The 2009 NFL Picks
Week one


It’s that time of year again… the football season has arrived. And that means it’s time to get the weekly picks column up and running.

Let’s get the introductions and general thoughts out of the way…

Yes, last year’s champion, Terry, has agreed to return. There was some mumbling… actually, wide-eyed, loud accusations about someone still owing her payment on last year’s victory, or something like that (once she said yes, I wasn’t really listening… figured it was trash talking or such). Anyway… she’s back. And we’re happy to have her taking part.

Molly and Gus are on board with the selection process. They’ll be using the tried and true which-treat-can-I-get-to method that has led to some embarrassingly good moments for Molly over the past couple of seasons. Each dog will pick half of the contests for any week, and we’ll keep their individual and combined stats in the contest.

We hope that Mike will be able to join us during the season. He’s got several plates in the air right now, so his commentary may not be what we’ve offered in the past. But he’s been a funny and valuable part of the Backpack NFL efforts in recent years, and we want to get his picks to you. And, fortunately, as I put the finishing touches on this, he has sent in a choice for the first game, so things look good for getting him involved for the full season.

This year, as a special addition to our crew, we’ve invited Dad to join the festivities.

One last thing… here are the divisional preview columns…

The AFC East and North

The AFC South and West

The NFC East and North

The NFC South and West

OK? Good. Let’s hit the selections and kick off the movie quotes by rolling out an old classic… Mr. Mom. Not a ton of quotes… and I had to eliminate the one about the old Aunt Emily (because I couldn’t find it to confirm it was Aunt Emily)… but wow, do I think what we have works for at least one team in every game.

(This week, in order to get everyone on board and involved, I needed odds as early as possible. So, we went to MSNBC, used their live odds section, and combined the 8 sources they list to get the average shown here. Favored team is noted with the numerical spread.)

Tennessee at Pittsburgh (5)“You yell at my kid like that again, I’m knockin’ you out!” To quote my passage about Pittsburgh in the preseason preview: “There are basically two kinds of people writing about Pittsburgh. Both of them are incredibly wrong. Type number one… giving them too much respect. (Note: The Steelers are not the team of the decade. They could be… but only by going undefeated and winning a title this year. Stop giving them too much respect.) And type number two… giving them too little respect. (Other than Brady, only one active, starting quarterback in the NFL has two titles… and he plays in Pittsburgh. Stop saying they beat weak opponents. Because it doesn’t matter… they beat them.)” I said more than that, because they are a very consistent organization, and they are winners. This is one of the best teams in football. But you don’t want to go insane with them. Let’s do a bit of a reality check. The Steelers have a very good team and a couple of championships, but they are not the best team in the NFL when you first start considering things… for this season or the past ten years. Not if you’re being honest and impartial. But there are some lessons of very solid performance to be learned about them. Pittsburgh wins at home. They win big at home. And they crush opponents in the first home game of the year, despite the expectations that opponent has entering the game. That’s what they do… season after season. That’s reality. And that’s just the way it is.
Bob: Pittsburgh
Terry: Pittsburgh
Mike: Pittsburgh
Dad: Tennessee
Molly: Tennessee

Miami at Atlanta (4)“I understand that you little guys start out with your woobies and you think they’re great. And they are. They are terrific. But pretty soon, a woobie isn’t enough. You’re out on the street trying to score an electric blanket, or maybe a quilt. And the next thing you know, you’re strung out on bedspreads Ken. That’s serious.” Both of these clubs had nice stories last year, but let’s toss a bit of perspective into this… Tampa Bay Rays style. The Dolphins are not winning the division again. They earned their woobie… but it’s a little too soon to be thinking about electric blankets. They’re good… but a little fall back is in order. The Falcons are… well… actually… I like what the Falcons are doing. They may not be ready for a bedspread this season, but I think they could build on last year and move up to a quilt. Which team got better between last season and this? The one that added a great tight end.
Bob: Atlanta
Terry: Miami
Mike: Miami
Dad: Atlanta
Gus: Miami

Kansas City at Baltimore (10)“Butler, you got a problem with your horizontal hold?” “I don’t know.” “Your wife says you do.” It seems like everyone can see what the folks in the Kansas City organization should see… adding a quarterback is great… and Cassell may even be a really good starter over the remainder of his career. But he doesn’t have a running back… doesn’t have a wide receiver… doesn’t have an offensive line… doesn’t have… ok… look… yeah, I’m exaggerating for effect. (And I’m only dealing with the offense.) But you shouldn’t pick an underdog unless you think they can win the game. I don’t. Those 10 points are a big spread, and one that should have you considering the underdog, because I’m not convinced the Ravens are a 20-pouints a game guarantee. But in this case, those 10 points are also on the road.
Bob: Baltimore
Terry: Baltimore
Mike: Baltimore
Dad: Baltimore
Molly: Baltimore

Philadelphia (1) at Carolina“He’s married!” “So were we once!” Both of these teams were good once upon a time. The honeymoon is over. (Sure… McNabb is part of that joke. But the sentiment works in Carolina especially.) Both of these clubs have visions of success and happiness in 2009. I only think one of them is in a situation to accomplish even a whiff of it though. And… hurts me though it does… I think that’s Philadelphia.
Bob: Philadelphia
Terry: Philadelphia
Mike: Carolina
Dad: Philadelphia
Gus: Philadelphia

Denver at Cincinnati (4)“I yelled at Kenny for coloring outside the lines! Megan and I are starting to watch the same TV shows, and I’m liking them. I’m losing it!” Both of these clubs are losing it as well. Denver has just been a circus for months. And Cincy… wow… I don’t know what to say. I do believe they’ll miss T.J Houshmandzadeh… and I think they may end up closer to Cleveland than to Pittsburgh or Baltimore. Still… it’s Denver coming in for a visit. The spring and summer punch line. Right? Here’s the funny thing… I haven’t heard much out of Denver except from the two disgruntled players… one that got traded, and one that they suspended. Maybe part of that is me not frequently getting the local news from Denver. But, since the national news sources are only mentioning those two players are their whining, maybe not. The point is… I really think there is a very good reason to believe that Denver isn’t as huge a mess as the embarrassing laundry we do see would indicate. That said… they weren’t in a position last year to win a division that almost was won by a team with a losing record. And they’re rebuilding. And they’re on the road. (Can you tell I want to make a case for taking Denver here?) I just don’t see it. This is a very important game for the Bungals. If they lose here, their season could be over. (I am not kidding.)
Bob: Cincinnati
Terry: Denver
Mike: Cincinnati
Dad: Cincinnati
Molly: Cincinnati

Minnesota (4) at Cleveland“Hello Jack. I’m Annette. You’re doing it wrong.” Zero faith in the Browns. None… nada… nothing. If there was anything they could have done right heading in to this season, they stopped, looked it over, and changed it so it would be wrong. Name a quarterback early on? No… no… why do that when we can let everyone know at the Labor Day team barbecue? It’s like the Browns management are approaching the season as if it’s one of those leagues for kids where they claim they don’t keep score and everybody plays. On the other side, alot of the talent is playing for the Vikings. Quarterback… running back… promising rookie wide receiver… and these are all players involved in a situation where a fast start will take alot of pressure off. Seriously… think about this one. If Minnesota wins this game like 31-3, alot of doom-and-gloom stories get put on hold. They really benefit from a fast start. I say they get it.
Bob: Minnesota
Terry: Cleveland
Mike: Minnesota
Dad: Minnesota
Gus: Minnesota

New York (Jets) at Houston (4½)“Honey if you call and I’m not home I’ll be at the gym or the gun club.” Both of these teams are pretending to be much more than they are. The Jets will not be challenging any one for the division crown. In fact, they’ll be challenged enough to stay out of the division’s basement. And Houston? I like some of the things they have in place much more than I ever thought I would, but let me ask you this… doesn’t it seem like every time Houston does something well, it happens when you don’t expect it? Starting quarterback goes down… expectations lowered… team goes on a three-game winning streak. Reggie Bush doesn’t get drafted first… he doesn’t play amazingly well… suddenly the draft they did offer looks more impressive and begins delivering results. When you think they’re doing things right… when you expect the victory on the road… when you think they have an opponent they should handle… nope.
Bob: Houston
Terry: New York
Mike: Houston
Dad: Houston
Molly: Houston

Jacksonville at Indianapolis (7)“Wow, what a house!” “Yeah, probably mortgaged to the eyeballs.” “Not this one, his great grandfather, Commander Richardson, built it.” “Ehh. Hand me down.” So the Colts are moving on to the next generation of leadership. Doesn’t matter really… the foundation is the same as the one that built the success in recent years. If we played this game a bit later on… say in week five or six… I’d be tempted to look up results over the past few seasons, where Jacksonville has really surprised Indy and been very competitive (if not a downright pain). But something tells me that Indy won’t even be challenged in this one. They should have the spread covered by halftime.
Bob: Indianapolis
Terry: Indianapolis
Mike: Indianapolis
Dad: Indianapolis
Gus: Indianapolis

Detroit at New Orleans (13)“Are you gonna make it all 220?” “220. 221. Whatever it takes.” The spread in this game is killing me. But there is zero way Detroit wins this game. Zero. And the brief moments I’ve seen from the Saints so far, I like.
Bob: New Orleans
Terry: New Orleans
Mike: New Orleans
Dad: Detroit
Molly: New Orleans

Dallas (5½) at Tampa Bay“Are you crazy? You don’t feed a baby chili!” There are so many things here that are just wrong. Tampa is going to struggle all season. And in the end, that’s what matters. It matters more than whether or not the Dallas offense can show up… or organize their defense. It matters more than the coaching hot seat candidate stories that will swirl around the Cowboys all year. It matters more than sorting out a true top running back for the Bucs… more than picking a long term quarterback… more than a rebuilding effort. Dallas wins this one with ease.
Bob: Dallas
Terry: Tampa
Mike: Dallas
Dad: Dallas
Gus: Dallas

San Francisco at Arizona (6½)“My wife and I went to the movies the other day, we saw Rocky. While I’m watching it, I’m thinking ‘This guy has taken some falls’ you know.” “Which Rocky was it? One or two? Or three?” “I don’t know. Three I guess. But…” “Hey, did the guy have a mohawk like Mr. T?” “Ok. Forget Rocky. The point is, when you’re down, you’re not exactly out. I mean, I mean you gotta hang tough. I don’t know.” “Well hang tough baby! Do what Rocky would do!” (Pause) “He didn’t see Rocky.” This game has me stumped. The Cardinals should win this one without breaking a sweat. Should. The 49ers don’t have the same talent as the Cardinals. They have questions that Arizona doesn’t. But something tells me that Arizona isn’t prepared to take care of business. I think they’ve been reading their press clippings a bit too much. And I think the 49ers win this game… and start people talking (talking way too early) about a Cinderella-story season. And if they don’t win this game, look for a 31-30 final score.
Bob: San Francisco
Terry: Arizona
Mike: Arizona
Dad: Arizona
Molly: San Francisco

Washington at New York (Giants) (6½)“Keep that sense of humor. It’s critical.” Wow. Normally these two teams get involved in slugfests. Low scoring, victory by 3 points at most, reflect the results in the records but as a future opponent you didn’t learn anything about either club from these game films slugfests. Then the Giants hit some successes. A title two years ago. Some blowouts of the Redskins. It is really tempting to decide that Washington doesn’t have a quarterback and just put those slugfests out of your mind. Not so fast. Washington beefed up the defensive line in their moves getting ready for this year. And that defense should be able to contain New York’s running game… which is critical for the Giants to establish in order to have any success. I think the slugfests are going to return. I think the Redskins could win this game. I don’t expect them to. I believe they’ll lose a close one, with the Giants scoring last to win it.
Bob: Washington
Terry: New York
Mike: New York
Dad: New York
Gus: New York

St. Louis at Seattle (7½)“You wanna beer?” “It’s 7 o’clock in the morning.” “Scotch?” Talk about a game that used to be exciting, but now seems like too much to even think about. Wow. It’s weirdly out of place. I love the addition of Houshmandzadeh for the Seahawks… but I don’t know if anyone will consistently get him the ball. I have always liked Jackson for the Rams, but they don’t look so dynamic either. The Seahawks used to be dynamite at home, and then either lose all their road games or most of them. Not so in 2008. 4-12 overall, 2-6 at home. Naturally… one of those wins… a demolition of the Rams in week three. And… oh yeah… the Rams were outscored 2 to 1 last season (232 points for, 465 against).
Bob: Seattle
Terry: Seattle
Mike: Seattle
Dad: Seattle
Molly: Seattle

Chicago at Green Bay (3½)“Kenny, don’t paint your sister!” Someone is going to look great after this game… and someone is going to look dumb. Will it be all of the people telling you Aaron Rodgers is going to be one of the best quarterbacks in the game? Will it be the people telling you Chicago fleeced Denver and finally got their own quarterback? In this case, I’m going with Rodgers. Here’s why… Brett Favre. I think having him in Minnesota matters much more to this club than last year’s mess when he ended up in New York. I think being successful… making the playoffs… and any victory in the division (sure, especially against Minnesota)… matters to them. I also wonder about Chicago’s defense. They may ultimately prove me wrong… and probably will… but I don’t expect them to be a ridiculously dominating force. Very good? Yeah. But a bit older than amazingly great.
Bob: Green Bay
Terry: Green Bay
Mike: Chicago
Dad: Chicago
Gus: Chicago

Buffalo at New England (10½)“Can I give you a hand?” “You can give me two I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.” And Buffalo doesn’t have a clue what’s going on right now. Take the points, have them covered by the end of the first quarter, and then take a nap so you can watch the special late broadcast of the second Monday night game.
Bob: New England
Terry: New England
Mike: New England
Dad: New England
Molly: New England

San Diego (9) at Oakland“Do you want to go over the list one more time?” “No I don’t want to go over the list! Ok. Let’s go over the list.” The Chargers have destroyed the Raiders in recent seasons. And despite the distractions, that will definitely continue here.
Bob: San Diego
Terry: Oakland
Mike: San Diego
Dad: San Diego
Gus: San Diego

If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at