Last year, making picks every week taught me a very valuable lesson: I am not a good NFL handicapper. Give me a good NBA game and I'll give you the winner; ask me about a tennis match pitting an obscure Russian against an obscure Russian (what? You've never bet on tennis before?) and I'll win you money; show me a half-drunk semi-promiscuous woman's dating video and I'll peg her age; but put me in front of a football game and ask me who's going to cover? Me not so good with that.
But all that's going to change...
No, I haven't developed a new system. Far from it. In fact, I'd be willing to say I'm actually going to put less thought into each game. Some of you might not think that's possible based on my track record, but I'm here to tell you I've never found an task or project I can't do less work than is expected.
I'm confident I will do better simply based on the fact that it's statistically improbable to do as poorly as I did last year. And I'll hang my hat on statistics like that!
(I have to pump myself up for this year's NFL posts. If I don't every week's column will be filled with self-doubt, loathing, and fecal matter. So just go with me here.)
Anyway, enough about that. Like a psychic surgeon, I'm ready to figuratively plunge my hands into the body of this NFL season!
(As always, picks are bold and in CAPS)
Honestly, if I could, I'd call the season after last night's game. Why? Because I covered. And I like the ride of this win streak I'm on. But apparently Roger Goodell only offers lenience when it comes to Michael Vick (hey Yo!)
Miami @ FALCONS -4.5
This is unofficially being billed as a battle of the surprise teams from last year. Everyone also seems to be suggesting both these teams are going to fall back to Earth this year and struggle. What that has to do with this particular match, I have no idea. What I do think is that Miami had a lot of success last year running the Wildcat, and that's something that probably won't work as well this year, as defenses have caught up to it and defensive coordinators now know that it's coming. Also, the Atalanta Falcons apparently have a really dreamy quarterback, and that's something I just can't bet against.
Broncos @ BENGALS -3.5
Everyone I run into tells me how much I'm missing not watching HBO's Hard Knocks, which follows the Bengals through training camp. And they're probably right, but I just can't do it. The subplots to this season so far have left me dizzy. And as an Eagles fan, I need all my faculties to deal with the Michael Vick signing, so I simply don't have the brain power left over to deal with Chad Ochocinco. I can't double dip into the crazy of other teams. So, I ignored Hard Knocks, I passed on the Favre drama, I skipped the Raiders coach fight, I got through it all. And then this came along...
And I mean, what can I do?
Vikings @ CLEVELAND 3.5
Not like the Browns are any great shake, but they're at home and they have that crazy dog pound where they throw dog bones around, and beer bottles at the refs. Honestly, I think the Vikings are overrated, Favre doesn't have a clue how to run the offense, and they're going to stumble out of the gate.
Colts @ JACKSONVILLE +6.5
Jacksonville always plays the Colts once at least once a year. I'm hoping this is that game.
Lions @ SAINTS -11.5
Until the Lions show me something, like a pulse, I'm taking the other side.
Cowboys @ TAMPA BAY +3.5
It's rare when Emmitt Smith makes a coherent point. So when he does it bashing his former team, well I'll go with the other team, even when they are a vanilla bag of flavorless gummi bears. Sam Wyche is still the coach, right?
Eagles @ CAROLINA -.5
As an Eagles fan, I have no idea how to take the current team. They've had plenty of injuries and tumult this off-season, and yet many national publications are picking them to do well. And this line is just completely Crying Game crazy as well. So I'm throwing everything out I've heard about this season and just going with the home team with a savvy coach.
Kansas City Chiefs @ RAVENS -8.5
I'm shocked Kansas City still has a football team.
Jets @ HOUSTON TEXANS -4.5
Have the Texans ever been favored by this many points? If I weren't writing this late saturday night, and had any sort of ambition, I'd pretend to look that up. For the sake of argument, let's say this is the biggest they've ever been favored over another team, and assume that will get them so psyched up that they'll easily cover.
Redskins @ NY GIANTS -6.5
Classic NFC East matchup. These games are usually close, low scoring affairs. So why take the favorite giving over 6 points? Because it's the classic "the spread is telling me something" strategy. That the spread has repeatedly told me lies over the years is beside the point; I'm a slow learner.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS +6.5 @ Cardinals
Sure, the Cardinals have Larry Fitzgerald, possibly the best NFL wide receiver in the game today, but the 49ers have Michael Crabtree, a young rising star who will surely want to show off his skill to the Fitzgerald. I predict he'll blow up in this game. What's that?
St. Louis @ SEAHAWKS -7.5
Seahawks are my team this year. No, not my rooting team, my sleeper team. No one's talking about them, Which puts them in a great position to steal their division and make the playoffs. And they start it this week against St. Louis.
Chicago Bears @ GREEN BAY -3.5
Chicago is the boutique pick to make the Super Bowl. I don't think they're going to get out of their division. Cutler has no one to throw to, and I've already read an article about how much of a dick he is to everyone on his team. And the season hasn't started yet! Why does anyone think hte Bears are going to do anything. Meanwhile, the collective rage of the city of Green Bay over the Favre backstabbing is going to carry the Packers far into the playoffs. Just you watch.
Buffalo Bills @ NEW ENGLAND -11.5
If nothing else, it should be fun to watch TO do whatever in a small market.
RAIDERS +6.5 @ San Diego
Way back when, the Raiders had an awesome cover streak on Monday night. I'm sure that streak is long over, but for old times sake I'm taking them to tap into that former mystique. That and because of the existence of this awesome video: