Football Picks - Week 1
Technically, it’s week 2 in college and week 1 in the NFL but that’s a terrible title and this is the first column so we’re simplifying. I’ll be picking 5 games a week for the remainder of the season and postseason. Onward and upwards!
LSU vs Texas The first top ten matchup of the season should be a good one. Austin is a tough place to play and LSU is prone to laying down in big out of conference games but Ed Orgeron needs this win, and he knows it. The LSU defense looks fierce and the offense looks...better. Texas is hampered by having only one scholarship running back available and LSU will be the best defense they face all season. The Longhorns like to throw the ball close to the line of scrimmage, which will be necessary, but might not be super effective against an LSU defense loaded with NFL caliber defensive backs. If Texas can complete 65% of those passes for over 5 yards per reception they’ll be in good shape - they averaged 90% and 7 ypr last week. Offensively LSU fans will be happy if the Tigers simply don’t shoot themselves in the foot. Joe Burrow will get some chances to make plays but it won’t surprise me if LSU just decides to keep it simple and try to man handle Texas in Austin. Prediction LSU 34-Texas 20
Texas A&M vs Clemson The hype surrounding this game is being drowned out by the LSU Texas matchup but this would be the game of the week in most any other scenario. Clemson is rebuilding their defense this year and are going to rely on a veteran offense led by Trevor Lawreence and Travis Ettienne. Clemson should be able to move the ball but the Aggie defense is also going to be able to play with them. Offensively the best thing Kelen Mond and company can do is put pressure on Clemson’s offense by scoring, which they should be able to do. That would force the Tigers to capitalize on most of their chances against an athletic and capable defense. Prediction Cemson 41 Texas A&M 37
Stanford vs USC The good news is the winner of this game will be first in the Pac-12 at 1-0. The bad news is that both teams are banged up and might, or in the case of USC, won’t have their offensive leaders back after this week. This looks like a game of attrition in what will likely be a season of attrition for both teams. Stanford is built to win that kind of game, USC isn’t. I would expect Stanford, behind their very good defense, to play ball control and field position and force USC to beat them a little at a time. Prediction Stanford 23-USC 17
Denver vs Oakland It looks like Antonio Brown won’t be playing which was the only real weapon that John Gruden had at his disposal. An offense in which Gruden is calling and designing plays for a receiver, that he loves, of Brown’s caliber is the ultimate offensive trump card. Now Gruden will have to plan an attack without him. On the other side of the ball Vic Fangio must be licking his chops to get his first game as Head Coach under his belt and also to see what the team of Bradley Chubb and Von Miller can do in his system. Denver has more experienced playmakers on both sides of the ball and the benefit of having not been through the circus of a training camp that the Raiders went through. Prediction Denver 24 - Oakland 13
Pittsburgh vs New England. The question that has been asked about Pittsburgh recently is how they plan to defeat New England without Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown when they couldn’t defeat New England with them. There is some truth to that question but ultimately the Steelers look to be better off with Juju Smith-Schuster and James Conner as the focal point of their offense. The patriots are in a transitional year for their offense following the retirement of Rob Gronkowski. The Patriots have veteran receivers in droves and James White and Sony Michel are at the top of a deep depth chart at running back so how this season looks offensively for the Patriots remains up in the air. Prediction Pittsburgh 31 New England 30