99th season was big for Pro Picks. What about No. 100?
Coming off the best year of Pro Picks — yep, plus-22 against the spread if you’re counting — the challenge is to repeat such wizardry in the NFL’s 100th season.
It all gets started Thursday night at Soldier Field with pro football’s oldest rivalry.
In emphasizing its centennial celebrations, the league chose to go with Packers at Bears rather than having the traditional matchup hosted by the Super Bowl champs. New England gets the spotlight on Sunday night instead, with Pittsburgh visiting.
AP Pro32 voters were optimistic about Chicago’s chances this season, ranking the Bears No. 6 in the preseason poll released Tuesday. Green Bay, with a new coaching staff and tons of question marks, is at No. 16.
But the Packers have Aaron Rodgers, who tends to work magic against the Bears. Remember the fourth-quarter rally in their first meeting a year ago?
Pro Picks, which wound up 136-114-9 against the spread in 2018 and 176-89-2 straight up, envisions the current Monsters of the Midway to be, well, monstrous enough in the opener to cover the 3-point spread.
KNOCKOUT POOL: Two games figure to be the focus here, Baltimore at Miami and Cincinnati at Seattle. We’ll go with the SEAHAWKS.
No. 12 Baltimore (minus 6 1-2) at No. 32 Miami
Let the tanking begin on South Beach.
BEST BET: RAVENS, 17-3
No. 24 San Francisco (plus 2) at No. 29 Tampa Bay
Jimmy Garoppolo and Jameis Winston have plenty to prove. Going with Jimmy G here.
UPSET SPECIAL: 49ERS, 21-20
No. 15 Houston (plus 7) at No. 3 New Orleans, Monday night
Saints might be the most talented team in NFL and have super motivation.
No. 2 Kansas City (minus 4) at No. 17 Jacksonville
Or maybe Chiefs are the most talented team. Jags’ D could provide a slight test.
No. 25 Detroit (minus 1) at No. 31 Arizona
Neither of these is close to most talented.
No. 8 Pittsburgh (plus 5 1-2) at No. 1 New England
Two contenders with new looks — except at quarterback, which never seems to change.
No. 19 Tennessee (plus 5 1-2) at No. 14 Cleveland
The start to the Browns’ explosion. Or implosion.
No. 21 Buffalo (plus 3) at No. 23 New York Jets
A battle for AFC East runner-up supremacy.
No. 30 Cincinnati (plus 7) at No. 7 Seattle
Seahawks’ aggressive offseason and recent moves put them in spotlight.
No. 13 Atlanta (plus 3 1-2) at No. 11 Minnesota
Two coaches who need playoff performances for their job security.
No. 26 New York Giants (plus 7) at No. 9 (tie) Dallas
Ditto. And something within reach for the ...
No. 27 Washington (plus 9) at No. 5 Philadelphia
Eagles are one of NFL’s best if they can stay healthy. That means you, Carson Wentz.
No. 4 Los Angeles Rams (minus 3) at No. 18 Carolina
Rams are loaded, but Super Bowl losers often struggle in next year. Not here.
No. 20 Indianapolis (plus 6 1-2) at No. 9 (tie) Los Angeles Chargers
Luck-less Colts will be better than many think. But this is tough matchup.
No. 22 Denver (pick-em) at No. 28 Oakland, Monday night
Not sure what to make of either team.