Making picks in Week 1 is supposed to be hard, but not that hard.
Or so I thought. Then I went 6-10 last week and had to question whether I should revert to coin flips and tarot cards for Week 2 picks.
Fortunately, that won't be the case, as I looked back to last year's opening week, when I went 8-8. It was better, but not much better, and it was a reminder that there's plenty of time left in the long NFL season to recover.
Still, that won't stop me from making fun of myself by including some ridiculous lines from last week in this week's edition of the picks.
(Home team in caps.)
Philadelphia (-4.5) over DETROIT
Was it a catch? Of course it was. As the crazy, swearing Lions fan on YouTube profoundly proclaimed: if that's not a catch, I don't want to watch the NFL anymore.
Still, I'm not ready to say Detroit is about to start winning football games in the NFL, even if they did technically (if not officially) win last week. Plus, I'm looking forward to seeing Michael Vick win a game and send Andy Reid into a complete tailspin, one that ultimately ends in him shaving his mustache a la Alex Trebek at the turn of the century.
Ridiculous quote from last week's picks (RQFLWP): "It's always a nice thing to [remember how bad the Lions are] if you're ever considering taking
the Lions with a spread less than 14."
DALLAS (-8) over Chicago
To be honest, I was pretty bummed to see that Dallas was still a favorite. I hoped that maybe the oddsmakers would overreact (like they have with Indy), but unfortunately, that's not the case.
That makes this one tough. On the one hand, you have a Jay Cutler who threw for 372 yards and two touchdowns; on the other hand, that performance was against the aforementioned Lions, who are still the aforementioned Lions.
I don't like the Cowboys, but I don't like the Bears, either. Needless to say, I don't like this spread and I don't like this pick.
CAROLINA (-3) over Tampa Bay
Matt Moore will probably play, but I'm not sure that's a big deal. The Panthers are better than that 13-point loss in New York. Plus the Bucs beat the Browns in front of 47,000 people, and it wasn't on TV, so I'm not sure it even happened.
RQFLWP: "Don't even think about [the Browns-Bucs game]. Just make a pick, move on and hope this
game gets canceled."
The crazy part is the game almost did get canceled due to lightning. We were so close. We were almost there.
Kansas City (+1.5) over CLEVELAND
Lost in the shuffle of Kansas City's epic, rain-soaked win over the Chargers on Monday night was Matt Cassel's best impression of Mark Sanchez. The Chiefs' QB was 10-of-22 for 68 yards and a touchdown, but K.C. still pulled off the victory.
This time out, he and the Chiefs will be getting points against the Browns … and when you write the words "getting points against the Browns," you tend to just accept it and move on.
RQFLWP: "I literally don't understand how a four-win team [Kansas City] is only a four-point underdog against a 13-3 team [San Diego] in Week 1."
ATLANTA (-7) over Arizona
Because I remember watching Matt Ryan lead that impossible comeback in Blacksburg, Va., in the fall of 2007, I will give him and his Falcons one more chance to prove that last week's field-goal party in Pittsburgh was merely a bump in the road. But don't think I feel comfortable about seven points here.
MINNESOTA (-5.5) over Miami
The Vikings will have had 10 days to get their act together, and with that kind of talent, they should be much better. Brett Favre's biggest problem in the opener might have been not having Sidney Rice on the field, and now that No. 4 has actually been at practice, he might be able to run the offense a bit better.
Pittsburgh (+5.5) over TENNESSEE
The Steelers didn't exactly face Chris Johnson last week, but they did limit Michael Turner and Jerious Norwood to just 50 total yards. If they can limit Johnson and prevent him from breaking 74-yard runs, they should be able to force a few Vince Young interceptions and keep this one close.
Then again, that Dennis Dixon interception last week was perhaps the worst ball ever thrown in the NFL.
Baltimore (-1.5) over CINCINNATI
When Joe Flacco's offense lines up against the Bengals' D instead of that of the Jets, it will be like Christmas came early. This is a team that used Ray Rice and Willis McGahee to run for 137 yards per game, yet they got stopped behind the line of scrimmage on seemingly every first-and-10 last week.
You can throw out any meaning from the Bengals' positive stats last week, by the way — that game was over after the opening kickoff of the second half.
RQFLWP: "With such a young, thin [Patriots] defense trying to stop a veteran offense with
the likes of Carson Palmer, Cedric Benson,
Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens,
this could be the first lesson for the Pats that those wins that used to
seem automatic may not come so easily anymore."
GREEN BAY (-14) over Buffalo
Normally, I fear these two-touchdown spreads — particularly when the favorite just lost their running back for the year.
The fact that the Bills mustered just 166 yards of offense (and allowed a safety to boot) against the Dolphins calms my nerves.
Seattle (+3.5) over DENVER
You know what? Pete Carroll has me jacked. He has me pumped. He has me excited.
St. Louis (+3.5) over OAKLAND
The Rams looked less terrible than the Raiders on Sunday. You have to give them that.
SAN DIEGO (-7.5) over Jacksonville
The Chargers lost in Week 4 last year. They had a bye in Week 5. They lost in Week 6. They then won their next 11 games.
They may be beatable (and they were on Monday), but they respond well to losses.
And if you think David Garrard can replicate his three-touchdown performance, I've got a bag of moldy bread to sell you.
RQFLWP: "The Jaguars only beat two teams with winning records last season. They
needed overtime to beat the 1-15 Rams. They beat the 4-12 Chiefs and
6-10 Bills by a combined six points. Yet, they're a Week 1 favorite. I
love the NFL."
New England (-1.5) over NEW YORK JETS
I determined ahead of time that if New England was getting points, I'd be taking it. They're not, but 1.5 points is close enough. I had a lot of questions about their defense, and I still do. But after seeing the Jets offense on Monday, I feel comfortable that the Pats can keep the Jets in check.
That Tom Brady guy didn't look too bad, either.
WASHINGTON (+3) over Houston
When you beat the Colts, you're guaranteed to be a favorite the following week. You're not, however, guaranteed to get 6 million yards from Arian Foster again.
RQFLWP: "Indy [over Houston] might be the safest bet of the day."
INDIANAPOLIS (-6) over New York Giants
Peyton Manning threw for 433 yards, Austin Collie hauled in 163 of them, Reggie Wayne had 99 and Dallas Clark had 80. Those three caught Manning's touchdowns, and on any Sunday that Arian Foster doesn't go off for a career day, the Colts are winners by six.
Part of my preseason plan was also to be skeptical of the Giants for at least four weeks. You can't just throw that out the window in Week 2 and start picking Eli in the Manning Bowl.
RQFLWP: "Count me out on the 2010 New York Giants."
New Orleans (-5.5) over SAN FRANCISCO
As bad as the Saints looked in their home win over the Vikings, the Niners looked infinitely worse. Plus, with a team as talented as New Orleans getting an extra few days to prepare, and with a team as seemingly dysfunctional as San Francisco, it makes this pick that much easier.
I just hope I don't have to quote myself again next week.
Last week: 6-10