By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — There will be no beating around the bush, so let’s get right to it. Let’s suspend any and all ado until further notice. We will not obscure the facts, we will waste no time, and we will merely tell it like it is.
We shall not dodge reality or employ any stall tactics in order to distract from the matters at hand. We shall merely state the facts in as clear and concise a way as humanly possible.
And now, with the preamble properly propounded, I must tell you this.
When it came to making National Football League picks … Week 1 was a tough one for your friend Mike.
Yes, the rumors are true. I went 5-9-1 in the opening week. Now, what would a loser do in this situation? I’ll tell you what a loser would do — he would dig for any and every possible excuse to try to avoid responsibility for such a poor showing. He would say things like, “It’s Week 1, so it’s really hard to know what these teams are” or something to that effect. But I won’t do that. That’s not my style. I take my losses like a man.
What I will do instead, as a reluctantly devoted viewer of this silly sport, is share with you what surprised me most in Week 1. And, well, given my picks record, it’s fair to say that nobody in the world was more surprised in Week 1 than I was.
The Jaguars are going to the Super Bowl.
OK, maybe not, but what in the world was that? Ten sacks? TEN SACKS? A capable offense against a defense we all believed would be good? A JAGUARS VICTORY?
Nobody picked this game correctly. Nobody.
Raiders kicker Giorgio Tavecchio is a DELIGHT.
The news last week was only that Sebastian Janikowski was heading to IR. What didn’t make the news was that we were all getting a wonderful Italian man in his stead. Giorgio Tavecchio (you must always use both names) went 4-for-4 on field goals, including a pair of 52-yarders, and 2-for-2 on PATs, but then he took it a step further by quoting Aristotle postgame.
“Aristotle said anticipation can be the greatest form of pleasure,” Tavecchio said after Oakland’s victory. “I think it was a little exaggerated in my mind. The reality of the moment is sweet. That’s something that is subtle but special. When I look back on this time, when all this is said and done, I’ll always be grateful for this day.”
Yes! If anything can save footballs, it’s Italian kickers quoting Aristotle after Week 1 wins in Tennessee. I didn’t even know how badly I needed that in my life.
The Steelers are … butt-like?
Sorry to throw some hyper-technical football jargon like “butt” at you this early in the morning, but how else would one describe Pittsburgh’s performance in Cleveland? It was very much like the performance of a buttocks. For a team that’s supposed to be one of maybe three or four contenders to win the AFC, that was an odd way to start the season.
The Falcons didn’t blow a double-digit second-half lead.
It took a red-zone drop from the opposition to hang on, but still. That’s a positive step forward.
The Colts and 49ers are currently vying to be the worst team in the NFL.
We’ll need a few more weeks to know for sure, but if I’m Andrew Luck? My shoulder suddenly hurts a bit more than I thought it would. I might just need to sit this year out. Sorry, guys.
OK. Those were my surprises. There will be more. But hopefully not this week. I wouldn’t mind turning things around here.
(Home team in CAPS; Wednesday lines)
CINCINNATI (-6.5) over Houston
The thing with making Week 2 picks is you absolutely cannot overreact to the happenings of Week 1. It was quite cruel of the football gods, then, to provide such a treacherous predicament right off the bat here on Thursday night.
Andy Dalton is coming off a 28.4 passer rating in Week 1. Tom Savage had himself a 66.8 passer rating and Deshaun Watson had a 60.4 passer rating. The Bengals scored zero points. The Texans scored seven points … against the Jaguars.
What a mess.
Ultimately, I’ll buy in to the idea that the Bengals are a little bit more of a cohesive team, in that their head coach isn’t afraid to say who the starting quarterback is, and their starting left tackle isn’t holding out as his brethren allow 10 sacks, and so on and so forth. But, wow, really, what a way to kick off Thursday Night Football. This ought to be a whopper. COLOR RUSH!
Chicago (+7) over TAMPA BAY
I really feel it’s an incredible disadvantage to have to start your season in Week 2. After watching “Hard Knocks,” I can’t say that I feel incredibly optimistic about the Bucs’ chances of hitting the ground running in their season debut. Nothing seemed to click with them all summer, Doug Martin is still suspended, and DeSean Jackson really wants the football. All that “up-and-coming” and “team to watch” stuff that we all felt about the Bucs in June? I’m less enthused in September.
I don’t know that the Bears will win the game, but I believe — I think — that they’ll start the year 2-0 against the spread. For a team that went just 7-9 against the spread last year, that’s reason for a parade.
New England (-7) over NEW ORLEANS
In planning for this game, I settled on something like a 38-31 final in favor of the Patriots. Needless to say, I don’t appreciate this line.
I recognize the Patriots’ defense looked abysmal in allowing Alex Smith to look like Peyton Manning and Kareem Hunt to look like LaDainian Tomlinson. But the Saints are one-dimensional (that run game looked atrocious on Monday night), they’re on a short week, and their defense looks like it’s on track to once again be one of the worst in the NFL.
If Sam Bradford could carve up that Saints secondary, just imagine what Tom Brady can do.
CAROLINA (-7) over Buffalo
Another line I do not particularly appreciate as I’m trying to figure out who’s actually good in this godforsaken football league.
I was high on the idea of the Panthers having a turnaround type of season after last year’s dreadful 6-10 showing. And then I doubted them on the road in Week 1. Shame on me. Believe what you believe, folks.
Tennessee (-2.5) over JACKSONVILLE
No respect for #Sacksonville! What is this?!
(I’ll hold off on believing in the Jaguars until they face an NFL offensive line. Count me in on Leonard Fournette though.)
Arizona (-7.5) over INDIANAPOLIS
The Cardinals sleepwalked through their season opener and lost by 12 points, and they’re still more than a touchdown favorite on the road at Indy. That’s how bad the Colts are.
Andrew Luck should just demand a trade. What a mess. (If you enjoy humor in misery, read Gregg Doyel’s postgame column from L.A. last weekend. It’s outstanding.)
Cleveland (+8.5) over BALTIMORE
The Browns have … a defense? Yes?
Philadelphia (+6) over KANSAS CITY
Too many points. Again, we can’t overreact to one week, especially when the Chiefs were in a dogfight until a wild fourth quarter. We need to relax with the six points here.
Minnesota (+5.5) over PITTSBURGH
Now this? This is a spread that I find delightful. I just haven’t been inspired by the Steelers all summer long and through Week 1, and the Vikings look like they have a few things working for them. I’m so confident that I’m going to go ahead and name this one my LOCK-AND-LOAD NO-DOUBTER SUREFIRE YOU-BETCHA NAILS LOCK OF THE WEEK, sponsored by several beef jerky companies.
OAKLAND (-14) over New York Jets
I’ll just repeat what I said last week: If you pick against the Jets 16 times this year, you’re going to go 12-4 at worst.
So far, you’re 0-0-1. The wins are coming.
Miami (+4.5) over LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
The debut of the Chargers’ little baby stadium! How cute!
I still believe the whole not being able to play in Week 1 is a big disadvantage for a team, but the Dolphins have been preparing for this game on the West Coast longer than the Chargers have. So maybe it balances out. Whatever the case may be, it’s not smart to take a team coming off a backdoor cover on a short week to cover 4.5 points.
SEATTLE (-14) over San Francisco
I just don’t know who’s supposed to be the one getting it done for the 49ers offense. I recognize 14 points is dicey for a team with Seattle’s offensive line, but the Niners look like the same dead, flat team they were last year.
Dallas (-2) over DENVER
The Dallas Cowboys are a very good football team in the National Football League.
Washington (+2.5) over LOS ANGELES RAMS
Would you please with the Rams? Would you please? They beat the Colts. That’s reason to make them a favorite against somebody? Did I miss something where a win over the Colts means something?
Green Bay (+3) over ATLANTA
Green Bay is getting points, I’m taking Green Bay until I have reason to believe otherwise.
NEW YORK GIANTS (-3) over Detroit
The Lions were just 3-6 against the spread and straight-up on the road last year (including playoffs). They certainly looked good in their opener, and the Giants looked rather bad, but let’s see if the Jim Caldwell operation can function on the road before trusting the Lions to pull anything off on a nationally televised game.
I just hope Ben McAdoo whips up a new hairstyle for me. With nationally televised games on back-to-back weeks, McAdoo has to live up to the standards he created himself with last week’s
creepy van driver super-cool-dude look.
Guy looks like he’s about to get his butt kicked by Steven Seagal in a really bad 1993 action movie. I’d feel deep regret about this pick that I’ve just made, but, well:
Last week: 5-9-1