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Week One Picks

September 6th, 2018

Here’s the bar: 177-79 (.691) straight up, 124-119-13 (.510) against the spread. That’s how I wrapped up my 2017 regular season picks.

Those results feel pretty daunting to me right now. But I’m just foolish enough to press on anyhow. Even here in week one when I have less than usual to go on. I know nothing, because nothing has actually happened. All I know is what I think, and what I think rarely accomplishes anything other than getting me in deep trouble.

Last year, in week one I went 9-6 straight up, 8-7 against the spread. (Yes, there were only 15 games that week. Remember the whole thing where Hurricane Irma forced the postponement of the Buccaneers-Dolphins match?) I’ll be lucky to duplicate those results.

Here’s what not to expect.

Atlanta (pick ’em) at Philadelphia
Someone out there somewhere has these teams meeting again in the NFC Championship game. I don’t know who that someone is; I just know they have to exist. Because these are two excellent football teams that appear to have good to great seasons ahead of them. Only one of is the defending champion, though. The 2018 Eagles look right now like a better team than the one the took the 2017 league title. And they’re at home. So I’m taking them. Philadelphia by four.

Pittsburgh (-4) at Cleveland
Le’Veon Bell will not participate in this game. But neither, one suspects, will the Browns. Steelers by a touchdown.

San Francisco (+6.5) at Minnesota
Wait, the 49ers are getting most of a touchdown in the season opener? Even though San Francisco has never lost a game with Jimmy Garroppol0 — the sun that rises in the west; the GOAT-in-waiting whom the Patriots foolishly let slip through their fingers — starting at quarterback? I just … I just … I don’t … it, it, it just doesn’t make sense. Someone fix this. Please. Vikings by six.

Cincinnati (+3) at Indianapolis
The home team might be good this season. The visitors probably won’t be. Colts by a field goal.

Buffalo (+7.5) at Baltimore
The Ravens are winning this match, but I’m still not sold on Baltimore’s ability to put a lot of points on the board. So I’m going to hedge and say the home team comes out ahead by just six.

Jacksonville (-3) at NY Giants
I recommend resisting the temptation to draw broad conclusions about the 2018 Giants based on the outcome of this game. Jaguars by five.

Tampa Bay (+9.5) at New Orleans
I just don’t see what the Buccaneers have going for them in this match. Saints by 13.

Houston (+6.5) at New England
The Patriots have lost their home opener only twice in the 16 seasons since Tom Brady took over as starting quarterback. The Texans are a decent team. And I kind of expect the Patriots to start slow as they feel their way around their new offense. I won’t be blown away if New England lets this one go all 60 minutes and only comes out on top by a late field goal. But I’m more inclined to think they take control late in the third quarter and win it by at least seven.

Tennessee (-1.5) at Miami
I suspect we’ll all have a much better idea what to make of both of these teams at the conclusion of this game. Titans by four.

Kansas City (+3.5) at LA Chargers
In Kansas City, I’d probably take the Chiefs. And maybe that’s exactly what I’ll do when the Chargers roll in to KC for a rematch in mid December. In week one, in Los Angeles? I’m going with the Chargers by three.

Seattle (+3) at Denver
I’m not sure either of these teams is fully formed at this point in the young season. And, really, both may be a full calendar year away. I’ll go with the home team by a point.

Dallas (+3) at Carolina
I think my view of both of these teams heading into the season is more favorable than the consensus. My view of the Panthers is slightly more favorable than my view of the Cowboys, though. And the Panthers are at home. Carolina by four.

Washington (+1) at Arizona
I don’t think much of either of these teams. But I suspect that while Washington will be a disappointment this season, Arizona will be a straight up mess. Racists by six.

Chicago (+7.5) at Green Bay
The Bears are surely in better shape for this game with Khalil Mack than they ever could have been without him. Which means, you know, they might not get clobbered quite so bad. Packers by “just” 10.

NY Jets (+6.5) at Detroit
It has to feel good, when you’re a team that maybe needs some time to find a groove, to open your season at home against a team that … uh, is the Jets. Lions by six.

LA Rams (-4) at Oakland
Four? You’re kidding, right? I half expect the Rams to be up by 14 before the end of the first quarter (which is when I plan to go to bed). Los Angeles by 21.

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