The weekly NFL picks column is, by far, my favorite column to write. Plus, if I’m writing it, it means there’s real football this Sunday.
There was technically real football on Thursday, but I’m not sure I’d call whatever it was the Redskins’ offense was doing “real football.”
Before I begin, as some of you know, I’ve been writing NFL team previews for the last three weeks or so. The plan was to preview all thirty-two teams. But when I was on vacation the week before Labor Day, I was stunned to find out there was no Internet access where we were staying.
Needless to say, my plan to write two columns per day went straight down the crapper.
So I did all of the non-playoff teams from last season, plus the Redskins. The good news? Others on Bleacher Report have done a tremendous job filling in the gap.
Before I get to this week’s picks, here are some of my favorites from the last few weeks:
Joe Willett also did a great job writing team and division previews.
There are plenty other great preview columns scattered throughout the NFL section. Just click on the team links and take a look for yourself.
Anyway, that’s enough Community Leadering for one column. Without further ado, here are your picks (against the spread) for Week One.
(Home teams in CAPS)
Cincinnati (-2) over BALTIMORE
There are conflicting rules at work here. Never bet on rookie quarterbacks on opening day and never take a bad team when they’re favored on the road.
I wouldn’t put a penny on either team in this game. But if you held a gun to my head, I’d take the Bengals.
New York Jets (-3) over MIAMI
The Brett Favre era gets off to a good start in Miami. Chad Pennington beating his old team would be a great story, but there’s no way it happens unless Ricky Williams channels the 2002 version of Ricky Williams and rushes for 150 yards and two touchdowns.
NEW ENGLAND (-16) over Kansas City
Is 16 points really enough? How high would this line have to go before you considered taking Kansas City? 20? 28?
Houston (+6.5) over PITTSBURGH
In the end, I think the Steelers will win, but Houston is good enough to keep this within a touchdown. Mario Williams is good for at least two sacks against Big “Statue” Ben.
Jacksonville (-3) over TENNESSEE
I’m astounded that the Titans made the playoffs over some of the other AFC teams last year. On paper, they’re not as good as the Browns. They may not even be as good as Houston. Their quarterback was a tremendous running back, but a terrible quarterback last season. How they kept winning games is beyond me.
Detroit (-3) over ATLANTA
This may be the only time this season that I take Detroit on the road. God’s only on Kitna’s side when he’s playing at home.
Seattle (+1) over BUFFALO
I’m not sure I understand this line. A division winner (yes, I understand it’s the NFC West) is an underdog on the road to a team that won seven games last season? Really?
NEW ORLEANS (-3) over Tampa Bay
The Saints begin their march to the Super Bowl by blasting the defending NFC South champions. They could be favored by 10 and I’d still take them to cover. The Saints will cakewalk through their division this season.
PHILADELPHIA (-8) over St. Louis
If the Cowboys implode (Jerry Jones, Wade Phillips, Jessica Simpson, Pacman Jones, and T.O. are all prominently involved, so implosion isn’t exactly far-fetched), the Eagles are the team that will take advantage. If the Seahawks implode, the Rams still have no chance of making the playoffs.
CLEVELAND (+5.5) over Dallas
I’m not buying the Cowboys this season. They’ve had two awful playoff loses in a row against two vastly inferior teams. They have multiple chemistry problems on their team. They have a weak head coach that knows his replacement is already on his coaching staff.
They have a meddling owner and a quarterback who’s dating the dumbest person in the United States. That’s way too much potential drama for me. And the Browns are good enough to keep it within five points anyway.
SAN DIEGO (-9) at Carolina
The Shawne-Merriman-horrifying-knee-injury watch begins at home against Carolina. Every time the opposing quarterback drops back to pass, we’ll all watch, knowing that there could be a Robert Edwards-like knee injury coming at any moment. Of course, even without Merriman, the Chargers could cover nine against the Panthers.
ARIZONA (-2.5) at San Francisco
Arizona is better on Sept. 7 with Kurt Warner than they would have been with Matt Leinart. But let’s see how they’re doing the first week in November, when the ancient Warner goes down with an injury and the no-confidence version of Matt Leinart has to come off the bench and lead the team for a few weeks.
INDIANAPOLIS (-9.5) at Chicago
I figure the Colts only need to score 10 points to cover this spread, since the Bears aren’t scoring on anyone this year. And even on one knee, a Peyton Manning offense is good for a touchdown and a field goal against almost anyone.
Minnesota (+2.5) over GREEN BAY
It’s not that Aaron Rodgers is a bad replacement for Brett Favre. It’s just that every time he throws an incomplete pass, someone’s going to say something about Brett Favre.
If he throws a few bad passes, the whispers will get louder.
God forbid he loses a game.
There’s too much pressure for a seasoned quarterback. There’s WAY too much pressure for a first-year starter. Add that with the pressure he'll be seeing from the Minnesota defense, and I don't like his odds.
Denver (-3) over OAKLAND
Oakland fans are so confident, I actually thought twice about this game. Unfortunately, even the second time around, I saw the Broncos leaving eight and nine men in the box and the Oakland passing game unable to capitalize. The over-under on combined rushing yards in this one: 500.
It’s been seven long months. Finally, it’s time for an NFL football Sunday.
And I can’t wait.
Last Week: 0-0
Season Record: 0-0
Sean Crowe is a Senior Writer and an NFL Community Leader at Bleacher Report. You can email him at email@example.com. His archive can be found here. You can find everything he writes, including articles for other publications, here.