Look for Eagles to stay close to Redskins, and maybe even win
Eagles (+4) over REDSKINS
A ton of questions on the table for the 2013 opener, but the question is, which question is the most important? Gotta be the health of Robert Griffin III. Coming off knee surgery - reconstructive knee surgery - and not playing one single snap in the preseason, has to be a concern for Mike Shanahan. Heck, it's a concern for me. You can throw out Washington's 4-0 run of exhibition game wins 'cause it doesn't mean a thing. Throw out the Redskins' two wins over the Birds last season (31-6 in D.C. and 27-20 at the Linc), because both of those games were started by Nick Foles, and the Eagles had quit on Andy Reid. The other huge question is, how will Chip Kelly's "don't let the defense take a breath" offense work in the NFL? It has to be better than what we saw last year. Not ready to throw this one into the best-bet category, but like the Birds to stay close enough to cover on the road, even win.
Buccaneers (-3) over JETS
If there's a more dysfunctional team in the NFL, yell at me. From the bizarre Rex Ryan news conference where he turned his back on reporters . . . to Mark Sanchez' shoulder injury and embarrassing hair style with the girlie headband . . . to the loss of Darrelle Revis and his entire island . . . to starting a rookie at QB (Geno Smith), these New Yorkers are one hot mess! No so much for Tampa Bay. Even though a bunch of purists around the league do not care much for Tampa head coach Greg Schiano, and some of his tactics, the guy has the Buccaneers primed to move up the ladder. With QB Josh Freeman throwing for 4,065 yards last year, and emerging superstar Doug Martin rumbling for 1,454 yards on the ground, the Bucs have the right stuff. They covered six of the last eight on the road, and 75 percent is cash money, while the Jets have dropped nine of the last 11 against the spread. Only one thing left to say, and that is, Best Bet, baby!
Patriots (-9) over BILLS
Everyone's going the "woe is Tom Brady" route after he lost his top five receivers from last year. In case you didn't have New England on your radar screen, there's a guy named Stevan Ridley at running back, and all he did last season was gobble up 1,263 yards with 12 touchdowns. The Patriots blew the Bills away in Buffalo last year, 52-28, and, even after subtracting, say, 10 points for all the roster changes, ya still gotta like the Pats by at least a dozen.
SAINTS (-3) over Falcons
Can a coach really have an influence on a game? Scroll back to last season with the Colts and "Chuck Strong." Of course, Sean Payton isn't coming off the cancer issue Chuck Pagano beat down, but he did miss all of 2012, and New Orleans paid dearly. The Saints went from a 14-4 to 7-9. Expect something much closer to 14-4 in 2013. N.O. was 9-0 at home in 2011 under Payton and beat Atlanta, 45-16. It will not be that lopsided, but it will be a cover for the hosts.
COWBOYS (-3) over Giants
Jerry Jones has to have this game. The New Yorkers are 4-0 at AT&T/Cowboys Stadium since 2009, and Jones has made the opener his red line in the sand. After looking at the Giants' defense last season - 31st in the NFL with 383.4 yards allowed per game - Tony Romo and the 'Boys should be able to end the nightmare. As long as Dez Bryant and Jason Witten are healthy (which they are), Double V's boy, Double J, should get rid of that ugly bagel in his billion-dollar palace.
COLTS (-9.5) over Raiders
Oakland is starting Terrelle Pryor at quarterback. Really? The Silver & Black would probably have a better chance with Richard Pryor at QB, and he is 6 feet under. Exactly where the Raiders will wind up at the final gun.
49ERS (-4.5) over Packers
Has anything changed from the end of last season, when San Francisco smoked Green Bay, 45-31, in the playoffs? Not really. And if you're on the fence, how about the Niners' ridiculous 18-5 spread record outside of their division?
Titans (+7) over STEELERS
Pittsburgh has covered only one of the last five as a favorite of seven or more. Don't buy Steel.
Chiefs (-3.5) over JAGUARS
Got a little soft spot in my heart for Andy. But not gonna wager much.
Bengals (+3) over BEARS
Cincy covered six of eight on the road last season, and just might spring the mini-upset.
Dolphins (+1) over BROWNS
Vic has one "Monopoly money only" wager every week, and this is it.
Seahawks (-3.5) over PANTHERS
This boils down to one simple, basic fact: Seattle is just way better.
LIONS (-4.5) over Vikings
Expecting Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson to explode this year, and it'll start in the opener.
Cardinals (+5) over RAMS
St. Louis had a sweet spread record last season (11-5), but has not covered as a favorite (0-5) since 2010.
Texans (-4) over CHARGERS
Houston is a money machine on the road covering seven of the last 10.