Each Saturday morning during the NFL season, Mark Craig will wake up early, take a hearty cut at predicting the unpredictable league, wince at how it went the week before and ponder the definition of insanity.
I have two thoughts about the Week 1 picks. They depend on the legality of NFL suicide pools.
If pools are cool and don’t come with handcuffs and one phone call, I’m really, really big fans of the Chiefs in general and Seahawks QB Russell Wilson in particular. Thanks, Andy, for whatever you said to erase that 24-3 deficit to the Chargers. And, Russ, I know it took a game-winning drive to beat the Dolphins by two at home. But you won and some of us don’t need you again until ’17.
On the other hand, if pools aren’t cool and they come with search warrants and Miranda rights, then, uh, … I gotta go. You never saw me.
Week 1 was interesting. The record was good straight up (11-4), but not so good against the spread (6-9). I’m still trying to figure out why I had the Eagles beating the plus-3 ½ Browns by only 3. Talk about an unforced error by a Cleveland guy.
In case losing wasn’t enough to secure their basement home in power rankings coast to coast, the Browns made sure to go through another starting quarterback when RG III went down for the season.
At the other end of the power rankings, the most predictable of Week 1’s unpredictable results – to me at least – was the Patriots winning at Arizona without Tom Brady and Gronk. That was my upset special, which puts me over .500 in upset specials for at least the next 36 hours or so.
As for this week, the sense is we’re going to be hearing a whole lot of the “everyone doubted us” theme song coming from the Vikings locker room Sunday night. As long as Sam slings it to the right-colored jersey, the defense proved last year in Lambeau that it can carry the QB to a win.
The upset special is New Orleans at the Giants. Dem Saints can score, score, score.
And, finally, we’ll assume a whole lot of suicide picks will be riding on Mr. Newton’s wide smile (13 ½-point favorite vs. the 49ers). For the first time in three games, Cam doesn’t have to play Denver’s defense.
WEEK 2 PICKS
Packers minus-2 at Vikings: Vikings 23, Packers 21
Why?: I’m not usually a huge home-field-advantage guy. I guess I’ve heard enough late-game “Go Pack Go!” chants this side of the border to think Aaron Rodgers can function on the road. But I think Sunday night will be on a different level with the first regular season game at U.S. Bank Stadium. I think the defense leads the way, again, and the running game follows this time. As for Sam Bradford, look for him to start and make a few throws Hill can’t make. As long as those throws aren’t caught by the Packers, the Vikings can win this game.
LAST WEEK: Vikings minus-2 ½ at Titans. The Pick: Vikings 16, Titans 13. The Result: Vikings 25, Titans 16. Record: 1-0.
Saints plus-4 ½ at Giants: Saints 34, Giants 31
Why?: Da Saints can still score a ton of points. The Giants seem a little too giddy about sneaking out of Dallas with a one-point win over a rookie QB. It just feels like the Saints are ripe to lash out with a surprising win.
Last week: Patriots plus-6 at Cardinals. The Pick: Patriots 27, Cardinals 23. The Result: Patriots 23, Cardinals 21. Record: 1-0.
Titans plus-6 at Lions: Lions by 7
Chiefs plus-3 at Texans: Texans by 6
Dolphins plus-6 ½ at Patriots: Patriots by 3
Ravens minus-7 at Browns: Ravens by 10
Bengals plus-3 ½ at Steelers: Steelers by 7
Cowboys plus-3 at Redskins: Cowboys by 6
49ers plus-13 ½ at Panthers: Panthers by 7
Buccaneers plus-6 ½ at Cardinals: Cardinals by 7
Seahawks minus-6 ½ at Rams: Seahawks by 7
Colts plus-6 ½ at Broncos: Broncos by 7
Falcons plus-5 ½ at Raiders: Raiders by 6
Jaguars plus-3 at Chargers: Chargers by 7
Eagles plus-3 at Bears: Bears by 7
CRAIG’S LIST: Power Rankings
1, Patriots (1-0)
2, Packers (1-0)
3, Steelers (1-0)
4, Bengals (1-0)
5, Cardinals (0-1)
6, Seahawks (1-0)
7, Broncos (1-0)
8, Panthers (0-1)
9, Chiefs (1-0)
10, Vikings (1-0)
11, Ravens (1-0)
12, Raiders (1-0)
13, Lions (1-0)
14, Texans (1-0)
15, Giants (1-0)
16, Buccaneers (1-0)
17, 49ers (1-0)
18, Eagles (1-0)
19, Dolphins (0-1)
20, Colts (0-1)
21, Chargers (0-1)
22, Jaguars (0-1)
23, Jets (1-1)
24, Cowboys (0-1)
25, Bears (0-1)
26, Falcons (0-1)
27, Saints (0-1)
28, Redskins (0-1)
29, Bills (0-2)
30, Titans (0-1)
31, Rams (0-1)
32, Browns (0-1)