Week 1 / Preseason Week 5: I Am The Captain!

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RIP, Burt Reynolds.

  • Paul Crewe, Deliverance, Gator, The Bandit
  • Farrah Fawcett, Goldie Hawn, Sally Field, Loni Anderson (trust us this was an amazing run. Ah, the 70s)
  • Ghosted Mallory Archer
  • Playgirl.

A life well lived.

 

 


Housekeeping

We’re trying something new this year. We’re going to post all the picks at once so you have a nice long Thursday afternoon read. Let’s see If we can make it more than two weeks without being late (+500). You are warned that the posts may be long. So print this out, take it to wherever you go to do your best “thinking”, lock the stall/bathroom door and enjoy! If this works then next year we’re going to sell a printer that prints our posts directly onto a roll of toilet paper so you don’t feel guilty about printing. Vertical integration baby.

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We’re also ranking our picks on a scale of 1 to 3 fireball shots. We’ve been told that Fireball shots give total d-bags irrational confidence. I mean we heard it. Yeah, we heard it. Our friend does that. Anyway, 3 fireball shots is strong. 1 is not.

Week 1, aka Preseason Week 5, is the second-hardest week (Week 17). You don’t know when some teams are going to start trying. We’re looking at you, Seattle. So when the lines posted we put our heads down to start writing… and got penalized 15 yards under the helmet rule. 1st and long.

It’s finally here. The NFL is back after a very, very long offseason. We can now go back to ignoring all other sports, work responsibilities and family obligations for the next 20+ weeks. Hooray!


Thursday Night

PHILADELPHIA -2.5 vs Atlanta
3 Fireball Shots!

If you thought the off-season was long, image what Steve Sarkisian’s offseason felt like. If you don’t remember, the last time these two teams played it was the 2nd round of the playoffs. Down 15-10 with 1:19 left in the game, the Falcons had 1st & goal from 9 and two timeouts. Four terrible play calls later, the Falcons turn the ball over on downs and the Eagles go on to win the Super Bowl.

After 7 long months, the Falcons & Sarkisian get their shot at revenge and they’ll jump on it. 

The ATL defense is healthy and stronger than last season and the potent Falcons offense added another playmaker in Calvin Ridley. Expect big things from the Falcons O in 2018, culminating in an opportunity to cross the Patriots off their “people to kill” list.

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The Eagles enjoyed a storybook season in which everything went their way. Turnovers, 60 yd. game-winning field goals, injury replacements – those things will swing back around and the Super Bowl hangover will catch up with Philly. It’ll be a tough year for Eagles fans as the team struggles to repeat in the NFC “Meh"ast.

PICK: Atlanta +2.5


Sunday

MINNESOTA -6.5 vs. San Francisco

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The legend of Jimmy Garappolo continues to grow. We all know that Jimmy G and the 49ers finished the season on a roll, winning their last 5 games. In fact, Jimmy G has never lost an NFL game in which he has started. He’s 7-0. And to top it off, he highlighted his off-season by going on a date with pornstar Kiara Mia.

Hidden in that end of season win streak is the fact that Garappolo threw 5 INTs. Also, Kiara Mia is 41 years old. There is no shortage of hot, young porn stars in LA. I’m starting to question his decision making both on and off the field.

The Vikings D should be able to capitalize on these miscues and should dominate the game. New Vikings QB Kirk Cousins gets a major upgrade in the WR department with the move to Minnesota and Dalvin Cook returns for the Vikings.

Speaking of Cousins, his move to Minnesota highlighted a major carousel of off-season moves at the QB position.

  • Kansas City: Pat Mahomes replaces Alex Smith
  • Washington: Alex Smith replaces Kirk Cousins
  • Minnesota: Kirk Cousins replaces Case Keenum
  • Denver: Case Keenum replaces Trevor Siemain/Brock Osweiler/Paxton Lynch

Somehow, one personnel move by Andy Reid improved the QB position for 4 teams with the same players in different situations. Also, we all benefit from not having to watch Denver’s 3-headed monster of QB suckage.

PICK: MINNESOTA -6.5
3 Fireball Shots!


NEW ENGLAND -6.5 vs. Houston

New England has owned the AFC East for the duration of the Brady/Belichick era. Eventually that will end and we think that time is coming quickly for the Pats. Brady is 41, Rex Burkhead is RB1, Julian Edelman tested positive for Nugenix (just assuming) and Gronk is Gronk. This offense is not nearly as powerful as they once were and are starting to show some cracks. (Side note: When writing that I picture Gronk high fiving one of his bros when he hears “show some crack”).

Houston benefits from getting back DeShaun Watson and JJ Watt. If they can get more than 26 games from this duo expect big things from the Texans.

Last time these two teams met, Brady and Watson combined for 679 yds. passing and the teams scored 69 points (Gronk high five). Since this is pre-season game 5, we expect another high scoring game as the defenses try to get in shape. Take the points, bet the over and enjoy the game.

PICK: Houston +6.5
3 Fireball Shots!


Jacksonville -3.5 @ NY GIANTS

A lot has changed for the Giants since last year. They drafted Saquon Barkley, adding their first true RB1 since Rodney Hampton (all Giants fans have erased Tiki Barber from memory). They get back a healthy and well-paid (read: over-paid) Odell Beckham Jr. They upgrade the offensive line by signing Nate Solder away from the Pats and drafting Will Hernandez. But the number one move the Giants made on offense was firing Ben McAdoo and hiring offensive guru Pat Shurmur. The credit goes more to the removal of McAdoo than the addition of Shurmur. McAdoo single-handedly ruined the Giants locker room last year. And that was before he made the decision to bench Eli Manning for Geno Smith, ending the longest active start streak in the league and one of the longest in history. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fan of Eli, never have been. But the way he was treated by McAdoo and that the NYG organization allowed it to happen was a travesty. Time for a new era. New coach, new GM – two thumbs up.

The Giants will be much improved and have a legit shot at winning the NFC East. It’s a stretch goal for sure but the Eagles are due for a regression, the Redskins can’t get out of their own way, and Dallas will finish 8-8 or worse because that’s what they do. The opportunity for a worst to first rebound is there for the taking.

The Jaguars still have one of the best defenses in the league but they cannot get Jalen Ramsey to shut his mouth. He’s a great player but his unbelievably large ego is going to cause major issue on the field and in the locker room (this will forever be referred to as the OBJ syndrome). The defense will be great but they can’t play both sides of the ball. And unfortunately for Jacksonville, the offense is still led by Blake Bortles and his bad decision making. Yes, I am a Giants fan. But no sharp bettor would ever trust Bortles as a 3.5 favorite on the road.

PICK: NY GIANTS +3.5
3 Fireball Shots!


Pittsburgh -5.5 @ CLEVELAND

UPSET ALERT! Last year, Cleveland opened the season home vs. Pittsburgh with a tough 3-point loss. They closed the year, and an 0-16 season, with a tough 4-point loss at Pittsburgh. Even though Hue Jackson is still the coach, this is a different Cleveland team. They had an overall good performance on “Hard Knocks”. The addition of TUH-rod Taylor and Jarvis Landry actual add a stable veteran presence to a young, talented offense. The defense is full of high round draft talent ready to take the next step. Things are looking up in “The Land” and the Browns are ready to take the spotlight that LeBron gave up this summer.

On the other side of the ball, Pittsburgh is still without Le’veon Bell. Sure, he’ll sign his franchise tag before Sunday and will suit up. No way he passes up that game check. He’s held the offense hostage this pre-season and will mess up any cohesion the first team was able to develop. They still have Big Ben, Brown and JuJu but the offense will be rusty. The defense is another year older and not much was done to address that. This team hasn’t fallen off the cliff yet, but they are dangling on the edge.

We expect Cleveland to come out strong and feel confident in the Browns first half money line. This new Browns team has enough moxie to hang onto that lead and will start the season off with a major division upset unlocking free Bud Light in the Cleveland area.

PICK: CLEVELAND +5.5
3 Fireball Shots!

 
Bud Light will place the fridges of Bud Light that will automatically unlock as soon as the Browns win their first game and distribute free beer around Cleveland to fans that we’re sure will already be delirious with happiness.

Bud Light will place the fridges of Bud Light that will automatically unlock as soon as the Browns win their first game and distribute free beer around Cleveland to fans that we’re sure will already be delirious with happiness.


Tennessee -1.5 @ MIAMI

Ryan Tannehill is healthy and back at the helm for the Dolphins. And that is the most positive news coming out of Miami…not good Dolphins fans.

Tennessee if going to face a tough battle in the AFC South so they need to take care of business versus lesser opponents. And the Dolphins fit that bill. New head coach Mike Vrabel will look to break the string of mediocrity that Jeff Fisher brought from Houston to Tennessee.

Yes, there have been 3 other coaches since Fisher left the Titans, but it’s always fun to bring up his ability to finish any season within a game of .500.

PICK: Tennessee +1.5
3 Fireball Shots!


LA CHARGERS -3.5 vs Kansas City

We used to have Chargers season tickets. Seemed like a great deal. Good team, small capacity stadium, 75 and sunny every day. Then we learned what it’s like to root for the Chargers. Game day tickets are always available for 50% of face value. Which is an awesome feeling knowing that the guy sitting next to you paid half as much, and you paid full price for this …. plus every game for the rest of the season.

This will be a good game between two good teams. It’s also easy to pick. Andy Reid with a full offseason to prepare, Chargers can’t wait to troll remaining fans by failing to live up to expectations for yet another year, Chiefs getting 3.5.

PICK: Chiefs +3.5
3 Fireball Shots!


CAROLINA -2.5 vs Dallas

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Cam Newton has been reading for a month how Christian McCaffrey will be the centerpiece of the offense. 25-30 touches a game, operating out in space, triple threat in the running, receiving, returning game.

Question: You’ve watched Cam Newton play football? There’s no way that McCaffrey gets to the end zone before and more often than Newton. When and if McCaffrey gets in the end zone, Cam will take the ball from him and give it to a kid in the front row. Then Cam will spend the rest of the game throwing him crossing patterns that are just out of his reach so he has to lay out and test the new helmet rule.

Not much to say about Dallas. Without a healthy offensive line this team isn’t very good.

PICK: Carolina -2.5
3 Fireball Shots!

 


INDIANAPOLIS -2.5 vs. Cincinnati

Indianapolis, a team many pundits have ranked as one of the worst teams in the league, is favored. Yes, it’s a home game so you have to give the obligatory 3 pts for home field advantage. But that means Vegas thinks Cincy is only a ½ point better than Indy on a neutral field. We don’t see that.

Andrew Luck is back but he hasn’t played a regular season game in a good bit. Unless his injury resulted in a “Rookie of the Year” type recovery (obscure 90’s movie reference of the week), how can you trust his arm strength or accuracy? The defense was one of the worst in the league last year so there is room for improvement. But not enough progress has been made to get this team back to the playoffs.

Cincinnati is still a middle of the pack team, but they have more talent than the Colts. This is a great spot to take the short road underdog. You’ll have a great laugh when you look back on this one and ask yourself “How the hell were the Colts favored?”.

PICK: Cincinnati +2.5
2 Fireball Shots


DENVER -2.5 vs Seattle

Hopefully someone on Pete Carroll’s staff reads our stuff and realizes they have a game on Sunday. Another reason to post picks on Thursdays, at least through September. Seattle plays in September like they don’t want to be there. Extra bonus this year: The Legion of Whom defense. Not only will they play until November like the game isn’t important, but it will take that long for fans, announcers, etc. to figure out who is actually on the field.

Will Case Keenum prove that last year wasn’t a fluke? New digs and low expectations. We say not a fluke. We also hope Von Miller has a great year. His Twitter is funny, but only when he’s tearing up the league.

PICK: Denver -2.5
2 Fireball Shots


ARIZONA -0.5 vs Washington

Are we sure that Alex Smith is an upgrade over Kirk Cousins? Skins fans are not allowed to answer. We’re not saying don’t take a shot with him, but remember that until last year Alex Smith wasn’t on many short lists of “QBs that we want”. If it doesn’t work, maybe sign all of the Orioles in October. Maybe they’re better at football than baseball.

  • Washington Post headline: “The Cardinals have a new coach, scheme, and QB. That means extra prep work for Redskins”.
  • How we read it: “The Cardinals may be really bad until they figure their shit out”.
  • What Post meant to say: “We hate Donald Trump”.

PICK: Arizona -0.5
2 Fireball Shots

Bonus Player prop: First to suffer season-ending injury: Sam Bradford or Jordan Reed (pk). It’s a trap. Reed gets hurt when someone says the word “football”, but he’s always lingering on the verge of coming back.
PICK: Bradford

ALL THE FIREBALL SHOTS.


NEW ORLEANS -9.5 vs. Tampa Bay

New Orleans is a good football team. Tampa Bay is a bad football team. Drew Brees is a Hall of Fame QB and still playing at a very high level. Jameis Winston is suspended to start the season for groping an Uber driver. Two teams headed in very different directions. But this is the first game of the season and a division rivalry – who knows what will happen. There is nothing that can justify a week 1 spread this high. 

PICK: Tampa Bay +9.5
1 Fireball Shot


BALTIMORE -7.5 vs. Buffalo

This also is a game being played on Sunday. No need to watch this one unless you have any Ravens or Bills on your fantasy team. On a related note, if you have any individual Ravens or Bills on your fantasy team you should consider a different hobby.

PICK: Buffalo +7.5
1 Fireball Shot


GREEN BAY -7.5 vs Chicago

Don’t bet against Aaron Rodgers in primetime. That used to be a thing. Chicago is a trendy pick right now but will settle into the realization that Year 2 of the Mitchell Trubisky Experience is not the end of the line. It’s going to take some time for him to mature. In the meantime they’ll be inconsistent and frustrating. We think RPO is secret code for "not sure if he can play QB the right way".

But Week 1 vs a hopeful but unproven Packers team that’s their biggest rival? We like the points.

PICK: Chicago +7.5
1 Fireball Shot


Monday Night 1

DETROIT -6.5 vs NY Jets

Somehow we woke up in a world where it’s a positive to be starting a kid who played 24 college games and is the second-youngest player to start at QB since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, and the youngest opening-day starter. But when you look at the Jets’ QB history, you’re kind of like “why not? You could throw a 6th grader out there and they’d be somewhere in the middle on the franchise all-time QB list.”

There have been a handful of 21 year olds who’ve been starting QBs, but it’s not a long list. Darnold likely will have a long career and we wish him success. Just not this week. He has to cure his ability to turn the ball over first.

(I can’t believe we’re picking Detroit. That’s how Jet-sy the Jets are.)

PICK: Detroit -6.5
1 Fireball Shot


Monday Night 2, aka "F you, East Coast"

LA Rams -4.5 at OAKLAND

The new stadium being built in LA is beautiful. I’m looking forward to arriving in the middle of the second quarter and leaving right after halftime. They should sell half-game seats in LA. (Note to self: trademark half-game seat idea.) We know it will make the traffic twice as bad, but it’s already so bad that nobody would notice. It’s like if you were standing on the surface of the sun and someone told you to watch out, it’s about to get twice as hot. You’d be like “Meh. Do your worst.” So yeah. Half game seats.

Notwithstanding this outstanding idea, they are playing this football game in Oakland. No need for the half-gamers there. Soon there will be no-game tickets. But you can imagine that for the dollars that Vegas is puking up for the Raiders …. the Vegas stadium is going to be kick-ass. We went to a hockey game last year and the crowd and the whole place was electric. We can’t wait for the Las Vegas Raiders. At least until a majority of fans pick up their 3rd strike and go back inside for good.

PICK: Rams -4.5
1 Fireball Shot

(Did you really want/need to read one more word about Gruden coming back? You’re welcome.)


If you read this far, thanks! We got you a present. It's a self-help thing:
1-800-GAMBLER.