NFL Week 1 picks: Cowboys stun Panthers, Browns shock Steelers for first win since 2016

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Year 6 of my NFL picks. 

Since this is the first week of the season, we're going to do my favorite Week 1 exercise, which is me telling you how my offseason went. If you're new here, this is generally the part of my picks that everyone skips due to the fact that my life is mostly boring and no one wants to read about it. However, I had a bachelor party in March, which I'm only telling you about because Rob Gronkowski showed up in a leprechaun costume

Let me just tell you right now that if you ever see a 6-foot-6 guy in a leprechaun costume wearing a cut-off hoodie at a bar, it's definitely Gronk. The important part of this story is that while I was at the bar, Gronk gave me a hot tip that he was going to play for the "69ers" next season. Of course, when I heard that, I immediately assumed that Gronk didn't understand numbers and actually meant the 49ers, but then Jimmy Garoppolo went on a date with a porn star and now I have no idea what to believe anymore. All I know is that if Gronk ever buys an NFL team, there's a 150 percent chance that it's going to be called the "69ers" and every player is going to have a contract worth $6.9 million. 

As much fun as I had seeing leprechaun Gronk at my bachelor party, I would like everyone to know that I am not picking the Patriots to win the Super Bowl this year. I'm also not picking the 49ers, the 69ers or any other team that ends with "Niners."

So who am I picking?

That's a great question, and you can find the answer by clicking here and checking out our Super Bowl prediction page. That page doesn't have any pictures of Gronk dressed as a leprechaun, but it does have the divisional and Super Bowl picks from all seven of our NFL writers here at CBSSports.com. 

If you're not interested in Super Bowl picks and you just want Week 1 picks from the other writers, you can check those out by clicking here. With gambling now legal in multiple U.S. states (Thanks Supreme Court!!) you should probably pay extra close attention to our picks this year. My personal plan for 2018 is to bet against the Buccaneers every week. Sure, it's not as foolproof as Mychel Kendricks' plan to beat the stock market, but based on his situation, that's probably for the best. 

OK, I think I've made you guys wait long enough, let's get to the picks.

Atlanta at Philadelphia 

Thursday, 8:20 p.m. ET (NBC)

I'm going to start things off here by giving a shoutout to Eagles fans (Except for the Philly fan who ate horse manure after the Eagles won the Super Bowl. No shout out for him). It's been a banner year for the Eagles and their fans and I think my new favorite thing to do is watch Eagles fans drink. I actually live near some Eagles fans and I'm pretty sure they're still sobering up from the Super Bowl celebration, which is actually pretty impressive when you consider that the parade was seven months ago. I mean, if you're going to go on a seven-month bender, doing it after your team wins its first Super Bowl is definitely the time to do it. 

The downside for Eagles fans is that there's a good chance the Super Bowl celebration could finally be ending this week and that's because the Eagles are opening the season against a Falcons team that might actually beat them. 

Here's a small list of what I like about the Falcons this year: Everything. 

Last year, I liked everything about the Falcons except for offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, but I think I'm over that. After calling one of the worst playoff games of any offensive coordinator ever in the Falcons 15-10 divisional playoff loss to the Eagles last season, I'm assuming that Sarkisian basically spent the past seven months trying to figure out how to attack the Eagles' defense. If the Falcons don't score more than 10 points on Thursday, they need to fire Sarkisian and let Matt Ryan call the plays ... or let Matt Ryan's twin babies call them. I think any of them would be better.  

The ice cubes are on the loose.

A post shared by Matt Ryan (@ryan_matt02) on

Although I thought about picking the Eagles in this game, I don't like the fact that they won't have Carson Wentz. I don't like the fact that they won't have Alshon Jeffery and I don' t like the fact that Nick Foles led the Eagles offense to exactly zero points during the preseason. I also don't like that I'm still having nightmares about the horse manure guy. I'm taking the Falcons. 

The Pick: Falcons 23-20 over Eagles

So who should you back in Week 1 of the NFL season? Visit SportsLine now to see which teams are winning more than 50 percent of simulationsall from the model that has outperformed 98 percent of experts tracked by NFLPickWatch.com the past two seasons. 

Pittsburgh at Cleveland

1 p.m. ET (CBS)

I was going to pick the Steelers to win this game by three touchdowns, but then I decided to binge-watch "Hard Knocks" over the weekend and now, not only did I change my mind, but I'm not sure I'm ever going to be able to pick against the Browns again. Honestly, I should probably stop watching "Hard Knocks" because the same thing happens every year: HBO somehow brainwashes me into thinking that the "Hard Knocks" team is going to be good. Thanks to this year's version of "Hard Knocks," I'm so sold on Cleveland that my entire fantasy team is now made up of Browns players. I'm going to go winless, aren't I?

Part of the reason I like the Browns in this game is because I'm 60 percent convinced that Todd Haley has been plotting some sort of revenge against the Steelers ever since they decided to "part" ways with him as their offensive coordinator back in January. If I've noticed one thing about Haley during "Hard Knocks," it's that he always has a look on his face that says, "I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure we destroy the Steelers in Week 1, but then plan a mutiny so that I'm head coach in Cleveland by Week 4." Although I would normally say a mutiny has no chance of happening in the NFL, this is Cleveland we're talking about, so I'm not going to rule it out. 

By the way, the best part of this game is that if the Browns do win, everyone in Cleveland gets free beer. 

As someone who loves free beer, I'm basically morally obligated to pick the Browns. Sure, they've lost 13-straight season openers, they're 1-10 in their past 11 games against the Steelers and they haven't won a Sunday game since 2015, but I'm going to ignore all of that and pick them anyway. 

Note to HBO: If this pick doesn't pan out, I'm probably going to have to boycott "Hard Knocks" next year. 

The Pick: Browns 24-21 over Steelers

Cincinnati at Indianapolis

1 p.m. ET (CBS)

If you like bizarre coaching drama, and who doesn't, then this is definitely the Week 1 game for you. On one hand, we have the Colts, who are being coached by a guy (Frank Reich) who only got the job because the original coach they hired (Josh McDaniels) decided he didn't want the job after the Colts had already hired him. On the other hand, we have the Bengals, who were going to part ways with Marvin Lewis after the 2017 season, but instead decided to invite him back for another two years. 

Marvin Lewis' job security is basically what we're all striving for in life. I think we can all agree that Lewis is probably going to be coaching the Bengals for the rest of time. As a matter fact, based on this poll, it seems that we all agree that he's actually going to be coaching the Bengals longer than the rest of time. 

I bet deceased Marvin Lewis wins at least one playoff game. (In related news, I actually think the current version of Lewis might also win a game, make sure to check out my bold predictions for the 2018 season by clicking here). 

OK, that was fun talking about the coaches, but now it's time to talk about the fact that the Colts have a quarterback who hasn't played a regular season game in 610 days. I think Andrew Luck will put up big numbers this season, but as a general rule of thumb, I can't pick a team to win when they're starting a quarterback who has been out for more than 600 days. 

The Pick: Bengals 27-24 over Colts

Dallas at Carolina

4:25 p.m. ET (FOX)

If I were a billionaire businessman who just bought the Carolina Panthers, there's a 100 percent chance that I would sign Dez Bryant for this game. I'm not sure how many billionaire NFL owners are reading right now, but David Tepper, if you're one of them, you need to pick up your cell phone, call Bryant, and get that man under contract ASAP. Sure, there's a 10 percent chance the deal could blow up in the Panthers' face, but the way I see it, there's way more upside: If Dez is in football shape, then Cam Newton has another weapon to throw to. If Dez is not in football shape, then the Panthers can utilize his intimidation factor and have him pick a fight with every player on the Cowboys roster. I mean, there's zero downside. Oh, and let's not forget that Cam Newton actually wants him on the team. 

On the Cowboys' end, they've had so much drama going on this offseason that I think I briefly forgot about the fact that they might actually be good this year. If you ignore the fact that they cut one of their all-time leading scorers over the weekend (Dan Bailey) and ignore the fact that their starting center is out indefinitely due to a rare disease (Travis Frederick), then what you have left is a team that could win the NFC East. 

I like the Cowboys so much that i"m picking them to win their division and this game. Of course, if the Panthers sign Dez before Sunday, then I'm switching my pick to Carolina. 

The Pick: Cowboys 23-17 over Panthers

L.A. Rams at Oakland

Monday, 10:20 p.m. ET (ESPN)

As someone who just got married this year, I know all about the honeymoon phase of a relationship, and I think it's safe to say that Jon Gruden's honeymoon phase with the Raiders is definitely over. As a matter of fact, if I had gotten in a plane crash on my honeymoon, I still think I could make a strong argument that my trip went better than Gruden's honeymoon phase with the Raiders. 

The main problem so far is that I think Gruden has forgotten how football works. In general, most teams try to sign their best players and not waste draft picks. Over the past week alone, Gruden has done the opposite of both. Not only did he trade away Khalil Mack, but he also wasted two drafts picks by trading for AJ McCarron (gave up a fifth-round pick) and cutting Martavis Bryant (The Raiders sent a third-round pick to the Steelers to acquire Bryant in April, which now makes that a total waste of a third-round pick). 

After watching the Raiders make those three moves, I am now convinced that Gruden's plan is to fill his roster with 53 Gruden Grinders who all make the league minimum.

I thought briefly about picking the Raiders in this game, but since Gruden's return to Oakland has been a train wreck off the field so far, I'm just going to go ahead and assume that the same thing is going to happen on the field. I would predict a 30-point win for the Rams, but I don't think Sean McVay is going to run up the score on the guy who gave him his first NFL job back in 2008. Yup, you read that right, McVay's first NFL job came under Jon Gruden with the Buccaneers back in 2008.

The pick: Rams 41-20 over Raiders

Week 1 picks: All the rest

Titans 20-16 over Dolphins

Vikings 33-20 over 49ers

Patriots 34-27 over Texans

Saints 31-17 over Buccaneers

Jaguars 19-16 over Giants

Ravens 24-13 over Bills

Chargers 37-27 over Chiefs

Broncos 20-17 over Seahawks

Redskins 22-19 over Cardinals

Packers 27-16 over Bears

Lions 33-20 over Jets

Last week

Best pick: This is usually the part where I tell you about my best pick from last week, but since there weren't any regular-season games last week, that means there's no best pick, so instead, I'm going to talk about the fact that Millennials are killing Mayonnaise. Millennials have been blamed for killing almost every other industry, but this one deserves it.  

If the Browns can get a parade for going 0-16, then someone needs to throw Millennials a parade for killing mayonnaise. 

Worst pick: The worst pick of the 2018 offseason definitely goes to Zsa Zsa the Parrot, who was supposed to announce the Buccaneers fourth-round pick at the NFL Draft. However, Zsa Zsa did not deliver anything except for a lot of disappointment

The Bucs will put up with some ineptitude on their roster, but one thing they won't put up with is a parrot who gets stage fright. Less than a week after the draft, Zsa Zsa was released from the team. 

Unfortunately for Zsa Zsa, she still hasn't been picked up by another team. 

Overall picks record since 2013

After watching my record plummet for three straight years, there was finally some improvement in 2017. I don't want to get cocky, but I think I might go 256-0 picking games in 2018.  

Final 2017 regular-season record

Straight up: 161-95

Against the spread: 124-121-11

Final 2016 regular-season record

Straight up: 147-107-2

Against the spread: 116-129-11

Final 2015 regular-season record

Straight up: 152-104

Against the spread: 126-130

Final 2014 regular-season record

Straight up: 164-91-1

Against the spread: 125-131

Final 2013 regular-season record

Straight up: 165-90-1

Against the spread: 124-132


You can find John Breech on Facebook or Twitter and if he's not on either of those, he's probably trying to purchase a Rob Gronkowski "69ers" jersey.

CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

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