Week 10 NFL Picks: Good Guys & Villains

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You know I hate to be the one to say something positive about the NFL, but it seriously looks like we’ve got a nice little season going on here. Just consider:

  • Halfway through the year, we have 3 undefeated teams. Since none of them face each other, New England, Cincinnati and Carolina could all go undefeated (but none of them will, of course). Intrigue!
  • Through 9 weeks, 12 games have gone to overtime. That’s one more than in all of 2011. Excitement!
  • The NFC is 20-16 vs the AFC this year, and according to both Footballoutsiders.com and the ESPN Power Rankings, it’s an even split between AFC and NFC teams at the top of the league. Balance!
  • We can ignore the rapid downfall of the 2012 quarterback draft class (RG3, Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, Ryan Tannehill) because we have the QBs from the 2014 and 2015 drafts: Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater, Derek Carr, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota. Maybe the position isn’t completely fucked in 5 years. Hope!
  • Even though the refs seem to be getting worse at making calls in real time and they’re often screwing things up even with the assistance of video review, we’ve all grown tired of getting up in arms at the next “what the fuck is a catch” controversy. So the officiating isn’t really derailing the season after all. Apathy!
  • And hey, if all else fails, at least this has been a harmless, injury-free season for all the players.

My 7-6 record against the spread last week broke a string of four straight weeks with a losing record. Let’s build on that momentum and dive right into the week 10 picks:

Buffalo at NY Jets (-3)

The Pick: Buffalo

The Score: Buffalo 31, NY Jets 17

The “good guy overcomes all to defeat the bad guy” ending would be the Jets, with the help of a Geno Smith appearance, triumphing over their evil former coach and bad boy linebacker IK Enemkpali. Someone was finally able to turn the Jets into “the good guy”. Add that to Rex Ryan’s resume.

I thought these two teams were almost identical in terms of talent and roster makeup before the season, and my opinion basically hasn’t changed. If you look at who they’ve played and the results through nine weeks (see below), you can see just how similar they are.

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It just seems fitting that Buffalo would win this game to draw even with the Jets. And don’t sleep on the fact that Ryan Fitzpatrick is scheduled for surgery immediately following this game & the Jets secondary might be in even worse shape injury-wise than their quarterbacks.

Detroit at Green Bay (-11.5)

The Pick: Detroit

The Score: Green Bay 30, Detroit 20

Effing Vegas, am I right? How do they make everything such an impossible choice. There are two major factors at work here:

  1. In Detroit’s Favor: Look at this ridiculous Green Bay schedule. They are coming off back-to-back road losses from two of the most physical teams in football, and then they have another road game—a HUGE division-swinging battle in Minnesota—in a week. This game against Detroit is your classic “we’re too beat up to be fancy/let’s just get the win and get out of here” game.
  2. In Green Bay’s Favor: The Lions owner semi-cleaned house by firing the team President and the GM during the bye week. It’s been hard enough for Jim Caldwell and company to put a competent, prepared football team on the field each week without the distractions. I highly doubt this is going to help them on Sunday.

I think the Packers are going to win by precisely 10 points. If the line was 10 or less, I was going big on Green Bay. But I’m forced to take Detroit and cringe for three straight hours. Stupid, stupid pick.

Dallas at Tampa Bay (-1.5)

The Pick: Tampa Bay

The Score: Tampa Bay 23, Dallas 15

I’m not picking against Dallas because of their horrible quarterback situation. With a fully healthy team, the Cowboys could win this game despite a horrible quarterback situation. I’m picking against them because Sean Lee will miss this game, and because Dez Bryant isn’t fully healthy yet. They need everything working if they’re looking to overcome the Romo absence.

Carolina (-6) at Tennessee

The Pick: Carolina

The Score: Carolina 34, Tennessee 22

This is one of those “don’t overthink it” games, at least for me. Five of Carolina’s eight wins have been by a touchdown or more. This will complete their sweep of the AFC South, not really an accomplishment, but a chore they had to check off the ol’ to-do list.

Chicago at St. Louis (-7)

The Pick: St. Louis

The Score: St. Louis 24, Chicago 14

Ya know, I wanted to grab Chicago and the points, but the Rams recently beat the Browns by 18 (as 6-point favorites) and the 49ers by 21 (as 9-point favorites). This seems right up their alley.

Actually, this seems like a great time to check in on which team is making the best case to be crowned 2015 NFL Villain.

  • It was a no-brainer as far back as January that the Patriots would be more hated than the Yankees, Cowboys and Duke basketball all rolled up into one. But with them starting 8-0 and Tom Brady playing immaculate football, there isn’t much trash talking to do. It seems like everyone is simply resigned to the fact that New England is going to the Super Bowl.
  • The Cowboys are always a great backup so they gladly jumped into pole position for NFL Villain for a while. They’ve shown no remorse and even less self awareness as they went all-in on Greg Hardy. The “going out of their way to announce Hardy as a leader” was probably the breaking point for me. (bonus points for murdering some fantasy seasons between injuries to Dez Bryant and Romo)
  • But now the Rams are looming as a mini-Villain. They employ the guy most synonymous with Bountygate as their defensive coordinator. One of their defensive players ended Teddy Bridgewater’s day early last Sunday with a dirty hit to the quarterback’s head. And their home field would be the subject of a 24-hour special investigation on ESPN if it was the home field of the Patriots. We’ve had the random concrete slabs injure one of the game’s premier quarterbacks as well as a journeyman running back who is now suing the city of St. Louis. And let’s not forget about the field actually catching on fire earlier this season. A lot of people aren’t very happy with the Rams right now. I’m sure if they lay low just for a week or two, the Patriots will give everyone a reason to refocus their hate.

New Orleans (-1) at Washington

The Pick: Washington

The Score: Washington 32, New Orleans 26

This line is preposterous if you’re thinking about it from a pure football standpoint. The Redskins are as good or better than the Saints. But Vegas must expect the public to give the Saints a little more respect than they deserve. I’m all over this. I think we might see more money roll in on the Saints and push this line higher. If I can get Washington at +3, it will easily be my favorite bet of the week.

Miami at Philadelphia (-7)

The Pick: Miami

The Score: Miami 20, Philadelphia 17

I actually have no insight whatsoever for this game. I’m not sure what that says about these two teams, but I’ll just go with Philly not being nearly good enough to earn the 7-point favorite respect.

Cleveland at Pittsburgh (-5)

The Pick: Pittsburgh

The Score: Pittsburgh 31, Cleveland 18

The Steelers were 4.5-point favorites against the Raiders last week. The Raiders are considerably better than the Browns. Of course, last week’s game had a healthy Ben Roethlisberger for Pittsburgh. But I think the Steeler offense is a little bit “QB proof” in that the talent of the receivers, the solid running game and the playcalling all setup for an easy day at the office for any competent quarterback. We know now that Michael Vick doesn’t qualify. But I think Landry Jones does.

The encouraging thing for the Steelers, even if the offense does stumble, is that they’ve been pretty decent on defense all year. They’re light years ahead of last season’s crappy D, and should hold up fine against the Browns.

Jacksonville at Baltimore (-6)

The Pick: Baltimore

The Score: Baltimore 28, Jacksonville 20

This flies in the face of everything I stand for. Normally I’d be saying “the Ravens don’t deserve to be 6-point favorites over anyone.” But I’m giving them one last chance here. If ever there was a time for John Harbaugh and this team to gameplan their way to a convincing win, this would be it (coming off a bye, a non-threatening opponent coming to town). A good coach and a good QB would win this game by a touchdown, no problem.

Minnesota at Oakland (-3)

The Pick: Oakland

The Score: Oakland 26, Minnesota 18

I bet everyone thinks the hard part of Minnesota’s schedule begins with Green Bay next week (followed by @Atlanta, Seattle and @Arizona). But it actually starts this week in Oakland.

What a lot of people are going to find out on Sunday is that the Raiders are legitimately good. They’ll probably fall just short of the playoffs this year. Back-to-back games against Denver and Green Bay in December will probably be their undoing. But they’re a ton of fun to watch, and they’re still flying a tiny bit under the radar for gambling purposes.

New England (-7.5) at NY Giants

The Pick: New England

The Score: New England 35, NY Giants 20

On top of having terrible, awful, unbearable memories clouding my judgment on this matchup, the Giants are just a complete mindfuck. The Eli Offense can explode at any time, but it’s entirely unpredictable when.

And while it’s nerve wracking to see JPP return to the lineup just a week before the Pats game, AND knowing a very valuable player in Dion Lewis is out for New England, I just think the Patriots are still better in so many areas. Quarterback, running back, tight end, secondary, linebackers & defensive line, coaching. I’m afraid the steamroller keeps rolling.

Kansas City at Denver (-7)

The Pick: Kansas City

The Score: Denver 24, Kansas City 20

The Broncos have won by more than seven points only twice in eight games this year. They’re good, but that offense limits any blowout potential. And this feels like one of those hard fought, down-to-the-wire division games. If the Chiefs protect the ball like their offense is designed to do, that means they’re not giving the Broncos any defensive scoring chances or short fields for the Denver offense to work. Can the Broncos really win by more than a touchdown if they have to slowly march down the full length of the field all day? We haven’t seen them have to do that too often.

Arizona at Seattle (-3)

The Pick: Arizona

The Score: Arizona 31, Seattle 30

At this point in the season, you’d expect the Seahawks to have some statement wins at home we could point to as evidence that they’ll probably dismantle the Cardinals. But they don’t. In three home games, they’ve blown out Chicago 26-0, snuck by Detroit 13-10 on a controversial call and lost 27-23 to the Panthers. The interesting thing with Seattle this year is they’ve only been able to beat the cupcakes on their schedule. Their four wins have come against: Chicago, Detroit, San Francisco and Dallas. Their four losses have been to: St. Louis, Green Bay, Cincinnati and Carolina.

That’s night and day right there. I don’t think it’s any sort of coincidence, just that the Seahawks aren’t very good. If they continue to beat the easy teams and lose to the hard ones, they’re looking at a 9-7 record. That actually feels right for them in 2015.

Houston at Cincinnati (-10.5)

The Pick: Cincinnati

The Score: Cincinnati 36, Houston 16

For those of you still dreaming about an improbable AFC South division crown for the Texans, a loss in this game won’t be a huge deal. They’d be one game behind the Colts with one game to play against them still. At 3-6, Houston would still be in the driver’s seat. Simply incredible.

As for the Bengals, here’s what I’m excited to see: After they destroy the Texans to win their second consecutive Primetime game, they’re going to lose on the road in Arizona in Primetime next Sunday night. Then people will pounce on the tried & true Andy Dalton narrative. Then they’ll win a Primetime game at San Francisco in week 15, followed by a loss at Denver in Primetime the next week. Once again, we’ll hear all about Dalton melting under the Primetime pressure. Just remember that he went 3-2 in “spotlight games” this year when you automatically pick against him in the playoffs. I’m already looking forward to betting HUGE on the Bengals in round 1 of the playoffs.

By the way, just an awesome job by Monday Night Football following last week’s Chicago-San Diego “showdown” with this gem of a game. Brilliant scheduling.

The weekly tally looks like this:

  • 8 Favorites, 6 Underdogs
  • 1 Home Dog, 5 Road Dogs
  • 7 Home Teams, 7 Away Teams
  • Season Record: 65-61-6 (7-6 in week 9)

Enjoy week 10.

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Week 7 NFL Picks: 12 Truly Awful Matchups

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My Mom’s visiting. I’m 20 hours away from driving to Vegas. I had my worst results of the year in terms of making picks last week. My motivation is low.

No fancy intro to the week 7 picks. I have plenty to say about a lot of these matchups. Let’s dive right into it.

Seattle (-7) at San Francisco

The Pick: San Francisco

The Score: Seattle 23, San Francisco 20

Wow. Just, wow. This line. A 2-4 team is a full touchdown road favorite? I guess, for the 49ers, barely losing to the Giants and then beating the Ravens doesn’t earn you much respect these days. Not only is it possible the Seahawks just aren’t very good, but they are playing the Thursday game after facing Cincinnati and Carolina in back-to-back weeks. I feel like those were pretty punishing games physically. It’s impossible to have any faith in Seattle right now. (P.S. I wrote all of the previous paragraph when the line was Seattle -6. I’m even happier now. Worst case scenario push!)

Buffalo (-4) vs Jacksonville (game in London)

The Pick: Jacksonville

The Score: Jacksonville 26, Buffalo 17

I’m looking at the Jaguars’ roster and starting to think with some decent coaching, they should be one of those perpetually frisky teams. Offensively they’ve got some real talent at receiver, running back, tight end, and maybe, but probably not, quarterback.

But I’m picking the Jags in this game less because of how OK they are and more because how bad Buffalo might be. The Bills are still getting by on the reputation of their week 1 win over Indy and week 2 “kinda kept it close” loss to New England. But since then they’ve beaten a Miami team that had quit on its coach and a Tennessee team that’s looking like one of the three worst teams in the NFL.

I’m also pulling for a close game because I’ll be in Vegas for this week’s football Sunday and if I’m going to be up at 6:30 in the morning on little to no sleep, I’d like it to be worth my while.

Tampa Bay at Washington (-3.5)

The Pick: Washington

The Score: Washington 20, Tampa Bay 15

What a perfect time to mention how bad this week’s schedule of games is. Look around. There is one really good game (Jets/Patriots) and one OK game (Browns/Rams) in the morning, and there are only two total afternoon games. I guess Cowboys/Giants is the more interesting of the two. Chalk this forgettable week up to three of the five undefeated teams being on their bye (Cincinnati, Denver, Green Bay). But also chalk it up to the fact that the NFL has a handful of good, intriguing teams and about 27 worthless teams. Think about how bad the quality of Monday’s Giants/Eagles game was and then realize that those are two of the top 15 teams in this league.

Anyway, this feels like one of those games where afterwards we all go, “Whoa, are we sure the Redskins aren’t going to push the other NFC East teams for the division crown?” The answer is no. They are not.

Atlanta (-4.5) at Tennessee

The Pick: Atlanta

The Score: Atlanta 34, Tennessee 16

I get that the Falcons needed overtime to beat Washington at home and then lost at New Orleans last Thursday, but they’re coming off extra rest and most likely facing Zach Mettenberger. The Falcons like to blitz, and I don’t picture everyone saying on Monday morning, “Oh man, Mettenberger was really solid with pressure on him all day. Nice win by the Titans.”

Also, the Falcons have lots of useful weapons and solid coaching. Tennessee has a backup quarterback and one of the worst head coaches in football.

I said this last week about the Bills and the Tyrod Taylor / EJ Manuel situation and it applies here: It’s either Mettenberger or a gimpy Marcus Mariota starting for Tennessee. Plan accordingly.

New Orleans at Indianapolis (-5)

The Pick: Indianapolis

The Score: Indianapolis 36, New Orleans 21

For me the Saints are in that category of teams who I can’t possibly consider taking on the road, unless they’re getting a touchdown at minimum. The Colts do well against soft defenses that don’t get pressure on Andrew Luck, and the Saints are a perfect fit there. Remember that the Saints needed all the help in the world (flukey turnovers, shanked punts, lucky bounces) to beat Atlanta at home last week. Their other win was an overtime game at home against Brandon Weeden and the JV Cowboys. More than maybe anyone, I’d love to see the Colts go 7-9 and miss the playoffs, but it’s not happening. Check this out from the Indy Star’s Zak Keefer: Since Chuck Pagano took over in 2012, the Colts are 19-2 against the AFC South and 19-19 against everyone else. They are exactly who we thought they were.

Minnesota (-3) at Detroit

The Pick: Minnesota

The Score: Minnesota 23, Detroit 14

We’ve got a rare scenario this early into the season where these two teams have already faced each other (in week 2). In that game, Adrian Peterson and a variety of Vikings backups ran for 200 yards. It doesn’t look like the Lions’ run defense has improved in the month since that meeting. I’m feeling big things from Peterson and the Minnesota defense. But not from Teddy Bridgewater. He stinks.

Pittsburgh (-2) at Kansas City

The Pick: Kansas City

The Score: Kansas City 28, Pittsburgh 23

This is the first game I’ve seen in a long time where several major Vegas sportsbooks still haven’t set a line on it by Thursday morning. I guess Ben Roethlisberger’s status is just that important. So proceed with caution. Vegasinsider.com is the only place I could find a spread so that’s what I’ll use.

I believe this line is set with the thought that neither Ben Roethlisberger nor Michael Vick will play. Landry Jones is the guy for the Steelers. And though he looked good in relief of Vick last week, it’s still a first-time starter in a road game that features a pretty vicious crowd. The Chiefs’ shitty game last week was predictable with only a few days to adjust to the loss of Jamaal Charles. But Andy Reid still has weapons on offense and he’ll at least put together a decent plan moving forward.

Meanwhile, does everyone realize how important the Steelers are to the enjoyment of the AFC over the rest of the year? You could argue that the AFC West (Denver) and the AFC South (Indy) are all but wrapped up, and if the Patriots beat the Jets on Sunday, the AFC East will be effectively locked up as well. Pittsburgh pushing Cincinnati over the final nine games of the year might be the only opportunity we have for a competitive AFC division.

Cleveland at St. Louis (-6)

The Pick: Cleveland

The Score: Cleveland 27, St. Louis 26

C’mon, you expect me to pick against one of the most exciting Red Zone Channel teams of 2015? It goes Arizona then Cleveland for which teams cause the most excitement when Andrew Siciliano announces they’re about to cut over to a different game for an update.

The Browns’ last three games have been decided by three points. There’s no reason to think this will be changing anytime soon. More than miraculously winning 11 games and going to the playoffs, the Browns can earn our respect by repeatedly playing in the most exciting game of the week. They’re well on their way and I say that keeps up this week, especially with the opponent being St. Louis and Jeff Fisher, a man who has no interest in blowing out another team.

Houston at Miami (-4.5)

The Pick: Houston

The Score: Miami 22, Houston 19

I guess there will be plenty of people who think replacing Joe Philbin automatically puts the Dolphins back on track with the preseason hype that had them winning at least 9 or 10 games. But I’m not fooled. This team still has plenty of problems and I don’t think they’ll be winning many games, let alone winning by more than a field goal. I think we’re looking at a 200 yard receiving game for DeAndre Hopkins, which will force me to add yet another awesome young receiver into the “best receiver in the league” conversation.

NY Jets at New England (-9)

The Pick: New England

The Score: New England 37, NY Jets 23

Here’s the question: Do I really think the Jets “have something special going for them” as far too many media members seem to be saying right now? Are they some kind of team of destiny?

Or…are they a team that’s gotten to play a pretty awesome schedule? They beat Cleveland in week 1 after Josh McCown got hurt on the opening drive while fumbling on the goal line. Then they beat Indy, not a bad win, but not as good as it seemed. They lost to Philly before putting the nail in Joe Philbin’s coffin by rolling the mailing-it-in Dolphins. And then a big win over Washington last week.

The matchup everyone will be harping on this week as a big advantage for the Jets is Chris Ivory, leading the league in rushing yards/game, facing a 29th-ranked Patriots run defense. But like usual, I don’t think Bill Belichick cares if someone runs for 150 yards on his team as long as it takes 40 carries to get there. No big plays and force Ryan Fitzpatrick to throw at an underrated secondary.

The Patriots survived a couple road games and a rash of mostly minor injuries. They know they can wrap up the division over the next three games, all of which are at home. We’re only a few weeks away from me constantly asking, “Is it too early to be resting Gronk for the playoffs?”

Oakland at San Diego (-4)

The Pick: Oakland

The Score: Oakland 22, San Diego 21

You know what the Raiders are? The Browns of the West. They’re the exact same team. Vegas thinks so. Both of them were about 4.5 or 5 point underdogs to Denver earlier this year. Both have won a couple times and lost a couple very close games. And Cleveland played San Diego very tight a couple weeks back, ultimately losing by three. San Diego also let Pittsburgh with Michael Vick beat them at home. The Chargers are not a good team. This is an easy pick.

Dallas at NY Giants (-3.5)

The Pick: NY Giants

The Score: NY Giants 30, Dallas 16

Generally speaking, you beat the Giants by throwing on them. It seems like a competent quarterback throwing between 40-50 times is the recipe against New York so far. That’s what Dallas did to barely win the week 1 matchup between these two teams. But I just can’t see Matt Cassel and either no Dez Bryant or a rusty/limited/why-is-he-playing Dez Bryant putting up enough points to stay with the Giants, who have put up 30+ in their last two home games.

If the NFC East is destined to mirror last year’s NFC South, then the Cowboys should absolutely win this game. So keep that in mind.

Philadelphia at Carolina (-3)

The Pick: Carolina

The Score: Carolina 18, Philadelphia 15

By that score, I’m predicting a push. I really feel like Carolina should win by exactly three. Both defenses are solid. Both offenses have plenty of problems. I could see a field goal fest. Or, I could see Sam Bradford throwing four picks to Josh Norman as we all start to contemplate the NFC’s road to the Super Bowl going through Carolina.

Baltimore at Arizona (-9)

The Pick: Arizona

The Score: Arizona 33, Baltimore 20

Baltimore is a bad football team. At 1-5, they’re in a four-way tie for the worst record in football. Interestingly enough, the Cardinals have faced several teams that are right near the Ravens in terms of win-loss record and overall incompetence. Here’s how they’ve fared: 31-19 win vs New Orleans, 48-23 win at Chicago, 47-7 win vs San Francisco, 42-17 win at Detroit.

Their worst game against a bottom feeder so far is a 12-point win. I think it’s very reasonable to think they’re going to come out and put up close to 40 on the Ravens. It will be yet another boring Monday Night game except for those of us who are betting big on Arizona.

The weekly tally looks like this:

  • 8 Favorites, 6 Underdogs
  • 3 Road Dogs, 2 Home Dogs, 1 Neutral Dog
  • 8 Home Teams, 5 Road Teams, 1 Neutral Team

Enjoy week 7.

Week 6 NFL Picks: The Cream is Rising

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With 30% of the NFL schedule in the books, it’s become pretty clear who the good teams are. Remember those top 8 teams I discussed last week? The ones that were a combined 26-4-1 against the spread through four weeks? Well, two of those teams were on a bye in week 5 (Carolina and the Jets), but the other six went 4-1-1 against the spread. That means these “great eight” teams are now 30-5-1 on the season.

Now maybe you don’t think all eight of them belong in the same category. The advanced stats at footballoutsiders.com supports your claim that these teams need to be separated into two categories. There’s the “top of the elite”: New England, Green Bay, Cincinnati and Arizona. And then there’s the “very good but we’re still not sold”: Atlanta, Denver, Carolina and the Jets.

The four elite teams have been head & shoulders above the rest of the league to the point where there’s a huge gap between them and everyone else in the footballoutsiders.com team efficiency stat. There are two ways of looking at all this:

  1. This is the NFL and it’s very rare for even one team to dominate, let alone four teams, over the course of the season. These teams will fall back to earth soon enough.
  2. We’re in one of those rare years where a handful of teams have truly separated themselves from the pack, and the sooner we recognize that this isn’t a random statistical blip, the sooner we’ll start making lots of money by backing these superior teams.

I think you’ll see from the picks below exactly what side I landed on. Here are the week 6 picks.

Atlanta (-4) at New Orleans

The Pick: Atlanta

The Score: Atlanta 30, New Orleans 10

I tried to be a smart bettor by grabbing New Orleans with the 3.5 points on Monday because I thought there was a decent chance the Falcons would rule Julio Jones out for the game, and Vegas would appropriately lower the line. That hasn’t happened and it looks like Jones will give it a go on Thursday, but I still like the Saints. I think Jones will be much less than his normal self. I think the Falcons’ starting center being out is a big deal because center is always one of those underrated positions when it comes to losing your starter. I think the Falcons were already one of the sketchier undefeated teams in the first place, and that’s when they had everything going for them. And I know Drew “late-career Brett Favre impersonator” Brees can still put up a great game from time to time. As of Friday morning, we’ll be down to five undefeated teams.

Wait a sec. Am I really picking the 1-4 Saints to keep it close against undefeated Atlanta just four days after they no-showed against a putrid Philadelphia team? Here’s why I’m completely reversing my pick on this one and ultimately going with Atlanta: Despite my pristine record through five weeks (42-32-3 against the spread including an 8-5-1 mark in week 5), I’m actually 0-5 picking the Thursday night games. Some mental block is stopping me from getting the first game of the week right. Therefore, scratch everything I said. The Falcons are going to roll.

Washington at NY Jets (-6)

The Pick: Washington

The Score: NY Jets 15, Washington 12

It seems like almost every week there’s one game where I just can’t make a decision no matter how long I stare at the team’s names and their respective stats. Maybe I should make “My Can’t Pick Pick” a staple of the weekly column. Anyway, this week the Redskins-Jets game is the one.

On one hand, this feels like a bad matchup for the ‘Skins. On the road against a team coming off a bye. The Jets happen to have an awesome defense that will include Sheldon Richardson, their stud defensive end, for the first time this year. Washington’s offensive line is a little beat up. DeSean Jackson is probably out for one more week.

But are we really sure the Jets are good enough to be laying six points? And doesn’t it seem just a little too easy to say, “Yep, Jets coming off a bye are going to shut the Washington offense down completely?” Do we need to remind ourselves that Ryan Fitzpatrick has been a little too competent this year and the New York offense still has to figure out a way to put up points?

For what it’s worth, I flipped a coin to determine that Washington is my pick.

Arizona (-3.5) at Pittsburgh

The Pick: Arizona

The Score: Arizona 33, Pittsburgh 10

Well, Ben Roethlisberger is certainly making it difficult to have a confident pick here. He claimed at one point this week that he plans to play in this game. No one seems to believe it, and as the week goes on, it seems less and less likely.

But that makes me confused by this line. I’m sorry, but Michael Vick going up against one of the most balanced, well-coached teams in the league is going to be a bloodbath. I’m glad the Steelers pulled out that crazy win on Monday night because it probably kept this line down a bit and caused people to believe in Pittsburgh. If you saw that game with your own two eyes, you know Vick was terrible, the Chargers dropped three or four interceptions, and San Diego looked like one of the worst teams in the league. Arizona won’t look anything like the Steelers’ last opponent.

Kansas City at Minnesota (-4)

The Pick: Minnesota

The Score: Minnesota 26, Kansas City 15

This line feels about right. With a healthy Jamaal Charles, I would have only made the Vikings 3-point favorites. After all, we still don’t know much about them except that Teddy Bridgewater is definitely a bad quarterback. (OK, you’re right, he is a good quarterback. But only if we’re now using “good” to describe guys like Ryan Tannehill, Nick Foles, 2015 Joe Flacco, and yes, Bridgewater.)

But if I have to pick one of these teams to overachieve even slightly, it’s Minnesota. When Charles has missed time (last week against Chicago or the playoff game in Indianapolis a couple years ago, for example), the Chiefs’ offense has come to a screeching halt. And a rested Adrian Peterson is probably a good Adrian Peterson.

Cincinnati (-3) at Buffalo

The Pick: Cincinnati

The Score: Cincinnati 24, Buffalo 14

OK I had guessed this line would be Cincinnati -6.5. I was way off. But I think what happened is I was giving the Bengals a similar amount of respect as I’d give the Patriots or Packers while Vegas is not giving them that respect. So that’s your decision to make right there. Think about it. If there was a week 6 game of New England at Buffalo or Green Bay at Buffalo, and all other things stayed the same, both of those visiting teams would be 6 or 6.5 point favorites against the Bills. So do you believe the Bengals are that good right now? If so, it’s an easy decision.

And even if you’re not sure about the Bengals…EJ “shh, everybody keep not talking about how huge of a draft bust I turned out to be” Manuel might be starting for the Bills. And if he’s not, that means a gimpy Tyrod Taylor is.

Chicago at Detroit (-3)

The Pick: Chicago

The Score: Chicago 23, Detroit 16

This seems like a matchup tailor-made for Detroit’s first win of the season. But these two teams seem almost exactly even in every way I sliced it. I gave the nod to Chicago because believe it or not, they have the better quarterback and head coach at the moment. And that should be a scary thought for Detroit fans. Matthew Stafford is pretty bad and it doesn’t feel too fluky.

As it turns out, I made a preseason bet that at least one team will go 0-16. Detroit is my last hope. Go Bears.

Denver (-4.5) at Cleveland

The Pick: Cleveland

The Score: Cleveland 11, Denver 6

There’s definitely some stuff going against Denver this week. First of all, they’re on the road. Second, in every game this season the Broncos have struggled to score even an average amount of points. Third, DeMarcus Ware is out “a couple weeks” according to Von Miller. HUGE loss. Fourth, Cleveland might fit that description from my column last week of a team that can actually put up a decent amount of points on the Denver defense, meaning Peyton Manning and that offense will have to actually move the ball for once.

It might be too happy of an outcome for a city like Cleveland to knock off undefeated Denver and get that Browns record to a respectable 3-3, but if they can’t do that, maybe they keep it to a three-point loss?

Houston at Jacksonville (-1)

The Pick: Jacksonville

The Score: Jacksonville 23, Houston 17

The Texans and Jaguars are the exact same team, right down to the pitiful fact that neither of them could beat Matt Hasselbeck and the god-awful Colts. If they played each other 100 times on a neutral field, they’d each probably win 5 times and they’d tie 90 times. So obviously Jacksonville’s the pick based on the line + home game.

Random Side Note: The Texans may very well threaten the 2007 Chiefs for the worst “Hard Knocks” team of all time. Of all the teams that have been featured on HBO’s preseason reality show, the ‘07 Chiefs have the worst record in the season when they were profiled by HBO at 4-12. If Houston loses this game, they’ll be 1-5.

Miami at Tennessee (-2)

The Pick: Tennessee

The Score: Tennessee 16, Miami 12

It’s really as simple as not trusting the new coaching situation and locker room psyche in Miami anymore than I trusted the old coaching situation and locker room psyche.

Carolina at Seattle (-7)

The Pick: Carolina

The Score: Seattle 20, Carolina 17

This line is way too high, right? I’ll give you that the Seahawks should be favored as they’ll probably win, but Carolina can keep it within seven, can’t they? Coming off a bye, I feel like Carolina’s good for 17 points. And I kinda think that’s about the same amount that Seattle can put up. I think the Panthers’ undefeated record overstates how good they are, but I also don’t think they’re as mediocre as this line suggests.

Someone should tell Pete Carroll that it’s not too early for his team to start stringing together some wins. Their schedule is a bit easier than Arizona’s in the second half of the season, and they play Arizona twice during that time. They can easily catch them, but they have to win at least two of their next three before a bye week (Carolina this week, then at San Francisco and at Dallas).

San Diego at Green Bay (-10.5)

The Pick: Green Bay

The Score:  Green Bay 38, San Diego 17

Look, I get it. A line this high never lets you feel invincible when taking the favorite, but I feel pretty damn good about this. This Chargers team lost to Michael Vick and an underwhelming Steelers team at home and they’re going into Green Bay on short rest and injury-ravaged on the offensive line.

As I already mentioned at the beginning of this column, Green Bay is near the top of the elite this year. They’re one of the few teams I’m riding under nearly any circumstance.

They also look to be the only anxiety-free Survivor Pool pick this week. I actually feel bad for anyone who’s already used them and has to decide between the other crappy remaining choices.

Baltimore (-2.5) at San Francisco

The Pick: Baltimore

The Score: Baltimore 23, San Francisco 9

Wow, how things have changed for these two teams in less than three years. The Ravens and 49ers faced off in Super Bowl 47 (though that was only the sideshow to the main event HarBowl). Here are some of the guys who played starring roles in that game: Ray Rice, Ed Reed, Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Frank Gore, Aldon & Justin Smith, Michael Crabtree, Patrick Willis, Jim Harbaugh, A 34-minute Power Outage…and not one of those guys is still on his respective team.

This is a toss-up game for me. I can see both results. I’m breaking the tie by going back to my preseason predictions for these two teams. Baltimore is still a better team, even if injuries and bad luck have ruined their season.

New England (-10) at Indianapolis

The Pick: New England

The Score: New England 65, Indianapolis 3

I’m as excited at the notion of the Patriots purposely running up the score on the Colts as anyone. Trust me, there’s nothing I’d rather see than a 62-0 score late in the 3rd quarter and Chuck Pagano sheepishly asking the referees if they’re sure the Patriots aren’t cheating.

So I’ll be rooting for some scenario like that on Sunday night.

But I thought about that 2007 Patriots season for a while this week. You can absolutely make the case that they were out for blood and pissed that the world thought they cheated their way to all the recent glory. They were murdering teams. But what did they do to the Jets in the second meeting between the two teams that year? After all, it was specifically Eric Mangini who turned in New England to the league after the Patriots beat his team in week 1. Well for all their anger, all the talk about payback, they went out in week 15 and beat the Jets in a close game, 20-10, in Foxboro. It wasn’t a blowout at all. In fact, it took an overturned touchdown call late in the game to help the Patriots keep the lead. And no, the Jets weren’t a super competitive team that year. They were actually one of the worst teams in the league with a 3-10 record going into New England.

So no, I don’t think the Patriots are now, or have ever been, an immortal collection of football players who can decide week to week whether they want to punish an opponent or not. Their philosophy is simple: Beat every team by as many points as we possibly can. Some weeks that looks like a 56-10 drubbing where they’re running up the score. Some weeks it’s a 27-24 nailbiter that gives the media a week of easy content…Is there now a blueprint to keep up with the Patriots?

Having said all that, I’m going with the Patriots because Andrew Luck’s return to health isn’t going to be the difference between the Colts being a true contender or not. They still have a myriad of problems, and the Patriots will exploit them like usual.

Also, if you’re scared of laying all those points on a road favorite, just know that there have been three instances this season where a road team has been favored by a touchdown or more. Here they are:

  • Week 1: Green Bay (-7) at Chicago
  • Week 4: Green Bay (-9) at San Francisco
  • Week 5: New England (-10) at Dallas

The favorite covered in each of those games. Considering we’re talking exclusively about Green Bay and New England, you might have to throw out your usual concerns over backing such huge road favorites.

NY Giants at Philadelphia (-4)

The Pick: Philadelphia

The Score: Philadelphia 26, NY Giants 17

This is another game where I initially had a different outcome and decided to switch it. At first I thought either the Giants would win or they’d lose by just a field goal. So I loved getting them at +4. But it turns out I’m frightened by all their injuries. They were banged up before they played San Francisco last Sunday night. Now they are going to be without a starting defensive back, and guys like Odell Beckham Jr. and Rueben Randle are banged up.

One other  thing I’m cognizant of while picking this game is that, by rule, the Giants aren’t allowed to have things going too smoothly for very long. They’ve won three straight. This would seem like the time for them to lay an egg. They host Dallas in week 7. I think they’ll handle Matt Cassel and company. So unless you think the Giants are capable of a five game winning streak (they’re not), you should pick against them here.

The weekly tally looks like this:

  • 10 Favorites, 4 Underdogs
  • 3 Road Dogs, 1 Home Dog
  • 6 Home Teams, 8 Road Teams

Week 2 NFL Picks: Ready For Another “Crazy” Week?

Screen Shot 2015-09-16 at 3.49.00 PM

Was that a crazy first week of NFL games? Or is saying/writing/thinking that week 1 was crazy simply an involuntary reaction at this point? It really didn’t seem that crazy to me. When we’re using “crazy” in this context, we basically mean the results were wildly different than our expectations. My expectations led to me crushing my week 1 picks. I posted a 10-5-1 record against the spread, won the weekly 1st place prize in one of my Pick ‘Em leagues, went 4-for-5 on my confidence picks, and wisely used the Jets to advance in my Survivor Pool. Much like I’m hoping the Patriots will do, I’m in complete Eff You mode this season with my picks. The past two years have been unacceptable. Vegas has disrespected me and it’s time for me to take them for everything they’ve got. (It turns out “everything they’ve got” is somewhere in the range of $5 billion per year. So maybe I’ll just take them for “some of what they’ve got” instead.)

If you are one of the people who thought it was a crazy week, that probably means you were backing Seattle, Indianapolis, Philadelphia and Minnesota. All four of those teams were favored on the road, and in the case of all but Seattle, these teams were overhyped by the media throughout the offseason. I’m not saying anyone needs to panic yet, but pumping the brakes at least on Philly and Minnesota might be a good idea. Actually, should we be skeptical of Seattle & Indy too? They certainly have the talent to be as good as last year, but it sounds like there might be some internal turmoil within both teams. Seattle’s got the ghost of Super Bowl 49 following them around in the form of Marshawn Lynch’s mom calling for the team’s offensive coordinator to be fired, and everyone knows that the entire team now hates Russell Wilson and his “miracle water.” Over in Indy, a new report pops up every day about Chuck Pagano’s job (in)security and how he doesn’t get along with Colts GM Ryan Grigson. These two teams are going to be interesting whether they’re winning or losing over the next 16 weeks.

Between my two Pick ‘Em Leagues (where we pick each game against the spread every week), I tallied up which incorrect picks were chosen the most among the participants in week 1. Here they are:

  • Indianapolis (-2.5): 25 of 34 people picked them (74%)
  • New England (-7.5): 24 of 34 (71%)
  • Tampa Bay (-3.5): 24 of 34 (71%)
  • Dallas (-5.5): 24 of 34 (71%)
  • Philadelphia (-2.5): 23 of 34 (68%)
  • Seattle (-4.5): 22 of 34 (65%)
  • Minnesota (-2.5) = 16 of 34 (47%)

All seven of these disappointments were favored, and five of them even lost their game outright. And if it wasn’t for this man…

eli-dope-nypcover

…the Cowboys would have been the sixth team on that list to lose outright.

What does this all mean? Nothing, really. Just that the NFL is set up for weekly “craziness”, which makes wild results not crazy at all. It’s actually completely normal.

Here are some other random nuggets before I dive into week 2:

  • By far my favorite play of the weekend was this:
  • Such a ballsy, unnecessary and unexpected play. In that moment, Josh McCown went from being my 30th favorite QB in the NFL to somewhere in my top 10. I hope he comes back soon and breaks out his “Black Hawk Down” routine on every drive.
  • Random question: When did they announce that Cris Collinsworth and Matthew McConaughey were actually the same person? Because I missed that announcment.

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  • Do you think maybe Microsoft is a major sponsor of NBC’s “Football Night In America” and they are pushing the Surface tablet hard? Jesus Christ, I couldn’t tell if Dan Patrick and the gang were on an NBC set or inside one of those Microsoft retail stores this past Sunday night.

microsoft-store16rb2

  • And why do their two “insiders” Peter King and Mike Florio have those Surface tablets stationed in front of them when they’re giving updates on NFL news? There’s no way they’re using those things to get stories or quotes (that would be what their phones are for). There’s no way they’re reading the script off of them (that’s what the teleprompter is for). Just a ridiculous amount of product placement that I know you’ll see now that I’ve pointed it out to you.
  • Take a look at these two quarterback stat lines from week 1:

bortles manning

  • The media can spend as much time as they want praising the Denver defense, but that doesn’t change the fact that the second stat line is Peyton Manning’s, and you’ll notice it’s just slightly better than the one above it, which belongs to Blake Bortles. How come everyone’s always telling us that a team needs a good QB to win in January, and yet now all of the sudden we’re hearing that the Broncos don’t need Manning to be good? He just needs to “manage the game” according to everything I’ve read. All I know is that Manning will be losing a divisional road game for the first time since he joined the Broncos on Thursday night. I can’t imagine a scenario where the Chiefs don’t win that one.
  • OK, so let me get this straight. The two Patriots employees who were supposedly the masterminds behind the ball deflation scheme are reinstated with the approval of the NFL? And the NFL is the organization that is so positive these people cheated that they are continuing the court battle to ensure someone gets punished for this super serious conduct detrimental to the league, right? But the league didn’t bat an eye at reinstating these confirmed (by the league’s standards) cheaters? I’m at a loss here. This makes no sense except for the fact that the Patriots never cheated, no one ever let even the tiniest amount of air out of a football, and the NFL is trying to quietly let things go back to normal. I’d be shocked if they don’t drop their appeal at some point and try to distract us from knowing they did that. At which time we should all wonder why we let the NFL take us for this lovely 7-month ride.
  • Does anyone know why we’re calling Tyrod Taylor “T-Mobile” and more importantly, does anyone know how to make it stop?
  • You know that preseason predictions blog that I did with guest blogger Neil where we select which people will win real and fake awards throughout the season? Yeah, that’s already going pretty poorly. Here are some early results:
    • Neil had Josh McCown as his first QB benched because of ineffectiveness and I had Kirk Cousins. This “award” went to Brian Hoyer.
    • Neil and I both had San Francisco as the last winless team, and lo & behold, they won their week 1 game! Whoops.
    • Neil also lost his pick on which team will be the last to lose a game as he selected the Colts.
    • Even though we won’t know who the Defensive Rookie of the Year is until the end of the season, Neil might be playing from behind with his pick of Jets defensive end Leonard Williams considering he’s still trying to get into game shape!

So now we’ve arrived at week 2. And you know what? I bet by the end of the weekend people will be claiming that week 2 was “crazy.” Maybe it’ll be more injuries. Maybe it’ll be a shocking number of upsets. Maybe an opposing team will say something nice about the Patriots. But something will happen to send us all on our way thinking it was an insane week of football.

You know what I think is crazy? The fact that you can go to my favorite gambling website Bovada right this second and get nearly 3/1 odds on Kansas City winning the AFC West (+275 to be exact…bet $10, profit $27.50). If the Chiefs beat the Broncos on Thursday, this offer won’t be around any longer so jump on it. Maybe the Chiefs only looked legit last week because Houston was such a mess. Maybe Peyton Manning found some high-quality P.E.D.’s in the last four days. But something tells me this Kansas City team is going to be leading that division most of the year. Don’t expect me to share my winnings with you. Go bet on it yourself. NOW! [Editor’s Note: I wrote the previous paragraph on Wednesday night. By Thursday at 10am Pacific Time, the line had changed. Kansas City is now only 2/1 to win the division. Hmm…..]

Time to dive into the week 2 picks.

Denver at Kansas City (-3)

The Pick: Kansas City

The Score: Kansas City 28, Denver 16

Listen, I’m fully prepared for the unpredictable NFL to give us a huge Broncos win by way of a throwback Peyton Manning performance. I’m not about to say the guy is completely done, and I’d be shocked if he doesn’t have at least a handful of Pro Bowl level games left in his arsenal this year. But it doesn’t seem like a road game on three days’ rest against a team that just slaughtered the Texans in Houston is the time to predict that. Whenever I try to envision a Denver win, all I can see is the nightmare performance by Tom Brady and the Patriots offense at Arrowhead Stadium in week 4 last year. Expect this to be a big test for the Kansas City offense regardless of Manning’s performance. Houston had J.J. Watt to cause problems for KC last week, but Denver’s defense is legit across the board. If the Chiefs put up 30, we should all be terrified that my random prediction for them to go to the Super Bowl just might look decent.

Houston at Carolina (-3)

The Pick: Houston

The Score: Houston 17, Carolina 15

“You’ve gotta earn it every day…If things aren’t going very well…look, we’re not on a short leash here. But look, we’re not gonna sit there and let it go like eight games of not being very good.”

Those are Bill O’Brien’s words in THIS “Hard Knocks” clip from August. Even though he said Brian Hoyer has to earn the starting job every day, he also said the QB isn’t on a short leash. Anyone who watched that conversation had to be thinking Hoyer would get at least a handful of starts before O’Brien even considered making a change. And yet, here were are, week 2, and he’s swapping QBs.

It’s a little confusing that one bad half of football outweighed everything O’Brien apparently saw from Hoyer over the four months of offseason activities.

I have nothing to say about the Panthers because I saw exactly 0.0 seconds of their week 1 win over Jacksonville. I’m picking the Texans to cover because I’m pretty sure Carolina had trouble putting the Jaguars away, and there’s a chance the Jags will be the worst team in football. I have minimal confidence in this pick.

San Francisco at Pittsburgh (-6)

The Pick: Pittsburgh

The Score: Pittsburgh 30, San Francisco 20

I’d certainly prefer this line to come down just a little, but nevertheless I’m very confident in the Steelers. You may not realize it by the final score, but Pittsburgh moved the ball easily on the road in New England last Thursday, and they were a couple of mental miscues away from actually winning. And the last time I checked, the 49ers don’t have Gronk on their team. San Francisco looked just a tad too good in its Monday night home game against the woefully unprepared Vikings. It’s a big point spread for a team that’s 0-1 and is still missing several key pieces (Le’Veon Bell, Martavis Bryant, Maurkice Pouncey), but I like their chances at home.

Tampa Bay at New Orleans (-10)

The Pick: Tampa Bay

The Score: New Orleans 31, Tampa Bay 24

Seems like an obvious Survivor Pool pick, but how confident can you really be in this New Orleans team right now? Did you know that in 2014 a horrible Tampa Bay team took the Saints to overtime in New Orleans and then 5 weeks later those same Saints lost to the average 49ers in overtime, also at home? The Saints aren’t an automatic “unbeatable at home” team anymore.

No one in their right mind could pick the Saints to lose outright, but even if they lead by two touchdowns all day, couldn’t you see them giving up some points when the game’s already been decided? Both teams are horrible defensively. I tend not to bet on a team to hold onto a 10-point lead when their defense is absolute garbage.

Detroit at Minnesota (-3)

The Pick: Detroit

The Score: Detroit 23, Minnesota 16

Here’s my problem with the Vikings: They had the 8th worst run defense in 2014 and just let the 49ers run for 230 yards at a rate of 6 yards per carry even though they knew full well that running was going to be San Francisco’s preferred method of moving the ball. How could you not want to pick the Lions knowing that’ll allow you to root for Ameer Abdullah, the man who immediately made all of our Rookie of the Year predictions look terrible last week?

Arizona (-2) at Chicago

The Pick: Arizona

The Score: Arizona 21, Chicago 13

As much as I want to start predicting the Cardinals to lose, I’ve made myself wake up each morning, look in the mirror and repeat this sentence 10 times: “Just wait until Carson Palmer gets hurt.” Make no mistake about it, once Palmer does get injured and misses some games, I will bet against Arizona every step of the way. But until then, their offense is just too competent and blends well with their superb coaching and solid defense. I also distrust Jay Cutler more than I distrusted every Republican candidate on that CNN stage last night combined, and I think he’s going to have to win this game for Chicago. He won’t do it.

New England (-1.5) at Buffalo

The Pick: Buffalo

The Score: Buffalo 24, New England 22

I know many of my readers have their Patriots “Eff You Mode” blinders on just like I do so let me simply present the facts:

  1. In week 1 the Bills demolished an Indy team that many “experts” are picking to hang an “AFC Finalist” banner once again next winter.
  2. The Bills did this with a classic Rex Ryan defense that has slowed the Patriots offense down plenty of times in the past.
  3. The Bills were playing without one of their best defensive linemen, Marcell Dareus, when that line caused Andrew Luck to look like a Josh McCown / Brandon Weeden hybrid.
  4. Dareus and Kyle Williams might be the Bills’ best defensive players. They happen to be the guys who play in the middle of the defensive line, where they’ll be facing up to three rookies on the interior of the Patriots’ offensive line for much of the game.
  5. The Buffalo crowd is going to be bonkers on Sunday. The new owners brought immediate goodwill to Buffalo last year. Then the team went out and put up a 9-7 record in 2014, their best season since 1999. And then Rex Ryan came to town with his arrogance. And then they began the season in amazing fashion at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Their crowd is going to be N-U-T-S on Sunday.
  6. The Patriots have lost a game against a seemingly “inferior” team in the first month of the season in five of the past six years. Four of those five losses were against a division opponent. More often than not, that loss is on the road.
  7. After this game, the Patriots face the Jaguars, Cowboys (without Dez Bryant) and Colts.
  8. This matchup on Sunday is clearly the early-season game that the Patriots will lose.

San Diego at Cincinnati (-3.5)

The Pick: Cincinnati

The Score: Cincinnati 33, San Diego 23

It’s tough to get a good read on the Bengals because they played the Raiders in week 1. Let me ask you a question though. Is this a nationally televised prime time game? No? OK then. Andy Dalton will be fine and the Bengals will cover.

Tennessee (-1) at Cleveland

The Pick: Tennessee

The Score: Tennessee 18, Cleveland 9

This line started off on Monday with Cleveland being a 2-point favorite. I’m guessing the fact that Austin Davis, the Browns’ 3rd string QB, is taking some 1st team snaps this week because Johnny Manziel has a bum elbow is the reason for this drastic line move. That’s right, the 2015 Cleveland Browns might be featuring their 3rd best option at quarterback when they take the field for their home opener on Sunday. Get excited, Northeastern Ohio!

When I guessed every team’s win-loss record before the season began, I had this as a win for the Browns. But….since this is Cleveland we’re talking about, you know how this goes. The Browns fans are going to forever long for Marcus Mariota and die wondering why their team selected Johnny Manziel with such a high draft pick.

Atlanta at NY Giants (-2)

The Pick: Atlanta

The Score: Atlanta 35, NY Giants 20

We knew what the Giants’ biggest issue was heading into the regular season: pass defense. They presumably had no pass rush and were employing one of the worst groups of cornerbacks and safeties in the league. Well, we were right. Tony Romo carved them up to the tune of an 80% completion rate and over 350 yards. I don’t think Giants fans are going to enjoy both Julio Jones and Roddy White going off for 150 receiving yards on Sunday. I really don’t see Eli getting a chance to wear the dunce cap this time around because it won’t be a close game.

St. Louis (-3.5) at Washington

The Pick: Washington

The Score: St. Louis 20, Washington 17

Wow, this is just a liiiiiittle too much respect for the Rams. Remember that they were at home last week and it’s not like their defense shut the Seahawks out completely. I actually love where this line landed. If it was St. Louis favored by 1 or 2, I’d really have to think about taking them. I’m pretty sure the Skins will be able to run the ball, and it’s more probable than not that they will keep Tavon Austin in check on special teams. Washington falls to 0-2 but maybe their fans can enjoy the moral victory of the team keeping it close against both Miami and St. Louis.

Miami (-6) at Jacksonville

The Pick: Miami

The Score: Miami 26, Jacksonville 6

I think I had Jacksonville as the 4th or 5th worst team in the NFL this year. That might have been aggressively optimistic. While it’s a lot more trendy to pick teams like San Francisco and Chicago to be the worst teams in football in 2015, it may just be that Jacksonville, Tampa Bay and Oakland still take the cake in the ineptness category.

Baltimore (-6) at Oakland

The Pick: Baltimore

The Score: Baltimore 34, Oakland 17

Welcome to the safest Survivor Pool pick of the week. Sure, there’s a chance the Ravens struggle for the second consecutive road game against an AFC West team, especially with them losing Terrell Suggs, but this Raiders team already got blown out at home in week 1 and that was before they lost both starting safeties to injuries. Neither player (Charles Woodson and Nate Allen) is as important to Oakland as Suggs is to Baltimore, but Baltimore also has a lot deeper of a team to withstand an injury like that. I can’t imagine what Joe Flacco, Steve Smith and the rest of that offense is going to do to an already awful defense down a couple starters.

Dallas at Philadelphia (-5)

The Pick: Dallas

The Score: Dallas 26, Philadelphia 24

You want to see a fan base in full panic mode after only two weeks? Check out the Philly fans when they lose at home to a Dallas team that’s missing Dez Bryant. What’s a better way to describe the position Chip Kelly will be in after this game? “There’s blood in the water” or “The noose is tightening around him”?

Seattle at Green Bay (-3.5)

The Pick: Seattle

The Score: Seattle 24, Green Bay 21

Week 1 went perfectly if you’re like me and knew all along you’d be picking the Seahawks here. The Packers looked fine against the Bears, and Seattle looked just OK while losing at St. Louis. Those results led to Green Bay giving more than a field goal against the defending NFC Champs, a team the Packers haven’t beaten in what seems like a decade!

But I don’t care that they are finally getting this matchup in Green Bay or that Seattle’s offensive line looked horrible last week. The Packers’ pass rush is nothing compared to the Rams’, and more importantly, the Bears ran for 189 yards (5.7 yards per carry) on Green Bay last week. I’m just not convinced the Packers have done anything to address what has been a below-average run defense for the past three years. I’m feeling a big day from Marshawn Lynch and the running version of Russell Wilson.

NY Jets at Indianapolis (-7)

The Pick: NY Jets

The Score: NY Jets 21, Indianapolis 14

Here’s my conservative prediction for the Colts this year: 0-16, Andrew Luck gets benched permanently in week 6 for Matt Hasselbeck, Pagano fired before Halloween, Jim Irsay forced to sell the team in December when recordings of him saying racist things about Roger Goodell surface, and the team hangs a “2015 AFC Final 16” banner.

The weekly tally looks like this:

  • 7 Favorites, 9 Underdogs
  • 7 Road Dogs, 2 Home Dogs
  • 5 Home Teams, 11 Road Teams

Enjoy week 2.