This year I will be attempting to pick all of the games against the spread as I find it a useful way of helping me confirm what I think about teams. It is also a useful way of demonstrating the dangers of gambling as it is very hard to get them right, and the NFL just isn’t that predictable. Thanks to the blog, I have roped in my friend Dan to be picking with me in a friendly competition (for the record his parting shot was, “Not this season as it’s my first time. Next season you’re going down!”) and we’re taking our lines from the ESPN Pigskin Pick’em so feel free to join us here and show us up.

Packers @ Seahawks (-5.5)

This game gave me a little pause, before I considered what the Seahawks did to the Broncos in the Super Bowl, the number of players they have coming back, and that they have one of the best home advantages in the league. The Packers are going to be good this season, but their defence needs to hold up for the entire season despite losing BJ Raji to injury already, and there are more on they way.

Gee’s Pick:      Seahawks
Dan’s Pick:      Packers

Saints @ Falcons (-1.5)

This one seems fairly straight forward and so is probably a trap, but the Saints looked really strong in preseason and the Falcons went 4-12 last season. The Falcons will be better this year, but I don’t think they’ll be starting the year with a win.

Gee’s Picke:    Saints
Dan’s Pick:      Saints

Bills @ Bears (-6.5)

I am worried about the Bills. I really didn’t like them moving up to grab a receiver when they’re not already a good team (frankly I don’t like giving up picks much anyway, but certainly not high picks), and they are not set at quarterback. I think they’re going to miss Mike Pettine as their defensive coordinator so I can see that side of the ball taking a step back. There are problems with the Bears defence, but they’ll be better than last year and the offence will be good again as long as Cutler can stay on the field so for me this is an easy pick this week.

Gee’s Pick:      Bears
Dan’s Pick       Bears

Bengals @ Ravens (-2.5)

I suspect that I am going to be wrong both ways on the Bengals all season depending on how they go and my fan reaction to it, but I believe that they’re going to be good. I respect the way that the Ravens are run, and I’m sure they will be better this year, but I think Flacco is overpaid for his production, I’m not sure about their offensive line, and with Ray Rice suspended, I think their offence is going to struggle. And I’m getting points!

Gee’s Pick:      Bengals
Dan’s Pick       Bengals

Dan’s Comment: – “This’ll be extremely close. I could see that one going either way.”

Browns @ Steelers (-5.5)

I think the Browns are going to be a tough side to beat this year as their defence was good last year, and with Pettine as their head coach I think they will be better. However, with Josh Gordon suspended and the mess at quarterback I don’t see them improving their record much. I don’t like the way the Steelers have managed their cap in recent years, which feels weird to say for a franchise that historically has been so well run, but they’ve held on to too many of their guys on big contracts. Still, Tomlin is a good coach, I love Dick LeBeau as a coordinator and I think they will be there or there about all season. I think the Browns will be good for some underdog covers, but not this week.

Gee’s Pick:      Steelers
Dan’s Pick       Steelers

Dan’s Comment: – “I don’t think the Johnny Football effect will be enough for Browns to pick up the Win in this one.”

Titans @ Chiefs (-6.5)

A lot of people are saying that this is a regression season for the Chiefs, and I can see the argument due to their easy schedule last year and some of the things that have happened so far this year. However, although no one likes picking him, Alex Smith wins games; Dontari Poe is one of my favourite defensive players; and Jamaal Charles is a beast. There are problems with receivers, but I’m not scared of this team. On the other side, I have no feel for the Titans at all and whilst they may well be solid, I’m going to need to see more from them before I pick them. I’m worried about the points, and I may regret this, but I’m going with the Chiefs.

Gee’s Pick:      Chiefs
Dan’s Pick       Chiefs

Raiders @ Jets (-4.5)

I think the Raiders are in for another tough season, but I was interested to see that they’re starting Derek Carr, and combined with Khalil Mack, that makes two interesting reasons to look at the Raiders. How long has it been since you could say that? However, whilst there are questions about their pass defence and Geno Smith’s development, the Jets should have enough to cover those points.

Gee’s Pick:      Jets
Dan’s Pick       Jets

Dan’s Comment: – “I feel horrible going for the Jets here, but just can’t see the Raiders getting out of the blocks before about week 3.”

Vikings @ Rams (-6.5)

That’s a lot of points for the Rams and they don’t have their starting quarterback. Their defence is going to be tough with a terrific pass rush, but it’s going to be a long season for the Rams. I have no idea what the Vikings’ record is going to be like, but I think Mike Zimmer will have them playing much better and I think this is a good way for them to start the season.

Gee’s Pick:      Vikings
Dan’s Pick       Vikings

Dan’s Comment: – “Easy win for the Vikings this week (which will make my dad very happy!)”

Patriots @ Dolphins (+3.5)

The Dolphins are another team that I think are on the rise, but I’m not sure how that is going to translate in terms of their record. The Patriots however, had a nice offseason and the Dolphins do not have the best home record, which may change but not in this game.

Gee’s Pick:      Patriots
Dan’s Pick       Dolphins

Dan’s Comment: – “Dolphins picked out of pure blind hope!”

Jaguars @ Eagles (-11.5)

I’m all in on Chip Kelly, and I think the Eagles are going to have a great year and I’m looking forward to seeing them. I also think that Gus Bradley is doing a good job of turning round the Jaguars and whilst I’m not predicting a playoff record, I think they will be tough team to play. I think the Eagles win, but I’m going for the Jaguars to cover.

Gee’s Pick:      Jaguars
Dan’s Pick       Eagles

Washington @ Texans (-2.5)

I’m not convinced by Washington. I’m not at all sure about their defence and the new offensive scheme is taking time to bed in as RG3 have never been asked to be a pocket passer before. I don’t know if this is going to work out or not, but I don’t think it is going to happen in week 1. The Texans have Ryan Fitzpatrick and this should scare me, but they also have JJ Watt and Jadeveon Clowney. I repeat, JJ Watt and Jadeveon Clowney! This maybe my excitement over those two on the same team getting the better of me, but I think there’s too much talent on this team for a repeat of last years record. Again, I’m not saying playoffs, but I think the turnaround starts here.

Gee’s Pick:      Texans
Dan’s Pick       Washington

49ers @ Cowboys (+4.5)

I think the 49ers are in for a tough year. They lost players, have important players suspended, and have been to the last three conference championship games. I think they are too deep and too well run to have a disaster, but they are in a division where they will beat the hell out of each other. The Cowboys are relying on their offence this year as the already bad defence has got worse. I’m really not sure what is going to happen in this game, and I should take the points, but I trust the 49ers and not the Cowboys. I think the 49ers will win this one and I’m hoping by enough points.

Gee’s Pick:      49ers
Dan’s Pick       49ers

Panthers @ Buccaneers (+1.5)

I like the Buccaneers this year. These are another of my improved teams, this one being a major potential case of WARM or wins above Raheem Morris, a faux statistical term invented by Bill Simmons to cover a team’s improvement accounted for by having a competent coach follow the firing of a bad one. Last year’s Chiefs were a great example of this and I think under Lovie Smith, a proven coach the Bucs will take big steps forward. The Panthers on the other hand, have walked into a salary cap nightmare after making the playoffs last season. Their line is bad, their receivers are bad and I think they are going to take a step back this year, starting in Tampa this week.

Gee’s Pick:      Buccaneers
Dan’s Pick       Panthers

Colts @ Broncos (-6.5)

The Broncos appear to have looked at the tape of the Super Bowl, taken note and addressed their defence and what went wrong, having themselves what looks like a really good offseason. This maybe the year where age catches up with Peyton Manning, but he’s earned our trust until he can’t do it any more. The Colts might be covering more holes with Andrew Luck’s great play than many realise. This is a team that traded away a first round pick for the Brown’s possible first round bust in Trent Richardson. In the modern NFL, you don’t need to pick running backs in the first round, yet alone effectively have two teams do it. I could be wrong on this as you shouldn’t underestimate Andrew Luck, but I don’t think so this time.

Gee’s Pick:      Broncos
Dan’s Pick       Colts

Dan’s Comment: – “I think the Broncos will win, but there’ll be less than a TD in it!”

Giants @ Lions (-4.5)

I don’t trust either of these teams. The Giants are a shell of themselves, the offence is a work in progress and Eli Manning might not be a serviceable quarterback anymore. The Lions had a golden chance to win their division last year, and blew it with their characteristic ill disciplined play. A team that is loaded with talent, they would be a prime candidate for a WARM revival, but Jim Caldwell doesn’t’ exactly inspire confidence. However, there is still a lot of talent so whilst I may regret going against the points, I’m going with the talent.

Gee’s Pick:      Lions
Dan’s Pick       Giants

Chargers @ Cardinals (-3.5)

I am not as down on the Cardinals as some appear to be. There defence seemed to hold up pretty well against the Bengals in preseason despite it’s losses and there some interesting receiver prospects lining up to follow Fitzgerald, but they still have Carson Palmer facing some serious defences (and pass rushes) just in their own division. However, I think the Chargers are going to be good again this year. A defence that is likely to improve towards league average from their 32nd ranking in defensive DVOA and an offence that is likely to stay good. I’m pretty confident of a Chargers win even before I get points

Gee’s Pick:      Chargers
Dan’s Pick       Chargers

Dan’s Comment: “Not a great season predicted for the Cardinals I’m afraid!”

So that’s our first week ready to go, let’s see how things pan out in the games.