Speculators don’t get any smarter as the season goes on, but they do have access to more information. The fun with predicting the success or failure of a pro football team is the limited number of trials to which we’re exposed. After two games, even the best teams can look bad and vice versa. So it’s easier to point to information when we ask ourselves if the Chiefs at 0-2 one of the worst teams in the league? (Yes.) Are the Steelers really struggling at 1-1? (Not really.) Is Cam Newton the real deal? (Oh yes.)
I certainly didn’t get any smarter; my picks came in under .500 for the second straight week. Just recognize the trend that if you pick every team that I hate, you might have a little more gas money for next week. Of course, I would never endorse sports betting...publicly.
1 p.m. ET games
BUFFALO +7.5 over New England
I’m pulling a Dixie cup out of that plastic sleeve and drinking the Kool-Aid on the Buffalo Bills. Whether it was the blossoming of Ryan Fitzpatrick or Fred Jackson or all of the players excited about possibly moving to Toronto, the Bills appear to be legit after thumping KC and getting the job done against Oakland at home.
But will they beat the Patriots? Hell no, but New England can’t stop the pass and the Bills are bringing a lot of confidence into their first division game of the year. I mean, I haven’t talked to any of them personally, but I’m confident that they’re confident.
CINCINNATI -3 over San Francisco
There’s a big story in the news about how the world’s largest sperm bank is turning away redheads. I think they would make an exception for Andy Dalton, because that guy can sling it! San Francisco lost last week’s game in Dallas to a guy that won his roster spot on a reality show. I don’t like their chances against the NFL’s equivalent of the Mean Machine.
NEW ORLEANS -4 over Houston
Man, I hate picking this game. Ben Tate seems to be getting it done in Houston right now (4.7 yards per carry), and with the Colts sliding into oblivion, the Texans are the favorite to win the AFC South. I mean, the Colts couldn’t even join the Pac-12 right now; that’s how bad they are.
So does Houston’s pass rush rattle Drew Brees in the same way that it did Kerry Collins and Chad Henne? Brees plays well against the AFC (7-2 in his last three seasons), he’s at home, and since that octopus that picked the World Cup games is dead, I’m...laying the four.
PHILADELPHIA -7.5 over New York Giants
The total for this game is 49, which is a joke unless Eli Manning gets picked off four times and all of those are run back for Eagles touchdowns. It took horribly timed turnovers and two players on defense taking dives for the Giants to get past the Rams on Monday night. Assuming Vick doesn’t play, Mike Kafka still has plenty of toys to play with, and the Eagles defense is good enough to beat an underperforming Giants team by themselves. I’d say something nice about Trent Cole, but I’m afraid he might hurt me.
Cleveland -2.5 over MIAMI
Tony Sparano wears sunglasses in press conferences. You’d think at some point he would just trip over some TV cable and seriously hurt himself.
TENNESSEE -7 over Denver
The Broncos are on pace to turn the ball over 32 times this season, and that’s without Tim Tebow at quarterback. At some point, Chris Johnson has to stop doing his Lee Evans impression and string together some productive games. Matt Hasselbeck can’t carry this team. He has a bad back, you guys.
Detroit -3 over MINNESOTA
There’s something really enjoyable about the Lions being good again. It’s like watching the fat kid in the lunchroom standing up for himself against a bully, and smacking that bully in the teeth with one of those orange plastic lunchroom trays. But that would never happen, because fat kids love food way too much. Of course, if this particular confrontation happened later in the period and the kid in question had finished, it would be much more likely.
CAROLINA -3 over Jacksonville
Luke McCown is heading to the bench in Jacksonville, where he belongs. Rookie Blaine Gabbert will get the start for the Jags, which has some people calling this game a “Battle Of The Rookie Quarterbacks.” First of all, Cam Newton is not a rookie, because he played pro ball at Auburn and secondly...wait, you got that Cam Newton joke, right? Because he took money from boosters. But I don’t care. He has been fun to watch, and Panthers fans will need that this week, because they’re also stuck with the burden of watching the Jags play. Ugh.
4 p.m. ET games
SAN DIEGO -15 over Kansas City
I would not be surprised to see Todd Haley get fired before the end of the year. And if Kansas City doesn’t start any better than 1-4, I would not be surprised to see him fired right then and there, with Scott Pioli handing the reins to Maurice Carthon or Romeo Crennel as the team heads into its Week 6 bye. No team in the NFL gets blown out like the Chiefs did in the first two weeks of the season, and Haley, whose contract is set to expire after next season, will probably pay for that with his job if he can’t right the ship soon.
OAKLAND -3 over NY Jets
Oakland was supposed to lose last week, by virtue of flying across the country for a 1 o’clock start, and they did, but just barely (I actually took the 3 and got a push). This week, it’ll be the Jets trekking across the U.S. to northern California. The total of 41 is the second-lowest of the day, and I expect this game to blow that out of the water.
Baltimore -4 over ST. LOUIS
The Rams at home are like fresh lima beans: still terrible. The Baltimore defense won’t invest its resources toward Cadillac Williams in the same way that it did with Chris Johnson in Tennessee last week. Steve Spagnuolo is still sitting at the kid’s table, but his Rams might be the NFL’s best 0-3 team heading into next week.
Atlanta +2 over TAMPA BAY
Why is Tampa Bay getting points here? Because they’re at home? Because the Falcons lost to a good team on national television? Because their stadium has a pirate ship? The Bucs had to come back against Donovan McNabb. Still, having a pirate ship in your stadium is quite mighty.
Arizona -3 over SEATTLE
The Cardinals will be in close games all year. Part of that is just the style of Ken Whisenhunt football. It’s also the product of that Super Bowl defense that has gradually eroded due to age and free agency. But we can throw all of that out the window when they play a team whose best skill player is Tarvaris Jackson.
Green Bay -3 over CHICAGO
I’m taking Aaron Rodgers minus three in every conceivable matchup until the end of time.
Green Bay minus three against Pittsburgh and Baltimore? At the same time? Aaron Rodgers.
Green Bay minus three against global warming? Aaron Rodgers.
Green Bay minus three against that giant spider from Wild Wild West? Aaron Rodgers, yo!
Sunday night game
Pittsburgh -10.5 over INDIANAPOLIS
We all laughed when people speculated that the Colts were a 3-13 team without Peyton Manning. Nobody’s laughing now. Kerry Collins is developing a real gift for turning the ball over (three fumbles lost, one interception), a development that the Steelers will be very eager to accommodate.
Monday night game
Washington +6 over DALLAS
I always laugh when I hear “rumors” about Mike Shanahan being on the hot seat. First of all, Shanny isn’t getting fired because Dan Snyder is an alleged prick and no other established coach not named Dave Campo would ever work for him. Secondly, Shanahan is getting the job done in D.C.: the ‘Skins are 2-0 in the midst of this Rex Grossman renaissance. I’m sold.
Picks record: 6-8-2 last week (12-17-3 season)
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated Cam Newton played three seasons at Auburn. It has been revised to reflect that of his three seasons in college, only one was spent at Auburn.