I don’t know about you, but I’m effing fired up for the first Sunday of the NFL season. The same thing happened to me last year that I went out boozing excessively on Saturday night and suffered through a massive hangover through the 1 p.m. games. I made trips between my couch and the bathroom to boot for three hours. It’s not something I want to repeat this season. Luckily for me, I’m still hungover from the five days I spent in Dewey Beach over Labor Day. I definitely lost a few years of my life, but I’ll be ready to go back next year.
Back to the gridiron, the first weekend of the season gives every fan hope. In case you’re wondering what every fan sounds like before the season, you can check that out here. The beauty of the communist NFL salary-cap system is that it gives every team a chance to rebuild quickly and return to the playoffs. Five teams made the playoffs last year after not making the playoffs in the previous season. Have some hope. This year might be your team’s year to make the playoffs. (Unless that is you live in Cleveland, Jacksonville, Miami, Minnesota, or Phoenix. It’s going to be a long season.)
Locks of the Week:
HOUSTON (-10.5) over Miami
I mentioned this game as my lock of the week yesterday, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that I’m heavy on Houston. I’ll be surprised if Miami scores in the double digits and Miami’s defense isn’t anything noteworthy. Watching the “Gangnam Style” guy do his dance will be more entertaining than anything you see here.
Seattle (-2.5) over ARIZONA
Fans who don’t watch the college game might be wonder who the hell this Russell Wilson guy is. He wasn’t a first round pick and is definitely not a name you were focusing on when watching the NFL Draft. Wilson chose football over baseball and spent three years at NC State before finishing off his college career at Wisconsin. He’s a baller, but he’s only 5’10”. Usually that doesn’t work for an NFL quarterback, but Wilson tore it up so much in the preseason that he won the starting job in Seattle. I bet Matt Flynn wishes he signed somewhere else. I’m totally excited to see if this Wilson experiment works out. In other news, Arizona will be tanking for Matt Barkley or Tyler Bray in next year’s draft. They’re awful.
DETROIT (-9.5) over St. Louis
I like Jeff Fisher and I think he’ll have St. Louis moving in the right direction this season. I also think that the Rams are better than they were last year because they were playing with a third-string secondary. The problem is Detroit is going to score at least 24 points in their home opener. Do you see St. Louis grabbing 14 points with that receiving core? The shootout thing won’t work for them.
Trap Games of the Week:
Washington (+9.5) over NEW ORLEANS
In honor of our two new stud rookie quarterbacks, there are two trap games of the week. RG3 will be good, but can he produce right away? The expectation that he’ll come right in and perform like Cam Newton is a little unrealistic. On the other side of the field, the Saints begin life after “Bountygate.” I don’t expect the loss of Sean Payton to impact the offense that much, but he was considered one of the better coaches in the league. Will the Saints be fired up to prove a point? Their defense isn’t intimidating enough to make me think they cause RG3 that many problems and I believe the Redskins’ defense will do enough to limit New Orleans.
Indianapolis (+9.5) over CHICAGO
In our second trap game, we have the other rookie QB. I didn’t think I was watching the second coming of Peyton Manning when I saw from Luck in college against Pac-12 defenses, but he looked rather sound when I caught him in the preseason. He won’t get the easiest start to his career having to face the Bears at Soldier Field. The Bears are improved, but their offensive line is still suspect. The Colts’ pass rush should be able to get to Cutler enough to keep this game close.
Rest of the Picks:
TENNESSEE (+6.5) over New England
I’m sure everyone and their mother will be on the Patriots in this game since they added to both their offense and their defense, but they were a little sluggish in the preseason. I’ll take the home dog.
Atlanta (-1.5) over KANSAS CITY
The Chiefs are one of the teams I’m going against to start the season. With Chiefs’ star cornerback Brandon Flowers a game-time decision, I’m not liking Kansas City’s chances of covering the dynamic duo of Julio Jones and Roddy White.
Jacksonville (+4.5) over MINNESOTA
The good thing about this game is there are plenty of other games on at the same time. Both teams are pretty bad and both teams’ best players (running backs Adrian Peterson and Maurice Jones-Drew) will see limited minutes. When both teams suck, I’ll take the points.
Buffalo (+3.5) over N.Y. JETS
Here we have a battle of two teams who lost all their preseason games. Considering the Jets’ didn’t score a touchdown in the preseason, I can’t see how anyone feels good about their chances.
Philadelphia (-8.5) over CLEVELAND
The Philadelphia fans will be happy to see I’m picking their team to win their opener. It’s a pretty simple recipe for me. The Eagles’ pass rush is the last thing any rookie quarterback wants to see, especially when he’s got minimal talent around him. Good luck Mr. Brandon Weeden.
GREEN BAY (-5.5) over San Francisco
San Francisco will need their defense to play the best game of the season against the best offense in football. It’s the classic battle, but I’ll take Aaron Rodgers with the clear skies and warm weather.
TAMPA BAY (+2.5) over Carolina
Everyone remembers Cam Newton’s performance from last year, so the public will drift to Carolina. The Buccaneers dealt with too many injuries last year and they quit on their coach midseason. I’ll take the home dog with players motivated to play well for their new coach and a rookie running back, Doug Martin, who you’ll want to remember.
Pittsburgh (+1.5) over DENVER
Sunday night’s showdown features the return of Peyton Manning against last year’s #1 passing defense. Denver’s luck last year was Tebow enhanced, so they’ll need to prove to me that they actually have a good supporting cast.
BALTIMORE (-6.5) over Cincinnati
I started leaning towards Cincinnati in this game when the schedule was first announced, but I’ve been taken over by the buzz of the new Baltimore no-huddle offense. The passing of former owner Art Modell will likely invigorate the franchise to a strong home opener.
OAKLAND (+1.5) over San Diego
The Chargers are missing their best offensive weapon, but they still should have enough to win this game. The problem is their coach is still Norv Turner, who would fit well in this video of stupidity. The Chargers are known to lay eggs early in the season. Why stop now?