Pick 1: San Diego vs. Arizona and New Orleans vs. Atlanta

Pick 1: San Diego vs. Arizona and New Orleans vs. Atlanta

The Teaser: Pair San Diego and New Orleans

Game 1: San Diego vs. Arizona

The Initial Line:

San Diego +3 away vs. Arizona

The Take:

Add 7.5 points to San Diego’s line

The Final Line:

San Diego +10.5

The Breakdown:

San Diego and Arizona were both teams on the cusp of making a playoff run last year. San Diego squeezed into the playoffs with a 27-24 OT victory against Kansas City, only to see their dreams halted by Denver in the Divisional Round. Arizona felt the wrath of a tough NFC West division as they failed to make the playoffs despite a 10-6 record. Both of these teams have the type of talent that could be poised for a trip to the postseason in 2014, but they will need strong performances from their star players as well as a generally healthy team to compete.

Philip Rivers was quietly one of the better passers in the NFL, ranking 5th in total passing yards with 4,478. Their offense as a whole performed well in 2013, ranking 4th in passing and 13th in rushing behind Ryan Matthews and Danny Woodhead. Even though their record in 2013 was 9-7, they could have easily done much better as they are a team who battles to the end. In all 8 away games of 2013, they never lost a game by more than 10 points. With the same core offensive players in 2014, we can expect this first game to be a tight one against Arizona. Take San Diego with 10.5, they should easily cover against an aging Arizona team.

Game 2: New Orleans vs. Atlanta

The Initial Line:

New Orleans -4 away vs. Atlanta

The Take:

Add 7.5 points to New Orleans’ line

The Final Line:

New Orleans +3.5

The Breakdown:

New Orleans was a team that had high hopes in 2013, only to see Seattle run them over in the Divisional round on their way to their first Super Bowl victory. Atlanta was a team that was a huge disappointment in 2013, as they went from a 13-3 team in 2012 to 4-12 in 2013 largely in part because of an absent running game (last in the NFL) and a horrendous defense. New Orleans is in a great position to make another run at the Super Bowl in 2014, with a weak NFC South division and the deadly combination of Brees and Graham still in tact (16 TD for Graham in 2013, most in NFL). Losing Darren Sproles to the Eagles might throw a slight kink in New Orleans’ offensive plan, but with a offense who ranked 2nd in 2013 don’t expect much of a slowdown.

Atlanta is expected to show some improvement this year, as Julio Jones’ return should add an offensive burst. However, New Orleans is determined to show the NFL that they are a true Super Bowl contender. They’ve been in the playoffs 4 of the last 5 years since winning the Super Bowl in 2009. They had the 2nd best pass defense in 2013, and look to continue that trend. A strong defense combined with Drew Brees running your offense gives you a great opportunity for Super Bowl glory in 2014, and expect them to start the season with a win in Atlanta. Take New Orleans at +3.5 in the off-chance that Atlanta pulls out a last second victory with a winning FG.

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