Hank Baskett

NFL Picks: Breaking the fantasy seal

Phoenix Warfield San FranciscoI totally forgot I used to make NFL picks every week, until yesterday. But yesterday I went to a work happy hour and then to see Phoenix at the Warfield (with a slice of pizza and another beer in between), so NFL picks were an impossibility last night as well.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m hardly complaining. It’s always a good end to the work day to drink Sierra Nevada out of a 3-feet-high plastic tube with a tap at the bottom, which when stood up looked like a bong overfilled with beer (or extremely “dirty” water). And Phoenix? Unbelievable. At the absolute height of their powers. I’m having a hard time remembering a better show I’ve watched, especially six feet away from the stage. Definitely worth delaying my first round of NFL picks, and even worth being 80% deaf in my left ear up until about 5 pm this evening.

But enough about ear pain (don’t mistake me for my dad, who once walked away from a free outdoor Jimi Hendrix concert at UCLA because it was too loud … no, that wasn’t a typo). Before I make the picks, let’s talk a little bit about the No. 1 question most of us face on Sundays:

When do you first turn on your computer and check your fantasy team’s stats?

I try to hold out as long as I can, until at least halftime of the morning games. If you’re able to find out some stuff on the CBS ticker, fine, but there’s no point in worrying yourself just because Maurice Jones-Drew only ran for 3 yards on 9 carries in the first quarter and didn’t catch a pass.

But the main thing is, much like the first time you use the restroom when beer is getting poured from giant water pipes, you can’t stop checking your laptop once you open it up for the first time that day. Next thing you know you’re checking the stats 5 minutes later. Then every 3 minutes. Then every 90 seconds. And within a half-hour of first checking the computer, you’re attention is completely divided between the action on TV and at your “StatTracker” page, or whatever service your league has that shows the stats and scores in real time.

If I have a close head-to-head matchup near the end of the afternoon, I have no problem staring at the computer screen and praying for my opponents players to get injured stay out of the end zone. But getting all upset at an early deficit? A total waste of time, and you’ll end up having to wait until the NBC halftime show in the evening to watch all the plays you missed while refreshing your web browser. And nobody wants that.

So hold it as long as you can, kids. Don’t want to break the seal, or you’ll end up missing way too much of the party.

Onto the picks (Home team in caps):

Houston over TENNESSEE (-6.5): Hard to imagine the Titans beating anybody by more than 6 points.

PHILADELPHIA over New Orleans (-1): Oh wow, the Saints scored a bunch of points against the Lions. Still not sold.

NY JETS over New England (-3.5): Tom Brady can’t throw 800 passes this season, can he?

GREEN BAY (-9) over Cincinnati: Lost in the Bengals’ fluke loss was the fact that Denver is a baaaaaad team. Now they’re on the road against a defense that’s about 80 times better than the Broncos’. Child please.

KANSAS CITY (-3) over Oakland: Was there any doubt Monday night that the Chargers would drive down the field and score in the last 2:30? The Raiders aren’t good enough to beat decent teams at home or anybody besides the Rams or Lions on the road.

Arizona over JACKSONVILLE (-3): The Cardinals need to figure out that they have the same offense as last year, only better because Beanie Wells is a more explosive runner than Edgerrin James. Facing the sinking Jags should help.

Detroit over MINNESOTA (-10): I’m not comfortable enough with a giving up 10 points against any team in Week 2. Even the Lions.

Carolina over ATLANTA (-6): If these same two teams weren’t in the same division, I’d take Atlanta.

St. Louis over WASHINGTON (-9.5): If I didn’t feel comfortable with Minnesota giving 10 points to the Lions, you know I won’t take Washington giving up 9.5 to anybody. Even the Rams.

BUFFALO (-4.5) over Tampa Bay: Hmmm, a pretty lousy NFC team going on the road to play a pretty decent AFC team. It’s kind of like sending the Pirates to play a 3-game series in Minnesota against the Twins — it’s probably not going to end well.

Baltimore over SAN DIEGO (-3): A line like this means Vegas thinks the Ravens and Chargers are almost perfectly equal. Or maybe they just have no idea. Either way, expect the Ravens defense to make a little comeback this week.

DENVER (-3) over Cleveland: The standout crappy matchup in a week chocked full of them.

Pittsburgh (-2.5) over CHICAGO: The AFC is still a lot better than the NFC, and the Bears don’t have it figured out yet.

SAN FRANCISCO (-1) over Seattle: If the 49ers can bring the same type of pressure on Matt Hasselbeck that they did on Kurt Warner last week, this will be an easier win than last week.

DALLAS (-2.5) over NY Giants: Eight Cowboys in the box, all night long. What do you mean, “That sounds kind of dirty”?

MIAMI over Indianapolis (-3): You know Marvin Harrison’s got problems when the Colts would rather sign Hank Wilkinson than bring back the best receiver in franchise history.

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