Don't think so, Jimmy. It's been a refreshingly Bonds-free time since he broke Hank Aaron's record, save for the info this week about the Giants asking that he not return in 2008. Watching him parade his tired ass around this winter looking for a team will be a sad spectacle, no doubt, but there will be little sympathy. As stated many times, by many people, Bonds is, and has been for quite some time, a jerk, which makes him impossible to root for. Watching him take hacks in 2008, likely as a DH (Detroit? Anaheim? Oakland? Yankees?) will be a non-event, and if he doesn't return, we here at BIMRVM speak for many when we state he will not be missed.
The March Toward Mediocrity continues full steam ahead, after last week’s 7-9. We mentioned the fact last week that at this point there are several teams sitting at 2-0 which cause one to scratch one’s head, and this season is no different. The Lions, Texans, 49ers, Packers and Redskins all fit the bill. Equally surprising are some of the names found on the winless list, however: The Saints and Eagles, two teams which need to get better, now, and put up a number in the W column this week.
Self-congratulations are in order, as we correctly predicted an exact score last week (Chicago 20 Kansas City 10). The New York Times attempted to do this for several years before getting one right. Ha! Take that, Old Grey Lady! Also, new this week will be a “Best Bets” feature, where the three games of which we feel most confident will be noted.
Full of confidence, and ready to surge above the .500 mark, we submit the picks:
San Diego (-4 ½) over GREEN BAY Surprising Pack getting points at Lambeau? The defense is for real, but will have its hands full against potent Charger attack. Bolts need a big performance here after the debacle in Foxboro Sunday night, and another ugly performance could be the beginning of the finger pointing and “maybe they’re not as good as we thought” columns. Look for LDT to get in gear and pace SD to victory. Norv Turner is still living up to his stellar coaching record, isn’t he? Chargers 23 Packers 17
Indianapolis (-5 1/2 ) over HOUSTON Loss of Andre Johnson is huge for host Texans, but Indy survived scare last week and won’t take Houston lightly. The fact that Houston is 2-0 keeps the number down, which makes Colts the smart play, not to mention the revenge factor in play after Colts lost to Texans late last season.. Colts 23 Texans 10
KANSAS CITY (-2 ½) over Minnesota Chiefs had chances last week in Chicago, but couldn’t convert. Why is it that Herm Edwards’ teams always seem to start slowly? Is it a lack of preparation in training camp (if you saw Hard Knocks, that answer could be self-evident)? Although last year isn’t a perfect gauge, we note that KC was 0-2 then as well, having scored 16 points in two losses, then exploded in Week 3 to the tune of a 41-0 blowout of San Francisco. Vikes offense is in disarray (who, exactly, will be taking the snaps is still up in the air), and going to noisy Arrowhead won’t help. KC looks like a team that will get better as the season moves along, though that won’t necessarily translate to more than 6 wins, they should have enough in the tank to knock off Minny. Chiefs 19 Vikings 13
NEW ENGLAND (-15 ½) over Buffalo Potential letdown alert here for Pats. Bills come in struggling on both sides of the ball, and simply can’t match up with explosive Patriots. We can see perhaps a first half struggle which keeps things close, but talented Brady, Moss and Co. will pull away and cover the huge number. Start the “can the Pats go undefeated?” stories on Monday, and be prepared for many interviews with members of the ’72 Dolphins. Patriots 31 Bills 10
NY JETS (-3 ½) over Miami Jets showed moxie last week in nearly pulling out victory in Baltimore, while depleted Fins wore down in loss to Dallas. No Zach Thomas hurts Dolphins, while the return of Chad Pennington (with Kellen Clemens threat looming behind), plus a big effort from Thomas Jones, should help the Jets in Jersey. Jets 24 Dolphins 14
Detroit (+6 ½) over PHILADELPHIA Iggles are a mess, and playing at home doesn’t seem to help. Every little mistake is magnified, and Donovan “Woe is Me” McNabb juts doesn’t look right. Lions are rejuvenated, and should be able to at least cover this line on the road, if not win outright. Lions 20 Eagles 17
PITTSBURGH (-8 ½) over San Francisco Can’t see Steelers letting down against a Niner team that hasn’t looked particularly sharp, despite winning both games. SF QB Alex Smith will be under tons of pressure, and Pittsburgh will have a surprisingly easy time at the Field Named After Ketchup. Steelers 27 49ers 13
TAMPA BAY (-3 ½) over St. Louis Somehow we’d forgotten about the magic that is Jeff Garcia. Honestly, this guy is something else – he led basically the same Eagle team currently struggling under Donovan McNabb to 6 wins last year, and now has this Buc team lighting up the scoreboard. Rams minus Orlando Pace are finding it hard to open up decent holes for Stephen Jackson as well as protect Marc Bulger’s blind side. Hearty Buc D will keep the heat on in sunny FLA and move to 2-1. Buccaneers 30 Rams 16
Jacksonville (+3 ½) over DENVER Classic sucker bet here, but we’re taking it anyway. Jags can’t possibly seem more discombobulated, but are now entering the “do or die” phase. Broncs have eked out two wins against clearly inferior opponents, and could very easily be 0-2 right now. The less than crisp play will catch up to them this week. As Jack Del Rio coaches for his job. Jaguars 20 Broncos 17
Cleveland (+3 ½) over OAKLAND What? Browns, who put up 51 last week, are getting points against the Raiduhs? Seems like another sucker line, but the feeling here is that the resurgent Brownies will put together enough to at the very least keep this one close. Maybe this week Sea Bass Janikowski nails that late FG in one should be an entertaining game. Raiders 30 Browns 27
SEATTLE (-3 ½) over Cincinnati Hawks should be 2-0 but for a botched handoff exchange in the opener, while Bengals have been perhaps the most erratic team in the league. That inconsistency will doom them in the Pacific Northwest. Also, as a side note, Chad Johnson? We like you, honestly, but knock it off already. Seahwaks 31 Bengals 20
Carolina (-3 ½) over ATLANTA Falcons don’t seem to have it together yet, and now QB Joey Harrington knows the team has no faith in him as they brought in Byron Leftwich this week. Panthers kicking themselves after squandering 14-0 lead last week, and will not suffer similar fate here simply because Atlanta seems incapable of putting that many points on the board right now. Panthers 24 Falcons 7
WASHINGTON (-4 ½) over NY Giants ‘Skins seem to be the real deal, with QB Jason Campbell improving each week to go along with decent running game. Either way, the extremely porous Giants defense will allow Joe Gibbs’ guys easy passage to the promised land. Quick show of hands: who saw this Washington team starting 3-0? Nobody? Yeah, us neither. Redskins 34 Giants 17
CHICAGO (-3 ½) over Dallas Another gut check game for the defending NFC champs. How much longer can they sustain with Rex Grossman running the show? Stellar defense should be able to bottle up Tony Romo and Co., but if the Bear offense doesn’t get it in gear soon it will be a very long year in the Windy City. It might be ugly, but Bears prevail in front of the national TV audience. Bears 24 Cowboys 9
MONDAY Tennessee (+4 ½) over NEW ORLEANS Must win deal for the Saints, no doubt. Titans are a very tough team to blow out, that’s for sure, and should have no trouble keeping this one tight. We still believe in New Orleans, maybe too much, and the hunch is that Drew Brees and Reggie Bush will put up just enough to withstand the inevitable Titan late run. Saints 23 Titans 21
BEST BETS: Colts, Patriots, Steelers Last week: 7-9 Season total: 15-17 (46.9%) Exact Score Total: 1
Not a bad start (8-8) for week one, all things considered. As we said, the first week is always a total crapshoot, so coming out right at 50% isn’t worthy of complaint.
Week 2 features another mixed bag, though some of the lines have jumped pretty high. Resisting the temptation to jump to early conclusions on the basis of one game, we move forward with the following selections:
Houston +6.5 over CAROLINA Have you ever noticed that every year a team or teams starts out 2-0, and suddenly everyone sits up and says “Whoa, these guys are 2-0?”. Not sure if the Texans can do that, but they should be competitive enough to cover this number. Carolina 20 Houston 17
Cincinnati -6.5 over CLEVELAND Remember what we said two paragraphs ago about not jumping to conclusions after one game? This is the exception. The Browns are awful, and the explosive Bengals should take this one going away. Cincinnati 31 Cleveland 10
JACKSONVILLE -10.5 over Atlanta Jags smarting after losing to Titans, and Falcs defense won’t be able to slow down Maurice Jones-Drew. Jacksonville 27 Atlanta 10
NY GIANTS +3.5 over Green Bay A lot depends on the status of Eli Manning, who looked very comfortable in Big D last week. G-Men defense can’t be much worse, and an extra full week of practice for Michael Strahan should help. NY Giants 24 Green Bay 14
Buffalo +9.5 over PITTSBURGH Heavy hearted Bills go into the blast furnace in Steeltown. Still not sold on Pitt just yet, and playing-with-a-purpose Bills should keep this one tight. Pittsburgh 20 Buffalo 14
San Francisco +3.5 over ST. LOUIS Niners, who really should stick with those Walsh-era unis [link], were lucky to escape over inept Cards last week. Rams loss of Orlando Pace is a huge blow, and the feeling here is the Niners can win this one outright, in an ugly one. San Francisco 24 St. Louis 20
New Orleans -3.5 over TAMPA BAY Vegas obviously knows something we don’t. Saints have had 10 days to stew over blowout loss at Indy, and though this could be a back-to-the-pack year, can’t see them stumbling here. New Orleans 27 Tampa Bay 10
Indianapolis -7.5 TENNESSEE Warning signs abound here. Titans always give Indy fits, Colts due for a letdown. Can’t underestimate the value of the extra off days for Indy, even this early. We can see this one being tight but opening up late. Indianapolis 30 Tennessee 17
ARIZONA +2.5 Seattle Another wacky line, at least at first glance. Redbirds are always a trendy early season pick, while Hawks are seemingly flying under the radar a bit. Against our better judgement, we’ll go with (gulp) ‘zona… Arizona 21 Seattle 20
Minnesota +3.5 over DETROIT This one is actually an interesting matchup. Vikes offense essentially sputtered in Week 1 win, while Lions put up 36 against a decent Raider D. Can the Lions join the ranks of surprising 2-0 teams? Why not? Detroit 27 Minnesota 24
Dallas -3.5 over MIAMI Cowboy D has holes, which were exploited last week, but can’t see Dolphins doing the same. Look for Pokes to tighten things up and take care of business in sticky Miami. Dallas 23 Miami 10
NY Jets +7.5 over BALTIMORE Just cannot see Ravens being 8 points better than anyone right now. Steve McNair has not looked good for awhile now, and the stellar Baltimore defense should give Jets problems no matter who is behind center. Low scoring games usually mean close games, so we’ll take the Jets. Baltimore 13 NY Jets 10
Kansas City +12.5 over CHICAGO Our beloved Chiefs are an apparent mess right now. The O-Line has yet to come together and the receiver corps lost another starter, not to mention they had to cut the rookie kicker. However, Larry Johnson should be more involved this week, and even though Bears shut down LT last week, LJ might be able to pop one or two. Bears offense is a mess with issues at QB (the erratic Rex Grossman) and RB (enigmatic Cedric Benson), so it’s not unlikely each defense could outscore the offenses here. Chicago 20 Kansas City 10
DENVER -9.5 over Oakland Doesn’t matter who starts at QB for Oakland, we will not pick against Denver in a home opener. Broncs fortunate to escape Buffalo with a W last week, but will have no need for such theatrics this week. Denver 31 Oakland 13
San Diego +3.5 over NEW ENGLAND Pats lose edge with video clampdown (perhaps you’ve heard about that little flare-up?). Too bad that this match-up is being somewhat overshadowed by the video controversy, as it should be the best game of the week. Pats could adopt bunker mentality and ride that all season, but Chargers (despite Norv Turner, who we feel will doom this team at some point this season) have too much firepower on both sides of the ball to not hang tough, while NBC thanks their lucky stars this one dropped in their lap. New England 30 San Diego 28
PHILADELPHIA -6.5 over Washington Classic bounceback game for Iggles, who were embarrassed in Green Bay last week. Skins can keep it close, but the play here says Philly will pull away in the second half in front of the rowdy home crowd. Philadelphia 24 Washginton 14
The picks have returned, with one slight change: this year, point spreads are in play. The lines are taken from the ESPN Pigskin Pick'em, as I have joined the Bill Simmons group. Whee!
Since Week One is a total crapshoot anyway, I have forgone the capsule summaries for each game. Oh, and I'm already 0-1 thanks to the miserable performance by the Saints on Thursday. Thanks guys.
The Week One selections (home team in CAPS):
THURSDAY New Orleans (+6/2) over INDIANAPOLIS
SUNDAY BUFFALO (+3 1/2) over Denver Pittsburgh (-3/12) over CLEVELAND Philadelphia (-2 1/2) over GREEN BAY Kansas City (+1 1/2) over HOUSTON Tennessee (+5/12) over JACKSONVILLE Atlanta (+2 1/2) over MINNESOTA New England (-5 1/2) over N.Y. JETS ST. LOUIS (-1 1/2) over Carolina WASHINGTON (-3 1/2) over Miami OAKLAND (-2 1/2) over Detroit Chicago (+5 1/2) over SAN DIEGO SEATTLE (-6 1/2) over Tampa Bay DALLAS (-3 1/2) over N.Y. Giants
MONDAY CINCINNATI (-3 1/2) over Baltimore Arizona (+3 1/2) over SAN FRANCISCO