Here is a 5-Pack of plays for the opening weekend of the NFL regular season, including plays on Sunday night and Monday night.
The 2012 NFL season has officially begun with the Dallas Cowboys beating the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants on Wednesday night, and now we turn to the first fill weekend with a 5-Pack of NFL picks, with four of them going on Sunday including the Sunday Night Football game, as well as a play in the nightcap of the Monday night doubleheader. Miami Dolphins, Houston Texans ‘under’ 42½ (-105):
Before getting to our official picks, please note that we were all set to make plays on the Buffalo Bills and the Kansas City Chiefs, but we have decided to back off on both of those due to injury concerns, as wide receiver Stevie Johnson has missed Buffalo practices this week with a groin injury and the Chiefs will be without several key members of the defense.
Thus, that leaves us with only one side among our five official plays, with the other four plays being totals. All NFL odds are courtesy of Pinnacle Sports.
Jacksonville Jaguars +4 (-113) over Minnesota Vikings: Wouldn’t you know it, but our only side the week comes in a matchup between two teams that had among the worst records in the NFL last season. There is a method to our madness though with that being the Vikings should not be favored by more than a field goal over any team in the league right now. After all, Adrian Peterson is being listed as a game-time decision, and even if he does play, it would be in a limited role. Thus, Toby Gerhart will get the brunt of the Minnesota carries, and although he rushed for 531 yards on 4.9 yards per carry last year, he is not the breakaway speed threat that Peterson is. That should allow the Jacksonville defense to focus on the pass, and the Jaguars actually ranked ninth in the NFL in pass defense last year, permitting only 208.8 passing yards per game on 6.5 yards per carry. That defense is quite capable of confusing Minnesota quarterback Christian Ponder, who struggled with reading coverages during his rookie year last season. The Jaguars got some good news offensively this week when Maurice Jones-Drew finally reported, although Rashad Jennings, who ran well during preseason, will be the lead back this week.
This game has all the makings of a blowout, but we have no interest in giving double-digits in the NFL at any time, let alone on opening week. However, we do like the ‘under’ quite a bit because only one team will be doing most of the scoring. The Dolphins will have trouble scoring a touchdown in this game, so we do not see them getting out of the single-digits. Miami is starting a rookie quarterback in Ryan Tannehill in his first NFL game
after drafting him out of Texas A&M just this year. He has no quality wide receivers to throw to after the Dolphins basically game away Brandon Marshall for a couple of draft picks. Oh and he now gets to make is debut vs. a Houston team that ranked second in the NFL in total defense last year, third in passing defense, second in rushing defense and fourth in scoring defense. We wish Tannehill luck with that! Miami has just one offensive threat in the overrated Reggie Bush, but the Texans are very well aware of that and they have the talent to take Bush out of the game, rendering the Miami offense helpless. And when Houston has the ball, sure they will take a couple of deep shots if for no other reason to check on the health of Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson, who are both coming back from injury plagued season, but the Texans will mostly run the ball with Arian Foster and with Ben Tate in relief, which will eat quite a bit of clock.Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals ‘under’ 41 (-110):
The Seattle Seahawks defense could be a force to be reckoned with this season. Believe it or not Seattle ranked fourth in the NFL in defensive rushing average last season, permitting only 3.8 yards per carry. They needed some help with pass defense though, and to that end, their mostly maligned first round draft selection of defensive end Bruce Irvin may just turn out to be a stroke of genius. Many draft experts labeled the selection a reach, but Irvin has amazing quickness and athleticism and he should fix the pass-rushing issue that Seattle had last year. Oh and on top of all that, the Seahawks are going up against an Arizona offensive line that could not block anyone in preseason, and that was vs. vanilla defensive schemes. When Seattle has the ball, they are starting a rookie, albeit very impressive, at quarterback in Russell Wilson, who beat out Matt Flynn for the job despite Flynn signing a monstrous contract to leave the Packers. The news is not all good though as stud running back Marshawn Lynch is questionable with back spasms, and the Seahawks are facing a pretty good defense themselves as the Cardinals allowed only 6.4 yards per pass attempt and 4.2 yards per rush attempt last year, with the defense getting better as the season went on a fueling a 7-2 finish after a 1-6 start. Look for both defenses to have success in this game.Pittsburgh Steelers, Denver Broncos ‘under’ 44½ (-103):
The Sunday Night Football game features the return of Peyton Manning with the Denver Broncos
after he missed his final year with the Colts due to four neck surgeries. Unfortunately, he will be returning vs. a hellacious Pittsburg Steelers’ defense that always defended Manning well when he was with Indianapolis, and that should be in a foul mood to boot. You see, even under normal circumstances, Pittsburgh has one of the best defenses in football, in fact leading the NFL in both scoring defense (15.1 points per game) and total defense (282.1 yards per game) last year. And these are not normal circumstances as the Steelers will be seething with revenge in mind after getting upset in the playoffs here in Denver in January with Tim Tebow having the game of his life. The Pittsburgh defense was injury-depleted that day, and will now look to make a statement while healthy. As for the Pittsburgh offense, they are looking to return to the smash-mouth football that used to personify this team now that the run-happy Todd Haley is the new offensive coordinator. Thus look for more time consuming drives and also note that the Denver defense played very well in the second half of last year, being as much a part of the Broncos’ playoff run as Tebow was.San Diego Chargers, Oakland Raiders ‘under’ 46½ (-102) (Monday):
Monday Night Football actually has a doubleheader on opening week as usual, and the nightcap has what we feel is a rather inflated total. Sure both teams have some playmakers and both have defensive issues, but there are enough questions to go around that make this number tough to reach. For San Diego, Ryan Matthews is out and the veteran Ronnie Brown will start in his stead. Brown wasn’t very good when he was younger and he certainly has not improved with age. Yes that means potentially more scoring with Philip Rivers throwing more often, but either Rivers is hiding an injury or he has forgotten how to read defenses. He has his worst NFL season a year ago and Rivers’ penchant for throwing interception even continued vs. vanilla preseason defenses
, as he tossed four interceptions vs. only one touchdown pass in three games. As for the Raiders, many assume that quarterback Carson Palmer will have a bounce-back season, dismissing his performance last year when he came out of retirement to join Oakland in mid-season. While he should indeed know the offense better, we still think that Palmer lacks the arm strength that he one had, which could hold the passing game back. Oakland’s best success will probably come by running the ball with Darren McFadden, and that would eat of clock.