Guessing games are here again

TREVOR BUNKE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:26 AM ET

Yes, against my better judgment, I'm back for another year of pigskin punishment.

But with 15 outcomes to guess and limited space in which to do it, there's no time to lament past failures other than to say I don't think I'll ever have an NFL oddsmaker as a friend.

On to the Week 1 picks:

Denver (-4.5) at Miami: Defensively, the Dolphins can slow the Broncos down. It's Miami's offence -- especially minus RB Ricky Williams (four-game drug suspension) -- that will drag this team down. New Miami coach Nick Saban has a long year ahead of him. BRONCOS

Cincinnati (-3.5) at Cleveland: Matt Leinart Sweepstakes Part I. The Browns could be the worst team in the NFL ... the only saving grace being that they'll have a great shot at picking talented USC Trojans QB Leinart first overall in next year's draft. The Bengals are thinking playoffs this season, so beating Cleveland is a must. BENGALS

Houston (+5.5) at Buffalo: The Bills' stout defence will be tough to score on. What has to be worrisome for Buffalo fans is how QB J.P. Losman handles being an NFL starter. He was nothing short of jittery in the pre-season, and that scares me heading into Week 1. Buffalo should win, but that spread's a little too high for my liking. The Bills are a shoddy 2-9 ATS in their last 11 season openers. TEXANS

Tennessee (+7) at Pittsburgh: The Steelers should be thanking the schedule maker for this Week 1 matchup. With RBs Jerome Bettis (calf) and Duce Staley (knee) both likely out, Pittsburgh will need to ride the arm of QB Ben Roethlisberger to victory -- something he wasn't asked to do in his impressive rookie season. But against a salary-cap ravaged -- and generally awful-looking -- Titans squad, Big Ben should easily see his record improve to 16-0 as a starter in the regular season. STEELERS

Chicago (+5.5) at Washington: Matt Leinart Sweepstakes Part II. The Bears are putting their faith in QB Kyle Orton. In other words, they have no passing game and, like the Browns, will be in the running for Leinart. The Redskins boast a top-notch defence that should dispatch Chicago with ease. REDSKINS

New Orleans (+7) at Carolina: In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, it must be near impossible for the Saints to concentrate on football. The Panthers are healthy to start 2005 -- something they couldn't say last season. As long as QB Jake Delhomme is in the lineup, Carolina could wind up back in the Super Bowl. PANTHERS

Tampa Bay (+6) at Minnesota: Other than the questionable health of RB Michael Bennett, the Vikings are ready to roll on offence. And with their much-improved defence, they will be Super Bowl contenders. The Bucs' defence is still very good, but their offence can't keep up with Minny. VIKINGS

Seattle (+3) at Jacksonville: The Jaguars, with a healthy Fred Taylor to start the season, think they can give the Colts a run for their money in the AFC South. The Seahawks are an enigma coming into the season, but the way I see it, the Mike Holmgren era will be over following this season in Seattle. JAGUARS

NY Jets (+3) at Kansas City: The toughest game of the week to call. Actually, it has all the makings of a push. But I'll give Chiefs RB Priest Holmes the benefit of the doubt this week. CHIEFS

Arizona (+3) at NY Giants: The Cardinals should have a good season, but the way new QB Kurt Warner used to get man-handled by the Giants when he was at the helm of an awesome Rams team has me wary. GIANTS

St. Louis (-5.5) at San Francisco: Getting to face the 49ers in their season opener will make the Rams look like the champs they once were. RAMS

Green Bay (+3) at Detroit: I am going say it and it will probably bite me in the rear end: The Brett Favre mystique is dead ... over. The Packers will be mediocre. There, I feel better. LIONS

Dallas (+4.5) at San Diego: Cowboys RB Julius Jones vs. Chargers RB LaDainian Tomlinson should be a great Week 1 showdown. The difference here may well be Chargers QB Drew Brees not having his favourite target TE Antonio Gates, who's suspended for one game. Too close to call, so take the points. COWBOYS

Indianapolis (-3) at Baltimore: The Colts should have a monster season, but the Ravens -- with that stellar defence -- getting points at home is too good to pass on. RAVENS

Philadelphia (-1) at Atlanta: Although it was in Philadelphia, the Eagles destroyed the Falcons in last year's NFC championship -- and that was without star WR Terrell Owens in the lineup. EAGLES

Best Bet: Cincinnati

Suicide Pick: Pittsburgh.

Last year's record: 116-133-7.

Best Bets: 9-8.

Suicide Picks: 14-3.


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