Pete Prisco's NFL Week 1 Picks: Patriots win big; Packers clip Seahawks

Trying to pick Week 1 NFL games is as challenging as any week of the year.

That's because the preseason offers little insight into what a team may or may not look like, so beware if you use any of that information to gauge this week's game.

Veterans sometimes lollygag through the preseason, so it's hard to evaluate how they will play when the season starts for real. It's hard to gauge how new additions will mesh with their new teams and how first-year coaches will handle their first games.

So beware.

There are a lot of interesting games on the slate this week, starting with the New England Patriots, the defending Super Bowl champs, opening at home Thursday night against the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Pats are loaded, and there's no reason to think they won't be representing the AFC in the Super Bowl again. The Chiefs have been to the playoffs the past two seasons, but they can't get over the hump. Opening with a victory at Foxboro would be a nice way to show things can be different for them this year.

There are also a lot of early division games -- both the AFC North and the NFC East have all their teams playing them this week -- and that's a nice way to start the season.

Travel will factor too. The Oakland Raiders open at Tennessee against the Titans, which is a long trip. The Carolina Panthers open at San Francisco against the 49ers, an even longer trip.

It's a major challenge to try and pick winners this week, but here goes. Let's hope I get off to a good start, too.

Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots

The Patriots should have an explosive offense again, even without Julian Edelman. The Chiefs have a good defense, but they won't be able to slow down Tom Brady and they sure can't keep up. Patriots big.

Pick: Patriots 27, Chiefs 13

New York Jets at Buffalo Bills

The Jets come in here with so many issues, but the Bills aren't far behind. Some will call this the Tanking Bowl with the way these teams have operated. The Bills have the better quarterback in Tyrod Taylor, so that's the reason I am picking them.

Pick: Bills 23, Jets 17

Atlanta Falcons at Chicago Bears

The defending NFC champions open on the road, but the Falcons are in a different class now than the Bears. Matt Ryan and company should put up some points, and the improved Atlanta defense will limit Mike Glennon. Falcons take it.

Pick: Falcons 31, Bears 17

Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals

The Ravens expect Joe Flacco to play, but coming off the back injury, how effective can he be? The Ravens have had a ton of injuries this summer, and that will show up here. The Bengals get off to a good start with an impressive defensive effort.

Pick: Bengals 20, Ravens 13

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns

This is the Joe Haden Bowl. The Browns cut him last week and the Steelers signed him that same day. It will be interesting to see how they use him here. Pittsburgh is considered a Super contender, while the Browns are playing for the future. They will start rookie DeShone Kizer at quarterback, which will be a challenge against the Steelers defense. The Steelers take it, but the Browns play well.

Pick: Steelers 23, Browns 16

Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans

The Jaguars have looked bad in the preseason, so can they turn it on? The Texans have a great defense and should be able to dominate up front against a bad Jacksonville offensive line. But Jacksonville's defense will also play well. Texans win a close one.

Pick: Texans 14, Jaguars 13

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Miami Dolphins

This intrastate game features two rising teams that have playoff looks about them to start the season. Jay Cutler makes his first start for the Dolphins, and I think he plays well with all the weapons he has. This will be close, but Miami will find a way to win it late.

Pick: Dolphins 20, Bucs 17

Arizona Cardinals at Detroit Lions

This will be Matthew Stafford's first game as the highest-paid quarterback, which adds some pressure. He faces a good Arizona defense that can pressure the quarterback. The Cardinals should be able to score against a Lions defense that doesn't rush the passer well.

Pick: Cardinals 27, Lions 21

Oakland Raiders at Tennessee Titans

Both of these teams are trendy preseason playoff picks, which makes it a big statement game right out of the gate. The Titans love to pound the football, and the Raiders aren't good against the run. Look for Tennessee and their run game to get the best of it here.

Pick: Titans 21, Raiders 20

Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins

The Eagles face a tough road challenge against a division rival to open the season, and that's never easy. Whichever of the two quarterbacks plays bigger here will be the winner, and I think Kirk Cousins will get the best of Carson Wentz.

Pick: Redskins 28, Eagles 23

Indianapolis Colts at Los Angeles Rams

Without Andrew Luck, the Colts will start Scott Tolzien at quarterback -- or possibly Jacoby Brissett. That is not a good thing. The Rams, under first-year coach Sean McVay, will be improved on offense this season, and they will show it here in the opener. Rams take it.

Pick: Rams 17, Colts 13

Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers

This is a heck of a way to open the season for these two. We have Aaron Rodgers against that great Seattle defense. I think Rodgers will find a way to get his points, but Seattle will keep it close. This will be fun.

Pick: Packers 27, Seahawks 20

Carolina Panthers at San Francisco 49ers

This is a long trip to open the season for the Panthers, which can be challenging. But this is a young 49ers team with a new coach and a lot of new players. The Panthers will win it behind a big game from Cam Newton.

Pick: Panthers 28, 49ers 25

New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys

This is always a fun game between division rivals. The Cowboys will reportedly have Ezekiel Elliott (even though his six-game suspension was reportedly upheld by an arbitrator). If the Cowboys rushed the passer better, I'd pick them, but since they don't, the Giants and Eli Manning will pull it out late.

Pick: Giants 30, Cowboys 27

New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings

This is a tough road game for the Saints. The Vikings have a good defense, but this will be about slowing Drew Brees. I am not sure they can. Evens so, Sam Bradford will make a play late to win a close one for the Vikings.

Pick: Vikings 24, Saints 23

Los Angeles Chargers at Denver Broncos

This is a nice early division test for both teams. The Chargers lost a lot of close games last year, and I think that happens here. Give me Philip Rivers over Trevor Siemian every day, but I think the Denver defense comes up big in this one with a late stop.

Pick: Broncos 23, Chargers 21

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

Our Latest Stories