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And we're back! Welcome to the 2021 regular season and welcome to yet another year of my weekly picks piece here on this fine website. It's been a busy offseason throughout the NFL and there was a lot to digest over these last few months. Now, we'll be looking at each team throughout the league to see if all of those alterations will actually produce wins, and -- for us bettors -- a little extra cash in our pockets. 

A few weeks ago, I gave my initial thoughts on the Week 1 slate and gave a few early leans that I still feel strong about hitting as we step closer to the weekend, so there may be some repetition here. That said, after digesting the entire preseason, there are some games that are now catching my eye even more. Below, you'll find all my picks for Week 1 with a bit of a deeper dive on my five locks of the week. 

Happy New Year! 

All NFL odds via Caesars Sportsbook.

Cowboys at Buccaneers

Latest Odds: Tampa Bay Buccaneers -9

As good of an opening game as you can imagine. Not only do we get the Buccaneers unveiling a banner as they begin their Super Bowl title defense with Tom Brady entering his second year in Tampa, but Dak Prescott is also making his return to the Cowboys after that horrific season-ending ankle injury in 2020. While Dallas' offense is primed to be prolific this season, there needs to be respect paid to the Bucs defense that was dominant throughout that championship run of a year ago. Not only did they retain the core of that defense over the offseason, but they also added to it, taking outside linebacker Joe Tryon-Shoyinka in the first round of the NFL Draft this past spring. I also expect Brady to be even more efficient within Tampa Bay's offense after a year of experience under his belt and a more traditional offseason. It also doesn't hurt that Dallas has recently not been too favorable to bettors out of the gate, owning an 0-4 ATS mark in their last four September contests. 

Projected score: Buccaneers 33, Cowboys 24
The pick: Buccaneers -8

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Cardinals at Titans 

Latest Odds: Arizona Cardinals +2.5

This was my upset call during my early look-ahead story from a few weeks back and I continue to like the spot the Cardinals are in to begin the season. They have an offense littered with weapons and a quarterback in Kyler Murray that should be able to avoid whatever pressure the Titans are able to apply as they look to improve in that area following a dreadful 2020 season on that side of the ball. Meanwhile, both of Tennessee's top-two receivers A.J. Brown and Julio Jones have been limited throughout the summer due to various injuries. While I expect both to play, I'm not quite sure they'll be 100%, which will hurt Ryan Tannehill's chances of success in the passing game. 

Meanwhile, Tennessee is another team that has historically struggled out of the gate. In their last five Week 1 contests, the club is 1-4 ATS and is 1-5 ATS in their last six games in September. 

Projected score: Cardinals 28, Titans 21
The pick: Cardinals +3

49ers at Lions 

Latest Odds: San Francisco 49ers -9.5

The NFL is going to be reminded that the 49ers are a force to be reckoned with pretty quickly in 2021. After a 2020 season where they couldn't flick the injury bug away for the life of them, the team is healthy and should have all of its key pieces intact for this opening game against Detroit. It'll be interesting to see how much Kyle Shanahan actually deploys his platoon quarterback attack in this game, but even if he simply rolls with Jimmy Garoppolo, the veteran should be able to win this game rather easily. The Lions are not expected to be much of a factor this season with an O/U win total of just five games, so the 49ers -- who are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 Week 1 contests and 5-2 ATS in their last seven games in September -- should find little resistance in this head-to-head and should clear this spread quite easily. 

Projected score: 49ers 28, Lions 17
The pick: 49ers -7.5

Jets at Panthers 

Latest Odds: Carolina Panthers -3.5

I don't think Carolina is getting enough respect here at -5 at home. The Jets are entering the 2021 season after a 2-14 run a year ago and are sporting a first-time head coach in Robert Saleh along with a rookie quarterback in Zach Wilson. That's also not mentioning that they won't have offseason free-agent prize Carl Lawson after he suffered a ruptured Achilles earlier this summer. While the regular-season debut of Wilson -- who did impress this preseason -- is exciting, the Panthers seem like a much more stable team at the moment and will roll out of quarterback in Sam Darnold, who is likely very motivated to get a win over his former team. This line has already moved quite a bit since opening up at Panthers -3.5, so try and get this while it's still below a touchdown. 

Projected score: Panthers 24, Jets 17
The pick: Panthers -5

Bears at Rams

Latest Odds: Los Angeles Rams -9.5

The Bears have done little this preseason to instill confidence that an upset is even possible in this game. Andy Dalton will be the starter in the opener and his play throughout his exhibition stints left little to be desired, making it only a matter of time before we see rookie Justin Fields under center. What is particularly nerve wracking for the Bears' chances in this game, however, is the offensive line that looked like a swinging door at points this summer. With Aaron Donald lined up opposite of that unit, it could be a long day for the Chicago offense. Meanwhile, the Rams are set to debut a high-flying offense around newly acquired quarterback Matthew Stafford, which may leave the Bears in the dust early. As for the coaching head-to-head, Sean McVay has a clear advantage over Matt Nagy. Throughout his previous four years leading the Rams, McVay has a 4-0 ATS record in Week 1. 

Projected score: Rams 30, Bears 20
The pick: Rams -7.5

Rest of the bunch

Browns at Chiefs 
Projected score: Chiefs 28, Browns 21
The pick: Chiefs -6

Broncos at Giants 
Projected score: Broncos 24, Giants 17
The pick: Broncos -3

Eagles at Falcons
Projected score: Eagles 24, Falcons 20
My pick: Eagles +3

Steelers at Bills
Projected score: Bills 27, Steelers 20
My pick: Bills -6.5

Vikings at Bengals 
Projected score: Vikings 30, Bengals 24
My pick: Vikings -3

Seahawks at Colts
Projected score: Seahawks 27, Colts 17
My pick: Seahawks -2.5

Chargers at Washington
Projected score: Chargers 24, Washington 21
My pick: Chargers -1

Jaguars at Texans 
Projected score: Texans 28, Jaguars 24
My pick: Texans +3

Dolphins at Patriots
Projected score: Patriots 24, Dolphins 20
My pick: Patriots -3

Packers at Saints
Projected score: Packers 33, Saints 24
My pick: Packers -4

Ravens at Raiders
Projected score: Ravens 28, Raiders 21
My pick: Ravens -4.5