Pete Prisco's NFL Week 1 Picks: Falcons upset champion Eagles, Packers crush Mack, Bears

It's time for my weekly NFL picks again.

Bet you can't wait.

In recent years, I've got off to a slow start with my picks. Trying to gauge the early-season games can be a tough thing to do.

This year, I feel as if I have a better grasp of the teams, particularly since I think the season will play out much more as expected than in the recent past.

There are a lot of good teams, but a lot of bad ones too. I don't see many last-to-first possibilities this season.

The guys who make the lines will be challenged more than ever to make sure the lines are fair.

The NFC is top heavy.

The AFC has four or five dominant teams, but plenty of middling ones and some bad ones.

I feel really good about these Week 1 picks. I think I do anyway. So here goes:

Atlanta at Philadelphia 

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

Let's be real: The Falcons should have won in the playoffs last year. And this team is better, while the Eagles are dealing with a ton of injuries, including quarterback, which is why Nick Foles will start. Winning on the road in a Thursday night opener won't be easy, but Atlanta will take it.

Pick: Falcons 21, Eagles 17

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Buffalo at Baltimore

1 p.m. ET (CBS)

The Bills have issues in a lot of spots and quarterback is No. 1 on that list. They will start Nathan Peterman, who threw five picks in a half in his first start in 2017. This won't be that bad, but it won't be good either against an improved Ravens defense. Joe Flacco will also have a big day. Ravens big.

Pick: Ravens 31, Bills 17


Jacksonville at New York Giants 

1 p.m. ET (Fox)

The Giants feel like their offense, especially with the return of Odell Beckham Jr. and the addition of Saquon Barkley, will be much better. It will, but not against this defense. The Jacksonville defense has a chance to be special. That shows here. Jaguars take it.

Pick: Jaguars 23, Giants 10


Tampa Bay at New Orleans

1 p.m. ET (Fox)

The Bucs are an improved team, but they will be without Jameis Winston for three games. Even so, Ryan Fitzpatrick can do a nice job in relief for a short time, which is why I think they keep this close. The Saints are the better team, and they will pull it out, but it's tighter than you think.

Pick: Saints 26, Bucs 23


Houston at New England 

1 p.m. ET (CBS)

The Texans have Deshaun Watson back at quarterback, which is a big thing. But the offensive line has issues, and that's never a good thing against the Patriots. Tom Brady has a limited number of weapons, but he has enough. Patriots take it.

Pick: Patriots 31, Texans 21


San Francisco at Minnesota

1 p.m. ET (Fox)

The 49ers have a lot of expectations this year, but this is a tough way to open. Jimmy Garoppolo will be facing one of the best defenses in the league without his projected starting running back. The 49ers will be improved on defense, so look for a low-scoring game as they limit Kirk Cousins.

Pick: Vikings 21, 49ers 13


Tennessee at Miami  

1 p.m. ET (Fox)

The Titans have a new-look offense under Matt LaFleur, but Marcus Mariota didn't look comfortable in it during the preseason. The Dolphins will be better on defense this season and Ryan Tannehill is back at quarterback, which is an upgrade. Dolphins take it in an upset.

Pick: Dolphins 27, Titans 20


Cincinnati at Indianapolis

1 p.m. ET (CBS)

Andrew Luck is back for the Colts, which is a good thing. But he doesn't have a lot of skill players around him. The Bengals will be improved on defense, and the offense is healthy after a lot of injuries last year. Bengals win it on the road with Andy Dalton playing well.

Pick: Bengals 28, Colts 24


Pittsburgh at Cleveland 

1 p.m. ET (CBS)

The Browns will be improved this season, but this is a tough way to start. They will be better on defense, which will show up against a good Steelers offense. That will keep this game close.

Pick: Steelers 23, Browns 20


Kansas City at Los Angeles Chargers 

4:05 p.m. ET (CBS)

The Chiefs are now Patrick Mahomes' team, but this is a tough road start against a good pass-rushing team. The Chargers will get after Mahomes and force a couple of turnovers that Philip Rivers will turn into points. Chargers take it. The Chiefs have defensive issues as well.

Pick: Chargers 30, Chiefs 20


Seattle at Denver 

4:25 p.m. ET (Fox)

The new-look Seahawks face a big challenge to open the season at a tough venue against a good defense. Case Keenum makes his first start for Denver after signing as a free agent and will have a good day against a Seattle defense that is far from what it used to be. Broncos take it.

Pick: Broncos 27, Seahawks 21


Dallas at Carolina

4:25 p.m. ET (Fox)

Both teams have offensive-line issues, which could make this a defensive battle. Something looks off with this line, though (Carolina -3). I think the Panthers are the better team right now and they are at home, but the line doesn't reflect that the way it should. Even so, I will go with Carolina.

Pick: Panthers 21, Cowboys 14


Washington at Arizona

4:25 p.m. ET (Fox)

This is a long trip to open the season for Alex Smith in his debut with the Redskins. The Cardinals have more talent than most think, and Sam Bradford is accurate when he's on the field and healthy, and that shows here. The Cardinals take it.

Pick: Cardinals 24, Redskins 20


Chicago at Green Bay 

8:20 p.m. ET (NBC)

This is the return of Aaron Rodgers to the Packers lineup after missing much of last season with a shoulder injury. Rodgers owns the Bears, going 15-4 with 42 touchdown passes and nine picks in his career. Even with Khalil Mack on the Bears defense, the Packers will roll here.

Pick: Packers 33, Bears 20


New York Jets at Detroit 

Monday, 7:10 p.m. ET (ESPN)

This will be a tough way for Sam Darnold to open his career -- on the road on a Monday night. The Lions will take advantage of a rookie on the road in his first start. Matt Stafford will pick apart a Jets defense that lacks a pass rush.

Pick: Lions 27, Jets 13


Los Angeles Rams at Oakland 

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

This is the student (Sean McVay) against the teacher (Jon Gruden). The student, though, has the better team. One problem: His team is playing on the road on a Monday night to open the season. Rams will win it, but it's close.

Pick: Rams 24, Raiders 23

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Pete Prisco has covered the NFL for three decades, including working as a beat reporter in Jacksonville for the Jaguars. When he's not watching game tape, you can find Pete on Twitter or dreaming of an... Full Bio

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