WEEKLY OUTCOME UPDATE (TUESDAY, SEPT. 18): Another 10-6 week, but some improvement at picking against the spread: I finished 10-6 ATS, too.
THURSDAY CONTENT UPDATE: Added the ATS picks.
I didn't open the season with a good record (10-6 Winners, 8-8 Against The Spread, 2-2 Best Bets), but I was surprisingly happy with my first week of the season. Most of the games resembled my forecast, with a few notable exceptions:
- The Saints poor performance caught me off guard;
- The Ravens three turnovers on their first three possessions stunned me;
- How on Earth did the Jaguars defense give up that many rushing yards?
And several of my predictions were pretty good, even though they wound up in the loss column:
- I figured the Bills had a shot at home against the Broncos and they led until the final play;
- I thought the Packers might make things tough against the Eagles;
- I had a feeling Houston would really put it on Kansas City.
Things I was flat wrong about:
- The Panthers' drubbing of the Rams (Orlando Pace had something to do with that)
- Detroit's ability to handle Oakland's defensive pressure;
- The Saints, Ravens and Jaguars, as mentioned above;
My goal for Week 1 was to finish above .500 and get a bead on things early. Mission accomplished. And the week's best stat for yours truly? A combined 7-2 (.777) record from last week's Confident (4-1) and Not Betting The Farm (3-1) picks, both in the straight-up category and ATS.
And for the record: Last Wednesday I picked the Packers to win. Congrats if you played that pick. I don't get credit for it, though, because I changed the pick after the late-week injury report came out.
Confident (Season: 4-1, .800 percent)
Buffalo (0-1) at (-9.5) Pittsburgh (1-0) (early): Steelers. The Bills are boring, the Steelers are scintillating. Another big day for Big Ben, and another win for Mike Tomlin. ATS: That a lot of points, and risky this early in the season. But I'll give the points and take the Steelers. OUTCOME: Right on both. (1-0/1-0, 1-0 Confident)
(-3) New Orleans (0-1) at Tampa Bay (0-1) (early): Saints. No way the Saints play like that two weeks in a row. ATS: I like New Orleans' chances even as a road favorite. OUTCOME: Wrong on both. (1-1/1-1, 1-1 Confident)
(-6.5) Cincinnati (1-0) at Cleveland (0-1) (early): Bengals. One of the most pleasant surprises of Week 1 was the aggression and cohesion displayed by the Bengals defense. I'm skeptical of their ability to do this consistently against top offenses, but let's be realistic: Cleveland is in trouble. ATS: I just don't see how the Brownies can run with the Bengals, and if they couldn't stop the Steelers, watch out for this offense. Bengals to cover. OUTCOME: Wrong on both. (1-2/1-2, 1-2 Confident)
(-7) Indianapolis (1-0) at Tennessee (1-0) (early): Colts. These teams split their matchups last year and the Titans surprised division foe Jacksonville in Week 1. It's just not going to happen for them this week, though. ATS: One touchdown? Gimme that action. Colts to win and cover. OUTCOME: Right on winner, wrong on spread. (2-2/1-3, 2-2 Confident)
(-3) Dallas (1-0) at Miami (0-1) (afternoon): Cowboys. Miami will be able to keep the score down, but they won't be able to get into the win column against a pretty good Cowboys team. Last week we learned that you can throw at Terrance Newman's replacement, but I don't think the Dolphins have the ability to exploit that weakness. ATS: A three-point favorite? Cowboys, please. OUTCOME: Right on both. (3-2/2-3, 3-2 Confident)
Oakland (0-1) at (-10) Denver (1-0) (afternoon): Broncos. The Raiders' Daunte Culpepper Era begins this weekend in Denver, and that's something of a random variable, but if you watched the end of the Broncos-Bills game you saw something truly remarkable: Jay Cutler and Javon Walker simply refusing to lose. That's special. ATS: Boy, I don't like making a pick on this one. Too many variables, not enough in the way of trends. I'll take the Raiders. OUTCOME: Right on both (4-2/3-3, 4-2 Confident)
Kansas City (0-1) at (-12) Chicago (0-1) (afternoon): Bears. Chicago lost two defensive starters for the year and have yet to score an offensive touchdown. But I think they'll start to get better this weekend. ATS: There are several reasons to like Chicago here, but No. 1 is the disrespect the team got after its loss to the Chargers. This is an angry team. OUTCOME: Right on winner, wrong on spread. (5-2/3-4, 5-2 Confident)
Not Betting the Farm (Season: 3-1, .750 percent)
Atlanta (1-0) at (-11) Jacksonville (1-0) (early): Jaguars. You'd like to put some confidence behind this one, but with the Jaguars being the Jaguars, you simply can't. ATS: One line of thinking says that the Jags had a bad game and will take out their frustration on the Falcons. But what if the Jags just aren't that good? Eleven points is just an outrageous line, and I simply can't stomach the risk. Falcons. OUTCOME: Right on both. (6-2/4-4, 1-0 NBTF)
Green Bay (1-0) at (-1.5) NY Giants (0-1) (early): Packers. Normally you'd pick the Giants here. This isn't a normal week. The best way to make Giants fans appreciate Eli Manning is to make them watch their team under Jared "The Pilsbury Throw Boy" Lorenzen for a couple of weeks. ATS: I'm picking the upset, so Packers. OUTCOME: Right on both. (7-2/5-4, 2-0 NBTF)
Washington (1-0) at (-7) Philadelphia (0-1) (MNF): Eagles. Washington struggled to put away a bad Miami team at home, while the Eagles come home after a bad road loss. The Redskins don't play defense like the Packers, though, and getting your ass kicked has a way of sharpening the mind, so I like the Eagles. My reservations? Well, they're the Eagles, and they underachieve. ATS: I don't see them winning, but beating the spread? Yeah, I think so. I'll take Washington.OUTCOME: Wrong on winner, right on spread. (7-3/6-4, 2-1 NBTF)
Just Guessing (Season: 3-4, .428 percent)
Houston (1-0) at (-7) Carolina (1-0) (early): Panthers. It's an odd-numbered year, which means the Panthers should be good, but watch out for Houston. The Texans have a much-improved defense and a sense of offensive cohesion. ATS: I like Houston to keep it close (at least). OUTCOME: Wrong on winner, right on spread. (7-4/7-4, 0-1 Guessing)
San Francisco (1-0) at (-3) St. Louis (1-0) (early): 49ers. Could the Rams actually open up 0-2 at home? Hard to believe, but that's what I'm calling. No, the 49ers didn't look good on offense Monday night, but that defense is playing lights-out right now -- and it's going to be attacking Marc Bulger's blindside on every passing down. ATS: This home favorite surprises me. I think the 49ers win outright. OUTCOME: Right on both. (8-4/8-4, 1-1 Guessing)
NY Jets (0-1) at (-10) Baltimore (0-1) (afternoon): Ravens. Both of the quarterbacks in this game are either going to play hurt or sit down. I'm leaning toward the Ravens because of their defense, but I've downgraded my confidence in this one. ATS: With Pennnington out, it's awfully hard to imagine the Jets keeping this one close. I'll take the Ravens, grudgingly. OUTCOME: Right on winner, wrong on spread. (9-4/8-5, 2-1 Guessing)
Minnesota (1-0) at (-3) Detroit (1-0) (afternoon): Lions. This is a very interesting matchup. Minnesota's strength (run defense) doesn't help it much against a Lions team that runs only for the sake of novelty, while the Lions run defense looks to be in trouble against Vikings rookie Adrian Peterson and a stout offensive line. But if I've got this right, that just means the Lions get out in front early and prevent the Vikings from burning up the clock. Advantage, Lions. ATS: The Vikings, for no particular reason. Got that, readers? This one isn't expert analysis. I'm just guessing. OUTCOME: Right on both. (10-4/9-5, 3-1 Guessing)
(-3) Seattle (1-0) at Arizona (0-1) (afternoon): Seahawks. The Seahawks won in uninspiring fashion. The Cardinals lost that way. But the Arizona defense is playing with fire right now, and that could spell trouble for the Seahawks in the desert. ATS: We'll find out a lot about the Cardinals in this game. I'm taking them on a hunch. OUTCOME: Wrong on winner, right on spread. (10-5/10-5, 3-2 Guessing)
San Diego (1-0) at (-3.5) New England (1-0) (SNF): Chargers. I'm sure you're all taking the Patriots here. That's the smart money, sure. And maybe I'm just a contrarian. But here's what I see: The Patriots are going to struggle to run the ball against the Chargers, while the Chargers should be able to establish some offensive rhythm against a Patriots' defense that isn't at full strength. Tom Brady is a great quarterback and he's playing at home with more weapons than ever before, and a Patriots win wouldn't surprise me. But I think this one is closer than most people do. ATS: Chargers. OUTCOME: I went big and bold here and was utterly wrong on both. (10-6/10-6, 3-3 Guessing)
BEST BETS: Saints, Bengals, Packers. OUTCOME: 1-2.