Over here at Sports On Earth, we've been trying to figure out the right way to do NFL picks this year. (What kind of site are you if you're not doing weekly NFL picks? I'm pretty sure gardening sites do them at this point.) In the past, we've tried having a bunch of different people try picks, we've had me go against a computer, we've ignored it all together. This year, we bandied around a lot of ideas, even considering have me pick games against my two sons, aged five and three, but ultimately decided against that, mostly because I didn't want them asking, in 20 years, "Dad, what was football again? That used to exist?"
We ultimately landed on a simple confidence pool rankings. I'm not much of a gambler, so the spread isn't quite my speed. Besides, we have our own Ross Tucker who will be making his picks against the spread, predicting exact scores on top games every week. Check it out:
But a confidence pool allows you to pick basic winners without it being too easy: What's the point of being a prognosticator without confidence? Confidence is the point!
So, this year, every Thursday, I'll do a confidence ranking. Picking every NFL game, and ranking the confidence points accordingly (if you're not quite sure what a confidence pool is and how it works, this is a refresher). To show how profoundly bad I am at this, we'll be pitting me against the Vegas odds (the higher the point spread, the more confidence, you get it) and against FiveThirtyEight's ELO predictions. So we've got the Wisdom of Crowds (Vegas) versus Intelligent Analytics (538) versus Me. I am toast.
We'll track this throughout the season: If you want to join, click right here: Whoever wins the pool, at the end of the year, will have an opportunity to play assignment editor for the day at my weekly newsletter, which you should be subscribing to anyway. I'll write about whatever you demand me to write about. But you have to win the pool.
Anyway: Here goes! Vegas and 538 picks are after mine. Home teams are in all caps, with spreads (via Bovada, subject to change, with points indicating home team) and tune-in info below (all times ET).
15: Pittsburgh Steelers (0-0) over CLEVELAND BROWNS (0-0)
(+9 ½) 1:00 p.m. Sunday, CBS
The Browns might be halfway decent by the end of this season. But not yet.
14. Carolina Panthers (0-0) over SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (0-0)
(+6) 4:25 p.m. Sunday, FOX
Here's betting Cam Newton has an easier time of it in Week 1 this year than he did last year.
13. BUFFALO BILLS (0-0) over New York Jets (0-0)
(-9) 1:00 p.m. Sunday, CBS
It is truly disturbing to pick a Bills victory this high. But the Jets are going to be a nightmare this year.
12. Atlanta Falcons (0-0) over CHICAGO BEARS (0-0)
(+7) 1:00 p.m. Sunday, FOX
If the Falcons lose this game, that's the worst Super Bowl hangover imaginable.
11. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (0-0) over Kansas City Chiefs (0-0)
(-9) 8:30 p.m., Thursday, NBC
This is much more a reflection on the Patriots than it is on the Chiefs.
10. HOUSTON TEXANS (0-0) over Jacksonville Jaguars (0-0)
(-6) 1:00 p.m. Sunday, CBS
I picked the Jaguars to win the AFC South last year. Let us never discuss this again.
9. CINCINNATI BENGALS (0-0) over Baltimore Ravens (0-0)
(-3) 1:00 p.m. Sunday, CBS
Do the Ravens have legit collapse potential this year? They might, right?
8. Arizona Cardinals (0-0) over DETROIT LIONS (0-0)
(+1 ½) 1:00 p.m. Sunday, FOX
The team that made the playoffs last year in this matchup is the opposite of what you might think.
7. DALLAS COWBOYS (0-0) over New York Giants (0-0)
(-4) 8:30 p.m. Sunday, NBC
There's a non-zero chance that Ezekiel Elliott doesn't miss a single game this year as his appeal rattles around the courts. That'll go over well.
6. LOS ANGELES RAMS (0-0) over Indianapolis Colts (0-0)
(-4) 4:05 p.m. Sunday, CBS
To quote my colleague Will Brinson at CBS, the Colts have sleeper "first overall pick in 2018" potential.
5. MINNESOTA VIKINGS (0-0) over New Orleans Saints (0-0)
(-3) 7:00 p.m. Monday, ESPN
Prediction: Adrian Peterson gets, like, 40 yards on 12 carries or something.
4. GREEN BAY PACKERS (0-0) over Seattle Seahawks (0-0)
(-3) 4:25 p.m. Sunday, FOX
I think the Seahawks might end up with the best record in the NFC this year … but this is a rough start.
3. DENVER BRONCOS (0-0) over Los Angeles Chargers (0-0)
(-3 ½) 10:00 p.m. Monday, ESPN
I'm hedging this one a ton. Trevor Siemian. Really.
2. Philadelphia Eagles (0-0) over WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM (0-0)
(+1) 1:00 p.m. Sunday, FOX
As usual, this division's drama will outweigh its actual importance.
1. TENNESSEE TITANS (0-0) over Oakland Raiders (0-0)
(-1 ½) 1:00 p.m. Sunday, CBS
Will the Raiders have more fans on the road than at home this year?
15. Pittsburgh over CLEVELAND
14. DENVER over LA Chargers
13. HOUSTON over Jacksonville
12. Atlanta over CHICAGO
11. NEW ENGLAND over Kansas City
10. Carolina over SAN FRANCISCO
9. BUFFALO over NY Jets
8. CINCINNATI over Baltimore
7. DALLAS over N.Y. Giants
6. GREEN BAY over Seattle
5. MINNESOTA over New Orleans
4. WASHINGTON over Philadelphia
3. Indianapolis over L.A. RAMS
2. DETROIT over Arizona
1. Oakland over TENNESSEE
15. NEW ENGLAND over Kansas City
14. BUFFALO over N.Y. Jets
13. Pittsburgh over CLEVELAND
12. Atlanta over CHICAGO
11. Carolina over SAN FRANCISCO
10. HOUSTON over Jacksonville
9. DALLAS over N.Y. Giants
8. DENVER over L.A. Chargers
7. L.A. RAMS over Indianapolis
6. MINNESOTA over New Orleans
5. GREEN BAY over Seattle
4. CINCINNATI over Baltimore
3. TENNESSEE over Oakland
2. Arizona over DETROIT
1. Philadelphia over WASHINGTON
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