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Pro Picks: A clean slate for the first real week of the NFL season

After a month of screaming that preseason predictions don’t matter — that’s why they call them “Exhibition Picks” — this is a great week. My slate is clean. I’m 0-0. I have a chance to win it all. But then again, so do the Falcons, Rams and Raiders. Here’s to a perfect season of picking NFL games.

Thursday's Game

Washington Redskins at New York Giants (-4): Last year the Giants started 0-2 and coach Tom Coughlin insisted his team wasn’t that bad. This year, with the Rams next on the schedule, the Giants will start 2-0 and we’ll be insisting to Coughlin that his team isn’t that good. Pick: Giants 24-17.

Sunday's Games

Cincinnati Bengals (-1 1/2) at Baltimore Ravens: Headline writers across the nation are wishing that T.J. Houshmandzadeh would have changed his last name instead of Chad Johnson. Pick: Bengals 17-14.

Detroit Lions (-3) at Atlanta Falcons: The rebuilding Falcons win the opening coin toss and first-year coach Mike Smith opts to defer until the second half of the season. Pick: Lions 27-21.

Houston Texans at Pittsburgh Steelers (-6 1/2): The Houston Texans will not become the first NFL team to go undefeated during the regular season since the ’07 Patriots. Pick: Steelers 27-13.

Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots (-16 1/2): With the Patriots’ video scandal resolved, the Chiefs file a complaint with the league office claiming New England coaches recorded their defense’s audio signals. As if it mattered. Pick: Patriots 30, Chiefs 10.

Jacksonville Jaguars (-3) at Tennessee Titans: Tennessee quarterback Vince Young is not expected to experience any problems from a bruised throwing hand because it's going to take more than a bruised hand to hurt Young's completion percentage, if you know what I mean. Pick: Jaguars 16-10.

New York Jets (-3) at Miami Cowphins (aren't half the Dolphins old Cowboys?): At halftime, Bill Parcells issues a news release reminding all media that he is the head of football operations, not the head coach. Pick: Jets 21-10.

Seattle Seahawks at Buffalo Bills (-1): The Seahawks signed former Dallas Cowboy Julius Jones to strengthen their running game. Seriously. And I'm telling you right now, heading into Week 1, I called “Shotgun” on the Bills’ bandwagon. You don’t need Toucan Sam’s nose to smell this upset. Pick: Bills 23-17.

St. Louis Rams at Philadelphia Eagles (-7 1/2): In an effort to improve on last season’s total of three victories, the Rams have offered to become the first team to experiment with playing an 18-game regular season. Pick: Eagles 28-17.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints (-3): In the aftermath of Hurricane Gustav, the NFL did not seriously consider making New Orleans play at Tampa because that would not have benefited the Giants. Pick: Saints 23-17.

Dallas Cowboys (-5 1/2) at Cleveland Browns: The Cowboys learned last week that they will have Pacman Jones for the regular season. This week, they will learn whether Roy Williams is ready to play Defender again. Pick: Cowboys 27-23.

Carolina Panthers at San Diego Chargers (-9): The Chargers are so good that they could NOT take things one game at a time and still go 13-3. Pick: Chargers 27-10.

Arizona Cardinals (-2 ½) at San Francisco 49ers: Why is the league pitting these teams against each other to start the season for the third consecutive year? It’s the only way to make sure one of them starts 1-0. Unless they go overtime and neither team can ... nah. Pick: Cardinals 20-17 (OT).

Chicago Bears at Indianapolis Colts (-9 1/2): The Colts have never lost at Lucas Oil Stadium, and no team that had to choose between Kyle Orton and Rex Grossman to be its starting quarterback is going to change that. Pick: Colts 24-6.

Monday’s Games

Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers (-2 1/2): Vikings running back Adrian Peterson's nickname since childhood is “All Day.” With Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback, Peterson will be getting the ball All Night. Pick: Packers 20-13.

Denver Broncos (-3) at Oakland Raiders: The NFL’s new rules on fan conduct get their first big test. But in defense of Oakland fans, how can they be expected to maintain a positive fan environment when they have to watch the Raiders? Pick: Broncos 14-13.

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