We all love making predictions in our sports entertainment. If you’re just a sports fan in general, chances are you’ve predicted the outcome of a game prior to the games result being final. Most of the time the biggest award for correctly predicting a game is just bragging rights (Keep in mind we aren‘t talking gambling. Gambling and predicting are two different things.) You call an upset, or you get the score prediction right, and you gloat to your buddies about how smart you are.
Well… guess what Pal? You couldn’t hit the water if you fell out of the boat. You’re not smart. You’re lucky. Same goes for all of us. No matter how much sports knowledge one possesses, making predictions is something that no one possesses as a true skill, because as we all know, anything can and will happen. Especially in the National Football League. In the NFL, so many things take factor in games that we don’t even know about. Fantasy Bums and more recent NFL fans think the game is all about the big name players running down the field with the ball scoring touchdowns and nothing else, TRUE football fans know what I mean when I say this. It’s not all about those big passing plays and big names that numb your mind into thinking the NFL is some kind of on going television series, it’s all about countless other little factors that play key roles in deciding the outcomes to these games that keep us entertained. It could be defensive packaging, proper subs, protection schemes, and all that other stuff that those announcers on TV babble about that you couldn’t possibly understand in a million years. Point is…unless you really focus in on every single snap in an NFL game…you’re probably missing about 60% of all the true action in each game. When the QB drops back to pass….do you watch the QB stand in the pocket until he throws, or do you watch the secondary, catch the coverage scheme, and the routes all the receivers are running? When the tailback gets the handoff on the Power O…do you watch him run, or do you watch to see if the guard pulls in time to create daylight? The point I’m trying to push here is that there is a lot more to football than most people think. Predicting NFL games, especially in the 21st century, is not only pointless, dumb, and ultimately a complete waste of time; but it’s not going to get you anywhere in the end.
With that being said….here’s my Week One NFL Picks! (Thursday’s season opener has been excluded.)
1:00 PM EST Games:
Miami Dolphins @ Atlanta Falcons: In 2008, both of these teams came into their seasons as the hunters. They were considered a couple of the NFL’s worst, but, as we all know, they proved everyone wrong. Now this season both of these teams have to step up to being the hunted, because they aren’t surprising anybody this season. It will be very interesting to see how both of these teams adjust this season, and this each are perfect opponents for each other to start a season. I see a close contest on tab here, and I don’t think either offenses will turn any heads in this game, and it’ll all come down to who makes the best of their opponents mistakes, because they’ll be rare for both teams. Atlanta 20-14.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Carolina Panthers: NFC Matchup of the Week. Both are top dogs going into this season, and both have a reputation for not living up to high expectations. Will the Panthers pound-the-rock offense be enough to keep the ball away from Donavan McNabb and the explosive offense of the Eagles? That’s what it will come down to, as Philly is going to have to make Jake Delhomme prove he can beat them with his arm. I’m seeing Steve Smith getting behind a DB late in the game when Philly brings eight in the box, thus sealing the deal. Carolina continues the regular season home streak, 33-24.
New York Jets @ Houston Texans: When Rex Ryan became head coach in New York, and he followed up by bringing in some big name defensive players, I was feeling a tough, physical and hard hitting season coming from the Jets. But, in the pre-season…I saw some bad signs. A first year head coach who may be overly-aggressive, unhappy players, a rookie QB leading a mostly veteran football team… the Jets actually are looking at an Oakland Raider-like season. As for Houston, I can see a big turn out from Matt Schaub if the Jets can’t create some pressure. I can see Kevin Walter and Owen Daniels both finishing with some strong performances. We’ll see how much Darrell Revis can bring it against Andre Johnson, as well. Houston takes it, 31-14.
Denver Broncos @ Cincinnati Bengals: Let’s face it, there’s no other way to describe Denver’s offseason other than complete disaster. Their franchise QB is in Chicago. Legendary coach Mike Shanahan is out. Brandon Marshall isn’t happy. The list goes on. However, I feel that Denver will surprise a couple teams this season and finish with a semi-decent record. They are looking to be much improved on defense, and they still have one of the best offensive lines in the game. And I like Knowshon Moreno. As for Cincy…I feel like an improvement can be in store if Carson Palmer can re-establish himself as one of the leagues better quarterbacks. Perhaps Cedric Benson can pick up where he left off last season and finally get his career rolling. It looks like offense will dictate this one, and I see Cincy taking this one at home, 28-24.
Minnesota Vikings @ Cleveland Browns: Well, we all know the Vikings will be one of the most talked about teams in the NFL this year, for the obvious reasons. The Browns, on the other hand, are starting new and fresh…again, for the 83rd time in the decade. Cleveland may show improvement this season behind Eric Mangini, but they are still undoubtedly in the lower class of teams in the NFL, while the Vikes are championship or bust. Vikes take care of business, 26-10.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Baltimore Ravens: Matt Cassel looks ready to go for this game, and I can see him playing well in this game if he isn’t shell shocked by the injury or his expectations. The Ravens will probably be stuffing Larry Johnson in this one, and Cassel may be able to hit a few throws against a secondary that can be exploited as long as the throws stay away from Ed Reed. Watch out for Ray Rice on the Raven’s offense, however, as he takes the role as feature back in just his second season in the league. Flacco should keep things simple throwing the football, but if the running game can do things, expect a couple shots down the field to Mark Clayton. In the end, the Chiefs, behind a new coach and QB, come close to the week one upset, but just miss, as the Ravens pull it out, 14-13.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Indianapolis Colts: I really thought last season was going to be the year that the Colts would finally fall to earth and begin to show some decline. Well, it was looking like that for about 8 weeks, as they started 3-4.…however, Peyton Manning happened. Now Dungy is gone. Expectations fall a bit this season for Indy, but I can still see another playoff appearance as long as they can get the running game going this season. Despite the loss of Dungy, Jim Caldwell has been part of the Colts organization long enough so that he knows what buttons to push. Oh yeah, and Peyton Manning can still happen. As for Jacksonville, we find Jack Del Rio n the hotseat once again. If the Jags have a repeat of last season and can’t reestablish their credibility, he’ll be gone at the end of the year. It’s all about MJD this season for them offensively, but David Garrard needs to prove he’s still the leader of that offense, otherwise look for the Jags to find a new field general in the offseason. This AFC South rivalry always seems to create close calls for both sides, and this one shouldn’t be much different, but in the end it’ll be the Colts, 26-17.
Detroit Lions @ New Orleans Saints: Before we start ripping into the Lions for going 0-16 last season and riding them off completely in this game, keep in mind that this team is going to be completely different this season in several ways. New coach (well, new staff for that matter), an entirely different roster of players, and even some new uniforms. The only people who will still truly feel 0-16 in Detroit are the fans, because they are the few returning this season that had to go through it. They are looking very similar to last seasons Dolphins…but I won’t go there just yet. New Orleans is still the much better team, and it should probably show. Drew Brees will have some fun in this one, and Saints will take it, 38-7.
Dallas Cowboys @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers: With TO, Pacman Jones, and Jessica Simpson all gone from the Cowboys list of distractions, will the media finally let the Cowboys have some breathing room and come together as a team this season? Probably not, however, I think the Cowboys are going to finally man up this season and show what kind of team they really are. The Buccaneers, on the other side are going to be dealing with many more drastic changes. It’s a re-building year for them, and they are looking similar to last season’s Chiefs. Im sure they can be competitive, but overall there is a lot of learning to be done, and it should be a long season for the Buccs. Cowboys 24-6.
4:15 PM EST Games
Washington Redskins @ New York Giants: I don’t really understand those who think the Giants are going to have a bad season just because they don’t have a great corps of wide receivers. Sure, it could potentially have an impact, an maybe we’ll see Eli Manning’s quality of play decrease a little bit,, but the Giants are still looking on paper like one of the best teams in the NFL, mainly because of their offensive and defensive lines. The Redskins are a possible sleeper team this season. Their schedule is generally favorable, and if they can pull off a couple of divisional upsets, they may be looking at a pretty decent record in the end. The Skins need to improve their offense in general this season, and we know this should probably be the last chance for Jason Campbell, but ultimately the play calling is what needs a major face lift this year. The Skins actually scored less points than the Lions last season. The Giants are the better team here, but it’ll be a close one. Giants 23-17.
San Francisco 49ers @ Arizona Cardinals: The 49ers won’t be forgetting that they lost in Arizona last year when they came up one yard short on a goal-to-go situation at the final gun. Interesting looking back last season and seeing that the 49ers, had they won that game, may have had a chance at winning that division. 49ers with the upset of the week over the NFC Champs, 29-27.
St. Louis Rams @ Seattle Seahawks: I have to think that Seattle will improve substantially this season if Matt Hasselback and his receivers can actually stay healthy. Jim Mora Jr. will be a far stray from the familiar system of a West Coast passing game Mike Holmgren had in Seattle for years, but I feel that he’s got enough under his belt as a head coach to have a chance to bring this team back to the top of this division. On the other hand, we have St. Louis, a team that has won 5 games over the past two seasons. Steve Spagnolo has done a lot of work already and still has a lot more to do to try and bring this team back to being…well, just competitive. They have some pieces in place, including running back Steven Jackson, who, if healthy, should have a shot at Larry Johnson’s record of 416 carries set back in 2006…because there just simply isn’t much else working for that offense this year. In this one, the better team should have their way. Seattle 34-10.
Sunday Night Football- Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers: The NFC North could be a 3-playoff team division this season, and this is a great way for these rivals to start out what should be a pretty wild season for the ol’ Norris division. Cutler debuts for what should be a much improve offense in Chicago, but I’m watching the Bears defense in this game. The Packers look like they are ready to explode on offense again this year behind Aaron Rogers, who has a shot at the MVP this season. The Bears will have to try to find an answer to the Pack’s loaded passing game, but they will also have to respect the run against Ryan Grant. Look for Greg Jennings and Donald Driver to get some big numbers in this one if Chicago’s pass defense hasn’t improved. Packers 31-20.
Monday Night Football- Buffalo Bills @ New England Patriots: This one will have the media drooling all game. Tom Brady is back in action with the Patriots, and NOW that offense gets their shot to finish the “unfinished business” of the ‘07 season. The defense is a much different story. Richard Seymour and Tedy Bruschi have both made their exits, and the secondary struggled badly in pre season. I do think they should hold up okay against the Bills offense in this game, however. The Bills fired their offensive coordinator in preseason, leaving young QB Trent Edwards just about a week or so to adjust to a new play caller. Terrell Owens will help in his debut, but I can’t see him having a great game or anything, but he might open things up for the other star WR on this offense, Lee Evans. Still, the Bills offense might be putrid in this game and perhaps all season if their offensive line doesn’t massively over-achieve. It should be a typical Bills-Patriots game. Buffalo hasn’t touched New England in over half a decade. Pats 28-10.
San Diego Chargers @ Oakland Raiders: As if one completely dominated rivalry isn’t enough, how about two in one night? We’ve been through this routine before. Raiders fans fill stadium, going crazy, sporting the black and sliver jerseys and shoulder spikes, some people get their drink on, a few chicks take their tops off, and everyone in the stadium just has a crazy time as a new season committed to excellence kicks off for the mighty Oakland Raiders and their amazing fan community. Oh yeah, and San Diego wins 41-14.
Photo Source: Flickr