The 2012 NFL regular season begins Wednesday, as the hometown New York Giants host the Dallas Cowboys (8:30 p.m. ET on NBC) at MetLife Stadium. The NFC East contest marks not only the beginning of a 17-week slate of awesomeness, but better yet, ends an offseason filled with controversy, intrigue and, well, the most annoying storylines ever.
Ever since the Giants held off the New England Patriots, 21-17, in Super Bowl 46 last February, professional football fans have been smothered with too much information about the courtship of Peyton Manning, New Orleans Saints players getting paid to hurt opposing players, Tim Tebows' breakfast and really bad referees.
Now, it's all about football (oh, and your freakin' fantasy team). The off-the-field stuff gets mentioned in passing, but from here on out its mainly about execution, big plays, limiting turnovers and the final score.
However, the most exciting aspect of Week 1 is making NFL picks that could help you make MONEY! And for the third straight season, I am here to help you lose it. This season, however, will be a bit different as instead of making predictions on just five contests per week, I am doing all of them!
That's right! More picks, more money bet and lost. I know you can't wait, so lets gets started.
Point spread: Giants 3-point favorites.
Pick: Giants 24, Cowboys 17.
Prediction: The game's biggest key is the health of Dallas tight end Jason Witten, who probably will not play because of a lacerated spleen.
That leaves Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo without his No. 1 option or outlet target when the Giants' pass rush -- which will be facing an offensive line that features four new Cowboys players -- comes flying at him.
Overall, there's just too much for Dallas to overcome and the Giants move on to an easy season-opening victory.
Point spread: Bears 9-point favorites.
Pick: Bears 23, Colts 17.
Prediction: The Colts official begin the Andrew Luck era. And even though a lot needs to go right for Indy to pull off a road victory, I am not ruling an upset out because the Bears defense comes in banged up.
The difference in this game will be if the Colts defense can stop the Bears offense that features quarterback Jay Cutler, running back Matt Forte and wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Devin Hester.
Point spread: Eagles 6 1/2-point favorites.
Pick: Eagles 30, Browns 9
Prediction: The best way to rebound from a disappointing season is to blow out an inferior opponent in Week 1. And that's exactly what I expect the Eagles and quarterback Michael Vick to do at Cleveland.
The Eagles are hungry and enter the contest healthy -- defensive end Jason Babin returned to practice Tuesday and should be good to go by Sunday.
Point spread: Lions 9-point favorites.
Pick: Lions 27, Rams 24.
Prediction: If there's one team that can vault itself from possibly worst to first its St. Louis.
New head coach Jeff Fisher will make sure the Rams enter the opener ready to play, while their new improved defense -- which features an upgraded secondary featuring Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins -- can cover the Lions' offensive weapons.
Of course, I say that assuming the Lions' offensive weapons didn't get better from last season -- which is probably not the case.
Point spread: Texans 6 1/2-point favorites.
Pick: Texans 33, Dolphins 17.
Prediction: The only thing that will keep Miami from possibly being blown out and covering the spread is the Houston defense not being able to recover from losing its defensive stars.
But, if you're expecting Miami's defense to contain Houston's offensive weapons -- running back Arian Foster and wide receiver Andre Johnson -- you're nuts.
Point spread: Falcons 1-point favorite.
Pick: Falcons 24, Chiefs 17.
Prediction: For Kansas City to earn a Week 1 victory it will need a strong defensive performances that contains the high-flying Atlanta offense. And I just don't see that happening, especially since the Chiefs could be without linebacker Derrick Johnson and cornerback Brandon Flowers, who each are banged up.
Point spread: Vikings 4-point favorites.
Pick: Vikings 10, Jaguars 7.
Prediction: Both teams enter the season with low expectations, and for the Vikings to overcome that they will need to ride the coattails of running back Adrian Peterson.
However, Peterson is expected to see limited action Sunday and backup Toby Gerhart should see a bulk of the carriers. On the flip side, Jaguars' star running back Maurice Jones-Drew will begin the season as the team's backup. The demotion stemmed from a 38-day, training-camp holdout.
Point spread: Saints 8 1/2-point favorite.
Pick: Redskins 24, Saints 13.
Prediction: That's right. The Robert Griffin III era in Washington begins with a road victory against a reeling New Orleans squad.
I could talk myself into believing Saints' quarterback Drew Brees and the hometown crowd is going to inspire the home team to victory, but I just don't see it. Sorry, New Orleans fans.
Point spread: Jets 6-point favorites.
Pick: Bills 27, Jets 16.
Prediction: To me, this game comes down to Buffalo's new-improved defensive line against New York's new-but-not-so-improved offense. I've seen a lot of both during the preseason and the Bills defense is a lot better than the Jets offense -- a lot better.
On paper, the Jets should be able to hang around. A victory will depend on if they can force turnovers that can create a short field for Mark Sanchez or Tebow.
Point spread: Patriots 7-point favorites.
Pick: Patriots 28, Titans 13
Prediction: It was business as usual for New England during the offseason, as it got healthier on offense and improved its defense via the NFL Draft. The Patriots enter as the favorite to get to the Super Bowl in the AFC and the journey begins with a solid victory over the rebuilding Titans.
Point spread: Cardinal 1-point favorite.
Pick: Seahaws 20, Cardinals 10.
Prediction: Expect a sloppy game, and from what I've seen from Russell Wilson, I like Seattle to pull off a victory against the Cardinals, who don't have a No. 1 quarterback that can throw to Larry Fitzgerald -- and that's a shame.
Point spread: Packers 7-point favorites.
Pick: Packers 23, 49ers 20.
Prediction: This is how you start the NFL season. Two juggernauts going at it at Lambeau Field.
The Pack will come out hungry after they spoiled a 15-1 regular season -- yeah, remember that? While, the 49ers will try to make a statement -- "we're the team to beat in the NFC".
I think the home-field advantage is the difference here.
Point spread: Panthers 3-point favorites.
Pick: Panthers 24, Buccaneers 20.
Prediction: The best thing for Tampa Bay and new head coach Greg Schiano is they will not need to travel far to get home after handling Cam Newton for four quarters.
God help the Bucs'.
Point spread: Broncos 3-point favorites.
Pick: Broncos 27, Steelers 20.
Prediction: The Broncos beat the Steelers with Tim Tebow at quarterback. Imagine what they can do with Peyton Manning as their signal caller?
Point spread: Ravens 7-point favorites.
Pick: Ravens 17, Bengals 16.
Prediction: A solid AFC North showdown that will feature Baltimore looking to reclaim its top spot after Cincinnati came out of nowhere last year to make the playoffs.
Point spread: Raiders 1-point favorite.
Pick: Chargers 31, Raiders 20.
Prediction: The Raiders are favored. Let me say that again. The RAIDERS are favored!
Last week's record: 0-0. Season record: 0-0.