The first week of NFL picks was a mild success and would have been even bigger if we had been bolder about Monday night. The winners were taking the 38-point under on the Bengals-Ravens and giving three points with both the Jets and Saints who covered against the Dolphins and Bucs respectively. We missed Houston-Pittsburgh by a mile taking the underdog Texans who were blown out. On Monday, we liked the Broncos, who were favorites over the Raiders, but we failed to make the pick so we missed out on that easy rout. Record: 3-1.
Green Bay at Detroit (+3). The Packers are still likely to make the playoffs and while Aaron Rodgers has a lot to prove, he seems to be better than adequate as Brett Favre’s replacement. The Lions, on the other hand, appear not to have improved at all on defense. They gave up an average of about 27 points a game last year and started off 2008 with a bang getting lit up by the Atlanta Falcons, of all teams, for 34 points. Pick: Packers, giving 3.
New England at N.Y. Jets (-1.5). Surprisingly, the line on this game has moved steadily toward New England. After the Jets opened as 3-point favorites, the betting public has hammered this line down to as little as one point (the Jets still favored) in some Las Vegas casinos. The story line is familiar to any fan – the Pats lost their Hall of Fame quarterback, Tom Brady, for the season about 7 ½ minutes into the 2008 campaign with a knee injury. All of sudden, the Patriots went from favorites to win another Super Bowl to just another decent playoff-caliber contender. With Brady in the lineup, the Pats would have been about 5 ½-point favorites against the Jets. Adding to the drama of this episode of Life without Tom is that New England will be back at the Meadowlands where the Spygate drama began its run last year. And, of course, there’s Brett Favre playing quarterback for the Jets, which I think is reason enough to make this decision. Pick: Jets, giving 1 ½.
Indianapolis at Minnesota (+ 1 ½). The Colts looked oddly out of synch in a loss to the Bears last Monday night. The reasons, of course, were many. Peyton Manning missed the entire preseason, more than half of the Colts’ offensive line were new starters and TE Dallas Clark was hurt in the first half. But, frankly, the Vikings looked horrible for much of their game against Green Bay and I can’t see the Colts going 0-2, meaning I can’t see Manning allowing that to happen. Pick: Colts, giving 1 ½.