Week 1 NFL Picks: Atlanta Falcons, Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens among best bets


(REUTERS/Anthony Bolante)

Each week Neil Greenberg makes NFL game predictions based on a multitude of factors that will have an impact on game day. These include efficiency stats such as success rates, yards per play and yards allowed per play, plus points scored based on strength of opponent. Point spreads are the consensus odds from multiple sportsbooks in Vegas.

A team’s win probability is based on applying the model from Wayne Winston’s book Mathletics to my own point spread, which is derived in part from the Simple Rating System.

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Green Bay Packers @ Seattle Seahawks

Seattle has lost just one game at home over the past two seasons but defensive penalties are on the rise, which could hamper the Legion of Boom’s effectiveness.

Pick: Green Bay +6

Win probability: Seattle Seahawks 64.6 percent

New Orleans Saints @ Atlanta Falcons

New Orleans has a lot of weapons at its disposal, however, Atlanta has Matt Ryan plus a healthy Julio Jones and Roddy White in the lineup. The Falcons could keep it close and win outright.

Pick: Atlanta +3

Win probability: Atlanta Falcons 52.6 percent

Buffalo Bills @ Chicago Bears

Buffalo is not going to drive fear into the hearts of Bears men, but there are plenty of reasons to discount Chicago’s offense.

Pick: Buffalo +7

Win probability: Chicago Bears 70.3 percent

Washington Redskins @ Houston Texans

On paper, Washington should be good. On the field, it isn’t. At least not yet. Expect Clowney and Watts to be too much to keep RGIII comfortably in the pocket.

Pick: Houston -3

Win probability: Houston Texans 60.0 percent

Tennessee Titans @ Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs have Jamaal Charles, the best all around running back in the league, and had multiple players on defense make the Pro Bowl. They should cover.

Pick: Kansas City -4

Win probability: Kansas City Chiefs 69.6 percent

New England Patriots @ Miami Dolphins

New England, the third best team in my preseason power rankings, added cornerback Darrelle Revis. And while that should make life difficult for Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill, it won’t make it impossible.

Pick: Miami +5.5

Win probability: New England Patriots 54.9 percent

Oakland Raiders @ New York Jets

The Raiders will be the only team starting a rookie quarterback in Week 1, so I expect the Jets to blitz. And blitz. And blitz and blitz and blitz. Nose tackle Sheldon Richardson — who might be the best in the game at that position — and defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson had 15 sacks, 14 quarterback hits and 56 hurries between them last season.

Pick: Jets -5.5

Win probability: New York Jets 67.3 percent

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Philadelphia Eagles

The league will eventually catch up with Chip Kelly’s no huddle offense, which generated 6.3 yards per play last season (tied with Denver), but not until at least Week 2.

Pick: Philadelphia -10

Win probability: Philadelphia Eagles 81.2 percent

Cleveland Browns @ Pittsburgh Steelers

A shaky offense (Cleveland) meets a shaky defense (Pittsburgh), but the Browns are 3-6 against the spread in Pittsburgh over the past decade and have Brian Hoyer under center. Hoyer has averaged 4.9 adjusted net yards per attempt in his career, which ranks 47 out of 74 active QBs with at least 100 career passing attempts.

Pick: Pittsburgh -6.5

Win probability: Pittsburgh Steelers: 67.5 percent

Minnesota Vikings @ St. Louis Rams

Since 2010, the Vikings have gone 7-24-1 on the road in the regular season, third worst winning percentage in that time span. That includes 0-3 in the opener.

Pick: St. Louis -4

Win probability: St. Louis Rams 61.6 percent

Cincinnati Bengals @ Baltimore Ravens

Over the past three years, Dalton has thrown for 584 yards with three interceptions to go along with three touchdown passes in the season opener. That’s bad news for my fantasy team but good news for Baltimore.

Pick: Baltimore -1.5

Win probability: Baltimore Ravens 56.6 percent

San Francisco 49ers @ Dallas Cowboys

Pop quiz: which defense will be worse? The correct answer is both. This should be an offensive shootout that’s within a field goal.

Pick: Dallas +5

Win probability: San Francisco 49ers 54.6 percent

Carolina Panthers @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The health of Carolina quarterback Cam Newton is a question mark, but the Panther’s defense boasts one of the best front seven in the NFL.

Pick: Carolina pick ‘em

Win probability: Carolina Panthers 52.9 percent

Indianapolis Colts @ Denver Broncos

Reggie Wayne is in for the Colts, Wes Welker is out for the Broncos, so the advantage goes to Indianapolis. But the loss of Robert Mathis, who had 19 1/2 sacks last season, to suspension is too much for them to overcome. Plus, the Colts have not covered the spread in Week 1 since 2007.

Pick: Denver -7.5

Win probability: Denver Broncos 70.8 percent

San Diego Chargers @ Arizona Cardinals

Injuries (Eddie Whitley and Darnell Dockett) and suspensions (Daryl Washington) put a damper on Arizona at the onset of the season, but they should still have enough to win. But Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers can keep the score close.

Pick: San Diego +3

Win probability: Arizona Cardinals 58.8 percent

New York Giants @ Detroit Lions

It appears to be taking longer than expected for the Giants to grasp the new West Coast offense installed by Ben McAdoo. Eli Manning managed to complete just 48.8 percent of his passes for 188 yards this preseason and was sacked five times. Detroit wins, but barely.

Pick: Giants +5.5

Win probability: Detroit Lions 61.9 percent

Neil Greenberg analyzes advanced sports statistics for the Fancy Stats blog and prefers to be called a geek rather than a nerd.
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