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My aim each season with these NFL game picks — straight up, not against the spread — is to pick winners 65% of the time.
In my first season of doing this, 2016, I just missed: 64.5%.
In 2017: 64.1%.
In 2018: 65.2%.
Last season: 63.9%.
That’s an aggregate average over four years of 64.4%. Just so you know what you’re getting here, folks.
Let’s get right to it for Week 1:
Houston at Kansas City, Thursday
KRYK PICK: Kansas City
Really, it was a two-inch putt. But nice way to start the season.
Seattle at Atlanta, Sunday, 1 p.m. EDT
(CTV BC, Alberta; via FOX)
KRYK PICK: Atlanta
Everybody’s talking about the Saints and Bucs as far as NFC South contenders. But if their key performers can remain healthy, the Falcons ought to have a decent season too. Upset call.
Cleveland at Baltimore, Sunday, 1 p.m. EDT
KRYK PICK: Baltimore
The Ravens last year went 14-2. And in the off-season they upgraded their roster on both sides of the ball. So, yeah. Welcome to the NFL, new Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski.
N.Y. Jets at Buffalo, Sunday, 1 p.m. EDT
(CTV Toronto, Kitchener; via CBS)
KRYK PICK: Buffalo
If it’s not the Bills, hooooboy. The post-game radio call-in shows in Western New York would be something else. But the Bills defence ought to again mostly shut down Jets QB Sam Darnold.
Las Vegas at Carolina, Sunday, 1 p.m. EDT
(TSN3-5; CTV2 BC, Alberta; via CBS)
KRYK PICK: Las Vegas
Year 3 back in the saddle for Raiders head coach Jon Gruden. Time to impress. If Vegas doesn’t win, and comfortably, be concerned, Raiders fans. Panthers head coach Matt Rhule makes NFL debut.
Chicago at Detroit, Sunday, 1 p.m. EDT
KRYK PICK: Detroit
At least one of these two NFC North clubs is going to hit the reset button by season’s end at the coach/GM spots. Desperation is real. Matthew Stafford reportedly has been super sharp. Edge, Detroit.
Indianapolis at Jacksonville, Sunday, 1 p.m. EDT
KRYK PICK: Indianapolis
Philip Rivers’ makes his Colts debut, after 16 seasons with the Chargers. His O-line is banged up — something he’s sure used to. But the Colts are good, and the Jags might be NFL’s worst team.
Green Bay at Minnesota, Sunday, 1 p.m. EDT
(CTV Saskatchewan, Winnipeg; CTV2 Toronto, London/Windsor, Atlantic; RDS2; via FOX)
KRYK PICK: Minnesota
The Packers had sub-standard wideout talent in ’19. They didn’t draft any help, and one decent free-agent signee, Devin Funchess, opted out. So now there’s even more pressure on Aaron Rodgers.
Miami at New England, Sunday, 1 p.m. EDT
(CTV Montreal, Ottawa, Northern Ontario, Atlantic; via CBS)
KRYK PICK: New England
It’s Cam Newton’s debut as Tom Brady’s replacement, you might have heard. And it’s Ryan Fitzpatrick, not rookie Tua Tagovailoa, at the helm for Miami. Don’t sleep on the Dolphins. It’ll be close.
Philadelphia at Washington, Sunday, 1 p.m. EDT
KRYK PICK: Philadelphia
The Eagles didn’t get much buzz in the off-season among NFC East teams. It was all about the Cowboys. The Eagles, though, finally have an elite CB in Darius Slay. Time for Carson Wentz to earn it.
L.A. Chargers at Cincinnati, Sunday, 4:05 p.m. EDT
(TSN3-5; via CBS)
KRYK PICK: Los Angeles
Tough deal for rookie No. 1 overall quarterback Joe Burrow of the Bengals — no spring practices and limited on-field time in camp, because of COVID-19. Edge to QB Tyrod Taylor and the Chargers.
Tampa Bay at New Orleans, Sunday, 4:25 p.m. EDT
(CTV Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Kitchener, Northern Ontario, Winnipeg, Saskatchewan, Alberta; CTV2 Atlantic; RDS2; via FOX)
KRYK PICK: New Orleans
As I’ve written a bunch, to start the season you’ve got to give teams with returning coaching staffs, systems and starting QB a decided edge. Even over a talent-dripping Bucs offence with Brady at QB.
Arizona at San Francisco, Sunday, 4:25 p.m. EDT
KRYK PICK: San Francisco
Don’t think it’ll be easy. The Cardinals gave the Niners all they could handle twice last season. It’s WR DeAndre Hopkins’ debut with Arizona. But the 49ers are so talented, especially on D.
Dallas at L.A. Rams, Sunday, 8:20 p.m. EDT
(TSN3-4-5, CTV2; via NBC)
KRYK PICK: Dallas
Sick yet of hearing about the Rams’ GORRRRRR-geous $5-billion stadium yet? If not, you will be by halftime. QB Dak Prescott and the Cowboys should chew up a revamped Rams defence in Game 1.
Pittsburgh at N.Y. Giants, Monday, 7:15 p.m. EDT
(TSN; RDS; via ESPN)
KRYK PICK: Pittsburgh
There will be hitting. The Steelers always rank among the NFL’s most physical teams, and new Giants head coach Joe Judge covets that honour. But Pittsburgh’s better. And welcome back, Big Ben.
Tennessee at Denver, Monday, 10:10 p.m. EDT
(TSN; RDS; via ESPN)
KRYK PICK: Denver
The Titans run a lot with man-plough Derrick Henry. The Broncos want to too, with Phillip Lindsay and now Melvin Gordon. Monday’s forecast high: 30C. At altitude. Take the home side.
SEASON RECORD: 1-0 (1.000), through Thursday.
TITANS’ ROOKIE TACKLE FLAMING OUT
Is Isaiah Wilson trying to set the unofficial NFL record for fastest career flameout?
If not, he’s acting this summer like that’s his sole intention.
The Tennessee Titans drafted the offensive tackle in the first round in April, 29 th overall. It was hoped he’d push veteran Dennis Kelly to start at right tackle, in place of departed Jack Conklin, who signed as a free agent in Cleveland.
But twice in August, Wilson had to be placed on the COVID-19 list, presumably for coming into contact with someone with the coronavirus, not testing positive himself.
The 21-year-old former Georgia Bulldog from Brooklyn, N.Y., also had a run-in in August with campus police at Tennessee State University, apparently while attending a distancing-ignoring party.
Now comes word that late Friday night Wilson was arrested and booked on DUI, and bonded out early Saturday morning in Nashville. AtoZSportsNashville.com reported that Davidson County Sheriff’s Office said Wilson blew 0.107 on his blood alcohol test, when the limit in Tennessee is 0.08.
“This is not conduct that is indicative of the character of our football team, and we are working through details on how to proceed,” the Titans said in a statement.
AIRING IT OUT
Should the air-quality index in Santa Clara, Calif., exceed the NFL by-law limit of 200, the 49ers’ home opener vs. Arizona would be postponed. Nearby forest fires are to blame. Reports said Friday’s AQI reached as high as the 230s.
Same could happen in Los Angeles, where the Rams play host to the Cowboys.
Reports said the league wasn’t considering any last-minute venue switches for either game.
ALVIN, DALVIN CASH IN
Fourth-year Saints RB Alvin Kamara agreed to a contract extension worth $75 million over five years, ProFootballTalk.com reported.
Fourth-year Vikings RB Dalvin Cook agreed on a multi-year extension, the Vikings announced. NFL Network said it’s worth $63 million over five years.
Tampa Bay upgraded star WR Mike Evans from doubtful to questionable. The Bucs also elevated WR Cyril Grayson from the practice squad.
Teams this year may elevate two practice-squad players per game, by the day before, without having to open up an active-roster spot. Many did on Saturday.
Philadelphia DE Derek Barnett and RB Miles Sanders didn’t travel to Washington.
FIVE BIG QUESTIONS
- How does Tom Brady fare in Bucs debut? It’s his first NFL game with a new team, after 20 years in New England. Goes head-to-head vs. old Big Ten rival Drew Brees.
- How will new coaches fare? Ron Rivera (Washington), Matt Rhule (Carolina), Joe Judge (Giants), Kevin Stefanski (Browns) and Mike McCarthy (Cowboys) all are underdogs, or on the road, or both. Most pressure is on McCarthy.
- Can Joe Burrow be effective in Game 1? The former LSU star is not surrounded by, um, the same level of talent on the Bengals. Tough gig.
- What about Phil Rivers in Indy? After 16 years as a Charger, it’s going to be strange seeing him dress up in Colts gear. He should win his debut at Jacksonville.
- Will we all hate to hear the drone? Teams without fans (i.e., most) may pipe in crowd noise up to 70 db. Let’s hope it doesn’t sound as annoying as those vuvuzela horns during the 2010 World Cup.
THE BIG NUMBER
Number of combined touchdown passes Tom Brady and Drew Brees have thrown in their careers just in Week 1. Brees and Brady rank 1-2 in NFL history in both regular-season career yards (151,933 combined) and touchdowns thrown (1,088 combined).
The NFL says that since 1978, teams victorious in Week 1 are more than twice as likely to make the playoffs. Of 617 teams that won their openers, 322 went to the playoffs, and 196 won their division. Of teams that lost Game 1, only 148 made the post-season, and only 86 won their division.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“As you’ll be able to see, it looks as though he had nothing wrong with him.”
— JuJu Smith-Schuster , Steelers WR, in an interview this week with Postmedia, on whether his QB Ben Roethlisberger is fully recovered from elbow surgery.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020