By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — I don’t want to do this anymore.
Two weeks and my soul has been broken.
This darn league.
This gosh darn league.
I’m sorry, I shouldn’t cuss. But it’s been a frustrating start to the season.
Making picks in the early weeks of the season is always difficult. You’re inevitably swayed by your memories of the previous season. You’re not sure what to make of anything from the preseason. Things you think you know end up being utter lies.
But it’s never been this bad. Through two weeks, I’m 10-20-1. A reasonable man may quit the game. I still might. But for now, I’m finding solace in this: From 2009-2016, I went 113-135-8 in the first two weeks of the season. That’s lousy! But the flip side of that is that in Weeks 3-17, I’m 916-918-47. Which is perfectly mediocre!
So, while I’m utterly ashamed of the record at the moment, at least I know some mediocrity awaits me — perhaps as soon as this week. Let’s get right to it.
(Home team in CAPS; Wednesday lines)
Los Angeles Rams (-2.5) over SAN FRANCISCO
Please allow me to be the 1,381,475th person to advocate that we put an end to early-season Thursday Night Football. Please. What is this? I hope 11 people attend this game. What is this? Are you kidding me? I’m personally offended.
(I’ll watch every single snap.)
(Please, somebody, help me.)
Baltimore (-3.5) over Jacksonville (in London)
If there’s one thing an organization like Jacksonville needs, it’s a disruption to the normal preparation plan in Week 3 of the season. The continuity and sustained level of excellence the organization has managed to maintain for the past decade at times makes it seem to not even be challenging anymore for the Jags. So it’s good to see them get this curveball here so early in the season.
INDIANAPOLIS (+1) over Cleveland
Denver (-3) over BUFFALO
The Buffalo Bills are bad.
Thank you for your time.
Pittsburgh (-7.5) over CHICAGO
The Bears: Also bad.
Not sure about the Steelers. They’ve squeaked past the Browns and then beat a Case Keenum-led Vikings team. So I wouldn’t stake my house on this one. But then I look at Mike Glennon and feel better about it.
New Orleans (+6) over CAROLINA
The Saints have a bad defense. A very, very, very bad defense. A defense that allows 512.5 yards per game and 388 passing yards per game, both by far the worst in the NFL. That’s bad!
But, well, if there’s an offense they might be actually able to contain, it would be the Panthers, who just mustered nine points against the Bills and lost tight end Greg Olsen.
Carolina’s defense has been stout, but now they’ll face an offense that can actually move the ball. Stopping Drew Brees is slightly more of a challenge than stopping Brian Hoyer and Tyrod Taylor.
Houston (+14) over NEW ENGLAND
This is kind of a stupid line, if you’re asking for my opinion, which apparently you are, because why else would you be here reading my picks column? It’s either the football opinions or the run-on sentences.
Whatever the case, Deshaun Watson is probably going to be as confused on Sunday as he’s ever been in his football-playing life. But he’s athletic enough to at least make a few plays and maybe even break off a touchdown run like he did last week. Perhaps Bill O’Brien and maybe even Wes Welker can give Watson a few cheat codes to bust a few plays against a Patriots defense that is working through some early-season bumps.
The Patriots will win the game, but with the Texans defense and the Patriots’ muddy injury situation, 14 points is much too much.
(Now go ahead and cue up the 38-0 shutout.)
DETROIT (+3) over Atlanta
Two teams feeling rather excellent about themselves through two weeks of the season, and with good reason. I’ll take the points, considering Atlanta’s only road effort this year was a highly questionable narrow victory in Chicago. But mostly I will prepare an unreasonable amount of popcorn for what should be an NFL game that’s actually worth watching.
(Cue the 30-6 blowout.)
Tampa Bay over MINNESOTA (Whatever the line may be)
The line’s on hold, as the world waits for a status update on Sam Bradford, who suddenly is being regarded as somebody better than Sam Bradford. Weird.
Miami (-6) over NEW YORK JETS
Not sure why this line isn’t more like 16. Or 26. Moving along …
PHILADELPHIA (-6) over New York Giants
Only one reason is needed:
On a serious note, Ben McAdoo’s “sloppy quarterback play” comment really irked me. His quarterback is out there getting drawn and quartered in the middle of the field, and the guy who can’t think to call a timeout before halftime or even have the dignity to explain his thought process is going to take shots at his quarterback? With that look going on?
What a mess.
TENNESSEE (-3) over Seattle
Seattle’s offense stinks.
Kansas City (-3) over LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
What a devastating comment from Phil Rivers last week, after his team lost on a missed field goal in the final seconds in their little baby stadium in Carson, California.
“The loudest roar came at the end after the missed field goal, to where you really got to see how many Dolphins fans there were,” Rivers said.
Ouch. Having to play in a little baby stadium and not even having your own fans to fill it? Nobody deserves that.
GREEN BAY (-9) over Cincinnati
It’s kind of a big line for a Packers team that’s far from all systems go through two weeks. It is. Maybe this is a bad pick.
But I’m willing to bet that there’s not one person who picked the Bengals last week that has the stomach to turn around and do it again this week. Just not possible.
It is what it is.
Oakland (-3) over WASHINGTON
All in on the Raiders right now, folks. All in on Oakland.
Dallas (-3) over ARIZONA
The Cardinals are as luckluster a football team as you can find in this league. I’m interested to see how the Cowboys respond to getting slapped upside the head in Denver. I don’t know what kind of response Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott will have, but even in a worst-case scenario where they come out flat, it’ll be difficult to surpass the apathy from the Cardinals. The fact that all of the attention of the football world will be focused squarely on them on a Monday night makes it all the more delightful from an entertainment standpoint.
And if I’m wrong? Well, you don’t want to see the kind of apathy I bring to the Week 4 picks column if I have another catastrophic week out here. I simply cannot do it anymore.
Last week: 5-11