NFL Week 1 picks 2012

Welcome to Year Three of NFL picks.

Picking games against the spread is harder than it looks. Growing up in Buffalo led me to believe that the favorite teams always beat up on the underdogs, home or away. Games were won by a touchdown or three, not a fourth-quarter field goal.

Turns out that a seven-point spread is a lot. Any team getting double-digits is a team you should seriously consider picking. And those garbage time points are the ones that will often make or break your picks. Playing at home really does make a difference, but when in doubt, take the points.

I’m learning here. Even though I interned with the Buffalo News this summer, I still doubt they have any idea I make picks and keep standings along with them. It happens.

Last year’s results (we all have the same amount of ties for games that are a push):

Northrop: 125-112-9
Skurski: 122-115-9
Always Game Seven 118-119-9
McKissic: 116-121-9
Sullivan: 114-123-9
DiCesare: 113-124-9
Gaughan: 113-124-9

The Bills start this year at the Jets, who are yet to reveal exactly what Tim Tebow’s wildcat is going to look like. The Bills’ new defensive line gets the first crack at the shirtless rain runner, and I’m taking the Bills.

Bills +2.5 at New Jersey Jets — Bills

Indianapolis +9.5 at Chicago — Colts

Philadelphia at Cleveland +8.5 — Eagles

Washington +7 at New Orleans — Redskins

New England +5.5 at Tennessee — Patriots*

Jacksonville +4 at Minnesota — Vikings

Miami +12 at Houston — Dolphins

St. Louis +7 at Detroit — Lions

Atlanta at Kansas City +3 — Chiefs

San Francisco +5 at Green Bay — 49ers

Carolina at Tampa Bay +2.5 — Panthers

Seattle at Arizona +2.5 — Seahawks

Pittsburgh +1.5 at Denver — Broncos

Cincinnati +6 at Baltimore — Bengals

San Diego +1 at Oakland — Raiders

*Best bet

Largest line of the season: Miami +12 at Houston (Week 1)

Other note: Tim Graham replaces Rodney McKissic in the News’ picks this year.


NFL Week 17 picks

Ryan Fitzpatrick has struggled since signing his extension. A poor finale may have even more fans calling for a quarterback in the first round of the draft.

The last week of the NFL season means it’s the last week for football picks. Milt Northrop leads the Buffalo News picks at 118-105-7. I’m tied in second with Jay Skurski at 114-109-7, with the rest of the News cast on the outside looking in.

But let’s be honest, they don’t know that I’m playing along. So it’s really between Milt and Jay, but I like winning at things so we’re keeping this up.

The tiebreaker is best bets, but I sort of forgot to keep doing those midway through the year. My bad … I’ll concede a tie. Here’s what the standings look like:

Northrop: 118-105-7
Skurski: 114-109-7
Always Game Seven 114-109-7
Gaughan: 107-116-7
McKissic: 107-116-7
DiCesare: 106-117-7
Sullivan: 104-119-7

The Bills play in Foxboro this weekend, where they haven’t won since 2000. Week 17 games are tricky to pick and hard for fans to deal with because we aren’t entirely sure what we want.

We always want the Bills to win. That’s a given. But at the same time, we’d hate for something stupid to happen, like winning a meaningless game that would hurt our draft position. For a team that was thinking playoffs the first two months of the season, we sure have a lot of holes to fill — so much so that we can’t even agree on which to fill first, but that’s another story for another time.

With a loss, the Bills can pick inside the top 10. With a win, we could move as far back as 16. It doesn’t sound like much, but it does matter. And besides, that another 45 minutes you have to watch the draft.

The Patriots have won seven straight and can clinch home-field with a win. Tom Brady is probable while offensive linemen Logan Mankins and Sebastian Vollmer are out. How long will the starters play? Only The Hoodie knows and he’s not telling. For the rest of us, it’s all guesswork. I think Brady gets his team up a bunch and then comes out … leaving garbage time to kill bets this week.

Bills (+11 1/2) at New England
New England

Washington (+9) at Philadelphia

Tampa Bay (+12) at Atlanta

San Francisco at St. Louis (+10 1/2)
San Francisco

Chicago (+1) at Minnesota

Detroit at Green Bay (+3 1/2)

Carolina (+8 1/2) at New Orleans

Tennessee at Houston (+3)

Baltimore at Cincinnati (+3)

Pittsburgh at Cleveland (+7)

Indianapolis (+3 1/2) at Jacksonville

Jets (+2) at Miami

San Diego (+3) at Oakland

Kansas City (+3 1/2) at Denver

Seattle (+3) at Arizona

Dallas (+3) at Giants

Last week

Denver at Bills (+3)
Bills 40-14. Loss
Oakland (+1 1/2) at Kansas City
Raiders 16-13 (OT). Win
Jacksonville (+7 1/2) at Tennessee
Titans 23-17. Loss
Arizona (+4) at Cincinnati
Bengals 23-17. Loss
Miami (+9) at New England
New England
Pats 27-24. Loss
Cleveland (+13) at Baltimore
Ravens 20-14. Win
Giants (+3) at Jets
Giants 29-14. Win
Minnesota (+6 1/2) at Washington
Vikings 33-26. Win
Tampa Bay (+7 1/2) at Carolina
Panthers 48-16. Win
St. Louis (+16) at Pittsburgh
St. Louis
Steelers 27-0. Loss
San Diego (+2 1/2) at Detroit
Lions 38-10. Win
San Francisco at Seattle (+2 1/2)
San Francisco
49ers 19-17. Loss
Philadelphia (+2) at Dallas
Eagles 20-7. Win
Chicago (+13) at Green Bay
Packers 35-21.  Loss
Atlanta (+6 1/2) at New Orleans
New Orleans
Saints 45-16. Win

NFL Week 4 picks

The Bills defense came up big last week with turnovers. Tom Brady matched his interception total from all of last season in one game, and lost in large part because of it. Maybe four is the magic number to beating Brady — the Bills picked him off four times in the 2003, 31-0 game, too. The Bills are three-point favorites this week at Cincinnati. How can you not take that?

Buffalo (-3) over CINCINNATI*

Detroit (+2.5) over DALLAS

New Orleans (-7) over JACKSONVILLE

San Francisco (+9.5) over PHILADELPHIA

ST. LOUIS (+2.5) over Washington

CLEVELAND (pick) over Tennessee

Minnesota (-2.5) over KANSAS CITY

CHICAGO (-6.5) over Carolina

Pittsburgh (+4) over HOUSTON

Atlanta (-5) over SEATTLE

Giants (-1.5)  over ARIZONA

Miami (+7) over SAN DIEGO

GREEN BAY (-12.5) over Denver

New England (-5) over OAKLAND

Jets (+3.5) over BALTIMORE

TAMPA BAY (-10) over Indianapolis

My thinking is to know better than to pick against the Patriots. I know Oakland just beat the Jets and is the home team. That’s how much respect Brady and the Hoodie have earned over the years — I trust them not to lose twice.

Last week:
New England (-8.5) over BUFFALO
Bills 34-31. Loss
San Francisco (+2.5) over CINCINNATI
49ers 13-8. Win
NEW ORLEANS (-4) over Houston
Saints 40-33. Win
Giants (+7) over PHILADELPHIA
Giants 29-16. Win
Browns 17-16. Loss
TENNESSEE (-7) over Denver
Titans 17-14. Loss
Detroit (-3.5) over MINNESOTA
Lions 26-23. Loss
CAROLINA (-3.5) over Jacksonville
Panthers 16-10. Win
SAN DIEGO (-14.5) over Kansas City
Chargers 20-17. Loss
Jets (-3.5) over OAKLAND
Raiders 34-24. Loss
Baltimore (-4) over ST. LOUIS*
Ravens 37-7. Win
Atlanta (+1.5) over TAMPA BAY
Bucs 16-13. Loss
Arizona (-3) over SEATTLE
Seattle 13-10. Loss
CHICAGO (+3.5) over Green Bay
Packers 37-17. Loss
Pittsburgh (-10.5) over INDIANAPOLIS
Steelers 23-20. Loss
Washington (+6) over DALLAS
Cowboys 18-16. Win

6-10, 0-1
22-22-3, 0-2-1

NFL Week 3 picks

Who would have thought Week 3’s only matchup of 2-0 teams would be New England versus Buffalo? The News gave the Bills eight and a half points, but even with Buffalo’s great play this season, I like the Patriots by double digits.

Ryan Fitzpatrick has performed admirably this season, but the Patriots defense will come at him like nothing he has seen so far.

New England (-8.5) over BUFFALO

San Francisco (+2.5) over CINCINNATI

NEW ORLEANS (-4) over Houston

Giants (+7) over PHILADELPHIA

CLEVELAND (-2.5) over MIAMI*

TENNESSEE (-7) over Denver

Detroit (-3.5) over MINNESOTA

CAROLINA (-3.5) over Jacksonville

SAN DIEGO (-14.5) over Kansas City

Jets (-3.5) over OAKLAND

Baltimore (-4) over ST. LOUIS*

Atlanta (+1.5) over TAMPA BAY

Arizona (-3) over SEATTLE

CHICAGO (+3.5) over Green Bay

Pittsburgh (-10.5) over INDIANAPOLIS

Washington (+6) over DALLAS

Last week:
BUFFALO (-3) over Oakland
Bills 38-35. Win
NEW ORLEANS (-6.5) over Chicago
Saints 30-13. Win
DETROIT (-8) over Kansas City
Lions 48-3. Win
JETS (-9.5) over Jacksonville
Jets 32-3. Win
Arizona (+3.5) over WASHINGTON
Redskins 22-21. Win
Baltimore (-6) over TENNESSEE
Titans 26-13. Loss
Seattle (+14) over PITTSBURGH
Steelers 24-0. Loss
CAROLINA (+10) over Green Bay
Packers 30-23. Win
Tampa Bay (+3) over MINNESOTA
Bucs 24-20. Win
INDIANAPOLIS (+2) over Cleveland
Browns 27-19. Loss
Dallas (-3) over SAN FRANCISCO
Cowboys 27-24. Push
Houston (-3) over MIAMI
Texans 23-13. Win
NEW ENGLAND (-7) over San Diego
Pats 35-21. Win
Cincinnati (+3.5) over DENVER
Broncos 24-22. Win
Philadelphia (-2.5) over ATLANTA*
Falcons 35-31. Loss
GIANTS (-6) over ST. LOUIS
NYG 28-16. Win
11-4-1, 0-1

Overall (best bets):
Always Game Seven 16-12-3 (0-1-1)
Skurski 15-13-3 (0-2)
Northrop 14-14-3 (1-0-1)
Sullivan 14-14-3 (0-1-1)
DiCesare 13-15-3 (0-0-1)
McKissic 11-17-3 (1-1)
Gaughan 11-17-3 (0-1-1)

NFL Week 1 picks

Jamaal Charles averaged 6.4 yards per carry last season.

It’s Always Game Seven is back for another season of NFL picks, using the same lines that appear in the Buffalo News every Friday during the NFL season.

Last year was the first time I ever picked games against the spread, and hopefully I start off better this season than I did last year.

The Bills are plus-6 at Kansas City. Let’s not forget the Chiefs were a playoff team last year and the Bills are notoriously slow starters. Jamaal Charles will be a good litmus test for the Bills run defense. I’m taking Kansas City.

Pittsburgh (+2 1/2) over BALTIMORE

TAMPA BAY (-2) over Detroit

CHICAGO (+3) over Atlanta

Indianapolis (+8 1/2) over HOUSTON

Philadelphia (-5) over ST. LOUIS

Cincinnati (+6 1/2) over CLEVELAND

Tennessee (+2) over JACKSONVILLE*

Giants (-3) over WASHINGTON

Carolina (+7) over ARIZONA

Seattle (+5) over SAN FARNCISCO

Minnesota (+8 1/2) over SAN DIEGO

JETS (-4 1/2) over Dallas

New England (-7) over MIAMI

DENVER (-3) over Oakland.

There’s my picks. I also picked playoff teams and postseason awards. It’s important to note that after making your picks, you feel like you made every correct pick without a doubt. After the games, you can’t believe you ever thought your team would have beaten the other. Such is life.

I didn’t have a clear-cut best bet this week, but I figured I’d go with Tennessee. Not sold on Matt Hassleback or Chris Johnson’s recovery, but I don’t have any faith in a team that just released its starting quarterback a week before the season.