Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to season eight of my NFL picks.
If you're reading this right now, that's a good thing, because it means you've successfully survived everything that 2020 has thrown at us so far. I'm not sure about you, but I knew we were in trouble when the murder hornets showed up, and the worst part is that it's only a matter of time before the murder hamsters show up, because as we all know, they always invade after the hornets.
The fact that I survived the past five months is a minor miracle. I didn't think I was going to survive past March, and that's mostly because I went five straight weeks without toilet paper at my house. I don't want to go into too many details about how I made it through that rough period, but I will say that toilet paper hoarding should be a crime. I now get PTSD every time I walk in the bathroom.
The good news in all of this is that I didn't catch coronavirus, but on the other hand, I haven't slept since April, because I've been quarantined with a baby.
My wife and I decided to spice up our quarantine by adding a baby! This is little miss Annabelle Breech. She's our first kid & she drinks milk at a faster rate than I drink beer. She has also vowed to never let her parents sleep again, but she's adorable, so we're fine with that. pic.twitter.com/rMOC99LSwH— John Breech (@johnbreech) April 9, 2020
My wife and I had the baby back in April, and since you're probably wondering, no, we didn't buy her on Wayfair, but we did buy a nice couch from them.
If I've learned one thing about babies over the past five months, it's that they don't seem to care when you blame things on them, which I'm only mentioning because I'll be blaming all my missed picks on the baby this year.
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Anyway, before we get to the picks, I have good news for the five of you who emailed in and demanded to CBS that I do more this season. Not only will I be writing this weekly picks column, but I'll also be podcasting a lot this year. As a matter of fact, you should go ahead and circle every Monday, Tuesday and Friday on your calendar from now until February, because that's when I'll be joining Will Brinson on the Pick Six Podcast (Click here to check it out). The Pick Six pod is my favorite podcast on the internet because A. I'm on it and B. it's the only daily NFL podcast around.
If your first thought after hearing that news was, "That's great that you have podcast, John, but we want to see your handsome face. How do we do that?" Great question, and I'm glad to answer it. For the 2020 season, not only will our podcast be published on YouTube, but we'll also be doing a daily Pick Six video show for CBS Sports HQ. If you're not watching CBS Sports HQ every day, you should be, and that's because it's a free streaming sports website that offers non-stop content at all hours of the day, and most importantly, you get to see me. Also, you can watch it on multiple platforms like Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV.
Finally, if you get through my NFL picks and decide you need more picks, because you're a picks addict: You can check out the Week 1 picks from six other CBSSports.com NFL writers by clicking here.
MY GOODNESS, that was a lengthy introduction, but after surviving the murder hornets, the pandemic and the squirrel who had bubonic plague, I knew you guys could survive a long intro. That being said, I think I've made you guys wait long enough, so let's get to the picks.
NFL Week 1 Picks
Green Bay at Minnesota
1 p.m. ET (FOX)
Point spread: Vikings, -2.5
I'm not sure either of these teams really had a plan this offseason, and if they did, I have no idea what it was. The Vikings completely revamped their defense by dumping multiple starters, which slightly worries me, because that means they're going into Week 1 after a pandemic shortened offseason with a bunch of new starters on defense. As for the Packers, after going to the NFC title game last season, I fully expected them to add some receiving help for Aaron Rodgers in the draft, and I think Aaron Rodgers also thought that was going to happen, because that's the only way to explain why he started pounding tequila after Green Bay drafted Jordan Love.
I'm not going to judge Rodgers for going straight to the tequila and that's mainly because I've done some of my best work after pounding tequila. On Rodgers' end, this feels like a season where he's going to be playing with a chip on his shoulder, which is kind of fitting, because chips go well with tequila. The one thing I like about Rodgers is that he gets to open up the season against the Vikings defense that I just mentioned. I actually think the Vikings will end up having a decent defense this season, especially since they added Yannick Ngakoue, but I don't think the unit is going to gel right away, which is why Rodgers is going to shred them.
Not only am I going to pick the Packers here, but I'm also predicting that Rodgers drinks seven fingers of tequila after the game to celebrate the win. On a somewhat related note, I drank seven fingers of tequila once in college and I got so drunk that I now have a pile of rocks sitting on my porch so I can count down the days until I die, just like Kirk Cousins.
I'm not sure how many rocks I have left, but it's definitely not as many as Kirk. That worries me.
The pick: Packers 20-17 over Vikings
L.A. Chargers at Cincinnati
4:05 p.m. ET (CBS)
Point spread: Chargers, -3
As the resident Bengals homer here at CBSSports.com, I made a vow after Joe Burrow was drafted that I would never pick against him in any game ever, and now that I'm thinking about it, I probably shouldn't have made that vow, because I'm seriously thinking about picking against him in his VERY FIRST GAME. My biggest issue with Burrow is that he got zero practice in the spring, and that the only defense he's gone up against since being drafted is the Bengals defense (For anyone who doesn't follow the Bengals, their defense isn't good). Burrow is going to go from throwing passes against his own team to throwing passes against a defense that has two of the best pass-rushers in the NFL (Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram) and one of the best corners (Chris Harris). This would be like eating three hot dogs at dinner and then thinking you could beat Joey Chestnut in a hot dog eating contest.
And you know what, let's be honest about this entire situation, the last time a guy named Joe was in charge of a bunch of Bengal tigers, it didn't work out well for anyone -- unless you count Carole Baskin, and I'm not going to count Carole Baskin -- so I guess I have to go with the Chargers.
I should also point out that No. 1 overall picks seem to struggle in Week 1. Over the past 15 years, there have been six quarterbacks taken with the first overall pick who ALSO started in Week 1 during their rookie season and those quarterbacks have combined to win exactly zero games (0-5-1). That doesn't seem like a good thing for the Bengals.
The pick: Chargers 23-20 over Bengals
Tampa Bay at New Orleans
4:25 p.m. ET (FOX)
Point spread: Saints, -3.5
As you've probably noticed, a lot of crazy things have happened in 2020, and I have to say, the most unexpected one has to be the fact that Tom Brady basically turned into a one man crimewave. Not only did he get kicked out of a closed park after illegally entering it during quarantine, but the Buccaneers quarterback also got caught trespassing at a man's house after he accidentally walked into it and the worst part is that he does not HAVE A SINGLE OUNCE OF REMORSE about any of this.
The only reason I'm pointing any of this out is because those things only happened because Brady couldn't find a place to practice. Due to the pandemic, the NFL canceled practices and OTAs for all 32 teams, which means Brady didn't get to officially practice with his team until August. Basically, by the time this game kicks off, Brady is only going to have roughly five weeks of practice under his belt, which means he'll only have had five weeks to get comfortable with everyone on his offense.
On the other hand, the Saints don't even really need to practice. Their offense is made up of a bunch of guys who already have good chemistry because they've played together for so long. I mean, if you're wondering what Sean Payton's confidence-level is this year, HE'S LITERALLY BEEN SHARING HIS TEAM'S BEST PLAYS ON TWITTER.
Nothing says "Power move" quite like your head coach sharing his favorite plays on Twitter. That's something you definitely don't do unless you know for sure that there's no way the other team is going to stop you. I think the Buccaneers are going to be good this year, but they have too many new players and I don't think everyone is going to be on the same page come Week 1.
The pick: Saints 27-24 over Buccaneers
Dallas at L.A. Rams
8:20 p.m. ET (NBC)
Point spread: Cowboys, -2.5
I'm not sure if you can be on the hot seat after just one game, but I feel like that's exactly where Mike McCarthy will be if the Cowboys lose to the Rams on Sunday. The problem for McCarthy is that the last time these two teams played came last December in a game where JASON GARRETT led Dallas to a monstrous win (44-21). I'm not sure what would qualify as a nightmare start to the season for McCarthy, but I have to think that losing to a team that Garrett beat by 23 points would definitely be near the top of the list.
I've actually been flip-flopping about who I want to pick in this game. First, I was leaning Cowboys, but then I decided to binge-watch "Hard Knocks" over the weekend, and now, I think I'm leaning Rams. Honestly, I should probably stop watching "Hard Knocks" because the same thing happens every year: HBO somehow brainwashes me into thinking that the "Hard Knocks" team is going to be good. You know what, I'm going to split the difference, I'm going to say the Rams are going to be good this year, but they're going to lose this game. I think the Cowboys have too much firepower and they'll have an element of offensive surprise that they never really had with Garrett, who seemed to run the same thing every week, and also, who I don't think believes in surprises. I'm guessing he's never been invited to a surprise birthday party.
The pick: Cowboys 34-27 over Rams
Lock of the Week
Houston at Kansas City
Thursday, 8:20 p.m. ET (NBC)
Point spread: Chiefs, -9.5
The last time we saw these two teams on the same field together was back in January when the Texans jumped out to a 24-0 lead in a game that they eventually lost 51-31, and as we all know, the only thing more embarrassing than blowing a 24-point lead is getting blasted 51-7 after you held that lead. The good news for the Texans this time around is that they won't have to worry about blowing a 24-point lead in this game, because they're not even going to score 24 points.
To give you a quick recap of Houston's offseason: They traded away their best offensive player (DeAndre Hopkins), and to be honest, I'm not really sure what happened after that, because I stopped paying attention. On the Chiefs' end, they're returning 18 of 22 starters from their Super Bowl team, they managed to re-sign every important player and they did all of that even though they only had $177 OF SALARY CAP SPACE GOING INTO FREE AGENCY. That's like going to a car dealership with $12 and somehow coming home with a Ferrari.
Finally, did I mention that the Chiefs led the AFC in passing yards last season and that they'll be going up against a Texans defense that had the worst pass defense in the AFC? Because if I didn't mention that, I feel like I should. Also, if you give Andy Reid extra time to prepare for a game, he's not going to lose, therefore, I cannot pick the Chiefs to lose.
To commemorate Mahomes' new $503 million contract, I was going to pick the Chiefs to win by 503 million points, but my editor told me that's not realistic, so I'll take out that first zero in 503 million and go with 53.
The pick: Chiefs 53-20 over Texans
Bonus Lock of the week
Pittsburgh at N.Y. Giants
Monday, 7:15 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Point spread: Steelers, -4.5
It's probably a good thing that Giants fans aren't going to be allowed to attend this game, because I'm not sure any of them would emotionally survive the beating I think the Giants are going to take.
On paper -- and in real life -- this game feels like a total mismatch. Unfortunately for the Giants, the Steelers are basically built to exploit every weakness the Giants have. To put this in perspective, let's do a quick thought exercise: Think of all the things you're bad at and then imagine having them all thrown in your face at once. For me, it would be like if I entered a karaoke contest where I had to sing in German. Well, I don't know German, I can't sing, and I've never won a contest of any sort in my life , so I'd definitely lose, and just so we're clear, I'm the Giants in this situation.
Here's a look at everything that could go wrong for New York:
- Daniel Jones was sacked an average of 3.17 times per start last season, which was the third-most in the NFL. The Steelers led the NFL in sacks last year.
- Daniel Jones fumbled 18 times in 12 games last season. The Steelers led the NFL in fumble recoveries.
- The Steelers' biggest strength is their defensive line. The Giants' starting left tackle opted out for the season and the position will now be manned by a rookie.
This game is also going to give us a Super Bowl-winning coach (Mike Tomlin) against a first-year head coach (Joe Judge) who will barely have had five weeks of on-field practice with his team before this game takes place.
I have no idea how healthy Ben Roethlisberger is going to look, but I'm not sure it's going to matter. I also don't know if Roethlisberger can sing in German, but that's probably not going to matter, either.
The pick: Steelers 27-13 over Giants
Final Lock of the Week record for 2019: 16-2 straight up, 7-10-1 against the spread
NFL Week 1 picks: All the rest
Falcons 34-31 over Seahawks
Bills 20-13 over Jets
Patriots 19-16 over Dolphins
Eagles 30-20 over Washington
Lions 20-16 over Bears
Panthers 24-21 over Raiders
Colts 31-17 over Jaguars
Ravens 27-20 over Browns
49ers 26-23 over Cardinals
Titans 23-16 over Broncos
Best pick: Since there weren't any regular season games played last week, I guess I should probably just use this space to point out my best pick from 2019. Before the season started, I picked the Chiefs to win the Super Bowl and then the Chiefs went on to win the Super Bowl, which obviously means that my Super Bowl pick for the 2020 season is also going to win.
So who am I picking?
That's a great question, and you can find the answer by clicking here to see my predictions for the entire 2020 NFL season. If you click over, not only will you see my Super Bowl pick, but you'll also get to see who I'm picking to win each division and who I'm picking to make the playoffs. Also, if you click over, you may start to understand why Will Brinson has a conspiracy theory that I'm being brainwashed by Jerry Jones. I don't think I'm being brainwashed, but I suppose that someone who's being brainwashed wouldn't know that they're being brainwashed. Crap. I might have been brainwashed.
Worst pick: Although I'll have plenty of "worst picks" for this section starting next week, I have nothing for this week, so instead, I feel like I should use this section to hand out the award for worst offseason by any NFL team, and yup, you guessed it, the award goes to Washington. If Dan Snyder owned a bakery instead of a football team, it would have gone out of business 11 years ago and it would have been so disastrous that the government probably would have ordered all bakeries to close just to make sure that Snyder never owns another one.
Overall picks record since 2013
After watching my straight-up record plummet for two horrifying seasons (2015-2016), the tide has slowly been turning over the past three years (2017-2019), and I don't want to sound cocky, but I think I might go 256-0 picking games in 2020, although I'm already starting to regret that Panthers over Raiders pick.
Final 2019 regular-season record
Straight-up: 163-92-1 (Ranked first overall at CBSSports.com)
Against the spread: 120-130-6 (Did not rank first overall)
Final 2018 regular-season record
Against the spread: 123-126-7
Final 2017 regular-season record
Straight up: 161-95
Against the spread: 124-121-11
Final 2016 regular-season record
Straight up: 147-107-2
Against the spread: 116-129-11
Final 2015 regular-season record
Straight up: 152-104
Against the spread: 126-130
Final 2014 regular-season record
Straight up: 164-91-1
Against the spread: 125-131
Final 2013 regular-season record
Straight up: 165-90-1
Against the spread: 124-132