NFL Kickoff 2013 is upon us and I think I found four games I feel pretty good about.
New England (-10) at Buffalo – I find these stats to be pretty hard to avoid… Tom Brady is 20-2 against the Buffalo Bills in his career. During that time, he has thrown 52 touchdown passes and just 17 interceptions. Consider also that New England hasn’t lost a season-opening game since 2003 which was in Buffalo.
The Bills are 1-7-1 against the spread in their last nine games at home versus the Pats. New England is 7-1-1 in their last nine road games in Buffalo. I have to also consider the fact that the Bills are starting a rookie at quarterback who has had limited preparation time due to preseason knee surgery. I really want to go with Buffalo here but the numbers just don’t support my thinking. Take the Pats to cover.
Cincinnati (+3) at Chicago – The Bengals enter 2013 as a rather sexy pick to represent the AFC in Super Bowl XLVIII. The problem for them is that they have lost four of their last five opening day games. The Bears have won four of their last five openers and are 3-0 in that span. Chicago has a new head coach in Marc Trestman and he’ll be looking to get off to a good start.
What concerns me is that the Bears are starting two rookies on the offensive line and the Bengals front seven is very talented. Geno Atkins is one of the top interior defensive linemen in the NFL and he will cause havoc for the Bears both in the running game and in protecting Jay Cutler. I think the loss of Brian Urlacher will hurt the defense because of his play-making abilities as well as his leadership abilities as well.
The opening day records over the last five years are hard to dismiss but I think the Bengals are for real. Cutler has a penchant for struggling when under pressure and I think that’s exactly what he’ll see on Sunday. I love the Bears.
Tampa Bay (-3) at NY Jets – With everyone focused on who is playing quarterback for the Jets, people are forgetting that Gang Green is pretty darn good defensively. That in and of itself tells me this should be a close game. Tampa Bay is led by quarterback Josh Freeman who enters the final year of his rookie deal. He has been less than stellar the last two seasons and must prove that he can take care of the ball.
The Jets will force Freeman to throw the ball because they’ll load up to stop Doug Martin. If they can’t, then the Jets will be in trouble. New York is 1-4 over their last five games at home against the spread. The Bucs meanwhile are 0-5 ATS when playing the New Yorkers.
Geno Smith will start for the Jets who will need to run the ball well in order to give Smith a chance. I think Smith will make some plays but I think he’ll make too many mistakes. This game will be close but I like the Bucs to pull away and cover.
Seattle (-3.5) at Carolina – The Panthers enter a pivotal year for both quarterback Cam Newton and Head Coach Ron Rivera and face a record of 2-5 at home in their last seven games ATS. They get Seattle in a 1pm Eastern Time Zone game and typically that spells doom for the west coast team.
The Seahawks are 4-1 straight up in their last five games against the Panthers which means they have their number to a degree. Seattle is much like Cincinnati in that they are one of the prohibitive favorites to make the Super Bowl. I think the Seahawks will ride the running of Marshawn Lynch which will set up the play-action for Russell Wilson.
I think the Panthers hang around for a bit but I see the Seahawks pulling away in the second half.