Monday Night Football is an ingrained sporting tradition and it returns tonight for Week 1 of this regular season with not one but two games to check out.
The double-header begins with Chip Kelly’s Philadelphia Eagles taking on Robert Griffin III’s Washington Redskins. The nightcap sees the Houston Texas as a road favorite on the NFL lines in San Diego to face the Chargers.
Here is a look at the picks you should make for these contests.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Washington Redskins
Odds: Redskins -3.5
This game will get more fanfare as these NFC East rivals square off for the first time this season, and the spotlight will be on Washington QB Robert Griffin III, the reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year who was felled by a knee injury in last season’s playoff loss to Seattle. RGIII says he is back to 100%, and his presence does a ton for the Redskins as he combines with fellow second-year player Alfred Morris in a lethal running game. However, Washington’s defense has to improve for them to do anything this season and the return of Brian Orakpo should help. The Eagles have a new head coach in Chip Kelly and that could mean a resurgence for Michael Vick, who was RGIII before RGIII, but Kelly’s offense means nothing if the line can’t protect Vick.
The ‘Skins are favored by 3.5 points at home, where they have won just three of their last 10 meetings with Philadelphia, but have covered five times. In their last 10 meetings overall, the two have each won five games with Washington covering six times. Getting off to a good start in the NFC East is imperative, and this is going to be a hard-fought game right down to the final whistle. The Redskins should end up coming out on top, but the Eagles will give them all they can handle and more en route to covering the NFL spread.
Pick: Eagles +3.5
Houston Texans @ San Diego Chargers
Odds: Texans -4
We move out west in the AFC for the nightcap, and while the Texans are highly regarded, they’re not going to be judged until the postseason as they have yet to take that next step, which would be making it to the AFC title game. The Texans have Ben Tate to lean on if Arian Foster’s back doesn’t hold up, and they have the passing combination of Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson. The defense is powered by reigning Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt and Brian Cushing, who just signed a big extension.
Watt could have a huge say in this game as the Chargers have four new starters up front, and that could mean a long night for Philip Rivers, who has been in steady decline for the last couple seasons. Even though the Chargers have won all four meetings with the Texans since 2002, covering all four times, they deserve to be an underdog by three points and quite frankly, it’s a surprise that the line isn’t more skewed towards the Texans. San Diego just isn’t a good football team this year and it could get ugly, especially for Rivers if the line can’t slow down Watt.
Pick: Texans -4