Greg Cote

Greg Cote’s Week 1 NFL picks

Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase will coach his first game in Seattle Week 1.
Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase will coach his first game in Seattle Week 1. adiaz@miamiherald.com

Hello again, NFL fans and Upset Bird flock, and welcome back to our 26th season of Friday Page predictions in the Miami Herald. It was 1991 when we launched this thing out of the trunk of a beat-up Corolla. Over the years our best seasons have been a .705 winning percentage overall and .574 against the spread, and our career averages (after a disappointing 2015) are .633 and .505. Trust me, if I was lying, the numbers would be much more impressive. Doubt you’ll get rich following our picks, but hopefully you’ll gain a little knowdlege and, mostly, have a little fun. Let’s go! [Note: Thursday night pick was Broncos (+3) over Panthers, 23-20].

COTE’S RECORD

 

Overall

Pct.

Vs. spread

Pct.

Final 2015

157-99

.613

121-123-12

.496

DOLPHINS THIS WEEK

DOLPHINS (0-0)

AT SEAHAWKS (0-0)

Line: SEA by  10 1/2.

Cote’s pick: SEA 30-16.

TV: 4:05 p.m., CBS (airing in South Florida).

Miami is making the longest possible NFL road trip to be the biggest (by far) Week 1 underdog in maybe the toughest stadium to play, against a team many see as a Super Bowl favorite. The prospects for the launch of the Adam Gase Era could only get worse if Ryan Tannehill strained a ligament before the game kneeling in protest during the national anthem. Miami’s edge? Perhaps its pass rush against a not-great Seahawks O-line. The Dolphins’ disadvantage? Just about everything else. I doubt the run defense will stop Marshawn Lynch’s replacement, Thomas Rawls. I question MIA’s cornerbacks vs. Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin. I wonder if Tannehill can avoid ball-hawking Richard Sherman. So much can go wrong here for Miami, which could be further limited without Mike Pouncey and DeVante Parker. Will be interested to see the debut-impact of Arian Foster and Mario Williams, but doubt it’ll come wrapped in a big upset.

GAME OF THE WEEK

PATRIOTS (0-0)

AT CARDINALS (0-0)

Line: ARI by 6.

Cote’s pick: ARI 27-23.

TV: 8:30 p.m., NBC (airing in South Florida).

Game of the Week might’ve been Thursday’s Panthers-Broncos matchup, but you can’t go wrong here — even sans Tom Brady — with two teams that very plausibly could meet again in the Super Bowl. The point spread is this fat, of course, because, with Brady paying his four-game Deflategate penance, Jimmy Garoppolo makes his first NFL start on the road against an elite, aggressive defense that majors in takeaways and blitzing. Oy. Still, it’s the Patriots. It’s Bill Belichick. It’s bleepin’ Gronk. Cardbirds are the real deal, but Pats find a way to stay close.

UPSET OF THE WEEK

BENGALS (0-0)

AT JETS (0-0)

Line: CIN by  2 1/2.

Cote’s pick: NYJ 21-20.

TV: 1 p.m., CBS.

Aaawwwk!” booms the Upset Bird. “Did ya miss me? New York Jaawwk!” Bengals usually wait until the playoffs to lose but get an early jump this season. Love NYJ as a home ’dog. Cincy missing TE Tyler Eifert and doesn’t have much wide beyond A.J. Green, so expect a heavy dose of ground game — and Jets defend that very well. ’Gals also are missing their top defender in Vontaze Burfict. Also like Jets adding Matt Forte, a RB the Dolphins should have targeted. “Touche' on Forte,” nods U-Bird. “Matt Fortaawwk!”

DOG OF THE WEEK

BROWNS (0-0)

AT EAGLES (0-0)

Line: PHI by 4.

Cote’s pick: PHI 24-16.

TV: 1 p.m., CBS.

Our Dog game doesn’t refer to a betting underdog, but to the week’s muttiest matchup. None really are in a Week 1 when all is shiny and new. But these are two teams that figure as really bad. Still, we get two of NFL’s seven head-coach debuts in Hue Jackson and Doug Pederson, and an interesting QB duel in Earthtones’ recycled Robert Griffin III vs. Phils’ unveiling of rookie Carson Wentz. Cleveland could’ve drafted Wentz but said nah. Could become latest decision to join serpentine parade of Browns regrets.

PACKERS (0-0)

AT JAGUARS (0-0)

Line: GB by  5 1/2.

Cote’s pick: GB 27-23.

TV: 1 p.m., Fox (airing in South Florida).

Here’s a game I’d watch. Really good Pack vs. an on-the-rise home team aching to make a statement. Jaguars last won an opener in 2011 but have a shot. See a pointfest; Aaron Rodgers and Blake Bortles each had 39 completions of 25-plus yards last year, tops in league. Both have mega-weapons, and Jax defense adds Dante Fowler, Jalen Ramsey and Myles Jack. Upset Alert, but I’m still such a big Rodgers guy, especially festooned by Jordy Nelson’s return.

BILLS (0-0)

AT RAVENS (0-0)

Line: BAL by 3.

Cote’s pick: BAL 24-20.

TV: 1 p.m., CBS.

Remember 1999, when we were all planning our turn-of-the-century parties? That’s when Buffalo last made the playoffs and last won in Baltimore. Give Rex Ryan’s Buffs a big upset shot here, though, led by Tyrod Taylor, Joe Flacco’s ex-backup. Not sure how good Crows are, but make it a venue pick.

BEARS (0-0)

AT TEXANS (0-0)

Line: HOU by 6.

Cote’s pick: HOU 27-17.

TV: 1 p.m., Fox.

Texans adding Lamar Miller, having a premier receiver in DeAndre Hopkins and having J.J. Watt healthy (enough), combined with a bad Bears secondary, all should make things easier for the new QB, Wizard of Os Brock Osweiler. Countering that: CHI’s John Fox coached Osweiler for two years, knows his game. Better team + home = cover.

BUCCANEERS (0-0)

AT FALCONS (0-0)

Line: ATL by 3.

Cote’s pick: ATL 27-23.

TV: 1 p.m., Fox.

One of four Kickoff Weekend division games find two teams headed oppositely, reflected in last year’s first Tampa Bay series sweep since ’07. New coach Dirk Koetter takes over a Bucs squad seemingly ascending under Jameis Winston, while ATL is 18-30 past three years as Matt Ryan fights to avoid slipping. Upset Alert, but give me Ryan, Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman at home. Almost forgot: Miko Grimes’ husband debuts for Bucs.

VIKINGS (0-0)

AT TITANS (0-0)

Line: MIN by 2.

Cote’s pick: MIN 24-17.

TV: 1 p.m., Fox.

Vikes say it’s a Sunday call on who’ll start for injured Teddy Bridgewater: Shaun Hill or the guy they grossly overspent to get, Sam Bradford. No matter. Even Teddy-less, Minny’s the better team here, led by Adrian Peterson, the third NFL rushing leader over 30, with Marion Motley and Curtis Martin. Titans have won past three openers, but streak ends in Mike Mularkey’s coaching debut.

RAIDERS (0-0)

AT SAINTS (0-0)

Line: NO by  1 1/2.

Cote’s pick: OAK 31-27.

TV: 1 p.m., Fox.

Upset! Oakland, last in the playoffs in 2003, is on the rise, sort of an “it” team. And Raiders led by Derek Carr are slightly better overall than N’Awlins, which continues to beat Drew Brees with the friendly fire of an awful defense — one that last year allowed the highest passer rating in NFL history. Also, Cajuns, once home-strong, are only 4-9 in past 13 in Crescent City.

CHARGERS (0-0)

AT CHIEFS (0-0)

Line: KC by  6 1/2.

Cote’s pick: KC 30-17.

TV: 1 p.m., CBS.

Chiefs won’t be themselves until RB Jamaal Charles (unlikely for Sunday) and sackman Justin Houston (out several weeks) are back, but even diminished are better than the Bolts. KC has won four in a row in this division series; make it five. Aside to Joey Bosa: Nice of you to join us!

LIONS (0-0)

AT COLTS (0-0)

Line: IND by  3 1/2.

Cote’s pick: IND 27-24.

TV: 4:25 p.m., Fox.

This is Detroit’s first season opener without Calvin Johnson on the field since 2006. Nevertheless, the Upset Bird was circling this game. Andrew Luck was either injured or average last season and (shoulder) still isn’t fully healthy, though he should play. Even worse, Vontae Davis is out and Matthew Stafford could hoist some big numbers. Venue pick, but nervously.

GIANTS (0-0)

AT COWBOYS (0-0)

Line: Even.

Cote’s pick: DAL 24-23.

TV: 4:25 p.m., Fox (airing in South Florida).

Division rivals in a rare pick-’em game that finds Giants 0-8 all-time in season openers vs. Dallas. Biggies also have lost three in a row with Cowboys hosting. NYG welcomes new coach Ben McAdoo, sports’ first great McAdoo since Bob, but doubt he’ll leave field smiling. Cowboy hopes sank with Tony Romo’s latest injury but Dak Prescott — who would be Dallas’ first rookie QB to win a season opener since Roger Staubach in 1969 — has looked sharp. And I expect a big season, and game, from rookie Dallas RB Ezekiel Elliott.

STEELERS (0-0)

AT REDSKINS (0-0)

Line: PIT by 3.

Cote’s pick: PIT 27-20.

TV: 7:10 p.m. Monday, ESPN (airing in South Florida).

Early game of Monday doubleheader offers up maybe Week 1’s best individual duel: Redskins CB Josh Norman vs. Steelers elite receiver Antonio Brown. Delish! Pitt has won five in a row in series and Ben Rothlisberger is on 9-2 run on MNF; still, I see a tight game, especially with Le’Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant both suspended for Steelers. Big Ben finds a way, though.

RAMS (0-0)

AT 49ERS (0-0)

Line: L.A. by  2 1/2.

Cote’s pick: L.A. 19-10.

TV: 10:20 p.m. Monday, ESPN (airing in South Florida).

Monday’s doubleheader nightcap is a bad matchup — Case Keenum vs. Blaine Gabbert! — but is elevated by two things: 1) Rams’ return to L.A. after 21 years in St. Louis, and 2) the spotlight on Colin Kaepernick for his protest of not standing for the national anthem. Game also marks San Fran coaching debut of Chip Kelly. An upset would not shock (primetime home ’dogs always tempt) but L.A.’s terrific defensive front seven and Todd Gurley will carry the night.

Overall Pct. Vs. spread Pct.

Final 2015 157-99 .613 121-123-12 .496

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