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NFL Week 1 Picks: The Gimmick Games

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NFL Week 1 Picks: The Gimmick Games

Estimated Reading Time: 10 Minutes

It’s the first week of the NFL season and we’re here to make the big money. Well, some money. A little bit of money. We will be making no money.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun making our picks each week!

As we kick off Week 1, let’s look at how each matchup comes with its own gimmick.

Week 1 of the 2021 NFL Season

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Houston Texans (+3) – The “Who Even Cares?” Game

Oof, starting the season with this is like going trick-or-treating and the first house is giving out toothbrushes.

Honestly, if you’re not related to Trevor Lawrence and you’re watching this game you really need to start asking yourself some tough questions.

The Pick = Jacksonville

Los Angeles Chargers @ Washington Football Team (+1) – The “Who Can Remember the Correct Location/Nickname” Game

The year is 2049. All meals are consumed in liquid form. The leading global currency is an NFT of Michael Jordan punching Bugs Bunny.

And we’re still calling them the “San Diego Chargers” and thinking the team from Washington is now referred to as WTF.

As for the game, Washington’s defense feels like it’s getting a little too much hype and the QB is Ryan Fitzpatrick. But I don’t like the Chargers flying across the country for an early game in Week 1.

The Pick = Washington

Seattle Seahawks @ Indianapolis Colts (+2.5) – The “Reich Redemption” Game

A couple of years ago, I was at a bachelor party and we were at our first meal of the weekend. It was a nice little lunch spot and we were seated at an outdoor table. Things were going fine until the conversation turned to Frank Reich, as most bachelor party conversations do.

What transpired was half of the party (my half) saying they could 100% identify Frank Reich if he walked into the restaurant right now. The other half of the party (the wrong half) felt we were being a tad overzealous with our certainty.

Now let me be clear, this was an absurd argument to be loudly having in the middle of the day in a fairly crowded eatery in Portland, Maine. Each side’s resolve in their view of the situation only grew and grew as the dispute raged on.

I bring this up to say the outlandish confidence displayed by my side and the incorrect side of this debate pales in comparison to the confidence Frank Reich must have if he thinks he can turn Carson Wentz around.

The Pick = Seattle

New York Jets @ Carolina Panthers (-5.5) – The “Brian Drew” Game

In the movie “Draft Day”, the Cleveland Browns almost make the mistake of using the #1 pick on a QB when they have a perfectly fine QB already. The selection of Bo Callahan to replace Brian Drew would have set this fictional version of the Browns back decades.

The New York Jets chose to zag when faced with this same scenario. They drafted Zach Wilson #2 overall and traded away Sam Darnold. Now Darnold gets to enact his revenge on Sunday when his old team comes to town.

I think Darnold shows the Jets he’s doing just fine and the Panthers give Wilson a rough welcome to the NFL.

The Pick = Carolina

Minnesota Vikings @ Cincinnati Bengals (+3) – The “Hero’s Return” Game

The only hope a terrible team has is getting the #1 pick. And when that happens it’s like everything is hope and optimism and rainbows and chocolate fountains. This is what the Bengals had last year when they had #1 pick Joe Burrow under center.

Then Burrow tore his knee up and was out for the year.

On Sunday, he returns. And so does the hope of a franchise savior.

But their offensive line is still really bad.

The Pick = Minnesota

Arizona Cardinals @ Tennessee Titans (-3) – The “Are They Still Stars?” Game

JJ Watt and Julio Jones were both taken in the early first round of the 2011 NFL Draft. They were each selected to the Hall of Fame 2010’s team. And both have spent the last decade on only one team.

This offseason saw the Texans release Watt and him, only for him to sign with Arizona. For Jones, he was traded by the Falcons to the Titans.

The big question with both of these Hall of Fame talents is if they still have anything left in the tank. Or did their new teams just overpay for past performance?

I like the Titans having the edge in the coaching matchup and the home field.

The Pick = Tennessee

San Francisco 49ers @ Detroit Lions (+7.5) – The “Will Dan Campbell Play?” Game

Dan Campbell is a cartoon character.

It might just be me, but I don’t think that’s what you want in an NFL head coach.

Asking if he will play in the game is obviously a joke. But would you bet your life against him just throwing down the clipboard in the 2nd half, ripping one of his player’s pads off, putting them on, and sprinting into the huddle? No, you wouldn’t.

And that’s why I’d be scared if I was a Lions fan.

The Pick = San Francisco

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Buffalo Bills (-6.5) – The “Steel Table Match” Game

Blah blah blah, construction worker whistle, blah blah blah, old-timey car horn, blah blah blah, fart noise.

(I wrote this just so I had something here with the intent to come back with some actual analysis, but these fan bases exhaust me. You’ll get this and like it.)

The Pick = Pittsburgh

Philadelphia Eagles @ Atlanta Falcons (-3) – The “Shiny New Toys” Game

The Falcons selected UF star Kyle Pitts at #4 in this past draft, which is the highest ever for a tight end. The Eagles drafted the reigning Heisman winner Devontae Smith at #10.

Both players will make their NFL regular-season debut in this game. This figures to be the first matchup between two of the next decade’s most explosive offensive weapons in the NFC.

Besides that, these two teams are pretty equal, but I have Jalen Hurts on two fantasy teams so let’s ride.

The Pick = Philadelphia

Cleveland Browns @ Kansas City Chiefs (-6) – The “Playoff Rematch” Game

Look, we’ve all enjoyed making fun of the Cleveland Brown. They have been an easy target for what feels like forever (cough, shouldn’t have fired Belichick, cough cough). When they were hyped up a few seasons ago like it was going to be their year it was especially funny to see them fall flat.

But I can tell you a secret?

You sure?

No telling. Promise?

I think it could be Cleveland’s year. And if it’s not this year then it’s never going to be any year.

I’m not sure they’ll get the victory in Kansas City in Week 1. But they proved in the playoffs last year they can hang with the Chiefs and I expect them to do the same in this game, at the very least.

Six points is too high.

The Pick = Cleveland

Green Bay Packers @ New Orleans Saints (+4.5) – The “How Is Jameis The Most Likeable QB in This Game?” Game

Well, that was a shocker, huh?

I have had favorite players leave my favorite teams. It’s never happened where they told me they’re leaving before their final season even began (well, I guess it happened once).

I don’t understand how Green Bay fans can root for this guy. Rodgers’ issue with how the team has been constructed around him is understandable. I just can’t fathom how Packers fans can see him outwardly act like he’s gone in 2022 and feel like it’ll be fun to have one last ride with him.

Having said that, he’s still really really good and I don’t have high hopes for Jameis or the Saints this season.

The Pick = Green Bay

Denver Broncos @ New York Giants (+3) – The “Battle for Aaron Rodgers’ Next Team” Game

Speaking of Rodgers…

No fan wants to enter Week 1 thinking about the next season. And I don’t like being the bad guy here. But if you’re repping the Mile High lifestyle or the Big Blue then it’s time to put your focus on 2022, when a certain QB is open to new suitors.

As for this Sunday? Teddy Bridgewater State University is nothing to get excited over but he’s still 10x better than Daniel Jones. Also, with Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, KJ Hamler, Noah Fant, and Javonte Williams, the Broncos have one of the more appealing collections of young skill players. Which is exactly what you want to attract a QB looking for a new home.

The Pick = Denver

Miami Dolphins @ New England Patriots (-3) – The “Heir Apparent” Game

Why be coy? I love the New England Patriots, and for 16 of the next 17 weeks that is gonna be obvious. And to be real with you, I’m going to find a way to work them into the Week 14 picks too.

Saying I have all my eggs in the Mac Jones basket would be underselling it. I have all my belongings in this basket. There’s a sleeping bag and a hot plate. I live here now.

As a reminder, the Patriots went 7-9 with some of the worst offensive performances in the league and had a chance to take the lead or tie late in the fourth quarter in four of their losses. All they did was add significant talent on each side of the ball and draft a quarterback much better suited to their offensive game plan.

I also don’t think Tua is good.

The Pick = New England

Chicago Bears @ Los Angeles Rams (-7.5) – The “When Will Fields Play?” Game

Remember in “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” when Steve Carrell’s character wakes up the next morning after telling his co-workers his big secret and simply says, “This is gonna be bad”?

I anticipate this same scenario playing out for Andy Dalton on Sunday morning. And pretty much every Sunday morning this season until the Bears turn from the Red Rifle to Justin Fields.

I mean, the Rams defense is terrifying even if you’re a good quarterback.

The Pick = Los Angeles

Baltimore Ravens @ Las Vegas Raiders (+4.5) – The “Will the Ravens Sign OJ?” Game

Ok, it’s not THAT bad. But the Ravens running backs are turning into the drummers from Spinal Tap at this point. All these injuries before a regular-season snap feel like a bad omen for Baltimore.

The crowd also figures to be a special kind of rowdy with it being the first time they can watch the Raiders in Allegiant Stadium.

The Pick = Las Vegas (that still feels weird to type)

That brings us to the end of this week’s introductory slate of games. I can’t promise you they are all going to be winners each week. But I can promise you that I’ll continually forget there are 17 games/18 weeks and you’ll question how I even got this gig.

Good luck on Sunday!

Terry is from Massachusetts and is a passionate fan of the Patriots, Celtics, Red Sox and Bruins. He also will admit he only pays attention to Syracuse basketball when they're good. If there's a Twitter trade rumor even remotely associated with one of his teams, he's likely fallen for it. Finally, he believes 100% that if the Celtics had beaten the Heat in the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals they would have swept the Thunder in the Finals.

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