By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Nobody cares about your Super Bowl pick. Really.
I mean, hey, you can go a number of different ways. You can pick the best teams from last year. Or you could pick a great team from last year and a bum team from last year. Boy, that would be zany.
But there’s not much you can really do to make an early-September Super Bowl pick interesting. You don’t even know who will be playing in these games come October, let alone February. The whole thing is a silly practice. Everybody ought to stop.
That being said, #MyJags are going to the Super Bowl this year. Deal with it.
As for picks on a weekly basis? Those are far less foolish than preseason Super Bowl picks. In fact, I’d argue they’re downright important. America needs these picks. The world needs these picks. Humankind could do much worse than spending some time together to gather ’round the fireplace and talk about some Week 1 NFL picks.
So while I could bore you with a detailed write-up of my Super Bowl pick (Jags win in a forfeit; NFC champs refuse to show up, out of fear and intimidation of #MyJags), or my pick for MVP (Blake Bortles), or my pick for Defensive Player of the Year (Yannick Ngakoue), or my pick for Coach of the Year (Doug Marrone), or my pick for executive of the year (Is that an award? If so, Tom Coughlin), or my pick for Offensive Rookie of the Year (DJ Chark), I will instead choose to captivate you with my picks for Week 1 of the 2018 NFL season. It was a long road getting here, but we’ve finally made it.
(Home team in CAPS; Wednesday lines)
PHILADELPHIA (-1) over Atlanta
I have my doubts about the Eagles as they seek to defend their crown. It’s a weight that not every Super Bowl champion carries with ease. Just look at how Super Bowl champs since the Y2K fear have fared in the seasons following their championships:
2017 Patriots: Lost Super Bowl
2016 Broncos: Missed playoffs (9-7)
2015 Patriots: Lost conference championship (12-4)
2014 Seahawks: Lost Super Bowl (12-4)
2013 Ravens: Missed playoffs (8-8)
2012 Giants: Missed playoffs (9-7)
2011 Packers: Lost in divisional round (15-1)
2010 Saints: Lost in wild-card round (13-3)
2009 Steelers: Missed playoffs (9-7)
2008 Giants: Lost in divisional round (12-4)
2007 Colts: Lost in divisional round (12-4)
2006 Steelers: Missed playoffs (8-8)
2005 Patriots: Lost in divisional round (12-4)
2004 Patriots: Won Super Bowl (14-2)
2003 Buccaneers: Missed playoffs (7-9)
2002 Patriots: Missed playoffs (9-7)
2001 Ravens: Lost in divisional round (12-4)
2000 Rams: Lost in wild-card round (10-6)
As you can see, getting back to the Super Bowl or even the conference championship after winning a title is impossible if you’re not the Patriots. Nearly half of those defending champs couldn’t even qualify for the postseason. Even the 15-1 Packers couldn’t win a playoff game. Repeating in this league is so very hard. Sustaining success is incredibly difficult. So I’m not holding my breath on another parade through Philly next winter.
But there’s just no chance on God’s green Earth that you can pick the Falcons to win this game, in that city, after that banner ceremony. That’s just not the Falcons’ way.
Jacksonville (-3) over NEW YORK GIANTS
The Jacksonville Jaguars are the best team in the National Football League and perhaps the entire universe (all sports).
This line is an insult.
Please show some more respect for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
INDIANAPOLIS (-3) over Cincinnati
NEW ORLEANS (-9.5) over Tampa Bay
Kansas City (+3) over LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
BALTIMORE (-7.5) over Buffalo
The Buffalo Bills are feeling fine about entering the season with Nathan Peterman and Josh Allen as their only quarterbacks. What uhh … what are we doing here?
Tennessee (-1.5) over MIAMI
My take? You want my take? Well I’ll give it to you: The Titans? The Titans are good. They were 9-7 last year and won a playoff game. I believe they should be better this year.
Who made this line, by the way? Someone at the toilet store? Crikey.
Pittsburgh (-4) over CLEVELAND
The Steelers could go out there and find somebody named Be’Veon Lell and still win this game by 16 points.
Actually it would be difficult to find someone named Be’Veon. Lell might not be anyone’s last name. Whatever. But you get the idea.
The worst trick you could ever play on your brain is to buy in to whatever team spent the summer entertaining you on Hard Knocks. There’s no team’s roster you know better than that team, and even the worst player in the world who’s not worthy of being on the NFL’s worst team can seem like a guy with potential to be a sneaky contributor. But no! You must fight this urge. You must.
MINNESOTA (-6.5) over San Francisco
I feel like in all the hubbub and excitement of Jimmy Garoppolo’s dimples and date nights that people might have forgotten that the San Francisco 49ers … are bad.
Oh, they shout. But Jimmy G. went 5-0! He’s a surefire NFL franchise quarterback and all is saved in the Bay Area! Huzzah for Jimmy!
Do you know who the Niners beat on their illustrious five-game winning streak (after starting the year 1-10)? Do you?! They beat Chicago (5-11). They beat Houston (4-12). They beat Tennessee (9-7). They beat a Jaguars team on Christmas that had no real chance of earning a bye in the AFC. And they beat a Rams team in Week 17 that played no starters and was essentially punting a game before the postseason.
Wowee, that is some hot stuff.
Houston (+6.5) over NEW ENGLAND
This is, admittedly, a foolish thing to do. But I’m doing it anyway. I’m putting the Patriots in “prove it” territory. This is something that will make me feel like an absolute moron when Tom Brady hits Rob Gronkowski for a sixth touchdown on Sunday afternoon, but I feel for a number of reasons as though we ought to exhibit some caution before we go out and start picking the Patriots to win by a touchdown when their receiving corps is … not the best it’s ever been.
Washington (+1.5) over ARIZONA
Just want to thank Peter King for this nugget of information provided this week:
“Bruce Arians coached the Arizona Cardinals for five seasons, from 2013 to 2017. When he took over the team, the leading passer was Kevin Kolb and the leading rusher was LaRod Stephens-Howling. He coached them all the way till this past January. And [John] McCain was imprisoned in a Vietnamese prison camp for 152 days longer than Arians coached the Cardinals.”
Damn. Really makes you think.
Not sure what that means for this week. Or for anything else really. But I mean. Stephens-Howling? Makes you think.
Seattle (+3) over DENVER
There is this distinct feeling, or sense — or just a guess, really — that 2018 will be the last gasp for this era of Seahawks football. I can’t pinpoint it exactly — perhaps it’s the departure or retirement of every important player to that near-magical two-year run — but the team that not long ago led the league in SWAAGGGGGGG is now just kind of … sad.
They’ll beat the Broncos, though. I mean. Let’s be real about it.
CAROLINA (-3) over Dallas
What are we supposed to make of the Carolina Panthers? Nobody’s been more unpredictable over the past five years. They went 12-4 in 2013 … and lost their only playoff game. They went 7-8-1 in 2014, but still made the playoffs and even won a game. Then in 2015, they went 15-1, coming closer than anybody remembers to becoming just the second team to ever go 16-0. They won two playoff games by a combined score of 80-39 … then got smoked in the Super Bowl. They missed the playoffs the following year, going 6-10 (from 15-1 and a Super Bowl appearance to 6-10!), but rebounded to go 11-5 last year and return to the playoffs … where they lost to the Saints for the third time of the season.
It’s a bit much to try to follow. They’ll get some benefit of the doubt for now.
Chicago (+7.5) over GREEN BAY
We all know how good Aaron Rodgers is. Duh. Guy is great. But what if the Packers … aren’t? They’re 47-32 over the past five years. They’re 5-10 when Rodgers doesn’t start in that time, which does help to display his talent and impact, but also kind of shows what the Packers are (or aren’t) around him. You know? You know. You do. And you know it.
The Bears might be terrible, of course. But a competitive game in Week 1 on national TV? Sure. It could happen. Stranger things have.
New York Jets (+7) over DETROIT
I’m probably falling in love a bit too much with some of these points this week. But when you literally know nothing about these teams (nobody does), it just feels a bit safer to trust in those points. Especially when you’ve got a head coach who’ll be head-coaching for the first time in his life, on Monday Night Football, against the SECOND COMING OF BRETT FAVRE* at quarterback for the New York Jets? Points. I want ’em.
*potentially not true
Los Angeles Rams (-4) over OAKLAND
Oh my goodness. Thank you, football schedule people. Thank you so much. There’s always that internal debate that East Coast football viewers have in Week 1 when it comes to staying up for the late Monday game. No matter which way you slice it, 10:20 p.m. is a late kick. That’s one spicy meatball.
But Jon Gruden and all of his archaic beliefs, poor roster decisions, and general confusion about the way of NFL life in 2018 — all coming together to fail spectacularly, and on ESPN where his former colleagues will uncomfortably be forced to issue halfhearted plaudits throughout the night? It’s perfect. It’s beautiful. It’s a wonderful way to close out the first week of the season.
Last Year’s Record (Playoffs included): 126-129-12
All-Time Record (2009-2017): 1155-1182-66
Should I not have posted that? Hm. It would appear as though perhaps I should not have. What can we do, what can we do … how can we manipulate … err … re-brand this … let’s see …
2018 Record: 0-0
Yeah baby. Undefeated. Now kick the dang ball.