2019 NFL Kickoff Week 1: Thursday Night Football Spread Pick/Prediction

Welcome to week one of the NFL’s 100th season!  These off-seasons seem to get longer and longer as the years go on but that’s only thanks to the 24/7 NFL news cycle.  It also gave me a long time to think about the very average follow up I had in 2018 (51%) to the successes of my 2017 season (56%).  Don’t worry, I’m refreshed, recharged and packing a big ol’ punch for this season.  There have been many dramatic stories around the league to keep us all busy during the summer that any normal fan would feel worn out before even a minute is played this year already, but there’s always something special about opening day.

From Le’Veon Bell signing with the Jets for less money than he sat out for/demanding from the Steelers, to Antonio Brown’s freezer burnt feet and helmet issues, Ezekiel Elliot and Melvin Gordon pulling the holdout card Bell made so famous, then Zeke signing a huge deal given the very thin market for dynamic backs and the Chargers telling Gordon to forget about signing a massive deal in LA and that he should seek a trade, to the sad retirement of one of the games top quarterbacks, Andrew Luck, just a few weeks before the season starts.  It has been a whirlwind with many changes and new names and faces in new places but we’ve made it.  The time is now and kickoff is here, let’s get after it!

Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears, Soldier Field, 8:20 PM, NBC (Bears -3, O/U: 46.5):

We go into the opening day of the 100th year with the most storied rivalry in the league’s history. We got a glimpse of how great it is nearly a year ago when the then newly acquired Khalil Mack dominated the first half of the game and gave the Packers and their fans a scare when he hobbled Rodgers with a few hits and injured his knee.  Rodgers goes into the half, doses up on some major pain killers and comes out and blows up the Bears secondary and their 20 point lead to win 24-23 and then gave a hilarious post game interview, clearly high on pain meds mixed with the high of beating their fiercest division rival.  We will get much of the same tonight but hopefully with less knee torqueing on Rodgers since that plagued him most of last season (I know, I’m a Packers homer).

High Rodgers

This year the Bears are trying to build off of their 12-4, NFC North division champs season last year that catapulted them from a bottom 8 team to a playoff caliber team that ended in the playoffs with the ill fated Cody Parkey “double doink”. Most of the significant changes were the addition of Mack but also the offensive efficiency due to a coaching change.  The Bears would game-plan the scripts of their first few drives of each game pretty well in order to get games off to good starts and for Trubisky to build confidence.  Out of their 43 offensive touchdowns, 24 of them were in the first half (56%).  Their running game has something to prove and will have a challenge with having a younger/unproven backfield in which will more than likely split the workload between 3 different backs, at least at first.

The Packers will come to the season opener with a new coach Matt LaFleur, coaching staff, offense and have a young receiving corps lead by Davante Adams given the deductions over the last two seasons of mainstays Randall Cobb (Dallas Cowboys) and Jordy Nelson (retiring after spending last year in Oakland).  The Packers also discovered a running game in Aaron Jones last year before he was lost to the season with injury.  He is poised to bounce back this year, hopefully giving the Packers a 1,000 yard back again and continue on the TD tear he was on last year where he scored 8 TD’s in 7 games before his injury.  The Packers last 1,000 yard rusher was way back in 2013 and 2014 when Eddie Lacy squeaked over the mark in back to back years (1,178/1,139).  In Rodger’s 11 years as a starter, he’s only had 4 years with a 1,000 yard back.  Lastly, the Packers have invested in their defense through the draft and even picked up former Bear safety, Adrian Amos, in free agency.  It could be the Packers best defense since their Super Bowl win in 2010.

The Packers will catch the Bears off guard with the full playbook of the Packers offense being unveiled in a special rivalry meeting.  I may be a homer here but you also have to look at it as a matchup of QB’s as in, who would you take? Take the Packers to beat the Bears and cover in the over, Packers 27-20.

Week 5: Thursday Night Divisional Matchup

Well they say all good things must come to an end. My fantastic 2 week run at handicapping was amazing and I enjoyed sharing that with you but it crashed and burned starting with last Thursday’s Redskins terrible loss. I did however, tell you that the bad streak was over and another good streak will start with Monday Nights game and I didn’t lie. It was known going into the game that the Pats offensive line was going to have trouble and that was an understatement. Brady was held for the 3rd straight game to less than 250 yards and was hit a lot! I hope you’re still believing in me because I still hold an astounding 61% winners against the spread. The over/under predictions, not so much. Now, on to the Week 5 Thursday game…

Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers,
TV: 8:25 p.m. ET, CBS, NFL Network. LINE: Packers -8. O/U: 48:

Last week Aaron Rodgers told Packer fans to R-E-L-A-X and he delivered a great outcome for them. The Packers offense was on point, wasting only 1 drive (Missed FG) in all of their 7 drives total. That is amazing in itself. 3 drives were over 60 yards which is average but they also capitalized on their turnovers. They had 2 interceptions against Cutler and returned them at least 40 yards into Bears territory and walked away with 2 TD’s. However, the defense showed that they still have major holes to cover up. The defense let up 33 first downs and almost 500 yards! The rushing game alone allowed 235 yards. If you take the 2 turnovers away and the resulting scores, this game is a TD difference. But it’s hard to deny a pass game as on point as the Packers. Rodgers was 22/28 (78%) for 302 yards and 4 TD’s. Weather may play a part in this game so look for the dismal running game to get more looks. Lacy hasn’t been great, only averaging 3 yards per carry but has only touched the ball an average of 13 times per game, which is very low for a starting RB.

As for the Vikings, early indications for tonight’s game is that Teddy Bridgewater will not play since they will need to rely on him for the rest of the year, they want his ankle to heal properly. But wow, did they pull out a stunner against the Falcons. The Vikes held the Falcons on 7 of their 11 drives to nothing. They still allowed 5 drives over 40 yards (4 being TD’s) but didn’t allow them to get back into by continuing to score on offense. They scored on 7 of their 11 drives, 4 TD’s but managed to get and stay within FG range to rack up some more points. That says more to the fact that the Falcons didn’t know how to stop Teddy. That usually is a case in sports with new/rookie players, there just isn’t enough game film on them to study tendencies and such. That and the Falcons really are like the Saints, terrible on the road. Either way, their defense hasn’t been great in recent years and could be the reason for not making long playoff runs. The Falcons defense allowed 7 of 11 drives to go over 40 yards with an average drive of 49 yards. Conclusion: Teddy Bridgewater could be the real deal! This week, with Ponder starting, they will go right back to mediocrity. They won’t give the same air threat that Teddy gives but the ground game will be all of their highlights.

The Packers vs. the run, is the worst in the league, allowing 176 yards per game, and are going up against the leagues 8th best rushing game in the Vikings. Surprising since AP isn’t the one doing the damage. Matt Asiata has been very effective on the ground and catching passes out of the backfield. Don’t sleep on the tandem though, Jerick McKinnon has carried some of AP’s load as well, almost as many yards as Asiata with almost half the carries, averaging almost twice the yards per carry however, that’s all from last game. I’m just saying be aware of the run game. The line has moved from the Packers being favored at -9, to -7.5 to now being -8. Don’t let the line fool you. Christian Ponder is the last guy the Vikings would want under center. He really hasn’t played well since coming into the league and AP took away a lot of negative attention from him because AP was so great.

I think the Packers win big at home against the Vikes. Take the Packers to win with the points -8 in the Over, because I think the Packs defense will give up tons of yardage on the ground but Rodgers seems to have found his groove with both Cobb and has never really been off with Nelson and will rack up some serious air yards if the weather stays fair. Packers 38-20.