The Handle's Week 1 picks

RANDALL THE HANDLE, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:32 AM ET

Giants (0-0) at Redskins (0-0)

Line: Giants by 3

It’s near impossible to lose five defensive starters for the season before a regular season snap has taken place. Yet, that’s exactly where the Giants find themselves and if you think they can just plug in suitable replacements, you’re in for a surprise. The Giants also lost a couple of offensive guys in the off-season as both Steve Smith and Kevin Boss left via free agency. The Skins struggled in 2010 but with a strong linebacking corps and a solid running game, the Redskins figure to be more competitive than many believe this season and that may be displayed right here.

TAKING: REDSKINS +3

RISKING: $33 TO WIN $30

Eagles (0-0) at Rams (0-0)

LINE: PHILADELPHIA BY 4˝

The Eagles retooled after allowing a franchise-worst 31 touchdown passes last year. While that weakness figures to improve with off-season signings of key cornerbacks, there are still issues on this team that leave something to be desired. Notably, Michael Vick may have to run in order to cover for his troublesome offensive line. The Rams have really turned things around. Conversely, they have a solid front-line protecting their franchise quarterback and Sam Bradford has the skills and intellect to take advantage. St. Louis’s strong coaching staff cut some decent players this year, indicating the true depth of this emerging team. They can definitely compete here.

TAKING: RAMS +4˝

RISKING: $33 TO WIN $30

Bengals (0-0) at Browns (0-0)

LINE: CLEVELAND BY 6˝

It’s easy to bang on the Bengals. Dysfunctional doesn’t begin to describe what goes on in Cincinnati annually. However, having rid of its malcontents and having the chance to face its in-state rivals, this Cincy team can expel their humiliation with a solid effort here. The Browns appear to be improving but not enough to warrant this big of a tag as a divisional favourite. Cleveland has suffered some significant pre-season injuries and they still lack quality wideouts. Browns are 0-4 both in division and as hosts past four when giving points.

TAKING: BENGALS +6˝

RISKING: $22 TO WIN $20

Steelers (0-0) at Ravens (0-0)

LINE: BALTIMORE BY 1˝

Baltimore primed for big season and nothing would start it off better than a victory here. Ravens have the personnel to take back this division while the Steelers appear to be aging. Super Bowl losers have not fared well in subsequent openers with zero wins and just two covers in past 11 seasons.

TAKING: RAVENS –1˝

Falcons (0-0) at Bears (0-0)

LINE: ATLANTA BY 2˝

Atlanta may turn out to be the better team over the long haul but right now, this price seems out of whack. Bears were a division winner and with a Julius Peppers led defence and playing on a grass surface, the hosts become the prudent choice.

TAKING: BEARS +2˝

Lions (0-0) at Buccaneers (0-0)

LINE: TAMPA BAY BY 1˝

Lions could have a huge year but hype has set this line in the wrong place. Tampa was an impressive 10-6 last season and they have just as much promise with some blooming young stars.

TAKING: BUCCANEERS –1˝

Bills (0-0) at Chiefs (0-0)

LINE: KANSAS CITY BY 6

The Bills visited here last year and nearly pulled off the upset as a 7-pt underdog before losing to the Chiefs in overtime by a 13-10 count. A similar event would not surprise as Chiefs did little to upgrade and starting QB Matt Cassell is nursing sore ribs.

TAKING: BILLS +6

Colts (0-0) at Texans (0-0)

LINE: HOUSTON BY 8˝

Texans are in best shape ever to seize this division, especially now with Peyton Manning on the shelf for an undetermined time. However, despite Manning’s absence, this seems like overcompensation.

TAKING: COLTS +8˝

Titans (0-0) at Jaguars (0-0)

LINE: JACKSONVILLE BY 2.5

Football spelled backwards is Jacksonville. Luke McCown was named their starter this week after David Garrard was unexpectedly let go. McCown has seven starts since being drafted in 2004.

TAKING: TITANS +2˝

Panthers (0-0) at Cardinals (0-0)

LINE: ARIZONA BY 7

Bo Jackson recently compared Cam Newton to Dan Marino, John Elway and Michael Vick. Bo doesn’t know football. Newton and his Panthers are in for a long season but we’re still not prepared to spot a full touchdown with a Cardinals team that is banged up, has a suspect running game and is unfamiliar with its new quarterback.

TAKING: PANTHERS +7

Seahawks (0-0) at 49ers (0-0)

LINE: SAN FRANCISCO BY 5˝

Thank goodness for Sunday Ticket. These two could be even worse than last season. The only saving grace for either is that they play in a weak division and that they get to play each other twice. Not prepared to spot any points with Alex Smith and this inept Niners offence.

TAKING: SEAHAWKS +5˝

Vikings (0-0) at Chargers (0-0)

LINE: SAN DIEGO BY 8˝

The Chargers were tops in both offence and defence statistically last year yet managed to miss the playoffs. While we expect this behaviour to stop at some point, we currently don’t have the confidence to be giving away prohibitive points with this erratic host.

TAKING: VIKINGS +8˝

Cowboys (0-0) at Jets (0-0)

LINE: NY JETS BY 5

Something creepy about Jets coach Rex Ryan going up against his twin brother Rob, who is Dallas’ newest defensive coordinator. Given that we subscribe to the notion that defence usually trumps offence, we’ll endorse a hopeful Cowboys squad in this sibling x’s and o’s matchup.

TAKING: COWBOYS +5

Patriots (0-0) at Dolphins (0-0)

LINE: NEW ENGLAND BY 7

Pay attention class. We understand that it’s hard to root for Chad Henne to outduel one of the best quarterbacks ever at the position in Tom Brady. But Wagering 101 teaches us that such sentiment inflates the number and that provides value on the less popular choice.

TAKING: DOLPHINS +7

Raiders (0-0) at Broncos (0-0)

LINE: DENVER BY 3

While some are high on the Raiders this season, we see a team that has a rookie head coach working from a short pre-season, a 59% passer in Jason Campbell and a team that lost its best player - Nnamdi Asomugha- via free agency while doing nothing that would indicate improvement.

TAKING: BRONCOS –3


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