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Week 1 NFL Picks

Peyton Manning kicked off the 2013 season with a beat down of the defending champs. Time to pick the other 15 teams that will join Denver in the winners circle.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

I know it’s been a while since my last post, but I have some really, really good excuses.

1. My toddler son turned into a Sharknado

2. My daughter started moving around on her own

3. My wife graduated medical school

4. We traveled

5. We moved

6. I feared starting to blog again in the middle of the Spurs epic playoff run would jinx them. (Guess I was wrong.)

7. On a related note, I haven’t recovered from the devastating NBA Finals… and probably never will. A piece of me died after Game 6. I’ll revisit this in greater detail when I can think about it without crying, cursing Ray Allen, suffering traumatic flashbacks, throwing things, crying, and crying again.

8. I’m lazy.

Without further ado, here are my abbreviated Week 1 picks.

Last Season:  160 – 95 – 1
Season:             1 – 0 – 0

As for Thursday’s contest, I picked the Broncos to win but thought the Ravens would cover the 7.5 line. Obviously, I was not informed the Ravens would call it a night after the first 30 minutes. Anyway, there was only one thing I took away from Thursday’s game; Peyton Manning’s arm is not better. Still a noodle. Still no zip. It seems ludicrous to say after a 450 yard, 7 TD performance, but I’m worried about Manning.

Early Games (1:00PM ET)

Patriots at Bills
Starting EJ Manuel was the smartest thing the Bills have done in years. Sure, he could flop under a rookie coach and lose confidence like Akili Smith or Ryan Leaf, but at least there’s some mystery there. That’s got to be more enticing than watching Ryan Fitzpatrick self-destruct on a weekly basis. PATRIOTS If I were Charles Barkley: Patriots -10.5

Bengals at Bears
I’m in on the Bengals. I tried to fight my feelings in fear that Hardknocks was the root cause of my affection (and it probably is), but I don’t care. Andy Dalton is in for a great year. BENGALS If I were Charles Barkley: Bengals +3

Dolphins at Browns
Don’t understand the hype about the Dolphins. I do like the Browns, however, especially their defense under Ray Horton. BROWNS If I were Charles Barkley: Browns -1

Falcons at Saints
I like Atlanta to win the NFC South. Regardless, this feels like one of those games where the Saints unleash 15 months of pent up anger. SAINTS If I were Charles Barkley: Saints -3

Buccaneers at Jets
Mark Sanchez reached two straight AFC title games. Josh Freeman was the future franchise quarterback of the Bucs. Fast forward two years and Freeman is on thin ice and Sanchez is the laughing stock of the league. BUCCANEERS If I were Charles Barkley: Buccaneers -4

Titans at Steelers
It took Mike Tomlin six years to finish worse than 9-7. No way he wins eight or fewer two years in a row. STEELERS If I were Charles Barkley: Steelers -7

Vikings at Lions
The Lions field an impressive group of talented players. The Lions also employ the dumbest coach in football. When Jim Schwartz is out, I’m back in. LIONS If I were Charles Barkley: Lions -4.5

Raiders at Colts
Kudos to the Raiders for going with the more exciting option at quarterback. Was it the smarter choice? … Does it even matter? COLTS If I were Charles Barkley: Colts -10.5

Seahawks at Panthers
Upset special! Last season the Panthers were a few unlucky breaks and an offensive coordinator with a brain away from 11-5 instead of 7-9. Take the training wheels off Cam Newton and set him free a la Russel Wilson, Colin Kaepernick and RG3 and the Panthers are playoff bound. PANTHERS If I were Charles Barkley: Panthers +3.5

Chiefs at Jaguars
I miss you already, Andy Reid. CHIEFS If I were Charles Barkley: Chiefs -4

Afternoon Games (4:25PM ET)

Cardinals at Rams
Sneaky great game. The Rams were a playoff caliber team over the second half of the 2012 season. The Cardinals were 4-0 before their quarterback situation deteriorated to “Help Wanted” status. Both teams will terrorize opponents this year. RAMS If I were Charles Barkley: Cardinals +4.5

Packers at 49ers
Count me among the few not ready to crown Colin Kaepernick the league’s next best quarterback. Heck, I don’t think he’s the best in his division. The wind-up in his throwing motion scares me and so do the guys who will be catching the football. Green Bay shouldn’t win this game. Then again, Aaron Rodgers would like to redeem himself for a below average postseason performance last year, in his hometown, no less. PACKERS If I were Charles Barkley: Packers +4.5

Sunday Night (8:20PM ET)

Giants at Cowboys
Dallas was a Dez Bryant knuckle from the playoffs a year ago. I think people forget that. And yes, I love making fun of Tony Romo as much as the next guy, but he’s a top quarterback who fields more blame than anyone else at the position. I hate to say it, but the Cowboys smell like division champs. COWBOYS If I were Charles Barkley: Cowboys -3.5

Monday Night (6:55 & 10:15PM ET)

Eagles at Redskins
Things I don’t trust about the Eagles: defense transitioning to 3-4, wide receivers, secondary, Chip Kelly, linebackers, Michael Vick, defense, defense, and, oh yeah, the defense. REDSKINS If I were Charles Barkley: Redskins -3.5

Texans at Chargers
Houston is the only AFC heavyweight that boasts a punishing ground game and imposing defense. They can handle Denver, Cincinnati and Baltimore. We’ll see about New England. TEXANS If I were Charles Barkley: Texans -4.5

*****

If I were Charles Barkley…
Last Season: 130 – 117 – 9
Season:             0 – 1 – 0

AFC Division Champions
Patriots
Texans
Broncos
Bengals

X – Steelers
X – Chiefs

NFC Division Champions
Cowboys
Falcons
Seahawks
Packers

X – 49ers
X – Panthers

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