It's time for another year of NFL action. Finally we are out of the courtroom -- for now, anyway -- and back on the field. That means that it is time for another year of focusing on winning our office pools. In the office pools world I simultaneously love and hate the first week of the season. I hate it because we don't really know anything about every team. Too much guessing. I love it, though, because everything is wide open, and if you do your homework -- and get lucky -- you can open up a gap on the field in your pool from the outset. Here, then, is how I see the first week in straight up picks turn out:
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Pittsburgh at New England: I could be a little concerned that Tom Brady hasn't had the ideal training camp or that his receivers aren't ideal. But then I think about how bad the Pittsburgh defense appears, and that Brady will be playing mad. The Patriots are the easy pick.
Green Bay at Chicago: I have kept my Sunday free in case the Packers need me to play receiver. It won't matter, though. They are so much better in most spots -- from the coach on down -- that they could play without receivers and likely at least be competitive. The Bears are rebuilding. At least that's what I am generously calling it. Take the Packers.
Kansas City at Houston: It was easy to be decisive about the first two games. This one - not so much. It's a coin flip. I have more faith in the Kansas City QB situation and in their coaching. Both teams have talent edges and shortfalls. Take the Chiefs.
Cleveland at New York Jets: Which train wreck of a team do you trust more? The one with QB issues or the one with QB issues? The one with talent deficits or the one with talent deficits? The one that can't get out of their own way or the one that can't get out of their own way? What an ugly game. Take the Jets because they are at home. Just don't watch the game.
Indianapolis at Buffalo: I like some things that the Bills are doing, and Tyrod Taylor was absolutely the right choice at QB. The team is going to be solid. Indianapolis is just plain better, though, and you can't pick against that. Take the Colts.
Miami at Washington: I like a few things about Miami -- their defense, Ryan Tannehill's progress, the coaching (more than most like it, anyway), some of the offseason moves. What do I like about Washington? Well, the gold they use on the uniforms is pretty nice, I guess. Take the Dolphins. Easily.
Carolina at Jacksonville: I like the progress Jacksonville is making, and I am optimistic about Blake Bortles in the long term. Carolina is further along in their progress, though, and I think Cam Newton is ready for a solid year. Take the Panthers.
Seattle at St. Louis: I'm just itching to pick an upset here. I haven't liked the offseason the Seahawks have had and don't trust them to be hungry out of the gate. Nick Foles plays for the Rams, though, and that doesn't do it for me. Take the Seahawks.
New Orleans at Arizona: I am not very positive on the Saints right now. They seem like a team that has seen their window close. The Cardinals have some concerns, but I loved their attitude last year and am willing to trust them here. Take the Cardinals.
Detroit at San Diego: I'm taking a whole lot of road teams this week so far, and I don't like it much. I can't avoid it here, though, Detroit deserves more respect than they are getting. They are healthy, and the second year with their offensive staff will make a big difference. Take the Lions.
Tennessee at Tampa Bay: Both of these quarterbacks are going to be good. Neither has much to work with right now. It will feel like a very long season for both of them. Take the Bucs for the sole reason that they are at home.
Cincinnati at Oakland: I like almost nothing about this Cincinnati team -- at least not as a contender. It's not the playoffs yet, though, so they are easier to trust than they will be. The Raiders are improving, but they have so far to come. Take the Bengals.
Baltimore at Denver: I have not liked a thing I have seen from the Ravens so far this spring. I'm still going to stick with the road picks and take them here, though. I just don't like the Broncos' offensive line at all and don't trust Manning to overcome it given the state of his body. Take the Ravens.
New York Giants at Dallas: Finally a home team. I am interested to see how different the Cowboys look without DeMarco Murray. It doesn't concern me enough to pick against them, though. The Giants just have too many issues and are past due for a coaching change and reboot. Take the Cowboys.
Philadelphia at Atlanta: Atlanta has been an easy team to mock lately. With better coaching and a change in attitude they should be much more respectable. I'll pick them much more than I did last year, but not starting here. I am very high on Philadelphia, and look for a big start from them. Take the Eagles.
Minnesota at San Francisco: My, how things change. The last few years this would have been an easy pick. The Vikings were struggling, and the Niners were perennial contenders. Now it is just as easy to pick, but San Francisco is the one that is easiest to discard. Take the Vikings.
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