By Lance Tominaga, ESPN Honolulu Web Editor.
The NFL season is here! Have you signed up for ESPN Honolulu’s “Pigskin Picks” yet? It’s a FREE contest that lets you pick the winners of each week’s NFL games, and you’ll be competing against fellow football fans across Hawaii and the country! There will be weekly local and national prizes. And our year-end overall winner will receive a trip for two to Las Vegas! For full details and to sign up, click here: PIGSKIN PICKS CONTEST.
Not sure about this week’s picks? We thought we’d help you out by turning to a pro football expert. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find one, so you’ll have to settle for me. Each week, I’ll pick the winners of six NFL games of my choosing. No point spreads or anything like that. Just straight-up winners. Let’s go.
♦ HOUSTON @ KANSAS CITY: Texans QB Deshaun Watson has some new weapons to go along with his new contract, including receivers Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb, and running back David Johnson. This is a marquee matchup to kick off the 2020 season, but the Chiefs’ defense will do just enough to contain Houston’s offense. The Texans’ defense is tough, but it won’t be able to hold off Patrick Mahomes and Co. Pick: CHIEFS.
♦ SEATTLE @ ATLANTA: The Seahawks in the Pete Carroll era traditionally have slow starts to the season, but this year could be different. If they want to battle San Francisco for the top spot in the NFC West, a sense of urgency is needed. Of course, it helps to have one of the best QBs in the league in Russell Wilson. For Atlanta, RB Todd Gurley is motivated and (crossing fingers) healthy. And with Matt Ryan at QB, Gurley won’t have the burden of having to carry the offense. Atlanta has won six of their last meetings with Seattle. It’s going to be a close one, but the Seahawks will prevail late in the game. Pick: SEAHAWKS.
♦ LAS VEGAS @ CAROLINA: The Panthers are slight underdogs against an improved Raiders team, but the Silver & Black tend to struggle when they play in the Eastern Time Zone. The visitors should be able to contain Carolina’s ground game, but the Raiders ranked 25th in pass defense in 2019. Expect Christian McCaffery to torment the Raiders linebackers all game long. Pick: PANTHERS.
♦ TAMPA BAY @ NEW ORLEANS: There’s so much hype surrounding the new-look Buccaneers, and rightfully so. Tom Brady is reinvigorated and looking to prove that he can thrive without Bill Belichick, but remember, he turned 43 last month and is coming off a disappointing 2019. On the other side, Saints QB Drew Brees has returned from an injury-plagued season and, like Brady, will be playing with a chip on his shoulder. The bottom line here is that the Saints are double tough at home. Too tough. Pick: SAINTS.
♦ ARIZONA @ SAN FRANCISCO: The Cardinals have added premier receiver DeAndre Hopkins to help out second-year QB Kyler Murray, but Arizona has the unenviable task to opening their season against the defending NFC champions. Pro Football Focus ranks the 49ers’ defense as No. 1 in the league. The Niners’ D-line is so stacked that they could afford to trade away All-Pro DT DeForest Buckner. On offense, QB Jimmy Garoppolo will be improved and healthy, and George Kittle might be the best TE in the game right now. If San Francisco’s O-line holds up, the Niners will dominate this one. Pick: 49ERS.
♦ DALLAS @ L.A. RAMS: The honeymoon phase of the Cowboys’ Mike McCarthy era hasn’t been smooth – hello, global pandemic and QB contract controversy – but this team is building toward a lengthy playoff run. McCarthy has retooled the offense to fit his players, whereas former head coach Jason Garrett tried to get his players to fit his system – and you know Dak Prescott is motivated. The Rams, meanwhile, will be unveiling their brand new SoFi Stadium, but with no spectators permitted. Dallas has too many weapons. Pick: COWBOYS.
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