2005 Week 1 NFL Pick Review

I hate to say I told you so. The San Francisco 49ers made my crazy predications ring true when they throttled (the score doesn’t tell the true story) the St. Louis Rams, 28-25. And thank God for the Miami Dolphins… with everyone in the world betting against them, besides me of course, they pummeled the unsuspecting Broncos 34-10 (this time the score does tell the story). Okay, all right, maybe my week one was more like Daunte Culpepper’s (223 yards, 3 interceptions, 2 fumbles) than Willie Parkers (209 total yards, 1 touchdown). But, would you trade Culpepper for Parker? No. This is exactly why you shouldn’t give up on good ol’ Lucky Lester. I stumbled out of the gates, I spilt beer all over the sofa, I peed on the toilet seat, and in the end I lost 11 of 16. Ouch! Go figure, as confident as I was… Fortunately, I wasn’t the only one. There were 10 games that featured a playoff team from a year ago, and a team that ended their season early. Seven times out of ten, the team that didn’t make the playoffs last year won the game on Sunday. Now that you’ve got the numbers, lets take a closer look at my worst week ever…
It all started with an opening night trouncing. The Raiders held tight for a while on Randy Moss’ 80-yard touchdown catch, but couldn’t keep close enough to cover the elusive 7-point spread. Moss played fine, and the Raider defense held Corey Dillon down most of the night. Sapp and Washington made big plays in the second half to give the Raiders a chance. It was Kerry “Whoops” Collins that floundered when he was needed most. Collins had a nice stat line (265 yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception) but his game was erratic. This is my assessment of the Oakland Raider quarterback. Locks on to his receivers, holds the ball too long, throws every ball like he’s trying to hit the Goodyear blimp, and runs like Drew Bledsoe. If you saw the game, you aren’t arguing right now. Either way, I started out with a loss. Oakland Raiders 20 – New England Patriots 30.

It didn’t get much better from there. My stone cold lock was decimated when the Gus Ferrote led Miami Dolphins destroyed Mike Shanahan’s Denver Broncos. First of all, I can’t believe the Dolphins scored 34 points. That is a stunner. Incredibly, the Dolphins held the highly touted Denver Bronco rushing attack to less than 100 yards, and a measly 10 points. I didn’t think it would happen this soon, but the Bronco’s showed that my preseason prediction, (they won’t possess a 1000 yard running back) might just come true. This sure victory makes me question, where are all those people that said college coaches can’t do it in the NFL? One for Nick Saban, Zero for those people. Denver Broncos 10 – Miami Dolphins 34.

My wins were few and far between on opening Sunday, but the Cincinnati Bengals held true to their promise by caging the Cleveland Browns 27-13. Carson Palmer looked as good as I thought he’d be against a sub par Cleveland defense. Rudi Johnson lived up to his billing as one of the top 5 toughest players in the NFL (Sporting News) rushing for over 100 yards and a touchdown. Marvin Lewis’ defense looked stout in their opening day debut. Look for them to continue next week. Thanks to the Bengals, I got my first win early. Cincinnati Bengals 27 – Cleveland Browns 13.

The sturdy Buffalo Bills defense brought me to .500 and false hopes that my opening week was back on track. The Bills defense, which I believe to be the best in the league, held David Carr to 70 yards passing with no touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Basically, David sucked. Dominick Davis wasn’t much better, getting stopped as soon as he got the ball. How Houston got any points at all is a mystery to me. JP Losman put his nay sayers to rest starting the game 8-10 for 122 yards. If he plays well this year, the Bills will get at least 12 wins. After week 1, they have one. Buffalo Bills 22 – Houston Texans 7.

The Pittsburgh Steelers started off even with the Tennessee Titans at a touchdown a piece early in the first quarter. After that the Titans never reached the end zone again. The Steelers would visit frequently. Willie Parker, who was third on the depth chart throughout the preseason, stepped up to the challenge with Duce Staley and Jerome Bettis out with injury. Parker rumbled and sprinted for161 rushing yards, 48 receiving yards, and a touchdown. Big Ben Roethlisberger was much better than he was during the preseason, tossing the pig for 218 yards and 2 touchdowns without a single turnover. The Titans were no match for a Steeler team that has it all. Will they go 15-1 again? Who knows? They’re 1-0. This win brought me to 3-2. Pittsburgh Steelers 34 – Tennessee Titans 7.

The Chicago Bears – Washington Redskin match was every bit of the crowd pleaser I thought it would be. 9-7. Must I say anymore? The Redskins defense allowed a total of 166 yards out of the Bears. The Washington Redskins lost starter Patrick Ramsey, which didn’t seem to be a big hit to their chances as Mark Brunell led the team on three scoring drives. Yes, all field goals. This was the only game of the week, where the winning team didn’t score a touchdown. Gross. It’s too bad CBS didn’t broadcast this game in my area…yeah right. Clinton Portis rushed for 121 yards on 21 carries, but no touchdowns. My guess, Mark Brunell will start next week, and if he stays healthy, every week after that. Neither of these teams will do much scoring this year. Either way it’s tough to cover a 5.5 point spread when you don’t score a touchdown, and the Redskins didn’t. Thanks. I was back to .500. Washington Redskins 9 – Chicago Bears 7.

The Carolina Panthers couldn’t beat the New Orleans Saints who were seemingly destined to win for their home town fans down in New Orleans. The game started out even with touchdowns on each side, and it took a last minute field goal for the Saints to pull out ahead of the Panthers, 23-20. Steven Davis played well in his first game in some time, and Steve Smith also looked like his old self for the Panthers. Deuce McCallister was mostly stifled by the Carolina defense, but ended the game with 2 touchdowns on 64 yards after 26 carries. Carolina lost their best interior defensive lineman Kris Jenkins, who is out for the year. This was one of Sunday’s best games, and the feel good story of the day. Unfortunately, after losing 50 bucks on the game, and looking like a rookie, I didn’t feel so good.
New Orleans Saints 23 – Carolina Panthers 20.

Carnell “Cadillac” Williams was the highlight of the day in Minnesota. God knows it wasn’t Daunte “Baby Hands” Culpepper. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers rode their rookie to the tune of 148 yards and a touchdown in his NFL debut. The Vikings got on the back of their star and he just turned them over 5 times. Three interceptions and two fumbles later the Buccaneers had their first win of the season, and the Vikings were stuck asking themselves, how does Daunte hold on to the ball with those little baby hands? Oh, that’s right, he doesn’t. Culpepper’s disaster looked to be a fluke, where Carnell Williams’ debut is not. Look for better things from the Vikings, and Williams. If anything good can come out of this for Minnesota, it would be… nope, nothing was good about this. Two losses in a row took me to 3-5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 13 – Minnesota Vikings 24.

The Jacksonville Jaguars gave me a little pick me up with a win over those befuddling Hawks, bringing me as close to .500 as I’d get the rest of the day. After the first half of the game, I was sure this one would be a nail-biter. Turns out the “good” Seahawks went into the locker room and never came out. The “Kick our ass all over the field” Seattle team came out after half-time. Byron Leftwich played pretty well in his new “vertical” passing attack. Fred Taylor had some good runs, but looked a little timid in his first game since he left late last season with an injury. Shaun Alexander ran like Tinkerbell most of the day, making sure he didn’t get hit that hard. Good move, he wouldn’t want to hurt himself before his big payday this off-season. (This won’t be the last time Tinky tiptoes through the tulips) Hasselbeck started off well, but fell victim to a lack of protection and his own wayward throws. The Seattle Seahawks basically got beat in every aspect of the game. Which Seattle Seahawk team will show up next week? Your guess is almost as good as mine.
Jacksonville Jaguars 26 – Seattle Seahawks 14.

The New York Jets were as bad as any team in the league on Sunday. Chad Pennington looked pathetic, at best, and his defense didn’t look much better against what seemed to be an exemplarily Kansas City Chiefs team. Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson form the best running back tandem in the NFL. Each rushed for close to 100 yards, Johnson finishing with more yards than Holmes. The passing game in Kansas City looked all right, though it should get tested with Willie Roaf out next week. The Pennington to Laveranues Coles tosses that I was expecting didn’t have any mustard on them, as most fluttered to the grass like single winged geese. Curtis Martin was stumped by the new Chief defense that could get Kansas City back to the level they were a couple years ago. What was I thinking betting against Kansas City at home? Coach Herman Edwards and I had the same crapped out look on our faces after the final tick-tocked off the clock. Back to 2 games under .500. Kansas City Chiefs 27 – New York Jets 7.

The newly dressed and revamped Arizona Cardinals playing in New York against the Eli Manning led New York Giants? And they’re getting points. This was a no-brainer, right? As it turns out, it’s just me that has no brain. The Giants in New York on September 11th… think they were a little emotional? If that 42 – 18 score doesn’t say it, I don’t know what does. Tiki Barbar showed that last year wasn’t a fluke as he had over 60 yards both rushing and receiving, taking one run through the Cardinal defense and into the end zone. Eli Manning had as many touchdowns as he did interceptions, 2, but he looked all right leading his Giants to victory. It was the Giants defense that really impressed me, as they only allowed one rusher over 10 yards, Kurt Warner of all people. This game sent Dennis Green back to the drawing board and me down to 4-7.
New York Giants 42 – Arizona Cardinals 18.

Mike Martz and the St. Louis Rams make a point to screw me over as much as possible. Not only did the Rams fall to the seemingly hopeless San Francisco 49ers on opening day, but I lost money because of it. Who would have thought the Rams would lose to a team like the 49ers? Kevan Barlow only had 22 yards on 12 carries, and he was the Niner’s leading rusher. Basically, they allowed Tim Rattay to beat them. Brandon Lloyd had a nice touchdown catch. The Rams fought back to make the game look much closer than it was, but truly they got beat in every facet of football. I don’t know what to say about the Rams besides the fact that I hate them. That’s right. If I bet on the bastards they lose, it doesn’t matter who they’re playing, they lose. If I bet against them, they end up covering against any team they play. As you can see this puts me in a quandary. This week, I’m overjoyed the Rams are 0-1, but it just figures that I bet them to win. Now I’d lost twice as many as I’d won.
San Francisco 49ers 28 – St. Louis Rams 25.

My last Sunday win came when the Detroit Lions pummeled the tumbling Green Bay Packers. Green Bay looked like garbage. Brett couldn’t throw it, Javon couldn’t catch it, and Ahman couldn’t run it. As you can imagine they didn’t score many points. In fact, if it weren’t for Ryan Longwell’s ability to kick it they wouldn’t have had a single point. As if matters weren’t shoddy enough for the Pack, Javon Walker tore his ACL and will be out for the rest of the year. I wonder if he wishes he had held out a little longer? That’s why guys want contracts that adhere to their ability, shit like a torn knee ligament happens every week. The Lions were led by Joey Harrington and Kevin Jones. Each played fairly well, but not great. Joey threw a couple touchdown passes and didn’t make many mistakes. The Lions brought my win total to a dismal 5 count. The highest Sunday would bring me. Detroit Lions 17 – Green Bay Packers 3.

Dallas Cowboys pulled out a victory against the Chargers in one of the day’s best match-ups. Drew Brees completed a huge 4th and forever late in the 4th quarter giving the Chargers 1st and goal from the 7 with 1:30 to go. Did I mention that covering the spread was out at this point? Well it was. Either way I still had some hope that those hated Cowboys would fall in San Diego. Then, on four straight plays Drew Brees ran about looking for Antonio Gates in the back of the end zone. If you remember correctly, Gates was suspended for 2 preseason games and 1 regular season game… by his own team. As soon as I heard that, I knew it would come back to haunt them. Ask Drew how nice it would have been to have Gates, who caught 11 touchdowns last year, running routes those last 4 plays. As you might have guessed, Drew never found Gates, nor did he find anyone else, as the Chargers turned it over on downs. With one game to go, there was no way I’d get back to .500 on the week.
Dallas Cowboys 28 – San Diego Chargers 24.

Sunday Night Football had one of the most highly anticipated matches of the day. The Indianapolis Colts and the Baltimore Ravens didn’t disappoint as each defense held the opposing offense scoreless for most of the first half. The Colts put three on the board with a short Mike Vanderjagt field goal. The story of the night wasn’t the blah performance by the Kyle Boller led Baltimore offense, the sub par Manning performance, nor the injury to Boller late in the second half. It was the uncharacteristically crappy performance by kicker Matt Stover. In a place where you just don’t want to be, Stover found himself getting booed by hometown fans. Matt missed three field goals, all less than 50 yards. It wasn’t until the meaningless extra point in the last minute that he finally got one through the uprights. The Baltimore defense was damn good most of the game, and newly acquired Derrick Mason posted 99 yards receiving. Besides that, the Ravens have nothing to be proud of. The Colts pulled off a tough one, and their defense looks as stout as its ever been. If the Colts are this good on both sides of the ball, who can beat them?
Indianapolis Colts 24 – Baltimore Ravens 7.

The Atlanta Falcons hosted the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night Football. Favored by only a point, I took the Eagles to handle the Falcons easily in Atlanta. I figured TO would excel on Monday Night’s stage, and the Eagle Defense would once again have Mike Vick’s number. Like the rest of week one, this one didn’t go as I had expected. Not only was the game relatively boring, but the Falcons came out on top. Mike Vick nearly eclipsed 100 yards on the ground. And he threw the ball decently. Warrick Dunn ran all over the field for the Falcons. The Eagle running game was stagnant at best, rushing for only 50 yards on the night. McNabb took a shot to the sternum early in the contest. It seemed to effect him. There were a handful of times in the pocket where Donovan McNabb resembled a stuttering 8th grader with ADD. Seriously, he was hoping around looking all over the field, always double-checking to make sure Patrick Kerney wasn’t trying to cave-in his chest. It didn’t help his average accuracy. To be fair, he had 3-4 drops on key plays from his receivers. The Eagles came up 2 yards short on 4th and 10. Luckily a phantom timeout at the end gave me one more shot at 6 wins, but McNabb got walloped as he threw short to Terrell Owens going down the sidelines. Game over. Eagles lose. Lucky goes to 5-11.
Atlanta Falcons 14 – Philadelphia Eagles 10.

Stay tuned for next week as I attempt to pull both feet out of my mouth.

Good Luck with your NFL Football Betting!
Lucky Lester – Free Football Picks

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