Week Seven Picks

October 21st, 2017 No comments

Well, I underestimated the Raiders — overestimated the Chiefs? both? — and now I find myself starting week seven in an 0-1 hole both straight up and against the spread.

That bodes well, doesn’t it?

Here’s what not to expect on Sunday and Monday.

Tennessee (-6) at Cleveland
One might think a team that went 1-15 in 2016 had bottomed out. The Browns seem determined to belie that notion. Tennessee by 10.

Jacksonville (-3.5) at Indianapolis
The Colts can’t score and can’t stop opponents from scoring. I’m pretty sure that’s a bad combination. Add in an inability to hold on to the ball and you’ve got real problems when you have to face the Jaguars. Jacksonville by six.

Cincinnati (+5.5) at Pittsburgh
Even when the Bengals are playing well, they have trouble with the Steelers. And the Bengals are not playing well this season. Pittsburgh by a touchdown.

Baltimore (+5.5) at Minnesota
The Ravens have been undone this season by their defense’s inability to stop the run and their quarterback’s poor play. Those factors killed the Ravens in their own building against the Bears a week ago. I can’t see how they don’t take a similar toll in Minnesota this weekend. Vikings by 10.

NY Jets (+3) at Miami
Remember how last week people were talking about how the Jets were playing the Patriots for first place in the AFC East? That’s pretty funny, huh? This week, the Jets get to solidify their position at the bottom of the AFC East standings with a narrow loss to the Dolphins. Miami by a point.

Tampa Bay (+3) at Buffalo
The Bills are rested. The Bucs are hurt. Buffalo by four.

Carolina (-3) at Chicago
Can the Bears pull off an upset victory for a second straight week? Only if the Panthers leave their run defense in Charlotte. Carolina by six.

New Orleans (-4.5) at Green Bay
I’m certain that Brett Hundley‘s going to be able to do enough in the Packers offense to win his fair share of games. But winning this one would take a contribution from the Green Bay defense that I have no reason to believe is a real possibility. New Orleans by seven.

Arizona (+3.5) vs. LA Rams at Twickenham Stadium, London
It started to look last week like the Cardinals had solved their offensive line troubles. If that’s the case, this is a tougher game for the Rams than one might think. I’m still not certain the Arizona offense can keep up, though. So I’ll take Los Angeles. But I probably wouldn’t give more than a point and I certainly wouldn’t give as much as three and a half.

Dallas (-6) at San Francisco
I don’t see the Cowboys pulling themselves out of the middle of the pack this season. But neither do I see the 49ers pulling themselves off the bottom. Dallas by four.

Seattle (-5) at NY Giants
Home field gives New Jersey a chance to make this game competitive. But I suspect Seattle still finds a way to come out on top. Seahawks by a field goal.

Denver (+1) at LA Chargers
The first of three straight road games for the Broncos is the most winnable of the lot. If Denver keeps the ball on the ground, I think they come out ahead. Broncos by a point.

Atlanta (+3.5) at New England
One gets the feeling that if the Falcons can’t find a way to win this game, their season is likely to spiral out of control quickly. Atlanta comes in on the heels of two consecutive home losses to lesser AFC East opponents (Buffalo and Miami), the latter of which saw them blow a 17-point halftime lead even after having had an extra week to prepare. If they make it three straight while simultaneously failing to exorcise the demons that have lingered since their collapse in Super Bowl LI, the Falcons could end up in a situation where there’s no way for them to regain their confidence. The good news for Atlanta is that New England is beatable. The Patriots already have lost two home games this season. And while the New England defense has looked less horrifyingly bad over the team’s last two games than it did over its first four, it hasn’t exactly turned into a shutdown unit. This game looks like another shootout in the making for the Patriots. And while I expect the Patriots to be able to do just enough to win, yet again, against the Falcons highly suspect D, I’m not foolish enough to believe that the Pats are likely to log a victory that’s either comfortable or convincing. New England by a point.

Washington (-4.5) at Philadelphia
With a win here, the Eagles effectively wrap up the NFC East title. Philadelphia by seven.

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Week Seven Thursday Night Pick

October 19th, 2017 No comments

Another week, another instance of me not being able to finish my picks before the Thursday night game kicks off.

And, you know, it’s not like the extra time’s helping any. I went 7-7 both straight up and against the spread in week six. I’d say it doesn’t get much worse than that, but then it would. Gets me to 51-40 (.560) straight up, 43-46-2 (.484) against the spread for the season.

With that in mind, you might actually think I would start thinking about these games a lot less. I could probably do better just straight up guessing. But that wouldn’t be much fun for me. Think I’ll stick with my hopelessly misguided “thoughts.”

Here’s what not to expect tonight.

Kansas City (-3) at Oakland
Coming in to this game 2-4 overall and 0-2 in division play, the Raiders simply cannot afford to suffer a home loss to the AFC West-leading Chiefs. One might not go so far as to say losing here would end Oakland’s season, but it certainly would eliminate them from realistic contention for a division title. Unfortunately for the Raiders, who haven’t beaten the Chiefs since 2014, Oakland simply isn’t in a position to pull off the upset even with the advantage of playing at home on a short week. I think it’s a competitive game through at least three quarters, but I expect Kansas City to come out ahead by a touchdown.

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Week Six Picks (post Thursday night)

October 14th, 2017 No comments

I suppose I should be feeling pretty confident right now. You know, considering that I correctly predicted not only that there would be an upset on Thursday night, but how the upset would happen.

Thing is, I know what really happened is that I fell as backward, as I do from time to time, into creating the illusion that I know what I’m talking about.

Now here come 13 games guaranteed to bring the truth back to light.

That is to say, here’s what not to expect in the rest of week six.

Cleveland (+9.5) at Houston
The Texans are almost certainly too banged up to have any real hope of salvaging their season. But no team is banged up enough to lose to the Browns. Houston by 14.

New England (-9.5) at NY Jets
There’s no reason the Patriots shouldn’t win this game. New Jersey’s offense is completely inept. So even with the advantage of facing the New England D, they should only be able to rise to the level of average. And the Jets have no run defense, which should give the Patriots an opportunity to protect Tom Brady (for a change) by not forcing him to carry the offense. So, yeah, the Patriots, who come in on 10 days rest, not only should win this game, but should win it handily. But winning handily doesn’t seem to interest New England this season. And division games are always closer than they ought to be. So I’m thinking Patriots by seven (and expecting the Jets to have the ball with a chance to force overtime in the closing minutes only to fall just short).

Miami (+12.5) at Atlanta
I’ve got a hunch the Dolphins complete lack of an offense might present a problem here. Atlanta by 17.

Detroit (+4) at New Orleans
I’m taking the Saints because they’re at home. But I think the only safe bet on this game is the over (somehow the line is only 50). New Orleans by a field goal.

Green Bay (-3) at Minnesota
The line feels about right to me on this one. The Packers are the better team, certainly. But playing at home with their ability to stay competitive within the division on the line, I think the Vikings should be able to make it interesting. Packers win it straight up. It’s a push with the points.

Chicago (+6.5) at Baltimore
The Ravens still have some stuff to figure out. But not nearly as much as the Bears. Baltimore by 10.

San Francisco (+11) at Washington
Everything the Niners still need to figure out they need to figure out for next season. Washington by nine.

LA Rams (+2.5) at Jacksonville
Like pretty much everyone else, I have almost no idea what to make of either of these teams. And that means I have no idea what to make of this game. For the moment, I’m thinking the Jags control the game on the ground and come away with a narrow victory. Jacksonville by a point.

Tampa Bay (-1.5) at Arizona
If the Cardinals pull off a win here, it won’t have anything to do with trading for an overconfident retread running back. It’ll have to do with getting healthier along their O line. Arizona by three.

Pittsburgh (+4.5) at Kansas City
Even if he’s going to have a career season (and it looks for all the world like that’s inevitable), I continue to believe that Alex Smith at some point is going to tick down a bit from the dazzling stats he’s put up so far this season. And even if Ben Roethlisberger is going to have one of the worst seasons of his career (I’m not at all sure that’s a given quite yet), odds are he’ll eventually pull himself up a bit from where he’s been to date. The former may start to happen this week. The latter likely will not. Chiefs by six.

LA Chargers (+5.5) at Oakland
The Raiders have Derek Carr back. That should probably be enough. For this week. Oakland by a field goal.

NY Giants (+12) at Denver
Do the Giants even have enough semi-healthy bodies to field a team? Broncos by 20.

Indianapolis (+5.5) at Tennessee
Two teams without a starting quarterback or a defense between them. This could be … um, let’s say intriguing. Titans by a point.

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Week Six Thursday Night Pick

October 12th, 2017 Comments off

For the second straight week, I need to isolate my pick on the Thursday night game, because there’s just no way I’m finishing the rest before kickoff.

Of course, I might ask myself why I even bother. Last week’s results suggest I might be better off flipping a damned coin. I finished a horrible 6-8 straight up in week five. I was slightly better picking with the points, but 7-5-2 isn’t exactly the kind of thing one wants to be seen thumping ones chest about.

For the season, I’m now 44-33 (.571) straight up, 36-39-2 (.468) against the spread.

Let’s see if I can’t start making things worse right away this week. Here’s what not to expect in Charlotte.

Philadelphia (+3) at Carolina
No one ever plays well on Thursday night. And in a fairly evenly matched game with the prospect of sloppy play running high, the smart thing to do is to take the team that didn’t have to travel on short rest. But, you know, I look at these teams and I like the Philly defense, particularly their ability to create turnovers. So I’m looking for the upset here. Eagles by three.

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Week Five Picks (post Thursday night)

October 6th, 2017 Comments off

Well, so far so average.

I managed to peg the winner of the Thursday night game straight up. And outcome was a push with the five points Tampa Bay was getting. So, you know, there was no getting that one wrong (or right).

I guess I’ll take it.

Here’s what not to expect from this week’s remaining games.

LA Chargers (+3.5) at NY Giants
These two teams are pretty much identical, right down to their 0-4 records. In this type of situation you look for the home team not to lose. Giants by three.

Buffalo (+3) at Cincinnati
The Bills may or may not turn out to be for real. But until I see clear evidence to the contrary, I’m going to be of the opinion that Buffalo’s a lot closer to real than Cincinnati. Bills by six.

NY Jets (+1) at Cleveland
Um … um … um … . Hmmm. Yeah, I’ve got nothing. Jets, I guess. Maybe by a field goal?

Jacksonville (+8.5) at Pittsburgh
You can’t lose to the Jets in New Jersey one week, then turn around and beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh the next. I don’t think you can, anyhow. I mean, right? Except, you know, the Jaguars probably will. But I’m not picking that. Steelers by a touchdown.

Tennessee (-3) at Miami
Know what the Dolphins do well? Nothing, really. Titans by four.

San Francisco (+1.5) at Indianapolis
It’s fairly easy to take advantage of the Colts’ horrendous defense. If you have an offense. Too bad for the Niners. Indy by three.

Arizona (+6.5) at Philadelphia
I don’t know how long the Eagles are going to be able to maintain the success they’ve had over the first quarter of the season. But I don’t think a one-dimensional squad like the Cardinals poses much of a threat. Philadelphia by nine.

Carolina (+2.5) at Detroit
A second straight road game and an opponent with an actual defense is not a formula for a Carolina win. Lions by six.

Seattle (+1) at LA Rams
It just doesn’t seem like this is the Seahawks’ year, does it? Of course, it won’t ultimately be the Rams’ year either unless they grow a defense. But that’s a matter for another day. Los Angeles by seven.

Baltimore (+2.5) at Oakland
The Raiders might still be an average-ish football team even without Derek Carr behind center. And average-ish seems to be all it takes to handle the sputtering Ravens this season. Raiders by one takeaway and one point.

Green Bay (+2.5) at Dallas
The Packers haven’t been so great at stopping the run this season. That could potentially be a problem in this game. But I don’t think it’ll be enough of a problem to cost Green Bay a win. Packers by three.

Kansas City (-1) at Houston
Traveling on a short week after a hard-fought win in Washington Monday night could make this matchup a difficult one for the Chiefs. I’m reluctant to pick against Kansas City, a team that has earned its status as the NFL’s last undefeated team. But I think I’m going to take a chance here. Texans by a point.

Minnesota (-3) at Chicago
I’m sure Mitchell Trubisky‘s going to do just fine. Eventually. Vikings by a touchdown.

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Week Five Thursday Night Pick

October 5th, 2017 Comments off

First time I’ve had to do this in 2017.

I’m not wrapping up my picks before the Thursday night kickoff. It’s just been that kind of week.

I had my usual glorious outing in week four, finishing 11-5 straight up (not thoroughly awful, I suppose), 7-9 against the spread (pretty thoroughly awful there). For the young season, that gets me to 38-25 (.603) straight up, 29-34 (.460) against the spread.

Let’s if I can avoid making things worse for at least one night.

New England (-5) at Tampa Bay
This game features the two best quarterbacks in the NFL: Tom Brady and whoever’s facing the New England defense. It really is that bad right now. Not only have the Patriots allowed 32 points on average through their first four games, but their defensive passer rating is a league-worst 116.5. Given those facts, it’s pretty astonishing — and, really, a tribute to Brady, who is playing perhaps the best football of his career — that the team sits at 2-2 right now. You shouldn’t be able to win games playing defense that poorly. You also shouldn’t be able to win games when your O line consistently allows defenders into the backfield. What Brady has accomplished so far this season becomes even more astonishing when you consider that he’s been sacked 13 times on 116 drops back (7.7%), and hurried or hit a good bit more still. None of the Patriots success is sustainable without something changing. And it’s incredibly unlikely that the team has been able to solve its defensive and O line problems (or, you know, the continuing issues with special teams) in the four days since they fell to the mighty Carolina Panthers in Foxborough, their second home loss of the season. So, yeah, giving five seems like a bit of stretch, doesn’t it? I mean, depending on where you’re sitting, a straight-up win by a struggling squad traveling on short rest might seem like a bit of a stretch. I think if you’re rooting for the Pats, you have to look at the fact that the Buccaneers defense through its first three games managed just a single sack on 128 drops back by opposing quarterbacks. If they can’t improve on that, Brady and company might be able to put up 42. And that might make keeping up too much even for the second best quarterback in football, Jameis Winston. I’m taking New England, but I’m not sure I’d give three, let alone five.

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Week Four Picks

September 28th, 2017 Comments off

Seems like maybe we got upside-down week out of the way early this season.

Or maybe not. Three weeks in, it’s kind of hard to tell whether some of last week’s results — seven underdogs won straight up — were quirky or revealing. Maybe some of the bad teams are better than we thought. Maybe some of the good ones aren’t quite so good.

Until I have solid evidence to the contrary, though, I’m going with the early upside-down week theory. But that’s mostly because it allows me to feel not so terrible about my picking performance.

I went 8-8 straight up in week three, 7-9 against the spread. That’s pretty damned terrible. And it dragged down my performance or the season, which had been solidly on the bad side of average going in. I’m now 27-20 (.574) straight up, 22-25 (.468) against the spread.

Come back next week and see me spin up another excuse for a poor performance. Until then, here’s what not to expect in week four.

Chicago (+7) at Green Bay
It’s hard to imagine the Packers have solved their glaring O line issues over the last four days. Or solved their problems on defense. Maybe they’ll be able to do some of that work as they prepare to host Dallas in week five. In the meantime, Green Bay should still be able to figure out a way to get out of Chicago with a win. Packers by six.

New Orleans (-3) vs. Miami at Wembley Stadium, London
If you can’t control the Jets, do you have any hope of containing the Saints? The answer is no, you really, really don’t. Playing on the soccer pitch at Wembley may slow New Orleans down a bit, I suppose (didn’t seem to be much of a problem for the mighty Jaguars, though). But what does that figure out to? I’m thinking if the Dolphins have a good day, we’re looking at Saints by 10.

Carolina (+9) at New England
The Panthers haven’t shown much on offense this season. But their defense was looking pretty good through two games. Until they ran into an NFL offense for the first time. And, yeah, I do know that the New England D has struggled. But the New Orleans D is no great shakes either, and it managed to hold Carolina to 13 points. Cam Newton and Tom Brady have been sacked 10 times each through three games. That’s a problem in the making for both Carolina and New England. But it’s notable that Brady’s 10 sacks have come on 120 drops back while Newton’s have come on 93. It’s also notable that Brady’s thrown for a league-leading 1,092 yards and eight touchdowns with no interceptions while Newton’s managed 566 yards, two TDs and four picks. Last week, I was reluctant to give up 13.5 points (and I was right). This week, the idea of giving nine doesn’t trouble me in the least. New England by 13.

LA Rams (+6.5) at Dallas
Neither of these teams has managed a win over an impressive opponent so far this season. (Each is 0-1 against tough competition.) And if the Rams are the team I went into the season thinking they were, my opening statement will still apply come Sunday evening. Cowboys by a touchdown.

Detroit (off) at Minnesota
I feel the same way the oddsmakers do about this game, which is to say that I can’t guess at what’s likely to happen without knowing whether Sam Bradford will play. My hunch is he won’t. So my hunch is the Lions win. Let’s say it’s by a field goal.

Tennessee (-1.5) at Houston
The AFC South is shaping up to be one of the most competitive and entertaining divisions in football, not just this season but potentially for the next several. The Titans are a bit farther along in their development than the Texans at the moment, so I’m looking for them to pull out the win here. But the margin might be just a point.

Jacksonville (-3) at NY Jets
It’s starting to look like the Jags may be for real. Unless the trip back from London took too much out of them, Jacksonville should take this one handily. And even if they’re a bit jetlagged, I’m thinking Jaguars by a touchdown.

Cincinnati (-3) at Cleveland
Enjoy your Sunday afternoon, football fans of Ohio. Should be a real barn burner. Bengals by four. Or more than four. Whatever.

Pittsburgh (-3) at Baltimore
Game one of the 2017 AFC North championship series goes to the team with the quarterback who throws more touchdowns than picks. Evidence suggests that should be the visitors. Pittsburgh by six.

Buffalo (+8) at Atlanta
If this game were in Buffalo, I’d … well, I’d still pick the Falcons straight up, but I might take the Bills to cover. Atlanta by 10.

NY Giants (+3) at Tampa Bay
Whichever of these teams I pick to win is gonna lose. Because that’s what they do. You can thank me later, Giants fans. Tampa by seven.

Philadelphia (+1.5) at LA Chargers
Maybe the Chargers are better than they’ve looked. Maybe the Eagles are worse. Maybe the cross-country travel will trip up the Eagles. Or maybe the Eagles win this one by three.

San Francisco (+7) at Arizona
The first of three straight road games for the 49ers. They may win the middle one. Cardinals by four.

Oakland (+3) at Denver
I’m not sure whether to take the team with the quarterback or the team with the defense. So I’m taking the easy way out and going with the home team (also the one with the D). Broncos win it straight up. It’s a push with the points.

Indianapolis (+13) at Seattle
The Seahawks have not looked good so far this season. But the Colts have been downright awful. I’m riding with not awful and looking forward to a riveting Sunday night. Seattle by 12. (See what I did there?)

Washington (+7) at Kansas City
Alex Smith in his career is a 62 percent passer with a TD/INT ratio of 1.8/1 and a passer rating of 86.2. He was better than that in his first four seasons in Kansas City, completing 64.5 percent of this passes, throwing 2.7 TDs for each interception, and earning a passer rating of 92.2. Only once has he ever led the league in any statistical category for a season. That was 2011, when his interception percentage, 1.1, was the high mark. Through his first three games this season, Smith has a league-best completion percentage of 77.4 and a league-best passer rating of 132.7. He’s thrown seven touchdowns, against zero interceptions, second only to Tom Brady (8/0). I’m not saying Smith’s numbers are going to regress toward the mean, but … um, yeah, that’s actually what I’m saying. Maybe starting here. Kansas City still comes out on top by a field goal.

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Week Three Picks

September 21st, 2017 Comments off

It’ll be about two more weeks before we really start to know anything about the identities of NFL teams in 2017. And then I won’t have any excuse for picking games so terribly.

For the nonce, I’m gonna keep on blaming uncertainty for my failures. Which is to say, hey, it’s not my fault I stunk up the field again in week two. I went 10-6 straight up, 7-9 against the spread. For the season, that gets me to 19-12 (.613) straight up, 15-16 (.484).

Sure, it could have been worse. But then again, it probably will be.

Here’s what not to expect in week three.

LA Rams (-2.5) at San Francisco
The Rams are probably the better team in this match. Better by enough to win on the road on short rest? Don’t know. Don’t think so. Niners by a point.

Baltimore (-3.5) vs. Jacksonville at Wembley Stadium, London
The Ravens have started this season doing one of the things a team needs to do in order to position itself for success over the long haul, winning the games it’s supposed to win. Things get a bit more challenging next week when Baltimore hosts the Pittsburgh. But that’s next week. The only major difference between this game and the Ravens’ first two is setting. Let’s deduct a touchdown from Baltimore’s average margin of victory in those games to account for jetlag and call it Ravens by 10.

Cleveland (-1) at Indianapolis
You know things are bad when you’re getting a point from the Browns in your own building. But I’m not convinced the Colts are quite that awful. Indianapolis by a field goal.

Pittsburgh (-7.5) at Chicago
The Bears are pretty much exactly that awful. Pittsburgh by 13.

Miami (-6) at NY Jets
And so are the Jets. Even adjusting for division rival familiarity, I like the visitors to come out ahead here by at least seven.

Denver (-3) at Buffalo
The Bills might actually have a solid defense. The Broncos certainly do. Denver by four.

Houston (+13.5) at New England
You know, I’m totally aware of the thing with rookie quarterbacks vs. Bill Belichick-coached teams. And I know the Texans are one of about 16 NFL teams that have struggled with offensive line play so far this season. But I’m also aware of the fact that the Houston Texans have a strong defense. So, yeah, I’m taking the Patriots here. And I won’t be surprised if they win by 10. But I’m not giving most of two touchdowns.

New Orleans (+6) at Carolina
The Panthers might not have enough offense to overcome the Saints. Or they might have just enough to get by, which would spell doom for New Orleans in 2017. Carolina by three.

Tampa Bay (+1) at Minnesota
The Bucs are a better team than most realize. That’ll change soon enough. Tampa Bay by four.

Atlanta (-3) at Detroit
Maybe I’ve been wrong all along. Maybe there will be no Super Bowl hangover for the Falcons. We’ll be a lot closer to knowing coming out of this game. Atlanta by one.

NY Giants (+6) at Philadelphia
If New Jersey doesn’t solve its offensive line issues soon, they’re going to end up out of the running by midseason. It would be sad to see a team squander all that potential. But it happens sometimes. Eagles by three.

Seattle (+2.5) at Tennessee
The Seahawks appear to have some things they need to work out. Titans by six.

Kansas City (-3) at LA Chargers
The Chiefs so far have looked like one of the best teams in the NFL. The Chargers may be among the worst. Kansas City by seven.

Cincinnati (+9) at Green Bay
The Packers have a few things to work on. The Bengals have everything to work on. Green Bay by 13.

Oakland (-3) at Washington
The Racists haven’t been able to so much as slow down an opponents’ passing attack so far this season. I don’t expect them to start here. Oakland by 10.

Dallas (-3) at Arizona
The Cowboys can’t afford to drop a second straight game. I suspect they won’t. Dallas by one.

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Week Two Picks

September 14th, 2017 Comments off

Grant Hart is dead. So this week is already officially filled to overflowing with suck. Thanks for nothing, universe.

Oh, also, my week one football picks didn’t work out so great. I went 9-6 straight up, 8-7 against the spread. I suppose I could have done worse (particularly against the spread). But I could have done a lot better. Let’s see which direction this miserable week takes me in.

Here’s what not to expect.

Houston (+6.5) at Cincinnati
Both of these teams suffered embarrassing losses in their home openers on Sunday. One of them has to fare at least somewhat better this time out. I’m thinking it’ll probably be the one that isn’t starting a rookie quarterback in a road game on short rest. Just, you know, a hunch. Bengals by two touchdowns.

Tennessee (-2.5) at Jacksonville
Put me down as yet one more person inclined to think both Jacksonville’s big road win and Tennessee’s big home loss in week one had less to do with the teams facing off here than with the quality of their respective opening weekend opponents. Tennessee by a field goal.

Cleveland (+7.5) at Baltimore
I don’t know when we’ll find out whether the Ravens defense is for real. But I feel fairly confident it won’t be this week. Baltimore logs another shutout, while once again putting double digits on their side of the scoreboard.

Buffalo (+7.5) at Carolina
Facing the Panthers in Charlotte may prove a bit more challenging than hosting the Jets. I think. Carolina by six.

New England (-6.5) at New Orleans
The Patriots played terribly in all three phases of the game in their opening night home loss to the Chiefs. That’s not something you expect to see from New England in one consecutive game let alone two. And given that the Saints will be playing on short rest following their own lackluster losing effort in Minnesota Monday night, I’m thinking that if the Patriots can get it right on offense and special teams this time around, that should be enough to get the job done. Patriots by a touchdown.

Arizona (-7.5) at Indianapolis
It would appear there’s a chance that no matter who lines up behind center, the Colts are just an awful team. Cardinals by 10.

Philadelphia (+4.5) at Kansas City
I knew the Chiefs were a good team heading into the season. They may yet be better than I realized. Kansas City by nine.

Minnesota (+6) at Pittsburgh
I’d pick the home team in this matchup no matter where it was being played. Pittsburgh by three.

Chicago (+7) at Tampa Bay
The Buccaneers finally get to open their season. And they do it with a win. Tampa by 10.

Miami (+4.5) at LA Chargers
The Dolphins also get a late start on kicking off their 2017 campaign. The Chargers, meanwhile, officially take a run at starting that new tiny stadium trend they’ve been talking about. Los Angeles Jr. by seven.

NY Jets (+14) at Oakland
The Jets reportedly are planning to make the most of their final visit to the Black Hole by cosplaying as a real NFL football team. They won’t play like one, of course. But one can only ask so much. Raiders by 20.

Washington (+2.5) at LA Rams
The Racists are probably better than the Colts. Probably. Rams by four.

Dallas (-2) at Denver
The Cowboys are almost certainly better than the Chargers. Better than the Broncos, too, for that matter. Dallas by six.

San Francisco (+13.5) at Seattle
Oof! Seahawks by 17.

Green Bay (+2.5) at Atlanta
The Falcons caught a break when they drew the Bears as their opening week opponent. Here’s where the Super Bowl hangover kicks in. Packers by six.

Detroit (+3.5) at NY Giants
The Lions are still a better team than they get credit for being. But the Giants are a much better than the team we saw on the field last Sunday night. Better, probably healthier, and playing at home makes a huge difference. New Jersey by five.

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Week One Picks

September 7th, 2017 Comments off

I don’t even know how to start one of these things when I don’t have previous weeks’ results to beat myself up over.

Wanna hear about my disappointing workout from this morning? I didn’t think so.

So let’s just get straight to the part where I make stupid statements about football games, shall we?

Here’s what not to expect in week one of the 2017 NFL season.

Kansas City (+9) at New England
The Chiefs were a good football team last season. And I think they’re likely to be very nearly as good this season. They’re also a well coached team that typically doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. I think that — plus the fact that the New England defense still has some coming together to do — positions Kansas City to keep this game close throughout the evening. And it’s only a late score by the Patriots that makes the victory appear more decisive than it’s likely to be. New England by 10.

NY Jets (+8) at Buffalo
The Bills aren’t a good team, but they may very well look like one coming out of this game. Buffalo by 13.

Atlanta (-7) at Chicago
Let’s say you had a football team that really needed to get its season off to a strong start, because maybe the previous campaign ended in a way that could possibly do real, long-term damage to your players’ psyches. Just a, you know, hypothetical here. But let’s say you had that situation. You could do a whole lost worse by way of your opening week opponent than the Chicago Bears. In that hypothetical situation, I mean. Falcons by double the spread.

Jacksonville (+5.5) at Houston
There’s an old saying about how if a football team has two starting quarterbacks, it really doesn’t have any. I’m not sure whether there’s a saying about two teams having no starting quarterbacks. Other than, you know, ugh. Texans by six.

Philadelphia (-1) at Washington
I feel fairly confident (it is week one, you know) that the Eagles are the better team in this match. But I’m not sure they’re better by enough to beat the Racists in their home opener. Washington by a field goal.

Arizona (-1.5) at Detroit
This looks to me like a fairly even match between a pair good but unbalanced teams. And in even matches, particularly in week one, the wise move is to go with the home team. Lions by a field goal.

Oakland (+2) at Tennessee
I think there’s an excellent chance these teams could meet again in January. And the outcome of this game could potentially determine the location of that one. Titans by a point.

Baltimore (+3) at Cincinnati
The Ravens are going to finish ahead of the Bengals in the final standings. But they’re not going to finish ahead of the Bengals on the scoreboard this weekend. Cincinnati by three.

Pittsburgh (-8.5) at Cleveland
I’ve got this weird feeling that the Browns … you’re not buying it, are you? OK, here’s the real deal: Steelers by 10.

Indianapolis (+3.5) at LA Rams
This game may well end up determining which of these teams loses more games this season. Rams by a touchdown.

Seattle (+3) at Green Bay
Fox might have caught the best game of the week to anchor its first Sunday double-header of the season. I honestly have no idea how this game is going to turn out, but I can’t wait to see it. My best guess: Packers by four.

Carolina (-5.5) at San Francisco
The Panthers are early contenders to make the Super Bowl. The 49ers are early contenders to earn the first overall pick in the 2018 draft. Carolina by something in the double digits.

NY Giants (+4) at Dallas
The Giants started have taken three in a row from the Cowboys, including a win in Dallas in week one of last season. I think they keep the streak going. New Jersey by three.

New Orleans (+3.5) at Minnesota
I think the Vikings defense can slow the Saints offense. Not sure New Orleans actually even has a defense. Minnesota by four.

LA Chargers (+3.5) at Denver
Sometimes you look at the late game in the opening Monday night double header and wonder if fans on the east coast will be able to stay awake for the conclusion. And sometimes you wonder the same thing about fans on the west coast. Denver wins a defensive struggle 13-10.

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