by Ryan Meehan
Now that I’ve gotten my lofty season predictions out of the way, here at FOH we can finally sit back and make smaller claims doing what we do best: Picking games week to week. Speaking of picks, I received Peter King’s NFL preview picks courtesy of Sports Illustrated and to say that I found myself to be a little bit confused is a bit of an understatement. Although I dig most of Peter’s analysis, I find that at times he tries to inflate the hype bubble when it’s already burst. He’s super high on Kansas City this year, and convinced that they can even be Super Bowl contenders if Matt Cassel stays healthy. Which is hilarious, because he has Denver losing the Super Bowl by only a field goal. People sure are pumped about the Denver Broncos this year aren’t they? As for his NFC picks he has the Chicago Bears winning the NFC North, and that’s something I find a little shocking because I figured that pretty much everybody had agreed on the Packers running away with that one. Especially King himself, who has the Packers as that team who will be a field goal ahead of the Broncos that first week in February, winning it all.
Anyway, that’s neither here nor there. Football is on, and the games now count. The rosters have been cut back, and the release of several notable players such as Terrell Owens, Deion Branch, Chad Johnson, and Vince Young is proof that the NFL is changing into a new era of flesh that will soon tear and bones that will soon be sticking out of previously mentioned flesh. Youth is king, and defenses everywhere can’t wait to sink their teeth into all of the new raw meat on the market. Just because all of the leaves on the trees are dying doesn’t mean life isn’t good, so grab some ginger ale and some rice cakes and let’s party like it’s the apocalypse and all that’s left are some very, very poor food and drink choices. The NFL 2012-2013 starts now…
(99 PROBLEMS BUT A BITCH AIN’T) WEEK ONE:
Season Opener: Wednesday Night – Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants
I can’t believe that I’m doing this, but I have to go with Dallas here. The Giants will obviously be a little bit on their high horse, as they’ll be opening up the season at home and showing off yet another Lombardi trophy. That’s sure to piss the Dallas Cowboys off, who will be in town and will likely see plenty of clips from that game that their owner expects them to play in every single year. Dallas has a gun to their head because if they miss the playoffs this year skulls are going to start rolling like tumbleweeds, and fast. The Giants on the other hand aren’t expected to do much. Rarely do I ever say that a certain team’s schedule isn’t fair – it’s football, a tough sport – but all we’ve heard about the Giants this offseason is how their schedule is the most daunting that the NFL has ever seen, even for a Super Bowl Champion. So although I’m not going to play the “It’s not fair” card, I’ll gladly play the “It’s still fucking ridiculous and don’t forget both Mario Manningham and Brandon Jacobs jumped ship to join the team that’s probably going to win it all” card. Therefore I am justifying picking a team I hate over a team I love because the team I hate has everything to play for while the team I love doesn’t.
Prediction: Cowboys 27, Giants 24
Indianapolis Colts at Chicago Bears
Fantastic. Nothing is going to further exaggerate the delusional thinking of Bears fan than opening up against the team who had the worst record in all of football and are starting a quarterback who is absolutely going to get his bell rung in this game. Chicago will look really good at the beginning of this one but then pack it in during the second half. Not to crack anybody’s cork loose but I think most of us can agree that the Colts were a lot farther away from a winning season than just a number one draft pick. Are you ready for some ugly football?
Prediction: Bears 32, Colts 9
Atlanta Falcons at Kansas City Chiefs
Home field advantage definitely plays into the outcome of this one, but the real issue here is that we have two teams that are stuck in the middle of the NFL’s success pool and are looking to prove to the world that it’ll be the other squad who’s headed south. On paper, the Falcons would appear to be the clear favorite. But as of late, the Falcons have had their moments where they haven’t been able to retain their composure. I like Matt Ryan a lot, but do I ever see him becoming an elite NFL quarterback? Not even close. I feel the same way about Matt Cassel, who rose to fame in the absence of Tom Brady. (Who rose to fame in the absence of Drew Bledsoe, who rose to fame in the absence of reason) Nonetheless the Chiefs will take this one at Arrowhead, but just barely. Watch for an inspiring performance from wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, who signed a one year $9.5 million contract just two weeks ago. Most underrated game of the week.
Prediction: Chiefs 21, Falcons 20
Philadelphia Eagles at Cleveland Browns
Much like the Bears/Colts game, this matchup features a rookie quarterback facing a defense that very well may put him in a wheelchair. The Eagles have to win the NFC East this year, because they’re just simply out of excuses as to why they haven’t been doing so. They have absolutely NO excuse for losing this game, unless Brandon Wheedon turns out to be a diamond in the rough. And even if that’s the case, Cleveland’s defense still blows so even in the bizarre occurrence that this turns into a shootout I still have to give this one to Philadelphia.
Prediction: Eagles 31, Browns 15
Washington Redskins at New Orleans Saints
This game will feature the regular season debut of Robert Griffin the Third and will no doubt be a test of his nerves, as not every QB starts the first game of their career in the Superdome which will be a frenzy full of angry Saints fans ready to make his life a living hell. The Redskins have gotten a little bit more skilled on the other side of the ball, but Drew Brees will be right there looking to make things equally as difficult for those guys as well. Saints roll easy here.
Prediction: Saints 32, Redskins 13
St. Louis Rams at Detroit Lions
Although I don’t have Detroit making the playoffs this year, I still stand by the fact that they have a very powerful offense that can put up a lot of points real fast. They also have an extremely undisciplined defense that loves to prey on the “less fortunate”, so playing the Rams week one is like one side of a conflict bringing an assault rifle, a tank, a nuclear weapon, and a nailbomb to a toothpick fight where the opposition isn’t even allowed to use or think about toothpicks. It’s like bringing a chainsaw to help tear down a gingerbread house. So many things wrong with this matchup, and fitting that both of these teams play in a dome because they play so poorly outside.
Prediction: Lions 39, Rams 14
New England Patriots at Tennessee Titans
Stop me if you’ve seen this movie before – Tom Brady loses the Super Bowl to the New York Giants for the second time and begins the new season against a hapless opponent that lacks experience in running any sort of a productive offense whatsoever. This film also stars Matt Hasselbeck as an aging, bitter, bald carpet sample of a quarterback that will now only see action if Jake Locker follows in the footsteps of almost every other PAC 10/PAC 12/SuperPAC QB that has set foot in the National Football League. It doesn’t matter what the spread is here, New England should be able to cover it easily.
Prediction: Patriots 43, Titans 17
Jacksonville Jaguars at Minnesota Vikings
Part of me wants to spare you the analysis of such a poor professional sports competition, but the other part of me wants you to laugh really hard at just how bad these two teams are: The two starting quarterbacks in this game are Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder. Both teams’ offensive lines are awful and save Vikings linebacker Jared Allen, there’s nothing notably interesting about either team. Minnesota can’t even decide whether or not they want to build a stadium to support a fledgling football team, and Gabbert has a mullet. And you know what that means – Business in the front, party in the back, and ratings that will no doubt be depressing as hell.
Prediction: Jaguars 21, Vikings 18
Buffalo Bills at New York Jets
Both of these teams have one fundamental aspect in common: They’re both extremely overrated and expected to do great things this year. Since I’m not really buying it on any level for either one of them, for lack of a real compliment I’ll simply state that the Jets are just a little bit better than Buffalo is. Not much, but just enough to send the media into their annual blowjag rant about how the Jets are a lock to beat any of the seven or eight teams in the AFC that are better than they are. That being said, I’m not sure that Buffalo is poised to be this newly revitalized powerhouse that same media wants them to be. (Speaking of the media, those folks are aware that it’s mathematically impossible for all four AFC East teams to make the playoffs, aren’t they?)
Prediction: Jets 19, Bills 16
Miami Dolphins at Houston Texans
The Texans (who are my AFC Super Bowl pick) get to open up against Ryan Tannehill and the hapless Miami Dolphins, whom you might have seen on HBO’s “Hard Knocks” if you like bad television and/or shitty football. They don’t stand a snowflake’s chance in hell against Houston, who is now one of the most delicious foods at the buffet. The Dolphins are just a bland salisbury steak that just so happens to come from a cow that didn’t start very often in his college career. Easy win and should get the Texans’ mojo going for what should be an awesome year.
Prediction: Texans 40, Dolphins 10
Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals
The Seattle Seahawks are in an unfortunate position this year…They’re stuck in the NFC West underneath San Francisco’s intimidating roster with pretty much no hope of winning that division. Personally I’m still shocked that after they handed Matt Flynn enough money to spend the rest of his life burning it, they decided to start Russell Wilson even though he earned the job. Out of all of the quarterback starting controversies between the ones and the twos, Seattle is the one which is least secure at the top spot. Even more so than the Tennessee job, which is really saying something. And it’s not that the Seahawks are necessarily a bad team, they are fairly decent. They have a killer running back in Lynch, and although they won’t know who’s team it is right away…Well, they’ll at least be better than Arizona. Speaking of quarterback controversies, I’m expecting a performance from John Skelton that will make Cardinals management look at Kevin Kolb in the same way they looked at him while practically stealing him from the Eagles.
Prediction: Seahawks 25, Cardinals 3
Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This game should be a big ego boost for Carolina, and I’m looking forward to seeing Cam Newton put up some big numbers against a very confused Tampa team that still thinks Josh Freeman is the second coming of Christ. You have to wonder how long they’ll be able to sell that angle, as they’re not exactly in the position to make a run in the stuffy and crowded talent pool that is the NFC South. Everyone will have their eyes on the development of Newton, but fantasy fans will be looking to see if running back Jonathan Stewart can match the same intensity he had during the 2009 season in which he rushed for over 1100 yards.
Prediction: Panthers 31, Buccaneers 12
San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers
Game of the Week, and how could it not be? Since I have this as my potential NFC Championship game, I can’t get out of this making the right pick and NOT also being a walking (and typing) contradiction. Didn’t I have the 49ers beating the Packers in my NFL preview piece? And didn’t I just criticize Peter King for doing this same thing? Maybe, but the battle is different than the war. This is the battle, and I’m taking the Packers in that battle. I still expect these two teams to meet in late January in the Bay, and I believe that the 49ers will win that one. There’s two other things that I’d like to bring up here: 1) I subscribe to the idea that we’re going to see these two teams continue to meet each other in some epic battles both in the regular season and the playoffs over the next several years. Since I don’t really have much to equate it to because the star power isn’t as high, I’ll liken it to the Cowboys-Packers matchups of the 90s between Favre and Aikman. The names are as big and legend, but there’s a lot of similarities in the power rankings and overall general abilities. And second, 2) How in the world was this not picked to be the primetime game? In a year where we’re doing Thursday night games beginning immediately, you’re telling me that we can’t flex the schedule that same week so we can see this game at night? I understand that Peyton Manning is coming back and that’s a huge deal, but seriously I can’t think of any matchup on the week one slate that everybody wants to see more than this one.
Prediction: Packers 27, 49ers 24
Sunday Night Football: Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos
I bet between Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger, Peter King is finding it difficult to keep his projectile spittle from not causing some type of paralyzing accident. I usually never wish for anybody to get hurt because concussions are serious business, but at the same time I would love to see Von Miller clean Big Ben’s clock about halfway through the second quarter, causing him to fall on his winkie so hard he’ll upchucking crumpets for a week. (Even if you’re British, you probably still didn’t laugh at that joke…) To be honest, I see Denver as the better team here anyway. They have a stifling front, and the Steelers’ number of offensive weapons seem to be disappearing right before our eyes almost on a monthly basis.
Prediction: Broncos 26, Steelers 20
Monday Night Football: Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens
This one could be a very telling game as to how the season could go for both of these two teams – The very same Ravens that have made several recent playoff appearances, yet still haven’t made their way to the big game since Super Bowl XXXV. Bengals QB Andy Dalton had a breakout year last year, and my hope is that it will carry on into this season. The Raven’s Den is a rough place to play, but I have to believe that Dalton and the boys can get it done.
Prediction: Bengals 24, Ravens 19
San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders
Since apparently it’s sort of a government mandate that the Raiders have to play one of the Monday night games, it’s also highly likely that in that game they’ll be playing San Diego. I’m not even really sure if two Monday night games are necessary for Week One. But alas, we’re stuck with just that matchup for the Monday late game, where Norv Turner will be given yet another opportunity to prove himself in a position that he probably doesn’t deserve anymore. The Raiders are on the upswing of things, perhaps because “Just win, baby” is no longer the sole mantra by which they base their existence. Now, is Carson Palmer more talented than Philip Rivers? Of course not…But the Chargers don’t really strike me as the juggernaut that they’ve been trying to trick the media into believing they are for the past 10 years. By now I had already expected to see at least one Chargers Super Bowl, and so far all I’ve seen is Marty Schottenheimer get fired after a 14-2 season and Turner act like it’s management’s fault he looks like a burn victim. For as long as I have remembered, I have wanted to the Chargers to win the game between these two teams, and that’s no longer the case.
Prediction: Raiders 33, Chargers 31
It’s going to be some time before we can accurately assess each team’s strengths and faults, but hopefully I’ve given you some idea as to what things look like from a distance. I’m like the Bette Midler of NFL columnists, except for I’ve never had plastic surgery and all of her fans are deaf. (Analogies are going to be a bit hard to come by before I can get back into the flow of doing this twice a week for the next five months) Hopefully you’ll be able to relax with a gallon of milk and a bag of potato chips and just be glad that football is back again before things get to where we’re criticizing every set of downs like it’s the end of the world. It’s autumn, so fall back…and chill.
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