For those of you new to Camel Clutch Blog, or are merely blissfully unaware of the individuals who inhabit this very handsome blog, my name is Justin Henry, and I am the resident picker of games at this here establishment.
Last season, in 256 regular season games, I went 165-91, giving me a healthy 64% winning advantage. 64% is pretty good, to be honest. Hell, by modern Oakland Raider standards, it’s enough to warrant drool. A 64% approval rating is something Barack Obama can only achieve in this day and age by ordering Rush Limbaugh and Al Sharpton to play Russian Roulette.
But I’m not trying to brag or anything; I’m just merely stating my qualifications for bringing back my weekly picks presentation. After all, here at camelclutchblog.com, not only are we a healthy source of scantily clad lasses in the side banner ads, but also serve as home to accurate football picks as well.
Who says we don’t cater to varied tastes?
The format of my column is simple: I pick a winner for each game, and then I rank my winners from the one I’m most confident in, to the one I’m least confident in, making my final pick either a startling upset, or a decisive selection in a game between two true heavyweights. If it were stated any more easily and arcanely, I’d hire Dan Dierdorf to grunt it.
And so, as Roger Goodell and his PR staff have diligently bashed into our collective consciousness since the end of July, football is BACK! And so are my picks of the week. Enjoy!
Current 2011 Record: 0-0
The loss of Channing Crowder means there’s a chance play recognition diminishes on the Dolphins defense. Of course, against a Bill Belichick and Tom Brady-approved offense, play recognition is spotty at best. I look for the Patriots to run the same offense from last year, a week-to-week playbook change that you need to be an MIT graduate to master. And the players on New England’s offense are smart enough.
SCORE: Patriots 34, Dolphins 10
15. Kansas City over Buffalo
I’m not quite sure how to take the Bills, who saw Ryan Fitzpatrick and Stevie Johnson emerge as surprise stars last year. They should improve on their 4-12 from last season, but they come out of the chute against an upgraded Kansas City Chiefs. Not only does Buffalo have to deal with Romeo Crennel’s simple-but-effective defense, but they boast new offensive firepower in Steve Breaston, Le’Ron McClain, and Todd Heap. Todd Haley loves his gadgets, and I think he opens up shooting off every one of them.
SCORE: Chiefs 31, Bills 13
14. Denver over Oakland
Why is everybody laughing at the Broncos? They got Elvis Dumervil back and, paired with Von Miller, stands a chance of being one of the most dominant linebacker combos in football today. Of course, John Fox is an upgrade over Josh McDaniels that understands defenses, so that alone is an improvement. Kyle Orton doesn’t have Nnamdi Asomugha to worry about twice a year anymore, especially on Monday night. If Denver didn’t have a recently spotty rep, they’d be my top pick this week.
SCORE: Broncos 38, Raiders 16
13. New York Giants over Washington
Football takes a back seat in this game to America’s resolve, as the two cities primarily effected by the September 11 attacks meet on the tenth anniversary. The game won’t mean a hill of beans in comparison to the meaning of the date, but since this is a picks’ column, I’ll keep this simple: the Redskins needlessly struggle with their identity, and thus the Giants will swing their defensive line at (Grossman/Beck) like a wooden club. It doesn’t matter who starts, because New York will finish.
SCORE: Giants 27, Redskins 10
12. Cleveland over Cincinnati
Colt McCoy’s got a year more experience under his belt, which definitely puts him in better positioning than Andy Dalton, who’ll kiss the fire on Sunday thanks to Mike Brown’s stubbornness. The Bengals have added some attractive pieces on defense, like Manny Lawson and Thomas Howard, but how long can they last with Dalton likely turning the ball over many times? Their endurance will be tested when Peyton Hillis comes lumbering at them with intent of breaking the Madden Curse.
SCORE: Browns 27, Bengals 10
11. Arizona over Carolina
In some ways, picking a winner here is not an endorsement of greatness, but rather choosing the winner of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey between two meth addicts. Carolina’s best hope is to let DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, and Mike Goodson run over an inconsistent Cardinals defense, but on the other side, Kevin Kolb can play ‘jump ball’ with Larry Fitzgerald, who’s just happy to have a quarterback capable of winning once in a while. If the Cardinals defense can hold any, just take them.
SCORE: Cardinals 20, Panthers 10
10. New York Jets over Dallas
Just because Tony Romo’s healthy doesn’t mean that the Cowboys are going to become ravenous world beaters again. The Cowboys have ten of their eleven starters back, including DeMarcus Ware and Marcus Spears, and everybody forgets that they gave up about 27 points a game last season. Addition of Rob Ryan or not, the Jets remain a smart and aggressive team, and it’s Rex Ryan that’ll take advantage of any Cowboy shortcomings. If Tony Romo’s comeback starts slow, it could be a long night.
SCORE: Jets 27, Cowboys 13
9. San Diego over Minnesota
As much as I’d like to see Donovan McNabb succeed just to crack Kyle Shanahan in the mouth, he’s going to find it hard to outduel Philip Rivers, who has a healthier offensive line at his disposal. While the Chargers are notorious slow starters, in a four quarter game, Rivers is more apt to attack Minnesota’s questionable secondary (Antoine Winfield is now 34) than McNabb is to take advantage of San Diego’s fourth quarter ineptitude on defense. It may take time for McNabb to master the Minnesota offense.
SCORE: Chargers 23, Vikings 14
8. Philadelphia over St. Louis
Much was made of the Eagles’ “Dream Team”, but the Rams boast the better offensive line, as well as a tight end package (Michael Hoomanawanui and rookie Lance Kendricks) that is primed to batter the Eagles’ shaky linebackers. The Rams defense, however, has weaknesses, and the Eagles’ speed offense, led by Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy, will lead chases all afternoon. On top of that, Sam Bradford can be a little heavy on the picks, and the Eagles secondary is a veritable hornets’ nest for turnovers.
SCORE: Eagles 27, Rams 14
7. Tampa Bay over Detroit
I like where the Lions are going, especially in terms of Jim Schwartz sculpting a defensive monster. Stephen Tulloch, Justin Durant, and Eric Wright are all solid signings, and juxtaposing Nick Fairley next to Ndamukong Suh (when Fairley is healthy) is a running back’s nightmare. However, it’ll be a little bit before the Lions become cohesive, in spite of their impressive preseason win over the Patriots. I see Josh Freeman leading a concerted effort on the Lions’ D as the once-joke team finds itself.
SCORE: Buccaneers 17, Lions 10
6. Seattle over San Francisco
Well, somebody has to win. Either Tarvaris Jackson or Alex Smith will technically be undefeated at the start of week two, which would be humorous if it weren’t true. When it comes down to it, Seattle’s offense, even with Jackson, should see a marked improvement, thanks to Darrell Bevell’s hiring as offensive coordinator. Jackson has targets in Mike Williams and Sidney Rice, as well as a rejuvenated Marshawn Lynch. If Jackson can avoid mistakes in San Fran’s secondary, they’ll pull this out.
SCORE: Seahawks 16, 49ers 14
5. Chicago over Atlanta
I see both teams sinking this year in something of a post-good year hangover. Jay Cutler has to account for his mistakes more this season after his alleged “backing down” in the NFC Title game, whereas Matt Ryan was completely exposed in Atlanta’s divisional round loss to Green Bay. Both teams also have injury prone running backs in Matt Forte and Michael Turner respectively. For Sunday, however, I’ll take the Bears, because when you find yourself in doubt, you just take the home team.
SCORE: Bears 20, Falcons 14
4. Indianapolis over Houston
Peyton Manning’s neck vs. Arian Foster’s leg. This isn’t exactly what you’d call a gambler’s delight, since both offenses have a wider range of performance possibilities than usual. Houston has done everything imaginable to fix up their shoddy defense, including rearrange Mario Williams to linebacker and draft heavy on D in the first few rounds in April, but the Colts have enough offense that’s established in order to win, regardless of who throws the ball. I look for Dallas Clark to have a monster day in this one.
SCORE: Colts 24, Texans 20
3. Tennessee over Jacksonville
I originally submitted this on Sunday evening with Jacksonville winning, and they were very high on this list. My faith in the Jags’ new look defense, complete with Paul Posluszny and Clint Session as precisely the run stuffers needed in the AFC South, had me thinking “division title” for Jacksonville. But now with Luke McCown, he of the 74.8 career passer rating, inserted over David Garrard in a startling Tuesday cut, well…..that Jags D is going to be busy stopping Chris Johnson after McCown starts turning the ball over.
SCORE: Titans 17, Jaguars 13
So yeah, football is officially back when the two most recent champions hit the airwaves on Thursday night. The World Champions are undefeated since the concept of Thursday openers began a few years back, and that’s pretty much my only reason for taking Green Bay here. The Saints have added some nice pieces to the offense, particularly with Mark Ingram and Darren Sproles, but the Packers have retained most of their defensive clockwork, sans Cullen Jenkins. Should be a good one.
SCORE: Packers 17, Saints 14
1. Pittsburgh over Baltimore
After Hines Ward’s DUI arrest, Ray Rice and Ryan Clark set the stage for the week one clash with Twitter jabs back and forth. Of course, this rivalry didn’t need any more fire, but the taunts have proven why Twitter is an effective tool for making an interesting game even more so. After the way Pittsburgh has proven that they haven’t lost a step in preseason, I don’t see them losing to start the year. And after Rice let his “140 characters or less” fuel the fire, he may bear the brunt of the Steelers’ assault.
SCORE: Steelers 20, Ravens 17
Justin Henry is a freelance writer whose work appears on many websites. He provides wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture columns for CamelClutchBlog.com, as well as several wrestling columns a week for WrestlingNewsSource.com and WrestleCrap.com. Justin can be found here on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/notoriousjrh and Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/cynicjrh.