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Week One Picks

September 11th, 2016

Hey, look at that, I’m off to a split start: 0-1 straight up, 1-0 against the spread. So far this randomly guessing approach is producing results that are similar to the pretending I know and them randomly guessing approach. What a revelation.

Here’s what not to expect over the rest of week one.

Tampa Bay (+2.5) at Atlanta
Common sense tells me to take the home team in this matchup. My belief that that Buccaneers are rising and the Falcons falling tells me the opposite. And since I have nothing on the line but pride — and since I have no pride left to lose — Tampa Bay by three.

Minnesota (-2.5) at Tennessee
The Vikings defense needs to play up to the level of its reputation at least long enough for the Minnesota offense to get its legs under it. This seems like a good place to start. In a low-scoring game, Minnesota comes out ahead by a point.

Cleveland (+3.5) at Philadelphia
Neither of these teams is very good. And both may already have given up on the season. But at least one of them has a quarterback who has both something to prove and decent chance to start proving it. Cleveland by a field goal.

Cincinnati (-2.5) at NY Jets
The consensus seems to be that the Bengals are a considerably better football team than the Jets, and that only home field is keeping New Jersey in this one. I’m not sure that’s true. I’ll take the favorites, I suppose, but I think it comes down to the final seconds. Cincinnati by four.

Oakland (+1.5) at New Orleans
The Raiders are the more complete team in this match. I think they outlast the Saints in a high-scoring game. Oakland by six.

San Diego (+6.5) at Kansas City
Kansas City’s a tough place to start a season for Philip Rivers and the Chargers. Chiefs by 10.

Buffalo (+3) at Baltimore
I don’t think either of these teams is going much of anywhere this season. But the Ravens should at least be good enough to handle a middling visitor like the Bills fairly handily. Baltimore by a touchdown.

Chicago (+6) at Houston
The Bears have a long way to go before they’ll be competitive in road games against good opponents. Houston by nine.

Green Bay (-5.5) at Jacksonville
Even those who have bought into the hype about the Jaguars rebound don’t think Jacksonville has the juice to compete with Green Bay. Packers by 14.

Miami (+10.5) at Seattle
I’m not sure there’s a whole lot that needs to be said about this matchup. Seahawks by 21.

NY Giants (even) at Dallas
In which the Giants begin the work of dominating a weak division. Eli Manning has a big day and New Jersey opens with an eight-point win.

Detroit (+3) at Indianapolis
Shrug. Home team by six.

New England (+7) at Arizona
If the Patriots ever had a real chance in this game, it went away on July 14. And if they had an outside chance, it probably disappeared when the team traveled to Arizona without Rob Gronkowski. But in reality, this game was likely going to end in a Cardinals victory no matter who New England put on the field. At full strength, these are two of the best teams in the league. And, sure, there’s still some possibility that what appears to be a very impressive Patriots defense finds a way to take advantage of Carson Palmer and carry New England to a victory. (If that happens, by the way, Patriots fans should go ahead and book their hotel rooms in Houston for the first weekend in February.) But when two good teams meet in week one, you take the home team unless there’s a very good reason not to. Cardinals by four.

Pittsburgh (-3) at Washington
The Steelers put on a show in prime time, announcing that they’re back. The Racists … well, in a way, I guess they’re back, too. Pittsburgh by 17.

Los Angeles (-2.5) at San Francisco
In a nationally televised game that will be watched by no one outside of California, the middle-of-the-road team overcomes the bad team. What an exciting way to wrap up week one. Rams by four.

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