I had planned on giving each pick a proper write-up, but unfortunately I have a killer headache (and a heavy heart following the Buckeyes heartbreaker vs. USC). Therefore, each pick's only going to get a little blurb. Following the picks is a tidy little summary of my divisional previews as well as my thoughts on the playoffs and award winners. As always, the home team is in CAPS, the odds are Dan Sheridan's, and these picks are 100% accurate.
Miami (+4) over ATLANTA
This game should be close and high scoring, as neither defense impresses me much.
BALTIMORE (-13) over Kansas City
I don't get why the Chiefs are risking further injury to Matt Cassel, their prize offseason investment, in a game they clearly can't win. (UPDATE: The Chiefs are wisely sitting Cassel for today's game.)
Philadelphia (-2.5) over CAROLINA
Carolina reeks of a team that is going to come crashing back down to earth behind the play of their crappy QB and injuries to their backfield (Jonathan Stewart's already there, and I just have a gut feeling DeAngelo Williams will be following him).
Denver (+5) over CINCINNATI
Vegas either thinks Cincinnati is in for a resurgent season (unlikely) or Denver is really, really going to stink (likely); either way, there's no way the Bengals are covering five points.
CLEVELAND (+3.5) over Minnesota
For all the talk of Brett Favre, the Williamses Wall, and Brady Quinn/Derek Anderson, this game is going to be decided by Cleveland's outstanding special teams vs. Minnesota's horrendous special teams.
NY Jets (+4) over HOUSTON
I think another offseason of hearing how they're the next great sleeper team will be in the Texans' heads as they struggle to beat an inferior Jets squad.
Jacksonville (+7) over INDIANAPOLIS
In the two games David Garrard has started in Indy*, the Jaguars are 1-1, with the one loss coming by only three points, so seven seems like a pretty high number to me.
*Doesn't it seem like David Garrard should have at least six starts in Indianapolis by now? He's like one of those college QBs who seems like he's been in school for ten years (John Navarre from Michigan was always my favorite example of this). While Garrard has been starting games for Jacksonville since 2004 (that's what will happen when you back up a statue), he has only been the Jags' full-time starter since 2007.
NEW ORLEANS (-13.5) over Detroit
Both of these teams' defenses stink, but one of these teams starts Drew Brees at quarterback while the other starts the next great QB bust, Matthew Stafford.
Dallas (-4.5) over TAMPA BAY
This line is begging you to take the Bucs, but I won't do it. A statue is starting at quarterback for Tampa Bay, and he's being protected from a defense that got to the quarterback 58 times last season by an offensive line that allowed 32 sacks last season.
San Francisco (+6) over ARIZONA
The previous three meetings between these two teams in Arizona have yielded two Cardinals wins and one 49ers win with an average margin of victory of 5 points.
NY GIANTS (-6.5) over Washington
The Redskins seem like a good upset bet, until you remember they still have Jason Campbell at quarterback behind the same terrible offensive line throwing to the same terrible wide receivers (Santana Moss excepted, of course).
SEATTLE (-7.5) over St. Louis
Seattle should regain some of their Qwest Field mojo in this one (2-6 at home last season after going a combined 40-13--including playoffs--in the first six years of the stadium's existence).
Chicago (+4) over GREEN BAY
Sunday night football shows Monday Night Football how to schedule a great opening weekend matchup. Green Bay should get the win, but Jay Cutler and a rejuvenated Bears defense will keep things close throughout.
NEW ENGLAND (-11) over Buffalo
Ugh. Nothing like a 25 point blowout to start things off on Monday Night Football. New England has beaten the Bills 11 straight times with the average margin of victory being 20.4 points. Don't look now, Bills fans, but the team that went to four straight Super Bowls in the nineties is dangerously close to going the entire decade without making the playoffs. LOCK OF THE WEEK.
San Diego (-9.5) over OAKLAND
Ugh. Nothing like a 25 point blowout to get the taste of the previous 25 point blowout out of our mouths. San Diego has beaten the Raiders 11 straight times by an average margin of 16 points. Don't look now, Raiders fans, but the team that has been terrible since 2002 is dangerously close to being terrible yet again.
z-New England 14-2
NY Jets 5-11
y-San Diego 13-3
Kansas City 2-14
Wild Card Round
Pittsburgh over Tennessee
Indianapolis over Jacksonville
New England over Indianapolis
Pittsburgh over San Diego
New England over Pittsburgh
z-NY Giants 12-4
y-Green Bay 11-5
y-New Orleans 9-7
Tampa Bay 6-10
San Francisco 4-12
St. Louis 2-14
Wild Card Round
Chicago over New Orleans
Philadelphia over Seattle
NY Giants over Chicago
Philadelphia over Green Bay
Philadelphia over NY Giants
New England over Philadelphia
MVP: Tom Brady, QB, New England
Offensive Player of the Year: Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans
Defensive Player of the Year: Mario Williams, DE, Houston
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Knowshon Moreno, RB, Denver
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Aaron Curry, LB, Seattle
Coach of the Year: Mike McCarthy, Green Bay
QB Tom Brady, New England
RB Adrian Peterson, Minnesota
RB Matt Forte, Chicago
FB LeRon McClain, Baltimore
WR Calvin Johnson, Detroit
WR Andre Johnson, Houston
TE Jason Witten, Dallas
T Joe Thomas, Cleveland
T Ryan Clady, Denver
G Chris Snee, NY Giants
G Steve Hutchinson, Minnesota
C Nick Mangold, NY Jets
K Stephen Gostkowski, New England
KR Josh Cribbs, Cleveland
DE Mario Williams, Houston
DE Justin Tuck, NY Giants
DT Shaun Rogers, Cleveland
DT Haloti Ngata, Baltimore
OLB Shawn Merriman, San Diego
OLB DeMarcus Ware, Dallas
ILB Patrick Willis, San Francisco
ILB Jon Beason, Carolina
CB Nnamdi Asomugha, Oakland
CB Darrelle Revis, NY Jets
S Ed Reed, Baltimore
S Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh
P Shane Lechler, Oakland
2009 NFL Preview Schedule
2009 NFL Preview Schedule