Without belaboring the point and being quite risk averse to the notion that I’ll become known as “the sick guy,” a doctor recently told me, “wow, it’s really not your year.”
I could say the same for any number of NFL players who are already going to miss the 2014 season or so much of it that it might as well be the whole thing.
The number of injured and suspended players going into this season feels much bigger than usual (or maybe it’s just that so many high profile guys are out).
Either way, it makes the typically difficult job of picking games in the early weeks even more typically difficult. Are you ready for some (but not all) football?
(All lines as of 9/5/14 @7:00 a.m. – line credit posted per game)
New Orleans (-2.5) @Atlanta (5Dimes)
This game actually opened with the Falcons giving 1. That’s because this year’s Falcons will look a lot more like the 2012 team that won 13 games than last year’s edition that won 4, but even with a strong home field advantage Atlanta’s only beaten the Saints once at home in the last 5 years. New Orleans is my preseason Super Bowl pick – that means they win games like this one.
New Orleans Saints 28 Atlanta Falcons 24
Minnesota (+3.5) @St. Louis (Las Vegas Hilton)
The Rams are dead meat with Shaun Hill instead of Sam Bradford. Are they? Sam Bradford’s been average, maybe slightly above average at best. And Hill is an extremely competent backup. The Rams won’t challenge the likes of Seattle, but they’re playing the Vikings this week. That would be the Vikings who have Matt Cassel at QB. And the Rams still have that tenacious D and Jeff Fisher always seems to have his teams playing at a high level. I actually like the Rams here.
St. Louis Rams 21 Minnesota Vikings 16
Jacksonville (+11) @Philadelphia (5Dimes)
The Eagles are just one year removed from being incapable of winning in their own building. I know the Jags are second division, but perceptions of Philadelphia as one of the best teams in the entire NFL are overblown. Similarly, Jacksonville ain’t as bad as you think. Take the points here.
Philadelphia Eagles 27 Jacksonville Jaguars 20
Oakland (+5.5) @NY Jets (Las Vegas Hilton)
If I told you in June that the first rookie QB to start a game would be Derek Carr you’d have said I was crazy. Normally, you wouldn’t want to bet on a rookie making his first start against a Rex Ryan coached defense, but the Jets don’t have the kind of defensive personnel they used to. I think Carr will have a decent game. The Raiders aren’t good enough to turn that into a road win, but I think they can cover 5.5. I also like the over 40 a little bit in this game. I’m not taking it, but you can if you want.
New York Jets 23 Oakland Raiders 20
Cincinnati (+1) @Baltimore (Bookmaker.eu)
It’s been five years since the Bengals won a game in Baltimore. I don’t see anything that’s changed in the Bengals favor to suddenly reverse that trend. In reality, I think the Ravens are on the rebound while Cincinnati has peaked.
Baltimore Ravens 24 Cincinnati Bengals 21
Buffalo (+6.5) @Chicago (Las Vegas Hilton)
The Bears are still trying to get the bad taste of last season’s collapse out of their mouths. The Bills are in the middle of a rebuild, meanwhile, and don’t look all that ready to start winning games on the road against presumptive playoff opponents. Chicago is almost always good early moreover. I like the Bears giving the points here.
Chicago Bears 28 Buffalo Bills 20
Washington (+3) @Houston (Las Vegas Hilton)
I’m sorry, but the Texans with Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback should not be giving points, not after how bad this team looked last season. Maybe Houston rebounds in a big way, rides that defense to a decent win total and makes Houston a tough place to play, but could I see it first before I start betting on it? Give me Washington and the points.
Washington RacialSlurs 21 Houston Texans 17
Tennessee (+3) @Kansas City (Las Vegas Hilton)
This is not a game I have a good clear read on. I don’t like either offense, but I also don’t like Tennessee’s defense, especially early while they’re transitioning to a 3-4. Once upon a time the Chiefs were tough at home, so I’ll go with that.
Kansas City Chiefs 24 Tennessee Titans 20
New England (-5) @Miami (Stations)
The Dolphins split the home and home with New England last year. That was a major achievement, too, because before that you had to go back five years to find a Miami win in this rivalry, and that was by one point. Of course, in the NFL, five years is ancient history and last season is last season. I think the Dolphins are good enough to at least stay in this contest, and the Patriots have a long tradition of narrow escapes against divisional opponents in the first week or two.
New England Patriots 27 Miami Dolphins 24
Carolina (+3) @Tampa Bay (Las Vegas Hilton)
Division rivalries can be weird. Although both of these teams have had their ups and downs, you have to go back to 2008 for the last time they actually split the season series instead of one team sweeping. That leads me to believe that Carolina will take both games, even though Cam Newton comes into this game as “probable” with ankle and rib problems.
Carolina Panthers 22 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20
San Francisco (-4) @Dallas (Bookmaker.eu)
So many people are off the 49ers, believing they curl up and die because of their off field issues. Maybe they’re not Super Bowl contenders anymore, but they’re hardly second division either. The Cowboys, meanwhile, have an epically bad defense that is going to give up, no lie, 30 points per game this season.
San Francisco 49ers 30 Dallas Cowboys 24
Indianapolis (+7) @Denver (MGM Mirage)
How are the Colts this big of a dog against Denver? Indy is supposed to be one of the legit contenders in the AFC. Hey, maybe not. The line is actually telling me to go ahead and take the Broncos. If Indy can’t stay within a touchdown of these guys, then you might as well figure double digits.
Denver Broncos 34 Indianapolis Colts 24
NY Giants (+5.5) @Detroit (MGM Mirage)
The Giants always seem to start the season slow. They haven’t won an opener since 2010, and they haven’t started the season with a winning streak since 2009. The Lions tend to be mistake prone so I’m leery of their side, but I think they get it done here.
Detroit Lions 27 New York Giants 21
San Diego (+3) @Arizona (Las Vegas Hilton)
I really like the Cardinals this year, and this is an early chance for them to show that they are to be taken seriously. I also like the over 45 in this game, but not quite enough to take it here.
Arizona Cardinals 28 San Diego Chargers 23
Best Picks Of The Week
You can like the Jets without dyeing yourself green y’know.
Minnesota @St. Louis o/u 44 (Stations)
The Rams d-line is tremendous, and the Vikings are certain to want to do nothing but hand it off to AP all day and see what he can get them. He’ll get them some, but not enough, while the Rams offense is hardly explosive. They, too, will look to run unless they have to throw. This one doesn’t break 40.
St. Louis Rams 21 Minnesota Vikings 16
Cleveland (+7) @Pittsburgh (5Dimes)
This is a big time look-ahead game for the Steelers. They’ve got arch-rival Baltimore coming up, on Thursday no less, and the poor helpless Browns won’t be able to do anything against the mighty Steelers, right? Well, except play defense that is. There is nothing wrong with Cleveland’s stop unit, in fact, it will be better this year than last. And I really don’t like the way the Steelers offense is shaping up. I think they’re in real trouble. Pittsburgh will pull out a win here, but it will be a grind it out affair. I even flirted with taking the under, but decided against it for now. No need to get greedy.
Pittsburgh Steelers 20 Cleveland Browns 17
San Francisco @Dallas o/u 49 (Sportsbook.ag)
You don’t often see a line you LOVE in week 1, but I love, Love, LOVE the over here. Dallas’ D is dreadful. You can bet the over on their games pretty much all year long. That’s especially going to be true early, when the lines haven’t adjusted to how many points the Cowboys will be giving up every game. The 49ers, meanwhile, have a reputation for being defensive oriented. That’s true against good teams, but against bad defense like this one, San Francisco will have no trouble putting up points. Moreover, the Niners’ D has to be a bit shell-shocked with all the injuries and suspensions. Dallas isn’t a good team, but they are a good offense. They’ll score plenty in this game, just not enough to win it.
San Francisco 49ers 30 Dallas Cowboys 24