The first game of the new NFL season hadn’t even ended when it dawned on me that my decision to make NFL picks against the spread every week was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea for my mental health and overall anxiety levels.
I’d picked the Patriots to cover the 7-point spread at home against Pittsburgh, and they were cruising. Brady was dialed in, Gronk looked like a demigod, there were mild cheating allegations against New England in the first quarter — this was as standard as a Pats game as I’d ever seen. I was feeling inordinately confident about my Patriots -7 pick. Too confident, you might say.
And then Ben Roethlisberger, down 14, got the ball back in garbage time and found Antonio Brown in the back of the end-zone. The Patriots win by 7. A back-door push with 7 seconds left. 7 seconds!
Unbelievable. You suck gambling.
— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) September 11, 2015
It was basically all downhill from there. Sunday went predictably horrible: I made 6 overall picks and only one turned out to be correct. Each successive failure brought with it more frustration, to the point that I started to wonder if assigning me this column each week was an elaborate and cruel bit of new-hire hazing put on by my editors.
Fittingly, only my beloved Giants seemed capable of matching my incompetence. When your team’s running back is taking to the New York Post to write apologetic op-eds for throwing your team’s quarterback under the bus, and it’s only Week 1, you know you’re in for a long season.
The NFL is amazing in this way: for a league that takes itself so seriously, the teams are all such messes! Every week a handful of different franchises make new and totally compelling arguments for why they are the least competent team in all of football. At this point we take for granted the fact that the Browns have lost 11-consecutive Week 1 games. We’ve practically forgotten that Robert Griffin III is playing safety for Washington’s scout team. Instead we have Eli Manning giving his teammates instructions that I’m not sure a back-up Division III quarterback would have been stupid enough to make. The NFL is so dumb. It’s great.
But back to my picks. After my pitiful display last week, I’m telling myself that nobody knows anything in Week 1 and that there’s nowhere to go but up. I’m also picking every game this week, which means I’ll either improve my record or give myself a panic attack. Probably just the latter.
All lines, as usual, via Vegas Insider.
Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs (-3)
Arrowhead Stadium on a short week is exactly what Peyton and his arm don’t need.
The pick: Chiefs -3
Houston Texans at Carolina Panthers (-3)
It’s not ideal that Brian Hoyer beat out Ryan Mallett in preseason, and then put on that display last week. How much better can Mallett be this week?
The pick: Panthers -3
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints (-10)
Ten points is a lot, but the combination of Brees in New Orleans and the Bucs being … the Bucs make me feel confident that the Saints will cover.
The pick: Saints -10
San Francisco 49ers at Pittsburgh Steelers (-6)
The Steelers defence has to be glad they aren’t dealing with Gronk again this week. They aren’t great, but they will be better against the Niners.
The pick: Steelers -6
Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings (-2.5)
I’m not sure why the Vikings are getting 2.5 points after putting up 3 total points in San Francisco last week.
The pick: Detroit +2.5
New England Patriots (-1) at Buffalo Bills
Rex Ryan vs. the Patriots is always fun, and Bills fans are probably already tailgating for this one. A friend of mine who seems to only speak in John Madden-esque truisms when it comes to sports said to me before a Pats game last year, “this will either be a close game or a blow-out” and I think he’s actually on to something with this game.
The pick: New England -1
Arizona Cardinals (-1.5) at Chicago Bears
OK, so Cutler still isn’t all that good in Year 10 of his career. But he’s totally going to break through in Year 11. That’s a guarantee.
— SportsPickle (@sportspickle) September 13, 2015
The pick: Arizona -1.5
Tennessee Titans (-1) at Cleveland Browns
Mariota keeps it rolling.
The pick: Titans -1
San Diego Chargers at Cincinnati Bengals (-3)
Philip Rivers isn’t great when travelling across the country.
The pick: Bengals -3
St. Louis Rams (-3.5) at Washington Redskins
Rams win, but Washington covers.
The pick: Redskins +3.5
Atlanta Falcons at New York Giants (-2.5)
Nobody on the Giants can cover Julio Jones.
The pick: Falcons +2.5
Baltimore (-6.5) at Oakland Raiders
The Ravens defence is too much for Derek Carr.
The pick: Baltimore -6.5
Miami Dolphins (-6) at Jacksonville Jaguars
Not much to say about this one.
The pick: Miami -6
Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles (-5)
I think the Cowboys will keep this close, even without Dez Bryant. The Eagles will win, but the ‘Boys will cover.
The pick: Cowboys +5
Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers (-3.5)
This is a textbook revenge game for Green Bay following the NFC Championship game collapse.
The pick: Packers -3.5
New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts (-7)
Luck and the Colts bounce back in Indianapolis.
The pick: Colts -7
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.