Each week, my wife Barbara and I pick winners for every NFL game—just for the fun of it.
Bear in mind that I worked at NFL Films for 43 years. I shot a handheld camera on the field at more than 850 NFL games. I wrote a book about my experiences called “The NFL Off Camera,” available on Amazon, at Barnes & Noble bookstores, and on my website @ www.bobangelo.com.
My wife is a practicing hypnotherapist and intuitive coach specializing in past life regression.
After one full week of NFL action, Barb led me in correct winning picks by five (5) games! Last season, she beat me for the year by well more than this. How and why does this happen? Because quite often, I pick with my heart rather than my head. My wife goes with her hunches. I pick the team I want to win. She picks the team she actually believes will win.
There are lessons here!
In high school, five-star powerhouses will defeat lesser teams 9 times out of 10—if not more often! At the collegiate level, the Georgia Bulldogs and teams of that ilk will dominate schools with smaller sports budgets and fewer quality recruits, running up scores to the delight of their fans, alumni and boosters.
But at the professional level, the old adage “On any given Sunday…” still applies. NFL rosters contain nothing but five-star recruits and college football’s biggest, strongest and fastest athletes. Winning teams rule their divisions and championship teams dominate decades, sometimes blossoming into dynasties. But “on any given Sunday,” even the best teams get beat.
In Week Two NFL action, several of 2022’s best teams did what they were supposed to do in Week One. Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen threw the ball on time to his receivers as the Bills crushed the Las Vegas Raiders 38-to-10. But he still couldn’t resist trying to leap over former Wyoming teammate Marcus Epps, now a safety for the Raiders, who caught him then smiled and hugged him after the play.
Both of last year’s Super Bowl teams fought off stiff challenges from strong and well-stocked conference rivals.
At home in Philadelphia, the Eagles played minus a handful of defensive starters but still prevailed against the Minnesota Vikings 34-to-28. At some point when his team was struggling, I’ll wager Eagles head coach Mike Sirianni switched on his headset microphone and told his first year offensive coordinator Brian Johnson: “Hey, how about we try running the f…ing ball?” Led by D’Andre Swift, Philly rolled up 259 rushing yards. The Birds rarely lose when they pound it that well and control the football for a few ticks shy of 39 ½ minutes. I saw that one coming!
On the road in Jacksonville, the Kansas City Chiefs held off a determined Jaguars team in a 17-to-9 victory. Despite nearly a hundred yards in penalties—five involving high-priced free agent offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor—the Chiefs avoided an 0-2 start on the strength of defensive tackle Chris Jones’ key defensive plays and tight end Travis Kelce’s improvisational TD reception from Patrick Mahomes. Both players missed the Chiefs Week One loss to Detroit.
I saw this one coming, too. I suspected it would be close, but I would have bet the mortgage that Andy Reid and his Chiefs would find a way to avoid starting the season 0-and-2. Jones and Kelce made a very big difference.
How important is it to avoid going 0-and-2 to start an NFL season? Only three teams in the Super Bowl era have lost their first two regular season games then advanced to the Big One: The 1993 Cowboys. The 2001 Patriots. And the 2007 Giants. All three of those teams boasted future Hall of Fame QBs.
That’s right, Eli Manning belongs in the Hall along with Troy Aikman and Tom Brady. But as I look at this year’s winless teams, the only future Canton enshrinee I see is Joe Burrow, and that’s only if he gets his calf muscle right soon! And the Chargers Justin Herbert if he ever gets any help from the team’s defense.
Oh, yea, and Denver’s Russ Wilson if and when he stops kissing babies and fixes his focus on calling plays, getting his team to the line on time, and not falling behind early as he is wont to do. His union with new head coach Sean Payton is already strained. Last week against Washington, Wilson’s desperation toss as time expired actually set up a potential game-tying two point conversion and a chance for the Broncos to steal a win in overtime. But a flagrant pass interference by the Commanders went uncalled. Bad Karma just seems to follow Mr. Payton around!
But I digress.
Conversely, lots of 2-and-0 teams have won Super Bowls. Among this year’s candidates, all three NFC South teams—the Falcons, Saints and Bucs—face tough opponents this week. And the Commandeers play in the NFC East, where the Cowboys and Eagles figure to battle for supremacy for years to come. Tough to pick against any of them, but something tells me when the Week Three smoke clears in the NFC, only Dallas, Philadelphia and San Francisco will remain unbeaten. I do believe the Tampa Bay Bucs will give the Eagles all they can handle, until Baker Mayfield…
Sorry, Baker. I welcome you to prove me wrong.
In the AFC, the Ravens continue to pique my interest. Lamar Jackson is actually standing in the pocket, studying pass routes as they unfold, then throwing accurate balls downfield. Of course, he still pulls it down and takes off. But in his unique situation, the better and more often Jackson throws the ball successfully, the more defensive players will turn their backs to him in pass coverage, resulting in fewer bodies in the box and fewer defensive backs downfield poised to contain him if and when he does take off. No other NFL quarterback possesses this particular skill set, which makes it really hard to pick Ravens’ games!
In Miami, the Dolphins’ 2-and-0 start has everything to do with their quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. When he’s healthy and spreading passes around, his team is incredibly difficult to defend. They’re just so damned fast! And despite naysayers, Tua’s arm strength is more than adequate for any and all situations. The poised and polished lefthander throws an incredibly soft ball that consistently leads his speed burners into open spaces downfield. This team may prove to be the AFC’s best!
So who knows why my wife changed her pick from the Dolphins to the Patriots last week just before kickoff. And she ignored four other hunches as well. She abandoned the Falcons for the Packers, the Chiefs for the Jaguars, the Colts for the Texans, and the Browns for the Steelers… all home teams. And all five lost. Therein lies Bartb's issue.
So after two weeks of the 2023 NFL season, Barb and I are now tied going into Week Three. Picking winners isn’t easy. If it were, there would be a lot more millionaires in our midst. But last week, I went with my head rather than my heart. Barb went with home teams over hunches, a strategy that history has taught me works better later in the season rather than earlier, especially in divisional rivalries and national prime time telecasts involving Kirk Cousins.
But ultimately, in professional football, “On any given Sunday, or Monday night, or Thursday night, or Saturday later in the season…” whether you’re picking with your heart, your head or hopeful home-team hunches… No NFL result is EVER guaranteed!