It’s time again to provide NFL picks, or in other words, offer weekly proof that sportswriters are often wrong about how these games are going to turn out.
I’ve been doing this for almost two decades and one year typically doesn’t resemble the next. The start of the season is typically chalk — the favorites tend to be the safer picks until we’ve seen a few games to have some sort of clue about what’s going on. And because of this, my numbers usually start slow.
In the past four seasons, I’ve averaged a .668 winning percentage straight up and a .535 winning percentage against the spread. Last season’s numbers were both below those averages, .662 straight up and .518 against the spread.
In the past four postseasons, I’ve averaged .773 straight up, .670 against the spread.
The preseason prediction for Super Bowl 50 is the Green Bay Packers over the Indianapolis Colts (yeah, homer pick, but why not give your loyal readers some optimism). Colts fans, I’ve got your team finishing the regular season at 12-4. (A Colts game-by-game prediction is forthcoming.)
So let’s get to it.
(Odds provided by Bovada.)
Steelers +7.5 at Patriots: While it’s tempting to pick the visitors to at least cover, Pittsburgh’s defense is in a rebuild and as we’ve all been reminded lately, New England is a difficult place to play, especially in the season opener. Pick: Patriots 34, Steelers 23.
Packers -7 at Bears: Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers might get some pressure from those Bears pass rushers, but he’ll be able to make enough plays to get this done. And it’s asking too much to trust the Bears. Pick: Packers 30, Bears 17.
Seahawks -4.5 at Rams: This one is a toss-up. While Seattle came within a few yards of winning a second consecutive Super Bowl, keep in mind the Seahawks have lost two of the last three times in St. Louis. The Rams will make this tough. Pick: Seahawks 27, Rams 20.
Colts -3 at Bills: Coach Rex Ryan will bring the heat on Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, but as we’ve come to expect, the Pro Bowl passer is plenty tough and won’t rattle. This offense is going to score. Question is, can the Colts’ defense get stops? Pick: Colts 34, Bills 24.
Dolphins -4 at Redskins: Every year we read about how Miami is poised to be a playoff contender and take that next step. Then they don’t. If true this year, it has to start with a “W” against Washington, which looks like a mess. Pick: Dolphins 26, Redskins 20.
Chiefs pick ‘em at Texans: A lot of prognosticators will be inclined to take the home team, even without injured running back Arian Foster, but the hunch is to go with the visitors. It won’t be easy, but Kansas City looks like the stronger team. Pick: Chiefs 27, Texans 24.
Panthers -3 at Jaguars: As the Jacksonville reclamation project arrives at another year, it’s not like this opener isn’t winnable. When in doubt, go with the more established quarterback, which in this case is Carolina’s Cam Newton. Pick: Panthers 20, Jaguars 16.
Browns +3 at Jets: This one could go either way because neither team will probably do much this season. Neither team has a franchise quarterback. New Jets head coach Todd Bowles knows defense, so give him the win in his debut. Pick: Jets 24, Browns 13.
Lions +3 at Chargers: Detroit could go to San Diego and win this one. It certainly looks like a shootout on paper. If there’s anything to be gleaned from the Chargers last year, the Bolts started strong and then faded in the second half. Pick: Chargers 31, Lions 27.
Saints +2.5 at Cardinals: This line kind of surprised me, considering Arizona’s defense is especially tough at home and quarterback Carson Palmer is back. Maybe it’s a tight line because Saints quarterback Drew Brees is still a gamer. Pick: Cardinals 20, Saints 16.
Ravens +5 at Broncos: It’s the only game where the final pick got changed in regards to the spread. Quarterback Peyton Manning wants to give new head coach Gary Kubiak a positive start in the Mile High City, but Baltimore will keep it close. Pick: Broncos 33, Ravens 30.
Bengals -3.5 at Raiders: All due respect to new Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio, but he's got a lot of work to do to fix his squad. Some of the pieces are in place, but not nearly enough. Cincinnati should take care of business on the road. Pick: Bengals 27, Raiders 17.
Titans +3 at Buccaneers: The obvious buzz is about the No. 1 overall pick, Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston, facing the No. 2 overall pick, Tennessee quarterback Marcus Mariota. Bottom line, Winston has more weapons. Pick: Buccaneers 20, Titans 13.
Giants +6 at Cowboys: This game is typically entertaining because both teams score a lot of points. But the Cowboys are more explosive and Giants quarterback Eli Manning probably won’t have his favorite target, wide receiver Victor Cruz. Pick: Cowboys 37, Giants 27.
Eagles -3 at Falcons: Some are predicting Atlanta to bounce back and be a playoff team. But Philadelphia is a tough out with head coach Chip Kelly dialing up those plays before a defense can figure out what the heck is going on. Pick: Eagles 34, Falcons 27.
Vikings -3 at 49ers: When road teams are favored by slight margins, look out. But Minnesota has running back Adrian Peterson returning on a mission and the 49ers have lost key players as well as coach Jim Harbaugh. Too much has changed in San Fran. Pick: Vikings 26, 49ers 17.
Previous NFL seasons picks results
2014 — Regular season: 169-86-1 (.662) straight, 131-122-3 (.518) spread. Playoffs: 9-2 (.818) straight up, 7-4 spread ‘em (.636).
2013 —Regular season: 168-87-1 (.658) straight, 139-110-7 (.557) spread. Playoffs: 10-1 (.909) straight up, 9-2 spread ‘em (.818).
2012 — Regular season: 174-81-1 (.682) straight, 138-113-5 (.549) spread. Playoffs: 7-4 (.636) straight up, 5-5-1 spread ‘em (.500).
2011 — Regular season: 172-84 (.672) straight, 128-120-8 (.516) spread. Playoffs: 8-3 (.727) straight up, 8-3 (.727) spread ‘em.
Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.