Well, it’s inevitable. The NFL appears to be going forward with its inflated eighteen game schedule, beginning likely in 2012.
The only benefit of this increase is that eighteen games in 2012 will make up for the likely zero games we’re getting in 2011.
However, I do not wish to keep a pessimistic tone for this written piece. After all, a man who was in prison sixteen months ago is currently giving my Philadelphia Eagles their best passing attack since the days on Ron Jaworski. So I think I have reason to be hopeful and wanting.
So here, now, are a list of things you can expect to see and hear in the 2012 NFL season.
-Jahvid Best will set an NFL record for rushing yards with 2,247 over 18 games. Chris Johnson will claim that he’s still better than Best, because he broke 2000 in sixteen games. OJ Simpson will claim to better than all, because he broke 2000 in fourteen games. Also, OJ will still claim innocence.
-The Jacksonville Jaguars will go 1-17, thus sparking fervent debates over whether or not they were actually worse than the 2008 Detroit Lions, who were 0-16.
-An unimportant Buffalo Bills player will suffer a completely shattered spine in week eighteen, and the media won’t bat an eye. 43-year old Brett Favre will suffer a torn achillies heel in week nineteen for the 14-4 division champion Minnesota Vikings, be out for the post-season, and the media will choose THAT moment to complain that the schedule is too long. No one will mention, however, that the Vikings had the #2 seed locked up, and Favre didn’t HAVE to play, but you know, he’s a gunslinger.
-As an addendum to that point, Tarvaris Jackson would not have been considered for the Vikes starting job, as he will have despondently committed suicide in August 2011, when Favre gets his job for the third straight year.
-With a season that likely begins in mid-August, teenaged football fans will no longer enjoy the dichotomous euphoria of having to go back to school the second week of September, only to have a new NFL season waiting around the corner to soothe the stress.
-Instead, with football beginning way earlier than expected, expect beach communities that make a ton of money over the summer to take a serious hit, as the fat, overworked, sweaty blue-collarites that flock to the shore on weekends in the summer to cut their season short, as Labor Day weekend now features their team and their hated rival, both 2-0, facing off in a pivotal 4:15 showdown.
-Increased seasons on Madden beginning with Madden ’13 will allow the player to blow off steam from unforgiving nine-hour days at their soul crushing job by blowing out two extra opponents 65-0 with their created, stat-inflated self as starting quarterback.
-The Patriots will go 18-0, and then lose the Super Bowl to the 10-8, barely-in-as-wild-card Eagles, which is peachy freaking spiffy to me.
Well, enough star-gazing. I had another break-even week on the picks in week three, thanks to some misguided upset picks, as well as a handful of sure bets that weren’t so sure. I have only fourteen games this week, so let’s hope I get this right, lest I look less-than-credible for the 39 people reading this.
NFL WEEK THREE: 8-8
FOR THE NFL SEASON: 25-23
14. Indianapolis over Jacksonville
This one actually makes me nervous, because the Colts have the “holy crap, why are they so good?” Chiefs in week five, and any good team is susceptible to a trap game. Still, it’s Peyton Manning. If he can’t destroy a team that Michael Vick had a career day against, then it’s only going to fuel my deluded hopes of Philly winning it all even more. Maybe Peyton wants that. But yeah, if DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin can go nuts on J-Ville, then Reggie Wayne and Austin Collie should do the same. The template is set.
SCORE: Colts 44, Jaguars 10
13. New Orleans over Carolina
I don’t know who I feel worse for: Jimmy Clausen, who has been thrown to the wolves far too early for his own good, or Garrett Hartley, who went from being a hero eight months ago to have his job threatened by a 46 year old who cost the Saints a playoff shot in 2003 with a missed extra point. The difference here is that Carolina’s special teams can’t really do much to Hartley, but a frustrated Saints defense can certainly do plenty to Clausen. The Saints will bounce back big here, especially on defense. Did I mention that I’m happy to have drafted New Orleans’ D? Thanks in advance, Mr. Clausen.
SCORE: Saints 34, Panthers 14
12. Green Bay over Detroit
Forget about the Packers’ eighteen penalties on Monday Night. What I want to point out is the hilarity of Jon Gruden on commentary. After latently defending Reggie Bush’s unethical mistake in week two, Gruden takes time after Clay Matthews III, who really should be forced to take a drug test every three days, slams Jay Cutler to the turf by his facemask (and possibly eye sockets), and Gruden offers the following analysis, paraphrasing: “Clay comes from a good football family, a very solid young man”. I can’t wait for Gruden to do a Texans game, so he can talk about another USC alum like Brian Cushing, and praise his workout regimen. Oh, before I get off track, I pick Green Bay. Well, because.
SCORE: Packers 31, Lions 10
11. Atlanta over San Francisco
49ers offensive coordinator (well, former) Jimmy Raye was surprised that he lost his job. That’s like the time I accidentally backed my Chevy Blazer into a retaining barrier and was SURPRISED to see my back bumper was dented. If San Francisco hasn’t gotten their act together yet, then Atlanta’s refreshed offense isn’t going to make it any easier for them. I see a philosophy change for San Fran making this game closer than it should be, but Atlanta still wins. I kinda hope Mike Singletary gets fired, because he’d make a fine defensive coordinator in Philly if we decide to excise Sean McDermott.
SCORE: Falcons 24, 49ers 14
10. Houston over Oakland
The only good thing that can come from this game is the Sebastian Janikowski-Matt Leinart “overrated first round picks” summit that’s scheduled for Sunday night after the game. JaMarcus Russell was scheduled to be the guest speaker, but is no longer allowed to enter the Bay Area. I’ll go with Houston for obvious reasons, but also for the Fantasy Reparation Corollary: when a team with great players gets handily beaten, then they owe it to their fantasy owners the following week. I didn’t make it up, it’s merely fact.
SCORE: Texans 31, Raiders 14
9. New York Jets over Buffalo
Part of me wishes this game were in December, just to see if Ines Sainz would try to interview Mark Sanchez at that point. I think Ines would take one look at her weather app on her Blackberry, and then see if there are any stories she can cover at a Miami or San Diego home game. I actually like Buffalo’s odds, as they’re finally beginning to use CJ Spiller more, and generally shape the game with their running attack. If Ryan Fitzpatrick stays confident and protected, as he did against a shaky Patriots defense, they can win some games unexpectedly. But then reality sets in and I realize “Well crap, they’re playing the Jets, who like to embarrass bad opponents”. So much for that.
SCORE: Jets 24, Bills 7
8. Cincinnati over Cleveland
I may have placed this higher before I watched Carson Palmer cough up some lousy throws to an average Panthers defense. I also saw the Browns play the Ravens tough, though that was likely a trap game (Ravens get Pittsburgh this week). The Bengals get the overrated Buccaneers next week, so there’s no need to really look ahead. Instead, I think Jermaine Gresham and Cedric Benson plow through a murky Browns linebacking corps (especially with D’Qwell Jackson out for the year) and give Cincy a respectable win.
SCORE: Bengals 21, Browns 10
Homer time! Getting right to the point, there’s been enough changes on the Eagles defense so far that Donovan McNabb won’t fully recognize what he’s seeing, at least early on (McNabb’s a notorious slow starter). Andy Reid would know better than anyone what McNabb’s most glaring weaknesses are. I have this visual of Reid pulling a Jon Gruden before Super Bowl XXXVII, playing quarterback as “McNabb” and letting the defenders get a feel for his style. Reid doing anything physically active should be captured on film forever. The Eagles will win a relatively tight game based around a pass rush and big pass plays on offense.
SCORE: Eagles 27, Redskins 14
6. San Diego over Arizona
A year ago, this game would be like watching two scientists debate global warming. Now it’s like watching the same debate if both men had frontal lobotomies. One can’t stop Seattle’s return game, and the other needs a badly missed field goal to beat Oakland. My gut says the Chargers will win, because Philip Rivers doesn’t handle indignities well, even if he gets two costly delay-of-game penalties on his own record. I think even in victory, signs of the Chargers decline will still be evident, and that doesn’t bode well for fans who have to watch the Padres’ descent in 2010.
SCORE: Chargers 21, Cardinals 13
5. Tennessee over Denver
The Titans would have gone higher if I knew for sure that Vince Young could follow up a good performance with another good one. The Broncos can’t punch anything in inside the red zone, so that tells me that Kyle Orton has a hard time staving off pressure. If Tennessee can run up the score early (literally, using Chris Johnson and the serviceable Javon Ringer), Orton has no chance of mounting a comeback.
SCORE: Titans 27, Broncos 17
4. St. Louis over Seattle
You simply don’t know what you’re getting out of the Seahawks, but I think Sam Bradford’s profile is more clear. Bradford plays without fear, and the offense is showing it. When Steven Jackson went out of Sunday’s game with the groin injury, Bradford continued to lead, and just pretended that Kenneth Darby was Jackson. Having that kind of faith and imagination can do wonders for a young QB, and his confidence is an asset. He still doesn’t have the weapons to outright destroy Seattle, but his hard work will do the job instead.
SCORE: Rams 20, Seahawks 17
3. Miami over New England
The Patriots have a bye in week five, and they had a hard time holding off a lousy Buffalo team. The Dolphins, meanwhile, played the Jets more than tough, and are very capable when there’s less pressure on Chad Henne. The Patriots couldn’t make Ryan Fitzpatrick make as many erratic throws as they would have liked, and Henne’s better than Fitzpatrick, so there’s my key to the game. I don’t see anyone on the Pats covering Brandon Marshall that well, either. If the underrated Dolphins defense can just contain Moss and Welker with any competence, then I don’t see them losing.
SCORE: Dolphins 21, Patriots 17
2. New York Giants over Chicago
To compare: The Bears defeated a Packers team who largely beat themselves into oblivion with stupid mistakes, whereas the Giants made more mistakes than the staff at Chernobyl against the Titans, and had a meltdown just as deadly. Tom Coughlin doesn’t suffer poor performances like that lightly, and I expect New York to come out swinging against the Bears. Cutler will resemble his old self, being goaded into making bad passes by a disciplined pass rush, and Eli Manning will play conservatively, yet efficiently. It’ll be a tough game, but the Bears are just due for that first smudge.
SCORE: Giants 17, Bears 13
1. Baltimore over Pittsburgh
Think about it: if my 2 and 1 predictions hold up, then the only undefeated team left is Kansas City. Perish that thought. If anyone has a chance at stopping the Steelers quarterback-carousel, then it’s the Ravens. A tough loss sets the stage for Big Ben’s return after the bye. Look for a defensive struggle, as only these two can produce, and the Steelers will see the downfall in the form of a turnover or two. I don’t think Mike Wallace will match his output from week three in this one.
SCORE: Ravens 12, Steelers 10
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