Welcome to Week One of the 2011 edition of The Hoser's NFL Picks, where we view the NFL lockout like Charlie Sheen's career – we don't want to place any blame, we're just glad it's over.
After a summer featuring more labour unrest than The Octomom and Kate Gosselin combined, it's good to see owners and players be able to set aside their differences and get back to the important business at hand – delivering that male demographic to erectile-dysfunction pharmaceutical companies.
Heading into this season, the usual suspects are the front runners for the Lombardi Trophy. In the NFC, Atlanta added Julio Jones at wide receiver and the Eagles spent more money than Muammar Gaddafi's kids, but Green Bay may have gotten stronger in the offseason and we like them to repeat. In the AFC, Pittsburgh, New York and New England stay strong, but we think this is Baltimore's year to step up to the next level.
Your early Super Bowl prediction? Packers 23, Ravens 19.
The format will stay as it has been for the past two seasons – each game is $100 ATS, with a $100 Trifecta and a $300 Lock of the Week for an even $2K per week. When the bye weeks begin, we’ll jump the Lock to $500 to keep the number even. We’ll use Danny Sheridan’s line in the USA Today each week.
All of that leads us to this final sentence, a version of which you’ll see every week: remember – these picks are just for fun. Using them to wager money is advisable as having the University of Maryland design your prom tux.
New Orleans (+4) at GREEN BAY (47): All this talk about a Super Bowl hangover. Folks, Max McGee's not even dressing for this one. Packers 27, Saints 24.
Pittsburgh (+2.5) at BALTIMORE (36): The defense will be tough on Steeler QB Ben Roethlisberger. That has nothing to do with the Ravens – all women within 50 miles of Baltimore have been issued mace and chastity belts. Ravens 19, Steelers 16.
Detroit (+1.5) at TAMPA BAY (41): Bold prediction: Lions QB Matt Stafford will start every game this season and be the league’s No. 2 QB (behind Tom Brady, duh), making him the most popular Stafford since Jim Stafford took “Spiders And Snakes” all the way to No. 3 in 1974. Lions 27, Buccaneers 23.
Atlanta (-3) at CHICAGO (41): We caught the story of the 1985 Bears this week, and Jay Cutler is just like Jim McMahon – except for the guts, determination and leadership. Falcons 22, Bears 16.
Buffalo (+5.5) at KANSAS CITY (39.5): Chiefs tight end Tony Moeaki is out for the season, but don't worry. You can see him every three seconds on the NFL Network in that damned "Five Best Catches" promo. Seriously, Snooki gets used less than that piece. Chiefs 24, Bills 17.
Indianapolis (+8.5) at HOUSTON (43.5): Bad news for Colts fans: Peyton Manning could miss the entire season. Bad news for everybody: Manning's neck injury won't prevent him from making stupid commercials with his brother. Texans 23, Colts 17.
Philadelphia (-4.5) at ST LOUIS (43.5): Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie has spent like a sailor assembling his dream team this offseason. Meanwhile, Andy Reid had his all along – a KFC Double Down and a two-litre of Jolt. Eagles 29, Rams 22.
Cincinnati (+6.5) at CLEVELAND (35.5): We hope the jails in the Cincinnati area have cable, or half the Bengals’ roster won’t get to see the game. Browns 22, Bengals 17.
Tennessee (+3) at JACKSONVILLE (38.5): We were going for a "Titans missing Johnson" gag, but do you whippersnappers even know who John Wayne Bobbitt is? Titans 20, Jaguars 16.
NY Giants (-3) at WASHINGTON (37.5): Rex Grossman beat out John Beck for the starting quarterback job in Washington. Read that again and then pick against New York. Giants 23, Redskins 17.
Carolina (+7) at ARIZONA (36.5): Watch Cafe Press for our new "Carolina -- Home of Fort Bragg, Scotty McCreery and the First Overall Pick (Again)" t-shirts. Cardinals 30, Panthers 13.
Seattle (+5) at SAN FRANCISCO (38): The Tarvaris Jackson era starts for the Seahawks, who apparently are unaware of his previous work. 49ers 23, Seahawks 20.
Minnesota (+8.5) at SAN DIEGO (41.5): If Donovan McNabb fails to ignite the Viking offense, Brett Favre is always waiting in the wings. With his Crocs on. And his pants down. Chargers 24, Vikings 16.
Dallas (+4) at NY JETS (40.5): Mark Brunell returns to the sideline for his 20th season as a quarterback, and his second as Mark Sanchez’s handkerchief. Jets 26, Cowboys 17.
New England (-7) at MIAMI (45.5): Doug Flutie's daughter has made it onto the Patriots' cheerleading squad -- and she didn't even have to spend a decade cheering in the Canadian Football League before it happened. Patriots 30, Dolphins 16.
Oakland (+3) at DENVER (40): Ohio State alumnus Terrelle Pryor will not be playing in this game. The NFL would have cleared him, but he'd already traded his uniform and playbook for tattoos. Broncos 21, Raiders 20.
Lock of the Week: New England
Trifecta: New England, Arizona, Tennessee
Over/Under Good Buys: Indy/Houston Under; Carolina/Arizona Over