The Mad Genius returns (USAT)
It's the fourth year of Throwing Darts, and these are the rules: five NFL picks every Friday, using Yahoo Pro Football Pickem as the guide. If a game is off the board, we won't select it. Add your own five picks to the comments below, keep score all season long.
New Orleans -3 vs. Atlanta: You don't want to sweat what a veteran-driven club does in the preseason, albeit the Falcons looked disorganized through their 0-4 month. The Saints get a legitimate push from their home crowd (that's not automatic in the NFL these days) and I'm not sure how the Atlanta defense keeps Drew Brees and Company under 30 points. The Falcons offensive line is also a concern.
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Cleveland even vs Miami: Surprised to see the Browns not giving anything, as these strike me as similar teams (two solid defenses; second-year quarterbacks; clubs that could get into the 8-8 or 9-7 pocket if a few things fall right). First team to 17 likely wins, so it's nice that we only need a victory here, no points to sweat.
Jacksonville +4 vs. Kansas City: A regular theme in this column will be "going ugly," taking a side that most don't want to take. Jacksonville's offense looked improved during the summer, albeit Blaine Gabbert is dealing with a thumb injury. Kansas City should be an improved club in 2013, perhaps a playoff team, but I need to see something first before I can spot this type of number on the road.
St. Louis -4.5 vs. Arizona: The Cardinals couldn't block anything or anybody last year (58 sacks allowed). The Rams get after the pocket well (52 sacks in 2012). Carson Palmer gives Arizona a chance in theory, but the line probably isn't much improved, especially with stud OG Jonathan Cooper out for the year. The Rams have finally surrounded Sam Bradford with some legitimate targets, too.
[Watch: Start these running backs in Week 1]
New York Giants +3.5 at Dallas: When you can get more than three in these division games, you take it. Home field generally means little in the NFC East, and I love fading the Cowboys anytime they're favored.
Last Season: 50-33
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