RUTLAND, VERMONT, September 9, 2015 — The National Football League is back, and not a moment too soon. For leatherheads, there is nothing in this world like football. Here is the NFL 2015 Week 1 Preview and Bettor’s Guide, with point spreads provided by FootballLocks.com and all times Eastern.
Thursday, September 10, 2015, 8:30 p.m.
Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots (-7) — Tom Brady may be a cheater, but he is playing and he will be an angry cheater. Jimmy Garroppollo will practice stealing signals on the sideline. It’s the Patriot way. Patriots cover.
Sunday, September 13
Indianapolis Colts (-3) at Buffalo Bills — Rex Ryan has a great defense and a hole at quarterback. We have seen this underachieving movie before. Andrew Luck is on a Super Bowl mission and there will not be snow on the ground to stop him. Colts cover.
Green Bay Packers (-6.5) at Chicago Bears — The Bears used to own the Packers, but the 1980s are over except in reruns. Aaron Rodgers knows he missed a Super Bowl trip last year. He and Jay Cutler will both throw touchdown passes to Green Bay players. Packers cover.
Kansas City Chiefs at Houston Texans (-1) — Alex Smith can dink and dunk. it is tough to manage a game when J.J. Watt is belting you to the ground. Texans cover.
Carolina Panthers (-3.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars — Twenty years ago these teams met in the Hall of Fame Game in their very first preseason game. The novelty has worn off. Now they are just bad teams. Upset special, Jaguars win outright.
Cleveland Browns at New York Jets (-3) — The battle of perennial sad sacks has the Jets at home, but at some point both of these teams will need quarterback play to give their solid defenses a rest. Josh McCown has experience. Upset special, Browns win outright.
Seattle Seahawks (-4) at St. Louis Rams — The Rams always play division foes tough at home. Seattle is the far better team, but the Rams have a real defense. Despite looking awful in preseason, a late garbage score could let them cover. Seahawks win, but fail to cover.
Miami Dolphins (-4) at Washington Redskins — The Dolphins constantly underachieve but the Redskins may be the worst team in football. Their dysfunction could make things interesting in a 2008 Detroit or 1976 Tampa Bay sort of way. Dolphins cover.
New Orleans Saints at Arizona Cardinals (-2.5) — Even if the Saints offense gets back to its pinball form, the Cardinals now have Carson Palmer healthy and a ferocious defense. Cardinals cover.
Detroit Lions at San Diego Chargers (-3) — Detroit lost it’s best defensive star and Philip Rivers now has a running game to give his arm a rest. Chargers cover.
Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos (-4.5) — Peyton Manning is healthy. Denver claims they will run the ball more, which means nothing once Manning gets to the line of scrimmage. Broncos cover.
Cincinnati Bengals (-3.5) at Oakland Raiders — Derek Carr, Amari Cooper, Latavius Murray and Khalil Mack are the future. At home, they have a chance to make it the present. Upset special, Raiders win outright.
Tennessee Titans at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3) — Marcus Mariota and Jameil Winston begin their NFL careers today. This could be the Stupor Bowl. Tennessee could win by accident. Upset special, Titans cover.
New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys (-6) — Nothing speaks to the Jewish New York community like putting the opening New York game on Rosh Hashanah. Dallas used to have a running game, which means Jerry Jones could see his quarterback belted into the ground like the old days. Cowboys win, but fail to cover.
Monday, September 14
Philadelphia Eagles (-3) at Atlanta Falcons — Can Sam Bradford stay healthy for a whole game? Either way, maybe Matt Ryan and Julio Jones will get the Falcons back to where they were. Upset special, Falcons win outright.
Minnesota Vikings (-2.5) at San Francisco 49ers — Jim Tomsula’s team may or may not be good enough to beat Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan Wolverines. Angry and refreshed Adrian Peterson will run all over them. Vikings cover.