Surprisingly, the Horned Frogs of TCU are in the Top 20 to start the year. Again, much like Boise St., it helps to play in a somewhat weak conference. Not taking anything away from either team, but if you're in the SEC or Big 10 or some big-time conference, the odds are slim that you will have a chance to run the tables, or at least come close to doing so. They play Texas at Austin this weekend. Interestingly, TCU has knocked off the last five Big 12 opponents they have faced, including Texas Tech last year. So, TCU has shown that they can hang with the big boys. That being said, after a nearly fatal upset last week against Arkansas State, I expect Colt McCoy and company to try and make a statement this week, and if they don't, they can kiss their championship aspirations goodbye. Take Texas (-10).
Two games that really raised my eyes in terms of the line going off. Michigan has Oregon at the Big House...I'll say this right now...App St. is better than Oregon. I think App St. would whoop the Ducks up and down the field. That being said, am I honestly supposed to believe that Big Blue is going to lose another game at the Big House? Apparently, Vegas thinks so. The Wolverines are just seven point favorites over the Ducks. Again, if you buy into the fact that Michigan, who just suffered the worst loss in the history of Michigan (all teams...college, professional, high school, you name it...the UP, Detroit, Flint (nice airport), anywhere), will let another team upset them? If they do, I urge Michigan to stop playing football...seriously. They cannot get any lower than right now. I don't know if they'll complete destroy them, but I have to believe Michigan covers (-7). Another touchdown favorite that I think will be able to cover is Auburn against South Florida. Yes, USF was the darling of the Big East last year, stomping out WVU at Morgantown. Still, I just can't see the Bulls beating an SEC team on the road. Yes, once again, I'm totally conference-biased, but, hey, I went to a school in the best conference in the nation...what do you want from me? I like Auburn (-6.5) to cover easily.
And once again, the lock of the day: Tomorrow, it will be good to be a Carolina Gamecock. Go! Cocks! Peck 'em! (+4.5)...
Sunday, Sunday, Sunday:
Pats vs. Jets: Well you know where I'm going with this, and now I'll tell you why (yeah see, yeah). The Pats opened at -5.5, and now are up to (-6.5). Chad Pennington? They're already booing him down at the Meadowlands after he won Comeback Player of the Year. In addition, even when they drafted Darrelle Revis, their secondary is so, so weak. Now I'm not going to sit here and pretend this isn't going to be a great game. The Jets are much improved at running back, and Coles and Cotchery are the most underrated receiving duo is the whole league. Cotchery can flat out play, and the Pats found that out last year. No one knows what's up with Randy Moss and Asante Samuel. Are they playing? What impact will they have if they play? Honestly, I've never been 100% confident in season openers because, well, it's the first game. Who knows? I'm taking the Pats, but stay away from this game if possible.
Kansas City vs. Houston: The first game of the Matt Schaub era...I like it. Jacoby Jones will end up making an impact either through the air or on special teams. Larry Johnson will again understand why he held out to get a ton of guaranteed money. I'm excited to see how Amobi Okoye, the youngest guy to ever get drafted, does in his first game. He's 20, and doesn't turn 21 until next June. Wow. Hopefully the Texans will benefit from that pick for years to come. I like the Texans (-3) over KC.
Denver vs. Buffalo: Who is J.P. Losman? Is he a guy who can put up 3,000 yards with Lee Evans (fantasy gold mine baby!), Josh Reed, and the return of Fearless Peerless Price (sorry, I'm still looking for the NFL's Pervis Ellison). Again, I think Marshawn Lynch won't do what people think he's going to do (and flip out!). They lost both Fletcher and Spikes, but replaced them with the Poz (hey!), then they lost Nate Clements...I don't know about all of this. Denver is looking good...really good. Travis Henry comes back to Buffalo...it seems as though he enjoys playing against the team that drafted him. Last year, he ran for 135 yards while playing for the Titans. Three point favorites? Man I hope Denver covers that. I'll take Denver (-3).
Pittsburgh vs. Cleveland: Hmmm...naw. See I was trying to really imagine that the Browns, with The Soldier, or whatever that crazy bastard is calling himself these days, Braylon Edwards, and Jamal Lewis, would have enough offense to maybe think about covering, but the damage will surprisingly be done by Pittsburgh in a big way. It's just incredibly hard to think that Charlie Frye will have the firepower/motivation to go out at beat the Steelers. In a classic "now we have him so he can't tear us apart" move, the Browns did get Jamal Lewis to at least have some kind of running game, but I really think Willie Parker will have a, dare I say, Jamal Lewis-like performance against the Browns (it was against Cleveland that Lewis ran for 295 yards, the all-time single game rushing mark). I really think Parker will hit close to 200 yards, and propel the Steelers (-5) to cover.
Tennessee vs. Jacksonville: Ok, this may actually be a tough one. VY did play horribly against the Jags, which is why I'm tending to lean toward the Jags. The thing is that it's totally dependent on how well Tennessee's running attack does. As of right now, I have absolutely no idea who they're even going to start. I do know that Vince Young can simply will teams to victory, but I have to say that a lot of the other parts of his team will let him down. Despite it being a big spread, I'll take the Jags (-6.5).
Carolina vs. St. Louis: So am I the only one who believes that the Rams will do anything this year? This game is a pick 'em? Really? Carolina is dreadful, and the thinking here is that the only reason people have this line so close is that bookmakers collectively had an acid flashback to the 2003 playoffs when the Panthers won in double OT. That's about it. The Panthers can't stop the run. They're playing against Steven Jackson. They can't stop the pass. You're looking at a Rams team featuring Marc Bulger throwing to Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce, Drew Bennett, Randy McMichael, and Brian Leonard and Jackson catching out of the backfield. Please explain why this game will be close? Until someone does, Rams (Pk) by 2 TDs.
Philadelphia vs. Green Bay: Now this is good stuff. I have both these teams winning double-digit games this year, and with news that leading Pack receiver Donald Driver will be ready to go, it makes it all the more difficult to pick a winner. Philly is favored by a field goal, but I have to go with the Pack on this one. The energy at Lambeau is going to be through the roof because they know they actually have a team this year that can contend for a playoff spot (it's the NFC, anything can happen). Favre will be starting his 897,000th game in a row, the offense has a runner in Brandon Jackson who is more explosive than Ahman Green was, and that defense...man I love that defense. Go Pack go (+3).
Atlanta vs. Minnesota: Hahaha. I saw this game and I just started laughing so hard. Two really bad dome teams colliding in Week 1...what a country! Are they even going to carry this game on Sunday Ticket? They need Gus Johnson to switch networks for one game. That would be the only way this game would be of any entertainment value. I can't believe one of these teams will actually get a win in this game. What a shame. Ummm...well, I'll go with the Vikes because the one thing the Falcons like to do (run) is exactly what the Vikings do best (stop the run). Vikings (-3).
Miami vs. Washington: Remind me again why Washington is highest-valued franchise in the NFL? It's got to be the stadium right? Location? Royalties off the pig noses? What? Well, after going through a draft that saw them have exactly one pick in four rounds, the 'Skins did land LaRon Landry, who already will be starting...interesting. However, Miami has no receivers (what on Earth happened to Chris Chambers? First he was my fantasy savior in '05, then 677 yards and 4 TDs in '06? I do love Trent Green, but Miami's defense has to be wearing down. I know Taylor won Defensive MVP last year, and Zach Thomas was still Zach Thomas, but another year means that they are that much closer to the end. Also, I just don't like Ronnie Brown the same way others do. I think he'll be around 1,000 yards, but come on...if you're the starting RB in a non-running back by committee situation, you have to rush for 1,000. That should be a mandated by-law in the rulebook. I like the 'Skins (-3)...barely.
Tampa Bay vs. Seattle: You know looking back at the picks so far, I know I'm falling into the "favorite" trap. There's probably no way all those favorites could win. Look at what happened last year. 'Dogs came through at about a 60/40 clip, meaning that when you're picking, you should have more 'dogs than favorites. With that being said...there's no way I'm not taking Seattle in this game...come on now! Seahawks (-6) just because.
Chicago vs. San Diego: Easily the game of the week, maybe the year...who knows? Wow. That's all I have to say is wow. I am more pumped about this weekend just to watch this game. The Bears have the best defense in the league. That's a given. The Chargers have one of the best offenses in the league (those pesky Colts are up there too). San Diego also has a great defense, but they did lose Donnie Edwards. The Bears' offense...you never can tell. With Rex Grossman becoming another Danny Wuerffel or Shane Matthews with every passing day (I really hope Tim Tebow does really well in college just so he can fall on his face in the NFL...is that so wrong?). Cedric Benson has looked good, but can he be the man? I think the Chargers will just speed rush him all day. They still got a bunch of guys on defense who can hit the line faster than just about anyone in the league. The Bears will also be a little out of place in sunny California. They need a cold, gray place to dominate. As much as it pains me, I have to go with the heavily-favored (at least for a game featuring two of the best is concerned) Chargers (-6) here.
Detroit vs. Oakland: I need to give two prediction here, because it's absolutely unfair that the starting QB hasn't been announced yet. So here are two sides of the story:
Josh McCown starts: The Raiders win, but barely...and I mean barely.
Daunte Culpepper starts: The Raiders win in an absolute laugher. The Lions will be lucky to get any points on the board.
In any event, take the Raiders (-3).
New York vs. Dallas: I can't see the Giants doing anything this year. Coughlin is the biggest lame duck coach perhaps of all-time. Why is he even there? Are the Giants waiting for Parcells to defect from TV again (note to self: that was one of the better conspiracy theories I've contrived in months...I really need to find out how Oliver Stone does it)? Man, I have to pick another favorite? This is basically assuring myself I will have a terrible prediction week. It's like I know what's coming, and yet, I do the total opposite, and wind up how Tim Tebow will in the NFL. Cowboys (-6).
Baltimore vs. Cincinnati: Simply for the fact that Cincy may not have enough players on their because their entire starting defense is on probation (good show of team unity though...you know, shaving heads, handshakes, DUIs, this is how a team grows together...by the way, wouldn't it be weird if that became a bizarre game of "anything you can do, I can do better," where it's like "ok Odell Thurman, you got caught DUIng at .15...let's see...I'll take it up to .18, wrap my car around a tree, and have weed in the car that I "did not know was there" and is "not mine"...your move Chris Henry!). I really like the McGahee signing, and they should be able to get by Cincy. Ravens (+3)...hey a 'dog!
Arizona vs. San Francisco: During this pick, I was playing the song "What Have You Done For Me Lately" by Janet Jackson, which is both poignant and sad that I'm playing somewhat underrated songs from the 80's at 1:30 in the morning. In any event, Arizona has never quite been able to get over that hump that had them on the threshold of making the playoffs, and not to say that it was only last year that they were labeled that. I'm talking a good three or four years here. The Niners are everyone's darlings this year. They are the Cardinals of 2007. The Niners just seemed to make the right moves to win this game. They didn't have a great linebacking core, they got Patrick Willis in the draft, and they didn't have a great secondary, so they mortgaged Alcatraz and the pier area (beautiful scenery I have to say) to get Nate Clements, and then went out and got Michael Lewis to play strong safety. I'll take the Niners, but this will be a nice little litmus test of how valid all the buzz is surrounding this team. Niners (-3).
Ok, so obviously I'm screwed and picked all favorites basically, demeaning me into someone who really doesn't have to know anything but to just take the team who is better on paper. In any event, it's tough not to do that considering that right now, I have no clue how these teams will play. I'm pulling for the Pats, but I would be completely lying if I told you I'm 100% confident they will win. In any event, I hope you enjoyed, and I'll try and make this a regular thing. Have a great, not good, great weekend everyone. Peace.