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Friday, September 11, 2009
Week 1 predictions in the Beast

By Dan Graziano
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

Since many of you (six) have asked for my predictions for Sunday's games, let's go ahead and knock it out. But first, let's take a look at what ESPN's panel of experts came up with in their first week of picking games. All eight pickers predicted that the Cowboys would beat Tampa Bay on Sunday.

Merril Hoge, Ron Jaworski and newcomer Adam Schefter predicted that the Panthers would beat the Eagles. And these picks went up before we knew that right tackle Shawn Andrews had been ruled out because of a back injury.

Chris Mortensen was the only member of the panel to pick the Redskins over the Giants. He told me Thursday that he thinks Jason Campbell has done an outstanding job of overcoming adversity and he believes he'll have a strong season. In an interesting move, Schefter turned around and predicted the Redskins to beat the Giants in his debut column, "10 Spot."

OK, here are my predictions:

Cowboys 24, Bucs 14: I just don't think Byron Leftwich should be a starter in the league. Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware is licking his chops over Leftwich's glacier-like delivery. Leftwich was all over the map in the preseason, and he hasn't had much time to work with the team's top returning receiver, Antonio Bryant.

Eagles 35, Panthers 17: I just don't respect the Panthers' defense. There, I said it. Yes, you should worry about Winston Justice, but the Eagles will give him some help with tight end Brent Celek. I predict a huge game for DeSean Jackson. Carolina doesn't have anyone who can cover Jackson. The Eagles will hold DeAngelo Williams under 100 yards, which will be the key.

Giants 20, Redskins 17: I think the Giants will have trouble moving the ball on the Redskins in the first half. The Skins will jump off to the early lead on the strength of a deep ball to Santana Moss. It concerns me that rookie cornerback Bruce Johnson may have to be on the field quite a bit for the Giants. But in the end, Brandon Jacobs and the Giants' offensive line will wear the Redskins down. I've seen Albert Haynesworth play three great quarters and then run out of gas late in the game (see Chargers-Titans '07). Hardfought game, but the Giants find a way to scratch out the win.