Oh I’ve missed this. I’ve missed this dreadfully. Baseball is fun (though it’s been a tough year to be a Phils fan), basketball is alright, hockey is nice, NCAA football is fantastic….but none of them hold a candle to the NFL. Oh yes, it’s back baby! Professional football is here and it’s been far too long since we’ve seen a real game.
Last year, regrettably my schedule got far too jam packed for me to keep up with my weekly previews. This year, things are looking better. So, each and every week I am going to bring you my weekly preview. I’ll give you a small sample of my thoughts on the game and I’ll offer my prediction on what will happen. At the end of each week, I’ll recap and see just how poorly I did. At the end of the season, we’ll know if I’m absolutely awful or just average.
Let’s hit it.
My picks will be italicized.
Cowboys @ Giants – I don’t care if I loathe both of these teams…I am so excited for this game. Very few things beat the opening game of the season…I don’t about you but I plan to enjoy some delivery Chinese food and a beer while watching the game. Oh, and I’m taking the Giants by the way (btw, as the cool kids say). I look at the Cowboys and see a team that’s just pretty much stuck. I think Tony Romo has reached his ceiling and I don’t see any great improvements anywhere except at CB (and that improvement is an unproven rookie). Meanwhile, the Giants are coming off a Super Bowl. Eli Manning is getting better each year and he often starts pretty hot anyways. The Giants as a team have to feel disrespected as pretty much no “experts” are picking them as their Super Bowl teams. While I don’t believe that can fuel an entire season, it can certainly give you the extra “umph” for opening day. Give me the Giants.
Colts @ Bears – I love Andrew Luck as much as the next guy (however, the second to last guy is an idiot…thinks he’ll be a bust). However, the Colts are a long (feel free to add extra a few extra o’s for emphasis) way off from being a solid team. A good quarterback to does not a team make. The Bears have a ferocious defense and in the offseason they made one of the biggest moves in the offseason acquiring WR Brandon Marshall from Miami. Now Mr. Cutler has a fantastic WR to throw to and they still have one of the best rushers in the NFL with Matt Forte. I’m not expecting total and complete domination by the Bears because I do believe Andrew Luck will keep his composure, however, I am expecting a fairly decisive victory for Chicago. Give me da Bears.
Eagles @ Browns – I’ll be perfectly honest. I don’t have a great feeling about the Eagles this year. That said, I have a far worse feeling about the Browns. The Browns strike me as that team that will definitely have a stranglehold on the competition for the first pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. They have a very weak offensive line, question marks at pretty much every skills position, and they’re the Browns. Some teams are just bad. Sure, they can get better (See Lions, Detroit) but I don’t see that happening in Cleveland anytime soon. The Eagles have a defensive line that might force Brandon Wheedon to retire and enough firepower to get the job done decisively. Give me the Eagles.
Rams @ Lions – I’m not sure how I feel about the Rams. Two years ago they looked like a serious team on the rise. Last year they were a mess. Now they have Jeff Fisher sailing the figurative ship but I don’t see many great improvements made to the roster. On the other hand, we have the Lions who have gone from a laughing stock to a legitimate threat in a few short years. Much of that has to do with one of absolute best QB/WR combos in the league with Matthew Stafford and Calvin “Megatron” Johnson. The Lions also boast a high motor defense led by a defensive line which is just nasty. Barring a completely unexpected letdown, I don’t see the Lions giving the Rams much of a chance in this game. Give me the Lions.
Dolphins @ Texans – The Dolphins had what may have been the single strangest offseason I’ve ever witnessed. It started off with them courting Peyton Manning….okay that in itself is not weird. In fact, that’s smart. However, almost immediately after they begin trying to lure Manning in, they go and trade the only offensive threat they had on their roster, Brandon Marshall, to the Bears. Manning eventually signs with Denver and the Dolphins decide to fill the void at QB with first round pick Ryan Tannehill. Soon after they announce they’ll be part of HBO’s “Hard Knocks” TV series, they sign Chad “I don’t know his last name anymore “Ochocinco/Johnson. Johncinco eventually goes and beats up his wife and then gets cut. And here we are. The Dolphins are going to travel to Houston to take on a much improved Houston team. Houston did lost some players in the offseason but none of them were guys who really fit in with what they were doing. They have, however, gotten a healthy Matt Schaub back. The Texans have a high powered offense and a darn good defense to boot. Oh yes, give me the Texans here.
Falcons @ Chiefs – Initially I was over thinking this game. I like what the Chiefs have done in the offseason but I need to keep reminding myself of one thing…Matt Cassel is still their QB. The Falcons also made one of the best moves of the offseason in acquiring CB Asante Samuel from the Eagles for a seventh round pick. That steal still astounds me. The Falcons offense should also be completely in synch this season with Matt Ryan have a full offseason to work with second year man Julio Jones. The Falcons have started fast out of the gate the past few seasons and I see no reason for that to change this year. Give me the Falcons.
Jaguars @ Vikings – Battle of the once-great-but-right-now-we-have-no-idea-what-to-expect runningbacks! In the purple corner we have Adrian Peterson, stud rusher coming off an ACL tear. In the turquoise corner we have Maurice Jones-Drew coming off an extensive contract dispute/holdout which caused him to miss all of the preseason. We also have a delightful battle of two second year quarterbacks with Christian Ponder for Minnesota and Blaine Gabbert for Jacksonville. Jacksonville also has the coolest mustache in the world. As tempting it is to give the Jags the win for that alone, I’ve gotta go with the Vikings here. Home field advantage and some solid players at key positions gives them a direct advantage over a Jacksonville team that, with the exception of MJD, resembles a midlevel college team. Give me the Vikings.
Redskins @ Saints – This game has taken a very interesting turn. As of writing this, the suspensions of the various Saints defenders has been lifted after they won their appeal. This makes me like the Saints even more, but that aside, the story line is truly fascinating. The Bounty Gate scandal has been arguably the biggest story of the offseason and the plot has only now thickened. Oh, we also get to see the pro debut of Robert Griffin III as QB for the Redskins. He was, as some of you may know, my absolute favorite player in the 2012 draft class. As great as I think he’ll be, he is still a rookie and I’m thinking that going on the road to New Orleans with a crowd all the more energized by the recent news is going to end poorly for RG3 and the ‘skins. Give me the Saints.
Bills @ Jets – One team made drastic improvements in many phases of the game. Another team signed the great QB the world has ever seen. This will surely be a battle for the ages….right? Oh, I’m sorry…the Jets signed Tim Tebow, *thee* greatest QB/RB/WR/Gunner/Missionary/T-shirt Model/Person ever. If you know me at all, you know that I do love me some Tim Tebow…I’m also a realist. He’s best served as a wildcat QB or a RB. That aside, the Bills did make some tremendous improvements this offseason and they’re primed to show off their new toys to the world by visiting New Jersey. The Jets looked absolutely AWFUL in the preseason and I think we can all see where this train is going. Give me the Bills.
Patriots @ Titans – I keep trying to push the image of the Patriots destroying the Titans in 2009 by a score of 59-0 out of my mind. This game will be absolutely nothing like that but I still see the Patriots winning. The Titans simply aren’t that good outside of Chris Johnson. Kenny Britt, when not suspended, is a darn good receiver…but he’s…suspended. Again. The Patriots aren’t the powerhouse they were a few years back but they still have Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. Guess what that means. They’re still a very good team. Give the Patriots.
Seahawks @ Cardinals – The Dolphins weren’t the only ones to have themselves a weird offseason; please direct your attention to the Seahawks. The Seahawks brought in multiple big names throughout the offseason (T.O. and Kellen Winslow Jr. for example) and none of them ended up sticking around. They’re also among many teams this year that are going into the season with a rookie at QB with third round pick Russell Wilson. The Cardinals on the other hand are a mess at QB and many other positions. The Cardinals are a mess in general. In related news, I’m officially declaring that I was wrong about Kevin Kolb. Give me the Seahawks.
49ers @ Packers – Oh man I cannot wait for this game. One of the best defenses in the league versus the best offense in the league. This game also features a fun story line….the 49ers could’ve taken Aaron Rogers instead of Alex Smith. Imagine what kind of team they’d be….but we all know what happened. This was maybe the hardest game to pick this week simply because both of these teams are so good in such different aspects of the game. But at the end of the day, it’s really hard to go against the Packers at home on opening weekend. I do this being an exciting and very close game but at the end you’ll have to give me the Packers.
Panthers @ Buccaneers – We once again have a case of a weird offseason. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers decided to do their best impression of the Eagles this offseason and absolutely no one is talking about them. They brought in a fantastic lineman in Carl Nicks and one of the best receivers in the game in Vincent Jackson. They also had themselves one of the better drafts in the league. Last season was a disappointment for the Bus but I really see good things happening for them this season. I’m also going to take this moment to publicly say I was wrong about Cam Newton. Dude. Can. Play. This is another game I’m looking forward to because I think it will be a close, hard fought game. At the end though, I’m liking a much improved home team. Give me the Buccaneers.
Steelers @ Broncos – Dear Peyton Manning, last season I took you in the third round of my fantasy draft the day after a report surfaced that you were recovering well. Needless to say, that was a wasted pick and I tanked my fantasy season. Once again, I took a flyer on you this year. Please don’t let me down. Love, Brennen. Now, while I do believe Peyton is going to have a very good year, I do see Sunday Night being a problem for the Broncos. Let’s be honest, the Steelers are a tough team to deal with in any stadium even if said stadium is a mile high. This is another game that I see as being a lot of fun. Peyton alone makes the Broncos offense very dangerous and the Steelers defense is always fun to watch. When it’s all said and done, however, the Steelers defense has far more shared experience than the Denver offense. Give me the Steelers.
Bengals @ Ravens – A year ago I would’ve spent the majority of this preview making Bengals jokes. No more. The Bengals are for real. I also really like the Ravens. They’re just a solidly built and coached team. Of the two Monday Night Football games being played this week, this is the one I am looking forward to the most. Division rivalries are always a blast, especially when both teams are very good. I see yet another close game being played but I really like Baltimore. Give me the Ravens.
Chargers @ Raiders – Remember when the Chargers were a Super Bowl caliber team? Those were good times. Now they’re just someone that I used to know. They didn’t have to cut off so many good players, but they did. The Raiders meanwhile, are steadily improving. That combined with history showing the Chargers almost always start slow gives me full confidence in taking the home team in a game that I will surely fall asleep in. I’ll fall asleep for a few reasons…I see this being a sloppy game and it’s going to be way past my bedtime. I’m old. Give me the Raiders.
AND WELCOME BACK NFL!