Packers (-4.5) over Saints — Lambeau Field will be rocking for the Packers first regular season game since winning Super Bowl XLV. Both of these teams feature high-scoring offenses built around All-Pro quarterbacks, but the Packers’ superior defense will be the difference.
Chiefs (-6.5) over Bills — If there’s one prediction I feel sure about for this season, it’s that the Bills are going to be awful. Their feeble offense won’t be able to keep pace with the Chiefs dynamic running attack.
Buccaneers (-1.5) over Lions — Everyone seems excited about the Lions and their young stars—Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, Jahvid Best, and Ndamukong Suh. But Detroit’s last winning season was in 2000, so you will have to forgive me for not penciling them in as Super Bowl favorites.
Falcons (-2.5) over Bears — Atlanta went 13-3 last year, with their losses coming against the Steelers, Eagles, and Saints, all playoff teams. They’ll have another strong year. Plus, Jay Cutler strikes me as someone I wouldn’t enjoy being friends with.
Eagles (-4.5) over Rams — I think St. Louis will be an improved team in 2011, but the Rams don’t have the weapons to keep pace with Michael Vick and the Eagles, who scored the second most points in the league last year. At some point, I should probably pick an underdog.
Colts (+8.5) over Texans — No, it doesn’t look like Peyton Manning will play, but I’m not comfortable with the Texans giving 8.5 points to anyone, especially with Arian Foster dealing with his own injury issues.
Steelers (+1.5) over Ravens — Every time these teams play, the game seems to come down to a field goal. It could certainly go either way, but I’ll take the reigning AFC Champions.
Titans (+2.5) over Jaguars — The Jaguars cut quarterback David Garrard loose just a couple of days ago. Coach Jack Del Rio seems to be on the hot seat every year. Maurice Jones-Drew is coming back from major surgery. This doesn’t appear to be a franchise moving in the right direction.
Cardinals (-7.5) over Panthers — Kevin Kolb is still unproven, and the Cardinals defense was atrocious last year. Still, I like them a lot more than Cam Newton’s Panthers.
Seahawks (+5.5) over 49ers — I don’t think much of either of these teams. I’ll take the points.
Giants (-2.5) over Redskins — If Redskins fans didn’t enjoy watching Donovan McNabb under center last season, they’re really going to love Rex Grossman.
Vikings (+9.5) over Chargers — San Diego seems to struggle early in the season every year, and 9.5 is a lot of points. McNabb takes over at quarterback for the Vikings, and he can’t possibly be worse than Brett Favre was last year.
Cowboys (+4.5) over Jets — Tony Romo’s return should invigorate the Cowboys, and I expect Felix Jones to break out in a big way. Signing Plaxico Burress won’t be enough for the Jets to make up for the departures of Braylon Edwards, Brad Smith, and Shaun Ellis.
Patriots (-6.5) over Dolphins — The Patriots have now had a winning record for ten straight seasons. They’re as close to a sure thing as there is the unpredictable NFL.
Raiders (+3.5) over Broncos — Last season, the Raiders absolutely destroyed the Broncos both times they played, winning 59-14 in Denver and 39-23 at home. I’m hoping that trend continues.
Bengals (+6.5) over Browns — These teams generally play close, low-scoring games. I think the Bengals will cover, but the Browns will win, by a field goal, 17-14.
A word of explanation: I pulled the lines down Thursday morning. They will continue to move as Sunday approaches, but for the purposes of completing this column, I needed to lock them in. For integer lines, which can result in pushes, which no one likes, I took .5 from the home team.