Finally, after all of the off-season drama, we as fans can begin to settle in and just talk about NFL regular season games.
It’s about time, too, because from March through August, it seems that on an annual basis, certain stories get recycled. Every off-season, you can count on the following happening.
-Brett Favre’s retirement saga
-Contract talks involving a star (Tom Brady)
-Holdout involving a star/possible one year wonder (Darrelle Revis)
-First round picks taking forever to sign
-Albert Haynesworth doing something stupid
-Terrell Owens saying something stupid
-Chad Ocho Cinco doing AND saying something stupid
-Something involving Tim Tebow, who is officially the NFL hybrid of Justin Beiber and Avian bird flu
So I feel good, because all of the proverbial fecalness that plagues the news is finally overshadowed by the part of the game that actually matters: the games themselves.
As is the case with week one, trying to accurately predict where the world’s next three earthquakes will strike is challenging, but yet perhaps easier than figuring out who wins in the first week. Good teams may be working out the kinks, and crappy teams can provide false hope for their luckless fans.
It’s a total crapshoot, but I’m down for the challenge.
Speaking of challenges, since 1994, I have participated in a picks league created by uncle (now run by me) in which you pick a winner for every game in that week, and then you “rank” the winners on your “scale of confidence”.
Basically, you number a sheet from 16 down to 1 (if 14 games are played that week due to byes, you number 14 to 1). The teams you’re most confident in are placed at the higher numbers, and the ones you’re certain could go either way are ranked lower.
If New Orleans plays Detroit, you can almost guarantee that the Saints will pillage and plunder the Lions, right? You may put the Saints at 16 and, if you’re right, you get 16 points.
Whereas if Indianapolis and San Diego clash, that could go either way. You may take the Colts, but you’d put them at 1 or 2. If you’re right, you get the allotted points. If you’re round, at least you didn’t blow an important number.
Make sense? It will as the weeks go on.
So here, now, is my ranking of confidence for week one.
16. San Francisco over Seattle
Something tells me that Alex Smith’s going to measure up to “competent” this season, which is all the 49ers need. It’s an offense, like Houston, that can run itself with any quarterback that is above drooling on himself. On the other hand, Seattle just let go TJ Houshmandzadeh and seems more than willing to help finance Baltimore’s potential Super Bowl run. I get giddy watching Pete Carroll make an ass of himself, and the only way he could do so more is if he leads a “Seahawk Walk” through rainy Space City. San Fran wins if they just show up.
SCORE: 49ers 34, Seahawks 7
15. Chicago over Detroit
Yeah, like Mike Martz isn’t going to empty the offensive toolbox on his former team. This will be the week where Jay Cutler throws for 15 touchdowns and 600 yards. The media will declare him the MVP of 2010. Then he’ll suck the rest of the season. Lather, rinse, repeat.
SCORE: Bears 41, Lions 14
A premonition tells me that Chris Johnson’s going to take away Adrian Peterson’s single game rushing yards record (296) and make this a memorable opening day for himself. Maybe it won’t happen, and maybe he’ll snap his knee running out of the tunnel before the game. But I still think Tennessee wins it.
SCORE: Titans 28, Raiders 10
13. Miami over Buffalo
Here’s the formula: Fred Jackson and Marshawn Lynch get stifled by a solid Dolphins team, and CJ Spiller makes some memorable plays. Beginning next week, Chan Gailey makes one of the few smart decisions of his career and puts all of his eggs into the Spiller basket. It won’t be enough to win this week, though.
SCORE: Dolphins 24, Bills 10
12. Denver over Jacksonville
The mainstream media, the Bible Belt, and especially Brent Musberger, will all secretly hope that the Broncos have enough of an insurmountable lead that Tim Tebow comes in during garbage time. Actually, Musberger’s secretly hoping that Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn have a little “accident” on the way to the stadium, and that Jesus Heisman comes in to lead the Stallions to victory. The game’s in Jacksonville, so many of the empty headed Gators fans may actually fill the stadium for once.
SCORE: Broncos 21, Jaguars 10
11. Dallas over Washington
I recently wrote about the thrill of ten years ago, when Donovan McNabb and the Eagles went all Expendables on the Somali pirates that were the Cowboys. This year’s game means little to me as an Eagles fan, except maybe as a chance for both squads to inflict serious injuries upon the other. You’re going to see a hobbled and confused McNabb out there, since he couldn’t figure Dallas out last year either.
SCORE: Cowboys 27, Redskins 14
10. New York Giants over Carolina
While I still say the Giants regress this season, and while I think the Panthers and Matt Moore will be better than most realize, I’m saying that Moore’s going to have his share of growing pains in this one, and I wouldn’t rule out three or four interceptions. This will lead to plenty of “Moore/Clausen” debates by ESPN that will certainly be juicy. And by “juicy”, I mean “get old after eleven minutes”.
SCORE: Giants 14, Panthers 7
9. Atlanta over Pittsburgh
You know, I actually like Dennis Dixon, and I feel he played very well against Baltimore last year, although Mike Tomlin ran the offense with unbending imperialism. The Falcons defense is nothing too special, save for the addition of Dunta “Read My Shoes” Robinson, but I feel the Falcons offense will just outplay Pittsburgh on the hole.
SCORE: Falcons 20, Steelers 10
8. Cleveland over Tampa Bay
Well, somebody has to win, right? I think the only way Tampa gets fourteen points is if Jake Delhomme throws them into the hands of Ronde Barber. This game marks the beginning of the last sixteen games that Raheem Morris will ever coach. Tampa fans can count along.
SCORE: Browns 14, Buccaneers 3
7. New England over Cincinnati
Oooooh, this one’s a bit dicey. On the one hand, the TO-cho combination has its intimidating factor, but Bill Belichick has enough film on both (literally) to figure out how to properly cover them. Granted, both teams folded like genetically engineered laundry in the playoffs last year, and the Patriots aren’t exactly in their heyday anymore, but opening day will provide a reminder of the elephant in the AFC room.
SCORE: Patriots 27, Bengals 17
If any type of history was on their side, it’s that since 2004, when the defending champions play on opening Thursday, they’re undefeated. Also working in the Saints favor is that Brett Favre has finally showed his age in pre-season, and that he’s shown as much mobility as Albert Haynesworth on a unicycle. Super Favre is dead, and the better quarterback will win.
SCORE: Saints 27, Vikings 17
5. Indianapolis over Houston
The Colts are Stone Cold Steve Austin, and the Texans are The Rock. When the two began their rivalry, Rocky was green and inferior, whereas Austin was near his peak. As time wore on, Rock became closer to being Austin’s equal, but simply couldn’t beat him when it mattered. Appropriately enough, in Austin’s final match six years after they began facing off, he lost to The Rock clean as a sheet. Right now, Houston is 2001 Rock and Indy is 2001 Austin: The Texans will put up a great fight and they’re “ready for the show”, but The Colts are still in main event form. Maybe down the line.
SCORE: Colts 38, Texans 31
4. Baltimore over New York Jets
Hmmm, possible AFC Championship preview? I love how the Ravens one-upped the Jets extending Revis’ deal yesterday by going out and adding TJ Houshmandzadeh to their RCFH (receiving corps from Hell). It’ll be a low scoring affair, but the amount of yards that the Ravens extract on Rex’s Jets will be an eye-opener. Either way, I’m REALLY looking forward to this.
SCORE: Ravens 17, Jets 13
3. St. Louis over Arizona
Welcome to the “What’s WRONG with you?” portion of the picks. Why not? Sam Bradford may not have much around him, and he’ll make his share of mistakes, but given that Arizona chose until roughly three minutes ago to decide on their highly-suspect quarterback scenario, I figure the Rams can stun ‘em. Bradford will make some surprising plays, and he’ll let Steven Jackson handle the rest. The Cardinals defense can only hold up for so long after many potential offensive turnovers that the Rams have a realistic shot.
SCORE: Rams 21, Cardinals 14
2. Philadelphia over Green Bay
Pro-tip: I am obligated to pick the Eagles in all of their games, and then attempt to rationalize it. I pick the Eagles for fear of upsetting the Gods of Bednarikis, Reggiatticus, Van Burenatis, Jaworski the Magnificent Homer. Since I fear a shift in karma, let’s pick my Eagles with the rationale of “It’ll be a really good game and Kevin Kolb can exploit a weaker Packers secondary”. Yeah, that’s it, let’s go with that.
SCORE: Eagles 27, Packers 24
1. Kansas City over San Diego
It’s not an upset if you know that I’ve picked the Chiefs to win the AFC West by one game over the Chargers. Really, San Diego’s defense isn’t as daunting as you think, and surely Matt Cassel’s going to comfort himself by handing off to Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones as often as possible. Upsets happen every week, and I’ll take this one
SCORE: Chiefs 20, Chargers 17
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