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NFL picks 2015, Week 1: Patriots, Seahawks, Cowboys and Bucs locks for opening weekend

SB Nation's expert NFL panel returns for a new season of predicting games.

Football is back. Is that the most exciting three-word phrase in the English language? If you're reading this column ... yes! The 2015 NFL season is finally here, set to begin on Thursday night with the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers. That matchup is the first one on a jam-packed 16-game Kickoff Weekend schedule.

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The wonderful thing about Week 1 is that every team is undefeated and, if you're in the business of picking NFL games, you've also got no losses on your season ledger. Savor this moment, because there's a good chance it won't last for more than a few weeks (or a few hours, depending on your acumen).

The worst thing about Week 1 is that we've got little predictive information about these games, aside from what you can get out of reading the best NFL preview on the Internet and studying historical matchups and/or stats. If you think you're going to rely on whatever you saw in the preseason, think again: last year the New York Giants went 5-0 in the preseason while the Indianapolis Colts were 0-4. Yeah, that makes sense.

If you're looking for an obvious choice for a survivor pool game this week, there are a bunch of unanimous picks, including the Patriots over the Steelers, the Dallas Cowboys beating the Giants, the Seattle Seahawks taking care of the St. Louis Rams and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers handling the Tennessee Titans.

Those first two picks look pretty solid, but be careful about locking in those last two matchups. The Seahawks are 2-3 on the road against the Rams over the past five seasons, including a 28-26 loss last year in Week 7. The Bucs and Titans were both 2-14 last year and still have deeply flawed rosters, so do you really believe in Jameis Winston that much more than Marcus Mariota? There are probably better picks to be made if you're looking for a guaranteed winner.

As a reminder, these are picks to win the game (not against the spread), so choose wisely and do your research before making your own predictions this week:

Week 1 Ryan Van Bibber Stephen White Joel Thorman David Fucillo Danny Kelly Matt Ufford PFT Commenter OddsShark
PIT vs NE NE NE NE NE NE NE NE NE
IND vs. BUF IND BUF BUF IND BUF IND IND IND
GB vs CHI GB GB GB GB GB GB CHI GB
KC vs HOU HOU KC KC KC KC HOU HOU HOU
CAR vs JAX JAX JAX CAR JAX CAR JAX CAR CAR
CLE vs NYJ NYJ NYJ NYJ NYJ NYJ NYJ CLE NYJ
SEA vs STL SEA SEA SEA SEA SEA SEA SEA SEA
MIA vs WAS MIA MIA MIA MIA WAS MIA MIA MIA
NO vs ARZ ARZ ARZ ARZ ARZ ARZ NO NO ARZ
DET vs SD SD DET DET SD SD SD SD SD
BAL vs DEN BAL DEN BAL DEN DEN DEN DEN DEN
CIN vs OAK CIN OAK CIN OAK CIN CIN CIN CIN
TEN vs TB TB TB TB TB TB TB TB TB
NYG vs DAL DAL DAL DAL DAL DAL DAL DAL DAL
PHI vs ATL PHI ATL PHI ATL PHI PHI ATL PHI
MIN vs SF MIN MIN MIN SF SF MIN MIN SF

Our panel consists of: David Fucillo, SB Nation's fantasy guru; Danny Kelly, SB Nation NFL contributor; PFT Commenter, SB Nation's hot takes expert; Joel Thorman, SB Nation NFL blogs manager; Matt Ufford, editorial producer; Ryan Van Bibber, SB Nation's NFL editor; and Stephen White, retired NFL defensive end and SB Nation NFL contributor.

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