And so it begins, our season-long battle for the ages. To the victor go the spoils!
With so many games to choose from on both the college and NFL slate, picking five, sure-fire winners week after week should be, as Dikembe Mutombo once quipped, a walk in the cake.
Allow me to apply the frosting.
My first glance at the college slate didn’t spark too many gimmes as you’ll soon find out it did with Kevin and our celebrity guest, so I opted for some NFL Sunday action. Here’s what I found.
Give me $50 on Tennessee Titans (-3) over the Arizona Cardinals
I’m pretty high on the Titans this season, so much so that I’m not quite sure why everyone else isn’t. I get that they’re -150 favorites to win their division (there’s value there) but Vegas is still giving the Colts a chance. I guess they didn’t get the memo that Carson Wentz is now their quarterback. The Titans should control that division handily. They open, at home, against an Arizona Cardinals team that most people are also high on but not as high as I am on the Titans. This Sunday, Tennessee proves they’re the better team by covering the standard, home-field advantage, three-point spread. Give me the Titans to cover the field goal.
Speaking of the AFC South, let me have…
$40 on Seattle Seahawks (-2.5) at Indianapolis Colts
Do we have short memories here? Why should we not expect a Seahawks team that went 12-4 last year to pick up right where they left off? Russell Wilson had himself an MVP-type season, DK Metcalf emerged as a freak at wide receiver and it looks like they’ve finally resolved their backfield issues with Chris Carson. The Seahawks should be competitive every week this season. Meanwhile, I still find too many question marks with Indy. Is Wentz ready to get things started in an entirely new offense? He’ll face a tough first test at home against the ‘Hawks, whose offense and defense are both better than they were last year, which is why I like Seattle to cover.
$30 on Denver Broncos at New York Giants (+3)
People are a little too high on the Broncos for my liking. While starting Teddy Bridgewater over Drew Lock was the right choice, I don’t see much about this team that screams playoffs. I mean, they did finish at the bottom of the top-heavy AFC West last year. Meanwhile, I have this sneaky suspicion the Giants might be better than we think they are, simply because most of us think they’ll be awful. Danny Dimes has another year under his belt, Saquon Barkley is probably healthier than he’s letting on and the G-Men are not about to let some team come across country and win a game in MetLife after the area just got ravaged by Hurricane Ida. Give me the G-Men plus the points.
$20 on NY Jets at Carolina Panthers (-5.5)
I’m big on revenge games. By that I mean players going against the teams that once spurned them. Such is the case with former Jets first-round draft pick Sam Darnold, who is now playing for the Carolina Panthers. As luck would have it, he’s hosting the Jets in Week One. If the Panthers locker room has fallen in love with Darnold, they might just be fired up enough to beat his former team for him. I heard Chris Simms on the radio the other day. He was gushing about the Panthers, going so far as to call them a playoff team. I scratched my head while listening, wondering what he sees that I don’t. Sure, they have speedy receivers and a healthy Christian McCaffrey but where he sees talent, I see little. Either way, they should have enough talent to beat the Jets as Sam Darnold tells Zach Wilson “Welcome to the party, pal.”
Panthers cover the five-and-a-half.
$10 on Minnesota Vikings at Cincinnati Bengals (+3 1/2)
Do you get the impression that these two teams are going in different directions? Sure, the Vikes have one of the league’s premier running backs. A young Justin Jefferson emerged as their top wide receiver to an aging, banged-up yet still oddly productive Adam Thielen. But isn’t it possible that this team has plateaued? Meanwhile, a young Bengals team has no place to go but up. A healthy Joe Burrow returns and has a slew of options to throw to along with a healthy Joe Mixon. In fact, we could see a shootout if these two offenses find a rhythm, all the more reason I’ll root for a back door cover. I just feel opening game in Cincinnati with a new season on the line and a Minnesota team that might be going through the motions is enough reason to take Cincinnati and the three-and-a-half.
THE WIFE HATES SPORTS WEEK ONE PICKS
50 – NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Detroit Lions (+7.5)
I hear the over/under for Dan Campbell double espresso shot iced coffees is also 7.5. Seriously, without looking, can you name the list of receivers on Detroit’s roster? Jared Goff wasn’t even a consistent star with the big targets in L.A. Sure, the Lions are at home, but that’s about it. San Francisco suffered through so many injuries last year. Key names on defense are back and the offense will be ready to go. Niners cover on the road.
40 – College: Texas Longhorns at Arkansas Razorbacks (+7)
Sark’s Longhorns came out red hot in his first game as coach, torching a ranked Louisiana team by twenty points. Texas heads on the road to face a Razorbacks team that has just eleven wins in its last four seasons combined. Per Phil Steele, Arkansas hasn’t hosted a non-conference Power 5 foe since 2017. After this weekend, they’ll want to take another five years off. Texas covers.
30 – NFL: Green Bay Packers at New Orleans Saints (+3.5)
The New Orleans defense often gets overshadowed by Sean Payton’s offense (but will face last year’s MVP). It’s brutal for opponents to play in New Orleans (but Hurricane Ida has sidelined the Superdome for weeks). The Saints have Jameis Winston leading the offense and no Michael Thomas (or Drew Brees). Throw in the aforementioned 2020 MVP Aaron Rodgers on the other side, who could be planning an entire slate of Jeopardy! questions during his potential Green Bay farewell tour. Packers cover.
20 – College: Georgia State Panthers at North Carolina Tar Heels (-25.5)
Mack Brown ran into a buzz saw last week in Blacksburg. So many road teams had it rough facing juiced crowds that haven’t been to a game in what feels like an eternity. Sam Howell tossed three picks in the loss to Virginia Tech. Now, the Heels get to be the ones at home, facing a Georgia State Panthers team that was picked by many to finish third in the Sun Belt East (yes, there’s also a West). North Carolina has had a week to get the kinks out. This team will come out hungry. Carolina covers.
10 – NFL: Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots (-3)
The Patriots have won nine of its last ten games versus the Dolphins at home. Sure, Tom Brady was QB in a number of those, but consider the stat with fans back at Gillette. Mac Jones won the job, which sent Cam packing. Teammates are raving about Jones. Add in a loaded Patriots defense that is likely to spark another shaky performance by Tua. Pats cover at home.
And finally, you guys know him as Croshere, gambler extraordinaire and friend of the Chump for over 20 years. He’s also been on fire picking games lately so take note. Let’s see if he can keep hope alive by representing our Celebrity Guess Group the proper way in Week One.
CELEBRITY GUEST’S WEEK ONE PICKS: CROSHERE
Here are my thoughts.
$50 on… Tennessee +3 1/2
After a coast in week one for both the Vols and Panthers, 100,000 will gather in Neyland Stadium for the first big test of the Heupel era. Armed with superior athletes, the Tennessee Volunteers should understand his plan and get the W. For our purposes, gladly take Tennessee and the +3 1/2.
$40 on… Iowa St – 4 1/2
Despite a sluggish performance against a different in-state rival last week, this team is legit. Brock Purdy and Breece Hall are a talented backfield that will open things up on an Iowa defense that thrived off Indiana mistakes.
A big performance here, and maybe Jack Trice Stadium becomes, dare I say, a field of dreams.
$30 on… Wisconsin -25 1/2
The Big Red had a disappointing loss to start the Big Ten season. A former 1AA opponent at home before a big non-conference game a week later should be just what the doctor ordered.
$20 on… Nebraska -13 1/2
(See pick #3)
$10 on… Miami -8 1/2
Remember when it was common to swing several bats in the on-deck circle to make yours feel light?
The Miami offense should experience that sensation this week. Talented offense that will be saying huh? This is what it’s like to run plays? Cool.