I am going to try something different this NFL season, something revolutionary and cooler than cool. I will take a look at the NFL games each week, pick 'em against the spread, and then present them with loose commentary on this site here.
Okay, I realize this isn't a novel idea and I know what you're thinking. "Did he fire six shots or only five?" Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track of what we were talking about. Oh, right. Something about picks and feeling lucky.
So this will be my fifth year picking NFL games against the spread, but it is my first time away from the nether regions of the blogosphere and I will actually be attaching my real name to it. Frankly, I'm a little uneasy about that, because I was 124-130-2 last year. (Whoops, I guess I didn't have to reveal that.)
Anyway, I'll be using the lines provided on PoolTracker.com and should have my picks posted by Friday every week, except when there is a Thursday night game, like this week. If you feel so inclined -- before reclining on your La-Z-Boy for the games -- leave your picks in the comments each week and I'll keep track of your record with mine. I'd love that, actually.
Without further fluff, LET THE GREAT EXPERIMENT BEGIN!
PACKERS (-4.5) over Saints
As a Lions fan, it's hard, but I have to dish out respect when it's due: Aaron Rodgers' mustache was phenomenal. If I could grow that, I would show that. It's too bad he selfishly shaved it, because it was probably worth at least one WPA on its own and had Rich Uncle Pennybags power potential. Good on Clay Matthews for staying strong, though. Reportedly, he's still not using shampoo.
As for the game, tough pick here. Saints are 4-1 on opening weekends under Sean Payton and have to be getting used to opening the NFL season in the league's featured game, as this is their third appearance in five years. On the other hand, defending Super Bowl champions in Week 1 are 7-1-2 against the spread since 2001. (The Saints got a taste of one of those 'ties' last year.) I'm predicting an aerial assault and Rodgers keeps the belt.
By the way, have you seen this guy's fence?
Falcons (-2.5) over BEARS
Speaking of air shows, the Falcons expect to air it out a lot this year after using their first pick to draft Julio Jones. I mean, Matt Ryan threw 42 TIMES in the FIRST HALF of their third preseason game against the Steelers. I feel like that would be tough to duplicate in Madden.
I'm very high on Jones, though, so I'm going to boldly predict that he will put up the kind of numbers Anquan Boldin put up in Week 1 of his rookie season vs. the Lions -- 10 catches, 220 yards, and 2 touchdowns. I didn't even need to look those numbers up, because they're so perfectly even and I'm still piecing my heart together from that travesty (and every other Lions game dating back to that time). Roy Williams, you should take notes and tip your pizza guy.
BROWNS (-6.5) over Bengals
I know I'm going to regret this pick because of how sure I am about it, but I'm heavily invested in the "Bengals are more Bungles this year than they've been in years" talk for this week (I have Cleveland's D/ST in three of my fantasy leagues) and I saw the Bengals play in Week 1 of the preseason (the carpet definitely matched the drapes). I know, Week 1 of the preseason with a rookie quarterback shouldn't mean a two second foot jibber, but some things you can't unsee, bro.
Bills (+6.5) over CHIEFS
My first upset, and I'm not just picking the Bills to cover. I'm predicting the Bills to Circle the Wagons like nobody else. Whoop!
Now you see how I wound up with such a pitiful record last year? The Bills. Jamaal Charles vs. the worst run defense from last year minus two of their better defenders. At Arrowhead where the Chiefs were 7-1 last year. The Bills.
I guess I'm a Billiever.
RAMS (+4.5) over Eagles
I can't explain to you in my own words how happy I'd be to see the Rams dash the Week 1 dreams of the Dream Team and totally confuse the 'experts' who think the Eagles are the NFL's version of the Miami Heat. It'd be like a taco inside a taco, within a Taco Bell that's inside a KFC, within a mall that's inside my dream.
Lions (+1.5) over BUCS
In the past, I always picked the Lions to cover the spread because they were always expected to lose by 40. Sometimes they'd lose by a million, but I felt like I was right with them more than wrong. (Note: Facts indicate the Lions are 29-33-2 against the spread since 2007. 12-4 last year.)
One of the 12 games I was right about last year was the OT win vs. these same Bucs, which snapped the Lions' epic 26-game, road losing streak. Don't think for a second that the Bucs have forgotten about that 'embarrassment.' In fact, I'd be willing to bet the Bucs have a GIF of Jim Schwartz's fist pump looping on the projector screen in their film room -- a cold and inculcating motivational tactic. It'll be a good game, and down to the wire, but I think ultimately the Lions will come away with a similar outcome to last year and a double-reversal of 2005 fortune.
Titans (+3.5) over JAGUARS
Dumping Garrard days before the first game -- after having him attend the team's kickoff luncheon -- was a ruthless move to say the least and I won't allow myself to believe this team has positive morale right now. Not with placeholder Luke McCown at quarterback anyhow.
The word is that the Jags will rely heavily on MJD, a strategy that worked really well in 2009 when he wasn't coming off of offseason knee surgery. When the tough defense MJD's going up against will figure out that every snap will more or less be directly to him, that should makes things a little tougher. Plus, the Titans have
Hasselbeck Chris Johnson. Wait, who's Hasselbeck?
RAVENS (-2.5) over Steelers
My process for picking this game: Heads is Steelers, tails is Ravens. [Flip] Heads. Steelers. Hm. Who's home team? Ravens? Ravens. Okay, Ravens.
This AFC North rivalry has been just absolutely sick the last six years. They've split the 12 games they've played over that time and the last six games have all been decided by four points or less. The Steelers have taken two of the last three road games, so sports science indicates the Ravens are due for a three point win. Go get 'em, Billy.
TEXANS (-3.5) over Colts
As you know, and are probably sick of hearing about, Peyton Manning will not be under center for the Colts for the first time in his career because of a neck injury that was not the result of a car accident. Luckily, Kerry Collins has 16 years of NFL experience and has been preparing for this very opportunity since Manning was a sophomore in college. And I've been potty training my puppy in the living room for this.
The Texans, my third love in the NFL, have their own injury concern, but not to the extent of Manning. Arian Foster's hammy leaves his status up in the air, but the Texans have enough weapons on offense and a staunch defense to compensate if he needs an extra week to rest up.
Giants (-2.5) over REDSKINS
Eli Manning is not his brother and he is not Tom Brady, but do people actually expect Eli to openly admit inferiority? That's something losers do. Hell, Rex freaking Grossman stated as a matter of fact that the Redskins are going to win the division (before he worried about winning the quarterback position). I've never understood the hostility toward a confident QB, though, as insane as they might sound. I'd have a much bigger problem if I was a Giants fan and Eli Manning came out and said, "I'm not as good as my brother and I'm probably more in line with Trent Dilfer, if you were to compare me to other Super Bowl winning QBs." Whew, that's who I want leading my team into the huddle every down! Of course, if you are going to make bold predictions, you can't come into camp looking like you're on the Scott Mitchell retirement diet.
As for the game itself, I think Manning -- who completed nearly 70-percent of his passes last year, but 25 of them were to the wrong team -- bounces back with a strong game against a weak Redskins' secondary. The Redskins' new backfield will be able to move the ball, but it won't be enough. Giants extend their winning streak vs. the Redskins to seven games.
CARDINALS (-7.5) over Panthers
History is on the side of the Panthers, who have won their last five games against the Cardinals and are 4-1 in those games in covering the spread. But I'm buying into the Kolb sleeper hype and I love what the Cardinals have done on the defensive side. Cam Newton's debut in the Desert won't be much fun for him.
CHARGERS (-8.5) over Vikings
This pick screams TRAP, especially when you consider that A-Pete ran for former Lions' running back Ronnie Rivers' 1999 season total the last time these two teams squared up. However, Philip Rivers -- of no relation to Ronnie -- is going to get video game silly with Vincent Jackson and Antonio Gates, who will create schisms in the Vikes' secondary.There's always the concern of the Chargers' slow starts, but I don't see that happening this year; they claim to be as focused as ever and come into the regular season flying somewhat under the radar.
Seahawks (+6.5) over 49ERS
This is going to be one of the mustier games on the Sunday schedule, despite last year's two games seeing 98 combined points. Tavaris Jackson. Alex Smith. The names make me cringe. It'll be a grind-it-out, run first game, in which the Seahawks will keep it within seven points. It'd also be fitting if Jim Harbaugh's first regular season game as a head coach in the NFL is a win a la captain comeback. 17-13, 49ers win, on a late Frank Gore touchdown?
Cowboys (+4.5) over JETS
Sunday Night football in NYC on 9/11 between New York's team and America's team. This will be the game of the week, in my opinion. I'm not sure if the Cowboys will pull it out, but I think Romo will use the skills he acquired in WV during his bachelor party to pick his spots in the Jets' stingy secondary to keep it close enough for a cover. For what it's worth, the last time these two teams played was in 2007 and the 'boys won by 31 at home.
DOLPHINS (+6.5) over Patriots
Miami beach breathing all down your neck. Bad news and good dope, special effects. And reality's deep. Bright, black. Sinking in deep. Who ain't shy of the pain? Who ain't shy of the pleasure? Just the same. Life is a game, I heard Jaworski say. But Henne came to win, so these guys are NOT HERE TO PLAY
Raiders (+3.5) over BRONCOS
The Raiders will run all over the Broncos to cap off my four straight underdog picks. This is where you'll likely want to stop reading, if you haven't already, but wait. Leave your picks in the comments.