Last week my best bets landed here and they were not great. So bad, in fact, I contemplated giving up on football and applying to be the world's only official Taylor Swift reporter, a real job for which you can now apply. I have an advantage on other possible applicants here Travis Kelce, most other Swifties applying for this gig won't have spent time covering Kelce for the NFL.
What does the application look like for this job by the way? Do you have to list your favorite song? This will sound weirdly f--king beautiful but mine is "Snow on the Beach" ... and it's not that close.
Do you blog about bizarre Taylor Swift-related fan activities? Are you supposed to weave in T Swift-related lyrics into your writing? Do you get credentialed to every single Taylor Swift concert?
If you want more of my picks for the week, head over to SportsLine and use promo code "PICK" to get your first month for $1. Also make sure to fire up CBS Sports Network on your television at 3:30 p.m. ET or so every Thursday to see a podcast picks battle with Brinson vs. The Coach.
Hopefully I can bounce back well enough this week so I don't have to depend on landing this Taylor Swift gig. Let's stare Week 1 in the face, shake it off and get hot in Week 2.
Last week it became clear the Atlanta defense is much better than even I anticipated. Now, granted, the Falcons played against a questionable offensive line and a rookie quarterback. The Packers ran the ball well against Chicago, but this a much stiffer defensive test than what Chicago offered. Desmond Ridder won't light up the Green Bay secondary, but he also isn't likely to turn it over: you can go back to December of last year and not find a game where he threw an interception. I also don't expect the Falcons to abandon the run the way Chicago did. Justin Fields threw 37 times; Ridder might not be at 37 pass attempts on the season by the end of this game. Bijan Robinson and Tyler Allgeier are a formidable duo in that backfield behind a strong run-blocking offensive line. I bet this game closes as a pick 'em, so feel free just to take the moneyline.
Sportsline's model is leaning one way on the point total of this game, and it also says one side of the spread cashes in well over 50% of simulations! Check it out here.
There's not as much bad blood between these two AFC East rivals as the Patriots and Jets, but Monday night's outcome -- to New York quarterback Aaron Rodgers -- completely flipped the outlook for the division in 2023. Both Bill Belichick and Mike McDaniel know all too well what an opening the Rodgers injury provides for the rest of the teams in the division and in the conference, especially with the Jets handing the Bills a loss during the game. The Patriots lost by five to the Eagles in Week 1 but they definitely should have covered and probably should have won, save for two back-breaking turnovers that staked the Eagles 13 points. This New England defense is legit and Belichick remains a mastermind on that side of the ball. McDaniel's offense is no joke, but Belichick and the Pats held the Dolphins to 21 points or less both times these teams met last year. Mac Jones looked a million times better last week than at any point in 2022 and the Dolphins were not adept at slowing down the Chargers rushing attack last week. I love the Pats to pull off the upset here.
Last year the Colts inexplicably went 0-1-1 against Houston, but the final week of the season actually helped Indy land Anthony Richardson and move Houston out of the No. 1 spot and into C.J. Stroud. Which makes a potential win somehow better than revenge. Richardson got banged up last week but would have played if the game was on the line and isn't even on the injury report going into this game. Call it what you want, but the Colts offense might turn Richardson -- as an effective runner (he ran 10 times for 40 yards and a touchdown) and dangerous passer (24 of 37 for 223 yards, a touchdown and a pick) -- into the Offensive Rookie of the Year, in a similar vein to Cam Newton if he can stay healthy the whole season. Indy can generate pass rush against a banged-up Houston offensive line and I trust the Colts coaching staff and Richardson to prevent the massive mistake more than I trust the Texans and Stroud to do so.
Bills (-9.5) vs Raiders
On Monday night Josh Allen looked like he had a blank space where his mind should be, eschewing patience and lobbing a trio of inexplicably aggressive deep balls against a defense that's become his kryptonite over the last 15 weeks of football or so. He's by no means out of the woods when it comes to figuring out the issues that plagued him last year and in Week 1. But a home opener with the chip on Allen's shoulder only larger against a Raiders defense that doesn't have the firepower to slow down Allen the way Robert Saleh's unit did should help ease his pain. On the other side, Jakobi Meyers is still in concussion protocol and Davante Adams missed practice on Wednesday. Both could be back, of course, but the Raiders offense could be severely limited. Would've, could've, should've but if the Bills beat the Jets or look remotely competent on offense against a different team in Week 1 this line is way north of double digits.
I'm not sure the moment I knew my Week 1 Panthers pick was dead, but it was probably whenever the Carolina run game completely melted and resulted in an early field goal. The Panthers need to run against the Saints and the question of how effective they'll be is reasonably up in the air with the Titans and Derrick Henry largely struggling to do so last week. I think the Carolina offensive line is a better run-blocking unit than Tennessee's, as least as currently constituted, and should have more success on the ground. The Saints defense is strong but I also don't think Bryce Young makes the mistakes he made in back-to-back weeks. The Saints scored 10 of their 16 points against Tennessee on two drives started off turnovers where they started inside the Titans' 33-yard line. The Panthers defense looked stout for much of last week, Carolina is at home, it's a Monday night game in Young's first start against a division rival. I think Frank Reich brings out the kitchen sink for this Carolina offense and we see some sparks fly.