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Stampede Blue’s NFL Week 1 staff picks

NFL: San Diego Chargers at Indianapolis Colts Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight marks the beginning of a new season of professional football and, with that, a new season of Stampede Blue staff picks. We’ll put our brains to the test every Thursday, doing our best to correctly pick as many game winners as possible between now and the end of December.

Week 1 kicks off with an enticing divisional matchup between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears. A revamped defense and new head coach lead a relaxed Aaron Rodgers, while the Bears begin their quest to repeating as division champs despite losing their highly touted defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.

The early Sunday slate is highlighted by Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City offense taking on the talented and hungry Jacksonville defense. Other notable matchups include the Falcons and Vikings, Bills and Jets and Panthers and Rams.

Sunday afternoon gives us several exciting matchups, but none more important for Colts’ fans than their bout against the Los Angeles Chargers. Philip Rivers leads a hobbled offensive line and secondary into the weekend, while the Jacoby Brissett era is officially under way in Indy. Other matchups include the Lions and Cardinals in Kyler Murray’s professional debut, along with the Buccaneers and 49ers battling it out in San Fransisco.

Sunday Night Football gives us a classic staple over the last decade, with the Pittsburgh Steelers heading to Foxboro to take on the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. Big Ben Roethlisberger has outlasted the likes of Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell in the black and gold, but he’ll have his work cut out for him against what might be the best secondary in all of football.

The opening week also blesses us with two games on Monday Night Football. The first, between the Texans and Saints, highlight two very intriguing offenses with star quarterbacks leading them. We’ll then conclude Week 1 with a late-night bout between the drama-filled Oakland Raiders and a revamped Denver Broncos unit.

The picks are in, let’s see how the staff has this first week playing out.

Thursday 8:20 pm ET

Packers @ Bears (7) | Contrarians: Matt Danely, Elliot Denton, Zach Hicks, Josh Hudgens, Blake Pace

Sunday 1:00 pm ET

Chiefs (11) @ Jaguars | Contrarian: Pace

Falcons (6) @ Vikings | Contrarians: Chris Blystone, Denton, Brett Mock, Greg Rader, Stephen Reed, Chris Shepherd

Titans @ Browns

Bills (7) @ Jets | Contrarians: Andrew Aziz, Hudgens, Rader, Reed, Shepherd

Ravens (11) @ Dolphins | Contrarian: Aziz

Redskins @ Eagles

Rams (9) @ Panthers | Contrarians: Aziz, Hicks, Reed

Sunday 4:05 pm ET

Colts (7) @ Chargers | Contrarians: Aziz, Denton, Mock, Rader, Shepherd

Bengals @ Seahawks

Sunday 4:25 pm ET

Giants @ Cowboys

49ers (7) @ Buccaneers | Contrarians: Aziz, Hicks, Hudgens, Mock, Pace

Lions (11) @ Cardinals | Contrarian: Caliz

Sunday 8:20 pm ET

Steelers @ Patriots (10) | Contrarians: Pace, Shepherd

Monday 7:10 pm ET

Texans @ Saints

Monday 10:20 pm ET

Broncos @ Raiders (7) | Contrarians: Blystone, Danely, Hicks, Pace, Shepherd