Tackling Sunday's Week 1 Over/Unders: Free NFL Picks

Darin Zank

Sunday, September 7, 2014 12:03 PM GMT

There's a general line of thinking in NFL handicapping that defenses are better prepared than offenses early in the season. But we see three games on Sunday's NFL Week 1 slate that might buck that belief and play 'over' on the totals. Here's our attempt at beginning this NFL free picks season in winning fashion.

Saints -3/52 at Falcons
New Orleans and Atlanta open with an NFC South battle at the Georgia Dome.

The Saints are loaded up for another run to the playoffs, led by QB Drew Brees and that vaunted aerial attack. New Orleans also owns a much-improved defense that ranked fourth overall in the league last season.

The Falcons, meanwhile, are coming off a lost season, going 4-12 last year. Was that a fluke? Or just a bump in the road? Atlanta had won 36 games the previous three seasons. Can they bounce back? The Falcons were awfully banged up last year, and in the end only averaged 22 points per game. But with a healthy WR combo of Julio Jones and Roddy White that figure should improve.

These rivals have actually played three 'unders' in a row. But each of those games just seemed a play or two away from breaking open. Both teams settled for field goals when a touchdown may have led to more.

Bottom line; New Orleans is a threat to throw up 35 points just about any time out, and Atlanta, with Ryan's top two targets back and ready to go, should be more effective. Also, playing in the Georgia Dome helps, right down to the long field goals that can add six-nine points to a final tally.

Free NFL Pick: Saints/Falcons 'over' 51.5 at YouWager.

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Rams -3/43 vs. Vikings
St. Louis, with Shaun Hill starting at quarterback in place of the injury-prone Sam Bradford, hosts Minnesota, with Matt Cassel starting in front of rookie Teddy Bridgewater.

The Rams went 9-7 on the totals last season, scoring at least 24 points seven times, giving up at least 24 eight times. And that was with now-departed Kellen Clemens taking half the snaps.

Hill is 13-13 an an NFL starter, with a career 41/23 TD/INT ratio. He's also just one of those guys who seems to make things happen. He hasn’t played much the last couple of seasons behind Matt Stafford at  Detroit, but he had some moments with San Francisco a few seasons back.

Minnesota, meanwhile, is going with Cassel, who gives them, at the moment, the better chance to win than the rookie. Last year, in his six starts, the Vikings averaged 24 points per game.

This game is also being played in a dome, and both these teams have great kickers. These teams can combine to score five touchdowns and kick three field goals, and that puts this game 'over' for our NFL picks.

Free NFL Pick: Vikings/Rams 'over' 43 at 5Dimes.

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Bears -6.5/47 vs. Bills
Chicago, with maybe the best WR combo in the league in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey, begins what it hopes is a run to the playoffs when it hosts Buffalo.

The Bears took nicely last year to Coach Trestman's offensive scheme, ranking eighth in total offense and second scoring at 28 PPG. However, Chicago's defense ranked 29th both overall and in points allowed at 30 per game. No wonder da Bears went 12-4 on the totals last season.

Buffalo, meanwhile, went 10-6 on the totals last year, even though the Bills only ranked 21st in total offense and 10th in total defense. They went 6-4 on the totals with EJ Manuel at quarterback, averaging just under 22 PPG.

With 10 NFL starts under his belt, continued help from the running game and the addition of Clemson WR Sammy Watkins, Buffalo hopes Manuel can make strides this season.

The weather shouldn't be a problem for this contest, considering the forecast for today in Chicago calls for temps in the 70s with light winds.

We can see both teams scoring 24 points in this one, and that would put it 'over' the total.

Free NFL Pick: Bills/Bears 'over' 47 at Bookmaker.

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