The NFL’s first week of play showed two things: football is awesome, and I, Travis, know nothing about football (other than that it is awesome). My picks got off to a good start on the Thursday night season opener between the Saints and the Packers, which had the Packers winning 42-34 at home (Lambeaume) and beating the spread. Premature celebration meant it was all downhill from there. My hometowner heart bet on the Rams backfired, with the Eagles spanking them and the Rams losing Sam Bradford (likely to play this week), Steven Jackson, and their one wide receiver who can actually catch the ball, Danny Amendola. My thought at the time of betting that Peyton Manning would return was proven wrong right after my picks were in. The Bears (Bears?!) spanked the Falcons. And the Bengals won the battle of Ohio over the Browns.
I won six, lost nine, and pushed on one game (the Cardinals beating the Panthers by exactly seven). What does this mean, other than I’ve started the season below .500? It means that my win total and loss total are enjoying mutual oral sex with one another, when I’d rather they be laying next to each other, back of head to butt.
So here we begin the regular run of this NFL picks column on Saturday. Hopefully everyone has fun with his or her Saturday night, but before we begin, here’s the other perfect hangover cure besides laying around on a Sunday and watching too much football:
(Note: All point spreads listed here are the lines at the time bets were made. Be sure to consult your very legitimate and legal sports book [cough] before making a bet of your own; lines move constantly due to the action on particular games. Also, gambling is illegal in many states. And watch out for those offshore betting sites, lest you end up like an online poker professional. Okay? Okay. Onward and upward.)
Week 1 Record: 6-9-1
My Record So Far: 6-9-1
Sunday Early Games (9/18 1PM ET)
Chicago Bears at New Orleans Saints (-6.5)
The Bears demolished the Falcons, who won the NFC South last year (over the New Orleans Saints). New Orleans lost in a shootout to Green Bay to open the season. New Orleans will take Week 2 as a do-over with this home opener. Drew Brees outguns Jay Cutler in a shootout any day, and that’s what this’ll be.
My Pick: New Orleans (-6.5)
Kansas City Chiefs at Detroit Lions (-8.5)
A team that did not make the playoffs last year, the Lions, is favored by more than a touchdown over last season’s AFC West winner. The Chiefs looked awful last week, getting destroyed by the Buffalo Williams (they cannot be the Bills if their quarterback came from Harvard). The Chiefs probably won’t be as bad as they were in the first week, but it seems very likely Ndomukong Suh will Suh-plex Matt Cassel into a coma.
My Pick: Detroit Lions (-8.5)
Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Jets (-9.5)
The Jags won in week one in a squeaker (and didn’t cover the spread, or else my record would have been even worse). The Jets didn’t so much win their first game as Tony Romo lost it for the Cowboys. The Jets still look like a much better team, but almost ten points better? It’s a tough one, but it seems like the home team will cover.
My Pick: New York Jets (-9.5)
Oakland Raiders at Buffalo Bills (-3.5)
The Raiders were heavily penalized but physically beat down their rival Broncos in the final game of Week 1. The Bills eviscerated the Chiefs (literally—viscera littered the field. So, litter-ally). The Raiders treated me right the first week so I’ll go with them again, over the Williams.
My Pick: Raiders (+3.5)
Arizona Cardinals at Washington Redskins (-4)
The Cardinals did win their first game, but they didn’t look nearly as good doing it as the Redskins did in their first. I picked against suave, wind-and-sunburned Mike Shanahan in Week 1 and it bit me in the rear. Even though Rex Grossman is their quarterback, they should beat the Cardnibubbles.
My Pick: Washington Redskins (-4)
Baltimore Ravens at Tennessee Titans (+6)
The Ravens demolished the Steelers to open the week. The Tit was not so nice, laying an egg against the also-profoundly-mediocre Jaguars (pronounced, of course, Jagwires). There is a lot less emotion in a Ravens-Titans matchup than in Ravens-Steelers, but Ballmer should win this one by more than a touchdown.
My Pick: Ravens (-6)
Seattle Seahawks at Pittsburgh Steelers (-14.5)
Fourteen-and-a-half? For real? Are the Seahawks that bad? They probably are, and the Steelers will be at home and angry after their loss to the Ravens this past week. This is probably the game (there’s one each year) where Troy Polamalu times with the snap count, jumps all the way over the offensive line, and sacks the quarterback before he even gets to drop back.
My Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers (-14.5)
Green Bay Packers at Carolina Panthers (+9.5)
Cam Newton looked good in his first game as a pro, throwing for more yards (422) than any rookie in a Week One, including two TDs, and ran in another, followed by a sweet Pete Townshend air guitar windmill that got him an excessive celebration penalty. He did this against the Arizona Cardinals, though, and lost the game to boot. The Pack will take this one to start out 2-0 both in the standings and in covering the spread.
My Pick: Packers (-9.5)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Minnesota Vikings (-3)
Both of these teams lost in Week One, but while the Bucs looked good last year, the Vikings looked awful. Much of that had to do with being handcuffed to the Gunslinger, and Donovan McNabb is a definite improvement, but I still think that Tampa Bay will win this game.
My Pick: Buccaneers (+3)
Cleveland Browns at Indianapolis Colts (+2.5)
My Pick: Browns (-2.5)
Sunday Late Games (9/18 4:05/4:15PM ET)
Dallas Cowboys at San Francisco 49ers (+3)
Despite losing to the Jets in the Sunday Night on 9/11 spectacular featuring Mrrkah’s Team vs. one of the two New York teams that doesn’t actually play in New York, the Cowboys did a lot of things that looked good. Despite beating the Seahawks, the 49ers were playing the Seahawks. As long as Tony Romo doesn’t completely bone this (I suppose he still could) they should take this one on the road and get back to .500.
My Pick: Cowboys -3
Houston Texans at Miami Dolphins (+3)
The Dolphins’ offense actually didn’t look half-bad (at least when they weren’t at the goal line) against the Patriots. The Texans stomped the Manningless Colts into the ground. This one will probably be that rare thing, an ugly shootout, but the Texans should come out on top. After all, they have to get everyone’s hopes up before choking and winding up going 8-8, right?
My Pick: Texans (-3)
San Diego Chargers at New England Patriots (-7)
Philip Rivers is one of the few QBs in the league who can match Tom Brady yard for yard, and we don’t really know what the Pats’ defense can do yet, since they were playing the Dolphins in Week One. The Patriots seem to have a chip on their shoulder after last year’s playoff loss at home to the Jets, though, and I’d find it hard to bet against them at any point in the regular season, especially when they’re at home.
My Pick: Patriots (-7)
Cincinnati Bengals at Denver Broncos (-4.5)
The Broncos are not good. The Bengals won last week. They might be good? They are the Bengals, though. But the Broncos looked really bad. In honor of FR comrade Tyler (and a childhood crush on Susanna Hoffs), I will bet for his home team.
My Pick: The Bangles (+4.5)
Sunday Night Game (9/18 8:25PM ET)
Philadelphia Eagles at Atlanta Falcons (+2.5)
Michael Vick makes another return to Atlanta, where he became the greatest video game quarterback of all time. The Falcons lost to the Bears last week, while the Eagles took it to the Rams in their own Dome. Who will win this battle of the birds of prey? This is Mrrkah. Always bet on the Eagle.
My Pick: Eagles (-2.5 Bootleg Ron Mexico Jerseys)
Monday Night Football (9/19 8:35PM ET)
St. Louis Rams at New York Giants (-5)
Both of these teams looked out of sorts last week, and both are depleted by injuries. Once again, though, I’ll go with my heart instead of my head (though on this one my head is just confused) and put it on Ram Bradford and the St. Louis Sams.
My Pick: Sams +5
We need a big surge in Week Two to make up for Week One’s missteps. Come on, teams! Beat those other teams (or lose to them by less than a particular number set by Vegas)! See you here next weekend.