I’ve had enough.
I was thoroughly embarrassed last year by my NFL picking partner in crime, the man they call Kevin Paul from The Wife Hates Sports. Not only did I not come anywhere close to beating him in correctly picking NFL games against the spread, had I actually been wagering on these games, I would have run up more debt than President Obama. (That one was for my conservative readers who complain I never pick on the guy).
This year, we’ve decided to do it all over again, a clean slate: every game against the spread, mano a mano, the bartender against the businessman, the married guy against the single guy, the parent against the heathen, the procreator against the procrastinator, the… well, you get the point.
Just like last year, we’ll be getting the band back together to pick against us each week so don’t be surprised when your number is called. Get your crystal balls out and let us know if you’re interested in taking the challenge once again.
So off we go to Week One. Our celebrity picker this week is none other than the most ornery Lug-Nut of them all, Senor Hanahan. He kicked us off last year so why not invite him to cut the ribbons, and not the cheese, in 2015.
Last year’s Week One record:
SPORTSCHUMP’S LET’S HOPE WE GET OFF TO A GOOD START HERE GOES NOTHING WEEK ONE PICKS
Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots (-7)
Every single red-blooded American has been waiting half a year for this game to kick off the NFL season and every single one of us will be watching, except for one… the commissioner of the damn league. I could go on for hours about how Mr. GoodRiddance has mismanaged every league crisis that’s hit his inbox but what’s the point of discussing something we all agree upon. The more pertinent issue is whether his DeflateGate nemesis, the man now cleared to play, can cover the seven against a seemingly, playoff-ready Pittsburgh Steelers team. Brady and company should be amped to start the season and Gillette Stadium should be louder than Giselle after a Patriots playoff loss. Emotions will be running high but will all the offensive weapons, these just might be your father’s Steelers. I’m going to have to take Pitt and the points hoping for a back door cover.
Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears (+7)
Chicago Bears fans are looking forward to this season with what can best be described as timid trepidation. I suggested to a Bears fan the other day that there was no way his team could possibly be as bad as they were last year. He shrugged his shoulders disappointingly, expecting the worst, probably going home after words to hit his punching bag with Jay Cutler’s face square on it. I’m a glass half full guy. While I do think the Packers are a playoff team while the Bears clearly are not, I think the Bears cover the touchdown at home. Then again, I picked nearly every single Bears game wrong last year so wager wisely.
Kansas City Chiefs at Houston Texans (-1)
Just when we were all looking forward to the start of the NFL season, the league goes ahead and throws this game at us. This game will be the one on the small screen at your local sports bar with nobody watching. What a snooze-fest. No Arian Foster. Plenty of Jamaal Charles. These teams were pretty evenly matched last year, both going 9-7. Taking their running back situation into account, I have to take the Chiefs on the road here and the point.
Cleveland Browns at New York Jets (-3)
What is it, Eric Mangini Day at MetLife Stadium? No, seriously. He’s not allowed back in either Cleveland or New York. All things considered, these Jets might be even more of a mess than when he coached them. The three Jets fans still left on this planet just shuddered at that thought. I don’t think these Jets are ready for prime time yet. Besides, Browns fans need their usual glimmer of early hope before seeing their season go right down the toilet in Week 8. I like the Brownies to win this thing outright but since I’m getting three here, I’ll take ‘em.
Indianapolis Colts at Buffalo Bills (+2.5)
What a way to welcome Rex Ryan to Buffalo. Have him play the projected Super Bowl favorites in Week One. I think the Bills will turn some heads this season (which is why I drafted LeSean McCoy on my fantasy team) but it ain’t gonna happen against the neck beard and his new-fangled offense. Ryan may have a game plan for Indy. I’m just not quite sure he has the talent to put it into effect. I’ll take the Colts minus.
Miami Dolphins at Washington Redskins (+3.5)
Let the clusterfuckery begin. Washington Redskins fans can now officially begin counting down the days until the end of what’s bound to be their miserable season. As a Gator fan, I could barely stand to watch them play while a certain former defensive coordinator from Texas was coaching them. It was a miserable experience. Redskins have to feel the same way about Baby Gruden. Is there any way this guy makes it through the season? His only saving grace is that they’re not sure whether they want their quarterback either. Cheer up, Skins fans, when you get slaughtered in Week One by the Dolphins, you are one step closer to change.
Carolina Panthers at Jacksonville Jaguars (+3)
I’m starting to sense a Week One theme. Vegas has lots of point spreads right around a field goal with a point or two wavering in either direction. Is that because they have about as much of a clue about what is going in the league as the rest of us? Or is it that they just don’t want to lose that much money? At first glance, one would have to think the Panthers are an easy pick to cover the three against the hapless Jags but a) they’re not that good and b) if Jacksonville is going to win any games this season, one would think this would be one of those games. Nah, I’m going with my first instincts. Cam and Co. cover the three and for the rest of the season, I will hereby begin counting how many times I call the Jags “hapless,” which I’m guessing should be more than their win total.
Seattle Seahawks at St Louis Rams (+4)
Let the quest for three straight Super Bowl appearances begin! I like Seattle, not so much the rain or its caffeine-jacked population, as much as the football team. I’m not saying I’m a bandwagon jumper. My heart and sorrows lie squarely with my beloved Buccaneers but I like what Seattle has done with this team. Pete Carroll’s hair curler aside, it’s hard not to. They’ve assembled a pretty formidable squad. And what’s not to like about Richard Sherman. As a general rule, I don’t like laying points for road teams in division rivalries but I’m going to here. Seattle covers.
New Orleans Saints at Arizona Cardinals (-2.5)
Another field goal point spread. A few years ago when the Saints were passing for something like a million yards a game and their defense was under strict and apparently fineable instructions to rip opponents’ heads off, taking the three was a no-brainer. Heck they were barely ever underdogs to begin with. These are not the same Saints BUT they still have playoff aspirations. While the Cards are solid, I’m a stubborn fellow. I think the Saints might just be the better team here or at least good enough to cover the 2.5
Detroit Lions at San Diego Chargers (-3)
This game could be a fantasy team owner’s wet dream. Stafford versus Rivers? Both quarterbacks put up solid numbers so expect points to be put on the board. Phillip Rivers has to be happy about being the first to face Detroit’s Suh-less offense. For that reason, I like the over in this game even though it’s high (45.5). I also like the Los Angeles Chargers to cover the field goal.
Tennessee Titans at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3)
I’m going to this game. Yay! I mean, one does have to celebrate the Bucs actually being favored in a game somehow. There’s once again a glimmer of hope in Tampa Bay thanks to Jameis Winston. Mind you, it’s guarded optimism but that’s still better than the shitstack we’ve been force fed the last few years. At this point, I think Winston will turn out to be the better of the two rookie quarterbacks these teams are throwing out there this Sunday. Raymond James Stadium should be amped for a new era and the Titans just aren’t that good. Take the Bucs and lay the three.
Cincinnati Bengals at Oakland Raiders (+3)
Oakland’s bad and to be perfectly honest, I’m not all that impressed with Cincinnati either. Against the Bucs this preseason, Andy Dalton was beaten like a red-headed step-child. Oh wait. I’m not the only one who thinks Cincy’s window could be closing. Meanwhile, Oakland has this wide receiver called Amare Cooper. Perhaps you’ve heard of him. Oakland covers the three and Cooper shows us all why he’s the most NFL-ready player of last year’s draft.
Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos (-4.5)
I’m swaying on this pick. How much does Peyton Manning have left in his tank? Are the Ravens as good as they’ve been in the past defensively? My answer to these two questions are a little and no, so I’m taking the Broncos to cover as they begin one last push for greatness.
New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys (-6)
Six sure seems like a lot here. Vegas is going to be high on the Cowboys all season only because they know the bettors are. Since so many homers should be betting Dallas to win (and cover), Vegas is going to make sure they lay points in doing so. That means you might be able to make some money on them this season when they dump one. I’m not so sure Week One is the time to do that but the G-Men are solid enough to keep this one close in the House That Jerry Built. Give me the six.
Philadelphia Eagles at Atlanta Falcons (+3)
Rising Storms, where ya at? My boy Storms, who has been known to contribute to this site whenever he’s not lazy enough to actually string a few words together, is a fan of both of these teams. In fact, he probably owns one of those half/half jerseys that non-committal people wear. House divided, my ass! One thing is for certain. He’ll be drunk on some shitty cider for the duration of this football game. And he’ll be watching it on TV just like Tim Tebow. Mother of SportsChump recently sent me a text all upset that Tebow was cut from the Eagles yet “rapists and dog abusers” get to play. I guess Timmy needs a vice or two. But back to the game at hand. I know I’m in the minority here but I’m not as sold on Philly as the rest of the planet is. Give me the dirtier birds and the three.
Minnesota Vikings at San Francisco 49ers (+2.5)
So with all the great games we have in Week One, why do we get one of the worst one as the Monday late game? Oh that’s right… Goodell. People think this might be the year the Vikes turn the corner. I’m not one of them. People also think the Niners are on their way to hitting rock bottom. I AM one of them. This game sucks but at home, I’ll take the Niners at the 2.5 just because.
HANAHAN’S RIBBON CUTTING CEREMONY PICKS
Finally, it’s time, once again, to hear those three little words that make life worth living… “It’s football season”. Thanks to Chris for allowing me to be the setup guy for this season’s guest prognosticators. The first week’s games are always the toughest to figure out… Amiright? Remember, the smart money uses my picks… and picks the opposite way. And, so it begins….
I’m a Pat hater from way back. But, I’m not quite clueless enough to discount their talent and coaching. Don’t sleep on the Steelers, but Patriots will cover that 7 they’re laying. Pats, 35-20
The Pack at Da Bears… in early September?! WTF! We want the ‘Frozen Tundra’, not Windy City humidity! No matter, Packers blaze through Chicago, covering their 7, GB, 30-17
Seattle at the Rams. Hawks only giving 4, and 4 is a tricky number. But I like that 4 with a home dog, especially with Fisher pulling the strings. Rams win outright, 21-18
I’m also a Jet hater… but, unlike the Pats, I don’t have to respect their talent or coaching! The Browns are the longest running comedy act in America now that Joan Rivers cashed out. I like the Brownies getting 3, though. Jets, 19-17
Miami goes to DC, and brings along some defense this time! A boy named Suh, and his crew roll on the #%$skins nonexistent offense. Dolphins give 4 and win it 30-14
Carolina visits Neckville, FL and has themselves a tussle! Not sure if Cam is allowed in the state anymore, but the Jags are ready for him. Jags don’t need the 3 they’re getting as they win at home, 21-20
KC at Houston?! This is a pickem, and seems like a good time to go coin flip. George says, KC, 28-24
The Saints are getting 2.5 at Phoenix! The Saints also never win on the road. Is Rob Ryan still running the D game at New Orleans? Long hair, don’t care. Saints outright, 31-28
Lions trek to San Diego and get 3 from the bookies. Rivers looks like Fouts, instead of Humphries, this week. A high scoring affair was had by all. Bolts, 45-31
The Ravens visit the Broncs in a battle over who’s the real “City by the Bay”! Balmer is getting 4.5, but it’s not enough, as even Chaz Michael Chaz agrees that the Broncos win the game and the bragging rights, 33-27.
The Bengals are getting 3.5 at Oakland?! What did I miss? Hello, Del Rio coaches the Raiders and Marv coaches the Bengals! Two bona fide under achievers, fo sho. Someone has to get lucky and win this suckfest, right? WRONG! Game ends in a 10-10 tie. Bengals cover.
Hmmm, Bucs laying 3 to the Titans? Anyone who watches this game on TV has a serious gambling problem. TB, 12-6
Giants get 6 from the Big D. Once again “this” is the Boys “year”… until they lose 2 straight. Blind em wit yo rings, Eli! Gents, 28-25.
Eagles gifting the Falcons 3…. even 10 won’t help the dirty birds from the dirty south. Eagles soar, 35-17
Niners are getting 3, at home, from the Vikes!?! I love a home dog, and this is the Master Lock lock of the week! 49ers, 20-16.
KEVIN PROMISES HIS PICKS WILL BE UP SHORTLY BUT WE’VE HEARD THAT ALL BEFORE PICKS
KP’s “Pick Your Knows”: 2015 NFL Week 1 Picks
Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots (-7.5)
Big Ben and the Steelers said they wanted to play Brady. Well, they got him. Only, Pittsburgh just doesn’t have the same defense that it has had in the recent past. Toss in an emotional season opener where New England fans and players had to suffer through the uncertainty and frustration of the Deflategate drama. Belichick and Brady will be well-equipped with plenty of weapons, including a healthy Gronk. If you like offense, there should be plenty here, so “getcha popcorn ready”. Just don’t scream “Roll ‘em!”, considering all the recent Spygate reports that haveemerged. Pats cover.
KP’s Pick: New England Patriots
Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears (+6.5)
The Packers lost Jordy Nelson for the season, which clearly hurts, but it could eventually be thought as a minor bump in the road, considering all the talent in Green Bay. The recent acquisition of James Jones also helps, who is more than familiar with the Packers’ offense. Throw in some tenacity on defense and offensive balance with Eddie Lacy, and new Chicago head coach John Fox will have his hands full. Heck, he had his hands full with Jay Cutler, as it is. Packers cover on the road.
KP’s Pick: Green Bay Packers
Seattle Seahawks at St. Louis Rams (+4.5)
The Rams usually hang tight with Seattle and will have the home-field advantage. Rookie Todd Gurley will not be healthy for the opener, which hurts the depth in St. Louis. On the other side, Russell Wilson has some toys to play with, mainly TE Jimmy Graham, who was acquired from the Saints during the offseason. After seeing what Seattle did to Green Bay to open last season, this pick seems like a no-brainer. Different season, yes. Different team, yes. Different result, no. ‘Hawks cover.
KP’s Pick: Seattle Seahawks
Cleveland Browns at New York Jets (-3.5)
Bring plenty of beer for this one, and try to tamper your expectations if you’re a member of the team that finishes the week 1-0. The strengths of these teams lie in the secondary, headlined by Haden and Revis. On the quarterback side, Ryan Fitzpatrick tends to throw multiple interceptions per game, which could benefit the Browns. But let’s not overanalyze this one and please let’s not talk about JohnnyManziel or Geno Smith. Instead, let’s focus on the likely fourth quarter game-winner in what could finish as a 9-6 win. I’ll take the Browns and the points, but I won’t like it.
KP’s Pick: Cleveland Browns
Carolina Panthers at Jacksonville Jaguars (+3.5)
If you read the 2015 over/under predictions that I wrote up, you’ll already know that I’m high on Jacksonville’s young talent and low on Carolina’s offense (without Kelvin Benjamin). Bear in mind, the Panthers have the more seasoned team, but with the homefield advantage, I’m willing to put my neck out there for Blake Bortles, T.J. Yeldon and Allen Robinson. We’ll see if I pay for that one later.
KP’s Pick: Jacksonville Jaguars
Kansas City Chiefs at Houston Texans (-1.5)
Tossup games are tough in Week 1. Houston has the homefield advantage and the tenacious J.J. Watt, but other than that, it’s hard to ignore the talent gap, at least, offensively. Alex Smith has been steady with the Chiefs, who also have Jamaal Charles and speedy WR Jeremy Maclin. Houston will go with Brian Hoyer and will be without Arian Foster, who is injured (shocker). Give me the Chiefs.
KP’s Pick: Kansas City Chiefs
Miami Dolphins at Washington Redskins (+3.5)
Kirk Cousins starts for the Redskins and last season, he showed some flashes, while also making a number of bad throws. Washington had a solid offseason, adding a lot of necessary pieces, but this team has a long way to go. Meanwhile, many are praising Ryan Tannehill and how he has played during the preseason. On top of that, the Dolphins beefed up its talent on defense and added a ton of speed on offense. Overall, Miami is the better team and should cover on the road.
KP’s Pick: Miami Dolphins
Indianapolis Colts at Buffalo Bills (+2.5)
LeSean McCoy, Percy Harvin and Charles Clay are among the new names in Buffalo, all to be coached by headline-maker Rex Ryan. Say what you want about his personality and ability to acquire talent, until Rex can push a team to the next level, he’s overrated as a head coach. The Colts, meanwhile, are a passing machine and Buffalo will have a tough time shutting down Andrew Luck. Indy covers.
KP’s Pick: Indianapolis Colts
New Orleans Saints at Arizona Cardinals (-2.5)
On one side, you have Drew Brees, who had an off year in 2014 and now leads an offense that will be without the likes of Jimmy Graham, Kenny Stills and Pierre Thomas. On the other end, you have a strong Arizona team that desperately needs its quarterback (Carson Palmer) to stay healthy. The Cards are a very tough team to beat at home, w hich is where they will be in Week 1. I truly believe that despite not having the household names to throw to, Drew Brees will have a bounceback season in 2015. It just won’t start in Week 1. Take the Cardinals to cover at home.
KP’s Pick: Arizona Cardinals
Detroit Lions at San Diego Chargers (-3.5)
The Chargers typically are very strong at home, as most teams are. Meanwhile, a lot of people seem to be down on the Lions. Melvin Gordon is the solid rookie back from Wisconsin, but he struggled a bit for San Diego in the preseason. That could lead to a pass heavy offense led by Philip Rivers. Detroit has Calvin Johnson and Golden State as receivers anchoring its offense. This looks like it will be one of those 27-24 type games that will be decided by a field goal late in the fourth quarter. Therefore, I’ll take Detroit and the points.
KP’s Pick: Detroit Lions
Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos (-4.5)
There are a number of Peyton Manning doubters after the future Hall of Famer faded at the end of last season. I am not one of those doubters and don’t think it will be an issue for Manning to mesh well with Gary Kubiak and his offense. Denver will have balance with C.J. Anderson in the run game, too. As for Baltimore, the Ravens appear likely to have a depth issue at wide receiver for Week 1, with rookie Breshad Perriman doubtful. Plain and simple, a potent passing attack will be needed to stay in this game. Give me Peyton and the Broncos to cover at home.
KP’s Pick: Denver Broncos
Tennessee Titans at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3.5)
Here’s something that will hit the history books: The top two quarterbacks in thedraft will face off in Week 1 and one of these players will win his debut. With Mariota vs. Winston, it will be how each manages the game and limits his mistakes. More importantly, it will be coaching and each team’s supporting cast. Playing at home, I like the talent of the Bucs, especially with receivers Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson. I’ll take Tampa to win by a TD at home, leaving some fan out there to ship Winston all the crab legs that he wants.
KP’s Pick: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Cincinnati Bengals at Oakland Raiders (+3.5)
Oakland is actually going to give teams headaches this season, especially with its passing game that features QB Derek Carr, along with rookie WR Amari Cooper and steady veteran Michael Crabtree. The Week 1 problem will be the aggressiveness of the Bengals, a team capable of amassing numerous sacks and forcing plenty of mistakes. I’ll take the talent of Cincy to win its opening week on the road.
KP’s Pick: Cincinnati Bengals
New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys (-5.5)
Nothing like an old-fashioned, NFC East grudge match to anchor the opening weekend of the NFL season! The Giants and Cowboys are certain to put up a ton of yards, especially in the passing game, where players like Odell Beckham Jr. and Dez Bryant are likely to have big days. The question will be which quarterback limits his mistakes, Eli Manning or Tony Romo. I don’t know the prop bets on Odell one-handed catches or total number of “crownies” made by Tony Romo, but I do know that this game smells like one of those 31-27 back-and-forth battles. That’s why I’m taking the Giants and the points.
KP’s Pick: New York Giants
Philadelphia Eagles at Atlanta Falcons (+2.5)
Shootout alert! Shootout alert! On one side, you have Chip Kelly’s high-octane offense and on the other, it’s Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Atlanta’s potent pass attack. In the end, the Falcons look like they’ll be one-dimensional again this season, and should feature a defense that is likely to give up points in bunches. Hey, whaddaya know, Chip Kelly and the Eagles score points in bunches. Yep, you know what that means… Philly covers in a high-scoring, defenseless extravaganza.
KP’s Pick: Philadelphia Eagles
Minnesota Vikings at San Francisco 49ers (+2.5)
Adrian Peterson is back and has something to prove, while Teddy Bridgewater is one of the more hyped quarterbacks, poised for a breakout season. Meanwhile, the Niners lost everyone and their mother during the offseason, including Jim Harbaugh and his $7 khakis. San Francisco will be playing at home and will need big games from both Colin Kaepernick and Carlos Hyde. But with all the key losses on defense, expect Adrian Peterson to run wild. Vikes cover on the road
KP’s Pick: Minnesota Vikings