GLS Picks: Week 1

We’re back, and we’re already 1-0 (at least straight up). This year, I’m ranking the picks and placing them into four categories to denote how confident I am in each one. In the interest of full disclosure, here’s my track record…

2011 season: 1-0 (0-1-0 against the spread)
2010 season: 155-101 (117-119-20 against the spread)
2009 season: 175-81 (122-101-33 against the spread)
2008 season: 161-94-1 (114-112-30 against the spread)
2007 season: 174-82 (118-105-33 against the spread)

And here’s my attempt to save my reputation…

HIGH CONFIDENCE

The Pats will continue to dominate the Dolphins. Miami is an underrated team with a solid defense, but the Phins were crushed twice by the Patriots last year and went 1-7 overall at home. Not much has changed this time around, except that the Patriots might be even better. Watch for rookie center Mike Pouncey to get crushed by Vince Wilfork and the (potentially) rejuvenated Albert Haynesworth, making things extremely difficult for Chad Henne and his not-so-scary weapons. Patriots 34, Dolphins 13

Why are the Giants favored against Washington? New York has had Washington’s number in recent years, but the Redskins are rolling on the ground and have an underrated defense heading into their home opener. The Giants, on the other hand, are an injury mess with Terrell Thomas, Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck, Jonathan Goff, Clint Sintim and Prince Amukamara all hurt. And don’t forget about the hit they took on the offensive line in the offseason. Watch out for the ‘Skins! Redskins 28, Giants 14

Philip Rivers has all of his weapons again. And that’s just dangerous against a shaky Minnesota secondary in San Diego, where the Bolts were still quite awesome in a down 2010 season. The Vikings, who struggled on the road last season, go to work without Sidney Rice, Kevin Williams and Ray Edwards. They’re looking old all over the place and they have big questions on the offensive line. San Diego might be known for slow starts, but this seems like a lock (and it’s not like the Vikes started quickly last year either). Chargers 33, Vikings 14

Joe Flacco can’t beat Ben Roethlisberger. And that won’t change Sunday. Flacco is 0-6 in his career against the Roethlisberger-led Steelers. Now, his new-look Ravens are forced to get used to each other in a short amount of time, while the Steelers are pretty much the same team that we saw in the Super Bowl last February. Don’t forget, too, that Pittsburgh won in Baltimore last year. Look for Pittsburgh to abuse Jimmy Smith and the Ravens’ secondary while taking advantage of an offensive line that is in flux. Steelers 20, Ravens 13

MEDIUM CONFIDENCE

The 2011 Bills are actually quite similar to the team we saw last year … the same team that finished strong and nearly beat the Chiefs in Kansas City. Matt Cassel isn’t completely healthy and the KC offense will be down two prime targets with Tony Moeaki and Jonathan Baldwin hurt. Jamaal Charles is a huge threat against a run defense that struggled last year, but watch for Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus to step up from the get-go. And don’t expect a lot of points from either side. Bills 13, Chiefs 10

The Cowboys are dealing with some big injuries. I’m expecting Santonio Holmes to have a field day against a bruised Dallas secondary. Considering how bad Dallas’ pass defense was last year, I’m thinking it’ll be a disaster with Terence Newman and Mike Jenkins dealing with injuries in Week 1. The ‘Boys young offensive line is also in shambles, so look for Rex Ryan to dial it up in an emotional game. Jets 30, Cowboys 17

Cam Newton can win his first start. But he won’t. The Cardinals are a bad team, and the Panthers should have a chance to take advantage of an inexperienced secondary. The running game is good in Carolina, as is the offensive line. Plus, who knows what kind of chemistry Kevin Kolb and Larry Fitzgerald will have in their first regular-season game together. But Carolina was 0-8 on the road last year and Newton simply isn’t ready to start. Cardinals 20, Panthers 10

Upset alert in St. Louis! Philadelphia is still making some rather large changes to a mess of an offensive line and is about to face a damn good Rams pass rush. Josh McDaniels will have Sam Bradford ready to beat a flawed Philly front seven with lots of safe passes underneath, keeping that talented secondary out of the game as much as possible. The Rams, who were solid at home last year, will take advantage of a “Dream Team” that might already be thinking about Week 2 in Atlanta. Rams 23, Eagles 17

I’d have Houston either way. With or without Peyton Manning, the Colts are/were going down this week in Houston. Hey, the Texans beat Indy last year with No. 18 in the lineup, and Houston has drastically improved its fatally flawed defensive backfield this season. It’ll take some time for the Texans’ defense to find its stride in the 3-4, but Kerry Collins is 0-8 in his career against Wade Phillips-led units. Texans 30, Colts 20

LOW CONFIDENCE

Not sure why the Jags are favored, either. Tennessee crushed Jacksonville 30-3 in Florida last year, and now the Jags are forced to adjust on the fly to life without David Garrard. Jacksonville’s bad pass rush will give Matt Hasselbeck a chance to work pressure-free in his Titans debut, and I feel much better about a fresh Chris Johnson than I do about an iffy Maurice Jones-Drew. Titans 20, Jaguars 14

Don’t you love unpredictably stereotypical divisional games between bad teams? That’s what we have in Cleveland, where the Browns are a six-point favorite over the league’s worst team, Cincinnati. I’d be all over the Browns if they weren’t adjusting to a new offense and a new defense in such a short period of time, but I can’t see either team pulling away Sunday. Ultimately, I’m not crazy enough to pick the Bengals, who won one road game last year, with their shaky rookie quarterback making his first career start away from home with little support. But it might be close. Browns 13, Bengals 10

One more time: Don’t you love unpredictably stereotypical divisional games between bad teams? Both the Seahawks and 49ers have terrible offenses. The only half-decent unit: San Fran’s run game. But I’m expecting a healthier Seattle front seven to keep Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter in check. Still, the Niners crushed the Seahawks at home last year and Seattle could be without Sidney Rice and Robert Gallery. This is a “home team by a field goal” game. 49ers 16, Seahawks 13

CLUELESS

The Bears are sort of a mess right now. And I’m excited to see Atlanta’s revamped pass rush against a crappy Chicago offensive line, especially in Atlanta. But the Bears were better on the road than they were at home last year and Julius Peppers has the ability to do some damage against Sam Baker. I have a weird feeling about this being a trap game, and I’m staying away. My Super Bowl champions win by three. Falcons 20, Bears 17

Without Matthew Stafford, Detroit beat the Bucs in their building last year. So why wouldn’t history repeat itself with Stafford in the lineup this Sunday? It might, but there are far too many wild cards in this game. For what it’s worth, the Lions had a super preseason and the Bucs had a bad one, but is momentum enough? We’re still talking about Josh Freeman and the upstart Buccaneers at home. Detroit is hotter and more talented right now, so I’ll go with them in a close one. Lions 27, Buccaneers 24

The Dumervil/Miller show might be the difference in Denver. The Broncos, who have always been much better at home, get to unleash their new Elvis Dumervil/Von Miller pass-rushing duo on Oakland’s horrible offensive line. Denver’s run defense, which was torched twice by Oakland in 2010, still sucks, and that’s why it’ll be a close game. Ultimately, though, Kyle Orton will find holes in an Asomugha-less defense and Jason Campbell will struggle to find time to work … and that’ll be enough. Broncos 30, Raiders 24