Music to listen to: Prelude/Kiara/Ten Tigers (Live) by Bonobo
Baltimore (-4) Jacksonville (in London): I’m glad to not trust Jacksonville’s season opener win over Houston as an indicator of how the season will go. While the Jags have made improvements, especially on the defensive end and Leonard Fournette has a chance to be a productive pro but until they figure out the quarterback position, its not going to work for the entire franchise. Blake Bortles isn’t the answer. You look at the end statistics and think he’s had a good game but realize upon deeper inspection the turnovers and stat-padding at the end of contests doesn’t provide much inspiration.
The good news is that England and all of Great Britain gets to experience the enjoyment that is Jacksonville football up close and personal on Sunday.
The Ravens aren’t much to write home about either but they play solid defense and score enough to win. They’ve also started the season against Cincinnati and Cleveland, lost causes this year. However, you have to beat who’s on your schedule and Baltimore has done that.
INDIANAPOLIS (+1) Cleveland: When it comes to games like this, I usually take the home team and hope for the best.
For the Colts, sit Andrew Luck as long as you need, fire Chuck Pagano at the end of the season and start over. This is a lost season. The fans don’t want to hear that, the players don’t want to accept it and ownership may deny it but that’s the reality. You can’t have your franchise quarterback not participate in preseason and not even practice at this stage of the year and expect anything from him. As far as Pagano goes, why was he brought back in the first place after last season’s disappointment? You can’t blame everything on the previous general manager, coaching is a factor too.
As far as Cleveland, its been interesting seeing the coverage Joe Thomas has been receiving on a national scale. He’s a future Hall of Famer, an offensive lineman with a personality and has wallowed in the worst NFL franchise during his entire career. I knew he was a different guy when he was coming out of Wisconsin, a guaranteed top-five draft pick, was invited to the NFL Draft in New York City but turned the invitation down to be on a fishing trip on draft day. From the outside looking in, I would have left Cleveland a long time ago, but if Thomas is happy there and compensated well, good for him I guess.
Pittsburgh (-7.5) CHICAGO: The Bears refused to show up last week in Tampa so what gives me any hope that they will do better against my pick to win the AFC this season?
BTW, stick with Mike Glennon for a few more weeks. Mitch Trubisky will get plenty of run this season, no need to rush it.
NEW YORK JETS (+6.5) Miami: The Jets are another bad team. The theme I’ve noticed this year has been while there have been some strong teams, there are way more bad teams in the league. You’ve already seen my thoughts on Cleveland, Chicago and Indy and I haven’t even gotten to a bunch of other ones. There are many reasons for this between the new approach to the preseason with limited practices, roster turnover, bad quarterback play, weak offensive lines, etc. The Jets fit all of these categories. So why take them as an underdog, even if they’re home?
Miami isn’t worthy of being a nearly touchdown favorite over anybody, at least not yet. Jay Cutler looked OK last week against the Chargers. The Dolphins are what they are.
BUFFALO (+3) Denver: I’ll take the mini upset and go with the Bills. Denver is clearly the better team on paper but traveling across the country for the early game is tough. The Bills are going to win one of these type of games this season.
Houston (+13) NEW ENGLAND: The Patriots’ offense will be fine. I think the national media was quick to give praise to New England’s offense for dominating the worst defense in football in New Orleans but it did look good in that game. We’ll get to the Saints later.
What concerns you about the Patriots is the defense which is going to struggle against strong offenses in its conference. The AFC East is a joke and will be won easily. What happens when they have to face Pittsburgh, Oakland, even Denver? That’s going to be a problem. That’s why I think two touchdowns is a lot of points to win by against a decent team like Houston.
Another BTW, Deshaun will be the best quarterback from this year’s rookie class and it won’t be close.
CAROLINA (-6) New Orleans: The Saints, especially Sean Payton has wasted the career of one of the top-15 quarterbacks of all-time because of ignorance. Drew Brees is in that category as an all-timer but has been saddled with an awful defense. New Orleans did win a Super Bowl so to call this a complete failure is unfair but its disappointing.
Cam Newton will never change. Last week, on the play that he got twisted on a tackle and hurt his ankle, TWO open receivers were running down the field about six yards away but Newton held on to the ball, took the sack and almost got injured for the rest of the season. Until he learns how to get rid of the ball quickly, that’s his fate.
MINNESOTA (-2) Tampa: Who knew that Sam Bradford could be such a difference maker?
DETROIT (+3) Atlanta: The Falcons are my pick to not only win the NFC South but make the Super Bowl for the second-consecutive year. Its not a homer pick. Atlanta has the best offense in the conference, possibly the entire league. The defense is improving even though the Vic Beasley injury does hurt. Despite all of that, the Falcons are going to have slip ups this season like everyone else and the Detroit game is a perfect candidate for it. The Lions have a strong offense led by a quarterback playing his best ball and have home field.
PHILADELPHIA (-6) New York Giants: Eli Manning isn’t done but its time for the Giants to look to the future. You can have Jerry Rice as your receiver with Barry Sanders as your running back and they wouldn’t be productive behind that offensive line. New York’s defense is solid, especially in the secondary and line but it can only do so much.
I picked Dallas to win the NFC East but if Philly won the division this year, it wouldn’t surprise me. I like Carson Wentz’s potential.
TENNESSEE (-2.5) Seattle: The Seahawks are a different team on the road. Russell Wilson isn’t going to last the season at this rate and as Richard Sherman said, its on Seattle’s defense. That’s a tough way to live.
Kansas City (-3.5) LOS ANGELES CHARGERS: There’s going to be a let down from the Chiefs at some point this season but not against the Chargers.
GREEN BAY (-9) Cincinnati: The lock of the week is the Packers winning this game by double-digits.
Oakland (-3) WASHINGTON: Fun game between two franchises that have seen better times with surprising national fan bases. When I first started following football in the late 1980’s, the Raiders and Washington were two of the model franchises in the league. I even went so far as to adopt the LA Raiders as my AFC team because I liked the uniform and attitude. I was a Giants fan and rooting for Washington was borderline treason so that wasn’t happening. However, Oakland looks like its turned a corner in a good way and Washington is still Washington in a bad way.
Dallas (-3) ARIZONA: The Cowboys have a lot of issues, a lot, but this is a must win for them and need to take advantage of a wounded Arizona squad on the road.
Last week: 10-6
This week: 1-0
Season total: 10-6