Week 1 of the NFL season is finally here, and Vinnie is ready to start off the season with some winners.
This week’s lines are from usatoday.com (as of Thursday night).
VINNIE’S TOP PICKS
Miami at Houston (-12)
The Ryan Tannehill era begins for the Dolphins and it’s going to be a rough start.
The offense will struggle with a rookie quarterback learning the ropes. Trading away your best wide receiver in Brandon Marshall won’t help either. You know you have problems when your best wide receiver is a running back (Reggie Bush). The Dolphins are in rebuilding mode and are eyeing another Top 10 pick in the 2013 NFL draft.
On the other side, you have the Texans, who were picked by many to make a Super Bowl run last year.
Those expectations were over once quarterback Matt Schaub went down with a season-ending Lisfranc injury in his right foot. Schaub is now healthy and has his No. 1 wide receiver Andre Johnson back in the lineup. Having the best running back duo in Arian Foster and Ben Tate doesn’t hurt either. The Texans should win this one quite easily.
Gimme me the Texans minus the points.
Philadelphia at Cleveland (+9.5)
The Browns have a rookie quarterback of their own making his NFL debut. Meet 28-year-old, Brandon Weeden. Joining him in the backfield is another rookie, running back Trent Richardson, who’s coming off a knee scope during the preseason. Richardson is expected to play in the game, although it is not clear how much he’ll play just yet. Since he missed most of the preseason, the Browns may bring him along slowly and have him share carries with Brandon Jackson/Montario Hardesty. The Browns have a lot of inexperience on the offensive side, with second-year wide receiver Greg Little and rookie supplemental pick, Josh Gordon, expected to be Weeden’s primary targets.
Philadelphia’s “Dream Team” looks to rebound after a horrendous start last year, and starting the season against the Browns should do the trick. Quarterback Michael Vick will tear up the Browns secondary with DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. Oh yeah, and don’t forget about running back LeSean McCoy, who I hear is pretty good.
Gimme the Eagles minus the points.
Buffalo at New York Jets (-3)
The Jets made no major offensive moves this offseason, unless you count adding Tim Tebow to play on special teams and run their wildcat. They did draft wide receiver Stephen Hill, who hasn’t played that well in the preseason and will be a work in progress. The team has looked horrible in the preseason. Quarterbacks Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow were unable to lead the Jets to a single touchdown this preseason. I know it’s only the preseason, but come on, you have to show me some kind of offense before I consider putting money on you!
Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is usually a hot starter and then fizzles at the end of the season. Look for that to continue here. Running back Fred Jackson is back from his broken leg and has looked good in the preseason. He has a very capable backup in C.J. Spiller, who flashed his skills last year filling in for Jackson. Look for him to get more action this year. Unlike the Jets, Fitzpatrick has a true No. 1 wide receiver in Stevie Johnson surrounded by other capable receivers in David Nelson and Donald Jones. The team upgraded its defense by signing defensive end Mario Williams, who should wreak havoc on Sanchez Sunday.
I expect Buffalo to win this one outright.
Gimme the Bills plus the points.
OTHER GAMES TO CONSIDER:
St. Louis at Detroit (-7.5)
I don’t see the Rams keeping up with the Lions in this one. Nobody in the Rams secondary will be able to stop Calvin Johnson. He’s in for a huge game. But what about the Lions run game, you ask? Vinnie says who cares?! Kevin Smith should be able to fill in and do a decent job until he eventually goes down with another ankle injury. The Lions’ running back situation is a revolving door where any running back can succeed with all the passing options that quarterback Matthew Stafford has. They have Joique Bell as a backup, who should be serviceable until Week 3 when Mikel LeShoure returns from his two-game suspension.
Rams quarterback Sam Bradford is looking to rebound from a horrible 2011 season. He’s going to have to wait at least one game longer as the Lions defensive line will be pressuring him all day.
The Lions should win this one by at least two touchdowns.
Gimme me the Lions minus the points.
Seattle at Arizona (+2.5)
The Cardinals are a mess. They traded for and ended up signing Kevin Kolb to a big contract last year. He’s been nothing short of a bust so far, which is why we find John Skelton starting again this year. I hope Skelton has been working on his cardio, since he’s going to be running for his life come Sunday. The Cardinals have one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL. Couple that while going against one of the top defenses in the league and it’ll be a recipe for disaster.
Seattle had its own quarterback controversy brewing this offseason which ended with the naming of rookie quarterback Russell Wilson the starter. He’s been nothing short of spectacular this preseason. So good, that he pulled a Skelton on offseason free agent singee Matt Flynn. Keep an eye on the status on Marshawn Lynch, who’s been limited so far this week with back spasms. If he sits out, rookie Robert Turbin will get the start.
If Lynch plays, take the Seahawks. If he’s out, I’d expect a low-scoring game and consider taking the under (the current over/under is 40.5) instead of just sitting this one out altogether.
Gimme me the Seahawks minus the points.
Vinnie’s season record: PERFECT!