By way of reminder, each week I pick games against the spread.
- TN @ Pitt (-4.5). Pitt will barely pull this one out in overtime. Hines Ward will have a costly fumble at the end of regulation, but it won’t matter. Jeff Reed will kick 2 FGs, one of which will be an ugly liner that is lucky to go through. The announcers will talk on 2 separate occasions about how Bruce Arians, Pitt’s OC, won’t mess with Ben Roeth’s “courageous” approach to quarterbacking. Jeff Fisher will continue to have a mustache and occasionally contemplate during the game growing out his mullet again.
- Mia @ Atl (-3.5). This is one of those games where I’d pick the home team no matter what. So, Atl. I’m surprised that with the loudish Bill Parcells at the helm, the Dolphins have kept a low profile this offseason – especially after winning the division last year.
- Jax @ Indy (-6.5). Not sure what to expect from either team. Jack Del Rio tends to either maximize the potential of his players or minimize it – if the trends continues, this could be a good year. But not yet – Colts by many.
- MN @ Cleve (+3.5). Tempted to take Cleve simply because Favre has had issues in his past winning games his team should win. Difference in this game is that the Cleve sucks (Mangini is too busy playing ridiculous games) and MN has good supporting cast.
- Dal @ TB (+3.5). Despite this tremendous quote from cbssports.com, I don’t see good things in store for TB this week or this year (though I must say, low expectations are something Byron Leftwich usually does well with): Bucs WR Antonio Bryant (left meniscus surgery) appears ready to go against the Cowboys on Sunday and isn’t worried about developing timing with starting QB Byron Leftwich: “Most of the spectacular catches I made last year were bad timing.”
- NYJ @ Hou (-4.5). I can see the Jets trying to surprise the Texans a bit by throwing early and often. What I’m not sure of is how Mark Sanchez will play. I can see him having a much talked-about debut and I can also see this game plan back-firing and Jet fans already starting to worry about Rex Ryan’s cockiness interfering with sensible game plans. One thing to watch in this game is Hou’s defense – it could quietly be better than last year giving Hou a legit shot at the playoffs.
- KC @ Balt (-9.5). I’ve gone back and forth here. It’s hard to know exactly what to expect from the re-tooled Chiefs and their wild coach Todd Haley. While I’ll wait to render full judgment, something tells me Haley is going to be one of those impulsive-zero-anger-management-skills coaches who benches key players for petty things at inopportune times. Take Balt here on the off chance Haley benches his entire starting defense for giving up a first down early in the game.
- Den @ Cincy (-3.5). Read this quote from the Colorado Springs Gazette by Denver coach Josh McDaniels: “Brandon certainly will (contribute), and he’s had a good week of practice. But we’re going to use a lot of people. It’s going to be hot.” It’s going to be hot? Who says that? WT…? Cincy by 2 TDs despite Denver’s heat.
- Det @ NO (-11.5). It would be sad to be a Det fan for many reasons, but especially when starting the season at NO. I’ll bet a “success” in the eyes of fans/the organization this weekend will be not losing by more than 20. And that may even be out of reach. I don’t think Detroit is THAT bad, but starting them off against NO in NO is kind of cruel.
- Phil @ Car (-1.5). Pretty interesting to me that Jake Delhomme got a fat contract renewal this offseason after throwing 6 picks in a playoff game and admitting “he just couldn’t see the field right” – and a year after major surgery no less. Jake seems like a really nice guy and a good teammate, but if I were a Carolina fan, I would have lobbied for Michael Vick. Vick, D Williams and Steve Smith would have been a formidable trio. As far as Philly, I have this suspicion that D McNabb and Philly may think they are a little better than they are right about now. They may struggle early in the season and then warm up.
- Wash @ NYG (-6.5). Mike Florio and co at profootballtalk apparently picked Washington to go to the Super Bowl! What? I have been guilty in the past of picking Wash as an under-the-radar-underdog-type, but this is ridiculous. That said, the Giants are overrated and this game will be close. NYG probably wins, but not by much.
- StL @ Sea (-7.5). I would be more comfortable if this spread were -6.5, but I’ll still take Sea. The Rams likely won’t be as porous defensively simply because of their new coach Spagnuolo (who has a knack for making regular guys big-time guys). Still, Sea’s passing game will overwhelm (despite at least one pick by StL S Otogwe). Amazing how Sea went from 1 receiving target last year (John Carlson) to 5 (Carlson, TJ Housh, Nate Burleson, Deion Branch and Deon Butler). I wonder if Mike Holmgren is somewhere feeling walrus-like.
- SF @ Ariz (-6.5). Many think this may be a lopsided game but it won’t be. SF has the potential this year to surprise, though they face a similar concern as KC re the head coach’s impulsiveness. Singletary may evolve into a very good head coach, but I’d think a key for him will be surrounding himself with quality assistants who can help keep him in check if he’s about to go off (so he can retain some credibility). Don’t get me wrong, I like fiery guys, but there is a line between fiery and ridiculous. Watch out for Josh Morgan and SF’s improved passing attack now that Shaun Hill has been established clearly as THE guy.
- Chic @ GB (-3.5). Not liking this spread as there is an outside chance that this could be a one field goal game. However, a bigger part of me (my leg) can see this being a route. I hate to be cocky as a Packer fan, but given the very real excitement that exists in the GB locker room for this team, it’s easiest right now for me to envision a chaos-causing defense getting the ball back several times for an offense that will seem unstoppable and unpredictable. My only concern is that I thought Jay Cutler performed quite well upon his return to Denver – and there was certainly lots of pressure in that game. Still, Pack by 10+.
- Buff @ NE (-10.5). I almost wonder if Dick Jauron may only have half a season left. If he doesn’t pull some early upsets and get a few wins, he could be out. Look for anywhere from 1-3 long Lee Evans TDs – but also look for a Bill’s defense that struggles to contain Welker and Kevin Faulk. Pats by 13+. (By the way, I heard the real reason TO doesn’t like the Buff no-huddle is because he planned to offer live tweets from each huddle during games).
- SD @ Oak (+8.5). Rivers will go wild, LT will go wild, Gates will go wild…and so will Darren McFadden. I’m sure McFadden wants to play elsewhere so I’ll bet he is excited to show the NFL world how good he can be. I can see him producing this season if he stays healthy, but I can’t see Oak producing as a team. If Oak wins this game, I will feel very strange. If they don’t win, I will feel very concerned for all of Tom Cable’s assistants.