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The Lineman’s NFL picks: Week 1
The Lineman is back for another season of Pick Six that will end with the Green Bay Packers winning the Super Bowl. Yes, the Lineman likes the Pack baby. In fact so does Ms. Lineman and some out of work Octopus.
So, let’s have some fun. Here we go Week One.
PICK OF THE WEEK:
San Diego Chargers (0-0) at Kansas City Chiefs (0-0) (Line Chargers minus-4.5): The Chargers have been slow out of the blocks under coach Norv Turner but that will not happen this season.
Unless quarterback Philip Rivers breaks both legs or Southern California slips into the Pacific the Bolts should get off to a lightning quick start thanks to a mushy soft schedule that will see them face just one playoff team (Arizona) from last season in their opening six contests.
Things are not quite as sunny as the weather in San Diego with Pro Bowl wide receiver Vincent Jackson grumbling over a contract and All-Pro left tackle Marcus McNeil missing from the lineup but the Chargers are by far and away the class of a weak AFC West and a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
Rivers ranks among the NFL’s elite quarterbacks and rookie running back Ryan Mathews should make Chargers faithful forget about former NFL MVP LaDainian Tomlinson, who has landed with the Jets.
Renovations to Arrowhead stadium have been completed but work on rebuilding the Chiefs, winners of six games the last two seasons, has just started.
Romeo Crennel and Charlie Weis, who bombed as head coaches after helping turn the Patriots into a dynasty, are back together in Kansas City assuming their old roles of defensive and offensive co-ordinators.
And hey, former Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel is now calling the plays for the Chiefs but he is no Tom Brady.
The Chiefs have added some nice pieces, including safety Eric Berry, who may turn out to be the top defensive player taken in the draft.
But there is much work ahead for the Chiefs, who look set to finish at the bottom of a sad sack division that also includes the dysfunctional Oakland Raiders and troubled Denver Broncos.
Major shock if the Chargers jolted by the Chiefs.
The Super Chargers get season off to electrifying start, take the Bolts and give up the 4.5.
Green Bay Packers (0-0) at Philadelphia Eagles (0-0) (Line Packers minus-2.5): Everybody except maybe Brett Favre is tipping Green Bay to win the Super Bowl and the Pack get an early opportunity to prove they are the real deal when they travel to hostile Philadelphia to take on the Eagles.
With Donovan McNabb gone and questions on both defense and offense, the Eagles may not be the team they once were but Andy Reid’s boys can be expected to provide the Pack and early season litmus test.
Betting here is it is a test the Packers will ace.
OK, it was only the pre-season but Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is performing like a someone determined to make the Lambeau faithful forget about what’s-his-name.
The Pack attack looks wicked good and has Rodgers said during the pre-season, opposing teams will have to pick their poison. No shortage of weapons here.
Wide receivers Donald Driver and Greg Jennings have both racked up over 1,000 yards each of the past two seasons and tight end Jermichael Finley may just be the best of the bunch.
Packers also had one of the NFL top defensive units last season anchored by A.J. Hawk.
Meanwhile the wings of change have flown through the Eagles camp as they rebuild on the fly.
With McNabb a Redskin now, the starting quarterback job falls to Kevin Kolb with Michael Vick as his backup. Running back LeSean McCoy can expect to hear his number call a lot more following the departure of Brian Westbrook.
The Eagles are 56-32 at home under Reid and the Pack has lost nine straight at Philadelphia going back to 1962.
That streak ends on Sunday.
Take the Pack and give up the 2.5.
Miami Dolphins (0-0) at Buffalo Bills (0-0) (Line Dolphins minus-3.5): The Dolphins believe they are a playoff team and in a division with the New England Patriots and New York Jets this is an opener they absolutely must win. Otherwise, that clicking sound you hear coming from South Florida will be Dol-fans switching channels to watch the LeBron James and the Heat.
During the off-season, the ‘Tuna’ Bill Parcells landed the deep threat the Miami offence had been lacking reeling in Pro Bowl wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who is likely to be quarterback Chad Henne’s favorite target.
The Dolphins had just six receiving touchdowns last season. Marshall had 101 catches and 10 touchdowns for the Broncos.
On the ground the wild-catting Phins are led Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams providing Miami with their best one-two rushing punch since Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris.
Miami’s revamped defence faces a Buffalo offence that ranked among the NFL’s worst last season and should be anchored somewhere near the bottom again this year.
With the exception of top draft pick running back C.J. Spiller the Bills have made few upgrades on an offense that will be led by quarterback Trent Edwards, who has been the target of disgruntled fans at Orchard Park.
Already ravaged by injuries, it looks to be a long season for new head coach Chan Gailey.
The Dolphins have not won at the Ralph since 2003 and are feeling the Heat in Miami.
No Fish Flop in Week One. Take Miami and give up the 3.5.
Carolina Panthers (0-0) at New York Giants (0-0) (Line Giants minus-7.5): The Panthers rolled into the Big Apple last season and mauled the Giants 41-9 in their final game at old Giant Stadium. It’s payback time this Sunday as the Giants play their first regular season game at their new $1.6 billion home against the same Panthers.
With quarterback Jake Delhomme gone the quarterbacking chores fall to Matt Moore but the focus for the rebuilt Giants defence – which surrendered 427 points last season, the third most in the league – will be stopping the Panthers punishing running back duo of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart.
Eli Manning, who tossed for over 4,000 yards and 27 touchdowns last season, is at the controls of the Giant offence, will look at a Panthers defence that has said goodbye to six players from last year, including sack machine Julius Peppers.
Seven points seems like a lot to give up for an opener but the Giants will be looking to pile it on for the embarrassment Carolina inflicted on them last December.
Revenge is sweet, Panthers provide Giants with perfect house warming gift.
Take the Giants and give up the 7.5.
Arizona Cardinals (0-0) at St. Louis Rams (0-0) (Line Cardinals minus-3.5): Cardinals are going to find out very quickly if it was the right move letting quarterback Matt Leinart fly the coop and hand the starting assignment to veteran Derek Anderson with two unproven backups.
Pass catching magician Larry Fitzgerald is back but quarterback Kurt Warner has retired and wide receiver Anquan Boldon has moved on to Baltimore. Arizona has also had some holes to plug on defence with the departure of linebacker Karlos Dansby and defensive back Antrel Rolle.
But even working new faces into their lineup the Cardinals possess more than enough talent to see off the woeful Rams.
St. Louis won just once last season and will be hard pressed to match that total this year.
The Rams used the number one overall pick to select promising quarterback Sam Bradford, who will make his NFL debut.
Running back Steven Jackson remains the Rams only bona-fide offensive threat and Bradford the cornerstone of a long, long rebuilding phase.
A week one win is in the Cards here.
Take Arizona and give up the 3.5.
San Francisco 49ers (0-0) at Seattle Seahawks (0-0) (Line 49ers minus-2.5): After a few years of making steady progress the 49ers believe this is their breakout campaign when they will win the NFC West and return to playoffs for the first time in eight seasons.
Could happen. Really it could.
Former-linebacker Mike Singletary has rebuilt the 49ers in his image, playing physical, hardnosed football on defence while quarterback Alex Smith looks ready to reward his coach’s faith in him.
Smith should improve on his career high 18 touchdown passes last season with wide out Michael Crabtree and Pro Bowl tight end Vernon Davis his prime targets.
Frank Gore, who rumbled for 13 touchdowns last season, will continue to punish opposing defenses.
After 11 years of winning at the University of Southern California, Pete Carroll has decided to give the NFL a third try taking over as Seahawks head coach.
Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck turns 35 this month and seem more fragile with each injury riddled season.
Disgruntled wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh was released and signed with Baltimore, pass rusher Patrick Kerney has retired and sack leader Lawrence Jackson was traded to the Lions.
Linebacker Leroy Hill will sit out the opener serving a one-game league suspension while number one pick tackle Russell Okung is sidelined with an ankle sprain.
Seahawks play tougher at home and the 49ers have been a San Francisco treat for Hasselbeck, who has a 9-4 record against the Niners and thrown 23 touchdowns as a starter.
Question Carroll might be asking himself after Week One: “What was I thinking?”
Seahawks winless in Seattle.
Take the 49ers and give up the 2.5