Is it an advantage if you don’t win with it?
I realized I was slightly — or maybe a little more than that — in error when I said last week that the one remaining home-field advantage in the NFL of 2020 was Denver’s mile-high altitude.
I discovered my error when commentators, talking about Seattle’s contest at Atlanta in the pregame run-up, mentioned another home-field edge still left despite no fans being in the stands.
That’s when West Coast teams have to come east and play a 1 p.m. (Eastern time) game on the East Coast.
Doesn’t sound like much of anything when you’re Eastern Time Zone people like us, eh? But if you’re coming from out in Seattle, or from Cali, that means you’re playing a 10 a.m. game YOUR time.
Now 10 a.m. doesn’t sound particularly early when you may have already gone to church and come home, or you’ve had your nice Sunday breakfast and you’re relaxing on the couch watching the CBS Sunday Morning show or (if you’re like me) America Says on the Game Show Network.
But NFL players can’t exactly roll out of bed at 9:30 a.m. (their time) and put on their shoulder pads, cleats and helmets, do a few jumping jacks and be ready to go in a half hour.
I would venture it’s more like getting up at 7 a.m. Eastern time — which would translate to 4 a.m. Pacific time — since you have to get ready in your hotel room; catch the team bus; get conditioned, massaged or whatever for your various aches and pains; put on your equipment; listen to a talk by the coach; and finally run onto the field before warming up.
Looking back, though, all three of last week’s West Coast teams that traveled east were winners.
One played in a 4 p.m. game — the Los Angeles Chargers beating Cincinnati 16-13 — so that doesn’t count as I’m looking specifically at 1 p.m. games for “Westies.”
The 1 p.m. winners were Seattle beating Atlanta 38-25 and the Las Vegas Raiders beating Carolina 34-30. At this point, I’m attributing that to Seattle being good and Carolina being bad as the Panthers need to rebuild with a new coach and starting quarterback.
In fact, as far as advantages go, Denver’s mile-high edge didn’t work either, as the Broncos lost to Tennessee 16-14 on Monday night. And that was despite the Titans taking the “foot” out of football with their deplorable kicking game.
Oh well, back to the drawing board with these picks:
Today, 8:20 p.m.
Cincinnati at Cleveland — As far as plain ol’ home field advantage last weekend, road teams won eight times, as did home teams. So I’ll take Joe Burrow over Baker Mayfield in the Battle of Ohio. Bengals, 27-20.
Sunday, 1 p.m.
New York Giants at Chicago — The Giants didn’t show me anything last week, though I guess neither did Chicago until the fourth quarter. Bears, 23-15.
Atlanta at Dallas — Two more underwhelming Week 1 studies. But I think Atlanta’s opponent was tougher. Falcons, 31-27.
Detroit at Green Bay — As a Detroit fan, I figure I’m allowed to say “Same ol’ Lions” about Week 1. With a leaky pass defense, guess what I plan on saying about 4:30 on Sunday? Packers, 38-28.
Minnesota at Indianapolis — Is new Indy QB Phillip Rivers that far over the hill that the Colts couldn’t beat the stripped-clean Jacksonville Jaguars? Vikings, 33-22.
Buffalo at Miami — After facing Cam Newton in New England last Sunday, the Dolphins come up against what might be a younger version of him in Josh Allen with Buffalo in Week 2. Bills, 24-19.
San Francisco at New York Jets — Hey, what’s the deal? I’m looking at these first seven games from the list I always use for this column, and I count one, two … just three wins and 11 losses among these teams. Were there some double forfeits I missed?
Here, two more of last week’s losers match up and I’ve gotta go with the 49ers, 34-20.
Los Angeles Rams at Philadelphia — At least the Rams won last week, but I’ll try the ol’ “reverse momentum” strategy here — pick last week’s loser to be more determined than a team easing up after coming off a win. Eagles, 23-19.
Denver at Pittsburgh — If they can’t win at a mile high, how do you expect the Broncos to win in the foothills of the Appalachians? Steelers, 28-19.
Carolina at Tampa Bay — I expected all the new moving parts in Tampa to be a bit off in Week 1, so there should be some major improvement now. Buccaneers, 37-22.
Jacksonville at Tennessee — It’s best to pick the Titans’ score as an even number, since the only way you can get to an odd number is by kicking — extra point for one point, field goal for three — and Tennessee has shown it doesn’t know how to do that. Titans, 26-17.
Sunday, 4 p.m.
Washington at Arizona — Ahh, a matchup of two 1-0 teams. Really, these two teams?
I’ll take the team not coming from the trash heap that actually DOES have a nickname. And who also has DeAndre Hopkins coming off a 14-catch, 151-yard receiving game. Cardinals, 23-16.
Baltimore at Houston — The Texans are going to miss Hopkins. Actually, they already do as they’re facing their second straight favorite to reach the AFC Championship game following their game vs. Kansas City last week. Ravens, 39-29.
Kansas City at Los Angeles Chargers — As the Super Bowl champions who have actually added offensive weapons, I wouldn’t consider picking against the Chiefs until they actually lose.
Some will say I’m doomed to getting them wrong eventually, but in the meantime, I’ll probably go 6-0, 8-0 or 10-0 picking them before that happens. Chiefs, 45-27.
Sunday, 8:20 p.m.
New England at Seattle — It’s tempting to pick a West Coast team to beat an “Eastie,” but forget that. I just think Seattle is the better team with all the changes on the Patriots. Seahawks, 30-24.
Monday, 8:20 p.m.
New Orleans at Las Vegas — All the hoopla surrounding the new stadium in Vegas — and no one will be there for it, just like what happened in Los Angeles on Sunday night. Saints, 30-26.
Last week and season — 10-6, 63 percent.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal. net.