Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Year 5 of my NFL picks.
This column has now outlasted any relationship I've ever been in and Johnny Manziel's NFL career, which are both kind of surprising, but for different reasons. This thing started way back in 2013 when CBS gave me a typewriter and told me to make some picks. Of course, I have no idea how a typewriter even works, so the first week was kind of a struggle.
Since then, though, things have gone much smoother.
Here's a quick synopsis of how the past four years have gone: I've picked the Jaguars to lose pretty much every game they've played, I've mentioned Justin Bieber's name way more than I should probably admit, I've upgraded my typewriter to a laptop and I've drank so much coffee that Starbucks would probably file a missing persons report if I didn't show up every Monday to grab my weekly Pumpkin Spice Latte.
Anyway, let's move on to something else because the last thing anyone wants to talk about ever is another person's Pumpkin Spice Latte. Since this is the first week of the season, we're going to do my favorite Week 1 exercise, which is handing out the award to the team that had the craziest offseason. There was only one nominee this year and that nominee was the Patriots.
Someone clearly hit the crazy switch on the Patriots' offseason after they won Super Bowl LI, because nothing was normal after that. If you need a brief reminder of everything that happened this offseason, here's a quick refresher:
- Tom Brady's Super Bowl jersey (and then recovered after an international manhunt)
- Bill Belichick quit coaching for three days and
- Brady skipped
- Robert Kraft might or might not have felt bad
- Brady might or might not
- Rob Gronkowski went
- Brady went to China and
- Brady wrote a book and
- Brady sumo-wrestled
- Kraft bought
- There were actual GOATS at Patriots training camp
- The team ran out of space for it fifth Super Bowl banner so it
- Brady jinxed himself by agreeing to be on the Madden cover
Not to mention, I didn't even get to bring up the fact that Jimmy Garoppolo's Instagram , and if Garoppolo's getting hacked, then no one's safe.
Jimmy Garoppolo's agent, Don Yee: "Jimmy's social media account was hacked."— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) March 10, 2017
If this had been Brady's Instagram, the hacker would have been arrested 41 minutes later and sentenced to 97 years in a federal prison. However, since it was Garoppolo's, everyone stopped caring about two hours after it happened and we all quickly moved on with life.
If this crazy offseason had happened to any other team, I would probably predict a 4-12 season for them, but it doesn't work that way with the Patriots. If any team can overcome a completely crazy offseason to win the Super Bowl, it's the Patriots, which is probably why three of our NFL writers are picking them to win it all this year.
So who am I picking?
That's a great question, and you can findand checking out our Super Bowl prediction page. That page consists of the divisional and Super Bowl picks from all seven of our NFL writers here at CBSSports.com.
If you click through, the one thing you'll notice is that we all hate the Raiders in the AFC West and none of us could really agree on a Super Bowl champion.
Now, before we get to my Week 1 picks, here's a quick reminder that you can check out the weekly picks from every CBSSports.com NFL expert by clicking here.
OK, I think I've made you guys wait long enough, let's get to the picks.
Week 1 Picks
Kansas City at New England, 8:30 p.m. ET (Thursday, NBC): The last time these two teams played during the opening week of the NFL season, in 2008, Tom Brady left the game with a knee injury. That injury turned out to be an ACL tear that ended his season, and I'm pretty sure that game still qualifies as one of the three darkest days in Massachusetts history.
Now, I'm only mentioning this because Brady is basically a walking jinx right now. If you can think of a famous sports jinx, there's a 99.9 percent chance it's cursing Brady right now.
Sports Illustrated jinx? Check.
"Madden" curse? Check.
Tom Brady reacts to being the Cover Athlete for Madden 18. pic.twitter.com/UefvNZ0jvX— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) May 12, 2017
Brady also breaks a mirror and walks under a ladder in that video, so by my count, we're up to at least four jinxes. I bet he also opened his eyes during the eclipse even though everyone said you're not supposed to.
By the way, I'm not sure if jinxes cancel each other out, but for Brady's sake, I hope that's the case.
Of course, a jinx might not matter for Thursday's game because Brady has been pretty much unbeatable at home during his Patriots career. Since 2007, Brady has gone 52-1 at home against AFC teams in the regular season. Not to mention, the Patriots, who will be hosting the NFL kickoff game for the fourth time Thursday, are 3-0 in Thursday openers.
It's probably also worth noting that Bill Belichick is 5-1 all time against Andy Reid (including the playoffs), with Belichick's only loss coming in that famous "We're on to Cincinnati" game in 2014. The Chiefs won that game 41-14 and I have a feeling Belichick is still bitter about it because he seems like a guy who would be bitter about a loss like that for several years.
Belichick will probably be less bitter about the 2014 loss if his team crushes the Chiefs on Thursday, and that's exactly what I think is going to happen.
The pick: Patriots 31-17 over Chiefs
Oakland at Tennessee, 1 p.m. ET (Tony Romo debuts on CBS): This is actually my favorite game of the week, and I'm not just saying that because it's on my favorite network, CBS (Note: My second favorite network is the Oprah Winfrey Network).
I'm not sure if this is my favorite game because I'm looking forward to the return of Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota (who both suffered ugly injuries last year) or because I'm half expecting Marshawn Lynch to celebrate his first touchdown with the Raiders by jumping into a bathtub full of Skittles. And don't tell me a Skittles bathtub can't be done because this girl did it.
The good news for Carr and Mariota is that they're about to go up against two equally atrocious secondaries in this game. If the Raiders or Titans are half as bad as they were last year at stopping the pass, this could turn into the highest-scoring game of Week 1.
The one weird question about this game that I didn't think we would be asking this week is: Who will be the Raiders' kicker on Sunday?
If there's one person in the NFL who I would never want to upset, that person is definitely Sebastian Janikowski. I'm pretty sure he has never lost a bar fight in his entire life, so making him upset seems like a horrible idea for anyone. Apparently, the Raiders didn't get that memo because they want him to take a pay cut, and I'm guessing that request probably upset Janikowski, because, well, who doesn't get mad when their boss asks them to take a pay cut?
Getting in a feud with your kicker with less than a week to go until your season opener is pretty much No. 1 on the list of things an NFL team should never do, but here we are.
No wonder Tom Hanks has already given up on the Raiders this year.
Anyway, thanks to this kicker drama, it's pretty clear how all of this is going to play out: The Raiders are going to lose by a field goal.
The pick: Titans 34-31 over Raiders
Seattle at Green Bay, 4:25 p.m. ET (Fox): Apparently, Pete Carroll's master plan this year is to turn the Seahawks defense into the 1985 Bears, and the scary thing is that I think it's working. Just when you thought the Seahawks defense couldn't get any better, they former Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson, which is good news for Sheldon Richardson because he'll now be playing for a team that actually knows how to use him.
The problem for the Seahawks and their super defense is that they'll be playing a quarterback this week who can get himself out of pretty much any jam, and I'm not just talking about on-the-field stuff, I'm also talking about major plumbing mishaps.
Clearly, Aaron Rodgers' plan is to throw the kitchen sink at the Seahawks defense this week, and I'm fully expecting it to work.
Carroll has done a lot of impressive things during his seven seasons as coach of the Seahawks, but one thing he hasn't done is win a game at Lambeau Field. In two games at Lambeau under Carroll, the Seahawks are 0-2 and have been outscored 65-27.
The pick: Packers 27-24 over Seahawks.
New York Giants at Dallas, 8:30 p.m. ET (NBC): After looking at all the negative things that have happened to the Cowboys this offseason, my only theory is that Jerry Jones must have somehow upset the Pope when he visited the Vatican in June.
I mean, look at the Pope, he totally didn't want that No. 1 jersey. I'm guessing he wanted No. 4 because the first three spots on the Vatican football team are reserved for the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Jones clearly blew it, and now 2017 has turned into an offseason from hell for the Cowboys.
Not only are defensive ends David Irving, Damontre Moore and Randy Gregory all suspended for Sunday's game, but the Cowboys might also be missing Ezekiel Elliott. Fortunately for the Cowboys, there is some good news here: They might not need Elliott because after watching the Giants' offense play this preseason, I'm not sure they're going to score any points all season, and I think Brandon Marshall is starting to realize that, too.
Brandon Marshall is asked if Eli Manning is best QB he's played with. "He has a long way to go to dethrone Ryan Fitzpatrick. We’ll see."— Tom Rock (@TomRock_Newsday) September 4, 2017
That being said, as bad as the Giants' offense has looked, the Cowboys defense might actually be worse, so I'm going to take the Cowboys in a shootout and hope that the Pope also picks them.
The pick: Cowboys 30-27 over Giants
L.A. Chargers at Denver, 10:20 p.m. ET (ESPN): If I learned one thing over Labor Day weekend, it's that no one likes the Chargers more this year than my CBSSports.com colleague, Will Brinson. I'm not sure how much Brinson drank over Labor Day weekend, but it was enough to make him pick the Chargers to go to the Super Bowl this year.
I also had a drink or two over Labor Day weekend, and now I'm starting to sound like Brinson, because I definitely talked myself into a Chargers win over the Broncos.
I hate picking against the Broncos at home, and I really hate picking against the Broncos at home in prime time, and I really, really hate picking against the Broncos at home in a prime-time season opener, but I'm going to do it, and I blame new Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy.
Before going to Denver this year, McCoy spent the the past four seasons with the Chargers, which means the Chargers defense knows his stuff inside and out. Also, if your quarterback situation is so desperate that you have to sign Brock Osweiler, I can't pick your team out of principle.
The Broncos signed Osweiler to a one-year, $775,000 deal this week, and the thing is, they kind of overpaid for him because, apparently, he was wiling to play for a dollar.
Osweiler: "I told my agency... if there's an offer from Denver, I don't care if it's a dollar, that's where I'm going."— Ryan Koenigsberg (@RyanKoenigsberg) September 4, 2017
If you're crunching numbers at home, Osweiler will make $775,000 from the Broncos this year and $15,225,000 from the Browns.
The pick: Chargers 19-16 over Broncos
If the Chargers do win by a field goal, let's hope it's because their new placekicker hits a winning trick-shot kick.
You probably shouldn't try that at home.
Your quarterback is way too injured for me to pick your team
Baltimore at Cincinnati, 1 p.m. ET (CBS): If this was a playoff game, obviously I would pick the Bengals to lose, but this isn't a playoff game, which means they might actually win. The big advantage for the Bengals here is that no one seems to know how healthy Joe Flacco is at this point after dealing with a sore back for the past six weeks. Flacco is definitely going to play, but we don't know if that means he's 100 percent or 85 percent or even 70 percent.
If he's 70 percent or lower, that would basically take him down to Blake Bortles-level quarterbacking, which would be good news for the Bengals.
On the other hand, even if he's only 70 percent, Flacco will arguably still be one of the healthiest players on the team. The Ravens have lost seven players for the season due to injury already, and we haven't even reached Week 1. That list includes starting left guard Alex Lewis (shoulder), running back Kenneth Dixon (knee), tight end Dennis Pitta (hip), cornerback Tavon Young (knee), tight end Crockett Gilmore (knee), offensive lineman Nico Siragusa (knee) and receiver-returner Tim White (thumb).
They also lost offensive lineman John Urschel, who retired so he could pursue a PhD in math from MIT. I'm guessing his plan is to use that degree to mathematically figure out once and for all whether Flacco is actually elite.
The pick: Bengals 24-21 over Ravens
Indianapolis at L.A. Rams, 4:05 p.m. ET (CBS): If we learned one thing about the Colts this offseason, it's that I'm pretty sure their front office is being run by an orangutan. I mean, how else do you explain the fact that the team let an orangutan the NFL Draft.
At first, I thought the whole thing was just for show, but now I'm fully convinced that the orangutan is the de facto GM in Indy because that's the only way to explain how the Colts could have possibly thought it was a good idea to go into the season with Scott Tolzien as their Week 1 starter. At this point, I think the orangutan is the only one who actually knows when Andrew Luck is because no one in Indy seems to know what's going on.
My prediction? Luck doesn't return until Week 5 at the earliest, and the Colts lose all their games until then, including this one. I feel like Aaron Donald might actually show up and play for free this week just because he knows there's at least a 50 percent chance he sacks Scott Tolzien 11 or more times.
The pick: Rams 16-13 over Colts
Carolina at San Francisco, 4:25 p.m. ET (Fox): With Luck hogging all the quarterback injury headlines this preseason, it was easy to forget that Cam Newton also spent most of the offseason recovering from an injury. Newton, who had surgery on a partially torn rotator cuff in March, threw exactly two passes this preseason. If I can count the number of passes you threw during the entire preseason on one hand, that's not a good thing.
So will Cam be ready to play Sunday? Let's ask Panthers coach Ron Rivera.
Rivera: "I think Cam is ready."— Max Henson (@PanthersMax) September 3, 2017
Whenever I tell someone I "think" something, that usually means the opposite of the answer I just gave you.
Friend: "John, are you coming to our party on Saturday?"
Me: "I think I'll be there."
Also me: (I won't be there).
Rivera only seems about 40 percent convinced that Newton will actually be effective Sunday. Of course, the 49ers were so bad last year that Newton at 40 percent probably could've beaten them, but I don't think that's the case this year thanks to new coach Kyle Shanahan and new quarterback Brian Hoyer.
The last time we saw Hoyer and Shanahan together was in 2014 when Shanahan was the offensive coordinator for the Browns and Hoyer was his quarterback. During their time together, the Browns won seven games. Winning seven games in a single season in Cleveland is right up there with Belichick and Brady winning five Super Bowls as the most impressive feat by a coach and quarterback combination of the past 20 years.
The pick: 49ers 22-19 over Panthers
Week 1 picks: All the rest
- Texans 24-13 over Jaguars
- Bills 20-14 over Jets
- Falcons 30-17 over Bears
- Steelers 21-17 over Browns
- Lions 24-20 over Cardinals
- Dolphins 20-17 over Bucs
- Eagles 33-30 over Redskins
- Vikings 25-22 over Saints
Best pick: This is the part where I usually tell you about my best pick, but since there weren't any regular-season games last week, that means there's no best pick for this section, so we're going to have to talk about something else, like how my summer went. You know what, I won't go into much detail, but I will say that it went better than Lucky Whitehead's because his kind of went off the rails.
First, he got framed for a crime he didn't commit, then his dog got kidnapped, then he got cut by the Cowboys and now this.
Although the Patriots won the team award for craziest offseason, Whitehead definitely wins the individual award.
Worst pick: I almost made it this entire time without bringing up the fact that the Falcons blew a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl, but I'm going to bring it up now because my therapist said it will be healthy for Falcons fans if I talk about it as often as possible. Sure, that sounds like horrible advice, but I'm not the therapist here.
Ever since they blew that Super Bowl lead, things seem to have gotten worse for the Falcons. Not only did they go winless in the preseason, but they pulled off the restaurant equivalent of blowing a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl by letting Chick-Fil-A open a location inside their new stadium that won't even be open on Sundays.
Overall record since 2013
One thing you'll notice below is that I've somehow managed to get progressively worse over the past four years. At the pace I'm currently on, there's a 50 percent chance I'm going to go 0-for-the-entire-season at some point in the very near future.
Final 2016 regular-season record
Straight up: 147-107-2
Against the spread: 116-129-11
Final 2015 regular-season record
Straight up: 152-104
Against the spread: 126-130
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