And Now the Fun Begins

What Keith said. Here are my Week 1 picks. Stakes yet to be determined, and I’m already up 1-0. It’s time to fuck shit up.

STEELERS (6) vs Titans

The NFL is at its peak as a league. I don’t even think it’s all that arguable. I’ve felt for a while now that this season would be a great one, and the opening game served notice that we’re in for a treat. Playoff-like intensity in the first week of the season is a rare thing, and this one was a pleasure to watch, even though I hated seeing the Steelers pull out a win they probably didn’t deserve. Hey, has anyone else noticed that Pittsburgh’s offensive line totally sucks, and it did all last season too? I did and kept citing it as a reason they wouldn’t win the Super Bowl last year. (Look it up.) I was wrong about the SB, but I’m sticking with that same theme this year. And I still got this pick right, so shove that Iron City Beer up your cornhole.

Pick: Titans

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BENGALS vs Broncos (4)

I’ll take the contrarian view on the “Josh McDaniels is the anti-Christ for hurting poor little Jay Cutler’s feelings” hysteria spewing from the altitude-addled twats who live in Indianapolis With A Great Backdrop. I’m sorry, I meant Denver. Cutler is a turnover machine, not to mention a whiny bitch who doesn’t have the stones to lead a team to a title. (Also see: Philip Rivers.) You can’t build around a selfish guy like Cutler, and overrated Mike Shanahan was in need of a change of scenery. And seeing as how he doesn’t done jack shit in his career without John Elway, maybe that wouldn’t even help. So major kudos to owner Pat Bowlen for not playing it safe. On the other hand, Denver is still fairly devoid of defensive talent, and they will continue to struggle this season.

Cincy is a sexy sleeper pick this year, and as much as I hate to be a bandwagoner, I’m on board. They have elite offensive talent and an underrated defense that quietly kept them in games last year. I don’t think they’re a worst-to-first type sleeper, but it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if they were in the playoff hunt until the end. (Remember that I said pretty much the same thing about the Dolphins in my Week 1 preview last season. That doesn’t mean I’m always right, but you’ve gotta admit that was fucking classic.) 

Pick: Bengals

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TEXANS (4.5) vs Jets

If you don’t know who I’m picking in this game, you’ve obviously never read the site before.

Pick: Texans

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BROWNS  vs Vikings (4)

An astoundingly bad matchup of the two worst coaches in the NFL. Mangini is a complete joke, and the team doesn’t have enough talent to mask that fact. Childress has more talent to work with, but not as much as people credit them with – receiver and secondary to be specific. Minnesota is a mortal lock to finish 8-8.

Pick: Vikings

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SAINTS (13) vs Lions

I can’t get behind the Saints. Maybe if the Arena League didn’t fold I’d feel differently, but in the NFL you’re still supposed to play defense. Also, professional cancer Jeremey Shockey still plays for them, at least when he’s not being hospitalized with “dehydration.” Fuck this Lindsay Lohan world we live in where you can’t just come out and say someone OD’d. I guess the terrorist really have won.

Detroit deserves better than they got last year. I think Stafford will actually be good, and can see them finishing 6-10 or something. Still shitty, but a WHOLE lot better than what we’ve seen of late. If Barry Sanders comes out of retirement at midseason I’ll up this projection to 9-7. That’s not even a rumor, but it’d be awesome. If Theo Fleury and Jason Williams can do it, why not Barry?

Pick: Lions

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COLTS (7) vs Jaguars

It all falls apart for Indy this year and they finish out of the playoffs. It almost happened last year, and it’s not like they got a whole lot better in the offseason.

Pick: Jaguars

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CARDINALS (6) vs 49ers

I like the 49ers as a sleeper this season too. Good defense+Mike Singletary+more rush-heavy offense+surprisingly effective QB play from Shaun Hill = a respectable season. Not great, but highly competitive.

So cliche to predict a post-Super Bowl hangover/injury plagued season for Kurt Warner, but I’m going there. Sometimes they’re cliches because they’re true.

Pick: Cardinals (I think they cover by a late score or two following a tight game. Don’t think I’m being hypocritical; I stand by what I wrote in the summary, but I still want to beat Keith and Mex at these picks!)

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RAVENS (13) vs Chiefs

This may be the toughest game of the week to pick. Obviously I think Baltimore will win, but do I believe they’ll win by 13 or more? Tough to say. Everyone expects Flacco to be even better this season, but I can see a sophomore slump just as easily. And don’t forget Baltimore lost Bart Scott, Jim Lehonard and Rex Ryan from their defense. So I’m leaning Chiefs. But with Cassell 50/50 and no Tony Gonzalez, how can I make that play? I’m pretending to agonize over this, but this is what makes these picks fun.

Pick: Chiefs

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BUCS vs Cowboys (6)

What did I just write above about these picks being fun? Fuck me!!!

Pick: Cowboys

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PANTHERS vs Eagles (2)

Another pick I absolutely HATE to make, because I hate the Eagles more than Paul Aufiero does in “Big Fan,” which you should all go see, btw. But I’ve gotta do it this week. Just know that I think Philly is the single most overrated team in the league. Their coach, who always fucks his team over by trying to play finesse, pussy, trick play football instead of playing a power game, now has even more reason to play to those horrific tendencies with Vick on the roster. Their thin-skinned QB, who consistently chokes (and let’s not forget, pukes) in the clutch, now has a legitimate backup looking over his shoulder. Their defense lost its genius coordinator, it’s field general Brian Dawkins, and it’s best player, Stewart Bradley. Their supposedly new and improved offensive line is hurt and hasn’t played together all summer. Their oft-injured RB Brian Westbrook is already oft-injured again. Should I go on?

Still, I almost always take NFC Beast teams, especially against a Carolina team that rode an easy schedule and some lucky breaks to a 12-4 record last year. They won’t be bad this year, but they’re MUCH more likely to be 8-8 than 12-4.

Pick: Eagles

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GIANTS (6.5) vs Redskins

And now for the part where I bore you with my uber-Giants fandom. Actually I’ll spare you this time because I’m saving it for a post later in the week where I recap my trip to Giants Stadium for this game. Here’s a preview: The Giants were the best team in football last year but they choked and didn’t win the title. They’re hungrier, deeper and more talented this year, and they’re winning the Super Bowl in a rematch with the Pats. There, I said it.

Pick: Giants

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SEAHAWKS (8.5) vs Rams

Seahawks are another trendy pick to turn things around this season. I’m not feeling it. In fact, I never felt it when they were winning all of those division titles in the last decade. They were/are always missing that undefinable “it” factor – most likely toughness. The argument is they were decimated by injuries last season. I’ll grant them that, and I’m sure they’ll be improved. But they’re still only middle of the pack.

The Rams, on the other hand, are a team on the upswing. I have faith in my paisan Spagnuolo. He’ll have them in contention by his third season. For now we’ll have to settle for competitiveness, and it starts with covering this weekend.

Pick: Rams

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FALCONS (4) vs Dolphins

The quintessential “which one of these out-of-nowhere surprise teams was a fluke last year?” matchup. I’m in the minority on this one, but I think it’s Atlanta. Never bet against Parcells.

Pick: Dolphins

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PACKERS (3.5) vs Bears

If I hear one more scribe pick either of these teams to win the Super Bowl I’m going to shoot someone. Die, all of you. Both of these teams will be good, mind you, but Super Bowl contenders? Methinks no. The Bears have no receivers, no secondary, and Cuntler. The Pack have an old, washed up secondary, a brand new defensive scheme and no running game. Ryan Grant? Please! Talk about a one-year wonder. And that was two seasons ago.

Pick: Packers

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PATRIOTS (10.5) vs Bills

It’s sad to see Belichick go all Bizarro World and turn against his defensive roots by having an all-offensive team. But what a fucking offense! I’m not sold on Fred Taylor as an every-down back, but he’ll still help. The defense is a concern. I guess I have faith in the coach that these young guys will gell, but it’s going to take a while. I expect a lot of shootout wins.

I was firmly behind the Bills as a huge sleeper last year and got burned. Not this time.

Pick: Patriots

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RAIDERS vs Chargers (9)

Is this the 4th consecutive year we’re being told San Diego and/or Dallas has the most talented team in the league, or the 5th? I can’t remember because I’m so blinded by all of the championship hardware those two teams are brandishing. Oh right…I’m not. Fuck these dick biscuits, but I’m still taking them to cover this week. 

Pick: Chargers

Welcome back, NFL – where every pick makes you feel like a Tijuana whore!

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