Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Season 10 of my NFL picks.
When I started making picks in 2013, things were different. Tom Brady was one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, the Bengals were coming off a division title and the 49ers were on the cusp of getting rid of a quarterback who had just led them to an NFC title game. Wait, did I say things were different? Because I guess I meant that things are actually still exactly the same.
The only difference between now and then is that we now know there are psychedelic drugs in South America that can help you win MVP (thanks to Aaron Rodgers for that knowledge). You can judge Rodgers all you want for taking ayahuasca, but I’m not going to judge him for going on a South American drug bender and that’s mainly because I’ve done some of my best work after doing weird things in South America.
Rodgers might have reached a higher level of spiritual consciousness this offseason, but I do not think he’ll be reaching the highest level in of the NFL, AKA I will not be picking his team to win the Super Bowl this year.
So who am I going to pick?
That’s a great question and you can find the answer by clicking here to see my predictions for the entire 2022 NFL season. If you click over, you’ll see my final record predictions for all 32 teams plus who I’m picking to make the playoffs and win the Super Bowl. If the game was being played in the astral realm, I’d pick the Packers to win it all, but it’s not, it’s being played in Phoenix.
Anyway, before we get to the Week 1 picks, I have good news for the nine of you who emailed in and demanded to CBS that I do more this season. Not only will I be writing this weekly picks column, but I’ll also be podcasting a lot this year. As a matter of fact, you should go ahead and circle every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday on your calendar from now until February, because that’s when I’ll be joining Will Brinson and Ryan Wilson on the Pick Six Podcast (Click here to check it out). If that’s still not enough of me, I’ll also be joining CBS Sports HQ every Tuesday morning (8:45 a.m. ET) from now until February to talk about my weekly picks, so remember to set your alarm and be sure to bookmark this link so you can watch online.
Alright, I think that’s enough self-promotion for now, let’s get to the picks.
NFL Week 1 picks
Buffalo at L.A. Rams
Thursday, 8:20 p.m. ET (NBC)
Latest Odds: Buffalo Bills -2.5
I’ve spent the past month reading about Matthew Stafford’s ailing elbow and after doing some research, I think I finally know why it’s hurting: It’s definitely his Super Bowl ring. Sure, I’m not a doctor and I know nothing about medicine, but it has to be the ring. I mean, have you seen that thing?
The Rams got their rings in July and based on what I’ve seen of the ring, it appears to weigh as much as a large cat and I’m 98% sure it’s worth more than my car.
Your arm would be also be hurting if you tried to wear that ring.
As last season’s Super Bowl winner, the Rams are hosting the opener this year and hosting has been a huge advantage over the years. The reigning champion has been hosting the Thursday opener since 2004 and in that time, they’ve gone 14-2. Not to mention, Sean McVay is one of the best opening day coaches in NFL history. The Rams coach is 5-0 all-time in Week 1 games and his teams have won those games by an average of 16.6 points.
Of course, the Rams were favored in their five other openers under McVay, but they won’t be favored in this one. If you want to beat the Rams it helps to have a mobile quarterback (check), a defense that can force turnovers (the Bills forced the third-most in the NFL last season) and a pass-rusher who can get after the quarterback.
The Bills didn’t exactly have that third thing last season, but they’re hoping that Von Miller will be able to fill that role in 2022. If you start sacking Stafford, the Rams offense starts to fall apart and that’s why Miller could be a huge factor on Thursday night. The Rams went 9-1 in games where Stafford was sacked zero or one time last season, but just 3-4 in games where he was sacked two or more times.
This is practically a home game for Miller, who will be playing this third straight game at SoFi under three different circumstances. He played for the home team in the NFC title game, he played at a “neutral” site in the Super Bowl and he’ll be on the visiting team for the opener. From now on, if Miller is playing a game at SoFi Stadium I’m just going to assume that his team is going to win.
The pick: Bills 34-27 over Rams
Cleveland at Carolina
1 p.m. ET (CBS)
Latest Odds: Carolina Panthers -2.5
I don’t normally put a lot of stock into revenge games, but I’m completely buying the revenge angle in this game. I mean, when it comes to Baker Mayfield, I haven’t seen anyone this desperate to get revenge since Inigo Montoya went after the six-fingered man in “The Princess Bride.”
I have no idea what Baker Mayfield did this offseason, but my guess is that he spent the past eight weeks sitting in a dark room watching film on the Browns so that he’ll be able to destroy them. He might also have snuck in a viewing or two of “The Princess Bride,” but I can’t say for sure.
Although the Panthers weren’t a great team last year, they actually have a pretty stacked roster. Not only is Christian McCaffrey finally healthy, but they upgraded at two key positions on the offensive line with the additions of Bradley Bozeman (center) and Austin Corbett (guard).
I will admit that I thought briefly about picking the Browns in this game, but then I remembered that they haven’t won a regular season opener SINCE 2004! In the 17 seasons since then, they’ve gone 0-16-1 in openers. (To put this in perspective, every other NFL team has won at least FIVE openers in that span). Basically, I feel like it’s in my best interest to keep picking against the Browns in every opener they play for the rest of time.
The pick: Panthers 19-16 over Browns
New England at Miami
1 p.m. ET (CBS)
Latest Odds: Miami Dolphins -3
I never thought I’d say this about Bill Belichick, but I have no idea what he’s doing anymore. Instead of naming an offensive coordinator to replace Josh McDaniels, Belichick has decided to leave the position open this season. Belichick is always vague about his plans and he’s been even more vague this offseason, which I didn’t even think was possible.
Apparently, Belichick’s plan is to rely on several assistants, including Joe Judge and Matt Patricia. Now, I’m not sure if Belichick was watching the last time those two guys coached, but if he was, then he would know that Judge and Patricia are the last guys you want to put in charge of anything. At least, that’s what Giants and Lions fans have told me.
That being said, what if they’re not actually in charge of anything because Belichick is really the one in charge of everything? My theory is that the Patriots are now a one-man coaching staff and that everyone else is just on the sideline for show. It’s Belichick vs. everyone in 2022.
Belichick has been changing everything this year and that even includes the Patriots’ travel plans for Week 1.
Instead of flying to Miami the day before the game, the Patriots are flying down a full FIVE days before the game so they can get acclimated to the heat and humidity. The Patriots are 2-7 in their past nine trips to Miami and I’m not sure spending five nights on South Beach is going to fix their problems. The last time I spent five nights on South Beach, I think I was only sober for one of them. Also, I saw a shirtless Ed Orgeron and let me just tell you that if the Patriots see a shirtless Ed Orgeron, it’s not going to help anyone play better.
Now that I’ve second-guessed everything Belichick is doing this offseason from his coaching decisions to his travel plans, there’s a 100% chance it will blow up in my face if I pick against him, so I’m not going to pick against him. I think the Dolphins offense will eventually be good, but I think it struggles in Mike McDaniels’ first game as head coach.
The pick: Patriots 20-17 over Dolphins
Kansas City at Arizona
4:25 p.m. ET (CBS)
Latest Odds: Kansas City Chiefs -4.5
Tom Brady skipped 11 days of training camp and Aaron Rodgers went on a South American bender, and yet, somehow, it might be Kyler Murray who had the weirdest offseason of any NFL quarterback. In case you haven’t noticed, Murray seems to have a somewhat dysfunctional relationship with the Cardinals. At this point, it’s basically the Kim Kardashian-Pete Davidson relationship of the NFL world: Everything might seem like it’s going well, but I’m just not sure it’s going to last.
Back in February, Murray deleted the Cardinals from his Instagram and if you’ve ever been deleted from someone’s Instagram then you already know that the only way to get that person back is to give them $230.5 million, so that’s what the Cardinals did.
So the money clearly fixed the relationship, right? Wrong.
The Cardinals decided to include a homework clause in Murray’s new contract and let me just say that no one likes homework or homework clauses.
The clause was eventually taken out of his contract, but the problem for Murray is that the Cardinals wouldn’t have asked for one if they didn’t think he needed it. I think what I’m trying to say here is that I’ve already spent more time writing this pick than Kyler has spent studying film for this game.
The relationship between Murray and the Cardinals feels like it’s at the tipping point and a few ugly losses to start the season could lead to a full implosion and those losses might actually happen. With the Chiefs, Raiders and Rams in the first three weeks of the season, the Cardinals could be in three shootouts to start the year and they won’t have DeAndre Hopkins for any of those games.
Not only do the Cardinals have to deal with all of this, but they also have to play against Patrick Mahomes, who has never lost a regular-season opener. In four seasons as the Chiefs’ starter, he’s 4-0 in Week 1 and the Chiefs have scored an average of 36.25 points in those games. I would predict Kansas City to score 36.25 points on Sunday, but I’m told that’s not mathematically possible in the NFL, so I’ll go with 37.
The pick: Chiefs 37-27 over Cardinals
Green Bay at Minnesota
4:25 p.m. ET (Fox)
Latest Odds: Green Bay Packers -1.5
If you’ve ever wondered what it takes to be an MVP-caliber quarterback in the NFL, I have some good news for you: Aaron Rodgers revealed the secret this offseason.
Apparently, all you have to do is have a psychedelic experience in South America. Rodgers did that this offseason and as far as I know, he is now the only NFL QB who has obtained omnipresent, super-galactic oneness.
If Rodgers says it works, it clearly works, because he’s won two straight MVPs. Also, this would explain why Kirk Cousins has never won an MVP. I mean, if we had to rank every NFL quarterback on the possibility that they would go on a South American psychedelic bender at some point in their life, Kirk Cousins would rank dead last.
Although Cousins didn’t do any psychedelics this offseason, I actually think he’s going to be good this year. For one, he finally has a head coach who doesn’t hate his guts, which seems like a positive step forward for him.
Also, Cousins will be in charge of a high-powered offense that includes Justin Jefferson and Dalvin Cook. Although I’m picking the Packers to get to the Super Bowl out of the NFC this year, I’m NOT picking them to win this game and that’s because I think it’s going to take a week or two for them to adjust to life without Davante Adams.
The pick: Vikings 26-23 over Packers
Tampa Bay at Dallas
8:20 p.m. ET (NBC)
Latest Odds: Tampa Bay Buccaneers -2
The Cowboys might want to think about complaining to someone at the NFL about how the schedule gets made, because this is the second straight year that they’ve had to open the season against Tom Brady, which is pretty much a nightmare situation for them. The problem for the Cowboys is that they’ve NEVER beaten Tom Brady.
In six career games, not only is Brady 6-0 against Dallas, but he’s thrown for 1,733 yards, along with 14 touchdowns. If Brady averaged those numbers over the course of a 17-game season, that would equal out to 4,910 yards and 40 touchdowns. Basically, the Cowboys have no idea how to stop Brady, and I don’t think that’s going to change Sunday. Yes, Brady did take 11 days off in the middle of training camp, but I’m guessing he made plans to do that as soon as he saw that he was playing the Cowboys in Week 1. To be honest, I’m somewhat surprised he didn’t skip all of training camp just to make a point about how easy it is for him to beat the Cowboys.
These two teams are basically a mirror version of each other: I was going to mention the Cowboys offensive line woes before making my pick, but the Buccaneers also have offensive line woes. I was going to mention that the Buccaneers have a key receiver coming off an ACL injury (Chris Godwin), but the Cowboys also have a key receiver coming off an ACL injury (Michael Gallup), so this all comes down to Brady.
Tom Brady is 45, he spent six weeks in retirement, he skipped 11 days of practice, he spent half his offseason tweeting out underwear ads and I’m not actually sure if he’s gotten any practice in over the past month, but it doesn’t matter because he’s playing the Cowboys and Brady doesn’t lose to the Cowboys.
The pick: Buccaneers 30-27 over Cowboys
NFL Week 1 picks: All the rest
Saints 24-17 over Falcons
49ers 27-17 over Bears
Bengals 23-20 over Steelers
Eagles 31-24 over Lions
Ravens 30-20 over Jets
Commanders 23-16 over Jaguars
Colts 24-16 over Texans
Titans 20-13 over Giants
Chargers 30-20 over Raiders
Broncos 31-17 over Seahawks
Best pick: If you just read through these picks while thinking, “Wow, I wish I could read this guy every day,” you’re in luck, because you can! I also write the daily NFL newsletter here at CBSSports.com and you can subscribe by clicking here and entering your email address. By the way, this is usually the part where I brag to you about my best pick from the preceding week, but since there weren’t any regular-season games last week, that means there’s no best pick for this section.
Worst pick: Although I’ll have plenty of “worst picks” for this section starting next week, I have nothing for you this week. Actually, wait, yes I do. Since this is the worst pick section, this is the perfect time to tell you that I am apparently the worst waffle picker in the history of parenting. Every morning, we lay out my daughter’s waffles and I’m supposed to pick the one she wants to eat and I am somehow O-FOR-ETERNITY in this game. I pick out a waffle and she says “nope” and this goes on and on and until she gets so bored of the game that she just picks out her own waffle.
If I actually started taking bets on this, I would lose all my money. Basically, I need to hit on my NFL bets so I can fund my waffle gambling.
Final 2021 picks record (including playoffs)
Straight-up: 183-101-1 (.644) (Ranked second overall at CBSSports.com)
Against the spread: 147-135-3 (.521)