Rob’s NFL Week 2 Confidence Pool

Welcome to the first weekly installment of Rob’s NFL Confidence Pool!

For the uninitiated, a confidence pool is a method for picking games that’s more interesting than picking games straight up, but less terrifying than picking against the spread. You pick the team you believe will win each game, then assign a point value to that pick based on your level of confidence in said pick. The point values range from 1 to however-many-games-are-happening-this-week, with 1 representing your least confident pick, and the top value representing the most confident pick. When you pick a game correctly, you win the point value you assigned to that pick; when you pick incorrectly, you get nothing. Whoever wins the most points wins the pool for the week.

Today, I’m going to make my own confidence pool picks; use this information however you see fit. I’ll be starting with my highest value picks and working my way down to the bottom. If I happen to have any opinions on a specific game, I’ll give a brief write-up; note that my write-up may or may not directly pertain to who I think will win or lose, and note that I’m not writing up every game. That way lies madness, especially if you’re like me and you’re mostly stuck watching whatever games are showing locally.

My picks for the winner will be proved in all caps. Time to get to it.

16 Points: 49ERS over Jets

This one is easy pickings; if this were pro wrestling, this game would be billed as a squash match. Even if the 49ers don’t emerge as a Super Bowl contender this year, they are still a functional franchise, with a functional coach and a functional front office, and while I’m skeptical they can repeat as division champs even, they project competence. The Jets, to say the very least, do no such thing.

15 Points: BILLS over Dolphins

It can be a bit scary to put big points on any division rivalry game, but I’m confident the Dolphins still suck, even though they seem headed in the right direction long-term.

14 Points: PACKERS over Lions

I’m starting to think that this season of football isn’t going to be weird because there will be lots of fluky wins. Rather, it’s going to be weird because there will be almost no fluky wins, whatsoever. The “Any Given Sunday” cliché will fly straight out the window, as the smarter teams with the better offenses will inevitably emerge triumphant over their pesky but not actually all that good opponents. The Lions are nothing if not underwhelming, and in Week 1 Rodgers looked 2014-level scary for the first time since uh…2014.

13 Points: RAVENS over Texans

While they got mushed last week, and I’m quite certain they’re gonna get mushed again, I feel the Texans deserve just enough respect that I’m not comfortable putting this game any higher.

12 Points: CHIEFS over Chargers

I’m wary of putting too many points on this one, both because of the rivalry-based potential for weirdness, and because I can’t tell if the Chargers are any good. They’re probably not, but the Lions and Dolphins definitely aren’t, hence this game less points.

11 Points: SAINTS over Raiders

Like everyone else in the football observing public, I watched the Saints play the Buccaneers last week. I’m not so arrogant as to presume I was the only person to have this thought, but as the game unfolded I started to think that perhaps both of these teams suck, and from there I examined the rest of the division and quickly concluded that if the Saints and Bucs both suck, the entire division sucks. I don’t think everyone’s takeaway from that game was that NFC South will be taken with a 9-7 record, but it sure as hell was mine. That said, perhaps Brees just kind of had an off game, and the defense looked pretty legit, and the Raiders seem mediocre, yet again. I’m going to continue to give the Saints a good amount of respect until it’s proven I shouldn’t.

10 Points: RAMS over Eagles

Much to my surprise, the Rams looked halfway competent last week; Goff didn’t inspire terror, exactly, but he was mostly accurate and handled business. The defense, which is without Wade Phillips for reasons best summarized as “inscrutable” (I personally think that miserable fuck Stan Kroenke didn’t want to pony up for his price tag anymore), looked pretty good, too, getting pressure and showing confusing looks. The Eagles’ offensive line is best described as ‘depleted’, and nothing is scarier for such a line than a defense that can disguise its blitzes effectively.

9 Points: COWBOYS over Falcons

On paper, this looks like another potential squash match, but the Cowboys kind of pooped the bed last week and I’m already not sure they’re as good as they’re supposed to be.

8 Points: STEELERS over Broncos

I was high on the Broncos going into this year, but that was before Von Miller got injured, and also before Vic Fangio showed America he doesn’t know how timeouts work.

7 Points: SEAHAWKS over Patriots

NBC’s promo package for this game was based around highlights of Super Bowl XLIX and their 2016 SNF game, which is just about as false as advertising gets. Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner, and Julian Edelman are just about the only guys still on either team, except maybe Tyler Lockett? Was he around for that Super Bowl? Time blurs together in your 30s, and I can’t be bothered to look it up.

6 Points: TITANS over Jaguars

5 Points: VIKINGS over Colts

Under Mike Zimmer, the Vikings have been good for an annual collapse against an opponent, typically an out of conference one, that they should probably have destroyed and at the very least beaten. This game has the some of the makings of said collapse; the Colts are out of conference and might not be all that great, but they’re still too talented to fit the profile to a tee. (And the Vikes play the Jaguars at home later in the season, which has my alarm bells going all the way off). Also, Rivers is washed, and is nigh-on guaranteed to throw a pick at the worst possible time.

4 Points: BUCCANEERS over Panthers

3 Points: CARDINALS over Football Team

If you’re like me, you have no idea how to project Washington’s surprise (and surprisingly dominant) victory last week onto the rest of the season. Nothing outside of their pass rush inspires real confidence, but oh my, what a pass rush. Then again, Washington is one of those teams that doesn’t deserve any respect until they prove otherwise, which they won’t do until Snyder ceases to draw breath or sells.

2 Points: BEARS over Giants

The first rule of smart confidence pool picking: Never put big points on any game between two bad teams. The Bears may be shackled to Trubisky, but the Giants’ offensive line is now so terrible that they can’t even block for Saquon, and the Bears are as well equipped to destroy such a team as any.

1 Point: BROWNS over Bengals

Again, the first rule. Once you’re down to just one point, you may as well flip a coin. The Browns suck but they also had the misfortune of playing the Ravens last week, and the Ravens are gonna pants just about everybody. I expect they can rally just enough to overcome the Bengals, even if only just barely.

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