Ooooooohhhh football! Finally you’re back. Let this seventeen love affair begin…
Home teams in CAPS.
Pittsburgh (+1.5) over BALTIMORE because as we’ve all heard so many times already, and as we saw on Thursday, this year is going to be all about continuity. Both teams have it, but Pittsburgh has an elite QB and a defense that’s not over the hill.
Atlanta (-2) over CHICAGO because it’s pretty much universally agreed that Chicago was one of the luckiest teams in league history last year. This year, they should come back to earth with a much harder schedule and the new kickoff rule castrating their special teams. Plus Matt Ryan has another weapon in Julio Jones, and the whole team looks to poised to make another leap this year.
Detroit (+1.5) over TAMPA BAY because fuck it, let’s jump on the bandwagon. I’m not gonna get my panties in a wad and predict a deep playoff run like some people, but Detroit’s gonna be good this year. Ndamukong (no spell check!) Suh should make the same jump into superstardom that Clay Matthews made last year. And if the offense stays healthy, they don’t have a lot of holes. Tampa Bay won’t take a big step back this year, but it will be a step back. Two pretty even, good but not great, teams. Detroit in a close game.
CLEVELAND (-6.5) over Cincinnati because yeah let’s trust a rookie quarterback and a rookie wide receiver who’ve had seven weeks to learn the offense on the road. Cincinnati is going to be awful this year. Cleveland is going to be less awful. They also have Peyton Hillis, and Colt McCoy, who could very well mature into the definition of the term “serviceable”.
Tennessee (+2) over JACKSONVILLE because who the fuck cuts their starting quarterback the week of the opener?! For Luke McCown?! I understand the only responsibility for that position is to hand the ball to MJD, but really?! So much for continuity.
SAN DIEGO (-8.5) over Minnesota because this should be the year when San Diego doesn’t suck in September. Very little turnover, and it seems like Philip Rivers is ready to make the jump into that top group of quarterbacks that both put up stats and win games.
New England (-7) over MIAMI because Miami is already preparing for the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. They tried to fire their coach for Jim Harbaugh, thought about trading for Kyle “Seriously Stop Calling Me Randy” Orton, and had that whole “Let’s honor Tim Tebow’s National Championship Team” debacle. I expect Albert Haynesworth to rip someone’s leg off and start chewing on the bloody stump. It’s going to be ugly.