Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars (+7.5)
Philip Rivers is extending his career with the Colts who quite frankly weren’t getting it done with last year’s starter Jacoby Brissett. He’ll have the privilege of throwing behind one of the best offensive lines in football which should help. Which is accompanied by a mean ground attack to take the pressure off Rivers. Led by Marlon Mack and rookie Jonathon Taylor Indianapolis will be challenging for the top rushing unit this season. The Colts also added Michael Pittman Jr. in the second round to boost the receiving corps. All of these additions will drastically improve Philip Rivers’ ability to win ball games as he tries to prove he’s still got it.
“With the first pick, the Jaguars select Trevor Lawrence.” Is what the franchise wishes it could do instead of playing this season out. The Jaguars are the reason the NHL and NBA have draft lotteries to try and persuade teams from openly tanking. Jacksonville traded away and cut multiple starters on both sides of the ball to ensure a top pick. The Jaguars will give Gardner Minshew II one last kick at the can before he’s the backup. Although it likely won’t matter as they’ve got eyes for Lawrence.
The Pick: Colts -7.5
Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings (-2.5)
This is another spread I’m a little curious about from Vegas. I know the Packers lit their first two draft picks on fire but they still won 13 games last season and made it to the NFC Championship game. Green Bay also won both games against the Vikings and will have a healthy Davante Adams. The Packers are still as balanced as ever. Suddenly their defence is stout and the Packers even lean on their ground attack at times. Green Bay should easily string together another sensational season.
The Vikings got devastating news when star pass rusher Danielle Hunter injured himself and will be out for the next few games. They did, however, trade for disgruntled pass rusher Jaguars star Yannick Ngakoue which will ease the blow early on. They’ll form a fearsome twosome once Hunter’s back on the field wreaking havoc on opposing QB’s. Even with Hunter out, the Vikings would’ve been up against a tough Packers team. Minnesota can’t rely on the raucous energy their fans bring to the stadium for game one and instead it should come down to Kirk Cousins vs. Aaron Rodgers. Who would you take?
The Pick: Packers +2.5
Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots (-6.5)
Last year Miami did what Jacksonville is doing this year, and wanted the chance to snag Tua Tagovailoa first overall. Instead, the Dolphins accidentally ran into some wins courtesy of “Fitzmagic” and fell to fifth. Where they actually still got their guy despite wanting to finish dead last and snag Joe Burrow. Ryan Fitzpatrick will get the start under center until Tagovailoa is healthy, so who knows, they could run into a win to kick off the season. But the Dolphins will likely be bottom dwellers again, which is fine for a rebuilding squad.
Life without Tom Brady starts now for Patriots fans. However, they do get a solid consolation prize in former MVP Cam Newton taking over the reins of the franchise. But of course the godfather Bill Belichick is still running the show, so life is still pretty good. The Patriots did lose a few key players to free agency but, they get David Andrews back on the offensive line to help offset those losses. Overall, needing the Patriots to win by just one touchdown with an entire offseason to prepare is almost too easy of a choice.
The Pick: Patriots -6.5
Los Angelas Chargers at Cincinnati Bengals (+3)
Tyrod Taylor will get a chance to prove he’s a starting calibre quarterback after being the backup last season. Although Justin Herbert will be nipping at his heels to take over the franchise sooner than later after being selected 6th overall. Derwin James will be out for the season but, at least his loss can be somewhat mitigated by the addition of slot ace Chris Harris Jr. Austin Ekeler will also finally get a shot at proving he’s the running back of the future with the team letting go of Melvin Gordon III to the rival Broncos.
The Bengals finally get their messiah in Joe Burrow giving the franchise high hopes this season. Expectations are warranted for Burrow who had the most electric college football season we’ve ever seen. Burrow will also have plenty of weapons in his first year including receiver A.J. Green who’s finally healthy. Jonah Williams will also get to prove why he was a first-round pick protecting Burrow’s blindside after missing all of last season with an injury. Both teams were pretty bad to watch last year but Burrow has the chance to be special and has the right weapons around him to make it happen.
The Pick: Bengals +3
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs New Orleans Saints (-3.5)
Life with Tom Brady starts now for Buccaneers’ fans. Which probably couldn’t have happened sooner after watching Jamies Winston register a 30 interception season. Although Brady’s arm strength isn’t what it used to be he’ll definitely cut down on the turnover numbers and has much better weapons at his disposal. Led by Chris Godwin and Mike Evans, Brady has the best wide receiver duo in the league at his disposal along with Rob Gronkowski coming out of retirement. It’s exciting times for Buccaneers’ fans and expectations are sky-high. They won’t have to wait long for their first test against the Saints who’ve ruled the AFC South for the last three seasons.
Drew Brees just like Tom Brady is likely at the twilight of his career and his opportunity for a second ring is dwindling down each season. The Saints did everything they could to prolong that window. The 41-year-old signal-caller got offensive line help in the draft and receiver help in Emmanuel Sanders. The Saints are a proven commodity and I think they improved their football team this offseason. Until the Buccaneers prove otherwise, they still just are an extremely hyped up team.
The Pick: Saints -3.5
Arizona Cardinals at San Fransisco 49ers (-7)
Kyler Murray in just his second season gets one of the best wide receivers in the game after the Cardinals acquired DeAndre Hopkins. That alone will make Arizona dangerous each and every week. Arizona also seemed to have fixed their running back problem with Kenyan Drake now in the fold. Taking Isiah Simmons and his defensive versatility completed a pretty successful offseason. But they’ll be thrown right into the fire when they travel to the 49ers in a tough first-week matchup.
The 49ers will try and avoid a Super Bowl hangover like the Los Angelas Rams and get back to the dance. Adding left tackle Trent Williams for pennies was an incredibly savvy move for GM John Lynch which significantly upgrades the position. Rookie wideout Brandon Aiyuk will look to be a longterm fit on the outside opposite Deebo Samuel. Overall the Williams move should pay dividends to help lock down Chandler Jones while Richard Sherman will try and slow down Hopkins. The 49ers are still the class of the NFC West. Even if that margin isn’t too big anymore.
The Pick: 49ers -7
Dallas Cowboys at Los Angelas Rams (+2.5)
The Sunday nighter will be the debut of Mike McCarthy’s Dallas Cowboys and with it comes some mile-high expectations. The Cowboys are being picked by some as a Super Bowl team and McCarthy is expected to push them over the top. McCarthy has to be the missing piece because the Cowboys probably got worse this offseason. Second-round pick Trevon Diggs replaces top cornerback Byron Jones. Everson Griffin replaces Robert Quinn and his 11.5 sacks. Randall Cobb and his quietly productive season are replaced by CeeDee Lamb. But no one replaced All-Pro Center Travis Frederick when he retired. All of those moves are at best lateral moves with most being downgrades to an 8-8 squad.
Even with the Cowboys’ personal downgrades, the Rams probably outdid them. Corey Littleton, Todd Gurley III, Brandin Cooks and Dante Fowler are all gone and are massive losses for the Rams. Those are big shoes to fill and it will be a huge undertaking to replace their productivity. Unlike the Cowboys, there aren’t sky-high expectations for the Rams even with Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey on the roster. Although I don’t believe in the Cowboys I really don’t believe in the Rams at this point.
The Pick: Cowboys -2.5
Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire
Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire
23-year-old journalism student at MacEwan University. Follow me on Twitter @OzzyConnelly Fly Eagles Fly!