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Kibbles and Picks 2021 – Week 1

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That’s right! Everyone’s favorite man-versus-dog NFL picks feature is back!

For the ninth(!) year, The Maine Edge presents Kibbles and Picks, wherein I pick the winners of each week’s slate of NFL games in direct competition with my dog Stella. And for those keeping track of such things, Stella has outpicked me in six of those previous eight seasons.

Yep – out of eight attempts, I’ve outperformed my dog exactly twice. And both of those were close.

But hey – hope springs eternal or whatever. Maybe I’m steadfast or maybe just a glutton for punishment, but either way, I’m back to try again. So is Stella, though she’s less in her head about it than I am. She’s fully prepared to defeat me yet again – just because she is adorable and loves me doesn’t mean she’s going to take it easy on me.

It’s on. Wish me luck.

We’re at odds with six of the week’s 16 games. First up is the Philadelphia/Atlanta matchup. I like the Eagles on the road here. I think Jalen Hurts and this Philly offense hits the ground running behind a revamped receiving corp, with the Falcons defense maybe struggling (and yes, Hurts is my fantasy football QB). Of course, the Eagles have their issues on D as well. Stella agrees with me, but only to a point. She fully expects that Matt Ryan, throwing to Calvin Ridley and rookie Kyle Pitts, will put even more points on the board against that Philadelphia defense, winning in a high-scoring affair.

Next, I’ve got the Titans winning at home against the visiting Cardinals. Tennessee’s got a lot of talent – Derrick Henry running the ball, A.J. Brown and Julio Jones catching it – and Ryan Tannehill’s a sneaky-good QB. The defense could potentially force a turnover or two as well. Stella likes what Arizona brings to the table on offense – in particular, she expects a big day from QB Kyler Murray. She also likes DeAndre Hopkins to go big. Basically, she expects the more explosive Cardinals to do their thing.

From there, we’ve got the Chargers against the Washington Football Team. I’m taking the visitors here. I expect Justin Herbert to lead this offense with ease, even against a solid WFT defense. In particular, look for Austin Ekeler to have a major impact. And on the defensive side, LA will get after the QB enough to disrupt the opposing offense. Stella’s obviously not sold on Ryan Fitzpatrick at QB, but he does mark a significant upgrade from last year; she’s anticipating big performances from the likes of Antonio Gibson and Terry McLaurin. She likes the WFT defense as well and expects a good outing from Chase Young.

In a bit of a hunchy play, I’m picking the Jets to win on the road against the Panthers. You’ve got a rookie QB making his first start – far from ideal – but I just have a feeling. I don’t think it’ll be a great game, but I think Zach Wilson hits on a couple of big plays and the Jets win. Stella disagrees and is going with Carolina. After all, it’s a revenge game – QB Sam Darnold is facing his former team, in his first game apart from the franchise. She’s looking at best player on the field as a tiebreaker, and that’s Christian McCaffery, who she expects to have a big day and big year.

You might not think it possible for any opening week NFL game to be competitively irrelevant, but the Jacksonville/Houston game would beg to differ. I’m going with the Texans here, though I’m not at all confident about it. In truth, I think it’s going to come down to a couple of opportunistic plays where the Texans get lucky against a rookie QB. Stella thinks that that rookie QB – first overall draft pick Trevor Lawrence – will acquit himself well in his debut and play well enough to win the game. We both agree that Lawrence is the story, but have different ideas about how that tale plays out.

Finally, I’m going with the Giants beating the Bronos at home. I don't love this Giants team, but I think people might be overestimating Denver’s defensive prowess a little; while I'm no big Daniel Jones fan, I think he’ll be able to do enough to win the game at home – particularly if Saquon Barkley is able to play at anything close to full strength. Stella's take is that while the offense will probably be competent, her guess is that the defense is what wins the game; the Denver defense will have QB Jones on the run all day. All Teddy Bridgewater and company have to do is manage the game. 

And that’s that. We’re off to the races again. Please join us throughout the NFL season as I once again embark (see what I did there?) on my Quixotic quest to be better than my dog at picking winners. I mean, hey – I HAVE won twice before. Could this be lucky number three? Or will Stella continue her casual, adorable dominance? Wish me luck.

Welcome back to Kibbles and Picks.

(winners in caps)

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ALLEN’S PICKS

Thursday, Sept. 9

Dallas at TAMPA BAY

Sunday, Sept. 12

PHILADELPHIA at Atlanta

Pittsburgh at BUFFALO

MINNESOTA at Cincinnati

SAN FRANCISCO at Detroit

Arizona at TENNESSEE

SEATTLE at Indianapolis

LA CHARGERS at Washington

NY JETS at Carolina

Jacksonville at HOUSTON

Cleveland at KANSAS CITY

Miami at NEW ENGLAND

GREEN BAY at New Orleans

Denver at NY GIANTS

Chicago at LA RAMS

Monday, Sept. 13

BALTIMORE at Las Vegas

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STELLA’S PICKS

Thursday, Sept. 9

Dallas at TAMPA BAY

Sunday, Sept. 12

Philadelphia at ATLANTA

Pittsburgh at BUFFALO

MINNESOTA at Cincinnati

SAN FRANCISCO at Detroit

ARIZONA at Tennessee

SEATTLE at Indianapolis

LA Chargers at WASHINGTON

NY Jets at CAROLINA

JACKSONVILLE at Houston

Cleveland at KANSAS CITY

Miami at NEW ENGLAND

GREEN BAY at New Orleans

DENVER at NY Giants

Chicago at LA RAMS

Monday, Sept. 13

BALTIMORE at Las Vegas

Last modified on Wednesday, 15 September 2021 13:19

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