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NFL Picks Week 1

Rusell Wilson

NFL Picks Week 1

This season, I’ll be providing my picks every week for you, our readers. Last year, I was Gridiron’s top NFL Pick’em guru on Tallysight, going 167-99-1 (63%). We’re hoping to have even more success this year! Each week, I’ll give you my picks for the game, and a short write-up centered around the key reason why I’m making the pick that I am. You can also click over to see all our Free NFL Staff picks for the week with more than a dozen Gridiron Experts picking each game.

And we’re off!

Seattle (-1.5) @ Atlanta

Russell Wilson & Company will flock down to Atlanta to take on Matt Ryan and the Falcons. Wilson returns to a familiar offense, including WRs Tyler Lockett & DK Metcalf, along with RB Chris Carson. The young Carson’s hip will be a focal point for this team’s success, along with the offensive line play. Wilson, one of the game’s best, has proven that he can provide strong offensive output despite not having an “elite” set of skill players. It seems he’ll have a similar script this season. Atlanta, on the other hand, has no shortage of flashy names. With the arrival of RB Todd Gurley, the Falcons offense became instantly more dangerous. WRs Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley will patrol the outside, while new TE Hayden Hurst will look to strengthen his rapport with QB Matt Ryan. I think this will be a close battle, but believe that the magician, Wilson will find a way to win this one late, and by the slimmest of margins. Seahawks 26-24. Under 48.5.

New York Jets @ Buffalo (-6.5)

Adam Gase’s Jets squad comes into this year littered with questions. QB Sam Darnold’s offensive options are bleak at the outset. WR Jamison Crowder will lead the receiving corps, along with the newly acquired Breshad Perriman. Le’Veon Bell sadly still looks like a shadow of his former self, and there are questions as to how much Gase will involve him in this offense. If Bell can get his fair share of the offense, and regain his past form, this team might have a chance to compete offensively. Otherwise, things look discouraging. The Bills, on the other hand, have an exciting opportunity to dethrone the Patriots and run the AFC East. QB Josh Allen has some shiny new toys in elite WR Stefon Diggs and rookie RB Zack Moss. Diggs & Moss will join current veterans John Brown and Cole Beasley to form a reliable and quite capable WR room. Diggs’ presence could really open things up for the speedster, Brown, who enjoyed a bunch of success in Buffalo last year. At this point, I have too many concerns about the Jets offense to see them performing against an elite Bills defense, led by Tre’Davious White. I like Buffalo to grind out a win in Western NY, and to cover in the process. Bills 23-13. Under 39.5.

Chicago @ Detroit (-3)

The Lions will open the year with a few new faces, but with the same offensive core. Matt Stafford returns along with the sensational WR duo of Marvin Jones and budding star Kenny Golladay. The backfield gets a bit hairier, as Kerryon Johnson returns, but Detroit also welcomes rookie RB DeAndre Swift, and legend Adrian Peterson, who was recently released by Washington. I’d suspect that Johnson handles the bulk of the carries to start, with Peterson mixing in. Swift’s availability will depend on his health, as he’s currently nursing a leg injury. On the other side of the ball, it looks like Mitchell Trubisky will handle QB1 duties again this year, despite the acquisition of Nick Foles. Trubisky will throw to his familiar duo of Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller, with veteran Ted Ginn mixing in. The Chicago backfield will consist of Tarik Cohen, and hopefully, David Montgomery who is nursing a groin injury. His status should be monitored leading up to Sunday’s showdown. In any event, I think the Chicago defense will be the biggest factor in this game and a few timely turnovers will allow the Bears to squeak this one out on the road. Bears 19-17. Under 44.5.

Green Bay @ Minnesota (-2.5)

Davante AdamsMinnesota will play host to their division rival but will do so without stud WR Stefon Diggs who is now a Buffalo Bill. Kirk Cousins will have a new set of targets on the outside along Adam Thielen. His only hope is that Olabisi Johnson and rookie Justin Jefferson can partially fill the void left by Diggs. Luckily, the Vikings’ duo of TEs has proven to be reliable, with Irv Smith Jr., a budding star, and Red Zone aficionado Kyle Rudolph. Dalvin Cook will lead the backfield and is the unquestioned star for Minnesota. Provided he stays healthy throughout the season, he could perform among the best in the NFC. Green Bay returns after a loss in the NFC Championship. Aaron Rodgers will lead an offensive attack paced by his elite WR Davante Adams. Behind Adams, however, comes a bunch of question marks: Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, to name a couple. Aaron Jones will pace the rushing attack and will look to grow on his breakout season in 2019. I do think this will be a typical, competitive NFC North showdown. Unfortunately, I think the Packers’ offense will be just a bit too much for the Vikings and that they’ll pull the upset in Minnesota. Packers 22-21. Under 46.5.

Miami @ New England (-6.5)

New England enters this season without their former legend QB Tom Brady for the first time in decades. Former MVP Cam Newton will take the reins and look to grow on an injury-ravaged 2019 campaign. If Newton can regain his previous MVP form, he’ll need to rely on veteran WR Julian Edelman to do the heavy lifting. After Edelman comes a ton of uncertainty, though. N’Keal Harry will line up across from Edelman, and RBs Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead, and Damien Harris (currently on IR) will need to split backfield duties. Miami will travel to New England for this contest and hope to provide more headaches for this Patriots team. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick will continue his well-traveled career and start for Miami, honing in on a set of skill players highlighted by DeVante Parker, Preston Williams, and a duo of Jordan Howard & Matt Breida in the backfield. I think the difference in this game will be the New England defense. They dominated Miami last year, and I think they’ll do so again at home on Sunday. Look for the Pats to cause a handful of turnovers and kick off the season with a comfortable win. Patriots 27-17. Over 42.5.

Philadelphia (-5.5) @ Washington

The Eagles come into this season littered with injuries. Alshon Jeffery begins the season with a multi-week injury, Jalen Reagor is fighting a shoulder injury (but practiced Wednesday) and Miles Sanders has been marred by a lower-body injury. Sanders seems to be good to go, but Carson Wentz will have his work cut out for him with a widely unproven set of weapons otherwise. Greg Ward and JJ Arcega-Whiteside round out the WR corps with veteran WR DeSean Jackson taking lead pass-catching duties. Washington, on the other hand, seems pretty healthy… they’re just not as talented. Terry McLaurin is the lone shining star on this team and will be the spark for this Washington offense. Otherwise, Dwayne Haskins has the likes of Steven Sims, Dontrelle Inman, and rookie Antonio Gandy-Golden to target. The Washington backfield moved on from legend Adrian Peterson, leaving a cloudy RB situation. For now, it seems like rookie Antonio Gibson is the most likely to take the bulk of carries; but veterans Peyton Barber, JD McKissic, and 2nd year Bryce Love loom as alternate options. If McLaurin gets shut down, I don’t see how they can hang in this one. I like the Eagles to win and cover. Eagles 24-16. Under 42.5.

Las Vegas (-3) @ Carolina

The Raiders will deploy a young bunch of skill players in their first year in Sin City. Derek Carr returns, along with breakout RB Josh Jacobs and the resurgent Darren Waller. At WR, though, the Raiders’ most tenured returning starter is 3rd-year slot wideout, Hunter Renfrow. As of now, it looks like Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards will get the start, and look to assert themselves as the best option for Carr. Nelson Agholor also looms as an alternate option. Teddy Bridgewater will take the helm for the Panthers in his first year in Carolina. However, the real star of this offense is RB Christian McCaffrey, who acts as a Swiss Army Knife of sorts. McCaffrey will be heavily involved throughout the entire season. The thing about him is everyone knows he’s getting the ball– but they still can’t stop him. Raiders 24-22. Under 47.5.

Indianapolis (-7.5) @ Jacksonville

In this AFC South matchup, the Colts are the heavy favorites. Philip Rivers will take the helm for Indy as they look to contend for a divisional crown. His best options offensively will be WR TY Hilton and TE Jack Doyle. While Zach Pascal and Parris Campbell return, the intriguing rookie Michael Pittman Jr. also joins the fray and could break out given the opportunity. The Indianapolis backfield is an interesting case with rookie RB Jonathan Taylor hoping to assert himself as a reliable option. However, it seems at first that Frank Reich will give Marlon Mack the starting nod, with RB Nyheim Hines receiving a good chunk of touches. Jacksonville’s roster looks bleak as we enter the 2020 season. Gardner Minshew II will take control of the offense, with his undoubted top option being WR DJ Chark. Chris Conley and Keelan Cole return, but they’re also joined by rookie Laviska Shenault Jr. who has supposedly impressed in camp. In the backfield, things are even more concerning for Jacksonville. James Robinson, an unheralded rookie, will likely lead the way on early downs, given the recent departure of Leonard Forunette. Chris Thompson will spell Robinson and likely see a solid workload as a pass-catching back. Thompson might even log more carries than usual if Robinson struggles. I can’t possibly pick the Jaguars here, even as the home team. Give me the Colts to win by 2 scores. Colts 27-18. Over 45.

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Cleveland @ Baltimore (-7.5)

The reigning MVP returns to the field after Baltimore’s upset loss to the Titans in last year’s Divisional round. Lamar Jackson will be the focal point of this offense yet again and will have a familiar set of faces surrounding him. Among these familiar faces are RB Mark Ingram and WR Marquise “Hollywood” Brown. The lone new weapon is rookie RB JK Dobbins out of Ohio State. According to reports, Dobbins is listed as 4th on the depth chart, so we need to curb our excitement for his debut. New faces or not, this offense is dangerous when Jackson is on the field. He’s constantly a threat for 100+ yards rushing in addition to his efficient passing. I have a feeling the MVP will fly high on Sunday. Baker Mayfield also returns after a disappointing season but comes back to a team littered with options. Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry highlight the receiving options, and the Browns also possess a potent duo of TEs in the newly-acquired Austin Hooper and veteran David Njoku. In the backfield, the Browns might have the best combination of RBs in the league in Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. I do think the Cleveland offense is quite strong, but I also think the Ravens defense is up to the task of mitigating their scoring. I like Baltimore by 2 scores in this game. Ravens 33-20. Over 48.5.

LA Chargers (-3) @ Bengals 

The Chargers travel to Cincinnati with their new starting QB Tyrod Taylor. Replacing longtime QB Philip Rivers, Taylor will hone in on a set of quality offensive options like breakout RB Austin Ekeler, TE Hunter Henry, newly-extended WR Keenan Allen, and WR Mike Williams. The LA Defense will also prove formidable, sporting Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, who will aim to rattle the Bengals’ rookie QB, Joe Burrow. The LSU star will come into his first game as a Bengal amidst a ton of expectations. He’s fortunate that he won’t have to contend with star Safety Derwin James, who is on IR with a knee injury. Burrow will benefit from the return of AJ Green who missed last year with an injury. Otherwise, he has solid options in WRs Tyler Boyd and Auden Tate, who has flashed in camp. Speedster John Ross also returns and hopes to stay healthy, providing Burrow a legitimate downfield threat. Joe Mixon leads the backfield for Cincinnati as one of the game’s best. Burrow can lean on his star RB to help offset the passing attack and spread the attention across the field. I think that the rookie QB will make a bang for Cincy in his first career start at home. Look for the Bengals to squeak this one out and upset the Chargers on Sunday. Bengals 21-20. Under 43.5.

Tampa Bay @ New Orleans (-3.5)

This might be the most highly anticipated game in Week 1. Tom Brady will play his first game for the Bucs after leaving the Patriots this offseason. Luckily, he enters an offense with more weapons than he’s had in years. WRs Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are two of the league’s best; RB Leonard Forunette comes to town after posting productive numbers last year before leaving Jacksonville, and TE Rob Gronkowski ended his short retirement to reunite with the GOAT. Brady will have flashy options all over the field and can surely keep up with New Orleans’ prolific offense in this showdown. The Bucs also have a strong rush defense, anchored by Ndamukong Suh. That defense will look to shut down star RB Alvin Kamara, who is allegedly approaching an extension with the Saints. Drew Brees will quarterback the offense, and rely on the game’s best WR, Michael Thomas. Thomas’ 2019 was stellar, and he gave the NFC South fits repeatedly. The Buccaneers’ inexperienced secondary will certainly have their hands full, and I think that’ll be a big difference here. I think the Saints will take Round 1 of this showdown… but look for these teams to square off again in the playoffs later this season. Saints 30-28. Over 49.5.

Arizona @ San Francisco (-7)

The 49ers are fresh off a devastating loss in the Super Bowl. Thankfully, Kyle Shanahan’s nucleus returns and is poised for another deep playoff run. The San Francisco defense will be one of the league’s best, sporting DE Nick Bosa, LBs Kwon Alexander & Fred Warner, along with the illustrious DB Richard Sherman manning the secondary. Jimmy Garoppolo returns at QB, but his options are limited. Should Deebo Samuel be ready to go, it’d be a big help– otherwise, they’ll have to rely on the likes of Trent Taylor and Kendrick Bourne to excel. With that said, the 49ers might have the game’s best Tight End to lean on– George Kittle. The Iowa alum is an absolute monster and can break a play open after the catch. As we see with most Kyle Shanahan offenses, this SF attack will focus on the run game. RBs Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman should carry most of the load. Arizona’s huge offseason acquisition was DeAndre Hopkins. “Nuk” will look to build instant rapport with his QB, reigning rookie of the year Kyler Murray. Murray’s options are plentiful on this squad, between Hopkins, RB Kenyan Drake, breakout WR Christian Kirk, and the legendary Larry Fitzgerald. While I think the Cardinals are due to vastly improve this year, I like San Fran to pick up where they left off last season and take this home game with ease. 49ers 30-20. Over 47.5.

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Dallas (-3) @ LA Rams

Dallas is favored on the road to start this season. Thankfully for Dallas, their core of stars is back & looking to make a run this year. Dak Prescott is a legitimate MVP candidate and has one of the game’s best RBs to keep the defense honest at all times. Ezekiel Elliott can take over any game he plays in, which makes this Dallas offense scary to contend with. On the outside, the Cowboys have a multitude of receiving options, led by star WR Amari Cooper. Jerry Jones added stud WR CeeDee Lamb in the draft this year, and Dallas fans are certainly excited to see him in action. With that said, WR Michael Gallup made huge strides last year and should not be overlooked. With Jalen Ramsey across the ball, Dallas faces a challenge. If he hones in on either Cooper or Gallup, it might lead to Prescott looking Lamb’s way early and often. Should that happen, it’s entirely possible we see Lamb break out in a big way on Sunday Night. The Rams enter this season with Jared Goff at QB. They lost their outside threat at WR when Brandin Cooks left for Houston and their RB with Todd Gurley leaving for Atlanta. However, they still sport a few strong options. WR Cooper Kupp has proven himself reliable, and Robert Woods is one of the quietest stars in the NFL. The backfield is clouded by uncertainty, as Malcolm Brown, Darrell Henderson, and rookie Cam Akers all seem to be in the mix for carries. Sean McVay will have to ride the hot hand if he wants to contend in this matchup. I think Dallas is strong enough offensively to overcome LA’s stout defense. On the other side, I’m not so sure that LA can keep up in a possible shootout. Given that, I’ll take Dallas to win and cover on the road. Cowboys 29-25. Over 51.5.

Pittsburgh (-5.5) @ NY Giants

Big Ben is back for Pittsburgh and they’ll travel to visit the Giants here in Week 1. Roethlisberger will rely on “bellcow” RB James Conner to pace this offense. With that said, his WR corps are surely glad to see him return. After laboring through average QB play last year, Juju Smith-Schuster looks to gain a huge boost in 2020, along with breakout young star Diontae Johnson and rookie Chase Claypool. The thing that could make this Steelers team great, though, is the defense. Star LB TJ Watt leads the defensive threat, along with Cameron Heyward and Devin Bush. The secondary is littered with studs as well, including safeties Mikah Fitzpatrick, Terrell Edmunds, and veteran Joe Haden. Needless to say, the Giants will have to be at their best. Second-year QB Daniel Jones will lead Big Blue into this season opener. Many expect Jones to make a big leap this year and he very well might. He’s able to lean on star RB Saquon Barkley, who is a monster on the ground, but also a receiving threat. Aside from Barkley, Jones has TE Evan Engram along with WRs Darius Slayton, Golden Tate, and Sterling Shepard to spread the ball around to. Again, I think Jones can be great– but I’m worried that TJ Watt and Co. will be too much for him to handle on Monday Night. I suspect the Steelers Defense will fluster the young Jones and cause multiple turnovers en route to a road opener win. Steelers 26-18. Under 47.5.

Tennessee (-2) @ Denver

Denver will turn back to the young Drew Lock, and hopes are high for the second-year QB. In addition to breakout WR Courtland Sutton, the Broncos have a developing talent in TE Noah Fant and drafted a highly regarded rookie in Jerry Jeudy. Returning RB Phillip Lindsay will have some competition this year, as Denver brought in one of the league’s better runners in Melvin Gordon. It’ll be interesting to see how Vic Fangio deploys this duo and allows them to spell Lock’s passing attack. Denver will be without Von Miller who sustained a major injury this past week; so it’ll be on the shoulders of newly acquired Jurrell Casey, CB AJ Bouye, and others to slow down the Titans. On the other side of the ball, the Tennessee Titans will look to build on last season’s run to the AFC Championship game. Newly-extended QB Ryan Tannehill will return and hopes to continue his historically efficient campaign from 2019 where he was one of the NFL’s best passers in the second half of the season. Tannehill will rely on his duo of WRs – AJ Brown and Corey Davis. Brown was sensational last year as a rookie and made a run at winning Rookie of the Year before Kyler Murray edged him out. In addition to his WR tandem, Tannehill has a star-in-the-making with TE Jonnu Smith. Now that Delanie Walker has moved on, Smith will have the chance to shine. Last year, he was incredibly impressive after the catch, and Arthur Smith will want to deploy him this year. The true threat on this offense is Derrick Henry, the league’s rushing champion. Stopping Henry will undoubtedly be on the mind of the Denver defense… it’s just a matter of whether they can do so. The Titans also acquired Jadeveon Clowney last weekend, adding a star to a vastly improved defense. In the end, I like Tennessee to continue to build on last year’s success and pull off the win on the road in Denver. Titans 21-18. Under 40.5.

Enjoy the games! Until next week…

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