OK, we all know betting on sports is illegal in 49 states, so don't do it unless you're in Sin City, but if you're going, you can make these bets for me.
1. Minnesota at San Diego (-8.5), Sunday, 3:15 p.m. — The Chargers have arguably one of the top offensive units in football, and a pretty good defense to go with it. They host one of — on paper, anyway — the worst teams in the NFL despite the fact the Vikings have maybe the best running back in football. The Chargers will put up a lot of points. The Vikings won't. It's pretty simple.
2. Indianapolis at Houston (-8.5), Sunday, noon — Poor, poor Colts. The one-man show is now a no-man show as quarterback Peyton Manning is out 2-3 months, and maybe for the season, after having yet another neck surgery this week. The Colts will be nothing without Manning, especially with Kerry Collins replacing him. The Colts are an aging team, and actually got older at QB from the 35-year-old Manning. Houston will whip them at home.
3. Detroit (+1.5, ML) at Tampa Bay, Sunday, noon — The Lions are many folks' pick to be the breakout team in the NFL this year, much like they were last season when they were hurt by injuries but showed signs of improvement, especially on defense. This year, everyone is healthy (knock on wood) and they have some of the best offensive weapons in football, namely Calvin Johnson (Megatron for short). Tampa Bay, behind QB Josh Freeman and RB LaGarrette Blount, is also a team on the rise. Me thinks the Lions win this one straight up.
4. Pittsburgh (+1.5, ML) at Baltimore, Sunday, noon — Another 1.5-point line, another straight up bet for the underdog. Baltimore's inexperienced secondary will be tested mightily here by Big Ben Roethlisberger and the dynamic Mike Wallace out wide. But as usual, it'll be a low-scoring slugfest like every other time these two smashmouth teams meet. It always makes for fascinating television.
5. Dallas at New York Jets (-5), Sunday, 7:25 p.m. — Finally, it's here. The Cowboys season premiere. I just don't see it going well for the Cowboys. First off, you have the whole dynamic of a game in New York (actually, New Jersey, but who's watching) on the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on 9-11-01. It'll be an emotional night for everyone involved, but the homefield will definitely be in effect for the Jets. That doesn't even consider the fact that the Jets are a better team than the Cowboys, especially on defense. In the Battle of the Ryans, Rex wins this one, and it won't be very close.