1. Pittsburgh at Baltimore
The NFL’s best rivalry gets it on early this season with an opening weekend bout at 1 p.m. Neither Ravens coach John Harbaugh nor Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has ever lost a Week 1 game, but someone’s got to go down in this one. Look for Ravens QB Joe Flacco to get the best of Ben Roethlisberger for the first time in his career and for Baltimore to ride the homefield advantage to an early season statement win.
The Pick: Ravens 24, Steelers 17
2. Detroit at Tampa Bay
The Lions and Bucs have enjoyed plenty of positive press this preseason, but it’s highly doubtful both teams will live up to expectations. Tampa Bay, the youngest team in the league last season, features two dazzling rookie defensive ends on their defensive line in Adrian Clayborn and DaQuan Bowers. Both should get their shots on Matt Stafford, but in the end, Calvin Johnson’s just too much for the depleted Bucs defensive backfield.
The Pick: Lions 31, Buccaneers 21
3. Philadelphia at St. Louis
Here’s your Week 1 upset special. The “Dream Team” might have made the bigger offseason news and have the more star-studded roster, but the Rams are a team on the rise. Sam Bradford’s the real deal and will attack the soft middle of the Eagles defense. Remember the name Lance Kendricks. The rookie tight end’s going to make some big plays.
The Pick: Rams 24, Eagles 20
Crazy Fact of the Week: The last time a quarterback other than Peyton Manning started a game for the Indianapolis Colts, it was Jim Harbaugh on Dec. 22, 1997. The Colts lost 38-27 to Pittsburgh that afternoon.
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