Week 1 NFL Picks – Life Has Meaning Again Edition

DAN K


CINCINNATI BENGALS +1.5 AT BALTIMORE RAVENS

I remember laughing last year when I found out that the Ravens gave a $120.6 million contract to Joe Flacco after an (admittedly great) Super Bowl run. A lot of it was just my belief that Flacco was overrated, but at least he won a Super Bowl, so it was defensible, regardless of my Steeler homer reflexive Raven hatred. The Ravens suffered through the dreaded† Super Bowl hangover in 2013 though, going .500 and losing the spirited pregame speeches of noted prosecution witness Ray Lewis and dealing with a nagging hip injury from their best running back Ray Rice and a mediocre season from Flacco. We aren’t gonna say he got paid and was lazy for some reason because that only applies to some players, I dunno why (it is a mystery). It’s true the supporting cast was not up to par though, due to the aforementioned Rice injury as well as one to tight end Dennis Pitta, and the inexplicable move of trading away Anquan Boldin, one of the toughest receivers in the game, for peanuts. Pitta is back however, the Ravens have shored up their offensive line, and they signed Steve Smith, who is getting up there in years but like, how does adding him NOT improve your team? He still has a lot in the tank and he’s the kind of guy players rally around (you have to, or he will clock you). Garbage man Ray Rice is suspended for this game, we all know why, and his backup Bernard Pierce is serviceable though not as versatile. The defense was still pretty good last year and they have Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil which is a pretty fearsome pair of outside linebackers. They did lose Arthur Jones who was a great run-stopper but aside from that their defense is relatively intact. I think they’ll show that last year’s mediocre season was a fluke, much to my dismay.

Going back to the subject of contracts, Andy Dalton is going to be able to buy an Olympic-sized swimming pool full of SPF 69 million with what he was paid for what was basically great stats in the regular season. Maybe Dalton will take them to a Super Bowl someday but I just doubt it. He’s played like garbage in all 3 of the Bengals’ playoff losses and while there is a certain amount of luck involved and they could get enough breaks to make it, it could be that he’s a choker. But whatever, we’re talking about a regular season game and gambling on same, not playoff predictions. Dalton has one of the best receivers in the league, AJ Green, and a really promising young running back in Gio Bernard. They also drafted Jeremy Hill, another RB who provides a more physical complement to Bernard’s more finesse style, and the Bengals will likely lean on both. Dalton has arm strength limitations but he has more than enough weapons, knows how to use them, and the offense should be solid. There are some questions around the defense, though. If you read my compadre Espo’s Minnesota Vikings pick, you’ll see the video he posted of rookie Vikings HC Mike Zimmer and his motivational skills. The Bengals defense lost that R. Lee Ermey sounding motherfucker! I gotta think thats going to affect them somehow. Personnel-wise though, they didn’t lose much and will be getting back starters Geno Atkins and Leon Hall from injury. The Bengals should continue to be a well-rounded team with a better than average defemse.

Now, who to pick. Of course Week 1 is hard to handicap because you don’t know how a team is gonna look, even if you watch the preseason. On the other hand, Vegas doesn’t know either (but they’re better at guessing than clowns like me) so maybe you get some play in the line that you wouldn’t otherwise. I think the Ravens should be favored by another point, and consequently I’m gonna go with them. I just think that they’re the better team and will want to not lose ground to the Steelers in an important divisional game. Ravens.

THE PICK: RAVENS -1.5





TENNESSEE TITANS +3.5 AT KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

I originally liked this line when I picked it but the more I thought of it, the more unsure I was. I’m not really sure how either of these teams will do this year. The Chiefs just gave Alex Smith a big contract extension, which I don’t really see any problem with. He seemed like a bust for what felt like the better part of the part of the decade, but eventually came into his own, kind of like Bashar Assad. People who say he choked away the playoff game against the Colts by missing one pass at the end are idiots, obviously when you blow a lead that big it’s the defense’s fault. Anyway, the defense did suffer down the stretch due to losing Justin Houston, one of their bookend pass rushers along with Tamba Hali. Both are healthy now, Dontari Poe up in front is a mack truck, and apart from some questions at corner, their defense won’t be too bad. Of course, on offense they have one of the best running backs in the game in Jamaal Charles. Aside from that…I’m not really sure. Dwayne Bowe is suspended for this game (very cool how based on suspension length, getting popped for weed is 50% as bad as brutally beating a woman), so aside from him, there is not much -† Donnie Avery and that’s it. Second year TE Travis Kelce is getting a lot of buzz but is basically rookie after missing all of last season with injury. They also have a shaky situation on their offensive line and really no proven playmakers aside from Charles. KC is an enigma.

Tennessee is another team where it’s hard to say what they’ll look like. I didn’t really like Jake Locker at all coming out of college but when he’s not injured he’s looked like a decent QB. New coach Ken Whisenhunt is great with quarterbacks and I think he could really take advantage of Locker’s potential (again, if he avoids injury). He has an OK supporting cast around him, Nate Washington and Delanie Walker are reliable at the WR and TE position, Kendall Wright has been a catch machine (also, the Titans said that they were planning on using him more on deep routes to take advantage of his speed) and Justin Hunter could really blow up in his second year – he’s big, strong, and fast enough to be an elite receiver and was just starting to catch fire at the end of the season. They have Shone Greene at running back, who’s…about as “just OK” as it gets, and drafted Bishop Sankey in the offseason. Everyone is just assuming Sankey will be good and get a lot of carries but reports on him have been mixed, we’ll just have to wait and see. The O-line is mediocre, though Taylor Lewan, who they drafted with the 11th pick, could shore that up at right guard. The defense…ehh. They’re switching to a 3-4 so we have no way of knowing how quickly it’ll take for the players to adapt, and they lost their best cornerback in free agency. Short answer: who the fuck knows.

Two teams with questions at crucial positions, undergoing defensive system changes, new head coaches? I’ll just take the points. Titans.

THE PICK: TITANS +3.5





WASHINGTON CLOWNS IN CONGRESS, WHAT A BUNCH OF CLOWNS +3 AT HOUSTON TEXANS

Dan Snyder is bad, folks. I’d list all the infuriating things he did in the offseason, from trying to bribe an Indian tribe with a free skatepark, to starting a “RedskinsFacts” (think 9/11Truth) campaign, to personally executing hundreds of people on behalf of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, but the owner of this website would go broke from the resultant bandwidth fees. He sucks. Just wanted to get that out of the way. Back to football, the team was not good last year. Mike Shanahan gambling with RGIII’s career to save his own didn’t pay off, he was shit-canned and Griffin sucked all season until he got benched. The team made an effort to turn things around by adding o-linemen in the draft and free agency – if that pans out, it’ll help running back Alfred Morris, who also couldn’t do anything last year. They hired Jay Gruden, who has a reputation for working well with young quarterbacks, so if RGIII keeps from getting injured again he has an opportunity to bounce back. The rest of the pieces around him are good – Pierre Garcon is a quality receiver and Jordan Reed is one of the best young tight ends in the NFL. They also signed DeSean Jackson, and we know what we’ll get from him – a deep threat, big play guy who is prone to injury. A player like that does serve the additional purpose of drawing coverage away from the other players, so he can only help. The [redacted] defense, if I had to guess I’d say it’ll be below average. Though they do have one of my favorite players, DeAngelo Hall, a classy, throwback player to the days of football before “trap hip-hop” and “gold tooth rap grills” and “migos,” and a great pair of pass rushers in Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan, but the rest of their defense is old, mediocre, or unproven. The season is going to depend how RGIII does, because I don’t think they’ll be able to rely on their defense.

The [racial slur]s get to play another team that was absolutely god-awful last season in the Houston Texans. The Texans aren’t a bad team though, it was just that Matt Schaub completely forgot how to play football and they were forced to start an undrafted rookie. That said, I don’t really know that they made good moves at QB. They traded away the aforementioned rookie, Case Keenum, who, while he looked every bit the undrafted rookie that he was, showed some potential. They added Ryan Fitzpatrick who should be nothing more than a career backup/stop-gap solution. I guess they figured they can hold out for a QB next year. They also added Ryan Mallett from the Pats, who has a strong arm and is pretty mobile for his size but showed so little in game action that the Pats felt comfortable dealing him and having a rookie back up Brady. The new head coach, Bill O’Brien, does engender confidence though. He made what he could out of an impossible situation at Penn State, in his words “trying to field the most competitive football team I can with near-death penalty fucking sanctions” while dealing with dead-ender insane Paterno loyalists, fixed what he could, and got the fuck out. He somehow made Matt McGloin into a passable NFL QB and if anyone can bring out the best in the Houston QBs, it’s him. Aside from the QBs, they have Arian Foster who by all accounts has looked recovered from injury, and are keeping Andre Johnson around for a while with a new contract. The Texans defense is what everyone wants to see though. In addition to JJ Watt, who we all know and fear, the Texans drafted one of the best defensive prospects in years in Jadaveon Clowney. He got the usual criticism and nitpicking about his work ethic in the run-up to the draft, but once the preseason began he immediately looked like the physical freak that we all expected he’d be. Clowney on the other side of the line from Watt? Griffin’s ACLs have probably started aching already. The rest of the Texan’s defense has some deficiencies at linebacker, but they have a good secondary. Like I said, they weren’t lacking talent at anywhere last year except QB.

I like the Texans in this game. Fitzpatrick isn’t a long-term solution but I’d take him to win one game with a solid team around him. He should be able to move the ball on the Washington’s suspect defense. We’ll quickly find out if they’ve solved their protection woes if Watt and Clowney meet at RGIII on the first play. I like Griffin and I hope he bounces back but I wouldn’t bet on him until I’ve seen him in action. I’ll take the better defense and QB in this one.

THE PICK: TEXANS -3

 

ESPO

 

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS -4.5 AT MIAMI DOLPHINS

 

 

(ed note: more like Tom Beardy haha)

 

Pats by 1000. Next!
I keed, I keed. Visiting Miami is never the easiest spot for your humble heroes. Last year’s journey down to visit Belichick’s nana in Del Boca Vista saw the Patriots fall to the Fins, 24-20. Wait a minuteÖ a 4 point spread?! That’s what this game is! WOWWW OPEN YOUR EYES SHEEPLE! Erm, yeah. I actually called (and bet) that Miami victory in last year’s column, which really tore me up inside, but nothing heals wounds like bandages made of sweet, sweet money. The Pats felt really vulnerable at the time, and the Fins were playing with some moxie. Half their defense was out, and their pass rush was nonexistent, which was (and probably still is) the way to disrupt that Fins offense. Ryan Tannehill spent most of last year looking up at the warm Miami sun, although it was usually mostly obscured by the 2 pass rushers laying on top of him. The Dolphins offensive line is supposed to be like “better” this year or something, or at least less bullyish so as to give no rookies boo boo face ūüôĀ buuut yeah I mean, this unit is starting five (FIVE!) new starters on the line. In case you don’t know a lot about football, THAT IS THE ENTIRE OFFENSIVE LINE. Longtime center and noted twin/asshole Mike Pouncey, who was to be the only projected returning starter, is recovering from hip surgery. So I mean, maybe they’ll be better, but I’m not super confident about 5 guys playing with each other for the first time in a real game being great against what should be a VERY good Patriots defense. Chandler Jones gon’ get FED on some Tannehill keister. Revis will probably shadow Mike Wallace over the field which will probably go super well for Mike Wallace because he’s a dynamic, all-around receiver who runs precise routes and has excellent ball skills and a lot of moves to beat cornerbacks off the line. Oh wait, I am thinking of a different Mike Wallace that was never born. Mike Wallace is a one trick pony and he might even catch a couple balls for like 85 yards but he’s not going to impact this game one little bit.

Knowshon Moreno comes over to Miami from Denver, in an attempt to prove that his excellent 2013 wasn’t solely a product of facing 25 soft fronts a game because he was playing next to the best defense-reading quarterback of the last 25 years. I expect this to go poorly. Lamar Miller is kinda okay but whatever. Oh, I should probably talk about the Patriots offense too, eh? So Gronk is supposed to play, probably on a snapcount, aka he will come into the game when the Pats are in the red zone. I read something earlier that I can’t find again that suggested that the Dolphins are going to use like 4 guys to defend Gronk, which I guess could be a smokescreen, but isn’t that like the most Dolphiny thing to do ever? CMON GUYS GOAL LINE STAND ITS ALL OR NOTHING LETS SHUT THIS OVERGROWN MANCHILD DOW-oh there is someone running a bootleg and just walking into the endzone on the other side of the field fuck. The Dolphins do actually have a pass rush that can take care of some business. I will never say a bad thing about Cam Wake, a dude who just continues to get it done year after year with little help. The D-line is actually pretty good, Randy Starks and Olivier Vernon especially. The linebackers are just okay, and the secondary, ehhhhÖ. Brent Grimes is a really, really good cornerback who was one of the standouts on this squad for Miami last year. Unfortunately, that’s where the praise ends. Cortland Finnegan is starting on the other side of the field which is pretty good if you’re grading your cornerbacks on how much like a Troll doll they look like or how badly you want to start a fight with Andre Johnson. They also picked up Louis Delmas from Detroit and OH MY GOD did anyone in Miami WATCH Louis Delmas for the last 3 years? So, that’s happening. Tom Brady is pretty good at throwing footballs, so if he gets a good 4-5 seconds in the pocket (he will) he’s going to find people. That’s all I got. Pats win this game handily. 4 point spread? Ha! Pats by 1000.

 


THE PICK: PATS -4


OAKLAND RAIDERS +5.5 AT NEW YORK JORTS

 

What do you get when you cross a dumpster fire with a tire fire? A HUGE FREAKIN COMBINATION DUMPSTER TIRE FIRE! That’s what this game is. The New York Jorts haven’t even done anything yet and are already the laughingstock of the league. The Raiders are just as Raidery as ever, but they pulled their eye-patched head just a couple inches out of their own ass by deciding to start Derek Carr over pick-6 factory Matt Schaub, who has no business starting for an NFL team anymore. I mean, they could just be ruining Carr by throwing him into the mix right away, but Ö fuck it, how many other things can the Raiders fuck up at this point? It’s justifiable only to see if he’s worth a shit rather than throwing out actual black hole Schaub. See that was a Black Hole joke get it hahaha Oakland. The depth chart on this team is pretty funny. It’s like a 2010 All Star team! Maurice Jones-Drew! Darren McFadden! Justin Tuck! Charles Woodson! Lamarr Woodley! At least it resembles an actual NFL team, instead of the collection of nobodies they’ve been throwing on the field for the last several years, because instead of drafting people that can play on NFL teams they’ve just traded away high picks for Carson Palmers and drafting just really fast wide receivers who don’t ever do anything. Woodson is okay when he’s not taking PI’s, which he does less of because he doesn’t have to try to keep up with guys off the line of scrimmage anymore as a safety. Tuck’s looked like a shell of himself lately, but maybe he has something left in the tank. MJD and DMC might combine to be a functional running back. The receivers might be good. A lotta might be’s up in this bitch. Oh wait, Khalil Mack is GOING to be a stud. That much is certain.

The Jets have again assembled a pretty good defense, except they forgot about the whole cornerback thing, those guys who usually defend wide receivers as they run up the field and try to catch the ovoid ball. They let Antonio Cromartie pack up his Conestoga wagon full of his 15 children and head to Arizona, then they showed up to Darrelle Revis’s door with a dozen roses and were like ‘BABY IM SORRY plz take me back’ and he was like ‘Eyyy it’s all good, just gimme the Porsche and we’ll call it even steven’ and they were like ‘WHAT the Porsche? But the Porsche is my life! What about the Benz?’ and he was like ‘Yo fuck that trick shit. I got a new man’ and Bill Belichick comes into the doorway in his nighty like ‘Darrelle honey who is thisÖ man?’ and crudely looks them up and down and then the Jets fist clenches, and they see a glimmer of light from the garage door window and notice the unmistakable curves of a new Maserati. The Jets throw the roses at Revis and scream ‘I HATE YOU!’ and run off crying. They crawl into bed next to Dee Milliner and are like ‘You know Dee, I think you’re probably the best cornerback in the NFL’ and he’s like ‘Hey, you’re right, I am!’ and went to sleep. Then he woke up with a high ankle sprain and whoops. Oh and they signed Dimitri Patterson who just like, wanted no part of the actual dumpster on fire which is the Jets and just went to go get high or something, so the Jets cut him. Now the Jets CBs are literally justÖ some guys, including Antonio Allen, who played free safety and LINEBACKER in college, who they converted to a cornerback, oh and was concussed like 2 weeks ago. So things are looking pretty rosy.
All that being said, the front 7 on this team is still a force, and Rex Ryan can coach the fuck out of a defense. I mean Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson were unreal last year, Calvin Pace is still good, they added pass rush specialist Jason Babin, Coples and Harrison are good, I mean, this is a pretty fackin’ good unit. Derek Carr is going to see some blitz schemes he’s never even dreamed of, and the Oakland offensive line is reallyÖ not good. They probably won’t be equipped to handle this type of thing. The Jets offense isÖ who really knows. No one knows if Geno Smith is good or not. No one knows if Chris Johnson still likes playing football. No one knows if Eric Decker will still be good without Peyton Manning (and YES I KNOW HE PLAYED WITH TEBOW TOO). No one knows if anyone else on this team will be able to catch footballs. At first glance, the Jets run game appears to be more of a threat than the passing game, which bodes well for the Raiders, which did actually put together a pretty respectable pass defense last year (13th in the league!) and, as mentioned, added some pretty good run defenders in Tuck, Woodley, Antonio Smith. So, yeah. This game is going to be a sloppy fucking mess. A rookie QB and a sophomore QB, a bunch of retreads on offense, some defenses that are going to be fired the fuck up to fuck shit up. You KNOW there is just going to be some sloppy nonsense in this game. Like, blocked punts, field goals, fumbled long snaps, a kick return that almost goes for a TD and then gets dropped like right before the goal line or something, just like, a fucking weird-shit sloppy game. So don’t bother capping it. What’s to cap?! Nobody really knows a god damn thing about what these teams are going to look like. Anyone that says they do is lying to you! Don’t believe them. As for me, in a game sloppier than Rex Ryan’s naked body, why not take the points? And the ROOKIE WITH THE MOXIE! GOO RRRRRRRRRRRRRRAIDERS!

 


THE PICK: RAIDERS +5.5

SAN FRANCISCO 49ers -4.5 AT DALLAS COWBOYS

For those of you new to this column, let me take a moment to tell you a little bit about myself. I am a Patriots fan from Connecticut who moved to San Francisco about 2 years ago. I had my heart ready to accept the Niners as my second favorite team. They were such a throwback team at the time. Smashmouth on both sides of the ball, run the ball down your throat, punch you in the dick on defense, solid fundamentals, and all that jazz. And then Alex Smith got hurt. And Colin Kaepernick started the next game. And he played pretty, pretty well. And San Francisco. Lost. Their. Shit. WHOOOOA LOOK AT KAEPERNICK GOD HE RUNS SO FAST AND HIS MUSCLES ARE SO BIG AND HIS TATTOOS ARE SO BADASS BUT YET WHOLESOME BECAUSE THEY ARE ABOUT JESUS! Then Alex Smith got healthy, andÖ they just never started him again. Keep in mind, he was still leading the league in completion percentage after being out for like 5 weeks. Alex Smith, perennial underachiever, had finally found his game under Jim Harbaugh, you know, the first coach he ever was able to work with for more than like 6 months. And Jim Harbaugh asked him if his shoe was untied, and when he bent over to check, FUCKED HIM RIGHT IN THE ASS. I expected better from a former quarterback, but no. He did him dirty. But at this point, I was still kinda okay with Kaepernick, until that fucking gameÖ Week 15 of the 2012 season, Sunday Night Football, Niners at Patriots. The Pats were down 31-3 at one point, and came all the way back to tie it up in the 4th quarter.. and then lost. It was an absolute roller coaster of the game, which I of course watched out at a barÖ and I. Was. Livid. Niners fans braying and running their stupid fucking mouths, I almost got in like 3 fights, it was a bad scene. I still rooted for the Niners in the Super Bowl because DOUBLE-fuck the Ravens, but that was it for me. I HATE Colin Krandensack, I hate spaz-face Jim Harbaugh, I hate the fucking talking heads and parroting idiots that were like “CULD COLON KAPPERNICK BE THE BEST QB EVER????” I hate Michael doucheface primadonna bleached-teeth Crabtree and I hate this myopic, insulated, tinfoil-hat wearing fanbase. To you friends of mine in this fair city that root for the Niners, you know I don’t mean you. Obviously it’s not everyone. But I’ve never heard a fanbase whine so much about fixing games, hard schedules, “East Coast bias”, poor reffing, literally, likeÖ anything that hurts the Niners is part of some cosmic plan to keep them down. It’s INFURIATING. This is the fanbase that made a 20 minute video that systematically broke down how last year’s NFC Championship game was “fixed”. Oh yeah, and mention Pete Carroll to anyone. They IMMEDIATELY blow their stack about he “sucks” and is an “asshole” and some other non sequiters, and I just want to grab them by the face and be likeÖ JIM HARBAUGH IS YOUR COACH!!! HOW COULD YOU POSSIBLY COMPLAIN ABOUT PETE CARROLL ohhh but then you throw in the whole USC / Stanford angle which is maybe the least interesting rivalry in the history of rivalries and I justÖ I can’t.

 

Anyway. I’m sorry, I got a little carried away there. I should probably start talking about this game. As much as the Niners piss me off, I do really like a lot of players on the team. Most notably, FRANK FUCKING GORE (literally the best dude ever), Vernon Davis, the entire LB corps, and Eric Reid. And I am impartial enough to really respect them as a team. They can play. But uhhh.. they are really starting to show some red flags, in my mind. I’m not sure how much those outside the Bay have noticed the tailspin this team looks like they’re about to drop into, but, yeah. It doesn’t look good. First of all, this team used to sport easily the best quadrant of linebackers in the league – Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman, Aldon Smith, and Ahmad Brooks. Bowman completely shredded his knee in the NFC Championship, and “should be back” midseason. Yeah, that’s encouraging. Aldon got a 9 game suspension because he is a fucking loose cannon alcoholic. So now you’re down to two of that four, which Brooks being the least talented of ’em. Now let’s look at the lineÖ nose tackle Glenn Dorsey is done for the year, and DE Ray MacDonald just got cuffed for smacking his girlfriend or something (waitÖ RAY MacDonald? Wake up sheeple), so they’re down to basically only Justin Smith on the line, who is 35Ö the secondary was going to be a mess from day one. They replaced Donte Whitner with Antoine Bethea who is pretty much the same guy, he just might take less flags for killing people. Eric Reid is the other safety, who is actually awesome, as I mentioned. Your starting corners are Tramaine Brock, Chris Culliver, and Chris Cook, which is justÖ oh god. Culliver and Cook are just not good. Brock might be good. They could get by with a front 7 that is getting penetration into the backfield and being shutting down the run and being a basically disruptive force. And it looks like that’s.. not going to happen. Basically what I’m trying to say is that the defense was supposed to be the linchpin of this team, and now it looks REALLY vulnerable. That’s going to put a lot of pressure on the offense to produce, but wait! The offense looks shitty too.

 

The offensive line got pushed all over the place in the preseason, and yeah, it’s preseason, but you want them generally to do like, something good. Alex Boone was holding out for this entire team and just ended it, so maybe that will help, because on paper this unit should still be the top 5 one it had been for the last couple years. They should be able to run the ball at least, with Gore being Gore and rookie backup Carlos Hyde showing some serious skills in preseason. It really all comes down to Colin Douchefacesack, who needs to take a step forward this year. He finally has a compliment of hands to throw to, with Dicktree, Boldin, Davis, Stevie Johnson, Lloyd (maybe), Patton (maybe). So he needs to like, do it. He needs to stop locking onto his bromance partner Crabtree for absolutely no reason, needs to learn how to stand in a pocket and make a read, needs to learn how to make a throw that’s something other than low, hard, and straight, and most importantly, needs to not get hurt. He’s cocky, and clearly thinks he’s going to beat guys every time he runs. He’s really fucking fast, so he usually does. But eventually, someone is going to pop him, hard. Or get him around the legs. And then he is fucked, and the Niners are fucked. Their backup is BLAINE GABBERT. Oh god, I still haven’t talked about this actual game. OKAY HERE I GO real quick.

 

Um, they’re opening the season in Dallas. 2 months ago, this game looked like a cakewalk for SF. Now, I’m not so sure. Don’t get me wrong, I think Dallas is going to be really bad this year. They had the worst defense ever last year, did nothing to improve it, let DeMarcus Ware walk, had Sean Lee immediately get hurt for the year, and basically have no chance to not be the worst or second worst defense again. Basically the only players on that defense worth a shit are Henry Melton, Brandon Carr, and Morris Claiborne. The offense, while healthy, is actually pretty intimidating. I am a big Romo apologist, Dez is a STUD, Witten is as reliable as they get, and DeMarco Murray is really awesome when he’s not hurt. The O-line is above average. I tend to think Romo and Murray won’t make it through the whole season (why I passed on Murray on all 4 of my fantasy teams), but this is Week 1! He should, probably, make it through. So, this game is going to be a shootout. The Niners D is probably a little better and more physical, but the Dallas offense is far more polished and explosive. Yeah, there will be points scored in this game. Even the Niners limpdick offense will be moving down the field against these guys. And when it comes to shootouts, I’ll take the team with the better offense. Luckily for me, the better offense is also at home and getting points! I’m on Dallas for this one, and I may sprinkle some dollahs on the moneyline as well. And no, it’s not just because I’m biased. (fuck Kaepernick)


THE PICK: COWBOYS +4





KEEF

 

MINNESOTA VIKINGS +3 AT ST LOUIS RAMS

Oh God, I have no idea what Iím doing. †The boys were kind enough to invite me to do these picks because they know Iíve been betting baseball every day for the last few months and am about to have that cruelly pulled out from under me, and what am I supposed to do during the offseason, not bet on stuff? That would be absurd. †Look, most girls I know know more about football than me. †I read Dank, Dick and Espoís win total predictions, was filled with anxiety and immediately considered backing out as allowing a man of my football ignorance to participate would make a mockery of everything the Ruthless Pick ĎEm League stands for. But then I realized something: if I can amass a better record than at least one of these guys knowing fuck-all about any of the 32 teams, especially Dick as heís actually written about this shit for a living, it would be extremely funny. †Iíd be like the kid who beats everybody at Mortal Kombat by showing up to the arcade and just mashing the buttons for two hours. †So there you have it: my purpose for being here, as anyoneís purpose for being anywhere should be, is first and foremost for the lulz. †And look, itís entirely possible by the end of the season I will begin to vaguely resemble someone who sort of knows what heís talking about. If thereís one way to motivate oneself to learn about something itís to put a few bucks on it. †I didnít know dick about baseball in April but now I am the proud owner of like eight Excel spreadsheets converting sabermetric pitcher stats into win probabilities in order to inform my dirty, dirty gambling habit. †Anyway, I try to listen to a couple football podcasts in my car and look at a few websites just so I do not look like a total ignoramus when Iím typing these picks and it seems to be the consensus that while the Vikings suck, they are supposed to suck less this year. †Also, if thereís anything Iíve learned making several hundred sports bets itís that no one knows what the fuck is going to happen so you may as well find an underdog you like.



THE PICK: VIKINGS +3

 

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS +3 AT ARIZONA CARDINALS

At the very least I can assure you I am Googling these picks to make sure my predictions are shared by actual people who are paid to pay attention to this shit. †In keeping with my ďFind underdogs who have the best chance to coverĒ theme, there seems to be a lot of support for San Diego. They finished last season hot, folks! They are a football squadron that has exhibited a proclivity for scoring points on the football field! This is actually a pretty interesting writing exercise, being asked to write about a topic about which one is defiantly uninformed. You know, what it reminds me of is how in 12th grade I gave a 20-minute book report on a book that I had neither read nor had it ever actually been written. †I wish I had a video of it to embed here because it was masterful. †I even saw clear signs of emotion on my teacherís face as I talked about the chapter where the protagonistís beloved pet cow died in a flood. †Later on in that same class I got a B+ on a paper by copy and pasting the same three paragraphs several times so as to create the illusion Iíd written five pages. †Come to think of it I donít think that teacher really gave much of a fuck about that class actually.


THE PICK: CHARGERS +3
CINNCINNATI BENGALS +1 AT BALTIMORE RAVENS

I can give you the same guarantee with this pick as I did with the last which is I spent eight minutes searching the internet and lots of football-talking guys think Cincinnati has a legitimate chance of winning. †Hey, I actually know a thing about this game, too! †Baltimore is at a disadvantage because Ray Rice is suspended for violating the league rule that says you are not allowed to beat Ray Riceís girlfriend. †††Look, Dank, Dick and Espo are cool dudes to ask me to join this thing as a kind of detox program for my baseball betting habit, and to repay them I pledge to talk as much shit as possible if I manage to correctly pick more games than any of them despite only knowing which players play which position if theyíve yelled it in a postgame interview ala Richard Sherman. †Jesus, I donít even know if I can bring myself to put any of my actual money on this ill-informed malarkey of mine. †Ahh, who am I kidding, arenít we all here to make Sundays more exciting? †Go Fightiní Bengalis!

THE PICK: BENGALS +1

 

DICK:

 

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS -3 AT ATLANTA FALCONS


The Saints have one of the best offenses in football and the Falcons are porous and getting older. The Saints are also 13-3 against Atlanta since Sean Payton took over the show and Drew Brees has no less than nine viable weapons he can deploy including five interchangeable receivers and three running backs. Oh, and Jimmy Graham is officially the best tight end in football. It doesn’t hurt that Atlanta is, well, not good. Injuries aside, that little trip to the NFC title game a couple years back is illustrative of where they may stand in the grand scheme of things. Sure, Matt Ryan is solid, but do you look at him and think, ďnow, THAT’S a Super Bowl quarterbackĒ? Does their running game make you feel like they can control the tempo when it’s Stephen Jackson’s creaky legs and Jacquizz Rodgers and his gaudy career 3.6 YPC? Oh, did we mention their offensive line is already getting hit with injuries? Never mind that the only good news is that they get Julio Jones back? Not good omens at all. Besides, can you honestly see the Saints not being able to pick apart the Falcons all day and hang 30 points on them with relative ease? Sure, the public is probably going to end up being around 75-80 percent on them, but the Saints are the play every time.


THE PICK: SAINTS -3
NEW YORK GIANTS +5.5 AT DETROIT LIONS
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Here’s your new look Lions! They have a new head coach! They have a two-headed monster in the backfield! Speaking of which Joique Bell could take over the show around week four if he can really bang between the tackles, catch some passes, and steal most or all of Reggie Bush’s thunder. They still have Megatron! Golden Tate got paid! The defense is still staffed by guys who are head hunters and cheap shot artists, but if the NFL’s little meetings with Ndamukong Suh about his, ahem, ďstyle of playĒ had any effect on his habit of trying to break people’s legs, these guys could win between 11-13 games if and only if Jim Caldwell can get them to cut the penalties and turnovers. The Giants have been a mess for the better part of the last five years. There was massive turnover on the offensive line and Ben McAdoo came over from Green Bay to install a new offense. The defense is still mediocre if not just plain bad, but if Eli and company can score points, they’ll keep a lot of games close. Speaking of which, I’m alright with Detroit being favored at home, but they feel more like a three-point favorite. But if it really is 70-percent of the public taking the Lions in their home opener, I’m zigging where they zag and taking the Giants at almost a touchdown on the road because it just seems like it’s too easy and dumb. Pay attention people, Vegas knows that tons of casual gamblers (and we are just barely a tiny half notch above the public) will go heavy on home favorites in the first week. Don’t be one of those guys and take the Giants.


THE PICK: GIANTS +5.5

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS +10.5 AT PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

There’s always danger in laying a touchdown or more against anyone in the NFL. It’s not like the Jaguars aren’t deserving of some skepticism considering they were all-time awful for the first 11 games last season, but after they had some massive spreads laid on them and every sports writer in America started pig piling on them they showed a ton of sack and covered spreads and won a few games even though they were showcasing Chad Henne at quarterback. Now they have traded MJD for Toby Gerhart and their defense has some decent players, but they get to face Chip Kelly’s pinball offense that sometimes flails and sometimes looks downright transformative. I really don’t know which offense shows up, but I expect Jacksonville to be game. I wouldn’t be too worried about Shady’s turf toe or busted thumb, but I would watch out for Folk having a potential sophomore slump after putting up an all-time level TD-INT ration last year. None of that really scares me, but knowing that it’s the first week of the season and the bookmakers are already getting so much action on the Eagles that they have to boost the spread to draw money to the Jags makes me think the public is doing its usual GO HEAVY ON THE FAVORITES bullshit that happens at the start of every season. Fuck that, my gut, heart, and brain all say to avoid that big spread (same thing in Denver, by the way) and bet that the Jags show up and keep it close enough to give the public a nice square kick in the pants.

THE PICK: JAGUARS +10.5

About Dan K

Dan is a Southern hip-hop historian who hitchhiked from his home in rural Pennsylvania to Montreal to pursue his dream of working in a call center. Within days of seeing his first computer, @dankmtl became a twitter celebrity by skewering the evil and stupid in immensely entertaining fashion.