It only took me until about 6 p.m. on the first NFL Sunday of the season to say the words “I hate football.”
While that is not actually the case, I certainly felt that way watching my Bears get absolutely destroyed *again* at the hands of the Green Bay Packers. I mean, they got cooked. Looked beyond pathetic. I have never in my life seen a team look that unprepared for a Week 1 game. The cheerfulness around my apartment during the first few hours of the first NFL Sunday of the year quickly evaporated as Packers QB Jordan Love completed the easiest passes I’ve ever seen after spending 30 seconds waiting in the pocket. Seriously, go back and watch the tape. Don’t tell me he looked impressive. The guy was practically playing catch in his backyard.
Don’t even get me started on the offense. Someone needs to tell offensive coordinator Luke Getsy the goal of the game is to go up and down the field not left and right. Seriously, the schedule was announced 110 days before the game was played. How on earth do you look that unprepared? They’ve played one game and I’m already secretly hoping they tank for USC’s Caleb Williams? As if that would even fix anything. C’mon man.
As I write this introduction on Monday morning, I’m still angry. I want to be sad, but I mostly just feel numb. The Bears are who we thought they were. Stinky. At least the New York Giants played on Sunday night and saved my guys from having the worst performance of the weekend.
But luckily for me, there is a silver lining.
Those of you who read this column weekly are well aware that last year, it took me quite some time to put it all together and go above .500 on my picks for a week. This year however, we’re firing on all cylinders coming out of the gate. The Eagles holding on to cover against the Patriots gave me not only a 4-1 mark in the late window but also my ninth win of the weekend, clinching a winning record for week one.
It was a much needed victory following the abysmal football that I had just waited over 250 days to watch. It also gave me a much needed confidence boost. Maybe sometimes, I really do know what I’m talking about (Unlikely). Maybe, just maybe, I can make up for another horrid season in Chicago by becoming the greatest NFL pick man of all time (Even more unlikely).
Oh well, a guy can dream.
Before we get into the picks, a few quick hitters:
I’ve been rewatching The Sopranos, which really gets better every time I see it. If I was forced to only watch one show for the rest of my life and it was this one, I’d die happy.
It took my Missouri Tigers all four quarters to hold onto a win against Middle Tennessee State on Saturday as 21 point favorites. They play Kansas State next week and will probably lose by 30. It’s going to be a long football season over here. At least Warsaw native Harrison Mevis made a couple of kicks.
I wonder what people who don’t spend their fall weekends watching football do. Do you paint? Do you hike? These people seem happy. They might be onto something. Teach me your ways.
Anyways, let’s get down to business.
Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles (-6.5)
Neither team looked all that impressive in Week 1, with the Vikings losing at home to the Buccaneers and the Eagles barely holding onto a road win over the Patriots. These teams had an early-season primetime game last year that Philly won quite handily. I hate picking Thursday night games because the short week can lead to a lot of wackiness, and this is no different. I think 7.5 is a LOT of points but I do think the Eagles are a matchup nightmare for Minnesota. They get it done.
The Pick: Eagles -6.5
1 O’CLOCK SUNDAY
Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans (-1)
The Colts almost pulled off a stunner against Jacksonville last week, but fell just short. The Texans had a few positives in their loss to the Ravens, but rookie QB C.J. Stroud was under pressure all day long. Fellow rookie Anthony Richardson was very impressive overall in his debut for Indy, mixing some high highs with a few low lows. This is a close line and I think this’ll be a close game. Houston will be ready to welcome Stroud to his new home, but something tells me Richardson and company will be ready to spoil the party.
The Pick: Colts +1
Chicago Bears at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3)
I already wasted enough copy space talking about the Bears in the introduction. On the off chance my winning mark last week has earned me any credibility, I’m not going to throw it away by picking Chicago. Baker and the Buccs looked good in a road win last week. (There is a small part of me that still believes Chicago comes out angry after last week and pulls it off, but the light is dying fast)
The Pick: Buccaneers -3
Seattle Seahawks at Detroit Lions (-5.5)
These two teams met early last season for one of the most fun games of the year, a 48-45 Seahawks win. I have no doubt in my mind that the Lions are the better team coming into this game, having just taken down the Super Bowl champs. However, that makes this game a massive let down spot for Dan Campbell’s men. With that being said, I still think Detroit has a much better team than Seattle does. In front of a roaring crowd at Ford Field, the Lions get it done.
The Pick: Lions -5.5
Kansas City Chiefs (-3) at Jacksonville Jaguars
On paper, this is probably the most exciting matchup of Sunday’s early window. The Chiefs are suddenly 0-1 after a loss on opening night while the Jags took care of business in Indy. The Chiefs got a big boost early this week, finally agreeing to a one-year deal with pass rusher Chris Jones. How immediate of an impact he will make is still questionable, but Kansas City getting its second best player back is nothing to scoff at. I really like what the Jags are building and think they are great, but can you really picture the Chiefs starting 0-2?
The Pick: Chiefs -3
Los Angeles Chargers (-3) at Tennessee Titans
Since 2000, teams that rushed for over 200 yards, held their opponents to under 100 yards rushing and did not turn the ball over in a game were 110-0. Until Sunday when the Chargers lost to Miami. Every year, one team that nobody expects starts the year 0-2. Last year, it was Cincinnati. This year, I believe it will be the Chargers. It’s not that I think LA is a bad team, it’s just that their track record when playing games on the other side of the country is not good. The Titans offense was horrendous last week in a one-point loss to the Saints, but I still think they keep this game close with a stout defense. Not to mention, Austin Ekeler is dealing with an ankle injury, and he is HUGE for LA’s offense. This is definitely my wildcard pick of the week, but you have to get a little crazy sometimes, right?
The Pick: Titans +3
Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals (-3.5)
This is another doozy of a matchup at 1 p.m. on Sunday. The Ravens cruised to a win over the Texans last week despite QB Lamar Jackson having a very quiet, and sometimes sloppy, day. The team lost running back J.K. Dobbins (among others) to a torn Achilles. The Bengals offense had perhaps the worst weekend of any team in the league, with Joe Burrow struggling mightily after his massive payday. While I don’t necessarily think the Bengals will start the season 0-2 once again, there’s still a lot of work to be done in Cincy. I don’t think they’re going to win this one very comfortably. This will end as a one score game.
The Pick: Ravens +3.5
Green Bay Packers (-1.5) at Atlanta Falcons
Yay. The Packers. Green Bay played well last weekend, no denying that. But based on this line, oddsmakers agree that it was more the Bears looking pitiful than the cheeseheads looking good. The Falcons love to run the ball. A lot. QB Desmond Ridder didn’t make too many attempts last week but the Falcons still won by two touchdowns. If Atlanta can establish the run early, this could be an entertaining game. If the home side falls behind, it could be a quick and easy day for Green Bay. Unfortunately, I’m leaning towards the latter.
The Pick: Packers -1.5
Las Vegas Raiders at Buffalo Bills (-9.5)
The Raiders looked solid in their Week 1 win over the Broncos last week, while the Bills, mainly Josh Allen, imploded on Monday night in a loss to the Jets. I don’t want to put too much stock into Week 1, something I do every year. I don’t think Josh Allen is going to turn the ball over four times against this defense, and while the altitude definitely plays a factor, going into Denver is not the same as going into Buffalo for a road game. This is a big bounce back opportunity for the Bills and I believe they take advantage.
The Pick: Bills -9.5
LATE AFTERNOON SLATE
San Francisco 49ers (-8) at Los Angeles Rams
I could not have been more wrong about the Steelers-Niners game last week. I thought Pittsburgh would play well at home but San Fran was simply too much for them. It didn’t matter what side of the ball was on the field, the Niners were dominant in all facets of the game last week. Everybody and their mother was convinced the Seahawks would take care of the Rams last week, but not me. Their statement win last week did not surprise me in the slightest. Crazy that a team that won the Super Bowl two years ago looked pretty good when mostly healthy right? No Cooper Kupp once again scares me against this scary Niners defense, but I think the Rams have another good game in them. This is closer than an eight point game.
The Pick: Rams +8
New York Giants (-6) at Arizona Cardinals
How bad must the Cardinals be that the Giants are still six point favorites on the road after losing 40-0 on Sunday night? Arizona covered against the Commanders last week, playing some good defense to keep the game tight. The problem for the Cardinals this week? The running game of New York is much better than Washington’s, and I think that’s where the Giants win this game. Will they win it by a touchdown though? I think so. This is the perfect get-right opportunity for the G-Men, and as nervous as I am, I’ll believe in them for one more week.
The Pick: Giants -6
New York Jets at Dallas Cowboys (-9.5)
Well, we had to talk about it at some point. In perhaps the most Jets thing to ever Jets, Aaron Rodgers’ season is over just four snaps after it began after the QB suffered a torn left Achilles on Monday. It’s a brutal loss for New York, especially after the team used the rest of the game to showcase that their roster really is Super Bowl caliber. Speaking of the Super Bowl, Dallas made a case to be an NFC favorite with a masterful defensive performance on Sunday night against the Giants. This is an extremely tricky one for me. Part of me believes the reason Zach Wilson was so successful in relief last week is because the Bills were not prepared to see him. Dallas will have a week to prepare for the Jets’ back up. But New York’s defense is an elite unit. Can it slow down Dallas enough to keep this a one-score game? I’m going with the Boys.
The Pick: Cowboys -9.5
Washington Commanders at Denver Broncos (-3.5)
The Commanders had to fight tooth and nail to escape with a win against the Cardinals last week. Under new head coach Sean Peyton, the Broncos… still looked like the Broncos? Seriously, if you watched that game, you didn’t really notice many differences from last year’s team. I’m a simple man. I go off of what I see. I still see a very broken Denver offense and a defense that is good, but not great. Until I’m proven wrong, I’m staying far away from picking the Broncos any time soon.
The Pick: Commanders +3.5
WAITIN’ ALL DAY FOR A SUNDAY NIGHT
Miami Dolphins (-2) at New England Patriots
Are the Dolphins the best team in the AFC East? Offensively, that’s probably the case. Tyreek Hill said he wants 2,000 yards receiving this season and is off to a good start, totalling over 200 yards last week against the Chargers. The Patriots looked good in the second half against the Eagles, almost erasing a 16-0 deficit and winning the game late. The Pats are going to be a team that doesn’t win a majority of their games this season, but is in every one until the very end. I think in this one though, the Dolphins offense is just too good.
The Pick: Dolphins -2
MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
New Orleans Saints (-3) at Carolina Panthers
No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young showed some flashes of excellency in his debut for Carolina last week, but couldn’t limit mistakes enough to come away with the win. The Saints barely held on for a win against the Titans last week, with Derek Carr looking just okay in his debut for New Orleans. I’m not sure the Saints are very good, but they will contend for the playoffs in a poor division. The Panthers are going to struggle on offense all season long, there’s just not enough around Bryce to make a difference. This defense is not going to be fun for the rookie to go against.
The Pick: Saints -3
Cleveland Browns (-2.5) at Pittsburgh Steelers
That’s right, we get two Monday night games this week. These two teams were on opposite ends of the spectrum last week, with the Browns crushing the Bengals and the Steelers looking horrible against San Fran. I don’t think either performance was an indication of what either team is though. The Steelers can’t look as bad as they did last week, and I like them as home underdogs against a division rival.
The Pick: Steelers +2.5
I’m going to be honest with you here. I wasn’t exactly confident last week, but compared to this week, I felt like a genius. There’s a lot of tricky lines out there, but we’re getting better at conquering them week by week.
Last Week’s Record: 9-7