The picks are back and in full force. Time to waste my time by making slightly irrelevant muses about each game that almost nobody will read. I don't even enjoy it, but oh well. Here they are.
Minnesota @ New Orleans
New Orleans is a very tough place to play and the Saint are every bit as talented as they were last year. It's hard to see old man Favre without his favorite target (Rice) going in and beating the defending champs on their own turf.
New Orleans 34 (-6.5), Minnesota 27
Miami @ Buffalo
Buffalo is going to be awful this year. But hey, isn't 1-15 better than 5-11? At least you get a top draft pick out of the torturous season.
Miami 28 (-3.5), Buffalo 10
Detroit @ Chicago
Detroit's talent level on offense has gone way up since last season. First of all, they added Jahvid Best, who could have been a top 10 pick if he had stayed healthy at Cal last year, and wide receiver Nate Burleson. Second of all, Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford are both healthy and happy, allowing them to form a good connection. It'll be hard to beat the Bears on their home turf, with Urlacher and Peppers in the fold now, but the Lions are due for a turnaround season very soon.
Chicago 30, Detroit 27 (+6.5)
Oakland @ Tennessee
Oakland is a sleeper pick by many people, and I'm just not sure I see it. Jason Campbell makes them a good team? Really? Campbell went 4-12 last year and has never led a team to a winning season. If Oakland really thinks Jason Campbell is the key to a turnaround, they've got problems. Well, they already have problems, so it's just business as usual.
Tennessee 17, Oakland 13 (+6.5)
Cincinnati @ New England
New England's offense is back. Tom Brady is fully healthy, Randy Moss and Wes Welker are still there, and the tight end situation has improved. Some critics of Brady, say the 2007 year was a fluke, but that's the only year when he was fully healthy with a top flight receiver. Expect the Pats to be closer to 2007 form than 2009 form.
Cincy on the other hand, will have a hard time making the playoffs. They're more likely to go 0-4 against Baltimore and Pittsburgh than 4-0 like they did last year. The Ochocinco hype machine will disappoint.
New England 31 (-5.5), Cincinnati 20
Carolina @ NY Giants
Carolina always plays the Giants well (see last season's 41-9 beatdown). I think Matt Moore is a legit NFL signal caller and that the vintage Steve Smith (the real Steve Smith) will be lining up at receiver. Oh yeah, they have the best running back duo in the league as well. New York will have better year than last year, but will have a hard time with the upstart Panthers.
Carolina 23 (+7.5), New York 20
Atlanta @ Pittsburgh
Call me a sucker, but I'm all in on Dennis Dixon. I never bought Byron Leftwich starting, even when healthy, only because Dixon is such a dual threat, but Dixon is not the reason for Pittsburgh bouncing back this year. Troy Polamalu's return is. That defense is going to be nasty and return to their rightful place among the game's elite defensive units.
Pittsburgh 20 (+2.5), Atlanta 14
Cleveland @ Tampa Bay
This game is so bad that it doesn't deserve more than a sentence about it.
Cleveland 20 (+2.5), Tampa Bay 13
Denver @ Jacksonville
Wow, another terrible game. This one gets two sentences.
Denver 22 (+2.5), Jacksonville 17
Indianapolis @ Houston
Peyton Manning doesn't lose to Houston. He's not going to start now. (I'm not buying into the Texans as a playoff team either. Too many other good teams for the Texans, with their shaky run game and defense to squeeze in).
Indianapolis 28 (-3.5), Houston 24
San Francisco @ Seattle
San Francisco has had tons of hype surrounding them, which I don't totally buy, but they have to win that division by default right? St. Louis and Seattle are not threats (although, anything can happen), and Arizona will be led into battle by Derek Anderson. Yep, I'd say the Alex Smith (still, yikes) led Niners will win the division, and this game, handily.
San Francisco 27 (+2.5), Seattle 16
Green Bay @ Philadelphia
"AARON RODGERS! CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP! AARON RODGERS! CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP! GREEN BAY PACKERS! CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP! GREEN BAY PACKERS! CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP!" That has been the media's general perception of the Packers this year. I like them to be good, and win that division, but I'm not ready to marry them quite yet. I might think about it though
.Green Bay 31 (-1.5), Philadelphia 20
Arizona @ St. Louis
May the not as bad team win.
St. Louis 17 (+3.5), Arizona 14
Dallas @ Washington
At least the "Cowboys for Super Bowl Champions" propaganda has died down so I don't have to ask where the heck it came from. Tony Romo just doesn't have what it takes to win the big one and Dez Bryant will not be a huge impact player this year. Washington could very well have a better year than Dallas, now that they have an above average quarterback.
Washington 26 (+3.5), Dallas 23
Baltimore @ NY Jets
Who's not excited for this one? These are the two teams that most everybody is picking to win the AFC bid to the Super Bowl (I am not one of them) and who can blame them? New York will have great run game and extremely tough defense and Baltimore should have one of the best offenses in the league (I believe in Flacco, Boldin, and Housh), as well as having a decent enough defense (they'll struggle against the pass). This one should be a thriller.
Baltimore 21 (+3.5), NY Jets 20
San Diego @ Kansas City
Philip Rivers continues to get disrespected. If he can somehow lead San Diego to a 12-4 or 13-3 record without their left tackle and best receiver, can we finally start engraving his name into the "top five" QB discussion that goes on every year. This has all the making of a trap game (I originally picked KC), but Kansas City doesn't look that much better than last year's terrible team on paper. San Diego it is.
San Diego 34 (-5.5), Kansas City 17
Game of the Week: Baltimore @ New York
Upset of the Week: Carolina over New York
Lock of the Week: Miami over Buffalo
Quick Picks for the Season
MVP: Not Aaron Rodgers (Tom Brady)
Offensive Player of the Year: Ray Rice
Defensive Player of the Year: DeMarcus Ware
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Ryan Mathews
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Ndamukong Suh
Comeback Player of the Year: Wes Welker
Coach of the Year: Norv Turner (Yes, Norv Turner)
Division winners (in order of playoff seedings): San Diego, Indianapolis, New England, Baltimore/New Orleans, Green Bay, San Francisco, Dallas
Wild Cards: Pittsburgh, Tennessee/Atlanta, Minnesota
Super Bowl: New England 30, New Orleans 24 (SB MVP: Tom Brady)
No marks in the loss column baby! Not until Friday morning.