Baltimore +2 vs. Cincinnati
The Ravens have an unsettled quarterback situation, but the Bengals have an unsettled team. Who plays under center for the Ravens shouldn’t matter much as the Bengals inability to stop the run. The defense is still solid for the Ravens, and they should help the offense out with some short-field situations. It’s not going to be pretty, but the home team will grind out a win.
Baltimore 17 Cincinnati 7
Houston +6.5 at Pittsburgh
The Texans are a year away from real contention for a playoff berth, but they are only a couple of days away from beating up on Big Ben. Mario Williams and company will be the difference in this one. The Steelers couldn’t protect Roethlisberger last year, and that will be the case again in ’08. The Steelers offensive line has deteriorated markedly since they won the Super Bowl in 2005. I don’t see them providing the pass protection or running room they need to cover the line.
The Steelers were 7-1 at home last year, so they are still a dominant force in Pittsburgh. I don’t think they start the year 0-1 in 2008, but they will struggle enough for the Texans to cover the over-inflated spread.
Steelers 17 Texans 14
Packers -2 vs. Vikings
You see this every season. Prognosticators jump on a team a year early only to watch them perform below expectations. That’s the case with the Vikings. The Vikings have been the sexy pick for the NFC North, and I’ve seen some tab them for a trip to the NFC title game. The NFC is weak, but I don’t think Tavaris Jackson is good enough to fulfill those lofty aspirations. The Packers match up nicely against Minnesota. They stack the up against the Vikings running game, (they held Peterson to just 45 yards in their last meeting in Green Bay), and open up Minnesota’s stout front seven with the passing game. Aaron Rogers will play well enough in front of a home crowd eager to move ahead with the season.
Packers 24 Vikings 14
Jets -3 at Miami
I’m not sure why this spread is so low, but I’m going to accept the charity from Vegas. Before Favre was on board, this line was -3, and it hasn’t moved since his arrival. The Kellen Clemens-led Jets blasted the Dolphins 40-13 last year in Miami. I have to think that adding a hall-of-fame, allbeit past his prime, quarterback maintains the Jets superiority in this rivalry. Factor in the additional talent the Jets added during the offseason, and I don’t see the Fish staying within double digits of the new-look Jets.
Jets 31 Dolphins 13