Sssssoooo…because the picks I have proffered here thus far have been absolutely laughable, I’ve decided to get hammered and see what we come up with then. And no, I am not ripped on a Sunday morning…yet. I’m making the picks between Friday and Saturday night. Like…literally ripped up. Can they really be any worse? To add to the mix, I am listening to some really bad tunes. Maybe that helps…
Philadelphia at Kansas City (-4.5)
I’m not sure either of these teams are as good as they showed in their first games. But KC is at home. Kareem Hunt does look frickin’ kinda special…for one game anyway. KC has had 10 days to make sure they are ready. Andy Reid has finally figured out how to use the clock. Ok, most of those things are true. Not that I’m on the Reid/Alex Smith/Chief bandwagon, but…
Kansas City 27, Philadephia 20.
Tennessee (-1.5) at Jacksonville
I don’t care what Jacksonville did last week. And neither should you.
Tennessee 31, Jacksonville 23.
Minnesota at Pittsburgh (-6.5)
Sam Bradford looked like…er, Tom Brady last week. But now apparently he has yet another boo-boo. And…he faced a perennially horrific defense in the Saints. Pitt had some trouble against the Browns. Think Pitt starts getting it together here. After all, Le’veon didn’t show up to camp…
Pittsburgh 34, Minnesota 20.
Arizona (-7.5) at Indianapolis
I have a lot of love for Jacoby Brissett. Impressed with what he did for the Pats last year when he had no business even playing. Not sure why they were so eager to unload him when they really do have an aging QB and backup that will be a free agent after this year. I mean, Phillip Dorsett notwithstanding. Phillip Dorsett??! Anyway, combine that with the fact that David Johnson got hurt last week. Carson Palmer was putrid. And Arizona caved down the stretch against Detroit. So you think I am taking the Colts at home? Ummmmmm…
Arizona 31, Indianapolis 13.
New England (-6.5) at New Orleans
Does anyone seriously think the Pats are going 0-2? The Saints got lit up by Sam Bradford Monday night. And don’t give me the “well, Sammy has now been in the offense for a year and is more acclimated and…” crap. I don’t even care if people think this 2017 Pats team reminds them of the somewhat dysfunctional 2009 Pats team. They are NOT losing this game.
New England 45, New Orleans 24.
Chicago at Tampa Bay (-6.5)
Chicago gave the defending NFC champions a game last week. And honestly, they should have won. That may be the highlight of their season though. Love to see what that little dude Tarik Cohen will do this week though. Was Week 1 a fluke? Does anyone care?
Tampa Bay 27, Chicago 17.
Cleveland at Baltimore (-7.5)
I really want to take Cleveland here. In fact, I did take them in a picks pool I am in. Division games are generally close. Baltimore’s shutout win against Cincinnati in Week 1 now seems like it wasn’t a big deal…after the Bengals were awful against Houston Thursday night. Baltimore really isn’t any great shakes. Cleveland is improving. And all that. But…I changed my mind…
Baltimore 24, Cleveland 13.
Buffalo at Carolina (-7.5)
The Bills only beat the Jets by 9. In Buffalo. The Jets should go no more than 1-15 (FU Matty Ice!). Carolina looks primed for a rebound from last year, where they had the “Super Bowl Hangover”. Seems easy to me.
Carolina 38, Buffalo 17.
New York Jets at Oakland (-13.5)
Suicide pool pick of the week. Every week against the Jets will probably do that. Especially when the J-E-T-S fly across to the other coast. (FU Matty Ice…again!!).
Oakland 48, New York Jets 10.
Miami at Los Angeles Chargers (-4.5)
The Chargers showed me something Monday night. They should have been blown out of the stadium against the Broncos last Monday at Denver. They fought back and should’ve at least taken it to OT. Kickers…sigh…oh well. I used to hate Phil Rivers. I can’t say I love him now, but I have learned to respect him. But Miami has presumably been champing at the bit to get their season started. And in reality, the Chargers ain’t that good.
Miami 24, Los Angeles Chargers 13.
Dallas (-1.5) at Denver
Have to do it. Broncos at home. I know the ‘Boys beat the G-Men handily. But I am still not sold. But as you know, I’ve been wrong multiple times. Just another hunch…
Denver 27, Dallas 24.
San Francisco at Seattle (-12.5)
Seattle lost a tough one to open the season against the Packers. Had some bad calls, but…still lost. Hard to open the season on the road versus another top NFC contender. This week will not be the same.
Seattle 41, San Francisco 10.
Washington at Los Angeles Rams (-2.5)
Wow, did the Rams throw just about everyone for a loop in Week One. Jared Goff looked like…and I am sorry to repeat this…Tom Brady. The Colts are putrid. But the Rams scored 224 points in 2016. They scored 46 last week. Over 20% of their previous years’ total, with 15 weeks to go. Even with year to year marginal improvement, 46 is a little high…against anyone. The Skins are no juggernaut. But should provide a little more opposition than the Colts.
Washington 31, Los Angeles Rams 17.
Green Bay at Atlanta (-2.5)
Again, even though the Falcons made the Super Bowl last year, they weren’t as good as that. Sorry. I know, they dominated for three quarters in the Big Game too. Well, not “dominated”, but still were in control. Either way, was never sold on them. And I’m not now. So they are back at home after barely beating the lowly Bears in Chicago last weekend. But the Pack are their opponent. I’d say that’s a tougher test.
Green Bay 31, Atlanta 27.
Detroit at New York Giants (-4.5)
God, it pains me to no end to support the New York Giants in any way, shape or form. But sometimes you have to. Eli may be done. He has sucked for quite some time. Ok, he’s not done, though I wish he was. And there is no Ryan Nassib or Jared Lorenzen to take over. The G-Men have absolutely no running game to speak of. I think everyone on God’s Green Earth is sick of hearing whether Odell Beckham Jr. will play or not. But then I look at Jimmy Caldwell. And I have no choice.
New York Giants 24, Detroit 21.
Week (against the spread): 0-1
Week (straight up): 0-1
Season (against the spread): 6-10
Season (straight up): 9-7
…mercifully. Everyone knows Week 1 of any NFL season can be unpredictable. No one knows anything about the teams yet, sometimes not even the coaches of the teams themselves. I know, sounded kind of silly. But the point is, coaches are still tinkering around with things even after the preseason is over. New players are being integrated into systems. Starters are finally playing real snaps. Rookies are getting their first real action. And all that.
And of course the injuries. Happens to every team every year. Some are bigger than others. For instance, not only did David Johnson’s wrist kill a ton of fantasy football seasons, it seriously put a dent into the Arizona Cardinals prospects for the season. One player can do that? In this case, yes, quite possibly. I think we’d have to say it had some effect on their game on Sunday for sure. Johnson was exactly lighting the Lions up, as he is certainly capable of doing. But the Cards collapsed after he left the game.
Going back to not knowing who a team actually is in Week 1, you saw all the results. We’ve been through the Chiefs beating the Patriots. But the Steelers and Falcons barely beating the Browns and Bears, respectively? The Giants not even showing up at Dallas? The Colts we knew would not be great, but getting hammered by the Rams, a team that had an anemic offense last year? Jared Goff looked like…er, Tom Brady out there or something.
There were two other somewhat alarming results from last weekend. We will get to those in a second.
So, the Blowhard took it on the chin in Week 1, but don’t say I didn’t warn you! There was one genuinely stupid pick (Saints on the road, what was I thinking??). There was some bad luck (Denver missing a cover by a point when they allowed the Chargers to get back into the game in the fourth quarter). A couple of road team gambles that didn’t pan out (Giants, Seahawks and I guess we can say the Falcons here too). But overall about .500 was what I expected out of the gate. I guess we will have to live with .400 though. Cuz…that’s what happened.
Let’s hope for some better results in Week Two. But we of course have this beauty to lead us off:
Houston at Cincinnati (-4.5)
I said above that there were two other somewhat alarming results from last weekend. After further review, I am taking away the word “somewhat”. The losses by the Bengals and Texans were borderline shocking. The Bengals were shut out at home by the average Baltimore Ravens. The Texans were embarrassed at home by the still putrid (we think) Jacksonville Jaguars. I am not changing my mind on the Jags…yet, anyway.
Listen, I am no Marvin Lewis fan. This is probably at least the 5th consecutive year I have uttered at some point during the season, “why is this guy still coaching the Bengals?” Well, we know why he is, because the owner is cheap. But you know what I am saying. But even though they were 6-9-1 last year, they usually are fairly competitive under Lewis. They do have some talented players on offense. I believe they have some skilled guys on D too…though admittedly they were missing 2 guys due to suspension…Pac-Man Jones and that certifiably insane Vontaze Burfict.
Anyway, they should have had enough on the field, at home, to at least be competitive with the Ravens. Maybe it was all Andy Dalton’s fault. Could be. 4 interceptions and 5 sacks taken can kind of present that image.
The Texans? Wow. Their defense is supposed to be what wins games for them this year. And they got torched by the Jags. Jacksonville allegedly improved their roster this offseason. They canned a historically bad coach in Gus Bradley…though one can only wonder if Doug Marrone is an upgrade. But their QB is still named “Blake Bortles” and they lost top wideout Allen Robinson during the game. That the Texans gave up 29 points to this offense is laughable. OK, 22 points, as there was one defensive TD. But my point still stands.
Let’s not even talk about their QB fiasco. Nah, let’s talk about it. You think Blake Bortles is bad, I present you…Tommy Savage! Yeah, I have no idea if Savage can play or not. But he was atrocious in the first half. Sssssoooo…that is why he got yanked. But from the parts of the game I saw, he wasn’t exactly getting a ton of time to throw. I am actually kind of on board with Savage’s agent ripping the team for their handling of him (“31 snaps…31 snaps!! How can you tell anything from that…” or something like that).
I can see why Billy O’Brien benched Savage though. Team was lackluster and needed a spark. QB is where to start. Especially when you have a first round draft pick ready to go. But since Deshaun Watson didn’t really light it up either, you may as well go back to Savage. Since, you know, you went all offseason and preseason saying the job was his. Then Savage loses it halfway through the first game? I know, Watson was going to get the job at some point in the season anyway. But to panic like this right away seems like a bad sign.
I can’t believe I talked this much about both of these teams. Gotta fill space I guess. Anyway, this week? Pac-Man is back. I think the Texans are sticking with Watson. Dalton can’t be that bad…he’s better than Bortles anyway. Houston lost its top THREE tight ends to concussions last week. Cincy is at home. Someone has to win.
Cincinnati 23, Houston 13.
Week (against the spread): 6-9
Week (straight up): 9-6
Season (against the spread): 6-9
Season (straight up): 9-6
Thursday night, that is.
Kansas City is a good team for sure. #2 seed in the East last year. A lot of talented players. And many thought the game would be close, including myself. But to smoke the Patriots in the end? Not sure a lot of people saw that coming.
Am I worried?
Well, maybe a little.
Disappointing performance, but ultimately I think it is a little bump in the road. Unless the injuries pile up. But every team has to worry about that. I mean, the Chiefs themselves lost Eric Berry for the year in that same game.
Tom Brady did not look like Tom Brady. Part of it was of course the Chiefs’ game plan. Maybe he was rusty, since he didn’t play much this preseason. Maybe it was partly because in the second half he was throwing to the likes of Phillip Dorsett. Probably a combination of those things and more. But I’m not blaming his age. That was a terrible opening throw to Dwayne Allen though. Maybe we should have taken that as a sign for that particular night.
Hopefully the coaches were in preseason mode still. Seemed as if the game plan on both sides of the ball left a lot to be desired. I know the Patriots are thin at wide receiver. Julian Edelman out and now Malcolm Mitchell as well. But didn’t they know that playing Danny Amendola every snap was bound to backfire? Love DA, but he is extremely brittle. Add in him returning punts and it was asking for trouble. Of course, then the concussion…Dorsett then had to play apparently. And he has been here less than a week.
Why can’t one of the 15 running backs they carry line up at receiver? Specifically, James White, Dion Lewis and/or Rex Burkhead? White and Lewis have been here, so they should know the “route tree” and all that. Seemed like a better idea playing them over Dorsett, especially since Rex only played 10 snaps and Dion 6. Then they may not have resorted to just throwing the ball up for grabs the last quarter.
And the defense? Ugh. Starts with the game plan again. Jordan Richards for half the game? Yikes! The guy seems to be a special teamer at best…and they are trying to make him a linebacker? Not good. I know the Chiefs have a lot of speed. But they gave real money to David Harris. And he plays 2 snaps? I’m not saying he would be better than Richards or Kyle Van Noy or anyone else. I’m just saying that if he’s playing only 2 snaps on Opening Night, perhaps that money was better spent elsewhere?
Is Dont’a Hightower really ready as well? Was it necessary to rush him out there for Opening Day? I know, Bill will say “football players play” and “if the doctor clears them, they are ready to go” and stuff like that. But even with a seemingly weak front seven, perhaps maybe they should have given him some more time to recover from what ailed him this offseason? Maybe even left him on PUP? He doesn’t exactly play every game every year either. Then, predictably, he goes down too.
I was actually OK with them going with the 2 4th and shorts they had. I just didn’t love the play calls. Mike Gillislee got stuffed on both. But he had nowhere to go. Where was the QB sneak, which seems to work 99.8% of the time? Where was…any other play call? Especially with all of KC up on the line?
Also of note, the Pats may have less depth all around this year…more than in recent years. Is the decision to carry a slew of “special teams only” players going to come back to bite them…finally? They always do it and it always seems to work. But there seem to be more of them this year. Bademosi, Bolden, Ebner, M. Flowers, J. Jones, King, Slater…and I would say Richards too (first names not necessary). These guys are (or should be) special teams players only. To carry 8 of them seems like a lot.
Ultimately, although this game did indeed finish ugly, I expect that the Pats will roll next week and be on their way to something like 13-3, a division championship and a likely appearance in the AFC Championship Game at least.
But…one last point to note: Brady and other veteran players said after the game that the team has to have a better attitude and compete more and all that. And to me, seemed like they borderline “gave up” on that last KC TD. Uh oh. Made me think of 2009 and that dysfunctional locker room. If this is a problem, let’s get this taken care of…like, NOW. Or all the talk will have quickly gone from “16-0” to “10-6, thanks to this team of underachievers”…and possibly worse…oh, 10-6 will likely still will win the division. But it would also mean a quick exit in the playoffs.
On to the picks…short and sweet this week. Not a whole lot of ammo in Week 1. First week is always kind of a crapshoot. Plus, I really didn’t pay close attention to the league this preseason. For whatever the preseason is worth.
Pittsburgh (-9.5) at Cleveland
Cleveland definitely has improved and will be undoubtedly better this year. Just not yet.
Pittsburgh 31, Cleveland 13.
Arizona (-1.5) at Detroit
Going with the Lions at home. Good enough for me.
Detroit 24, Arizona 20.
Jacksonville at Houston (-5.5)
The Jaguars still stink. I don’t care how many running backs they want to use.
Houston 20, Jacksonville 10.
Baltimore at Cincinnati (-2.5)
Could go either way on this division game. But is Joey Flacco ready to go?
Cincinnati 21, Baltimore 17.
Oakland at Tennessee (-1.5)
Lots of people on the Tennessee bandwagon this year. Oakland coming to the East Coast for a 1:00 game. Seems like a Tennessee pick, right? Not today.
Oakland 34, Tennessee 30.
Atlanta (-6.5) at Chicago
Mike Glennon or Mitch Trubisky? Who cares? Atlanta on the road? No matter. I don’t believe Atlanta was as good as they ended up last year, when they got to the Super Bowl and chok…er, lost. But they are probably going to still be in the mix this season. And the Bears should still be putrid.
Atlanta 38, Chicago 17.
Philadelphia at Washington (-0.5)
No idea on this divisional battle. The spread suggests no one else has an idea either. Or “they” like Philly since “they” presumably gave the ‘Skins three points for being at home. Either way, when in doubt, go with the home team…I guess.
Washington 28, Philadelphia 27.
New York Jets at Buffalo (-7.5)
Wretched. Who’s watching this one? Probably not even many Jets or Bills fans. Jets are going to make a serious run at 0-16 this year. That’s high on the list of things that make me happy.
Buffalo 27, New York Jets 6.
Indianapolis at Los Angeles Rams (-3.5)
Another “must-watch” game. Scott Tolzien vs. Jared Goff. I’m sure the only person who predicted New England would actually trade Jacoby Brissett instead of releasing (or just keeping him) may want to see some Jacoby action in this game (there you go Batts!!). But not sure that is going to happen. I would have to think the St. Louis offense will be better this year, even out of the gates. So I am going with Todd Gurley over the 150 year old Frank Gore in this one.
Los Angeles Rams 17, Indianapolis 13.
Seattle at Green Bay (-3.5)
Looks like a good one. Normally I would go with the home team both to win and against the spread in what should be a fantastic game between two top contenders. But Week 1, you just never know.
Green Bay 34, Seattle 31.
Carolina (-5.5) at San Francisco
Feel like Carolina rebounds this year. Not the same feeling about the Niners.
Carolina 34, San Francisco 10.
New York Giants at Dallas (-3.5)
Ezekiel Elliott is ready to go. Dak is back. ‘Boys at home. As much as it pains me though, going with G-Men. Purely a hunch.
New York Giants 28, Dallas 24.
New Orleans at Minnesota (-3.5)
I have absolutely no insight here. Just another hunch.
New Orleans 35, Minnesota 27.
Los Angeles Chargers at Denver (-3.5)
The Broncos at home. Even though Trevor Siemian is still the QB, they presumably still have the stout defense and nice running game. “Los Angeles” in front of Chargers instead of “San Diego” just sounds stupid and wrong.
Denver 27, San Diego 17.
Week (against the spread): 1-0
Week (straight up): 0-1
Season (against the spread): 1-0
Season (straight up): 0-1