The 2012 NFL season is officially here and I am excited to be back with my annual NFL picks and predictions. This marks my fifth straight year of doing this and the picks have grown in popularity with every year. Like previous years, I am making these picks based on my own feelings about the games. As a huge NFL and Carolina Panthers fan, I pick the games each week and don't consider the spread in making my decisions. These are straight up, head to head picks and meant to be helpful for office pools and other pick challenges. As for success, I did win first place in a pool of sportswriters last year with a final record of 170-86. Although that is not my best year by far, it did represent a consistent ability to pick winners straight up and I have shown that consistency for four years in a row now. If you are in an office pool or straight up contest, you could certainly do worse than sticking with me and my picks throughout the NFL season.
That said, let's move on the the picks for week one of NFL action!
WED, SEP 5
Dallas at NY Giants--8:30 PM--NBC
Opening night in New York is going to be rocking in a big way with the Cowboys coming to town. These two NFC East foes absolutely despise one another so I expect nothing short of a bloodbath. It should be entertaining to say the least. Expect the beginning of a power shift on Wednesday night with a Dallas Cowboys victory.
Week One NFL Winner-- Dallas Cowboys
SUN, SEP 9
Indianapolis at Chicago--1:00 PM--CBS
The Andrew Luck era officially begins in Indianapolis and it could be a rough start. The Chicago Bears in Chicago is a tough draw for the rookie as the Bears are always brutal there. I expect Luck to play better than expected, but the Bears have too much firepower for him to overcome in week one. This will not be the blow out that some think it will be, but it will be a Bears victory.
Week One NFL Winner-- Chicago Bears
Philadelphia at Cleveland--1:00 PM--FOX
Although I think that Brandon Weeden is the beginning of big things for Cleveland, I don't think that drawing Philadelphia during week one is a very good thing. If they had drawn the Eagles in week seven or after, the odds would have been decent that Mike Vick or several other Eagles would be out already. With it being week one, they will be fresh and ready to rack up the points.
Week One NFL Winner--Philadelphia Eagles
New England at Tennessee--1:00 PM--CBS
I do like Jake Locker and the Titans to make some noise this year, but I am not so sure it will come this early. New England is simply too polished and strong for the Titans to handle at this point in the season. I expect the Tom Brady led Patriots to come out and make a statement during week one.
Week One NFL Winner-- New England Patriots
Atlanta at Kansas City--1:00 PM--FOX
Despite a healthy and rejuvenated Jamaal Charles returning for the Chiefs, I expect the Falcons to come out blazing on Sunday. They have plenty to prove after getting drubbed out of the playoffs again last year. The Chiefs are not what they used to be at home, either. Matt Ryan will have a huge game as will Julio Jones and Roddy White.
Week One NFL Winner-- Atlanta Falcons
Jacksonville at Minnesota--1:00 PM--CBS
Although I would like Jacksonville's chances better with MJD ready to go, Minnesota is going to win this opening week game. The biggest reason is because I think Christian Ponder is more ready to run a ball club. The Vikings are also notoriously tough at home.
Week One NFL Winner-- Minnesota Vikings
Washington at New Orleans--1:00 PM--FOX
The Saints are certainly not coming into the season with a ton of momentum, especially given all the scandal and ugliness of the summer. That said, they are coming in with plenty to prove and a chip on their shoulders. Expect RG III and the Redskins to get some of the backlash.
Week One NFL Winner-- New Orleans Saints
Buffalo at NY Jets--1:00 PM--CBS
Although the logical choice here would probably be the Bills, I am feeling like the Jets are going to pull it together just in time for the regular season. Their defense is strong and can handle the Bills fairly well, but I think that Sanchez will have a good game as well. Tim Tebow will be a factor in the game too.
Week One NFL Winner-- New York Jets
St. Louis at Detroit--1:00 PM--FOX
I love the moves the Rams have made, but they are not ready for this offense of the Lions. This will be ugly early and often.
Week One NFL Winner-- Detroit Lions
Miami at Houston--1:00 PM--CBS
Houston will blow them out and it will not be pretty. Miami has some things going for them but I expect Houston to be a major player in the AFC title picture in 2012.
Week One NFL Winner-- Houston Texans
San Francisco at Green Bay--4:25 PM--FOX
The Packers certainly drew a tough game with this one as the Niners are always a tough play. Following last year, both of these teams are wanting to make a statement. In the end, I think it will be too much Rodgers and the home field advantage that determine the outcome.
Week One NFL Winner-- Green Bay Packers
Seattle at Arizona--4:25 PM--FOX
Russell Wilson is no joke over in Seattle and he is going to excite crowds everywhere he goes. I expect him to have a huge coming out party at Arizona's expense.
Week One NFL Winner-- Seattle Seahawks
Carolina at Tampa Bay--4:25 PM--FOX
The Carolina Panthers are wanting to turn the corner this year and they have to win this game to get off on the right foot. I expect Cam Newton and the boys to pull through for me just fine in Tampa Bay.
Week One NFL Winner-- Carolina Panthers
Pittsburgh at Denver--8:20 PM--NBC
What a game for prime time, right? Peyton Manning gets to try to start the season off right against his old rival. The Steelers are not going to be in a good mood for this one. Expect Peyton to put up a great fight, but the Steelers will prevail.
Week One NFL Winner-Pittsburgh Steelers
MON, SEP 10
Cincinnati at Baltimore--7:00 PM--ESPN
Joe Flacco and the Ravens will get off to a great start by whipping the hurting Cincinnati Bengals in prime time.
Week One NFL Winner--Baltimore Ravens
San Diego at Oakland--10:15 PM--ESPN
This is a game that I have gone back and forth on. Ultimately, I am going with the Oakland Raiders to pull it off at home. It will be a great way to end the week one action as these two teams are going to fight it out.
Week One NFL Winner-- Oakland Raiders
*Southern is a huge Carolina Panthers fan that is convinced that he will see a Super Bowl Trophy in Charlotte within five years.
More from this contributor:
- Why the First Five Games Are Vital to the Carolina Panthers in 2012: Fan's Opinion
- Three Major Problems for the 2012 Carolina Panthers Entering the Final Preseason Game: Fan's View
- Five Positives for the Carolina Panthers After Beating the New York Jets: 2012 NFL Preseason Fan's Take
- Carolina Panthers Rookie Josh Norman Backing Up His Trash Talking: Fan's Opinion
- 2012 NFC South Week One NFL Picks and Predictions: Fan's Opinion