What’s up esteemed readers of Zoo With Roy dot com, the world’s most foremost bolg about wanting to go to the zoo with Roy Halladay? I’m Stephane Hardinger. You might remember me from elite posts such as Eagles-Panthers Running Diary and Eagles Week 6 Report Card – by Stephane “@GoingHard_inger” Hardinger. I’m back again this year for Zee Dub Arr giving my Hot Takes™® on the NFL, specifically making against both the spread and straight-up. It's worth noting that I am an 18 year old college freshman, and you should absolutely use these tips to gamble illegally. The NFL and moral dorks act like you shouldn't, but you totally should. BET AWAY, DONKEYS!!! Home teams in ALL CAPS, lines courtesy of VegasInsider.com.
New England (-9.5) 28, BUFFALO 13. As much as I love CJ Spiller and recognize that the Patriots’ receiving corps is arguably in worse shape than the Birds’, this pick comes down to Tom Brady vs. EJ Manuel. Bieberlocks wins that matchup eleventy times out of eleventy against a rookie QB coming off a preseason knee surgery who many saw as a reach in this year’s draft.
PITTSBURGH (-7) 27, Tennessee 14. Laying a touchdown against Jake Locker. Going up against Dick LeBeau. I don’t care if Mike Wallace is gone and the defense isn’t the same, this isn’t rocket science folks.
Atlanta (-3) 38, NEW ORLEANS 34. Great matchup, going to be a shootout for sure. Saints defense is guaranteed to be bad with Rob Ryan’s Belly at the helm and the Falcons lost a couple starters this offseason as well. Tough one to pick ATS, but my gut tells me to lean to the team that won the division and was the NFC’s 1-seed last year, not the team that missed the playoffs with a historically bad defense last year. But what do I know? Also: bet the over on this one. Over 54.5 is a STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN lock.
Tampa Bay (-3.5) 23, NEW YORK JETS 13. No for real you only have to lay 3.5 points to bet against Geno Smith in his NFL debut. You know, that Geno Smith. With a supporting cast prominently featuring a limited Santonio Holmes, Stephen Hill, Joseph A. Bank, Jeremy Kerley, Chris Ivory, and Bilal Powell. Plus, Darrell Revis revenge game. He’s gonna house one. Easy bet.
Kansas City (-4) 24, JACKSONVILLE 17. No for real you only have to lay 4 points to bet against Blaine Gabbert. You know, that Blaine Gabbert. Done case closed. Say what you want about the end of Big Red’s tenure here, but I have little doubt he turns around the Chiefs. Alex Smith, Jamaal Charles, and a maybe rejuvenated Dwayne Bowe make this a pretty solid pick, even on the road in the FIERCE and HOSTILE environment that is a sure-to-be sold out EverBank Field. (Evidence here from the official Jaguars Twitter account-no, I don’t know what it means either but LULZ).
Cincinnati (+3) 27, CHICAGO 21. UPSET ALERT. What can I say? “Hard Knocks” made me believe the hype. I like the Bengals offense a lot more than I did last year with rookies Tyler Eifert and Gio “I Drive My Girlfriend’s Mom’s Minivan Despite Being an NFL Player” Bernard joining physical freak AJ Green, Jermaine Gresham, BenJarvus “The Law Firm” Green-Ellis, and Mohamed Sanu. Plus, that defense is STINGY, especially the defensive line. Geno Atkins is a man. A real, adult man. And the Bears offensive line, while improved, is still a weak spot that the Bengals can look to exploit. Their pass defense last year was good enough that I expect them to not let Brandon Marshall win the game single-handedly. In the running for the best game of the week and another tough one to pick, but I’ll take the points here.
Miami (+1) 20, CLEVELAND 17. Don’t get me wrong, I like Cleveland a bit this year (Trent Richardson stand up!) and think the people picking the Dolphins to make the playoffs are silly. That being said, you GET POINTS to bet against Brandon Weeden. You know, the one who threw FOUR of the whopping EIGHT interceptions the vaunted 2012 Eagles defense was able to collect in ONE game. Including two to Kurt Coleman in one game. The only other QB to throw multiple INTs to Kurt Coleman in one game was Rex Grossman, so yeah. Also, Weeden did this. Heard he didn’t celebrate the 4th of July this year. Anyway, this is going to be an ugly, ugly football game, but one that I don’t feel comfortable laying points with Brandon Weeden in.
Seattle (-3.5) 31, CAROLINA 21. Blah blah blah West Coast team playing a 1PM game blah blah blah sophomore slump blah blah blah no Percy Harvin. I picked the Seahawks to go to the Super Bowl for a reason. That reason is that Russell Wilson is the truth. And Marshawn Lynch beast mode. And the Legion of Boom, who might also all be on PEDs simultaneously. Nothing against Cam Newton but I’ll take the far superior team here, especially when I only have to lay 3.5 points to do it.
DETROIT 27, Minnesota (+5) 23. Weird pick here, but I think Lions win and Vikings cover. I know the Lions were unluckily bad last year and the Vikings were luckily good, but come on now 5 points? I think Minnesota keeps it close enough to cover. Even though Christian Ponder is still at QB for the Vikes, Adrian Peterson is still at RB. And Ndamokung Suh might stomp/kick/viciously maim someone and get thrown out. I like the points here.
INDIANAPOLIS (-10) 38, Oakland 10. Some things you need to know about the Oakland Raiders before you consider picking them to cover: 1) they traded for Matt Flynn, only to have him lose his job in camp to Terrelle Pryor. 2) Terrelle Pryor completed less than 50% of his passes in his one regular season start last year. 3) Matt McGloin made the roster. 4) Some inside the Raiders organization believe McGloin gives them the best chance to win (no, really). 5) Over $50M on their salary cap is going to players who no longer play on the team. Does that cover it for you? Andrew Luck is going to find Reggie Wayne and TY Hilton and maybe even Marvin Harrison if he feels like coming back and playing for a game instead of capping fools in North Philly (allegedly) for TDs all day. This is also your survivor pool pick if you’re in one of those.
ST. LOUIS 19, Arizona (+4.5) 16 (OT). Jiminy Christmas there are a lot of games this week. Anyway, this has “crappy 4:25 PM game you get sucked into watching too much of on Red Zone because there are only 2 on that drags on for an interminable amount of time but you don’t want to leave even though it’s bad football because it’s close that inevitably goes to OT and ends up carrying you almost all the way to Sunday Night Football” written all over it. The Rams played 2 of these games against the Niners last year. One even ended in a tie (Shout out Donnie Mac!). Carson Palmer is not a good quarterback, but neither is Sam Bradford. Rashad Mendenhall isn’t a good running back, but neither is whoever replaced Steven Jackson in STL this year. The Cardinals will have the 2 best players on the field in Larry Fitzgerald and CB Patrick Peterson, the latter of whom has the chance to score a touchdown on offense, defense, special teams, or some combination of the three on Sunday. I’ll take the points, but I trust Greg “The Leg” “Legatron” “Young-GZ” Zuerlein to end this game with a thunderstick from distance if it’s close late.
SAN FRANCISCO 34, Green Bay (+4.5) 31. Always like getting points with an elite QB like Aaron Rodgers. I think the defense is better prepared for Colin Kaepernick this time around, and the additions of Eddie Lacy and Jonathan Franklin at RB help the Packers keep the Niners’ defense honest. However, I still like the Niners to pull out the W despite their issues at receiver. Jim Harbaugh magic, y’all. It’s going to be a close game and probably the best one of the week.
New York Giants (+3.5) 31, DALLAS 24. One of my favorite picks of the week. The Giant are 4-0 at JerryWorld since it opened, and both teams resemble last year’s versions quite a bit. Expect a late-game comeback engineered by Romo before one final DERP in the last 2 minutes seals the deal in another Giants win in Dallas. Dez Bryant wreaks havoc because that dude is an absolute animal, but it’s not enough. Also, Jason Garrett might get fired on the spot. JERRY JONES FOR LIFE, Y’ALL.
WASHINGTON (-3.5) 34, Philadelphia 27. Hear me out. Vegas typically adds 3 points to the line for home-field advantage, which means that this line suggests that the Redskins are only 0.5 points better than the Eagles. I know Chip Kelly rules and RGIII is coming off a knee injury (shake it like an MRI picture!!!!), but these are the defending division champs we’re talking about. The defense struggled against Washington last year (RGIII had a perfect 158.3 passer rating against them last year, and I’m not linking to it because it pains me physically but we all remember that play where that one dude was open for a TD by like 30 yards and Nnamdi and Kurt Coleman walked around the secondary staring at each other because apparently neither was contractually permitted to cover anyone or accept responsibility for anything), and the defense struggled against the run in preseason. The Redskins run the ball very well. The secondary is also not good again this year, led by noted bowl of fart soup Cary Williams. I expect both teams to move the ball well, but an untimely turnover or two from Mike Vick seals the Eagles’ fate in Chip Kelly’s debut.
Houston (-4.5) 27, SAN DIEGO 17. This has the makings of “boring late Week 1 MNF game that half of America falls asleep on the couch to unless you have a significant fantasy football rooting interest in it” written all over it. Matt Schaub boringly manages the game and throws a TD to Andre Johnson while Arian Foster boringly racks up 128 yards and a TD on 28 carries. Ben Tate also vultures a TD and everyone is upset because fantasy football means the world to so many people. Philip Rivers does something stupid that America finds funny.
BEST BETS: Tampa Bay -3.5, Indianapolis -10, New York Giants +3.5, Falcons/Saints over 54.5
Enjoy the games, folks.