BOSTON (CBS) — Well, we survived.
Normally, after going 8-8 in a week, I’m not exactly peachy. And to make it clear, I’m not pleased with what took place last week. Yet there are two mitigating factors that help make that record a little bit easier to digest.
For one, it’s the first week of the season, and there are so many unknowns. You have to be willing to bat close to .500 for the first few weeks if you want to play every game. This is the NFL, and there are things you just cannot know until the games start to matter in September. Super Bowl contenders turn into the 4-12 Falcons or the 2-14 Texans, and the 4-12 Eagles can turn into division champs. It takes some time to separate this year from last year.
Secondly, according to multiple reports, Vegas had one of the best NFL weekends in history. Betting websites the world over had quotes from very satisfied oddsmakers and sportsbook reps who made out like bandits with 10 underdogs winning against the spread on Sunday alone. It was a bloodbath, and we’re lucky to still be standing here for Week 2.
Of course, that’s not going to stop me from making fun of myself with this year’s first round of Ridiculous Quotes From Last Week’s Picks.
Pittsburgh (+2.5) over BALTIMORE
It’s difficult enough for NFL teams to rush all their preparation in order to get ready for a Thursday night game. That difficulty is compounded tenfold when you’ve spent the week watching your dirtbag teammate punching out his wife in an elevator. The Ravens are going to get smoked.
MINNESOTA (+3) over New England
I enjoy living in New England, but I’m glad that we’re beyond the days when we’d be inundated by nonsense in the days following a Patriots loss. “Bill Belichick never, ever loses two games in a row! Take the Pats all the way to the bank this week!” That was annoying, albeit mostly true, for 10 years.
Now, after the Patriots just lost their second straight game against the Dolphins, and just two seasons removed from the Patriots losing consecutive games in September, I think the mystique is gone. The Patriots are just like any other football team, and they can certainly lose two games in a row.
That’s especially the case when the defensive line looked awful, allowing five yards per carry, and they now have to try to stop Adrian Peterson. The fact that the offensive line couldn’t give Tom Brady 2 seconds to operate won’t help the Patriots either, not against a defensive front that racked up five sacks last weekend.
(Edit: I obviously published this long before the Adrian Peterson news of Friday afternoon. I’ll change my pick to New England -5.5 — not that it matters in light of the real-life, awful situation we’ve all learned about. I have many thoughts about Peterson, none of which are fit for here, but for now, we’ll just leave it at that.)
Ridiculous Quote From Last Week’s Picks: “I really think teams are going to struggle to put up points against the Patriots this year. Darrelle Revis is that good.”
Note: Unfortunately, Darrelle Revis doesn’t play on the offensive or defensive line.
New Orleans (-6.5) over CLEVELAND
I don’t think it would be impossible for Drew Brees and the Saints to start the season 0-2 on principle alone. However I do think it would be impossible for Drew Brees and the Saints to start the season 0-2, considering they’re playing against Cleveland in Week 2. It’s really that simple.
Things are so bad with the Browns that Peter King is writing sympathetic letters of encouragement to fans in his mailbag, where he tells folks, “Well, they’re certainly not good, but they could be worse!” Cleveland!
Atlanta (+5) over CINCINNATI
This one hurts, considering the RQFLWP that I’m about to roll out, but for as much as you can’t overreact to Week 1, you also can’t outright ignore it. And when you combine the fact that the Bengals allowed Joe Flacco to throw for 345 yards with the fact that Matt Ryan’s coming off the best game of his career, you have to be afraid of Cincy’s ability to cover.
I know Ryan’s career stats on the road stink, but a clear, sunny day on artificial turf shouldn’t be too much of an obstacle.
OK, now onto that RQFLWP … excuse me while I look away.
RQFLWP: “Can we all agree that we no longer have to act like the Falcons are real Super Bowl contenders every year? A post-Hard Knocks walloping at the hands of Drew Brees and Co. should help make that clear early this year.”
Note: A poorly timed comment, considering Matt Ryan was about to go off for 448 yards and three touchdowns. A poorly timed comment, indeed.
CAROLINA (-2.5) over Detroit
I loved what I saw out of Matt Stafford on Monday night, but he and the Lions are in for a shock when they run into a real, live NFL team this weekend. To say the Giants, Detroit’s Week 1 opponents, weren’t ready for prime time would be a gross understatement, and I think the Panthers are going to have some better schemes than the old “run the two defensive backs into each other to give Calvin Johnson 3 miles of free space” technique.
RQFLWP: ” JIM CALDWELL IS THE HEAD COACH OF THE DETROIT LIONS. PLEASE COLLECT YOUR FREE MONEY, EACH AND EVERY WEEK! AGAIN — JIM CALDWELL IS THE HEAD COACH OF THE DETROIT LIONS!!”
Note: I want to say that in retrospect, I went a little overboard. But no, screw that. I stand by what I said. The Lions had eight penalties for 85 yards, all in the first half, and if they weren’t going up against the Giants’ ridiculous new doohickey bell and whistle offense, the lack of discipline would have brought about some problems. Speaking of that Giants offense …
Arizona (-2.5) over NEW YORK GIANTS
Look, I don’t think Eli Manning is the greatest quarterback alive, but you couldn’t help but feel bad for the guy on Monday night, when he was sticking his index finger into his palm and twisting it around while blinking twice and sticking his tongue out to the left. All of those signals apparently had some meaning, but the receivers had no clue what they meant. (I think when he does this, it means run a slant.) The man won two Super Bowls, yet he’s being asked to run a gimmicky high school offense that clearly has not had its kinks worked out. That was ug-ly. Somebody might want to wake up Tom Coughlin and tell him his new offensive coordinator is going overboard with high jinks.
Anyway, the Cardinals won a game despite Larry Fitzgerald catching just one pass. Imagine what they can do if they actually utilize him?
TENNESSEE (-3.5) over Dallas
OK, OK, OK, I’ll admit that there wasn’t a ton to love about Week 1. The Thursday night opener was a blowout, the Sunday night game was more lopsided than the final score indicated, and the first Monday night game (aka the only Monday night game you can watch on the East Coast if you have a job to go to in the morning) was atrocious.
But the one area where Week 1 delivered — and then some — was in providing some pure, unadulterated fun at the expense of the Cowboys. For one, the crowd in Dallas looked like it was made up entirely of 49ers fans, and Jerry Jones is in complete denial about it. After refusing to admit that he had the worst defense in the league all of last season and through the past offseason, it’s perfectly appropriate that Jones can’t see something obvious that’s right in front of his face. Secondly, you had Tony Romo throwing passes into triple coverage, throwing end-zone interceptions and looking as bad as he’s ever looked (and that’s saying something!).
I’m not even one of those Cowboys Schadenfreude people; in fact, I think I’ve written a lot in recent years how I don’t understand the nation’s collective hatred of the Cowboys and how in a lot of ways it makes me feel bad for Tony Romo and the boys from Big D. But not last week. That was just too funny.
So until the Cowboys miraculously discover a defense, I think I’ll pick against them every week.
RQFLWP: “After another disappointing 7-9 season, I basically wonder [if the Titans will ever be good].
Note: That’s what I get for thinking a combination of Alex Smith and Andy Reid was the sure thing in a football game. The sport disappears for 7 months and suddenly I forget basic principles — principles such as “Alex Smith stinks” and “Andy Reid will always let you down when you need him.”
BUFFALO (+1) over Miami
I feel bad for Buffalo and Miami, because for one of those cities, this is the best they’ll feel all year. The Bills are coming off a shocking upset of the Bears, and the Dolphins are riding high from their less-shocking-but-nevertheless-inspiring win over the division bullies, the Patriots.
But sadly, one of these teams has to lose this weekend, and I think — think — that Buffalo is a touch better than Miami. Again, I think that. There’s certainly no way to know that. If anyone claims to know definitively that one of these teams is better than the other, they’re full of it. So go with the home team. And don’t watch. Life is precious, and we only have so many hours in our lives. The three hours you spend watching Bills-Dolphins is simply a bad allocation of your time on earth.
WASHINGTON (-6) over Jacksonville
For about an hour last Sunday, the Jaguars had made quite a bit of progress in rewriting the script of the entire NFL season. They simultaneously tore down the aura surrounding the Eagles and Nick Foles while also making the football world ponder, “Wait … the Jaguars … are going … to compete? This does not compute.”
But fortunately, the natural order of things took over, and we can all comfortably look past the Jaguars every week. Phew.
RQFWLP: “Maybe it’s just that I’m hopping back on the [Redskins] bandwagon early, ahead of the NFL curve.”
Note: After Washington absorbed a 17-6 thumping, I’m even farther ahead of the curve than I was last week! I’m basically a Redskins hipster.
TAMPA BAY (-5.5) over St. Louis
Rock. Making this pick. Hard place.
Perhaps the only time I’ll pick the Bucs as a favorite this entire season will be the week where they’re playing against a team where Steve Quarterback will be taking snaps. Or is it Bill Quarterback? I keep forgetting.
In any event, if your wallet is involved in any way, shape or form with this “NFL game,” then I am truly concerned for you.
Seattle (-6) over SAN DIEGO
You don’t want to get cute and start going against Seattle right now. They look unbeatable.
Green Bay (-8) over NEW YORK JETS
The Green Bay Packers are not going to start the season 0-2. I’m sorry, that’s not going to happen. And considering Rex Ryan is still basking in the glow of beating the Raiders to win the Super Bowl last week (seriously, keep it together, guy), the Jets will be vulnerable to a true, old-fashioned beatdown.
Kansas City (+14) over DENVER
Gah! I want to take the 14 points, especially after seeing Denver being unable to punch the nail in the coffin last weekend and therefore costing me a pick by a measly .5 points. But at the same time, I have the old “Alex Smith stinks” and “Andy Reid will let you down” principles echoing in my head. This is tough!
Ultimately, I’ll take the points, because 14 is a lot and KC kept it close in both games against Denver last year. But if Alex Smith does indeed stink and if Andy Reid does indeed let me down, I readily accept that I’ll only have myself to blame.
Houston (-3) over OAKLAND
J.J. Watt and 10 guys from a YMCA pickup basketball game would probably make up a decent defense. That dude is from another planet.
SAN FRANCISCO (-7) over Chicago
You know that confidence I exuded earlier about how Aaron Rodgers and the Packers are absolutely not going to start the season 0-2, and how I feel the same way about Drew Brees and the Saints? Well, funny, but I don’t feel nearly the same about Jay Cutler and the Bears.
The only potential snag I see here is that the home crowd could be too busy on their mobile devices, trying to order tofu burgers and getting angry when their smartphone app crashes, and they may not be paying enough attention to the game to make an impact.
Philadelphia (+3) over INDIANAPOLIS
Aside from T.Y. Hilton, absolutely nothing about the Indianapolis Colts would frighten me if I were an opposing coach. Nothing exciting going in Indy, not for my tastes.
Plus, Andrew Luck close-ups on prime-time television for two consecutive weeks — does anybody really need that?
Last week: 8-8
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