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NFL week 1 picks: Rams edge Bills; Chargers beat Raiders; Bucs top Cowboys

The Times’ NFL writer, Sam Farmer, examines this week’s matchups. Lines according to Pregame.com (O/U = over/under). Last season’s record 174-97-1 (.642). Using point spreads with the scores Farmer predicted, the record against the spread last season would have been 135-135-2 (.500). Records from last season. Times are Pacific.

Bills (11-6) at Rams (12-5)

Buffalo Bills tight end Dawson Knox (88) makes a catch for a touchdown during the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff game against the New England Patriots in Orchard Park, N.Y. on Jan. 15.

(Jeffrey T. Barnes / Associated Press)

Thursday, 5:20 p.m.

TV: Channel 4.

Line: Bills by 2 1/2. O/U: 51 1/2.

The Bills could wind up being the best team in the league but they’re flying across the country to face a really good Rams team that’s dropping a banner. Matthew Stafford has a big game.

Prediction: Rams 27, Bills 23

Browns (8-9) at Panthers (5-12)

Carolina Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield stands on the sideline.

Carolina Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield stands on the sideline during a preseason game against the Buffalo Bills on Aug. 26 in Charlotte, N.C.

(Brian Westerholt / Associated Press)

Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 705.

Line: Browns by 1 1/2. O/U: 41 1/2.

Baker Mayfield is an upgrade at quarterback for the Panthers, who have Christian McCaffrey back at full speed. Still, Cleveland’s pass rush will cause problems.

Prediction: Browns 23, Panthers 21

Steelers (9-7-1) at Bengals (10-7)

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mitch Trubisky watches from the sideline.

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mitch Trubisky watches from the sideline during the second half of a preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Aug. 20 Jacksonville, Fla.

(Phelan M. Ebenhack / Associated Press)

Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: Channel 2. DirecTV: 706.

Line: Bengals by 6 1/2. O/U: 44 1/2.

The Steelers are going to be better with Mitch Trubisky at quarterback than with a hobbled Ben Roethlisberger, but are they good enough to handle the defending AFC champions on the road?

Prediction: Bengals 27, Steelers 24

Colts (9-8) at Texans (4-13)

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Matt Ryan yells out the play.

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Matt Ryan yells out the play during a preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Aug. 27 in Indianapolis.

(Zach Bolinger / Associated Press)

Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 707.

Line: Colts by 7 1/2. O/U: 45 1/2.

The Colts should win this handily. Matt Ryan is a big upgrade from Carson Wentz. Texans will be able to run it OK, and Davis Mills has some promise, but they don’t have many weapons.

Prediction: Colts 24, Texans 13

Patriots (10-7) at Dolphins (9-8)

Miami Dolphins players wait to go out on the field before the start of a preseason game against the Las Vegas Raiders.

Miami Dolphins players wait to go out on the field before the start of a preseason game against the Las Vegas Raiders on Aug. 20 in Miami Gardens, Fla.

(Wilfredo Lee / Associated Press)

Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 708.

Line: Dolphins by 3 1/2. O/U: 46 1/2.

Dolphins don’t have any excuses. They’re pretty solid across the board if their quarterback can come through. Patriots have won with lackluster rosters before but playcalling change makes difference.

Prediction: Dolphins 27, Patriots 20

Ravens (8-9) at Jets (4-13)

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson talks with linebacker Justin Houston.

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) talks with linebacker Justin Houston (50) prior to a preseason game against the Tennessee Titans on Aug. 11 in Baltimore.

(Nick Wass / Associated Press)

Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 709.

Line: Ravens by 7 1/2. O/U: 44 1/2.

Ravens were decimated by injuries last season but they’re healthy now, and this could be a bit game for Lamar Jackson. Jets will improve this season but will start slowly.

Prediction: Ravens 31, Jets 17

Saints (9-8) at Falcons (7-10)

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Kirk Merritt warms up before a preseason game.

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Kirk Merritt warms up before a preseason game against the Chargers on Aug. 26 in New Orleans.

(Tyler Kaufman / Associated Press)

Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 710.

Line: Saints by 5 1/2. O/U: 42 1/2.

Not sure how much stock to put in Atlanta’s offense, and that Saints defense figures to be stifling. Left tackle is an issue for Saints, but Jameis Winston has weapons.

Prediction: Saints 28, Falcons 20

49ers (10-7) at Bears (6-11)

San Francisco 49ers' Trey Lance takes part in drills at practice.

San Francisco 49ers’ Trey Lance takes part in drills at practice in Santa Clara on Sept. 1.

(Jeff Chiu / Associated Press)

Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: Channel 11. DirecTV: 711.

Line: 49ers by 6 1/2. O/U: 40 1/2.

The 49ers should still be one of the league’s best teams, even with the change at quarterback. The Bears have a shaky offensive line and a suspect defense.

Prediction: 49ers 28, Bears 13

Eagles (9-8) at Lions (3-13-1)

Detroit Lions running back Craig Reynolds rushes.

Detroit Lions running back Craig Reynolds rushes during a preseason game on Aug. 28 in Pittsburgh.

(Matt Durisko / Associated Press)

Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 712.

Line: Eagles by by 3 1/2. O/U: 48 1/2.

The Lions showed a lot of fight last season, and now they have some talent to go along with it. But Philadelphia is too good and deep in the trenches on both sides of the ball.

Prediction: Eagles 28, Lions 20

Jaguars (3-14) at Commanders (7-10)

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence scrambles for yardage.

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence scrambles for yardage during the first half of a preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Aug. 20 in Jacksonville, Fla.

(Phelan M. Ebenhack / Associated Press)

Sunday, 10 a.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 713.

Line: Commanders by 2 1/2. O/U: 43 1/2.

The Commanders are pretty solid across the board, with a big question mark at quarterback. Jaguars are young, and they’re going to be vastly better than during the Urban Meyer disaster.

Prediction: Commanders 24, Jaguars 20

Chiefs (12-5) at Cardinals (11-6)

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray gives signals to receivers as he takes part in drills.

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray gives signals to receivers as he takes part in drills during training camp on Aug. 9 in Glendale, Ariz.

(Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)

Sunday, 1:25 p.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 714.

Line: Chiefs by 5 1/2. O/U: 53 1/2.

Chiefs don’t have a great pass rush, and that’s going to hurt against Kyler Murray. Arizona doesn’t have DeAndre Hopkins. Still, this game will be closer than many expect.

Prediction: Chiefs 31, Cardinals 28

Raiders (10-7) at Chargers (9-8)

Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert hands off to running back Isaiah Spiller during warm ups.

Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert hands off to running back Isaiah Spiller during warm ups before a preseason game on Aug. 20 at SoFi Stadium.

(Gregory Bull / Associated Press)

Sunday, 1:25 p.m.

TV: Channel 2. DirecTV: 715.

Line: Chargers by 3 1/2. O/U: 52 1/2.

The Raiders need their pass rush to get home, and the Chargers have created one of the league’s best offensive lines. Should be a close game but Justin Herbert has too many weapons.

Prediction: Chargers 30, Raiders 24

Packers (13-4) at Vikings (8-9)

Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook takes part in joint drills with the San Francisco 49ers.

Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook takes part in joint drills with the San Francisco 49ers at the Vikings’ practice facility in Eagan, Minn. on Aug. 17.

(Bruce Kluckhohn / Associated Press)

Sunday, 1:25 p.m.

TV: Channel 11. DirecTV: 716.

Line: Packers by 1 1/2. O/U: 47 1/2.

Justin Jefferson, Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen, Irv Smith … the Vikings have a full array of offensive options. Aaron Rodgers might be the best QB in the league but he needs to find his weapons.

Prediction: Vikings 24, Packers 21

Giants (4-13) at Titans (12-5)

Tennessee Titans wide receiver Treylon Burks plays against the Arizona Cardinals.

Tennessee Titans wide receiver Treylon Burks plays against the Arizona Cardinals in a preseason game on Aug. 27 in Nashville, Tenn.

(Mark Zaleski / Associated Press)

Sunday, 1:25 p.m.

TV: None. DirecTV: 717.

Line: Titans by 5 1/2. O/U: 43 1/2.

Giants are capable of pulling off the upset as Titans could be taking a big step backward. Then again, Mike Vrabel is an exceptional coach and will have the Titans ready.

Prediction: Titans 24, Giants 21

Buccaneers (13-4) at Cowboys (12-5)

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott warms up before a preseason game.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott warms up before a preseason game against the Chargers on Aug. 24 at SoFi Stadium.

(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

Sunday, 5:20 p.m.

TV: Channel 4.

Line: Buccaneers by 2 1/2. O/U: 50 1/2.

The Buccaneers have issues along the offensive line, but their defense is healthy for the first time in ages. Dak Prescott is dangerous, yes, but he needs to find more targets than CeeDee Lamb.

Prediction: Buccaneers 30, Cowboys 24

Broncos (7-10) at Seahawks (7-10)

Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson warms up prior a preseason game.

Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson warms up prior a preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings on Aug. 27 in Denver.

(Jack Dempsey / Associated Press)

Monday, 5:15 p.m.

TV: ESPN.

Line: Broncos by 6 1/2. O/U: 44 1/2.

Russell Wilson makes his return, surrounded by a far more explosive team than he had in recent years. Denver will be able to run and throw it. Statement game for Wilson and his new team.

Prediction: Broncos 34, Seahawks 17

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