8-8. Split right down the middle. Half of the games I picked were right, and half I picked were wrong.
I’m not disappointed, however.
Seriously, NFL week one is a hodgepodge of “your guess is as good as mine” and “why not try for this insane upset?”. The fact that I even got eight of the games right is a miracle on the level of Seattle winning their first game, and putting them on the fast track of having as many victories as their fanbase projected. Just one more win, guys.
Now, NFL week two may be even more difficult than week one. You have to be able to guess which scorned losers from week one will come back with the “burn down your village and have our way with your women” victories in the second week, just to demonstrate that they can, indeed, make up for an embarrassing loss.
Then again, some good teams who dropped games in week one could lose in week two, thus putting their season in early jeopardy. San Francisco, Philadelphia, Dallas, Indianapolis, Atlanta, San Diego, Cincinnati, and the New York Jets are all in line to possibly run that gamut.
How about the ones that nobody expected to win that are, currently, undefeated? Tampa Bay, Kansas City, Seattle, and Jacksonville are technically flawless, but what if one of them ends up 2-0? Do you start talking sleeper team this early? And before that even happens, can you accurately predict it?
Week two is a cruel mistress for prognosticators.
Fortunately, I’ve dealt with my share of cruel mistresses in my life. Bring on the stupid games.
Once again, my picks follow the format of the pool I run with my buddies: the game I’m most confident in is ranked at the top, whereas the “50/50” picks, as well as potential upsets, are ranked near the bottom.
WEEK ONE: 8-8
FOR THE YEAR: 8-8
Losing Ryan Grant sucks, and unless Brandon Jackson can level up overnight, that offensive line is going to have to solidify its pass rush quickly. Fortunately, it looks like in week two that they have time to work the bugs out, since Buffalo is dismal. It helps that in Buffalo’s case, Chan Gailey came out after Sunday’s game and said he didn’t properly gameplan for his running backs. So, in other words, he has a running game that features a man with All-Pro capability (Marshawn Lynch), a proven compliment piece (Fred Jackson), and a dynamic rookie (CJ Spiller), and he’s putting his emphasis on a mediocre commodity in Trent Edwards? If Green Bay loses this game, their season is done at 1-1. I’m serious.
SCORE: Packers 38, Bills 14
15. Philadelphia over Detroit
Welcome to the unabashed homer portion of these picks. As of this writing, Kevin Kolb was unable to pass a concussion test, so it appears that Michael Vick will be, using poor word choice, the lead dog. Given Vick’s second half heroics, I should be confident that he can lead a young offense to victory, but a nagging voice reminds me that Detroit’s defense was able to stifle Chicago for most of Sunday’s game. Still, Vick’s got a lot on the line (proving that he can still be a starter for most teams), and he’s not going to take Detroit lightly. If Stewart Bradley doesn’t play, then Jahvid Best may have another banner day, but otherwise, cover Calvin Johnson, and Philly takes it.
SCORE: Eagles 28, Lions 14
14. San Diego over Jacksonville
Some Chargers fan will create a metaphor that points out how Jacksonville’s game with Denver was delayed due to lightning, and how San Diego’s resident lightning is even deadlier. Poor attempts at a pun aside, it’s amazing how the absence of one player (Vincent Jackson), not to mention injuries riddling a defense, have put San Diego as consensus AFC West Champions in doubt. I’m only confident in the Chargers here because I feel that Philip Rivers is due for what I mentioned earlier, the village-burner game. If the Chargers D can’t stop Maurice Jones-Drew, then my pick may be moot. But still, I’m certain the Bolts won’t begin the year 0-2.
SCORE: Chargers 27, Jaguars 17
13. Dallas over Chicago
Speaking of village-burners, here’s Dallas, who if not for Alex Barron giving hugs, not drugs, would be 1-0 as we speak. That, and a stupid fumble by Tashard Choice, of course. But the point of losses is to learn from them, and the Cowboys let a great defensive effort go to waste Sunday night with costly offensive mistakes. The defense will do their part here, and Jay Cutler’s fixing to have a long day.
SCORE: Cowboys 31, Bears 14
12. Kansas City over Cleveland
When you get past Matt Cassel’s anemic-yet-mistake-free performance, you’re left with a Chiefs team that suddenly looks much more professional. After Herm Edwards tried to guru the team into playing well, followed by Todd Haley’s uneventful first year, the Chiefs brought in former Bill Belichick henchmen Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel. The difference? You have an offense with a deadly running game, and a defense led by Derrick Johnson and Eric Berry that held off a once-explosive Chargers offense almost through the entire second half. If it doesn’t go their heads, they should be able to give the Browns a worse beating.
SCORE: Chiefs 24, Browns 7
11. Indianapolis over New York Giants
I’d like to think that this would be a closer game under most circumstances, but go back to the village-burning theory, Peyton Manning’s competitive desire, and maybe a few nostalgic childhood memories of him tormenting brother Eli, and I think you’ll see a high-scoring, yet disturbingly cathartic, game for the elder Manning.
SCORE: Colts 38, Giants 21
10. New Orleans over San Francisco
Speaking of games that oughta be closer, I would have guessed the 49ers would fight the champs a bit harder, and they still might if Mike Singletary has them running laps through the muck after that….that ‘effort’ against Seattle. But it’s like the philosophers say: if you can’t beat a crappy west coast team run by Pete Carroll, then you’re not beating the defending champions. This time, Garrett Hartley WILL make some kicks. By week three, David Carr’s name will begin to get floated around.
SCORE: Saints 27, 49ers 10
9. Baltimore over Cincinnati
My only vested interest in this game is that Ray Lewis makes good on his threats from six seasons ago and finally pulverizes Terrell Owens into a fetid pile of egotistical compost. Carson Palmer was the achillies heel for the offense in week one, and now he plays a more schooling defense. You see where I’m going with this.
SCORE: Ravens 21, Bengals 10
8. Carolina over Tampa Bay
Well, I got one thing right last week: Matt Moore had a “learning experience” game against the Giants, and suffered a concussion to boot. Whether he plays, or Jimmy Clausen takes over, I’m just not able to picture Tampa Bay going 2-0. It’d be weird if they filled their win quota for 2010 this early.
SCORE: Panthers 27, Buccaneers 14
7. Houston over Washington
Arian Foster. Go ahead and tank your fantasy team this season so you can get the first pick next year. Then step up and say “I’ll take Arian Foster”. The Redskins are no slouches, but anytime a rookie running back leads a suddenly complete offense to a stunning dominant performance over the Colts, I tend to lean their way.
SCORE: Texans 24, Redskins 14
6. Atlanta over Arizona
One team regrettably couldn’t finish off a Dennis Dixon-led offense. The other team struggled to put away a Sam Bradford-led offense. The Falcons need this after stalling so much on Sunday. The loss to Pittsburgh was a thorn in their side. Literally, I mean, Mike Smith pulled a muscle in his side making an exaggerated gesture. Reminders of pain like that will make gameplanning much more precise and articulate through the week.
SCORE: Falcons 20, Cardinals 10
Oooh, this one’s gonna be tighter than I may have originally thought. Pittsburgh’s defense stymied Michael Turner well enough to where I’m not so sure Chris Johnson takes his usual running dump all over the defenders. It’s going to come down to which quarterback makes less mistakes, and I think Vince Young’s capable enough to play carefully against a resurging Steelers D. Titans take it in a close one.
SCORE: Titans 21, Steelers 17
4. St. Louis over Oakland
Sam Bradford may have thrown three picks in his debut, but that’s to be expected. He’s going to get better, and after giving a decent Cardinals team a run for their money, he’s capable of sticking it to a troubled Raiders team. Steven Jackson only had 81 rushing yards in the opener on 22 carries, but there are no Porters or Rodgers-Cromarties or Wilsons to deal with here.
SCORE: Rams 24, Raiders 17
3. Seattle over Denver
Pete Carroll or Tim Tebow. Two things I hate about college football have come to the NFL and have come together to create an apocalyptic nightmare for me. Hard to believe that this was my Super Bowl pick five years ago when the playoffs began. I’ll take Seattle, just because they may still be riding that wave of momentum. Can you imagine if Carroll wins the NFC West? Perish the thought.
SCORE: Seahawks 17, Broncos 10
2. Minnesota over Miami
I think the Dolphins were spoiled in week one by the Bills not knowing how the hell to utilize their blessed running attack. Brad Childress won’t have that problem, because AP and the young Toby Gerhart should be able to lead the way. It’ll be good to take the edge off of Brett Favre’s struggles in week one, and at this point, letting Favre have a chance to settle in is the right way to go.
SCORE: Vikings 24, Dolphins 17
1. New York Jets over New England
It’s the battle of teams that have had famed problems with female reporters! Long story short, defensive struggle, Rex Ryan blitzes Tom Brady like a mofo to relieve his personal stress, and the Jets win a close one, lest he wants the backlash against his team to continue
SCORE: Jets 16, Patriots 13
Join ESPN Insider today for the best sports analysis online, plus ESPN The Magazine!