It’s a well known fact in the gambling community that finishing a season .500 is the most impressive feat possible. Which really makes my 71-71-1 season last year one of the best gambling years in history. Anyone can get hot for a stretch and inflate their overall record but it takes a real sharp to be perfectly mediocre for an entire football season. Having said that I know I am due for a big season. There is something in my gut that is telling me that I will be providing winners week in and week out. Something about the delay in sports this spring allowed me to tap into a part of my brain that I didn’t know existed. Now when I am looking at the board I look like Zach Galifianakis from the hangover.
Now I know I have had irrational confidence in the past but this time is different. I like most other Americans have spent the last 6 months working from home and spending more time at home then ever before. During the quarantine months I have spent my time learning the game of football on a deeper level then ever before(playing a shit ton of madden). In doing so I feel like I am more suited now, than ever to pick winners. Having said that lets get to some picks.
Chicago @ Detroit (-2.5)
I have to be honest I was shocked when I saw that the Lions were favored week 1. Yes they are home but there will be no fans so it will feel more like a neutral site matchup. Also Matt Stafford is playing his first game since breaking his back last season. Now we all know that Mitch Trubisky stinks, there is really no denying that. However the Bears still have a good defense and the Lions still have Matt Patricia as head coach. He is another one in a long line of Patriots Assistants who tried to recreate the Patriots culture at their new location. The only problem is you can’t be an authoritarian head coach when you are consistently picking in top 10. I think the Bears win this one outright but we will still take the points. Matt Patricia should enjoy his time in Detroit while he can because after this year he won’t get to live in the loveliest city on earth.
Pick: CHI +2.5
Cleveland @ Baltimore (O/U 47.5)
Over the last 4 matchups between these two teams the game totals have been, 46,65,50,21. Besides the obvious outlier these teams have put up high totals since Baker and Lamar came to town. I expect more of the same in this one. While there were times last year when Cleveland was steamrolled, they did a good job playing the Ravens close. I expect some regression from Lamar mainly because it would be nearly impossible to match what he did last year but even 85% of last year still puts him as a top 3 QB. With Cleveland I expect their offense to be much better without Freddie Kitchen calling the plays. While Adam Gase was bad, Freddie might have been the only coach worse than him last year. Unlike the Jets the Browns realized their mistake and fixed it. Do the right thing Chris Johnson, fire Adam Gase. With the improved Browns offense and the Ravens offense picking up where they left off last year I expect this to go over the total. Now we may have to sweat it out in the first half but I expect both teams to run tempo and the defenses will wear out later in the game.
Pick: Over 47.5
Las Vegas @ Carolina (+2.5)
I was a little shocked to see Carolina as only 2.5 point underdogs because again these games are going to be more like neutral site games. Sure Las Vegas has to come east but it’s week 1 that doesn’t really matter this early on. I don’t expect Las Vegas to be anything special but I do expect Carolina to stink. I think Matt Rhule is a good head coach and he was my top choice for the Jets 2 years ago. The Panthers offensive line allowed a league high 55 sacks last year and their defense is one of the most inexperienced in the league. Now they have a lot of speed and weapons on offense but they are relying on Teddy Bridgewater to get them the ball. I think Teddys story of coming back from injury to eventually win a starting job is incredible. The only problem is even before his injury he was a below average QB. I’m taking the Raiders here, I think they will be able to put up a lot of points on the Panthers and win easy.
Pick: LV -2.5
Seattle @ Atlanta (+1)
The Seahawks are a team who has felt like they were within their super bowl window for the last 8 years. I guess that’s what happens when you have Russell Wilson at qb. They went out this offseason and traded for Jamal Adams, giving up 2 first rounders in the process. Jamal Adams is the most versatile safety in the NFL and him and Quadree Diggs will form one of the leagues best safety tandems. Now even though I know Jamal Adams is a great player, I do hate everything that he stands for. He forced his way out of New York by whining to the media and bashing both coach and gm. Now I’m all for a good Adam Gase bash but when you say you are going to change a teams culture and then force your way out 3 years later your words seem a little empty. Although I will say I think the Jamal trade did help unify the team because I’m sure everyone in the locker room agrees Jamal a baby back bitch, so maybe he changed the culture after all. The Falcons on the other side of the ball will be starting 10 first round picks on offense. Granted some of those players are washed up or bad, but you can’t help but be excited for a team with that many high draft picks playing at once. Having said that I expect the Seahawks to crush the Falcons. Atlanta is multiple years removed from their Super Bowl loss and they haven’t been able to find that same spark since. Give me Seattle to easily cover.
Picck: SEA -1
Tampa Bay @ New Orleans
I’m glad that Gronk is out of New England so that I can finally openly root for him. Gronk is the exact type of player that I love and it killed me all those years he was in New England. Brady on the other hand I still hate with the burning fire of a thousand suns. This game might have the lowest combined arm strength between 2 quarterbacks in NFL history. Both Brady and Brees looked like they were over the hill last year and I think we will see two guys who struggle to push the ball downfield all year. Luckily for both they have great supporting casts. Brady has Evans and Godwin and Brees has Kamara and Thomas. I expect both teams to utilize the middle of the field and have big RAC numbers. A lot of people touted Todd Bowles defense last year but they gave up 27 or more points in 10 games last year. Obviously it didn’t help that they had a QB who lead the league in INTs but let’s cool it with the Todd Bowles praise. This is still the same guy who had a defensive efficiency in the bottom 3rd of the league his last 3 years with the Jets. I like the over in this game as I think both teams will dink and dunk their ways down the field. Since no team had any preseason games I expect tackling to suffer and lead to a high scoring game.
Pick: Over 47.5
Los Angeles Chargers @ Cincinnati (O/U 41.5)
Continuing with my trend for week one I like the over in this matchup. The Bengals have one of my favorite skill groups in football, and if Burrow can do 75% of what he did at LSU I think they will be successful. Tyler Boyd is coming off two straight 1000 yard seasons and bringing Aj Green back into the fold will open up the middle even more for him. Joe Mixon, while a terrible person, is a great running back when healthy. Their defense on the other hand leaves a lot to be desired, with their once great defensive front well on the back nine of their careers. On the other side of this game you have the Chargers who will be starting a quarterback not named Phillip Rivers in week one for the first time in a decade. Tyrod Taylor brings a new dynamic to this offense which I think will out perform expectations. Philip Rivers can’t move, so when the protection would break down he would either chuck one up for grabs or take a sack. Tyrod at least has the ability to extend plays. Couple that with Ekler, a healthy Henry and Allen, is a recipe for success. I think this one goes over easy, with a nice win to end off the 4 pm games.
Pick: Over 41.5
Alright, let’s crack open some beers, enjoy some wings and rejoice that football is back!