Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to season eight of my NFL picks.

If you’re reading this right now, that’s a good thing, because it means you’ve successfully survived everything that 2020 has thrown at us so far. I’m not sure about you, but I knew we were in trouble when the murder hornets showed up, and the worst part is that it’s only a matter of time before the murder hamsters show up, because as we all know, they always invade after the hornets.

The fact that I survived the past five months is a minor miracle. I didn’t think I was going to survive past March, and that’s mostly because I went five straight weeks without toilet paper at my house. I don’t want to go into too many details about how I made it through that rough period, but I will say that toilet paper hoarding should be a crime. I now get PTSD every time I walk in the bathroom.

The good news in all of this is that I didn’t catch coronavirus, but on the other hand, I haven’t slept since April, because I’ve been quarantined with a baby.

My wife and I had the baby back in April, and since you’re probably wondering, no, we didn’t buy her on Wayfair, but we did buy a nice couch from them.

If I’ve learned one thing about babies over the past five months, it’s that they don’t seem to care when you blame things on them, which I’m only mentioning because I’ll be blaming all my missed picks on the baby this year.

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Anyway, before we get to the picks, I have good news for the five of you who emailed in and demanded to CBS that I do more this season. Not only will I be writing this weekly picks column, but I’ll also be podcasting a lot this year. As a matter of fact, you should go ahead and circle every Monday, Tuesday and Friday on your calendar from now until February, because that’s when I’ll be joining Will Brinson on the Pick Six Podcast (Click here to check it out). The Pick Six pod is my favorite podcast on the internet because A. I’m on it and B. it’s the only daily NFL podcast around.

If your first thought after hearing that news was, “That’s great that you have podcast, John, but we want to see your handsome face. How do we do that?” Great question, and I’m glad to answer it. For the 2020 season, not only will our podcast be published on YouTube, but we’ll also be doing a daily Pick Six video show for CBS Sports HQ. If you’re not watching CBS Sports HQ every day, you should be, and that’s because it’s a free streaming sports website that offers non-stop content at all hours of the day, and most importantly, you get to see me. Also, you can watch it on multiple platforms like Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV.

Finally, if you get through my NFL picks and decide you need more picks, because you’re a picks addict: You can check out the Week 1 picks from six other NFL writers by clicking here.

MY GOODNESS, that was a lengthy introduction, but after surviving the murder hornets, the pandemic and the squirrel who had bubonic plague, I knew you guys could survive a long intro. That being said, I think I’ve made you guys wait long enough, so let’s get to the picks.

NFL Week 1 Picks
Green Bay at Minnesota
1 p.m. ET (FOX)
Point spread: Vikings, -2.5

I’m not sure either of these teams really had a plan this offseason, and if they did, I have no idea what it was. The Vikings completely revamped their defense by dumping multiple starters, which slightly worries me, because that means they’re going into Week 1 after a pandemic shortened offseason with a bunch of new starters on defense. As for the Packers, after going to the NFC title game last season, I fully expected them to add some receiving help for Aaron Rodgers in the draft, and I think Aaron Rodgers also thought that was going to happen, because that’s the only way to explain why he started pounding tequila after Green Bay drafted Jordan Love.

I’m not going to judge Rodgers for going straight to the tequila and that’s mainly because I’ve done some of my best work after pounding tequila. On Rodgers’ end, this feels like a season where he’s going to be playing with a chip on his shoulder, which is kind of fitting, because chips go well with tequila. The one thing I like about Rodgers is that he gets to open up the season against the Vikings defense that I just mentioned. I actually think the Vikings will end up having a decent defense this season, especially since they added Yannick Ngakoue, but I don’t think the unit is going to gel right away, which is why Rodgers is going to shred them.

Not only am I going to pick the Packers here, but I’m also predicting that Rodgers drinks seven fingers of tequila after the game to celebrate the win. On a somewhat related note, I drank seven fingers of tequila once in college and I got so drunk that I now have a pile of rocks sitting on my porch so I can count down the days until I die, just like Kirk Cousins.


I’m not sure how many rocks I have left, but it’s definitely not as many as Kirk. That worries me.

The pick: Packers 20-17 over Vikings

L.A. Chargers at Cincinnati
4:05 p.m. ET (CBS)
Point spread: Chargers, -3

As the resident Bengals homer here at, I made a vow after Joe Burrow was drafted that I would never pick against him in any game ever, and now that I’m thinking about it, I probably shouldn’t have made that vow, because I’m seriously thinking about picking against him in his VERY FIRST GAME. My biggest issue with Burrow is that he got zero practice in the spring, and that the only defense he’s gone up against since being drafted is the Bengals defense (For anyone who doesn’t follow the Bengals, their defense isn’t good). Burrow is going to go from throwing passes against his own team to throwing passes against a defense that has two of the best pass-rushers in the NFL (Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram) and one of the best corners (Chris Harris). This would be like eating three hot dogs at dinner and then thinking you could beat Joey Chestnut in a hot dog eating contest.

And you know what, let’s be honest about this entire situation, the last time a guy named Joe was in charge of a bunch of Bengal tigers, it didn’t work out well for anyone — unless you count Carole Baskin, and I’m not going to count Carole Baskin — so I guess I have to go with the Chargers.

I should also point out that No. 1 overall picks seem to struggle in Week 1. Over the past 15 years, there have been six quarterbacks taken with the first overall pick who ALSO started in Week 1 during their rookie season and those quarterbacks have combined to win exactly zero games (0-5-1). That doesn’t seem like a good thing for the Bengals.

The pick: Chargers 23-20 over Bengals

Tampa Bay at New Orleans
4:25 p.m. ET (FOX)
Point spread: Saints, -3.5

As you’ve probably noticed, a lot of crazy things have happened in 2020, and I have to say, the most unexpected one has to be the fact that Tom Brady basically turned into a one man crimewave. Not only did he get kicked out of a closed park after illegally entering it during quarantine, but the Buccaneers quarterback also got caught trespassing at a man’s house after he accidentally walked into it and the worst part is that he does not HAVE A SINGLE OUNCE OF REMORSE about any of this.

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