Pigskin Pick’em: Back and better than ever!

  • By Nolan Rose
  • Wednesday, September 9, 2015 10:37pm
  • Sports

The Sultan of Sides returns to you, the loyal Clarion faithful, to provide another year of precise pigskin prognostication. Two years ago we posted a stellar 57% mark against the spread. That number dropped to a financially profitable, if unspectacular, 54% a season ago. We’ve yet to hit the magical 60% mark that strikes fear in the heart of Las Vegas bookies, but I have a feeling this is the year! Enough small talk. It’s time to make money.

Pittsburgh Steelers @ NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS -7

Tom Brady is a football god. If Roger Goodell and his minions can’t stop Tom Terrific, how can the Pittsburgh Steelers, minus Le’Veon Bell, Martavis Bryant, and Maurkice Pouncey expect a better result? Travelling to Boston to face Brady, Belichick and the Teflon New England Patriots is never easy. Playing them a week after the “Deflategate” saga!? Chowder head faithful will be in a froth days in advance. Patriots win 31-17

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS @ St. Louis Rams +4.5

Seattle’s offense was out of sync in the preseason behind the poor performance of a youthful offensive line, and the Rams strength is their defensive front, making this an intriguing opening day matchup. Even without star safety Kam Chancellor, I just don’t see how the putrid Rams offense can score a point against what should be the best Seahawks defense during the Pete Carroll era. The Lambs are sacrificed by two touchdowns. Seahawks win 17-3

GREEN BAY PACKERS @ Chicago Bears +7

Green Bay outscored Chicago 93-31 in their two matchups a season ago. That’s a 62-point difference for the mathematically challenged readers out there. The edge is in quarterback play. Aaron Rodgers excels at throwing the ball to his own teammates. In comparison, Jay Cutler leads the league annually in throwing the ball to the other team. That’s a recipe for a blowout. Packers win 38-17

Kansas City Chiefs @ HOUSTON TEXANS even

The Texans will be without top runner Arian Foster but that’s not enough to fade the home side in this matchup. J.J. Watt will likely break Chiefs passer Alex Smith in two. Watt is an unblockable force. Add a productive Jadeveon Clowney to the mix and the Texans may have the top pass rush in the NFL. The Chiefs has been notoriously conservative during the Andy Reid era. Unbelievably, Chief wide receivers caught zero touchdown passes a year ago! That streak continues. Texans win 24-16

Cleveland Browns @ NEW YORK JETS -3

The 2015 season’s first Toilet Bowl nominee could easily take home worst game of the year honors by seasons end. These teams are terrible at American football. The Browns are led by quarterback Josh McCown who couldn’t hold down a starting gig with the Tampa Bay Bucs a year ago. Jets starting quarterback Geno Smith got punched in the face by his own teammate a couple weeks ago, literally breaking Smith’s jaw, and knocking him out of the season opener. NFL fans can’t wait to flush this stinker. Jets win 7-3

Indianapolis Colts @ BUFFALO BILLS +2.5

Nobody circles the wagons like the Rex Ryan led Buffalo Bills! Rex’s act wore thin in New York City a year ago but the honeymoon affect will get the Bills through a tough week one matchup with Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts. The low number favoring the Colts will get heavy action in Vegas. The Sultan of Sides will roll with the home dog, knowing the suits in Vegas are on the same side. Bills win 27-21

MIAMI DOLPHINS @ Washington Redskins +3.5

Don’t be surprised if the Fighting Fish finally overtake the Patriots in the AFC East this season. The Dolphins added Ndamukong Suh to an already fearsome defense. Offensively, the Tuna drafted top prospect DeVante Parker at receiver and acquired Jordan Cameron at tight end. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill, has even looked mildly competent this preseason. The Redskins are a disaster and may actually surpass the United States Government as the most dysfunctional organization presiding in the D.C. area this season. Dolphins win 31-13

Carolina Panthers @ JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS +3

There’s a long time gambling adage. In a battle of two vicious cat mascots always favor the home side. It’s a fool proof method, trust me. Carolina’s offense has been crippled by injuries and I actually think the Jaggywires are going to be decent this year. Not winning record decent, but maybe a six-win season is in reach. That would be a huge improvement for this annually pathetic football team. Jaguars win 23-20

New Orleans Saints @ ARIZONA CARDINALS -1

The Desert Bats are destined to take a step backwards this season. The offensive line is an injury-riddled mess. Quarterback Carson Palmer has a history of falling apart. That’s a bad combination for a football team. As long as Palmer is healthy the Cardinals will be competitive and the bet here is he survives week one. New Orleans is a team in flux. They need to blow the roster up and start the rebuilding process, but the team appears reluctant to do so in Drew Brees’ final few seasons. We’ll find out how much Jimmy Graham meant to the Saints offense with weekend. Bats win 28-24

Detroit Lions @ SAN DIEGO CHARGERS -2.5

I don’t know what to expect from either of these teams. I can see both being competitive playoff caliber products or five-win teams. That’s the NFL. We’ll side with the home team laying less than a field goal. Chargers prized rookie rusher Melvin Gordon has looked incompetent this preseason, so expect a heavy dose of Philip Rivers week one and that should be enough to squeak out a win at home. Chargers win 27-21

TENNESSEE TITANS @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers -3

Round one of the Marcus Mariota-Jameis Winston rivalry went to Mariota when his Oregon Ducks dismantled Winston’s Florida State Seminoles in last year’s inaugural college football playoff. So which quarterback will take round two? Winston is playing behind an offensive line featuring two rookies and top receiver Mike Evans is unlikely to play. The Pirates have quality pieces on defense that will give Mariota trouble, but Mariota’s rushing skills will be the deciding edge in a close contest. Titans win 24-20

Cincinnati Bengals @ OAKLAND RAIDERS +3

The Silver and Black have long been the best dressed NFL team. This is the year their play finally begins to live up to their timeless look. Rookie wide receiver Amari Cooper is going to be a big time player in this league, and should help quarterback Derek Carr improve immensely in his sophomore season. The Bengals are led by noodle armed Andy Dalton. Dalton couldn’t even play for the Soldotna Stars football team! The Red Rocket has been held up by a stellar supporting cast for years. That won’t happen this season. Raiders win 34-19

BALTIMORE RAVENS @ Denver Broncos -4.5

Peyton Manning has played sparingly this preseason in hopes of keeping the ancient passing relic fresh for a playoff run, but the lack of reps in a new Gary Kubiak led offense may hurt Manning’s production early in the year. Kubiak coached for the Ravens a year ago, so Baltimore should be very familiar with Kubiak’s schemes. Of course, that’s a two way street, the Broncos should know how to attack the Ravens defense. The familiarity should lead to a close affair. The home side wins but fails to cover. Broncos win 27-24

NEW YORK GIANTS @ Dallas Cowboys -7

Things are never dull in Dallas but this year’s rendition is especially mysterious. Will the ‘Boys be any good without Demarco Murray running over defenders 370 times like he did last season? The Giants will likely be without Victor Cruz but Odell Beckham Jr. is more than capable of picking up the slack. Give me the points. Cowboys win 28-23

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES @ Atlanta Falcons +2.5

Eagles are the superior bird in nature but this is football. Eagles are better in football too. Chip Kelly took a lot of heat in the offseason for making so many changes to roster, but the Eagles looked incredible in practice games, leading the league points per game. The Falcons were terrible defensively and along the offensive line a year ago. With little roster turnover there’s no reason to expect anything different this year. Eagles win 38-27

MINNESOTA VIKINGS @ San Francisco 49ers +2.5

These are two franchises heading in opposite directions. The Vikings, buoyed by a young improving quarterback and the return of star runner Adrian Peterson, are a team on the rise in the NFC. The 49ers are not rising. No Harbaugh, no Patrick Willis, no Chris Borland, no Aldon Smith, no Frank Gore and a whole lot of Colin Kaepernick (which isn’t a positive). The 49ers will be so bad this season it’s not even fun for a Seahawks fan to hate them anymore. Vikings win 27-10

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