We always have to tread carefully coming into Week One of the NFL as it is not as easy to gauge what teams will look like due to off-season changes. This year in particular with the strike cutting into preparation and coaching changes makes for a mixed bag of expectations. The good news for all teams is that, at this point, they are all undefeated and starting with a clean slate.
1:15 Pacific: CarolinaPanthers 37 vs Arizona Cardinals -7 at University of Phoenix Stadium
It isn’t easy to lay a touchdown with a team that won 5 of 16 games last season, but it is slightly more justifiable when the team they are facing was 2-14 the same year. So it is when the Carolina Panthers throw out rookie starting quarterback Cam Newton against the Arizona Cardinals who acquired Kevin Kolb to be the shiny new QB of their own. Carolina has a ton of work to do, much more than Arizona and I just can’t see things going well for them today. It is difficult for an NFL team to score fewer than 200 points in an NFL season but the Panthers managed 196 of 16 games in 2010 for a 12.25 average. The only two games they won were at home (0-8 on the road) and, while last season was a disappointment, at least Arizona was 4-4 at home. I have no problem with Beanie Wells being the lead back for the Cardinals while Kolb and Fitzgerald already seem to have developed a rapport and newly acquired TE Todd Heap is a fine receiver when healthy.
I am wagering on Arizona Cardinals -7
1:15 Pacific: New YorkGiants -3 -120 vs Washington Redskins 37.5 at FedExField
A spot where I would normally say laying a field goal on the road in an inter-division game may not be the best idea, but truth be told I am sold on the New York Giants being one of the top teams in the NFL while the Redskins are continuing to rebuild under Mike Shanahan. Washington was 2-6 at home last season and not much has changed aside from perhaps a little better team chemistry with the departures of Albert Haynesworth and Donovan McNabb. That is not to say they are better off in terms of talent, but things may be smoother as this becomes Shanahan’s team. The Giants took both games last season against Washington and they seem to have such an edge on offense that they will control this one. The talent that QB Eli Manning has at his disposal is impressive with WR Nicks, Manningham and Hixon in the slot to compliment a great RB tandem in Bradshaw and Jacobs.
My bet is on the New York Giants -3 -20
Teaser Time: Houston-1.5 with Arizona PK-130
My rationale with Arizona is written above as I just do not see a way that they lose this game. It is the same situation with Houston where injuries – QB Manning for the Colts and stud RB Foster for Houston– will play a big role for one team. There simply is no replacement for Peyton Manning but the Texans will run just fine with or without Arian Foster. Houston has a great offensive line to run behind and regardless of who carries the rock they will pile up yards and control the clock against Indianapolis. Colts running game is not strong and the passing game could be a mess and unable to take advantage of any perceived weakness in the Texan defensive backfield.
Two-team 7-Point Teaser -130: Houston -1.5 with Arizona PK