- N.Y. Giants (+5.5) vs. Dallas
For the third consecutive season, the New York Giants will open up against the Dallas Cowboys in Jerry’s World. The previous two match-ups, the games have been decided by one point or less and they have split both contests. Over the past few years, the Giants have experienced great success against the Cowboys, which makes this line seem quite favorable. The Giants significantly improved this offseason by adding more offensive weapons in addition to solidifying their already daunting defense. On offense, the Giants were able to lure All-Pro wide receiver Brandon Marshall away from the Jets while drafting star tight end Evan Engram in the first round. Those two weapons, combined with Odell Beckham Jr. and an improved Paul Perkins, will provide nightmares for any defensive, especially the Dallas Cowboys’ defense. Last season, the Cowboys improved defensively, but a majority of their success was due to the consistency on offense, which was one of the best in the NFL. Ezekiel Elliot’s ability to chew up time on the ground, while Dak limited turnovers, allowed the defense to be on the field for as short of time as possible and put their opponents in poor field position. The Giants should be able to hinder Zeke as they have in the past because they possess one of the best front sevens in the league and were very stingy when it came to rushing yards last season. Ultimately though due to the Giants’ offensive firepower and defensive strengths, I not only believe that they will cover the spread, but that they will win the game outright.
2. Carolina (+4.5) vs San Francisco
Although it is difficult to give points when you are on the road, I expect the Panthers to defeat the 49ers soundly during week one of the season. Last season, the Panthers had a down year, especially after going 15-1 during the regular season and reaching the Super Bowl. However, the Panthers still possess an impressive defense and Cam Newton remains the quarterback of the team. Newton had a relatively down year last season, but it was mostly due to the fact that he was frequently hit in the pocket and dealt with numerous nagging injuries throughout the season. This season, he has stated that he is already healthy and ready to wreak havoc on the league just as he had two years ago, when he was named NFL MVP. Along with Newton’s health the offense should be relatively dangerous because they maintained their core weapons, Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen, while adding do-it-all running back Christian McCafferty. In addition to the Panthers’ skill, the team will win comfortably because the 49ers are one of the worst teams in the NFL. Even though they had a quality draft, in which they drafted very good defensive players, their offense is non-existent because of their lack of playmakers and skill at the quarterback position. On defense, they are not much better as they lack the necessary star power and playmaking ability that once made them the best defense in the league. Take the Panthers and give the points.
3. Philadelphia vs. Washington (-2.5)
In another battle of NFC East foes, the Redskins will welcome the Eagles to FedEx Field for this week one match-up. Last season, the Redskins were able to defeat the Eagles twice, once at home by seven points and once on the road by five points. Outside of their wide receiving core, which lost two starters, DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon, the Redskins return most of the core pieces. In order to replace the duo, the Skins signed Terrell Pryor, who had a breakout year for the hopeless Browns last season, and Brian Quick, a tall and intimidating figure from the Los Angeles Rams. In addition, the offense kept stud tight end Jordan Reed and quality running backs, Samaje Perine, rookie, and Robert Kelley. Along with Kirk Cousins, the offense should not worry about scoring points, even against a defense that is as stingy as the Philadelphia Eagles. Even though the Eagles have an impressive defensive unit, maybe one of the best in the NFL, the Skins are not too shabby themselves, especially considering they possess stars such as Josh Norman, rookie, Jonathan Allen, Trent Murphy, Ryan Kerrigan, and DeAngelo Hall. This unit may not be the best, but they should be able to hold down the Philadelphia offense, which ranked toward the bottom half of the league last season. Take the Redskins and give the points.