NFL Week 1 picks: Rams beat Cowboys; Chargers topple Bengals

Rams running back Malcolm Brown runs with the ball during a team scrimmage at SoFi Stadium.
Rams running back Malcolm Brown carries the ball during a team scrimmage at SoFi Stadium. The Rams open the season Sunday night against the Dallas Cowboys.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

The Times’ NFL writer, Sam Farmer, examines this week’s matchups.

Lines according to (O/U = over/under). Record last season, 163-92-1 (.639). Using point spreads with the scores Farmer had predicted, the record against the spread last season would have been 133-115-8 (.536).

Records listed are from last season. Times are Pacific.


Cleveland Browns (6-10) at Baltimore Ravens (14-2)

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield throws in practice.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield.
(Ron Schwane / Associated Press)


Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 705.

Line: Ravens by 7. O/U: 48.

Ravens could come back to earth a little as teams get more video to study Lamar Jackson, and Baltimore isn’t as good on the defensive line or at linebacker. Baker Mayfield is capable of a big game.

Prediction: Browns 27, Ravens 24


New York Jets (7-9) at Buffalo Bills (10-6)

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen.
(James P. McCoy / Associated Press)

Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 706.

Line: Bills by 61/2. O/U: 391/2.

The Jets, who were so good up the middle last season, are going to look different on defense. Josh Allen has some dangerous receivers in Stefon Diggs and John Brown. Plus, the Bills are at home.

Prediction: Bills 21, Jets 16


Las Vegas Raiders (7-9) at Carolina Panthers (5-11)

Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden.
(John Locher / Associated Press)

Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 707.

Line: Raiders by 3. O/U: 471/2.

Panthers lost almost all of their defense, and they’re filling holes with rookies. Hard to know what to expect from Carolina’s offensive coordinator. The Raiders are going to run it and play-action off it.


Prediction: Raiders 24, Panthers 20


Indianapolis Colts: (7-9) at Jacksonville Jaguars (6-10)

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Philip Rivers.
(Michael Conroy / Associated Press)

Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 708.

Line: Colts by 8. O/U: 45.

Big debut for Philip Rivers, with play-action stuff to T.Y. Hilton, but the Colts also can run it down Jaguars’ throats. The Colts’ front seven is still strong, and now the secondary is healthy.

Prediction: Colts 34, Jaguars 17


Miami Dolphins (5-11) at New England (12-4)

New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton smiles during practice.
New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton.
(Michael Dwyer / Associated Press)

Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 709.

Line: Patriots by 61/2. O/U: 42.

Cam Newton should have a decent debut for Patriots, but watch his foot injury. That could give him problems. The Dolphins are on the rise, and the Patriots have been known to sag in openers. Still…

Prediction: Patriots 28, Dolphins 23


Seattle Seahawks (11-5) at Atlanta Falcons (7-9)

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.
(Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)


Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 710.

Line: Seahawks by 21/2. O/U: 49.

Could be an upset, but it’s hard to pick the Falcons because their defense is so bad, and Russell Wilson is so good. Atlanta has enough receiving options, but you have to run the ball against Seattle.

Prediction: Seahawks 34, Falcons 28


Chicago Bears (8-8) at Detroit Lions (3-12-1)

Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky looks on during practice.
Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.
(Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press)

Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 711.

Line: Lions by 3. O/U: 42.

A lot to like about Detroit’s offense, and a lot to hate about their defense, which can get trampled by a ground game. It’s not necessarily Matt Nagy’s style, but if the Bears can establish the run, it’s over.

Prediction: Bears 27, Lions 23


Green Bay Packers (13-3) at Minnesota Vikings (10-6)

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins throws in practice.
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins.
(Jim Mone / Associated Press)

Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: Channel 11. DirecTV: 712.

Line: Vikings by 21/2. O/U: 45.

Packers are coming off a 13-3 season with a lot of close wins, so they’re primed to take a step back. The Vikings have lost their share of key players but still have enough on defense for this opener.


Prediction: Vikings 28, Packers 24


Philadelphia Eagles (9-7) at Washington (3-13)

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz participates in practice.
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz.
(Matt Slocum / Associated Press)

Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 713.

Line: Eagles by 51/2. O/U: 421/2.

Carson Wentz is the difference maker. Washington is going to be in a lot of close games because its front seven is so good, but the team’s offense is going to take a while to figure out what it wants to do.

Prediction: Eagles 28, Washington 20


Los Angeles Chargers (5-11) at Cincinnati Bengals (2-14)

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow.
(Bryan Woolston / Associated Press)

Sunday, 1:05 p.m.

TV: Channel 2. DirecTV: 714.

Line: Chargers by 3. O/U: 42.

Even without Derwin James, the Chargers have a top-notch defense. They should overwhelm rookie quarterback Joe Burrow, who’s playing behind a subpar line. and is not backed by a good defense.

Prediction: Chargers 31, Bengals 20


Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9) at New Orleans (13-3)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady.
(Chris O’Meara / Associated Press)


Sunday, 1:25 p.m.

TV: Channel 11. DirecTV: 715.

Line: Saints by 31/2. O/U: 48.

Saints tend to start slow and, with no boisterous crowds, they don’t have usual homefield advantage. It’s Tom Brady versus Drew Brees, and the Buccaneers have more offensive threats.

Prediction: Buccaneers 30, Saints 27


Arizona Cardinals (5-10-1) at San Francisco 49ers (13-3)

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
(Jeff Chiu / Associated Press)

Sunday, 1:25 p.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 716.

Line: 49ers by 7. O/U: 48.

The Cardinals play the 49ers tough, and Arizona was trending up at the end of last season. Kyle Shanahan is still going to scheme up points for San Francisco, and Arizona’s defense remains suspect.

Prediction: 49ers 27, Cardinals 21


Los Angeles Rams (9-7) at Dallas Cowboys (8-8)

Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
(Kyusung Gong / Associated Press)

Sunday, 5:20 p.m.

TV: Channel 4.

Line: Cowboys by 21/2. O/U: 511/2.

The Rams cut ribbon on SoFi Stadium with a big win. Cowboys are struggling with injuries and the Rams could be sneaky on offense. Getting rid of Todd Gurley helps unlock weapons.


Prediction: Rams 30, Cowboys 28


Pittsburgh Steelers (18-8) at New York Giants (4-12)

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethelisberger and coach Mike Tomlin.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethelisberger, left, and coach Mike Tomlin.
(Gene J. Puskar / Associated Press)

Monday, 4:10 p.m.


Line: Steelers by 6. O/U: 46.

Ben Roethlisberger is feeling better than he has in years, throwing with a repaired elbow, and the Pittsburgh defense will pick up where it left off. The Giants defense has gotten better but still has a ways to go.


Tennessee Titans (9-7) at Denver Broncos (7-9)

Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock passes in practice.
Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock.
(David Zalubowski / Associated Press)

Monday, 7:20 p.m.


Line: Titans by 21/2. O/U: 41.

Drew Lock and his young receivers face a slew of good defensive coordinators early. Teams will be able to run on Denver’s defense, at least early in the season, and the Titans know how to do that.

Prediction: Titans 24, Broncos 21