Year 1 of the great predicting experiment yielded mixed results for me. What started out as a strong display of intelligence quickly devolved into a pathetic few weeks of a complete lack of football aptitude. In the end, the regular season turned out how you would expect, with a regular season record just under .500. The playoffs saved me somewhat, resulting in a final showing of 128-125-14 (.506).
When I started this last season, I wrote "[s]tastically speaking, I should bat around .500, as that's essentially the purpose of the point spread." And while that is true, it was somewhat disheartening to do so well for nearly the entire season, only to collapse in the 4th quarter of the season. I would compare myself to the Detroit Lions at this point, but at least I made it to Week 15 before starting my demise...
Despite no additional reason for optimism beyond simply the start of the season, I find myself stepping back onto the field of play to try to improve upon last year's results. I have not improved in any way and will most likely use the same techniques I utilized before and somehow hope for better results. I guess in that respect, I'm more like the Chicago Bears than I would have hoped...
As always, spreads can be found here.
New York Giants (-4) vs Washington - The defending Super Bowl champions kick off the new season on Thursday, which really messes up my schedule on writing this post. Nevertheless, the NFL has decided to move forward in spite of me, and I feel the Giants will do the same in spite of the Redskins. New York is missing some key guys on its defensive line, but their depth, and a completely raucous crowd, should easily handle a Washington team that's shown nothing in the preseason thus far.
Cincinnati (-1) at Baltimore - If Joe Flacco is going to start his career against somebody, the Bengals defense is probably a good place to start. Of course, that doesn't change the fact that he's still a rookie that's making the jump from Delaware to the NFL. That takes some getting used to, and even though Cincinnati may not be championship material, they do still have enough weapons to start the season off right.
New York Jets (-3) at Miami - Brett Favre Bowl I kicks off on Sunday, with the second quickly following on Monday Night Football. It's hard to believe that Favre has really adapted to the Jets, or that they've adapted to him, but a motivated Favre and a rebuilding Dolphins team can pretty much turn out one way here. Thomas Jones should get on track against a defense missing Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas, which will ease the load on the aging quarterback as well.
New England (-16.5) vs Kansas City - I'm torn on this game. After last season, you would think that the Patriots would want to come out and tear apart a lessor opponent in the Chiefs. However, the run-it-up Pats didn't exactly turn out so well. And they didn't exactly come together in the preseason. And Tom Brady isn't exactly healthy. Last season, I would have bet New England and given 30 points. This year, I think a more conservative and balanced team will still flex their muscles enough to dominate the Chiefs.
Pittsburgh (-7) vs Houston - I admit, I haven't followed the preseason enough to know how the Willie Parker/Rashard Mendenhall situation is going to play out, but with three solid receivers, two game-breaking running backs, and a Super Bowl quarterback, I think it's safe to say that the Steelers are pretty much set on offense. That's more than can be said for Houston, which has pieces but has yet to put them together. Ahman Green is somehow still the starting running back, which is not a positive. If Andre Johnson can stay healthy for the entire game, they may keep it close... but not close enough.
Tennessee (+3) vs Jacksonville - I like the Jaguars this season, I really do. But for some reason, I just feel like an early-season, divisional road game will be a tough play, especially with everything going on around the Jaguars in the last week or so. I could see them winning this one, but I think the Titans keep it close, if not win it outright. (Side note: I feel like I'm going to be regretting this pick in about 96 hours...)
Detroit (-3) at Atlanta - Oh, a hotbed for football fans! The Falcons! The Lions! Could it get any better?! Well, the Lions just signed a washed up Rudi Johnson, so they got that going for them. The Falcons counter with Matt Ryan's first NFL game and Michael Turner's first start as "the Man". Kitna and Co. may not be glamorous, but they've been together for a while and will be able to run around the Falcons for the win.
Buffalo (pk) vs Seattle - I really don't like the Seahawks this year. I don't know why, but I have no faith at all in them. Luckily, I have (apparently) negative faith in the rest of their teams in the division since I still have them winning it, but in this matchup, against a Bills team at home, I'll go with the team without two of its top receivers injured.
New Orleans (-3) vs Tampa Bay - It's the season for redemption for the Saints, as many thought they were about to turn the corner last season, only to fall flat. They have plenty of offensive pieces, especially after adding Jeremy Shockey in the offseason. It's only a matter the defense that worries me about this team. The Bucs could exploit this, but in the emotional Superdome, I think the Saints give New Orleans something to cheer about.
St Louis (+7) at Philadelphia - Yes, Brian Westbrook will probably have a huge game. But who is Donovan McNabb going to throw the ball to? And right now, the Rams are all healthy, which makes them more dangerous than they'll probably be in a few weeks. By the end of the season, the Eagles will definitely be better off the the Rams, but Week 1... Going with the Rams for the upset.
Dallas (-5) at Cleveland - The top team in the NFC takes on the surprise team of the AFC last year, but the Browns won't be sneaking up on people this year, while the Cowboys have no problem in making themselves known as well. Both teams have plenty of offensive firepower (even though I still don't trust Derek Anderson), but when it comes to defense, Dallas has the obvious edge. The Cowboys are looking for a Super Bowl title this season. They won't get tripped up this early.
San Diego (-9.5) vs Carolina - The Panthers without Steve Smith is not exactly the type of team that can travel into San Diego and take on a popular Super Bowl pick. Shawne Merriman's injury may be the story of the day, but Carolina won't have the weapons to do anything about it. On the other side of the ball, well, there's Tomlinson... Not sure what more you need to say about that.
Arizona (-2.5) at San Francisco - Another thrilling matchup on the same level as the Lions-Falcons tilt mentioned above. I really don't have anything to say about either of these teams that's worth mentioning, but I'm rooting for Anquan Boldin for fantasy purposes, and the Cardinals have a quarterback who's done something, so let's go with them this time around.
Indianapolis (-9.5) vs Chicago - Peyton Manning vs Kyle Orton. Let that sink in for a second... Okay. Do I need to mention anything else? How about the fact the Colts want to erase the abrupt end to their season last winter and what better way to do that than destroying a bad team that can't tackle in prime time? Okay, let's just move on before I get sick...
Green Bay (-3) vs Minnesota - It's Brett Favre Bowl II. I have the Vikings winning the division, but right off the bat, I think the Packers, at home, take care of business against Minnesota. No matter what you think of Tarvaris Jackson, when your starting quarterback is taking the field at less than 100% against a good defense, that's not a good thing. Adrian Peterson will get his yards, although he'll have to earn them, while Aaron Rodgers will (he hopes) get on Green Bay fans' good side.
Denver (-3) at Oakland - It concerns me that I've taken almost all favorites in what always turns out to be one of the most unpredictable weeks of the season. But I don't know which game I would switch in this list. I was tempted to pick Oakland here at home, but with young players at several key positions, it might be too early to have come together enough to knock off the Broncos. Add in how much Mike Shanahan loves beating the Raiders, especially on Monday Night Football, and you've got yourself a Broncos victory.
Last Season: 128-125-14