What would you rather do on a Saturday morning than wake up early and read weekly picks and power rankings involving 32 teams that basically are of equal strength and ability to beat, lose to or tie anyone on any given Sunday, Monday, Saturday, Thursday (and some day, when the revenue ceiling needs to be extended to a gazillion bazillion dollars, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday as well)?
CRAIG’S NFL POWER RANKINGS
BEST OF THE BUNCH
1. Patriots (1-0)
Last week: Seattle.
Why: When everyone else lets you down as a prognosticator, go with the Patriots. Especially when they’re mad at the outside world.
2, Packers (1-0); 3, Cowboys (1-0); 4, Broncos (2-0); 5, Rams (1-0); 6, Cardinals (1-0); 7, Bills (1-0); 8, Seahawks (0-1); 9, Bengals (1-0); 10, Ravens (0-1); 11, Steelers (0-1); 12, Panthers (1-0); 13, Chargers (1-0); 14, Colts (0-1); 15, Chiefs (1-1); 16, 49ers (1-0); 17, Dolphins (1-0); 18, Falcons (1-0); 19, Eagles (0-1); 20, Titans (1-0); 21, Jets (1-0); 22, Giants (0-1); 23, Bears (0-1); 24, Lions (0-1); 25, Saints (0-1); 26, Texans (0-1); 27, Raiders (0-1); 28, Redskins (0-1).
29 (Last week: 13): They’re better than 29. Unfortunately for them, they played worse than 29 on Monday night. So we’ll stick them pretty far down the toilet until they actually show us something on the field.
THE REST OF THE REST
30, Jaguars (0-1); 31, Browns (0-1).
WORST OF THE BUNCH
32: Buccaneers (0-1). Last week: Buccaneers: A total lack of faith in Jameis Winston’s readiness to start as a rookie and Tampa Bay’s defense proved to be well founded.
THREE REASONS FOR VIKINGS FANS TO BE HOPEFUL
1, They’re back at home against a Lions team that doesn’t have last year’s best defender (Ndamukong Suh) or this year’s best defender (DeAndre Levy). Suh left via free agency. Levy, who didn’t play last week, is listed as doubtful this week.
2, Mike Wallace proved he can still get behind the defense. A 46-yard pass into the end zone on Monday night could have been a touchdown and should have at least resulted in a pass interference penalty.
3, Linebacker Anthony Barr is healthy. The guy was all over the field on Monday. Unfortunately for the Vikings, he looked like a one-man defense too many times.
THREE REASONS FOR VIKINGS FANS TO BE NERVOUS
1, Teddy Bridgewater looked jittery, nervous, anxious and all the other things that most of us had been praising him for not being. Does his calm demeanor return? Does he press too much after a poor game? Who knows.
2, Blair Walsh. We’ll keep kicking the guy doing the kicking until he starts kicking them straight.
3, The offensive line. The biggest concern of the preseason is an even bigger concern now.
Lions plus-2 ½ at Vikings. The pick: Vikings 17, Lions 14.
Why?: I’m going with the home team in a typical bounce-back game for two teams that experienced two different types of heartbreak a week ago. The Lions blew a 21-3 lead. The Vikings were embarrassed from the get-go.
Last week: Vikings minus-2 ½ at 49ers. The pick: Vikings 23, 49ers 20. The score: 49ers 20, Vikings 3. Record: 0-1.
THE OTHER GAMES
Cardinals minus-1/2 at Bears: Bears by 3
Falcons plus-2 ½ at Giants: Giants by 3
Texans plus-3 ½ at Panthers: Panthers by 7
Patriots minus-1/2 at Bills: Patriots by 3
49ers by 6 ½ at Steelers: Steelers by 3
Rams minus-3 ½ at Redskins: Redskins by 7
Buccaneers plus-10 ½ at Saints: Saints by 14
Titans minus-1/2 at Browns: Browns by 6
Ravens minus-6 ½ at Raiders: Ravens by 3
Dolphins minus-6 ½ at Jaguars: Dolphins by 7
Cowboys plus-4 ½ at Eagles: Cowboys by 3
Seahawks plus-3 ½ at Packers: Packers by 7
Jets plus-6 ½ at Colts: Colts by 10
Chargers plus-3 ½ at Bengals. The pick: Chargers 27, Bengals 24.
Why?: Philip Rivers is playing with such an impressive tempo and confidence. He also has a well-balanced offense and a defense that’s good enough to beat Andy Dalton on the road.
Last week: Bengals minus-3 at Raiders: The Pick: Raiders 27, Bengals 24. The score: Bengals 33, Raiders 13. Record: 0-1
Last week/overall: 9-6/9-6. Versus spread last week/overall: 7-8/7-8.
Final 2014 regular-season Record: Overall: 146-90-1. Versus spread: 125-111-1.