Opinion: PGM picks NFL Week 1

Graphic by Ali Levens

Just over 200 days ago, the Los Angeles Rams picked up a 23-20 win over the Cincinnati Bengals to claim Super Bowl LVI at Sofia Stadium. Football fans took a collective breath and reclaimed their Sunday and Monday and Thursday nights. They spent time with their families and tried to emotionally recover from the roller coaster of the 2021-22 NFL season.

207 days later, we’re ready to start all over again.

The 2022-23 NFL season started on Thursday, September 8 as a defensive tackle Aaron Donald and the Rams turned to swing out in their title defense against quarterback Josh Allen and his Buffalo Tickets. Allen and the Bills emerged with a 31-10 victory.

Week 1 also headlines an NFC North showdown between the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings and a budding Super Bowl battle Kansas City Chiefs and Arizona Cardinals. Then quarterback Russell Wilson takes a return flight to Seattle as Denver Broncos pay it Seattle Seahawks a visit to Light field.

New storylines abound after a frenetic offseason. Wilson wears Bronco orange, wide receiver Tyreek Hill is a Miami Dolphin, New York Giants come back Saquon Barkley and Carolina Panthers come back Christian McAffrey are back from injury and quarterback Carson Wentz will play in the national capital.

Meanwhile, Managing Editor Samantha Torre, Sportswriter Jerry Jiang, Photo Editor Lucian Himes, Interactive Assistant Zack Born, and Writers Maximilian Pohlenz and Jaan Jafri join the fray in the NFL Picks column. They join special edition editor Ali Levens and sports assistant Alec Matulka – the only returning members.

This is the largest NFL Picks column in Graphic history – never before have eight people ventured into the gauntlet of an NFL season in search of fleeting, predictive glory.

Helmets are on. The balls are pumped. The lines are painted.

207 days later, it’s finally showtime.

Thursday, September 8 at 5:20 p.m. PDT

Buffalo Bills at the Los Angeles Rams

  • Bills: Alec, Jaan, Jerry, Zack
  • Rams: Ali, Lucian, Maximilian, Sam

“The defending champions certainly won’t lose their first game, will they?” — Lucian

“Rams because Bill is a person’s name and honestly that makes me feel uncomfortable.” -Sat

“Whether Von Miller chooses the bills, I will also choose the bills. Miller has history with the Bills and knows the team inside out, so I’m going to trust Miller on this one. —Jerry

Sunday, September 11 at 10:00 a.m. PDT

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Detroit Lions

  • Eagles: Alec, Jaan, Jerry, Lucian, Sam, Zack
  • Lions: Ali, Maximilian

“The Eagles are going to be scary this season. With A.J. Brown in the fold, Jalen hurts found another arsenal for his attack and it will be too much for the Lions. —Jerry

“I was delayed at the Detroit airport over the summer, so for that inconvenience alone I’m picking the Eagles.” -Sat

“The Lions are fired up. Their only victory will be tonight. —Ali

San Francisco 49ers vs. Chicago Bears

  • 49ers: Alec, Ali, Jaan, Jerry, Lucian, Maximilian, Sam, Zack
  • Bear: None

Pittsburgh Steelers vs Cincinnati Bengals

  • Steelers: None
  • Bengals: Alec, Ali, Jaan, Jerry, Lucian, Maximilian, Sam, Zack

New England Patriots vs. Miami Dolphins

  • Patriots: Ali, Jaan, Max
  • Dolphins: Alec, Lucian, Jerry, Sam, Zack

“Mac mac mac mac mac mac mac.” —Ali

“Despite the increase in Miami’s roster from Tyreek Hill in the offseason, an Avenger Bill Belichick will ensure that everything goes as he planned: the Pats will manage to glean victory. — Maximilian

“The Dolphins have always known how to exploit the weaknesses of the Patriots. With the Dolphins up and the Patriots down, that tradition looks set to continue. —Zak

Cleveland Browns vs. Carolina Panthers

  • Browns: Alec, Jerry, Lucian, Sam
  • Panthers: Ali, Jaan, Maximilian, Zack

Indianapolis Colts vs. Houston Texans

  • Foals: Alec, Ali, Jaan, Jerry, Lucian, Maximilian, Sam, Zack
  • Texans: None

New Orleans Saints vs. Atlanta Falcons

  • Saints: Alec, Ali, Jaan, Jerry, Maximilian, Sam, Zack
  • Falcons: Lucian

Baltimore Ravens vs. New York Jets

  • Ravens: Alec, Ali, Jaan, Jerry, Lucian, Maximilian, Sam, Zack
  • Jets: none

Jacksonville Jaguars at Washington Commanders

  • Jaguars: Ali, Jaan, Jerry, Zack
  • Commanders: Alec, Lucian, Maximilian, Sam

Sunday, September 11 at 1:25 p.m. PDT

Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings

  • Packers: Alec, Ali, Jaan, Lucian, Sam, Zack
  • Vikings: Jerry, Maximilian

“There’s a storm coming and it’s the decline of the Packers. Aaron Rodgers will only get old and Davante Adams being gone doesn’t help their case. Vikings can enjoy their youth. —Jerry

Aaron Rodgers no longer has any weapons with Adams gone, but he’s still Aaron Rodgers and until it’s the NFC Championship, he’ll retire it. — Lucian

“I officially declare this match as the match of the week. Will Aaron Rodgers be able to operate without a Star Wide receiver? Will be Justin Jefferson score three receiving touchdowns? Of these three, how many of them will he celebrate with a toasty? Am I going to imitate his griddy alone in my living room? Until Sunday, we can only imagine. — Zack

New York Giants vs. Tennessee Titans

  • Giants: Jerry, Sam
  • Titans: Alec, Ali, Jaan, Lucian, Maximilian, Zack

Las Vegas Raiders vs. Los Angeles Chargers

  • Raiders: Jerry, Zack
  • Loaders: Alec, Ali, Jaan, Lucian, Maximilian, Sam

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Arizona Cardinals

  • Leaders: Ali, Jaan, Jerry, Lucian, Maximilian, Sam, Zack
  • Cardinals: Alec

“The Chiefs lost Tyreek Hill in the offseason, but they still have Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Chris Jones on the list. The Cardinals had an interesting offseason around Kyler Murray’s antics, and I don’t expect them to be ready in Week 1.” — Jaan

“No one was ready for the Cardinals last season. No one is ready for them this season. It’s time for Kyler Murray to earn his salary, and I think he’s committing. —Alec

“Birds are not real. Go bosses! -Sat

Sunday, September 11 at 5:20 p.m. PDT

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Dallas Cowboys

  • Bucs: Alec, Ali, Jaan, Jerry, Lucian, Maximilian, Zack
  • Cowboys: Sam

“Contrary to the beliefs of many Cowboys fans, they are not winning the Super Bowl this year, nor are they winning their Week 1 game against the Buccaneers. Never bet against Brady. — Jaan

“What about the Cowboys!” … losing to Brady once again. He hasn’t retired? — Maximilian

“F—the Cowboys.” — Lucian

Monday, September 12 at 5:15 p.m. PDT

Denver Broncos vs. Seattle Seahawks

  • Broncos: Ali, Jaan, Jerry, Lucian, Maximilian, Sam, Zack
  • Seahawks: Alec

“It’s the juiciest game of the week. The popcorn will be popped and buttered. —Ali

“This may be the easiest game of the week. The Seahawks seem to have next to nothing to offer as a team, while the Broncos turn the page on a new chapter with a future quarterback from the Hall of Fame Broncos country, let’s roll.—Zak

“This one is personal. Russell Wilson smeared Seattle in the offseason; it tapped into my long-standing abandonment issues that have plagued my life since the Left Sonics. I need some catharsis for Day 1, considering the Seahawks are going to have a long season. —Alec


Follow the graphic on Twitter: @PeppGraphic

Email Alec Matulka: [email protected]