As I sat down and thought about it prior to penning this column, I contemplated whether I should keep this feature going.
It’s a challenge to pick games, and apparently, it’s a challenge for me to correctly pick the Super Bowl winner as I whiffed yet again last season.
Full disclosure: I’m not as into the NFL this season as I have been in years past. Maybe it’s because I’m not playing in the three fantasy football leagues I was in a year ago, and my decision whether to play in two of those leagues was actually my choice.
Or maybe my excuses are just as big a crutch as Antonio Brown’s helmet preference.
Speaking of Brown, his antics leading up to the regular season, which included a cryotherapy mishap, missed practices due to the aforementioned helmet woes and allegedly calling Oakland Raiders general manager Mike Mayock a racial slur, resulted in his release and subsequent signing by the New England Patriots in a very short span of time Saturday.
A brief aside on Brown. Most chatter I’ve seen on social media has been people calling him a “diva,” but don’t count me among that camp. I worry this man -- because at the end of the day, he’s not just a football player, he’s a man -- may be showing early signs of CTE. I remember the shot he took from then-Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict during the playoffs a few years back, and it was probably the closest thing to attempted murder I’ve ever seen on a football field.
One friend told me on Facebook the Patriots will make him humble quick. If my gut instincts are correct, he doesn’t need to be humbled -- he needs to be helped.
Despite all the dramatics and controversy, Brown is a Top-3 NFL receiver whose production is indisputable. Even if he’s been on the roster less than 24 hours, he’s capable of seeing the field tonight against his former team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, though the Patriots could hold him out until Week 2.
If anything can redeem Brown other than getting the right people in his corner to help him, it’s “The Patriot Way.”
He’ll have offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and quarterback Tom Brady to give him a crash course on the playbook, although Brady could just tell Brown what route to run on a given play, and that may be sufficient.
If Brown doesn’t play, he can still give the Patriots some inside baseball on how Pittsburgh does things offensively, which will help head coach Bill Belichick and the defensive coaches find a way to disrupt a Steelers’ offense that has seen two key offensive stars depart within a season of each other.
Final score: Patriots 34, Steelers 27
Thursday Twitter Pick
This season of picks is off to a not-so-great start. In a league where offense allegedly reigns supreme, I expected much more than 13 combined points between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears.
The Packers won this contest 10-3, and quarterback Aaron Rodgers did just enough to get the victory. Guess I better take a page out of Rodgers’ playbook and R-E-L-A-X. It’s going to be a long season.
Best of the rest
Cleveland Browns 27, Tennessee Titans 20
I can’t wait to see Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. making big plays for a playoff contender.
Baltimore Ravens 23, Miami Dolphins 17
Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson gets a chance to build on the flashes of talent he showed at the NFL level last season.
Atlanta Falcons 24, Minnesota Vikings 21
The Falcons paid wide receiver Julio Jones big money Saturday in hopes that today, he brings his A-game, especially in the red zone.
New York Jets 20, Buffalo Bills 16
It’ll be interesting to see how Jets running back Le’Veon Bell looks after missing all of last season due to a holdout in Pittsburgh.
Philadelphia Eagles 27, Washington 17
Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz needs to establish he’s the guy again and can stay healthy given that his backup, Nick Foles, left for Jacksonville in the offseason.
Los Angeles Rams 27, Carolina Panthers 24
If the Panthers don’t protect Cam Newton, some fans will be very sad, and some more uncouth fans in Panther Nation will be really happy.
Kansas City Chiefs 30, Jacksonville Jaguars 20
The Chiefs will go as far as Patrick Mahomes’ magnificent arm will get them as they pick up the first of many wins this season.
Los Angeles Chargers 28, Indianapolis Colts 13
Not to take anything away from a good Chargers team, but it must be said -- With Jacoby Brissett at quarterback, the Colts are, at best, an 8-8 team.
Seattle Seahawks 26, Cincinnati Bengals 17
A new Bengals’ offense taking on a tough defensive team on the road means it’s a no-brainer choice here.
Dallas Cowboys 24, New York Giants 20
The Cowboys are trying to pay everybody this year, and that makes me wonder what the market value for a top-notch waterboy might be.
Detroit Lions 23, Arizona Cardinals 14
Cardinals rookie quarterback Kyler Murray will learn a tough lesson in his rookie debut -- NFL defenses are much better than the Big 12 teams he faced as a star at Oklahoma.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27, San Francisco 49ers 21
If any coach can salvage Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston’s career, it’s new Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians.
New Orleans Saints 34, Houston Texans 26
Saints quarterback Drew Brees continues to outrun Father Time, which begs the question -- where can I find Father Time’s measurables?
Denver Broncos 20, Oakland Raiders 17
The Broncos will be better this year, but general manager John Elway has to know Joe Flacco is no Peyton Manning.
Current record: 0-1
Last week’s record: none
Thursday Twitter pick: 0-1
Last year’s record: 158-109