Let’s enjoy this one, kiddies. With another labor squabble on the horizon, this may be the last "NFL opening weekend" we see anytime soon.
Fear not, though: for the next 17 weeks, I will guide you to a truly winning season, one that ends with a celebratory, fists-full-of-cash dance in front of your crestfallen bookie. You actually have my assurances of a massive profit if you follow the leader.
Assuming, of course, you know the 50 percent of picks I’m right on, and the 50 percent I’m just kidding about. Pay close attention.
Minnesota @ New Orleans (-5). Yeah, you have your point spreads, over/unders, parlays, teasers, etc. I’d like to bet on the announcers, though. "Which phrase will be said more during the telecast? ‘Favre is playing like a kid out there’ or ‘Five years since Hurricane Katrina’?" Can we tease the Katrina pick with the over of "shots of the Ninth Ward scored by a softly played piano?" PICK: New Orleans
Carolina @ NY Giants (-7). As a Falcons fan, I must pull against division rival Carolina. As a cognizant human, I must pull against Eli Manning. Decisions. PICK: Carolina
Miami (-3) @ Buffalo. These games always bug me. No, not the total, absolute boredom of Miami playing Buffalo. It’s the endless "can a team from a warm city win in a cold environment" debate. I’ve already heard that in reference to this game, and let me point out two things. 1) Buffalo’s high on Sunday is expected to be 69 degrees. I’m thinking the Dolphins can handle the frigidity. 2) The argument assumes everybody plays for their hometown. Chad Henne is from Pennsylvania, as is first round pick Jared Odrick. Jake Long is from Michigan. They can handle it. PICK: Miami
Atlanta (-2 1/2) @ Pittsburgh. Let something be known right now. I am Falcons Superfan #1, and there is absolutely no way I’d pick against them in this game. I’ll be at Heinz Field on Sunday (my first NFL road game) and I’m not going to jinx it with bad ju-ju a few days prior. And look for me on TV – I’ll be the guy, the one guy, in a Falcons D.J. Shockley jersey. PICK: Atlanta
Detroit @ Chicago (-6 1/2). Former SEC quarterbacks face off in what actually might be a damn good game – and when was the last time we expected that from Detroit? Just don't play a drinking game that involves interceptions, for your own good. PICK: Detroit
Cincinnati @ New England (-4 1/2). Ah, dammit. When crafting my award-winning fantasy football team each year, I have one rule: don’t pick anybody you want to root against. That means no Saints, not ever, no way. And it typically means I stay away from dreaded New England – but I froze. I needed a quarterback, and the top shelf was already off the board. Do I take Brady over the screams of my Boston prejudice, or risk going through the season with Jay Cutler or – ick – Tony Romo? Pardon me while I hold my nose all the way to another title. PICK: Cincinnati (smells like a 3-pointer)
Cleveland @ Tampa Bay (-3). Oh, Cleveland – the hits just keep on comin’. God’s latest bitch slap is RB Montario Hardesty taking his talents to Injured Reserve. Of course, let’s not pretend a Super Bowl run was just thwarted. I mean, not only is Jake Delhomme Cleveland’s starting QB, but looking at the current depth chart, Jake Delhomme should be Cleveland’s starting QB. Ouch. PICK: Tampa Bay
Denver @ Jacksonville (-2 1/2). Well, it was long assumed The Tebow Era would begin in Jacksonville, but most figured it’d be in a Jags uniform. Instead, the most hyped second stringer since George Lazenby will be wearing the orange and blue (hey, just noticed that!) of the Broncos. And hopefully getting the Jesus-loving snot beaten out of him. PICK: Jacksonville
Indianapolis (-2 1/2) @ Houston. Wait, did I just say Tebow’s snot loves Jesus? Is that a sin? I mean, a clearly designated sin I have to worry about? I’m arguing that one if it comes up at Judgment. PICK: Indianapolis
Oakland @ Tennessee (-6). Hey, did I mention I’m going to the Falcons-Steelers game? And sitting in free club seats? Did I? Huh? (Sorry, I can’t find a single damn interesting thing to say about this game.) PICK: Oakland
Green Bay (-3) @ Philadelphia. On paper, probably the best game of Week One – but before throwing Philly any parades, let’s see if Kevin Kolb can step out of his former first stringer’s large shadow and become the next, well, Aaron Rodgers. PICK: Green Bay
San Francisco (-3) @ Seattle. Pete Carroll returns to the NFL, just skirting the USC penalties with amazing and oh-so-coincidental timing. I consider his just punishment having to, you know, coach the Seahawks. Fun fact: Matt Hasselbeck turned 67 this year (yeah, suck on that age joke, guy who is five months older than me!). PICK: San Francisco
Arizona (-4) @ St. Louis. "I’m betting on Derek Anderson in a road game." Seriously, doesn’t that sound like a really stupid thing to say? Sure, he’s up against a bad team – but a bad team with (my little ol’ opinion) the best pure runner in football, and a rookie QB who’s looked damn ready in the preseason. I’m not expecting big things from the Rams this year. I’m just expecting really, really small ones from the Cardinals. PICK: St. Louis
Dallas (-3 1/2) @ Washington. One thing ya need to learn, fast for realz: I'm am not a believer in the Cult of Romo. I think the Cowboys are only slightly better off at QB than in the Quincy Carter days. He's not, not, not a Super Bowl winner. File this for a "told you so" one day, but it. Will. Never. Happen. PICK: Washington
Baltimore @ NY Jets (-2 1/2). The Monday night double-header kicks off with the only one you want to watch. Watch with clipped breath as the defense outscores the offense, and then get to bed ... PICK: Baltimore
San Diego (-4 1/2) @ Kansas City. ... because this one is going to be a snooze-fest. Unless, of course, the Chiefs are smart enough to unveil their new eight-headed monster: DEX-TAH MCCLUS-TAH. Sadly, reports suggest McCluster may not be the focal point of every single Kansas City play on both sides of the ball, and that’s just damned disappointing. PICK: Kansas City