Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to season eight of my NFL picks.

If you’re reading this right now, that’s a good thing, because it means you’ve successfully survived everything that 2020 has thrown at us so far. I’m not sure about you, but I knew we were in trouble when the murder hornets showed up, and the worst part is that it’s only a matter of time before the murder hamsters show up, because as we all know, they always invade after the hornets.

The fact that I survived the past five months is a minor miracle. I didn’t think I was going to survive past March, and that’s mostly because I went five straight weeks without toilet paper at my house. I don’t want to go into too many details about how I made it through that rough period, but I will say that toilet paper hoarding should be a crime. I now get PTSD every time I walk in the bathroom.

The good news in all of this is that I didn’t catch coronavirus, but on the other hand, I haven’t slept since April, because I’ve been quarantined with a baby.

My wife and I had the baby back in April, and since you’re probably wondering, no, we didn’t buy her on Wayfair, but we did buy a nice couch from them.

If I’ve learned one thing about babies over the past five months, it’s that they don’t seem to care when you blame things on them, which I’m only mentioning because I’ll be blaming all my missed picks on the baby this year.

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Anyway, before we get to the picks, I have good news for the five 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 and Friday on your calendar from now until February, because that’s when I’ll be joining Will Brinson on the Pick Six Podcast (Click here to check it out). The Pick Six pod is my favorite podcast on the internet because A. I’m on it and B. it’s the only daily NFL podcast around.

If your first thought after hearing that news was, “That’s great that you have podcast, John, but we want to see your handsome face. How do we do that?” Great question, and I’m glad to answer it. For the 2020 season, not only will our podcast be published on YouTube, but we’ll also be doing a daily Pick Six video show for CBS Sports HQ. If you’re not watching CBS Sports HQ every day, you should be, and that’s because it’s a free streaming sports website that offers non-stop content at all hours of the day, and most importantly, you get to see me. Also, you can watch it on multiple platforms like Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV.

Finally, if you get through my NFL picks and decide you need more picks, because you’re a picks addict: You can check out the Week 1 picks from six other CBSSports.com NFL writers by clicking here.

MY GOODNESS, that was a lengthy introduction, but after surviving the murder hornets, the pandemic and the squirrel who had bubonic plague, I knew you guys could survive a long intro. That being said, I think I’ve made you guys wait long enough, so let’s get to the picks.

NFL Week 1 Picks
Green Bay at Minnesota
1 p.m. ET (FOX)
Point spread: Vikings, -2.5

I’m not sure either of these teams really had a plan this offseason, and if they did, I have no idea what it was. The Vikings completely revamped their defense by dumping multiple starters, which slightly worries me, because that means they’re going into Week 1 after a pandemic shortened offseason with a bunch of new starters on defense. As for the Packers, after going to the NFC title game last season, I fully expected them to add some receiving help for Aaron Rodgers in the draft, and I think Aaron Rodgers also thought that was going to happen, because that’s the only way to explain why he started pounding tequila after Green Bay drafted Jordan Love.

I’m not going to judge Rodgers for going straight to the tequila and that’s mainly because I’ve done some of my best work after pounding tequila. On Rodgers’ end, this feels like a season where he’s going to be playing with a chip on his shoulder, which is kind of fitting, because chips go well with tequila. The one thing I like about Rodgers is that he gets to open up the season against the Vikings defense that I just mentioned. I actually think the Vikings will end up having a decent defense this season, especially since they added Yannick Ngakoue, but I don’t think the unit is going to gel right away, which is why Rodgers is going to shred them.

Not only am I going to pick the Packers here, but I’m also predicting that Rodgers drinks seven fingers of tequila after the game to celebrate the win. On a somewhat related note, I drank seven fingers of tequila once in college and I got so drunk that I now have a pile of rocks sitting on my porch so I can count down the days until I die, just like Kirk Cousins.

 

I’m not sure how many rocks I have left, but it’s definitely not as many as Kirk. That worries me.

The pick: Packers 20-17 over Vikings

L.A. Chargers at Cincinnati
4:05 p.m. ET (CBS)
Point spread: Chargers, -3

As the resident Bengals homer here at CBSSports.com, I made a vow after Joe Burrow was drafted that I would never pick against him in any game ever, and now that I’m thinking about it, I probably shouldn’t have made that vow, because I’m seriously thinking about picking against him in his VERY FIRST GAME. My biggest issue with Burrow is that he got zero practice in the spring, and that the only defense he’s gone up against since being drafted is the Bengals defense (For anyone who doesn’t follow the Bengals, their defense isn’t good). Burrow is going to go from throwing passes against his own team to throwing passes against a defense that has two of the best pass-rushers in the NFL (Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram) and one of the best corners (Chris Harris). This would be like eating three hot dogs at dinner and then thinking you could beat Joey Chestnut in a hot dog eating contest.

And you know what, let’s be honest about this entire situation, the last time a guy named Joe was in charge of a bunch of Bengal tigers, it didn’t work out well for anyone — unless you count Carole Baskin, and I’m not going to count Carole Baskin — so I guess I have to go with the Chargers.

I should also point out that No. 1 overall picks seem to struggle in Week 1. Over the past 15 years, there have been six quarterbacks taken with the first overall pick who ALSO started in Week 1 during their rookie season and those quarterbacks have combined to win exactly zero games (0-5-1). That doesn’t seem like a good thing for the Bengals.

The pick: Chargers 23-20 over Bengals

Tampa Bay at New Orleans
4:25 p.m. ET (FOX)
Point spread: Saints, -3.5

As you’ve probably noticed, a lot of crazy things have happened in 2020, and I have to say, the most unexpected one has to be the fact that Tom Brady basically turned into a one man crimewave. Not only did he get kicked out of a closed park after illegally entering it during quarantine, but the Buccaneers quarterback also got caught trespassing at a man’s house after he accidentally walked into it and the worst part is that he does not HAVE A SINGLE OUNCE OF REMORSE about any of this.

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Chicago vs Detroit Broadcast
Date: Sunday, September 13
Game Time: 1:00 ET
Venue: Ford Field, Detroit, MI
Network: FOX

– All of the CFN Fearless Predictions

Chicago (0-0) vs Detroit (0-0) Game Preview
For latest lines and to bet on the NFL, go to BetMGM

Why Chicago Will Win
It’s been one of the biggest criticisms of the Chicago offense under Matt Nagy – run the ball already. With all of the quarterback issues with Mitchell Trubisky, it would’ve been easy to line up and blast away on the ground. This is the game to give it a try against a questionable Detroit defensive front. The Bear offensive front is coming off a rough year, but it’s experienced, and it should be far better out of the gate.

– CFN College Football Experts Picks, Week 1

Why Detroit Will Win
Mitchell Trubisky or Nick Foles. If you have to ask …

Yeah, Chicago’s offensive front should be better, and yeah, in theory the running game should start to work, but the offense hasn’t been able to do much of that when the O stalled. This should still be a struggling attack that won’t do much of anything consistently well, while the Lion offense should be able to strike faster, more effectively, and do more to push the ball down the field. Detroit can hit the big play. After last year, Chicago has to prove it can just move the chains.

Fantasy Football Player To Watch
TE TJ Hockenson, Detroit
Is he really ready to be a must-start tight end? He gets the ball his way enough to be excited about the upside, but he also had way too many lost statistical games after a good start. All the pieces are there to be special, including the offense he’s in.

What’s Going To Happen
Welcome to the return of the Chicago defense.

The Detroit offense might have the firepower and pop, but the Bear defensive front will look back to form with the return of Akiem Hicks on the inside, and the linebacking corps will come up with a terrific performance.

The Lions will settle for too many field goals, and Chicago will get two touchdown second half touchdown passes from – okay, let’s just make a call – Nick Foles, who steps in for an ineffective Mitchell Trubisky to save the day.

– CFN NFL Experts Picks, Week 1

Chicago vs Detroit Prediction, Line
Chicago 23, Detroit 19
Bet on Chicago vs Detroit with BetMGM
Detroit -2.5, o/u: 44
ATS Confidence out of 5: 2

Must See Rating: 3
5: $54.99 for Missouri State vs. Oklahoma
1: $30 for Mulan

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New York vs Buffalo Broadcast
Date: Sunday, September 13
Game Time: 1:00 ET
Venue: Bills Stadium, Orchard Park, NY
Network: CBS

– All of the CFN Fearless Predictions

New York Jets (0-0) vs. Buffalo (0-0) Game Preview
For latest lines and to bet on the NFL, go to BetMGM

Why New York Jets Will Win
The defense should once again be better than the parts. There are issues at corner, the pass rush has to be better, and the depth is going to be a concern at some point, but the run defense that finished No. 2 overall last year should be able to hold down an okay – but slightly overloved – group of Bill running backs.

– CFN College Football Experts Picks, Week 1

Why Buffalo Will Win
Do the Jets have the blocking to finally give the backfield parts room and time to operate? They worked the problem in the offseason, but it’s still going to be a work in progress for the second-worst rushing attack in the NFL last season.

Buffalo still has to prove it can generate a steady pass rush, but the defensive as a whole should keep the Jets from going on a slew of long marches. Put the game in the hands of Sam Darnold – the Bills will take their chances.

Fantasy Football Player To Watch
RB Le’Veon Bell, NY Jets
Can the guy get a block? He might have had a rough 2019 season, but that’s mostly because he didn’t have any room to move. He’ll always be strong in a PPR league, but the Bills will focus on stopping him first, second, and third.

What’s Going To Happen
The Bills have a terrific team in all areas with the parts to make a whole lot of noise in the AFC East race, but the offense struggled to get going in the two games last year – they split the two. Like 2019, it’ll be another relatively low-scoring battle, mostly because the Jet offense will struggle to get going.

– CFN NFL Experts Picks, Week 1

New York vs Buffalo Prediction, Line
Buffalo 23, New York 16
Bet on New York vs Buffalo with BetMGM
Buffalo -6.5, o/u: 40
ATS Confidence out of 5: 3

Must See Rating: 2.5
5: $54.99 for Missouri State vs. Oklahoma
1: $30 for Mulan

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Why Seattle Will Win
Has the Atlanta offensive line vastly improved? It’s got a few nice parts, but it was hardly a plus last season, and the Seattle run defense should be a bit better than the 2019 stats. With a terrific linebacking corps, the Falcon running game should be kept in relative check. On the other side, the Atlanta defensive front isn’t anything special, but …

– CFN College Football Experts Picks, Week 1

Why Atlanta Will Win
The Seattle offensive front is an issue. At the very least, it’s going to take a while for the starting five to jell – the Seahawk running game won’t take over. Defensively, the Seattle secondary is going to have big, big matchup issues outside with the Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley carving up the questionable corners.

Fantasy Football Player To Watch
RB Todd Gurley, Atlanta
He’s going to be one of the biggest calls in every fantasy draft. Really, how sound is the knee? Really, can he show the consistent burst that made him such a monster in 2018? Really, can the Atlanta O line give him enough room to move?

What’s Going To Happen
Russell Wilson will pull this off on the final drive. Atlanta will seem like it’s in control but won’t be able to put it away, leaving the door open for a late Seahawk drive to make it a one score game, and then Russell will go Russell with his legs as well as a clutch third down throw to get a strong road win.

– CFN NFL Experts Picks, Week 1

Seattle vs Atlanta Prediction, Line
Seattle 24, Atlanta 20
Bet on Seattle vs Atlanta with BetMGM
Seattle -1, o/u: 49
ATS Confidence out of 5: 2.5

Must See Rating: 3
5: $54.99 for Missouri State vs. Oklahoma
1: $30 for Mulan

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Week 1 of the 2020 NFL season will feature a marquee Thursday Night Football kickoff game on Thursday when the Houston Texans take on the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.

Kickoff is slated for 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC.

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The Texans are led by head coach Bill O’Brien, quarterback Deshaun Watson and defensive lineman J.J. Watt. Houston went 10-6 last season, capturing the AFC South.

The defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs are led by head coach Andy Reid, quarterback Patrick Mahomes and tight end Travis Kelce. Kansas City went 12-4 on the road to winning it all last season.

Here’s how our experts see the game playing out.

Matt Lombardo: Does it get better than this? The NFL returns with a matchup pitting two of the best quarterbacks on the planet, in a rematch of last season’s AFC Divisional Playoff Game. The reasons the Chiefs will win this game, on the night the franchise’s first Super Bowl banner in 50 years gets raised at Arrowhead Stadium is the same reason they were able to mount a furious January comeback: Patrick Mahomes, and just too much speed on the perimeter for the Texans to handle. This will be wildly entertaining, and remind us all why we love football so much, but the Chiefs just have too much firepower. Chiefs 34, Texans 28.

Mike Kaye: This could be a preview of the AFC title game. The Chiefs seem like an unstoppable force, while the Texans have an intriguing group led by Deshaun Watson. These teams had an epic battle in the playoffs in January and I expect a repeat of action and results. Chiefs 30, Texans 23.

Zack Rosenblatt: This game should be a fun, high-scoring affair. But it lost some of its luster when Bill O’Brien went and did Bill O’Brien things this offseason. The Chiefs start their pursuit of back-to-back Super Bowl titles with a decisive victory and dominant Patrick Mahomes performance. Chiefs 42, Texans 27.

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Darryl Slater: What a matchup — Deshaun Watson vs. Patrick Mahomes. The future of the NFL right here, to open the season. But the Chiefs are just stronger than the DeAndre Hopkins-less Texans. Chiefs 35, Texans 20.

Chris Ryan: Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs take care of business in their first game as defending Super Bowl champions. Deshaun Watson will keep the Texans within a touchdown. Chiefs 31, Texans 24.

Joe Giglio: Two ultra-talented quarterbacks, two new mega deals to watch play out. The Chiefs could be better than they were a year ago. Yes, I realize what that means. Patrick Mahomes throws four touchdowns on his way to 50-plus in 2020. Houston’s defense will be a mess all year, and this won’t be an exception. Chiefs 33, Texans 21.

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