NFL Office Pool Picks Week 1
by Trevor Whenham - 9/1/2014
We are finally - FINALLY - at the start of the NFL season. That means different things to different people. One of the biggest things to me is that I have another chance to win the office pool. Another shot at bragging rights. Another chance to gloat mercilessly. Another chance to get lucky and pretend it is all skill. It's what the NFL is all about. To win the season-long office pool we need to get off to a strong start, so here's how the first week of action breaks down (all games are picked straight up, not against the spread):
Green Bay at Seattle: We start the season with the toughest game of the week. Ouch. I have tremendous respect for both teams - two of the three or four best teams in by far the best conference. It's a bit of a coin toss, so geography wins out. Take the Seahawks.
New Orleans at Atlanta: The Falcons are supposed to be in a much better place than they were last year, but I will only believe it when I see it. New Orleans is talented and ready, and they are going to be tough here. We don't know if the Falcons will be mentally ready, but I don't doubt New Orleans. Take the Saints.
Minnesota at St. Louis: The Rams lost their quarterback. The new QB for the Vikings isn't ready for prime time yet. I like the alternative for the Rams a lot more than the Vikings - and St. Louis is a much better overall team. Take the Rams.
Cleveland at Pittsburgh: The Browns are just a mess. Their best player is suspended. Their QB race was a farce. They are averaging a new coach a year. They just don't have anything going for them. After a couple of rough years Pittsburgh is slowly moving in the right direction, and they get a comfortable start here. Take the Steelers.
Jacksonville at Philadelphia: I like the Jaguars this year and expect a lot of forward progress from the organization. They are in very tough here, though. The Eagles are ready for this and have had a long time to prepare for the tricks they will unleash. The Eagles are going to be an outstanding team, and at home they are going to be too much here. Take the Eagles.
Oakland at New York Jets: How bad are the Raiders right now? I detest pretty much everything about New York as a team right now, but I have absolutely no choice but to back them - and I didn't even have to think about it much. Take the Jets.
Cincinnati at Baltimore: I am the furthest thing from being a Marvin Lewis fan - the guy is a massive waste of oxygen. Unfortunately, though, I have to take him and his team here in the opener. The Ravens should be better this year than they were last year, but the Bengals are still the more complete team right now and have to be trusted. Take the Bengals.
Buffalo at Chicago: One of the easiest picks of the week - take the Bears. Buffalo has had a truly awful camp in so many ways, and it is really uncertain whether they have a quarterback. They are going to struggle to score, and the Bears won't.
Washington at Houston: Do you take the team that has a quarterback that appears washed up in just his third season or the team that oddly chose to head into a season without a quarterback? This one will not be pretty. I think Jay Gruden was a lousy coaching choice, so take the Texans.
Tennessee at Kansas City: Kansas City isn't getting enough credit this year. Their season last year is largely being dismissed as a fluke. There is a lot of talent on both sides of the ball, though, and I would take Alex Smith over a large number of other starters in the league. Tennessee made good changes and will be improved, but they are outclassed in their opener. Take the Chiefs.
New England at Miami: I like the Dolphins, and that makes this a tough choice, but in the end I have to take the Patriots. They are the more experienced, deeper team, and they start seasons well. Take the Patriots - though it is far from the most comfortable pick of the week.
Carolina at Tampa Bay: After last year I was so excited about the Panthers. So much went well last year, and I thought it was just the first step. But then they had a bizarre offseason, capped by the decision to get rid of everyone who has ever caught a pass for them. That combined with sore ribs for Newton means I am going to take a shot here and go with the big win to kick off the Lovie Smith era in Tampa. Take the Bucs.
San Francisco at Dallas: There are a lot of reasons to be uneasy about San Francisco right now because of injuries and suspensions and the like. Luckily for them they are playing the Cowboys. Dallas has massive issues on defense, and San Francisco is more than capable of exposing them. Take the Niners.
Indianapolis at Denver: The Broncos are a wildly-public team, so they are strongly favored here - by a touchdown or more depending on the source. That's just too many points to give the Colts, but I still can't pick them straight up. Denver has some questions in my eyes, but they are still the pick. Take the Broncos.
New York Giants at Detroit: I have not liked anything I have seen from Eli Manning in over a year, and I don't like the team that the Giants have right now. Detroit, meanwhile, is a team I am very optimistic about. They have made strong coaching changes, and they have the talent to be much better than they have looked the last couple of years. Take the Lions.
San Diego at Arizona: We end the week with a brutal game to call. I like both teams a lot. They are both very well-coached, and in the second year of both regimes we should see even more of the positive changes. Both have good quarterbacks that suit the situation, and both look ready to go. I flipped a coin and it came up heads, so take the Chargers.
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