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1) I pick every game against the spread, because I'm a man, and this is what I do.
2) The career record for such things is sad, and goes back years. It's at the end of every column.
3) I pick the entire schedule by the start of the terrible Thursday Night Game, which means if you are checking these on Sunday and there's been an injury, I'm hosed, and you are best served to go elsewhere.
4) This is as much for my amusement as yours, and you are free to be amused somewhere else. It's a big Internet.
5) I am always more humiliated than harmed by my failures.
As for the 2015-16 season... well, it's taken me a *lot* of soul-searching to commit to continue this exercise. Ad revenue in blogs has slowed to the point of a pittance of a pittance, regardless of the occasional traffic spike. My personal interest in the NFL has ebbed, because I'm pretty much convinced that my laundry has been hijacked by the worst GM in the history of the franchise, and that I'm going to spend the first half of the year watching everyone buying into the fools' gold, and the second half of the year watching Mark Sanchez getting pummeled behind a turnstile line. Who wins the NFL has seemingly been taken over by who win the coin flips between turnovers and pass interference flags, assuming the Patriots aren't involved to cheat their way to a win, in ways that the other teams aren't man enough to stop. The disgust level is high.
But, well, this is the #1 sport in the country. I think there's a reasonable chance my fantasy team might contend. Fool's gold might be good enough to win in a coin flip league. The NFL might spend the year screwing the Patriots in ways that will make my toes curl in delight. I might get the picks right. When things are really horrible, humor gets easier. Hope springs eternal.
And with that... on to the picks!
PITTSBURGH (+7) at New England
Neither of these teams are going to play defense, and everyone is going to take the Pats at home to run up the score in their fury at being called, with absolute certainty and truth, terrible human beings who should be banned from free society. Unfortunately for them, the refs are going to call 30 penalties on the home team, including multiple delay of game flags on QB Tom Brady when there is 10 to 15 seconds left on the clock. In other words, Best Game Ever, at least until the end, when Pats coach Bill Belichick pulls out a handgun and demands the victory from all assembled, or he'll kill a puppy. He'll get it, but in a concession to the road team, fail to cover the spread. On to whatever team is on the schedule for Week Two!
Patriots 38, Steelers 34
GREEN BAY (-6.5) at Chicago
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers will be crippled by the loss of WR Jordy Nelson, all the way down to throwing to other open guys. Chicago Fan will blame QB Jay Cutler for this, in that he still hasn't developed the leadership skills necessary to play corner or offensive line. Going to be a long year in Bearland.
Packers 41, Bears 24
KANSAS CITY (+1) at Houston
The Chiefs force-feed WR Jeremy Maclin to the tune of 20 targets in a desperate attempt to re-write the 2014 season of WR Futility. They win anyway, because the Texans keep using their best QB -- JJ Watt -- to do other things.
Chiefs 24, Texans 17
Cleveland at NY JETS (-3)
The Geno Smith Ain't Spit Bandwagon takes on passengers as QB Ryan Fitzpatrick beards his way to a 225 yard 3 TD day, which the sober NY media will consider The Second Coming Of Namath. Cleveland Fan will soberly wait until the second quarter to start screaming for Johnny Manziel.
Jets 24, Browns 16
INDIANAPOLIS (-2.5) at Buffalo
It's the Year Of Luck, and Buffalo's incompetent offense will start it with a struggling day that will turn the day around for the Colts QB through sheer force of positive field position and multiple opportunities. The scary thing is that this might be his worst day of the year.
Colts 27, Bills 20
Miami at WASHINGTON (+3.5)
The Slurs pull off the upset of the day, giving their beyond pathetic fan base the last straw they need to get their full racist on and throw in with QB Kirk Cousins. Dolphin Fan blinks slowly with the realization that shiny new DT Ndamokung Suh in the season after he got paid is Albert Haynesworth II.
Slurs 24, Dolphins 20
Carolina at JACKSONVILLE (+3)
A game that will sap any excitement that you might have for the return of football. Jags QB Blake Bortles is primed for the most under the radar breakout in NFL history, while Panthers QB Cam Newton has fewer pro level weapons to throw to than most SEC teams.
Jaguars 20, Panthers 17
SEATTLE (-4) at St. Louis
A defensive struggle between two teams that aren't getting it done on the offensive line. Give me the road Hawks, who are really not great in this situation, but will make more plays because their QB (Russell Wilson) is mobile, and the Rams QB (Nick Foles) is... so, so, so not.
Seahawks 24, Rams 17
New Orleans at ARIZONA (-2.5)
Maybe my most confident pick of the day. Big Red is a good road team with a physical defense and quality DBs, and they got back a pro-level QB with the healthy Carson Palmer. The Saints are everyone's pick to bounce back and win the fungible South, but the o-line isn't good, QB Drew Brees has old man unwarranted confidence, and even when they were good, they didn't exactly travel well.
Cardinals 27, Saints 17
Detroit at SAN DIEGO (-2.5)
Just a bad place to start the year for a Lions team that has rarely looked good on grass. I'm not in love with this Charger team this year -- imminent relocation is rarely a recipe for success -- but they'll have enough to start the year with a win.
Chargers 23, Lions 20
TENNESSEE (+3) at Tampa
One of those too-cute matchups for the NFL, where QB1 (Jameis Winston) gets to go against QB2 (Marcus Mariota) in a matchup that they will rarely, if ever, revisit. I like the Titans to get it done because I think Winston is going to try to steal some new form of crustacean while NOT RAPING ANYONE, NO SIR, NO RAPE HERE during halftime, but it's pretty much a coin flip between two teams that will win more than expected, because they play in terrible divisions.
Titans 24, Bucs 20
CINCINNATI (-3.5) at Oakland
A rougher spot than expected for the least threatening constant playoff team in NFL history. Oakland gets after it on defense and has some developing talents on offense, but when your coach is Ax Man Jack Del Rio, you lose a lot of close games. Raider Fan will feel way too good about losing afterward, because that's just how life has been for them for a really long time, and hey, so long as we don't boo and still keep coming in cosplay, they can't leave, right?
Bengals 24, Raiders 19
BALTIMORE (+4.5) at Denver
The battle between the teams that have been victimized by their inability to want it as bad as New England square off, with the road thugs taking advantage of the suddenly pop-less Bronco offense, especially in the red zone. The best RB that no one talks about, Justin Forsett, breaks it open late, with WR Steve Smith Sr. doing his annual I Own September routine, just to convince everyone that he can play football forever if he wants to. *Good* division, that AFC North.
Ravens 24, Broncos 23
NY Giants at DALLAS (-6)
Big Blue looks Big Broken so far this year, and Dallas is never more dangerous than when the games don't mean very much, but feel like they do. They are all about the feels, really. The Cowboy ground game puts up 150 yards split three ways, just to drive fantasy honks up the wall, while Tom Coughlin amuses the NBC crew by being an Angry Old Man. Rassin' frassin'! Lookit the angry old man! (And to be fair, that works so much more than looking at Chris Christie in the owner's box in Geisha Mode.)
Cowboys 34, Giants 20
PHILADELPHIA (-3) at Atlanta
Everyone's favorite first half phonies run out and hide with a tempo game against a third-rate defense and a sound system that just doesn't cheat well enough to be New England. On the other side of the ball, Atlanta holds serve for a while, but keeps trying to run the ball for no good reason at all, and eventually falls behind by multiple scores. Sober Eagles Fan bets the Eagles Win SB line in Vegas down to even money, and local sports talk radio moves on to who the team will beat in the big game next year, when they repeat. There's a reason this is the worst media in the nation.
Eagles 45, Falcons 31
MINNESOTA (-2.5) at San Francisco
Now occupying the late dog game role of the butt end of Opening Weekend, it's the Niners, who will trudge along to a double-digit loss while making you think kindly of the Raiders. But on the plus side, Niner Fan is in a wildly expensive stadium that's a real pain in the ass to get to, seeing how it's nearly 50 miles away in a traffic wasteland from their actual geographic base. Enjoy the next five to ten years of utter irrelevance! Oh, and the Vikings are going to be good, and RB Adrian Peterson is going to get numbers while terrible human beings make spanking jokes, because Minny is going to work the clock and put everyone who watches the terrible ESPN Second Crew into therapy for masochism. Spank Chris Berman into a bloody mess, AP, and all will be forgiven.
Last year: 130-132-4