“The only monster here is the gambling monster that has enslaved your mother! I call him Gamblor, and it's time to snatch your mother from his neon claws!” --Homer Simpson
After a long and exciting off-season, filled with various other sports, the gambler’s true passion is back: NFL Football. This year, I’m so excited for the season that I’m in four fantasy leagues, two survivor pools, and two other NFL picks pools. Far too much to keep track of, but when it comes to online football games, I act like Lindsay Lohan when it comes to promiscuous sex and cocaine: I can't say no to any invitation. This should be an interesting season, as this year, more than any in recent memory, there is no standout Super Bowl favorite.
The ESPN experts like San Diego and Dallas the most, followed by New England. Each team certainly has its problems (Chargers: Norv Turner is still the coach; Cowboys - they are pure evil and haven’t won a playoff game in some time; Patriots - health and age concerns plus an awful preseason). The first few weeks of the season can be a great time to win some money, as Vegas, just like everyone else, is not quite sure who is good and who is bad. If you are a confident with a pick, go lock your bet in; but if you are just guessing, always remember, no matter what time of year it is, Vegas knows more than you. Last season, Gamblor started just around the midway point and went a paltry 67-69-3, but at least the Lock of the Week was 7-2. On to the picks, home team in CAPS:
Redskins (+4) over GIANTS
The Redskins have a new coach, new coordinators, and have changed offensive systems yet again (Jason Campbell is on something like his sixth new system in seven years). The ‘Skins last two preseason games haven't gone well either, with it looking like they couldn't outscore a team of small children. The Giants, on the other-hand, are the defending Super Bowl champions. But, does anyone really think the Giants are the best team in football? They got hot at the right time last year, but now they are missing players on defense. They went just 3-5 at home last year, and Tom Coughlin is 1-3 in opening games with the Giants. I predict a turnaround from the Redskins' poor end to preseason, and an opening day victory for the underdog.
Bengals (-1.5) over RAVENS
When Kyle Boller gets injured and it has an effect on who you play as your starting quarterback, that is when you know your team has problems. More important question: will Chad Ocho Cinco have his new name on the back of his jersey?
Jets (-3) over DOLPHINS
CBS has made this their number one game. I get it, there is the Favre storyline, plus Chad Pennington playing against his old team, and I guess that’s exciting, but still, these teams went a combined 5-27 last year! Luckily, I will not get this game, so I’ll only have to guess how much Brett Favre loves to play football (I hear it’s a lot).
PATRIOTS (-16) over Chiefs
The Pats might be the best team in the NFL coming into the season. The Chiefs could be the worst. This game will probably be over in the first quarter, but Herm Edwards will still find a way to mismanage the clock.
Texans (+6.5) over STEELERS
The solid year the Texans had last year was buried by how good the rest of the AFC South was. Simply put, this is a team that could surprise some people. The Steelers lost Alan Faneca, and their running game will drop off as a result, in a similar way to Seattle's run game last year.
Lions (-3) over FALCONS
The only way the Falcons win this game is if Tatum Bell stole the playbook before he left Detroit and sold it to the Atlanta coaches.
BILLS (-1) over Seahawks
Some things change, but one thing does not: the Seahawks are always awful on the road.
SAINTS (-3) over Buccaneers
Last year the Bucs were 9-7, two years ago they were 4-12, three years ago they were 11-5, and four years ago they were 5-11. They have an old QB, even older wide receivers, and their defense is not what it once was. All signs point to them having a bad season. Then again, I thought the same thing last year, and they somehow made the playoffs. The Saints added Jonathan Vilma, but still basically have no defense; the offense will see the return of Deuce McAllister and the addition of Jeremy Shockey, which should make them even more potent. I like the Saints here…a lot, LOCK OF THE WEEK.
Rams (+7.5) over EAGLES
Despite the Eagles good record over Andy Reid’s tenure, he is only 3-6 in season openers. The Eagles could blow out a sub par Rams team, but if they don’t start hot, the home crowd is going to turn on them before halftime.
BROWNS (+5.5) over Cowboys
The Cowboys are almost everyone’s pick to win the NFC this season - I’m hoping that this year’s Cowboys fall to the same fate as last year’s preseason NFC pick, the Saints. This line started at 3 points and has been moving since it opened. I’ll put my faith in most betters being dumb.
CHARGERS (-9) over Panthers
The Panthers are missing Steve 'I'll Beat You Up' Smith, that’s gotta be worth about a 14 point swing.
Cardinals (-3) over 49ERS
All aboard the JT O’Sullivan Express! Next stop: a three-win season.
COLTS(-10) over Bears
How many more Saturday night drinks will Kyle Orton have than Peyton Manning?
Vikings (+3) over PACKERS
Tough D for Aaron Rodgers to start against as he attempts to step out from Brett Favre’s shadow. On the other side, any defense is a tough defense for Tavaris Jackson to start against, but luckily for the Vikings, they should only need him to throw about 10 passes a game this season.
Broncos (-3) over RAIDERS
Admittedly, the Raiders made some improvements this off season, and may not be a complete laughing stock this year, but that certainly doesn’t mean they will be good. They did not improve their offensive line and will still be relying on JaMarcus Russell to lead the team, who will need at least a few games at the helm before he can start to turn things around.