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Pick6: Let’s Go!

By Lance Tominaga, ESPN Honolulu Web Editor.

Another year, another season of “Pick6,” where yours truly predicts the winners of six of the most intriguing NFL matchups of the week. If you’d like to get in on the action and actually compete for weekly local and national prizes, click HERE to play ESPN Honolulu’s “Pigskin Picks.” (The contest is free to play and offers several ways to win.) If you like, you can use my predictions below to help you decide on this week’s winners. If you’re smart, however, you might want to stay far, far away from my choices…

♦ DALLAS @ TAMPA BAY: The defending Super Bowl champions kick off the season with a Thursday night game against the visiting Cowboys. The Bucs are 7.5-point favorites here, but it would be a mistake to count out Dallas, who are playoff contenders as long as Dak Prescott is healthy. Even at age 44, Tom Brady is still a top-tier NFL QB. Above all else, he still has that drive to win, and he won’t let his team suffer from a Super Bowl hangover. Pick: BUCCANEERS

♦ PITTSBURGH @ BUFFALO: Here are two teams seemingly heading in opposite directions. Buffalo captured the AFC East last season and could be poised to make “Super” run this year, and QB Josh Allen is suddenly a league MVP candidate. The Steelers, meanwhile, are battling age, turmoil and questionable priorities (top receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster was recently shown doing the “milk crate challenge”). Pittsburgh has to hope rookie RB Najee Harris lives up to his potential as the team’s next Le’Veon Bell. I suspect he will, but it won’t matter in this one. Pick: BILLS

♦ ARIZONA @ TENNESSEE: As competitive games go, this might be the best Week 1 matchup. Led by bruising RB Derrick Henry, Tennessee is a favorite to win the AFC South. No one is picking the Cardinals to take the NFC West, but I think they will surprise a lot of the experts. I fully expect QB Kyler Murray to have a big year, catapulting Arizona to the playoffs. The Titans are favored by 3 here. Sounds about right. Pick: TITANS

♦ MIAMI @ NEW ENGLAND: As storylines go, this one is perfect: Second-year QB Tua Tagovailoa will face off against his former backup at Alabama, rookie Mac Jones. Both led the Crimson Tide to a national championship, and both are first-round draft picks. There’s been a lot of talk about how Tua needs to step up his game, especially now that he has more weapons surrounding him. Jones, meanwhile, needs only to manage the Patriots’ offense and let his team’s superior talent take over. Tua and Miami will be better this season, but the Pats are still at another level. Pick: PATRIOTS

♦ GREEN BAY @ NEW ORLEANS: Here are two perennial playoff teams that are in danger of slipping – the Saints because of injuries and Drew Brees’ retirement, and the Packers because of Aaron Rodgers’ unhappiness. Rodgers, of course, is a pro, and it’s doubtful he will let his misgivings about the team’s management interfere with his play. But you never know. The Saints, meanwhile, still have RB Alvin Kamara, but an offense led by Jameis Winston isn’t going to scare anybody. Also, ace receiver Michael Thomas starts the season on the injured list. Pick: PACKERS

♦ BALTIMORE @ LAS VEGAS: There are a couple of reasons to believe Las Vegas will pull off an upset in this one. Raider Nation will be out in force for the team’s first regular-season home game with fans in attendance. And the much-maligned Raiders defense will improve with offseason acquisitions such as defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, linebacker KJ Wright and new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. But the Silver & Black still won’t be able to contain Ravens QB Lamar Jackson, who I think will return to MVP form. Pick: RAVENS

2020 Record: 67-35 (.657)

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