As we did last year, we’ll make suicide pool suggestions each week. We’ll try to give you three options and also warn you off a game that smells funny to us. As always, our official pick is listed first. Let’s get started.
1. New York Giants over Carolina – The Giants open their new stadium against the Panthers, who won the finale at the old stadium last year. But the Panthers’ offense struggled mightily in the offseason, in large part due to the absences of WR Steve Smith, RB Jonathan Stewart, and ORT Jeff Otah. Otah may not play this week, which leaves the Panthers vulnerable to a Giants pass rush that should be ready to go again. That, coupled with QB Matt Moore’s adjustment to the starting role, makes the Panthers look like an unlikely road winner. We wouldn’t give the touchdown-plus, but the Giants look like a safe winner to start your season.
2. Tennessee over Oakland – The Raiders are improved, and the Titans aren’t dominant, but this seems like a tailor-made chance for the Titans to open the season with a win. It probably won’t be easy, but we expect the Titans to win.
3. New Orleans over Minnesota – It’s a strange week in the schedule, and it doesn’t make much sense to use up your Saints pick against their NFC title game foe when games against the Bucs loom. But of the rest of the schedule, this is the home team we’re most confident in. We see a Saints win in a crazy Superdome.
Traps to avoid: Miami at Buffalo and Arizona at St. Louis. Both the Bills and the Rams are near the bottom of our rankings, but we expect some feistiness from both teams this year. The Bills traditionally play division foes tough, and they nearly knocked off the Patriots in the opener last year. The Rams won just twice last year, but with Sam Bradford and a home game, we could see an above-average performance this week. Derek Anderson is no Kurt Warner, and that could lead to some turnovers that put the Cards in major jeopardy in this one.