The NFL returns tonight with the defending superbowl champion New York Giants hosting the Dallas Cowboys. With the NFL returning, the Speakeasy NFL Picks also make their long-awaited return.
Defending champion Wes Mayberry returns to share his expertise. Wes is joined by new sports editor Danny Medlock and Michael Garr, of the always poignant Garr Report.
Cowboys at Giants
Danny: NYG 30 DAL 13: I think their kid is going to end up a Giants fan.
Wes: NYG 31 DAL 20: Without Jason Witten in the Cowboys’ lineup, Tony Romo loses a valuable receiver. This could prove to be the difference against a Giant defense that can effectively get to the quarterback.
Garr: NYG 17 DAL 5: There’s no such thing as Super Bowl hangover in the Manning household. Meanwhile, Tony Romo finds someway to put up the grossest score in what will be the start of another high-expectation, low-performance season for the Cowboys.
Colts at Bears
Danny: CHI 37 IND 20: I would love to call an Andrew Luck last second touchdown pass to LaVon Brazill, but alas I don’t see it.
Wes: CHI 27 IND 13: Although I have been impressed with Andrew Luck’s performance during the preseason, his team is sure to come up short against a seemingly very talented Bears team.
Garr: CHI 27 IND 17: Andrew Luck is going to be good. He’ll throw at least one touchdown in this one, possibly two. Chicago still has a great defense however, not to mention all of their starters on the field. Welcome to the NFL, 1-2.
Falcons at Chiefs
Danny: ATL 31 KC 10: Roddy White and Julio Jones make up the best 1-2 punch at wide receiver in the entire league, while tight end Tony Gonzalez is still getting it done over the middle of the field. I don’t see how the Chiefs manage to contain this filthy Falcon vertical passing game.
Wes: ATL 24 KC 20: Now that the Chiefs have several key contributors coming back from injuries, they can once again compete for a playoff spot. They should be much more competitive than they were last year, but will come up just short in their first game of 2012.
Garr: KC 27, ATL 20: I like the Chiefs offense, and would’ve liked it even more if Peyton had decided to go there instead of Denver. Still, I think the Chiefs will show their home crowd that they’re good enough to win the AFC West with an impressive win over a playoff worthy Falcons team.
Eagles at Browns
Danny: PHI 20 CLE 16: Is it too soon to make a Mike Vick vs. the Dawg Pound joke? Probably, Eagles win in a closer game than many expect.
Wes: PHI 34 CLE 14: Cleveland will never sniff the lead in this game.
PHI 14, CLE 3: Some people have the Eagles winning the division. I don’t know about that, but if they want to they better beat a team like Cleveland who, like last season, will have Phil Dawson outshine the other 53 Browns players with his incrediblely high scoring numbers. I have the Browns falling to 0-1, something they’ve done every year since 2004.
New England at Tennessee
Danny: NE 31 TEN 10: The Titans will struggle without suspended wide receiver Kenny Britt. If Britt was a Patriot, he’d probably have been cut due to the Patriots no nonsense approach and depth at his position. Look for the newly improved Patriots defense to make a statement.
Wes: NE 30 TEN 17: The Titans opted to start the Jake Locker era this year. I agree with their decision, but this will be an extremely tough first game for the young quarterback.
Garr: NE 28, TEN 24: I’m a fan of Matt Hasselbeck over Jake Locker, but I’m a bigger fan of Tom Brady over whoever the Patriots’ second-string quarterback is. Drew Bledsoe, right? (Editors note: Ryan Mallett is a stud.)
Redskins at Saints
Danny: NO 38 WAS 24: RGIII will show flashes of brilliance against a New Orleans defense that has lost so much from last season. Unfortunately for him, Drew Brees is about to dedicate another MVP caliber season to suspended head coach Sean Peyton.
Wes: NO 28 WAS 20: Even though the Saints will be without head coach Sean Payton and defensive star Jonathan Vilma for the entirety of the season, they should still squeak by in this contest against the Redskins and their emerging star quarterback, Robert Griffin III.
Garr: WAS 23 NO 21: I had to take one of the two rookies (Between Luck and RGIII) RGIII doesn’t have a great, but good enough performance to shock the Saints in his NFL debut.
Rams at Lions
Danny: DET 28 STL 10: The Jeff Fisher era starts off much like how the Steve Spagnuolo era looked, with Sam Bradford taking a beating.
Wes: DET 31 STL 17: Although the Lions have been overrepresented on the list of players with off-the-field issues during the past few months, I think the team can set these distractions aside. The Rams shouldn’t prove to be too stiff of an opponent anyway.
Garr: DET 21 STL 0: Get used to this, folks. I’m a Lions fan. Even if they were playing the 1972 Dolphins I’d probably pick Detroit. Luckily they are playing a team this week that couldn’t remind me less of Shula’s squad.
Jaguars at Vikings
Danny: MIN 23 JAC 17 It really is gross how much of my fantasy team is playing in this game. I think both teams are going to have better offenses than the general public thinks. Crowd swings this game for ‘Sota.
Wes: MIN 17 JAC 13: This is a clunker of a game between supposedly two of the league’s worst teams. Minnesota star running back Adrian Peterson is nursing an injury, while Jacksonville’s top player, running back Maurice Jones-Drew, is mired in a contract dispute. With each team missing its superstar, this should be low-scoring contest with the slightly more talented Vikings coming out on top.
Garr: MIN 13, JAC 9: I say about 500 people watch this game. Then when Jacksonville steps on the field I say it goes down to 83.
Bills at Jets
Danny: BUF 16 NYJ 9 The Bills newly improved defensive line helps them win on the road week 1, and the ESPN “should Tebow start?” machine starts rolling. Prepare yourself accordingly.
Wes: BUF 24 NYJ 14: The Jets struggled to score a touchdown during the preseason, so giving them two in this game seems generous.
Garr: Buffalo 18, New York Jets 3: If you thought SportsCenter was annoying this summer, just wait until the Jets play an actual game!
Dolphins at Texans
Danny: HOU 31 MIA 6: Have you watched Hard Knocks at all? Who are these guys? Ben Tate and Arian Foster both run for a 100 on a rush defense that was elite statistically last season.
Wes: HOU 28 MIA 10: Houston looks to have one of the stoutest defenses in the league. Rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins will find it difficult to score, which also happens to make it difficult to win.
Garr: HOU 24, MIA 12: Look on the brightside, Chad Ochocinco can tweet during NFL games now. On the other side, losing Mario Williams shouldn’t stop the Texans from winning the AFC South, and making an even deeper playoff run than last year.
49ers at Packers
Danny: SF 27 Packers 24: The best game on the docket this week, I’m taking the first pick in the 2005 draft over the guy that went 24, in what will surely be the last time I ever say that.
Wes: GB 27 SF 24: This appears to be the matchup of the weekend. The high-powered Green Bay offense will be taking on the staunch 49er defense. The Packers have proven that they can score in a hurry, which will translate into a winning score late in the game.
Garr: SF 14 GB 10: You know why I picked Randy Moss on both of my fantasy teams? It’s because he’s going to make a difference in that 49ers offense. Vernon Davis won’t be the only target for Alex Smith to throw to now. The defense will still be as good as last year. There are only a handful of teams that can beat Green Bay, and this is one of them.
Seahawks at Cardinals
Danny: ARI 24 SEA 13: Is Russell Wilson vs. John Skelton the least marquee quarterback matchup of all-time? Yep. Marshawn Lynch appears to be doubtful, and since Robert Turbin was not good enough to beat the Ohio Bobcats in Idaho, I’m taking the Cardinals.
Wes: SEA 20 ARI 10: The Cardinals are a mess at the quarterback position. It says something when Seahawks rookie Russell Wilson will be the best quarterback on the field in this game.
Garr: Seattle 14, Arizona 7: I don’t think Seattle will be bad this year, but only one team is coming out of the NFC West this season, and that team’s in California.
Panthers at Buccaneers
Danny: TB 25 CAR 17: Josh Freeman cannot be as bad as he was last season, he’s too good and the Bucs improved their offense greatly by adding Vincent Jackson, Carl Nicks and rookie running back Doug Martin. Also loved their selection of Alabama safety Mark Barron.
Wes: CAR 23 TB 17: I’m expecting big things from Cam Newton this year. His 2012 campaign will begin in the right direction, with a victory over a division rival.
Garr: CAR 35 TB 21: Hard to believe the Bucs lost their last 10 games to finish the season 4-12 after a 10-6 season the year before, but it happened. Don’t expect it to happen again. Josh Freeman will lead Tampa back to a respectable record, and will make the NFC South the best division in the league. Cam Newton and his Panthers will also be in the playoff hunt this year. Wouldn’t be surprised if all four teams in the division finished .500 or above.
Steelers at Broncos
Danny: DEN 34 PIT 28: Pittsburgh’s season ended last season on the road to the Tim Tebow led Broncos. Now it’s Peyton Manning’s team, this game won’t need overtime. Side note, NFL quit forcing the Steelers to play in Denver, Ryan Clark is missing like the 133 game of his career against the Broncos.
Wes: PIT 27 DEN 23: The Steelers will travel to Denver to try and avenge the loss they suffered during last year’s playoffs at the hands of Tim Tebow. Now they must face Peyton Manning, but I think they can pass the test.
Garr: PIT 28 DEN 21: The Steelers start the 2012-13 season where they finished their 2011-2012 season: Denver, Colorado. However they’ll be seeing a different, much more talented, much, much, much more talented, (I can’t stress this enough) quarterback than last time in Peyton Manning. They’ll also be seeing a different result on the scoreboard.
Bengals at Ravens
Danny: BAL 19 CIN 16: I think the Bengals still have a great shot of winning this division, but I believe the Ravens take their home opener.
Wes: BAL 23 CIN 17: Even though the Bengals are a young, talented team, I still see them firmly positioned behind Pittsburgh and Baltimore in their division.
Garr: CIN 17 BAL 10: The Bengals went 0-4 against Pittsburgh and Baltimore last season, and those are still the teams to beat in the AFC North. If the Bengals want to change that, they have their chance week one on one of the biggest stages out there: Monday Night Football.
Chargers at Raiders
Danny: OAK 41 SD 24: Run-DMC goes for 200 yards and the Raiders pick up the win on Monday night football.
Wes: SD 28 OAK 20: The Chargers usually get off to slow starts to begin the season. However, with head coach Norv Turner on the hot seat, I see the Chargers finally living up to early-season expectations.
Garr: OAK 24 SD 10: It’s not December, remember?
With the NFL now playing Thursday games every week, look for these picks to go up every Thursday afternoon.