September 5, 2008

Opening kickoff + picks!

by Dan Bilicki In: Football, Picks

The NFL season finally got underway last night and, honestly, I actually uttered the words, “I missed you.” It sure didn’t take long for Justin Tuck to show that he’s more than capable of doing his share in the wake of the Strahan retirement and Umenyiora injury. It only took him one play to reach Jason Campbell, who by the way, looked lost out there at times. This game may not be enough to prove that the Giants are contender for a postseason spot but it may have proved that Washington isn’t.
Lines are straight from our friend in Vegas and the home teams are in CAPS. Let it begin!

BALTIMORE (+1.5) over Cincinnati.
I don’t care if it’s Joe Flacco, Troy Smith or Kyle Boller (I know it’s Flacco) but anybody can score on Cincy. Baltimore’s defence will be back and better than last year, more than enough to knock around Carson Palmer. The Bengals o-line refuses to block for Palmer at times and the fierce Ravens will take full advantage of that.
New York Jets (-3) over MIAMI.
Chad Pennington faces his old team in week one, how appropriate. As much as he knows the Jets, the Jets know him better — hence the reason they cut him. Do you really expect Brett Favre to lose his debut? I can’t see it happening.
NEW ENGLAND (-16.5) over Kansas City.
The Patriots are a Super Bowl contender and the Chiefs are first overall pick contender. Tom Brady could sit this one out and the Pats would still romp. Will K.C. even be able to score a single point here? I still find it utterly ridiculous that the Patriots got as easy of a schedule as they did. Anybody who picked them to lose any more than three games might be on something.
Houston (+6.5) over PITTSBURGH.
So let’s add up a simple equation. Houston has a great pass rush and their defence is built is built around a solid, young defensive line. Pittsburgh’s biggest problem this season figures to be pass protection and their offensive line. Now do you see why I’ll take the points?

Jacksonville (-3) over TENNESSEE.
There’s game of week potential here. Road favourites are always a risky proposition but Jacksonville seems like a team of destiny this year. Of course that could mean they falter horrible as Fred Taylor’s groin shreds itself or they could take over the Colts for top spot in the AFC South. I’ll go with the latter.

ATLANTA (+3) over Detroit.
The beginning of the Matt Ryan era will be a pleasant one for Atlanta. Then it’ll all go downhill. I’m not buying into the Michael Turner era; backs coming in as a backup behind a great line that have high per carry numbers never pan out as true No. 1 guys. There’s reasons they didn’t get more handles on their old team and it’s not about the guys ahead of them on the depth chart.
Seattle (+1) over BUFFALO.
Buffalo seriously has to get Jason Peters his new contract and back to anchoring it’s O-line. Seattle, on the other hand, has about one healthy receiver for this game. Still, Matt Hasselbeck is good enough to work with the sub-par wide outs he’ll have and maybe the Seahawks can split out some of their dozen running backs slated for two carries a game each.
NEW ORLEANS (-3) over Tampa Bay.
Everyone is either very up or very down on the Saints; I’m part of the up crowd if you couldn’t tell by the NFC preview. When the mathc up in Tampa comes around, I’ll probably take them though. If I had to guess, this game will be a push.
PHILADELPHIA (-7.5) over St. Louis.
Blow out of the week. Well, this or the Pats routing the Chiefs, but at least this one has a workable line. Look for DeSean Jackson to stand out against the Rams slow secondary.
Dallas (-5) at CLEVELAND.
The same as last year, I won’t pick Cowboys games because of my unwavering bias. It would be very hard for me to objectively pick against the ‘boys in any scenario. Anyway, Dallas’ revamped defensive back core should be more than enough to stifle the Browns passing attack. The Browns secondary isn’t nearly enough to hold off Romo and TO.
SAN DIEGO (-9) over Carolina.
The Panthers will be a good team this season but it won’t show against the superior Chargers at home. Shawne Merriman will be playing at like 80% capacity which brings him down to around the average OLB but the Panthers are without 100% of Steve Smith, their biggest weapon. Should be a romp.
Arizona (-2.5) over SAN FRANCISCO.
Kurt Warner and Matt Leinart could’ve been starting against each other this week had Leinart left school when he should’ve. The sad thing is that Leinart might only be a slight improvement over J.T. O’Sullivan who I hope I’ll never convince myself into betting on.
INDIANAPOLIS (-9.5) over Chicago.
Indy may be playing without two of their key offensive line guys – including the kingpin, centre Jeff Saturday – which will hurt but the Colts are one of those teams that are so great at reaching down their depth chart and pulling out better than stop-gap types. Figure in that Bob Sanders might pick off Kyle Orton eight times and you easily have a double-digit win to open Lucas Oil Field.

GREEN BAY (-2) over Minnesota.
I like Minnesota and their chances to win the division but winning at Lambeau is always tough, no matter who Green Bay puts under cetnre. Rodgers looked good when he had the chance to take some snaps last season and the rest of the Packers core is still intact from their 13-3 2007. The Vikings will miss Bryan McKinnie at left tackle.

OAKLAND (+3) over Denver.
I have no idea why they would stack Monday night games ever but it’s happened. The 10:15 p.m. EDT start time severely punishes people on the east coast and won’t do so great in the ratings. What also won’t do well for ratings is pitting these two teams together. Denver will be without Brandon Marshall (suspension) and the Broncos still can’t stop the run, which is pretty much the only thing Oakland can do.

This Week: 1-0
Last Season: 111-117-10 (Not as bad as I remembered.)

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