The 2012 NFL regular season is back upon us, which means much of the free world will be selecting the winners of these contests for no reason other than the intellectual exercise it entails. Gambling is obviously ruining the NFL, otherwise why would the league be challenging New Jersey's attempt to legalize sports gaming? Oh wait, gambling is one of the reasons the NFL is so popular. But what do I know, right?
Every week during the regular season, NN will put together picks for all the games. I'm going to go ahead and make my picks based on the spread and we'll see how I do by the end of the year. I'm not holding my breath for a great performance, and I would probably recommend going against what I pick. I just have that kind of luck!
For week one I thought I'd go right ahead and pick against the spread. My odds come via Bovada, which you can find on SB Nation's NFL Odds chart for Week 1. Also, Joel Thorman of SB Nation NFL made his picks and picked the Packers to defeat the 49ers 24-20. Feel free to comment accordingly over there!
Each week I'll break down why I think the 49ers will cover and/or win outright, which means I will in fact pick the 49ers every week. That's not the best advice to give, but I think it gives a chance to preview potentially positive outcomes. After that I'm picking all the games as if I actually did have money on them.
Bovada currently has the 49ers sitting as a five point underdog. A smart better thinking good thoughts about the 49ers would pick them to cover. I am NOT a smart better. I'll go with the outright win. The 49ers are underdogs in this game for a reason, but my reason for thinking they can win this is as much because of the defense as anything.
I like to think the Packers offense will need some time to get caught up to speed against a dominant defense. The Packers have a great offense that likely could start strong, but they are facing one of the toughest defenses in the league. My positive approach has me thinking the Packers offense could struggle early, providing the 49ers with an opportunity to take advantage. The Packers defense wasn't quite atrocious last year, but it definitely had holes.
The 49ers will need to establish their deep rushing attack to keep this game within reach, but I think it is essential they make the Packers pay over the top to really put this one away. I'm not expecting a spread out wild offensive attack by any means, but a few key deep passes are all the 49ers need.
They do need to connect on them, but if the 49ers can get the Packers thinking deep, it opens up the shorter passes considerably. In the coming season, if Alex Smith can connect on a couple of deep balls each game, that opens things up for Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis to do some damage underneath. Crabtree and Davis bring different athletic traits to the field, but both can be nasty once they get the ball in their hands. The 49ers can take advantage of that with crossing routes and other short routes.
The key though is establishing some semblance of a deep game. The 49ers do not need to develop into a wide open attack. They do need to stay true to their identity while expanding it in some measure. The 49ers have a deep enough running back rotation and a strong enough defense that they can win games without getting too crazy in the passing game. However, there will be games where they will need to open things up a bit to create some cushion for the rest of the team. Maybe it will work, maybe it won't, but I do think it is something we will have to see from time to time.
Panthers (-3) vs. Bucs: Bucs Win Outright