Pay no attention to the line in the Detroit Lions-Minnesota Vikings season opening matchup. Per Bovada.lv, the Lions are 5.5 point favorites to beat their division rivals at home.
Not only will the Lions fail to cover, they will lose the game outright. It would seem that we would have learned from having inflated hopes for the Lions. Despite their obvious talent on both sides of the ball, this team has underachieved, especially last season.
Detroit has the world's greatest wide receiver in Calvin Johnson and two stout young defensive tackles in Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley, but this team still lacks leadership and character. Head coach Jim Schwartz lost this team during the second half of the season in 2012, and it resulted in an eight-game losing streak to finish the season.
After ending the season on such a sour note, it won't take long much adversity in the season opener before the Lions will be expecting to lose.
The Vikings aren't a perfect team by any stretch, but Adrian Peterson's impact on the game is huge. Despite his desire to do even more this year than he did last year, AP's presence will serve as a safety net for the passing game.
Quarterback Christian Ponder has new weapons in wide receiver Greg Jennings and rookie Cordarrelle Patterson. Don't sleep on a healthy Jerome Simpson as a potential big-play threat as well.
While the Vikings secondary has only one standout player, safety Harrison Smith, the defensive line figures to be a strength again this season. The team had 44 sacks in 2012, which was tied for fifth in the NFL. Expect Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford to be under pressure and for him to toss at least two interceptions in Week 1.
A.P. and Ponder will allow the Vikes to control the time of possession and pull the mild upset on the road. I'm taking the Vikes by a final score of 17-14. Here's a look at two other home favorites that won't cover in Week 1.
The Eagles Will Stay Within a Field Goal of the Redskins
Division games are always tough calls and this one is no exception. The Washington Redskins are only 3.5 point favorites, but even that's too high. While I picked the Skins to win the opener, the margin of victory won't be larger than a field goal.
Needless to say, I won't be shocked if the Eagles pull out the win.
Washington's pass defense was horrid last season, and there is no reason to believe it'll be markedly better this year. I like rookie free safety Bacarri Rambo, but he doesn't represent a big enough upgrade in the secondary to eliminate the 'Skins weakness in this area.
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick completed 64 percent of his passes against the Redskins in his last four games against Washington. In that span, he tossed eight touchdown passes and just two interceptions.
Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan has never dealt very well with Vick, and I expect the Eagles' passing game to have success. The saving grace for the 'Skins will be their dominant run game.
Controlling the ball and the clock with running back Alfred Morris will give Washington a 27-24 win.
The 'Fins Defense Will Make a Statement Against the Browns
A Miami Dolphins win would not be an upset. The Cleveland Browns are only one-point favorites, and the Dolphins defense is one of the more exciting in the NFL. Cameron Wake is a premier pass-rusher. The addition of Danell Ellerbe in the linebacker corps strengthens the second level of the defense.
The Browns don't have the most explosive offense, and there are still questions about whether quarterback Brandon Weeden is the answer under center.
The Browns had the 24th-ranked offense in the NFL in 2012, but there were no significant changes in personnel to make their attack more potent. Much is being made about Norv Turner taking over as offensive coordinator, but he still needs the right man under center and the playmakers at the skill positions.
The Dolphins talented one-two punch at running back with Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas represents depth and big-play capabilities. Mike Wallace gives the team a No. 1 receiver and a serious deep threat. It is hard to imagine the Browns offense being efficient enough to score the points necessary to win this game.
Miami will win 20-13 on the road.
All lines per Bovada.lv
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