We thought we were getting a miracle cover yesterday when Hines Ward was headed towards the end zone in the fourth quarter.
Oh well. 0-1 to start the season. We can bounce back. Here are the Week 1 picks.
2008 record: 132-109-7
Broncos at Bengals
While watching Hard Knocks, I was constantly comparing how the Bengals are run to how the Eagles are run in my head. Can you picture Jeffrey Lurie running a meeting to decide who should be cut? Can you imagine Andy Reid flipping out on his team after a preseason loss the way Marvin Lewis did? I wonder what the highlights of an Eagles season of Hard Knocks would be. Probably pretty dull. Unless of course they filmed a night inside the black van with Todd Herremans and Juqua Parker. That I would absolutely tune in for.
The pick: Broncos (+4)
Vikings at Browns
I'm completely torn on how much of an impact Brett Favre will have for the Vikings. On one hand, he threw 22 interceptions last season, will turn 40 in October and didn't start practicing with the team until mid-August. On the other hand, this team won the NFC North last year, they'll play 11 games indoors (which should help with the age factor), and he can't really be worse than Tarvaris Jackson, can he? So I decided the fate of the Vikings will be decided during the early part of the schedule. If they get off to a good start, Favre's teammates will begin to buy in and believe they're destined for something special. If they struggle early, they'll resent the way he just walked in at the last minute and be in serious turmoil. The first five games include dates with the Browns, Lions, 49ers and Rams. So yes, I think the Favre-led Vikings will be in the mix for a playoff berth and the NFC North crown.
The pick: Vikings (-4)
Jets at Texans
Ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to re-introduce MC's Pick of the Week. For those of you who just recently found Moving the Chains, MC is a long-time friend with family roots in South Philly who spends as much time looking at lines as anyone I know (minus maybe Vegas Vic). Each week last year, I gave him a game I was having trouble deciding on, and he picked it for MTC. The results were shaky, so we're making things a little more fair this year. He's e-mailing me four or five games he likes each week, and I'll select one of those for him to pick. Here's his take on this one:
It’s hard to have much confidence in a rookie QB and rookie coach on the road in the first game of the season. Mark Sanchez will struggle to put up enough points to keep up with the weapons on Houston’s offense.
The pick: Texans (-4.5)
Jaguars at Colts
In terms of talent, the Jaguars should at least be in the mix for a playoff berth, but there are some things you just can't account for on paper. I visited the Jaguars section on the Florida Times-Union's to read up on what's going on with the team. The top story is about a letter that was published, criticizing the team for trying to market black players in a city that will not embrace them. Throw in the fact that the Jaguars are facing multiple blackouts due to their inability to sell out games, and you wonder if it could be a long season for Jacksonville and the end of Jack Del Rio's reign there. That being said, the Jags have played the Colts tough during the past couple seasons, and defense is usually ahead of offense early in the year.
The pick: Jaguars (+7)
Lions at Saints
As a football community, we've all officially become way too soft. Clicked on the headline Matthew Stafford shrugs off Saints' taunts on the Detroit Free Press' Web site, hoping to find something juicy. So what exactly were the taunts? New Orleans players said Stafford was "fresh meat" and that it was "very important that we break his spirit early." Really? That's it? C'mon, give me something I can use.
The pick: Lions (+13)
Cowboys at Bucs
Think of all the strange offseason storylines: Shawne Merriman, Michael Vick, Ben Roethlisberger, Plaxico Burress, Donte Stallworth and many more. And none of them really involved the Cowboys. It's like we're living in an alternate universe. For Dallas, it was about cutting ties (rather quietly, really, when you think about it) with Terrell Owens and the whole scoreboard saga. That's it. I don't know if that means the Cowboys are going to have a drama-free season where they sneak up on people, or if they're going to have a drama-free season where they stink.
The pick: Bucs (+6)
Dolphins at Falcons
I understand that the Falcons' defense probably isn't going to be very good, but I'm not buying that they were a fluke last year. Matt Ryan is completely legit and now has a new weapon in Tony Gonzalez. If the Falcons' line can protect, this offense is going to be tough to deal with. They might have to win shootouts, but Atlanta is poised to get back to the postseason for a second straight year.
The pick: Falcons (-4)
Chiefs at Ravens
Last year, coming up with material for Chiefs games was easy. Just find something Herm Edwards said during the week and let the hilarity ensue. But no more Herm this year. We got him during the Eagles' preseason games, but that was just a tease. My favorite Edwards memories from announcing on ETN: Yelling "Touchdown!" prematurely on multiple occasions; his never-ending optimism through comments like "They're OK here" when the Eagles faced something like a fourth-and-16 from their own 5-yard line; and his 37 reminders that this was the first time Michael Vick had played in an NFL game in over two years. Tremendous stuff all around.
The pick: Ravens (-13)
Eagles at Panthers
Our guest Dave Staley of sportsbook.com predicted accurately earlier this week that the line on this game could move as the week progressed. It's up to 2.5. It was 1.5 on Tuesday. And it was actually Panthers (-3) a few months back when the lines first came out. According to sportsbook.com, 75 percent of the action is on the Eagles to cover. That's actually down from 80 percent earlier this week. I have no idea what to make of this game. On one hand, I'm not overly impressed with the Panthers. If they're put in a position where they have to throw the ball, they're in trouble. And I don't think their defense is that great. But with the uncertainty along the Eagles' offensive line, I think the Panthers will be able to create some turnovers, run the ball effectively and hit one or two big plays down the field. That will be the difference.
The pick: Panthers (+2.5)
Redskins at Giants
Count me among the folks who don't think the Redskins are going to be that bad. If they get anything from their offensive line, I think the 'Skins can compete for a playoff spot. It's difficult to remember now, but Washington was 6-2 at the midway point last season. As for the Giants, I'm just not convinced they have the firepower they'll need offensively in certain situations. During a 2-minute drill or late in the fourth quarter when they need to move the ball through the air, who is Eli Manning going to look for? Shaky preseasons for both the Eagles and Giants. Interesting to see most people still consider them among the potential favorites in the NFC.
The pick: Redskins (+6.5)
Rams at Seahawks
Football Outsiders keeps a stat called Adjusted Games Lost to determine how badly teams are hurty by injuries. Per their 2009 Almanac, no team since 1996 (when they started keeping the data) suffered more devastating injuries on offense than last year's Seahawks. That's good enough for me to make Seattle my pick to take the NFC West. Especially if you believe the Cardinals are going to come back down to Earth, and the Rams and 49ers aren't going to make much noise. That being said, the spread is too high for a team that won just four games last season.
The pick: Rams (+8.5)
49ers at Cardinals
I really don't know if Mike Singletary knows what he's doing, but the new, old-school approach is good for the league, and entertaining for bloggers. I remember as a kid having a basketball coach make us run suicides at a summer camp. "If you're not going to learn how to play basketball, you're at least going to be in good shape," he would say. Singletary seems to take that message and raise it about 50 levels. Either the players will buy in, or they'll revolt. It'll be an interesting story line to follow. Either way, let's just go ahead and pencil in the Niners for the 2010 series of Hard Knocks.
The pick: Cardinals (-6.5)
Bears at Packers
As some of you know, I was in Chicago over Labor Day weekend on vacation. They love their Bears. And they love their Cubs. But with the baseball team out of the playoff hunt, all the attention is on Jay Cutler and company. And I'm buying the hype. I think Chicago makes some serious noise in the NFC North, either as the division champ or a wild-card team. As for the city itself, a little gem to pass along. If you're ever there and in need of a great public bathroom, step in to the Peninsula Hotel. I will never have enough money to spend a night there, but (apparently) I am good enough to use their restroom. Believe me when I say once you're in there, you don't want to leave.
The pick: Bears (+3.5)
We'll make our Monday night picks on Monday. All lines are from sportsbook.com.