After seven months of waiting, my NFL picks have finally returned.
Now, if you’re like me, you probably spent the past seven months watching Nicolas Cage movies while trying out recipes from Tom Brady ‘s $200 cookbook. If that’s not what you did, then you missed out big time because nothing beats watching “Face/Off” while eating Brady-approved avocado ice cream.
And, no, my summer wasn’t completely lame. I also tried out Blue Apron, a food delivery service, but that didn’t end so well. I had to quit after one day because they wouldn’t deliver Brady-approved recipes. If you’re not going to deliver Brady-approved recipes, then you shouldn’t even bother delivering food, and I bet Ben Affleck agrees with me, because that guy loves Brady.
If you somehow missed Affleck’s rant about Deflategate back in June, then you need to go back and watch it because that was easily the best interview I watched all summer that didn’t involve Nicolas Cage.
Affleck dropped 18 F-bombs and basically called Roger Goodell a liar, which wasn’t a complete surprise, because Affleck is a New England Patriots fan and Patriots fans feel the same way about Goodell as police in Brazil feel about Ryan Lochte.
The Goodell signs at Patriots’ training camp were brutal.
I mean, OUCH.
If you spent any time at all in college, then you know that there’s no worse insult than being accused of being a Smirnoff Ice drinker. So this guy is really taking it to Goodell.
Anyway, now seems like a good time to get to my picks. You guys read on, and I’m going to grab that six-pack of Smirnoff Ice that’s in my refrigerator because it’s not going to drink itself.
Actually, before we get to my picks, here’s a quick reminder that you can check out the weekly picks from every CBSSports.com NFL expert here. I don’t think any of them drink Smirnoff Ice, which means their picks are probably slightly more coherent than mine, so you should probably click over. I won’t be insulted.
Now let’s get to the picks.
Week 1 Picks
Carolina Panthers at Denver Broncos , 8:30 p.m. ET (Thursday, NBC): Before we get to my pick in the NFL opener, I feel obligated to mention the fact that I picked the Broncos to win when these two teams met in Super Bowl 50. I’m only pointing this out because I’m one-for-one picking Broncos-Panthers games, so we can probably all just assume I’m going to go two-for-two.
The Broncos are playing at home and still have the best defense in football, which sounds like two good reasons to pick them to win. On the other hand, they’re starting a quarterback who’s only played one career NFL snap in his life and that snap was a kneel down that went for a three-yard loss.
I know what you’re thinking, “Kneel-downs are supposed to go for losses, it’s not Trevor Siemian ‘s fault.”
My response to that is that Siemian should’ve audibled out of that kneel-down and thrown a 79-yard touchdown pass. That’s what Peyton Manning would’ve done in his prime.
As for the pick, I want to take the Panthers in a blowout here, but I’m not sure it’s possible to score enough points against Denver’s defense to blow the Broncos out. Also, the Broncos are 15-1 in home openers since 2000, so predicting a blowout probably isn’t the right way to go here.
The pick: Panthers 20-13 over Broncos
Cincinnati Bengals at New York Jets , 1 p.m. ET (CBS): In case you haven’t noticed, the NFL schedule maker tries to one-up himself every year by making the Bengals’ regular season opener more difficult than the year before. Last year, the Bengals were one of only two teams — along with the Detroit Lions — who had to play their season opener three time zones away. This year, the Bengals get to play the Jets in New York on the 15th anniversary of 9/11, which almost automatically gives the Jets the emotional edge. However, let’s not discount the Harambe factor, which I’m only bringing up because, apparently, everyone in Cincinnati wants the Bengals to change their name to honor the deceased gorilla.
Almost 24,000 people have signed a petition asking the team to change its name to the Harambes. I’ll be honest, that has a zero percent chance of happening, which ironically, is about the same chance that I’m giving the Jets in this game.
If you’ve been reading my picks over the past three years, then you’re already well aware that there’s a zero percent chance I’m going to pick against Andy Dalton in a 1 p.m. Sunday non-playoff game.
I mean, think about it: Are you going to take “Daytime Dalton” in this game or are you going to pick the team that’s starting a quarterback who missed three months of offseason workouts because the team thought he was so bad that they didn’t even want to give him a one-year, $12 million contract, which they only ended up giving him because they had zero other viable options? And, sorry, but Geno Smith , Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg do not count as viable options.
I’ll go with Dalton.
The pick: Bengals 23-20 over Jets
Cleveland Browns at Philadelphia Eagles , 1 p.m. ET (Fox): I only have one rule when it comes to picking NFL games, and it’s a pretty simple rule: Never pick a team to win if they’re being quarterbacked by a guy who once locked himself in a gas station bathroom.
Just got locked in a bathroom at a NJ gas station. Praise the Lord for the attendants w/ the garden shears & the other guy w/ the leg kick..
— Carson Wentz (@cj_wentz) June 15, 2016
Not even Johnny Manziel managed to do that during his NFL career and he seemed to spend a lot of time in bathrooms.
By the way, I would promise to keep the Manziel references to a minimum this year, but I get paid a 50 percent bonus every time I mention his name, and that adds up quickly. Also, in case you’re wondering, I do spend all my Manziel bonus money on discounted Manziel jerseys.
I will literally buy anything that costs $1.99. That’s why my pantry is full of taco shells that I’ll likely never use. As for Manziel’s jerseys, laugh at me now, but when he comes back to the NFL in four years, I’m going to mark these bad boys up 600 percent and make a ridiculous profit.
Anyway, I should probably get back on topic here. Although I hate the idea of picking the Browns to win, I have no clue how the Eagles are going to score points on Sunday. Not only is Wentz making his first career start, but he literally didn’t take any reps with the Eagles’ first team through all of training camp and each of Philly’s preseason games. What Doug Pederson is doing to Wentz is the equivalent of putting a 2-year-ols on a bike for the first time with no training wheels. If you’ve ever put a 2-year-old on a bike with no training wheels, then you already know how this is going to turn out.
The pick: Browns 27-23 over Eagles.
New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys , 4:25 p.m. ET (Fox): I don’t usually rank NFL offseasons, but if I had to do it this year, I’d say that the Cowboys had the worst one in history. Not only did they lose Tony Romo , but their defense also took a big hit. As a matter of fact, I’m not even sure they’re going to have enough players to field a defense this year after losing Randy Gregory , Demarcus Lawrence and Rolando McClain to suspension.
On the plus side for Dallas, the Giants haven’t really been fielding a defense lately, either. In 2015, New York ranked dead last in the NFL in total defense. Basically, I think what I’m trying to say is that there’s going to be zero defense in this game, which is kind of par for the course when these two teams meet for an opener.
The game on Sunday will mark the fourth time in five years that the Giants and Cowboys have opened the regular season against each other, with the Cowboys holding a 3-0 series lead. I want to pick Dallas here, but based on their offseason, the football Gods clearly hate them right now, which means there’s no way they’re going to let the Cowboys win.
And yes, I believe in NFL Gods, because how else do you explain this guy’s floating head?
That picture was taken in Texas. The Giants-Cowboys game is in Texas. #Illuminati #StayWoke
The pick: Giants 34-31 over Cowboys.
New England Patriots at Arizona Cardinals , 8:30 p.m. ET (NBC): Every time I underestimate the Patriots and pick them to lose in prime-time, Bill Belichick rubs it in my face. I don’t have the actual numbers in front of me, but I’m pretty sure that anytime I’ve ever picked the Patriots to lose a prime-time game over the past three years, they’ve ended up winning.
I kind of really want to pick the Patriots in this game, but I have no idea how they’re going to score with Jimmy Garoppolo starting his first NFL game ever, on the road, against a team that’s 19-5 at home over the past three years.
The game in Arizona will easily be the most difficult game the Patriots play while Tom Brady’s out. If New England wins on Sunday night with Garoppolo at quarterback, then I’m just going to pencil them in for the Super Bowl and we can just go ahead and give the Coach of the Year award to Belichick.
On the other hand, if they lose, it might be time to call Dom Grady.
The pick: Cardinals 27-17 over Patriots.
Week 1 picks: All the rest
Green Bay Packers 24-20 over Jacksonville Jaguars
Baltimore Ravens 27-24 over Buffalo Bills
Houston Texans 17-13 over Chicago Bears
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 28-24 over Atlanta Falcons
Tennessee Titans 24-21 over Minnesota Vikings
Oakland Raiders 30-20 over New Orleans Saints
Kansas City Chiefs 24-17 over San Diego Chargers
Seattle Seahawks 27-13 over Miami Dolphins
Lions 27-24 over Indianapolis Colts
Pittsburgh Steelers 34-27 over Washington Redskins
49ers 20-17 over Los Angeles Rams
Best pick: Since there weren’t any regular season games played last week, I guess I should probably just use this space to point out my best pick from 2015. Before last season started, I picked the Broncos to win the Super Bowl and then the Broncos went on to win the Super Bowl.
There’s a good chance I’ll probably bring this up at least three times per week for the next 17 weeks. Actually, no I won’t, because then I’ll feel like I’m rubbing Carolina’s loss into their fans’ faces, and then I’ll feel bad. Although, if the picture below is any indication, Panthers fans seem to be over the Super Bowl loss.
Worst pick: Although I’ll have plenty of “worst picks” for this section starting next week, I have nothing for this week, so I’m just going to tell you about my worst decision of the summer, and no, it has nothing to with the fact that I watched 174 straight hours of Nicolas Cage movies.
My worst decision of the summer was not buying season tickets in the Jaguars pool area.
Whatever those tickets cost, they’re worth it. Every NFL stadium should have a pool. Even Green Bay, and I don’t care if that means season-ticket holders have to ice skate on it for half the season.
By the way, since I mentioned Jaguars fans, I’m contractually bound to include the video below.
Good luck with your picks this year, and let’s all hope I don’t fall flat on my face.
Final 2015 regular season record
Straight up: 152-104
Against the spread: 126-230
Final 2014 regular season record
Straight up: 164-91-1
Against the spread: 125-131
Final 2013 regular season record
Straight up: 165-90-1
Against the spread: 124-132
Source: CBS Sports / NFL Week 1 picks: Panthers pound Broncos, Cardinals crush Patriots