I don't like this slate much at all. In fact, while agonizing over coin flips for no reason, I came up with the rant I plan to bust out on our SXM show Thursday morning:
I don't have all the goddamn answers! Seriously, someone has to say it. And none of the other blowhards you listen to 24/7 has them, either. We don't know, and sometimes we don't even have a good strategy. Hell, I'm probably living a lie in my personal life, too. I am a deeply deluded human being. I cannot pretend otherwise, and that I take the Redskins over the Cardinals, two teams that I wouldn't mind seeing contracted, means absolutely nothing. For you to base your decision on my selection is nothing short of insanity. If you do that, you are a danger to yourself and others and should be locked away permanently..."
Or something like that.
For what it's worth, I like the Raiders, Bengals and Browns a little bit.
Seahawks +14.5 at Steelers
I hate these huge lines between awful teams and ones that are supposed to be good. The value has to be with the dog because every moron is going to take the favorite no matter what, but the experience of watching while having the dog is pure torture. Either you eke out a cover that's in doubt the whole game, or you're down four TDs in the first quarter. In other words, betting the favorite in these contests is simply more enjoyable. Unless the dog really shows up, not just for a quarter or two, but plays to win. It does happen occasionally, and then you want to defenstrate for laying all those points. As I said, I hate these lines. But I have to go Seattle. For all we know, the Steelers won't win nine games this year.
Steelers 27 - 17
Ravens -5.5 at Titans
Maybe the Ravens are just so much better than the Titans they'll go into their building and roll. But I'm backing Tennessee for two reasons: (1) Baltimore's stock could not possibly be higher; and (2) the Ravens can't possibly be as up for this game as they were for the home opener against their hated rivals who dispatched them from the playoffs last year. Back the Titans who keep it close enough.
Ravens 20 - 19
Jaguars +9.5 at Jets
I was wrong about the Jets last week, and I'm sure they'll **** me again in Week 2. I was waiting for the team that crushed the Colts and Pats in the playoffs and destroyed the Steelers in the second half of the AFC Championship game, but it didn't show up. The same thing happened last year after the Jets handled the Bengals and Chargers in the playoffs the year before. We just kept waiting for that all-world defense to dominate, and it didn't take over until later in the year and in the playoffs. Instead, the Jets were life and death every week with mediocre teams. I'm not sure the Jaguars can cover the Jets receivers, and I'm pretty sure Luke McCown's not going to get a lot done offensively, but until the Jets prove they're a team that blows bad teams away, I've got to take the points. Back the Jaguars.
Jets 19 - 13
Cardinals +3.5 at Redskins
I don't know what to make of either of these teams, and I wish I didn't have to pick between them. Let's roll with the Redskins and lay the points. I'm sure I'll regret it.
Redskins 27 - 19
Raiders +3.5 at Bills
The Bills annihilated the Chiefs in Kansas City last week, and I think we have to adjust our view of them somewhat. But the Raiders went into Denver Monday night and gave them a physical beating on both sides of the ball, pressuring and sacking Kyle Orton and running with authority. I think Buffalo can air it out effectively if Ryan Fitzpatrick has time, but I don't think he'll get it against Oakland's defensive front. Back the Raiders who win outright.
Raiders 20 - 17
Buccaneers +3 at Vikings
It's hard to know what to make of the Bucs last week. Were they just rusty after having been locked out for most of the offseason, or were the Lions that much better? The Vikings, on the other hand, put up a fight in San Diego, but Donovan McNabb (39 yards passing, 2.6 YPA) simply couldn't move the team at all when he needed to. I should probably take the Bucs and the points, but after reading columns asserting McNabb's washed up, it makes me want to buy low and do the opposite. Back the Vikings.
Vikings 20 - 16
Bears +7 at Saints
Maybe the Bears are due for a regression after last year's lucky run (drawing the Seahawks at home in the Divisional Playoffs was a gift), but last week's romp over Atlanta looked like progress instead. Until proven otherwise, these are roughly equal teams, and seven is too big a line. Back Chicago.
Saints 24 - 23
Packers -10.5 at Panthers
This really is a massive line. If it were in Green Bay, it would be about 16. Do the Panthers get no credit for last week in Arizona? Does Green Bay not get docked for nearly giving up their lead to the Saints at home? I want to take the big home dog, excited about their talented young QB, but the Packers are so smooth offensively, and their defense is arguably at top-5 unit as well. I don't care - I'm taking the points and expecting Carolina to be up for this one.
Packers 27 - 23
Browns -1.5 at Colts
Kerry Collins is fine as a backup if you have a good running game and a stout defense. In that case, he can fill in when needed and manage the game, making key throws when he needs to. But on a team with no running game and an inability to slow down other teams on the ground, he's not a good fit. I don't believe in Jim Caldwell's ability to get Indy up for this game, either. Back the Browns who get the road win.
Browns 24 - 20
Chiefs +9 at Lions
I don't like Todd Haley, and you can't sink much lower than getting blown out by the Bills on opening week at home. But this is a "buy-low, sell-high" situation with the Lions possibly getting too much credit for beating a lucky Tampa team last year, and the Chiefs getting too much flack for losing to what could be an improved team. Back the Chiefs who keep it competitive.
Lions 27 - 20
Cowboys -3 at 49ers
Given that the Niners had so much trouble at home against Seattle, and Dallas had the Jets dead to rights on the road before imploding, you'd think Dallas was the much better team. And given that Dallas is winless and in a tough division, while the Niners are 1-0 in an easy one, the Cowboys should also have a lot more urgency. I was going to go contrarian here, but for once I won't. Take Dallas who will no doubt **** me again.
Cowboys 31 - 27
Bengals +3.5 at Broncos
Does this line really need to be 3.5 instead of three? Why? I don't see any reason to believe the Broncos are better than the Bengals. Maybe I'll understand more Sunday afternoon. Back Cincy.
Broncos 21 - 20
Texans -3 at Dolphins
Okay, so the Texans blew out the Manning-less Colts at home in Week 1. But does that mean they've finally turned the corner? I don't think we know yet. Take the Dolphins with home field and the points.
Dolphins 27 - 24
Chargers +7 at Patriots
I'd like to fade both of these teams, to be honest, but I can only pick one. If Chad Henne could carve up the Pats, then so can Philip Rivers. The Chargers hang around, barring a couple special teams disasters. Back San Diego.
Chargers 30 - 27
Eagles -2 at Falcons
The Falcons looked bad in Chicago, but I think they'll bounce back at home where they typically play a lot better. Take the points.
Falcons 24 - 20
Rams +6 at Giants
It looks like Sam Bradford's going to play, and as a result, I think this is too many points. The way the Giants played in Washington, and given how banged up their secondary is, they'll be happy just to get the win. Back St. Louis.
Giants 27 - 23
We were 8-7-1 last week and 126-125-5 in 2010. From 1999-2010 we've gone 1565-1387 (53%, not including ties).