Welcome back, pro football fans and Upset Bird flock, as we begin our 23rd season of Friday Page predictions. The year was 1991. Movie fans loved Silence of the Lambs, kids played with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and I set out on what would be a futile, career-spanning effort to make sense of the NFL. We had mixed results last season. Our .651 overall winning percentage was our best since .2009, but our .488 record against the point spread marked a 59-point tumble. Our personal bests are .705 and .574, and our career averages are .635 and .506. You know Im not lying, or else the numbers would be much more impressive. [Note: Thursday game pick was Broncos (-7.5) over Ravens, 31-27].
|Final 2012||166-89-1||.651||114-120-22||. 488|
Cotes pick: CLE 23-20
TV: 1 p.m., CBS (airing in South Florida)
I must tell you this is a matchup of such little attraction outside these two markets it could easily be our Dog of the Week, but since I possess a latent homer gene the Dolphins are never my mutt game unless they are both winless and playing Bethune-Cookman. Plus, points for pure competitiveness here as this is Week 1s only pick em game and toughest call, elevating watchability. Cleveland has lost eight consecutive season openers but in spite of that aforementioned homer gene I see this as a trend ripe to end and make this a venue pick tilting to the Dawg Pounders. Sorry, Dolfans. Its nothing personal. I think Miami is the better overall team here, but Browns have much young talent and could surprise under first-year coach Rob Chudzinski, the former Miami Hurricane. An aggressive Earthtones pass rush will put heat on Ryan Tannehill, and Mike Wallace could have a tough matchup with Cleve corner Joe Haden. Im going to have my swag out, too, said Wallace, so he better be ready. I like that attitude, but I must stick with one of my prognosticatory rubrics when it comes to coin-flip games: When in doubt go home.
Line: NO by 3
Cotes pick: NO 31-27
TV: 1 p.m., FOX
The Game of the Week panel had a contentious call out the gate because the real GOTW looked like Ravens-Broncos on Thursday night. But for the weekend we liked this one over Giants-Cowboys, and it enjoyed a divisional tiebreaker over Packers-49ers. (This is one of six Week 1 division games). NAwlins coach Sean Payton is back from his BountyGate abyss and has a 10-2 record against . Atlanta, a fact that steers this pick in our a mind a lot more than the Falcons 0-4 preseason record. ATL made a nice offseason add in veteran RB Steven Jackson, should be a season-long player in the NFC and has a big upset shot here. But its just always a risk to side against Drew Brees at home.
Line: SEA by 3.5
Cotes pick: CAR 20-17
TV: 1 p.m., FOX
AAAWWWK! thunders the Upset Bird, soaring, serpentining, Kickoff Weekend sash displayed against iridescent black feathers. Movie sequel. Sadness in Seattle. Meg Ryaawwk! Well be a genius or an idiot with this call. Seattle ran the table in the preseason and Russell Wilsons bunch is a darling Super Bowl choice. Hawks are not as mighty on the road, though, and Panthers ended last season with four consecutive wins, so we like this as a pure hunch pick. Hunch paawwk, concurs U-Bird. Anybody else notice that Seahaawwks coach Pete Carroll has long, equine facial features? No? Naawwk?