Thursday, September 04, 2008

Week 1 NFL picks

And the NFL season rolls around again. I've invested almost zero hours per week for the past several months poring over rosters, glued to the NFL network, and preparing to bring you these valuable picks. And here's week 1...

Washington (+3.5) at N.Y. Giants - Ugh. I've spent the last seven months trying to repress memories of that evening in Arizona last February, and I have to start with the Giants? Ugh. Well, Strahan's gone. Umenyiora's gone. They're raising a banner and dealing with expectations and coming off a winter on the banquet circuit. I don't know what Washington's got, but I'm calling for the Redskins to go into the Meadowlands and ruin the banner-raising. (Am I predicting it? Yeah, I guess so, but I'm DEFINITELY calling for it...)

Tampa Bay at New Orleans (-3.5) - The Saints have had another tough week, forced out of their homes by Gustav. But they should know how to deal with it by now, and the fact that New Orleans was spared significant damage means that they come home to a city that should be pretty pumped and jacked and energetic. These are two inconsistent teams, capable of being bad or good. Under these circumstances, got to go with the Saints at home.

St. Louis at Philadelphia (-7) - These were two last place teams last year. But the Eagles were in last place at 8-8 while the Rams were in last place at 3-13. Every year there are teams that make big moves up or down in their records, and either or both of these could be one of those this year. But since there is not yet any evidence one way or the other, I'll go with the Eagles at home.

N.Y. Jets (-3) at Miami - I predict, with a high level of confidence, that the Jets and Dolphins will combine to win more than 5 games this year. And only one of them will be winless after week 1. It would not shock me even a little bit if Miami were to win this game, but the Jets are the better bet.

Kansas City at New England (-16.5) - There were a lot of people concerned by the Patriots putrid pre-season, and I am one of them. There were a lot of people worried about the offense, but I'm not. Tom Brady will be fine, they'll score a ton of points again. What concerned me was that they first-string defense, to whatever extent it played, was never able to get off the field. That won't be a problem this week, but I'm worried down the road. This week they hold the Chiefs under 14 and put up at least 30.

Houston at Pittsburgh (-7) - I'm not a Steeler fan. I don't think that they're as good as they're projected to be. But they're a good team and Houston's got to show me something before I ever pick them on the road against a good team.

Cincinnati at Baltimore (+1) - How much longer does Marvin Lewis have to actually win something? He's been in Cincinnati for five years and they've been over .500 once, under .500 once and exactly .500 three times. If they go 8-8 again, is it time for the proverbial "new direction?" Does appeasing Chris Henry and Chad Johnson Ocho Cinco really look like the right approach? The Ravens are starting a rookie QB, but the Bengals have done nothing over the past five years to suggest that that's a problem. Baltimore's getting a point at home, and they're the pick.

Detroit (-3) at Atlanta - Another rookie QB making his debut in a home game against an inconsistent team. But Ryan isn't surrounded with the same level of talent that Flacco is. I expect some great games and some horrible games from the Lions, as is their wont, but they should be able to win this one.

Seattle at Buffalo (0) - If Buffalo wants to be what Buffalo thinks it should be, they win this game. Period.

Jacksonville (-3) at Tennessee - Why is this 3 and not 13 or 23?

Dallas (-5.5) at Cleveland - Was Derek Anderson a one year wonder? Can Terrell Owens run his legs more than his mouth? Will Tony Romo find love in the arms of a talentless, not-all-that-good-looking blonde "singer?" Tune in tomorrow, for more of the days of our lives...

Carolina at San Diego (-10) - Two perennial media powerhouses. The Panthers have underachieved more than the Chargers have. Philip Rivers gained a lot of respect, playing (and playing well) in the playoffs with a torn ACL last year. Ten is a lot to give against a team that is supposed to be what Carolina is supposed to be, but they aren't supposed to be that by me.

Arizona (-2.5) at San Francisco - While it sounds reasonable, there is apparently no truth to the rumor that the local Fox affiliate in Phoenix asked for permission to run a Major Dad mini-marathon on Sunday afternoon instead of this game.

Chicago at Indianapolis (-9.5) - Like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning will be seeing his first action of the year on Sunday afternoon. Like Brady, Manning's team is playing a home game against a weaker opponent. And, like Brady, Manning's team will win easily.

Minnesota (+3) at Green Bay - On September 6, 1992, the Packers lost at home to the Vikings, 23-20 in OT. The two teams have met 31 times in the regular season since then. In each of those 31 games, Brett Favre lined up under center for the Packers. This week, he'll be lining up under center for the Jets, and Aaron Rodgers will start for Green Bay. There are a lot of people picking the Vikings to go to the Super Bowl, and if they're that caliber team, they'll win this one.

Denver (-3) at Oakland - 4-5-4-2-4. Those are the Raiders' win totals for the last five years. When this one finishes, I suspect they'll still be looking back at that five win 2004 season as the "good old days..."

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