Rick Zamperin’s Week 1 NFL picks: Bills blast off, Brady’s Bucs debut spoiled

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) throws a pass during an NFL football training camp practice Friday, Aug. 28, 2020, in Tampa, Fla. AP Photo/Chris O'Meara

The first NFL game I ever watched on TV was Super Bowl XVIII in 1984 when Marcus Allen and the Los Angeles Raiders blasted Washington 38-9 at old Tampa Stadium.

Fast forward more than 30 years, and the Super Bowl is set to make its return to Tampa Bay for the fifth time when the much more luxurious Raymond James Stadium plays host to Super Bowl LV on Feb. 7.

I’ve watched a ton of football, both NFL and CFL, over the years and I’ve been involved in more football pick ’em pools and fantasy drafts that I can remember.

There have been some fun times and epic victories, but picking NFL winners and against the spread hasn’t always gone according to plan. Just ask my wife, and she will roll her eyes at the thought of me hollering at the TV or muttering in dismay when my picks end up in the toilet.

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With all that being said, I will share with you my weekly NFL picks during the 2020 season in this space, but like all things in life, nothing is guaranteed — sports betting is a crap shoot at the best of times, so treat these as added entertainment value when making your weekly picks.

Alrighty then, let’s have some fun, shall we?

Picking Week 1 winners can be a challenge, but after the coronavirus pandemic wiped out the entire preseason and with no — or very few fans in the stands — this may be more difficult than ever before.

Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs (-9) Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs pick up where they left off in Super Bowl LIV and pick apart the Texans at Arrowhead Stadium. Kansas City 34-20

New York Jets at Buffalo Bills (-6.5) Entering his third year as a starter in the NFL, Bills QB Josh Allen is ready for a big leap. Plus, Buffalo’s defence is downright stifling. Buffalo 31-17

Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots (-6.5) No one quite knows what Bill Belichick has in store for us in the post-Tom Brady era, but new starting QB Cam Newton has a chip on his shoulder and the Patriots should benefit from that. New England 24-20

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Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens (-8) The Browns won a laugher in Baltimore last year and don’t think for a second that the Ravens have forgotten about that. Lamar Jackson and his mates get some revenge. Baltimore 27-23

Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions (-3) Detroit QB Matthew Stafford is healthy while Bears pivot Mitch Trubisky is, well, still a question mark entering his fourth NFL season. Detroit 20-17

Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings (-2.5) Thank you NFL schedule makers! A crucial tilt between the NFC North’s top two teams will go down to the wire before the Vikes win it on a last second field goal. Minnesota 24-23

Las Vegas Raiders at Carolina Panthers (+3) Vegas head coach Jon Gruden has had an entire offseason to plan his offence and we’ll see it at work against a young Panthers defence. Las Vegas 27-20

Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Football Team (+5.5) Ron Rivera has taken over a team that has had a tumultuous offseason which included a name change and sexual harassment allegations. Coupled with a unproven starting QB in Week 1 against a more talented divisional opponent, it doesn’t look good in D.C. Philadelphia 33-17

Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons (+2) This has all the makings of a classic Week 1 shootout. Seattle is my pick to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl (just a gut feeling) but they stumble out of the gate. Atlanta 38-35 in OT

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Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars (+8) New Colts quarterback Philip Rivers gets the easiest opening on the schedule with a visit to northern Florida. Every new season brings hope to fans, but the Jags are destined for the basement of the AFC South. Indianapolis 31-23

Los Angeles Chargers at Cincinnati Bengals (+3) Welcome to the NFL Joe Burrow. The Heisman Trophy and national championship winning QB at LSU makes his first career start against a very good defence. Making his much anticipated first start at home will help the Bengals pull off the upset. Cincinnati 24-20

Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers (-7) The Cards should be better on offence under sophomore quarterback Kyler Murray, but coming off a Super Bowl loss in February the 49ers are hungry for redemption. San Francisco 27-24

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints (-3.5) Unquestionably the game of the week as Tom Brady makes his Bucs debut against fellow future Hall of Fame QB Drew Brees and the equally talented Saints. Grab some popcorn, add lots of butter, and enjoy! New Orleans 30-28

Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams (+3) Mike McCarthy is the new head coach in Big D and he has some great weapons on offence and defence. The Rams, on the other hand, have moved on from Todd Gurley and Brandon Cooks and despite opening brand new SoFi Stadium, I just don’t like the vibe I’m getting from the Rams. Dallas 23-20

Pittsburgh Steelers at New York Giants (+6) After playing just two games in 2019, Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger admits he’s going to be “shaking like a leaf” in the early going of this game. Big Ben will find his footing in now time and the Steelers defence will smother the G-Men. Pittsburgh 34-10

Tennessee Titans at Denver Broncos (+2.5) Broncos linebacker Von Miller suffered a serious ankle injury at the end of training camp, and the timing couldn’t have been worse — not with NFL rushing champion Derrick Henry and the Titans rumbling into the Mile High City. Tennessee 26-23

Rick Zamperin is the assistant program, news and senior sports director at Global News Radio 900 CHML.


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