One game at a time. One week at a time.
Never look ahead. It has to be week by week.
It’s a four-quarter season, with the first quarter being the most important right now.
Coach-speak. Don’t you love it? Well, it pertains to picking games too. Getting off to a good start is imperative if you want to have any chance to have a winning season — and maybe win it all. It’s also tough to get off to a good start. There is so much uncertainty, especially with all the free-agency and coaching changes each year.
Here’s some advice on getting off to a fast start:
1. Don’t pay attention to the preseason. It means nothing.
2. Look for teams that are returning a lot of veteran players to get off to good starts.
3. Passers and pass rushers. That’s what the league is about. Take those teams — especially early on.
With that, it’s time for my first picks of the season. I will be picking the games here each week, also against the spread in our CBSSports.com expert picks and will once again be giving out my best bets each week on the Pick Six Podcast.
Last year was a good season. Let’s keep it going. After all, I had a great offseason, came into this season healed from all my injuries and feel confident that I can win it all.
Of course, I will take it one pick at a time.
One winner at a time.
No looking ahead for this guy. Not when a Week 1 debacle can ruin an entire season.
Los Angeles Rams
The home team coming off the Super Bowl has been a good play in these games, going 10-5-1. But I am going to buck that trend and take the Bills to cover and win this game. Buffalo will be explosive on offense all year and it starts here. But the biggest difference is they have Von Miller and the Rams don’t. That will mean sack-fumble-game-over late for the Bills to win it.
Pick: Bills 30, Rams 24
These two teams don’t like each other and it usually shows. The Saints are the better team, but what will they get from Jameis Winston on a weekly basis? Marcus Mariota starts for the Falcons. He can move, but the Saints defense has a chance to be special. They will limit the Atlanta offense here and Winston will make enough plays down the field.
Pick: Saints 29, Falcons 13
This is the Baker Mayfield bowl. He is the starting quarterback for the Panthers after being discarded by the Browns for Deshaun Watson, who is now suspended. Jacoby Brissett will start for the Browns. Mayfield has a lot of skill talent around him and the Panthers young defense will be improved. Carolina wins it as Mayfield beats his old team.
Pick: Panthers 23, Browns 17
This is Trey Lance’s first game as the bonafide starter for the 49ers at quarterback. That can lead to a lot of pressure on the road. But the 49ers are clearly the better team. Kyle Shanahan will make it easy for Lance. Justin Fields will have problems behind a shaky line for the Bears against a good 49ers defense. The 49ers win big.
Pick: 49ers 23, Bears 14
The Steelers come in as a division dog, which is a role Mike Tomlin has done well in as coach, going 14-6. There are concerns about the Steelers offensive line, which is why this number is bloated. But Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow has been dealing with appendicitis all preseason, which might lead to some rust. The Steelers will hang around in this one, but the Bengals will win it late.
Pick: Bengals 23, Steelers 20
The Eagles look to have the makings of a deep playoff team. That’s if quarterback Jalen Hurts can make strides as a passer, which is what he’s supposedly done this offseason. The Lions will be a feisty tough team every week, taking on the personality of their coach. But facing this Eagles offense will be a challenge for their defense. Hurts will get his season off to a good start.
Pick: Eagles 31, Lions 21
This will be Matt Ryan’s first game as the Colts quarterback after coming over in a trade. Ryan is still more than capable of lighting things up, which will prove to be a challenge for the Texans defense. They also can pound Jonathan Taylor. Davis Mills looked good for the Texans late last year, which will carry over here. Look for a lot of points in a tight game.
Pick: Colts 31, Texans 27
The Patriots are in an unusual situation as a road dog here. They are coming off an unsettled preseason, while Miami is coming off a preseason filled with Tua Tagovailoa hype. He has a lot of weapons and did look good, which makes this a big game for him. I think Mike McDaniel will get the ball out quick to his playmakers and cause issues for a defense that isn’t as talented as years past. The Dolphins have defeated the Patriots three straight times. Make it four.
Pick: Dolphins 24, Patriots 19
New York Jets
This might be Joe Flacco starting for the Jets against his former team if Zach Wilson doesn’t make it back from a knee injury. Flacco won a Super Bowl for the Ravens, but it’s been a while since he did. Lamar Jackson is back healthy after a down 2021 season, and I think he gets off to a good start here. The Ravens have some pass rush questions, but they will get around it against their old quarterback. It’s close.
Pick: Ravens 26, Jets 23
This will be former Eagles coach Doug Pederson going against his former Eagles quarterback in Carson Wentz. The Jaguars beat Wentz and the Colts last year in the finale, which is why he isn’t in Indianapolis anymore. They will beat him again. The Jaguars defense has a chance to be really good, and it shows here.
Pick: Jaguars 21, Commanders 17
The Titans suffered a hit to their defense last week when Harold Landry went down with a torn ACL. That will impact the pass rush in a big way. Giants coach Brian Daboll will make his debut here and he should be able to create problems for that defense without Landry. The Titans will pound Derrick Henry, but their passing game has issues. The Giants will hang around in this one.
Pick: Titans 28, Giants 27
This should be fun to watch with Patrick Mahomes going against Kyler Murray. It will be interesting to see how Mahomes fares without Tyreek Hill. Here’s a thought: He will be just fine. The Arizona corner situation is shaky, which Mahomes will take advantage of here. The Chiefs will win a high-scoring game.
Pick: Chiefs 33, Cardinals 24
Los Angeles Chargers
This game features two teams that will push for a playoff spot and a division title. The Raiders beat the Chargers in the finale last season to get to the playoffs. This time around, it will be different. The Chargers at home with Khalil Mack added to the defense will be able to slow down Derek Carr. Justin Herbert will have a big day on the other side.
Pick: Chargers 30, Raiders 21
Aaron Rodgers has 13 touchdown passes and no picks in his last four games against the Vikings. But he went 2-2 in those games. The difference this time will be the Green Bay defense. That unit has a chance to be special. The Vikings counter with an explosive offense, but in this one that offense doesn’t get rolling like it will. Packers take it.
Pick: Packers 24, Vikings 19
These two both come into the game with concerns on their offensive lines. That’s a problem for Tom Brady, who doesn’t move that well. Dak Prescott will be able to handle himself by moving around and creating problems outside the pocket. The Cowboys will win a tough, defensive game to get off to a 1-0 start.
Pick: Cowboys 20, Bucs 17
This is the return of Russell Wilson to play his former team, which makes this really intriguing. The Seahawks are almost in rebuild mode after trading him, but playing at home on Monday night will make this a tough game for Wilson. I think the Seahawks keep it close.
Pick: Broncos 27, Seahawks 23