It’s a NFL picks column! Just like everyone else! Yes, this is nowhere near an original idea, but writing a list of the upcoming NFL games is simply fun to write. It’s pure selfishness.
I don’t even gamble, but when your wife works on a weekend and you don’t know anyone else in town, you write a NFL picks column. Picks to win are in BOLD, except for Vikings/Saints, which already happened. (I didn’t use the spread this first week because honestly, who cares? You’re not using these picks to
call your bookie log onto sportsbook.com or whatever gambling site people use.)
This is a lengthy, unedited 2,800-some words, but the site is mobile friendly, so feel free to peruse it while you’re in the bathroom. (Unless you have a weird thing about using your iPhone in the bathroom. You shouldn’t, it’s awesome.)
Minnesota Vikings at NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Watching the pre-game celebration — seriously, some NBC executive better have gotten canned for booking Dave Matthews Band — and the touching tributes to post-Katrina New Orleans, I had a thought.
Can we stop acting like the Saints have rebuilt New Orleans? Seriously, there are still boarded up homes and miles of vacant lots. Don’t pull out the “Misson Accomplished” banner like everything is fixed because a guy with a birthmark on his face threw a bunch of touchdowns. The city still needs help and while the Saints provide a nice story, Robert Meachem and Co. scoring a bunch of points isn’t putting nails into boards and affordable homes back where they should be.
Anyway, on the purple side, a lot of Vikings fans are acting like the sky is falling and all hopes are lost. But really, the Vikings didn’t play that terrible, considering that their quarterback is working with a much different receiving corps, the aforementioned receiving corps needs to adjust and the defensive backfield is dealing with injuries. Oh and they were on the road against the defending Super Bowl champs.
The Vikings will be OK.
Probably. If Favre doesn’t get hurt. And at least one of the receivers emerge.
And - FINE, I’LL STOP - there are some questions with the Vikings.
MIAMI DOLPHINS at Buffalo Bills
It’s my Week One Suicide Pick! Which means completely ignore everything I’m going to type! (I typically lose on an upset special, it was the Bengals at the Packers last year that bounced me out.)
Being a fan of the Bills must be awful. The Bills were great in the 1990s, but since they couldn’t overcome the hump of a Super Bowl it was never that great being a Bills fan. If they would have won a couple of those games, people would have hired all of the Bills assistants and Marv Levy would be held up as a coaching genius. Instead, Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick have stamped their imprint on the NFL for the past 20 years. We don’t even have to get into the Music City Miracle game.
Anyway, what be most frustrating as a Bills fan is the same as Timberwolves fan, or as any morbid franchise - the people at the top have no idea what they are doing. Every three years the Bills draft a rookie quarterback and throw him the keys to the offense years before he is ready. The QB shows a few brief flashes of ability and everyone buys into the hype. Then the league gets used to him, throws different defensive packages at him and he struggles. Then the team benches him and his confidence his shot, but they have no one else. So they keep trotting him out there and he regresses. Eventually, they draft a new rookie and have him take the snaps. He shows a flew flashes and — you know where I’m going with this, i.e. the trail of J.P. Losman and Trent Edwards.
Here’s what the Bills did when they had Travis Henry. By all accounts, he was a good running back. The Bills, coming off an 8-8 season in 2002, drafted Willis McGahee in the first round. Not only could McGahee not play for that season due to a knee injury, he was (obviously) also a running back. The team, which didn’t have the benefit of a first-round pick helping the team on the field, finished 6-10. The next year, a running back controversy developed between McGahee and Henry, with Henry getting traded for a third-round pick. (Henry had been drafted only three years earlier in the second round.)
So McGahee was the starter for years to come, right? Except that before the 2007 Draf they traded him away and grabbed another running back in the first round, Marshawn Lynch. He started off on fire, but eventually lost favor for Fred Jackson. So what did the Bills do this offseason? They naturally drafted another running back in the first round, C.J. Spiller.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. The Bills will, again, be a dumpster fire. I’ve learned that the secret to a suicide pool isn’t as much as picking who will win, but who will lose. Sp in Week 1, I’m picking the Dolphins to benefit from the turnover-prone Trent Edwards and Co.
LIONS at Bears
Every day I drive past “Barry Sanders Field” in Wichita. It’s a pretty nondescript patch of land, next to a baseball field and what is best described as a row of abandoned warehouses (There’s a vacant Texaco, too, for good measure.)
I feel like it describes Detroit, with the legend of Sanders next to a piece of land forgotten by time. The Lions seem to be on the right track. Matthew Stafford seems like he could be a decent pro QB if the Lions are patient, Calvin Johnson has all-world talent and Ndamukong Suh seems ready to take the NFL by storm. They also added a couple of decent defensive players, too.
The Bears meanwhile, seem to be grasping to the Super Bowl they almost had, when they advanced with a great defense in a down NFC year. They still don’t have any receivers worth mentioning and the defense has aged. Mike Martz and Jay Cutler is not a relationship that inspires confidence, like when a best friend gets back together with an ex who is batshit crazy. Maybe Cutler puts up decent fantasy football stats, but I wouldn’t even want to bet on that; Martz sure didn’t help the QBs in San Francisco.
I think the Lions will at least cover, if not win outright.
Oakland Raiders at TENNESSEE TITANS
Someday, when Bill Simmons’s kid is doing 60 documentaries for ESPN’s 60th anniversary, I hope they review the career of Jason Campbell. In five years in Washington, he had five offensive coordinators. (Peyton Manning, meanwhile, had one for his first 11 years.) He quarterbacked a situation last year where the coach had his playcalling duties taken away and given to someone to who was driving a Meals on Wheels bus route. Campbell still put together a decent passer rating of 86.4.
Now, he has to deal with Al Davis.
Campbell is a mobile quarterback who makes decent decisions and is a natural leader. Don’t forget, he captained an undefeated Auburn football team in 2004.
I think he can produce someday, but just not this Sunday.
Cincinnati Bengals at NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Do we really think this Bengals situation is going to work? The quarterback has had major knee and arm surgery. One starting receiver has a dating show on VH1 and changed his name to Spanish numerals. The other has left three of his last four teams on awful terms. One of the cornerbacks got suspended in an incident that entered the term “make it rain” into the everyday American lexicon. A defensive tackle was previously busted on gun charges. The starting running back got pulled over for driving drunk in both a car and a boat (not at the same time). The backup running back was kicked off both his high school team for a fight at school and also from his first college team for hitting a coach, among other charges of theft.
Is this a football team or a halfway house? Something will eventually boil over with this squad.
Oh and Tom Brady’s hair looks like he was the back-up quarterback on Two-A-Days. Still, he’s on my fantasy team so I’m picking the Pats.
Carolina Panthers at NEW YORK GIANTS
The Panthers are getting by with some addition by subtraction with the release of Jake Delhomme, but they also have a huge hole to fill on their defensive line. I’ll pick the Giants to cover, but I’m not too confident about it. I’m much more confident that DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart will handcuff each other in fantasy football and piss off nerds nationwide. (An owner in our league got both on his team. Savvy move.)
Atlanta Falcons at PITTSBURGH STEELERS
The Steelers players voted Heath Miller as a captain over Ben “I did not rape that woman” Roethlisberger. That’s probably something that nerds like me care more about that professional athletes — seriously, do you think Roethlisberger is going to cry on his Super Bowl rings and millions of dollars in his beautiful mansion? — but that at least seems like a big “eff you” from the rest of the roster.
Or maybe Heath Miller is just really dreamy. Who knows. Anyway, I think people are underrating Dennis Dixon and I think he fills in aptly for the Steelers. He’s like the new Willie Beamen! (And yes, for several years after Any Given Sunday, I would create a quarterback named W. Beamen in NCAA Football. He would always win the Heisman. It’s amazing that I’m married.)
CLEVELAND BROWNS at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
You can tell the NFL put together a few Turd Sandwich versus Giant Douche contests in week one so that there were a few really good games elsewhere. It shouldn’t be too hard to see where this one fits.
Tampa Bay’s own fans don’t want to watch this one, either in person or at home. Let’s move on.
DENVER BRONCOS at Jacksonville Jaguars
Another game that will be blacked out locally. Ironic that Jaguar fans called for the team to draft Tim Tebow and then the fans get to watch the team that did take him.
Tebow is fun to watch, just as if you’re watching an experiment. Or maybe even the moments before a car crash. His throwing motion is ridiculously long, but he makes plays. Well, he has so far, but most of those defensive backs he was throwing against are now selling insurance. As much as I hate how Skip Bayless raves about Tebow, I think he has a shot to be a decent NFL QB. Do I think it was smart for Broncos to draft him where they did? Eh, not so much, especially since he’s the third Qb, behind future journeyman Brady Quinn.
I picked the Broncos to win, but really, this game is a toss up. I’m concerned about Maurice Jones-Drew since he allegedly had a minor injury in the preseason.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS at Houston Texans
Matt Schaub is fooling everyone into believing that the Texans can be a dangerous team this year. Last year he threw for 4,770 yards and 29 TDs versus 15 interceptions. But it was also the only year out of three seasons as a starter that he made it all 16 games.
Schaub reminds me of a better Chris Chandler, someone who is more than capable while playing, but about as durable as balsa wood. I’ll bet Schaub kills several fantasy football teams this year. His injuries didn’t matter when he was a $1 pick; now that people are spending $10 and up on him, it matters.
The Colts meanwhile, are ridiculously stacked. Even though they have to battle the curse of the Super Bowl loser, I’m surprised they aren’t getting more Super Bowl hype this year.
ARIZONA CARDINALS at St. Louis Rams
Derek Anderson was so excited he beat out Mark Leinart for the starting QB job that he called home immediately after he got the job. Unfortunately, the call was intercepted. So were his next four tries.
Is Anderson a good QB? No. He has a cannon arm, but questionable judgment and a tendency to lock in on one receiver. Sure, he went to the Pro Bowl in 2007. But look again at those stats: 29 TDs (17 went to Braylon Edwards),19 INTs, 56 percent completion rate, 3,787 yards. If a “career year” resulted in less than 4,000 yards, a competition rate of about 50 percent, half as many picks as touchdowns, and more than 50 percent of your TD passes to one receiver, maybe we should revisit that “career year.”
Still, these would be bigger issues if the Cardinals weren’t playing the St. Louis Rams. The Cardinals defense should terrorize rookie Sam Bradford on the way to an easy victory. Steven Jackson will likely get 100 yards on the way to a frustrating season – quick, name a Rams receiver who doesn’t currently have a blown ACL or formerly played on the Dallas Cowboys practice squad. (My brother named Laurent Robinson. Fine. You’ve got one.)
Yeah, I’m not big on the Rams this year.
GREEN BAY PACKERS at Philadelphia Eagles
Aaron Rodgers is a great fantasy football quarterback, but he still throws too many picks on the road. Even so, I don’t think it will matter much this week.
The Eagles, meanwhile, are going to miss Donovan McNabb at times this year when Kevin Kolb gets exotic defensive packages thrown at him and throws three INTs, or when he loses his composure on the road during a tough rivalry game. They no longer have a first-rate pass catcher in the backfield for check downs and DeSean Jackson is bound to not have as many long plays as he did last year.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS at Seattle Seahawks
It’s pretty amazing that the job Pete Carroll got to distance himself from NCAA sanctions is an NFL head coaching job. Think about that. His back-up plan, his getaway car, his secret ace in the hole, was a head coaching job in professional football.
Organized crime couldn’t do better than that. Meanwhile, the Seahawks are another one of the NFL’s dumpster fires.
DALLAS COWBOYS at Washington Redskins
I think the Cowboys are the better team, but the Redskins are going to be a markedly better team this year. Great, veteran quarterbacks are hard to find. Take it from a Vikings fan who watched two seasons of Tarvaris Jackson, a great quarterback can add four wins to a team’s schedule. And while I like Jason Campbell, the addition of Mike Shanahan and a real offense will do nothing but benefit Chris Cooley, Clinton Portis and Santana Moss.
I think Washington’s offensive line with hurt them at times, but that is a team with talent. Now Shanahan has to bring it all together.
Dallas isn’t quite the Super Bowl team some would have you believe, but they have a lot of weapons. They’ll be tough, at least until December when Tony Romo becomes as mentally fragile as one of the kids they put on new versions of The Real World.
BALTIMORE RAVENS at New York Jets
This should be the best game of the week and I have the Ravens overcoming the Jets.
Darrelle Revis is the best cornerback in the NFL, but the Jets problems aren’t at cornerback or even on the defensive side of the ball. Mark Sanchez is going to kill this team at an important juncture this year and make everyone realize that just because the Ravens once won a Super Bowl with Trent Dilfer, that isn’t the model for building a champion, it’s the exception. Sanchez also had minor knee surgery in the offseason. Still fired up for the fucking (c) Rex Ryan New York Jets?
And if I read one more article about the “poise” of a fucking (c) Rex Ryan rookie quarterback who threw 20 interceptions versus 12 touchdowns, I’m going to snap.
San Diego Chargers at KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Every year, a team comes out of nowhere and surprises everyone. This year, it’s the Chiefs. They don’t have a rookie quarterback. They have two solid running backs. They have some decent playmakers at receiver and they have put together an emerging defense. Putting together Scott Pioli, Romeo Crennel and Charlie Weis can’t be a bad thing, either.
They added Eric Berry in the draft, he is going to be a player who makes a huge impact. A guy flying around the secondary can only help those guys on the front seven.
Further, they get to play the Raiders and Broncos twice a year and the Charges are notorious lately for starting slow. I don’t think the Chiefs are going to advance to the second round of the playoffs, but I would be surprised if they weren’t remarkably better than last year.
On the other side, the Chargers are set for a decline. You can replace Vincent Jackson, aka “Inaction Jackson,” with the receivers they have, but left tackles like Marcus McNeill are much harder to come by. A.J. Smith will learn that one the hard way. Smith has already gotten lucky that Phillip Rivers has turned out like he has. It would have been much more difficult to swallow if he let Drew Brees get away to let someone like David Carr take the starting job.
The rest of that locker room isn’t going to enjoy seeing two of their better players sitting at home.