We made it!
Through all the uncertainty, the fear, the testing. We made it, and football season is finally here to kick off its first week of action since Super Bowl LIV otherwise known as simpler times when Shakira, Jennifer Lopez, and – oh, yeah – some guy called Patrick Mahomes mesmerized the world in Miami.
A lot of things have changed since then, including Tom Brady’s zip code and Cleveland’s abrupt but predictable return from America’s darling to “meh” once again. It’s nice to know at least one thing is back to normal in 2020.
Bad jokes aside, here is the deal: You will get this weekly NFL preview each Friday, and the Best Bets for all other sports, where I am currently 11-7 and on a 10-5 run, on Mondays.
Capische? Good. Now, as the referee on “Celebrity Deathmatch” used to say: Let’s get it on!
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MIAMI DOLPHINS (+6.5) @ NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Upset Pick of the Day!
I’m feeling frisky already. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Dolphins return to New England, where they finished the 2019 season with a thrilling 27-24 victory that not only marked the beginning of the end of the Brady era for the Pats, but also was just the second win for Miami in Foxborough since 2008.
What makes me think that they can make it two in a row in hostile territory since 2000? Because of continuity.
Fitzpatrick is entering his second season as Miami’s starter and he is way more comfortable with Brian Flores’ system than Cam Newton is with Belichick. Besides, Cam is rusty and will probably rely on his legs more than on his arm to move the chains considering that he is coming back from injury and hasn’t played since Week 2 of last season.
Moreover, the Dolphins’ defense is revamped while the Patriots’ is a mish-mash of spare parts after half of it defected because of COVID-19.
My pick: Dolphins win 20 – 17. Take the points.
BALTIMORE RAVENS (-7.5) vs CLEVELAND BROWNS
Lamar Jackson 1.0 took the Ravens to the playoffs. Lamar Jackson 2.0 was an MVP and all-time Fantasy stud. Lamar Jackson 3.0 is ready to prove he is no passing fad and take Baltimore to the Super Bowl.
Lamar tore the Browns apart the last time he faced them in Baltimore: 238 passing yards, 103 rushing yards, 3 touchdowns, 0 interceptions and a 120.1 rating in a 31-15 win. I expect a redux of that and a couple of Baker Mayfield interceptions that will make Ohio pine for Ohio State football to come back as soon as possible. Also, bet the under on 48 combined points. Six of their last eight meetings have fallen under that threshold since 2016.
My pick: Ravens 24 – 20. Browns won't win, but they get the cover.
MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL PICK
TENNESSEE TITANS (-2) vs DENVER BRONCOS
The Broncos will set an NFL record by playing on Monday Night Football for the 26th consecutive year, and they are 30-35-1 all-time under the bright lights of MNF.
This is also a revenge game for the Titans since Denver shut them out 16-0 at Mile High in Week 8 last season and pushed them to bench Marcus Mariota as a result. Actually, this might actually be a “thank you” game, since Tennessee went 7-3 after that with Ryan Tannehill under center.
The Broncos are deflated after Von Miller’s leg injury that could make him miss the season, and I expect a double whammy with a loss at home on prime time.
My pick: Titans win 23 – 16. Lay the points.
-- El Hombre