NFL 2011 Season Week 1 Preview: Key AFC Games

The sports betting world finally gets to see NFL football for real when the 2011-2012 season starts this Thursday. There are some exciting questions to be answered such as the condition of Colts’ quarterback Peyton Manning and whether or not the Patriots can turn around a less than impressive preseason when the ball kicks off for real. The NFL betting lines are now open, and the AFC starts its quest to take back the Lombardi Trophy after two consecutive years of NFC dominance.

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Baltimore Ravens (-2 ½)
What will be considered the epic struggle for domination in the AFC North between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers gets kicked off early with the first of two meetings taking place in week one. Last year, it took the Ravens a few weeks to get rolling and start dominating opposing teams. It could be the same situation this year as the Ravens are still shifting their offensive line around and getting used to new receivers like veteran Lee Evans. The Steelers looked sharp on offense and defense all preseason, and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger looks ready for the season to begin. The Steelers lost some depth at quarterback with the injury to Byron Leftwich that could end the veteran quarterback’s season. But as long as Big Ben is in the pocket, the Steelers will be very tough to beat.
Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers

Indianapolis Colts @ Houston Texans
It looks more and more like Indianapolis Colts star quarterback Peyton Manning will not be able to start week one. It ends a streak of over 200 consecutive starts that began prior to the turn of the millennium. Without Manning, the Colts are not nearly as effective. There has been speculation that veteran backup Kerry Collins would start this game, but the other backup Curtis Painter is getting support from the Indianapolis locker room. The Texans are in no hurry to have Peyton Manning back on the field because Houston is still trying to figure out new defensive coordinator Wade Philips’ new 3-4 defense. It is a work in progress, but it already looks like an improvement over the past few seasons. The Houston offense is healthy and ready to go, and that sets up a very interesting opening game. The NFL fans in Houston would love an upper hand in the battle for the AFC South title.
Pick: Houston Texans

New England Patriots (-7) @ Miami Dolphins (Monday Night Football)
This is one of the more interesting NFL betting picks in the AFC in week one. In a perfect world, the Patriots should dominate this game and blow out the Dolphins in week one. But the world is far from perfect, and the Patriots had a lot of question marks going into this regular season. The Patriots secondary is suspect while the Dolphins have enjoyed success throwing the ball in the preseason. The Patriots’ offensive line has been weak while the Dolphins’ pass rush has been effective. The Patriots will be in Miami fishing for answers to the pressing questions for the season. This is a hard one to call because New England has been known to lie dormant in the preseason and then destroy teams in the regular season. If that is the case, then this game will be played in a perfect world.
Pick: New England Patriots


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