are moving the chains and this is a match on the East Coast time for Oakland which has been tough for them over the years.

Derek Carr is back healthy though and Oakland should be able to score points against the Titans Secondary in what looks to be a close game. I don't like opposing the sharps who seem to be on the Tennessee Titans with the spread doubling over the last few days in favour of the home team, and so I will keep the interest to a minimum in this one.

New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys Pick: The NFC East once again looks like being the best Division in the NFL and all four teams involved will feel they can make the Play Offs at the end of the 2017 season. The two leading teams may be the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants in the East and two will play each other in Week 1 which feels like a yearly occurrence.

It may be a tale of two stars as the Cowboys can call upon Ezekiel Elliot after his suspension was subsequently suspended, while the Giants look set to miss Odell Beckham Jr after the Receiver was hurt in pre-season. OBJ looks to be losing his battle to be passed fit for Week 1 and that is a big loss for the New York Giants.

The mood won't be improved if Brandon Marshall is also limited in the opening game while there remains some doubts about the quality of the protection that will be given to Eli Manning. The veteran Quarter Back still has the goods to deliver on Sunday, but without the luxury of throwing to OBJ, it can be a much tougher day in the office for him.

However Manning may have more time in this game than he will in many others with the Dallas Cowboys Defensive unit still looking to find a consistent pass rushing threat up front. The Defense played much better than expected in 2016, but there are a number of personnel moves that have been made and it is a big ask for Dallas to be as effective as they were for much of last season.

The best way for Dallas to protect the Defensive unit may be to earn long drives through the Offense which was important for them last season. Dak Prescott is now the undisputed Quarter Back and Elliot being available is huge for the Cowboys as they face a revamped Giants Defensive unit that is expected to be amongst the best in the NFL.

You would expect Dallas can run the ball effectively in this one behind the Offensive Line they have put together, but the Giants will also feel confident about their chances of at least slowing down the Cowboys. There are other threats on the Dallas Offensive unit outside of Elliot with Dez Bryant always a danger, but this is a New York Defense that did play well against Dallas last season.

While the Cowboys averaged 26 points per game in 2016, they scored a combined 26 points in two games with the New York Giants and that makes this an appealing spread. New York have a 6-2 record against the spread in Dallas from their last eight visits, and the underdog is 4-1 against the spread in the last five games in this series.

It does feel like a game that may not feature as much scoring as anticipated and that also makes getting more than a Field Goal worth of points look the way to go. Even without Odell Beckham Jr, Eli Manning and the Offense should be able to score enough points to keep this close with the Defensive unit likely to step up for the Giants to give them every chance to win the game.

I am adding the two Monday Night Football Picks below.

MY PICKS: Atlanta Falcons - 6.5 Points @ 1.95 Boyle Sports (1 Unit)
Pittsburgh Steelers - 9 Points @ 1.95 Sporting Bet (2 Units)
Oakland Raiders + 3 Points @ 1.86 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
New York Giants + 4 Points @ 1.95 Bet365 (2 Units)
New Orleans Saints + 3 Points @ 2.00 Bet365 (2 Units)
Los Angeles Chargers + 3 Points @ 1.91 Sky Bet (2 Units)

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