Are you ready for some football? Are you ready for some fantasy football? After watching lawyers and other assorted blowhards on both sides try to steal the game we all love this last summer, it’s time to play real football. More than enough ink has been spent writing about them. Thankfully they can go crawl back into the cesspools they came from for the next decade. On with the show!
So, while the guys on the field prepare to beat the hell out of each other, starting with the last two Super Bowl champions meeting in Green Bay Thursday night and stretching through a double-header for Monday Night Football , I have sat and thought hard about who was going to win this weekend. Some of them just jumped out at me as no brainers. Others required more thought than that. The last few were gut shot picks. It’s a little more scientific than taping the games to a wall and throwing darts. So, without further ado, I present my Week 1 selections. Please don’t laugh too hard.
So, my fantasy football league is a pick’em confidence game. One (1) is the game I had the hardest time picking and 16 represents the gimme game of the week in my opinion. Home team is in CAPS.
GREEN BAY vs. New Orleans: This game represents a matchup of the last two teams to take home the Lombardi Trophy. It also has two teams that can light up the scoreboard like a pinball machine. Aaron Rodgers, the up and coming super star who finally stepped out of the shadows of Brett Favre against Drew Brees, the man who resurrected the Saints after Hurricane Katrina and brought a Championship to a city desperate for anything to cheer about. Scoring points isn’t going to be an issue. This game will come down to defense vs. defense. In the end, I went with the hometown Cheese heads. These two will likely see each other again in the Playoffs. That game could be a different result, but I saw what the D did to people last year. Pack 28, Saints 17. Confidence: 10
Atlanta vs. CHICAGO: Matty Ice returns to the field with his cadre of weapons to throw or hand the ball off to. He received a new toy in this draft, and though had a much shorter off-season, seems to have connected well with Julio Jones formerly of Alabama. As if opponents didn’t have enough problems keeping up with their receivers last season. They face an aging, decrepit, and disgruntled Bears defense that I’m not quite sure is even the third best in the division. Lance Briggs wants to get paid like he was part of the ’85 Bears D or get traded and the other cornerstone, Brian Urlacher is about as fragile as a Faberge egg. Oh, did I mention the Bears still have Jay Cutler as their QB. Remember him? He quit on them at the end of last season. Yeah, him. Atlanta easy 34-10. Confidence: 6
CLEVELAND vs. Cinci: Can we just anoint this the “Toilet Bowl” and get it over with? These two teams, even in week one are probably playing for the 2nd and 3rd picks in the draft behind Buffalo. This is one of those games that I’m not even sure Sunday Ticket will bother to air. Cleveland has a couple pieces in McCoy, Hillis, and Cribbs (though with the new kickoff rules, his effectiveness in putting points on the board have pretty much been negated). The Bengals, who are a complete mess thanks to their inept, dumbass of an owner, have a QB that so wants out he’s willing to leave $11 million on the table. Lemme repeat that. Carson Palmer so wants to be traded, he’s willing to retire/hold out and leave $11 million unclaimed. Chad Ochocinco is gone. TO is gone. Andy Dalton and Bruce Gradkowski get to battle it out for which one of them gets to get sacked most this season. There are still receivers in Cinci (they weren’t lucky enough to follow Ochocinco out-of-town), but without a competent QB, it’s gonna be rough. Cleveland 17-14. Confidence: 11
KANSAS CITY vs. Buffalo: May god have mercy on the Bills’ souls. Matt Cassel and company come back reloaded after a season where they won the AFC West. The Bills get to take on the best team running the football from last season with over 160 yards a game. Try and stop that and you get to deal with Dwayne Bowe. There’s not much in Buffalo to get excited about this season. It’s a no brainer. KC big 34-7. Confidence: 16
Philadelphia vs. ST LOUIS: I think this will be a fun, offense-filled game between Mike Vick and Sam Bradford. Vick has his receivers and his legs, and last year Bradford showed that he was going to be the next really good to great QB in the league nearly taking the Rams from last place to the playoffs as a rookie. He is the real deal and I expect tons of improvement under his new coordinator Josh McDaniels (great OC/QB developer, shitty head coach). It just won’t happen in week 1. Too many weapons and a great D in Philly. Eagles 27-17. Confidence: 14
Detroit vs. TAMPA BAY: Detroit’s D is gonna be fun to watch this year, especially when Nick Fairley gets back into action. Between he and Ndamukong Suh, good luck. Even without Fairley, keeping Suh off your QB was tough work and Tampa is gonna have issues keeping Josh Freeman upright. If he can, they have a good shot to win. Detroit 21-17. Confidence: 2
Tennessee vs. JACKSONVILLE: Jacksonville decided to cut their starting QB, David Garrard, just a few days from the start of the season. That’s gonna go over well. On that alone, and the veteran presence of Matt Hasselback at QB in Tennessee to help mentor Jake Locker, Tennessee wins and wins easily 24-6. Confidence: 5
Pittsburgh vs. BALTIMORE: This was the hardest pick of the week. These teams just love beating the hell out of each other. Joe Flacco has shown he is a great QB. The Baltimore D is still, well, the Baltimore D. Their sole mission—make the opposing QB think about retirement. Big Ben is back and feeling good. He got married, which means for once his off-season, lockout included, was quiet. Not the same for James Harrison. I don’t think he’ll be getting a Christmas card for Roger Goodell this year. At the same time, his issues last season with the league and his talk this off-season, I believe a BIG season is to come from him. By a hair from Polamalu, I am taking the Steelers 17-14. Confidence: 1
HOUSTON vs. Indianapolis: No Peyton Manning, no chance in hell the Colts are going to be very good this season. After the news of his third neck surgery, second since the NFL draft hit, this team will be lucky to win 6 games this season. That isn’t a knock of Kerry Collins. It’s more on the fact that the entire offensive system is built around Manning. Houston has always been loaded offensively and they bring in one of the best defensive coordinators in Wade Phillips. Collins will be able to do a few things, but not close to enough. Texans make an early statement that the division is now theirs and win 30-10. Confidence: 9
ARIZONA vs. Carolina: Cam Newton can play the QB position and will be a hell of a player in this league. It just will take some time. Newton does have the likes of Steve Smith around to throw the ball to, so it isn’t like they’re totally bare. Arizona is a couple of seasons removed from a Super Bowl appearance. Many of those pieces are still there and they may have finally found the right QB to lead them in Kevin Kolb. He is out from the shadows of Donovan McNabb and Mike Vick in Philly. He still has Larry Fitzgerald to throw to and he now has to start living up to that monster contract he signed. A little more experience and speed in AZ. Birds over Cats 24-14. Confidence: 8
SAN DIEGO vs. Minnesota: Philip Rivers vs. Donovan McNabb. Sounds pretty good right there. Then you look under the marquee. There are actual supporting actors in San Diego in the likes of Antonio Gates and Vincent Jackson. Hopefully Rivers’ shoulder will survive throwing it 50 times a game without a running game. McNabb has his own cast including Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin, and Bernard Berrian. McNabb is also looking to regain that form that took him to multiple NFC Championship games while in Philadelphia. He’ll get there, but I have to go with the team that’s been together forever, or so it seems to a guy living in Denver. Bolts 27-21. Confidence: 7
Seattle vs. SAN FRANCISCO: The best part of this game may be the renewal of a rivalry brought to the NFL from the Pac-10. No, not the players; the head coaches. Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh plain don’t like each other. It goes back to Harbaugh taking over at Stanford and not kowtowing to Carroll’s Trojans as had been the norm for the rest of the conference. Instead, Harbaugh lead Stanford to victories in two of their three meetings. Neither team is really all that awesome. Alex Smith is still the QB in the Bay Area. I swear he’s got naked photos of someone in the 49ers hierarchy to still have a job. Seattle has Tavaris Jackson who never got a fair shake in Minneapolis, but now is the clear starter and has a familiar face to throw the ball to in Sidney Rice. He has a pretty good receiving core otherwise and a running game. He should fare well. Seattle wins 24-14. Confidence: 4
NY Giants vs. WASHINGTON: The circus that was the Redskins last season has more than convinced me that it wasn’t the coach who made the QB when Mike Shanahan and John Elway won back-to-back Super Bowls here in Denver. He doesn’t have a starting QB. He made a disgrace of himself last year with his fight with Albert Haynesworth in the media. He is on the hot seat. His owner spends money like toilet paper. It’s time to do something with it. Every year we’re told that Tom Coughlin is on the hot seat. Every year he comes prepared to play. No difference this season. He’s still got Eli Manning and he’s still got that defense. Giants in a laugher 28-6. Confidence: 12
New England vs. MIAMI: Bill Belichick hates losing. He also hates being embarrassed when he does. This was the case in New England’s loss at Detroit in the pre-season. You can expect that he will be looking to take out the frustration on that loss on someone. Sadly for the Dolphins, they’re first up on the schedule. Miami has a QB no one likes, not the fans, not the GM apparently since he did everything but take the Bronco training facility hostage to get Kyle Orton. If Chad Henne can get the ball to Brandon Marshall and Reggie Bush, they might make some games interesting. NE 31-7. Confidence: 15
DENVER vs. Oakland: The last time the Raiders came into Mile High Stadium (you can shove your corporate sponsorship), they bitch slapped the Broncos to the tune of 59-14. While there are new players in that locker room, the key players from that game for Denver are back. And don’t think they’ve forgotten. They quit and quit convincingly on Josh McDaniels last year. From all indications, they’ve taken very well to John Fox and John Elway is clearly putting his stamp all over this roster. They have shored up the poorest
defenses in the league from a year ago. The Tim Tebow debate has been dispensed with after the pre-season in which he played like he’d never played football before. The Raiders fired the most consistent coach they’ve had since John Gruden lead them to the Super Bowl almost a decade ago. Can Jason Campbell keep up the run he had last season and go undefeated in the division? He’s got the running game with McFadden and Heyward-Bay to pass to. If they buy into the new coach Hue Jackson’s game, they may be ok. They LOVED playing for Tom Cable. Going homer here. Broncos win 31-14. Confidence: 13
Wish me luck!