Welcome back to another season of Brian’s Den NFL Picks. You may be wondering where to big, sweeping NFL preview was. Well, as documented in my crisis of faith, I didn’t really feel like it. Plus, I’m kind of over season-long predictions. Who really cares? You want a prediction? At least one (non-Patriots) team that everyone think will be good will actually be bad. And, here’s a bonus prediction, by the way, at least one (non-Raiders) team that everyone thinks will be bad will actually be good. This is the world the NFL has created. This is the world in which I, the greatest football genius the world has ever known, thrive. Come along with me on this vision quest known as the NFL season and I promise you riches, both monetary and intellectual. This is the Official Brian’s Den Pick Zone. All lines from Bovada.
Apologies to everyone who spent four hours of their life watching Eagles-Falcons, especially me since it reminded me that Nick Foles stinks and he somehow beat the Pats in the Super Bowl.
Buffalo Bills at Baltimore Ravens (-7.5)
Good lord, the Bills are gonna be putrid. I’m talking BAD. A true correction to the mean after last year’s playoff appearance. Not only are they throwing PTSD victim Nathan Peterman back out there at QB, they drafted Josh Allen to take the reigns, aka The Biggest Sucker Pick of all time. They’ve got absolutely nothing going for them. It’s not even that the Ravens are that good (they’re not), but they’ll dominate by default. Well, they should dominate. If they run the ball every play, it might be 45-0. But once Cool Joe starts slinging it, you’re asking for trouble. I’m banking on the former happening.
Pick: Ravens -7
Houston Texans at New England Patriots (-6.5)
Texans are a hot pick this year. Deshaun Watson coming back from injury after lighting up the league last year. J.J. Watt is back from injury (again) and could start eating souls again. Tyrann Mathieu is in, ready to start causing havoc. Hopkins is a top-5 receiver in the league. All the pieces are there. Including the Loser DNA and complete aversion to beating the Patriots. This has been the stormiest offseason of the Brady-Belichick era. Everyone’s coming at the throne, trying to divide the empire. You think they’re not gonna come out with a vengeance? Against a young, mobile quarterback who’s in his first game back from his second ACL tear on a team who wouldn’t be able to believe they were winning a game in New England if they were up 100-0 with 30 seconds left in the game? Please. The beat goes on, haters.
Pick: Pats -6.5
San Francisco 49ers at Minnesota Vikings (-6.5)
Jimmy G, baby! Did you know he’s never lost a start? The Niners are the first name off everyone’s lips when you talk teams ready to make a big leap, and for good reason. Kyle Shanahan is a very good coach, Jimmy G is a very good (I’m all in. No, I’m not biased) QB. That alone wins you 8 games in the NFL. The rest of the roster is……….okay, I guess? Consider me halfway on the Niner Bandwagon. Also consider me fully onboard the Vikings bandwagon. This team is stacked. They’re still the Vikings, so a Super Bowl is obviously out of the question, but we’re a long way from that. They might win 14 games this year. They’ve got one of the best top-to-bottom rosters in the league. It’s also the first game of the Kirk Cousins era. A QB’s first game for a new team is almost always ugly. Vikings will still win, but won’t cover. I admit that this was a pretty bad writeup. I, unlike the NFL, didn’t have a preseason.
Pick: 49ers +6.5
Cincinnati Bengals at Indianapolis Colts (-3)
Andrew Luck is back. Andrew Luck hasn’t been really good since 2014. Why should I care that Andrew Luck is back? Colts stink. Bengals stink less. Bengals will win.
Pick: Bengals +3
Jacksonville Jaguars (-3) at New York Giants
Big time season for the boyz from Duval. Jalen Ramsey spent the entire offseason putting pretty much every player in the NFL on blast. He’s forced them to bring their A++++ game every week to avoid being embarrassed. On one hand, that’s good. Playing your best usually wins you games when you’re a good team. On the other hand, that’s a quick way to blow your load in October and be spent come playoff time. But, as we’ve established, we’re not looking that far ahead. To protect their own reputation, the Jags have to come out swinging week one. They also get a new jersey boost. Not a boost from playing in New Jersey, but they actually have new uniforms this year. #prayforeli. #prayforthegiantsskillpositionplayersallseason, really. I know that I’m a New York guy now, but I’m not caught up in the Stockholm Syndrome, yet. Eli’s toast. Sorry to break it to you.
Pick: Jags -3
Pittsburgh Steelers (-4.5) at Cleveland Browns
This is the year for the Steelers, I’m telling you. This is the year they put it all together and make the Super Bowl. I can feel it. Every one of their stars is in a great place and totally happy and totally loved by the locker room. They didn’t lose to the Patriots in the playoffs last year, so they’re riding high. It’s gonna be some great times in the Steel City this year. Especially when they kick off the season against everyone’s favorite team, the Browns. I don’t think the Steelers have lost to the Browns since Eisenhower was in office. And I know this puts me squarely in the Internet’s crosshairs because, for some reason, they’ve decided that you’re Hitler, Jr. if you say anything other than Tyrod Taylor is some combination of Jesus, Tom Brady, and Cam Newton, but I’m out on Tyrod. It’s one of the only caveman-takes I have, but I really believe you need an alpha at QB. It came out during training camp that everyone’s been pronouncing his name wrong. He started playing for Virginia Tech in 2007. He’s been in the public eye for over a decade and never told people how to say his name right??? And he’s supposed to lead the Browns to a win???? No chance. I’d start Baker this second.
Pick: Steelers -4.5
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints (-9.5)
Ryan Fitzpatrick isn’t coming into New Orleans and winning. End of story. I’d like to take this time to recognize my own toughness, however. Earlier in the week, I was brutally stabbed in the fingertip by a knife that was foolishly placed in the wrong drawer. There was blood everywhere. Thought I’d need stitches. Then, spurned on by the realization that I might not have any health insurance anymore, my body decided enough was enough. I’m now typing with a bandaged finger. This makes my life slightly more difficult. Thank you for your condolences.
Pick: Saints -9.5
Tennessee Titans (-1.5) at Miami Dolphins
I’m telling you, Ryan Tannehill’s ready to make the leap this year. It’s gotta happen at some point, right? Right?!?!?! Please, tell me Ryan Tannehill isn’t terrible! Please, just let me know that this wide receiver we took in the first round and turned into a quarterback isn’t one of the most underwhelming and mentally weak players in the entire league. Please, please, please just tell me Tannehill isn’t bad.
That was my impression of a Dolphin’s “fan.” I put fan in quotations because no one cares about the Dolphins. Nor should they. Because they’re very bad. Titans will throttle them. I like the Titans this year. I’m stubbornly holding on to my Marcus Mariota stock and Mike Vrabel will always have a special place in my heart. Plus, they get the new uniform boost, as well. This is a game that does NOT need to be watched by anyone.
Pick: Titans -1.5
Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers (-3)
In a throwback to the late-2000s, the Chargers are a hot Super Bowl Contender again! What could go wrong? This could be the best game of the weekend. Chargers D is no joke and is a very good test for Pat Mahomes in his first NFL start. Luckily for him, he’s in an ideal situation: a ton of weapons and one of the best QB developers ever. Will the Chiefs D have enough to stop what could be an explosive Chargers O? Can the Chargers make a kick? Can the Chargers win one of their first four games for the first time since 1993? The answer to all of those questions will be revealed on Sunday. That’s what the folks call #analysis.
Pick: Chiefs +3
Seattle Seahawks at Denver Broncos (-3)
A Super Bowl rematch! Wow! The teams are so similar to how they were all those years ago, too. I can’t get myself to care about the Seahawks now that Russell Wilson is the only good player left on the team, but the Broncos could be an interesting team this year. If Case Keenum is merely average he’ll be their best quarterback in years. Their defense is still great, and if they’re not forced to pitch a shutout to win games? Could be a Wild Card team. This game, however, is going to be awful. It might be 3-0. I’ll just go with the home team.
Pick: Broncos -3
Dallas Cowboys at Carolina Panthers (-3)
Panthers are good but not exciting. Cowboys are alright but not exciting. This game isn’t going to be very exciting, if you couldn’t tell. I know the numbers are alright, but I still think the Cowboys D is terrible. Just feels like they get pushed around all the time. Cam’s going to be the best player on the field and, if he feels like being accurate, should be able to get whatever he wants. Plus, they get a nice new owner boost.
Pick: Panthers -3
Washington Redskins at Arizona Cardinals (-1)
I completely forgot Sam Bradford was on the Cardinals now. If you had asked me where Bradford was now I’d probably just say he’s back in Oklahoma. And he’s starting for them! Maybe it’s just their terrible jerseys, but I’ve got nothing on the Cardinals. Their intrigue has totally run out. I no longer care about them, at all. They’re not going to be very good this year. I would like to petition the NFL to never put the Cardinals on my television. Redskins will win because they’re not bad and Alex Smith is good, whether you want to admit it or not.
Pick: Redskins +1
Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers (-7.5)
At first I thought 7.5 was way too high. Bears have a lot of exciting new pieces, Aaron Rodgers is coming off an injury, the Packers don’t really have a ton of good players. Then I remembered that Rodgers owns the Bears, especially in primetime. Khalil Mack is a beast and may get ten sacks in this game alone, but the universal order always wins out. Packers beat the Bears, and cover while they’re at it.
Pick: Packers -7.5
New York Jets at Detroit Lions (-7)
Dear God. Why have you forsaken us? Jets-Lions on Monday night? I just puked three times thinking about it. I would say Lions win by a lot, but the Jets, in what is surely the biggest upset since Leicester City won the Premier League, have been making some good moves, lately. They may even have a quarterback for the first time in……ever? If this roster played for the Bengals or something we’d be talking about them as an up-and-comer. But, they’re the Jets. So things probably won’t work out.
Pick: Lions -7
Los Angeles Rams (-4.5) at Oakland Raiders
Raiders are gonna be the worst team in the league this year. Book it. Awful on offense, awful on defense. Anyone would crush them on opening night, but when the big, bad Rams come to town looking to show the world that all that money they spent was worth it? They might score 70. I’m not even joking. Rams might score 70 points. By halftime.
Pick: Rams -4.5