Thursday, September 8, 2011

Week One: Yes, Virginia, There Is A Season

Unless you live under a rock, you're well aware that there was way too much angst this season about a lockout canceling the NFL season. When I say too much angst, I don't mean because angst would be an inappropriate response. To be sure, angst, is a mild way of putting how the sports world would react if the NFL season were actually imperiled, but to any rational, thinking person, there was never really a chance that this would happen. The differences in CBA negotiation were not big enough to warrant it, and there was simply too much money to be lost if the sides didn't make an agreement.

I haven't read the agreement yet, nor will I, truth be told, but I'm fairly certain there's a clause in it to prevent the kinds of uniforms Boise State, Georgia and (holy crap on a stick) Maryland wore this weekend. Now, Boise State's giant Bronco helmet logo actually isn't half bad, and these duds weren't nearly as horrendous as the weird gray and blue ones they wore against Tetris-ified Virginia Tech last year. As for the Terps, I happen to actually be a huge fan of the Maryland state flag and love that it's been subtly incorporated into the uniforms of the Ravens and Orioles.

But the key word is subtle. These things are the very definition of eyesore, and depending on who you talk to, may or may not have been stolen from a Baltimore-based roller derby team.

As I've said before, this is one of about a thousand reasons that college football, love it as much as I do, just will not measure up to the NFL for me. Uniform stability is right up there with quality of play, quality of organization and reasonable means of determining a champion. And so, given my love for the NFL, it is with great joy that I get ready to watch some very exciting football this weekend. No, not just Friday morning's Qualifying Final between Geelong and Hawthorn -- though that will be awesome -- but professional American football, which kicks off Obama style on Thursday night with Green Bay and New Orleans and then reaches a high point for me Sunday afternoon when the New York Gia play the Redskins on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. I'm calling them the New York Gia because half the team, apparently, is already injured.

Despite those injuries, I will be making may plans to see the Gia this season on multiple occasions. I've already got my flight booked to San Francisco, am working on going up to New England to see Big Blue face the Pats, and am very seriously considering trying to find someone to go to New Orleans with me to see the Giants play the Saints as it's a Monday night game and those are far easier for me to take off work for than the Sunday variety.

Until then, however, I'll just be watching on TV. Again I will be picking games each week against the spread in my inevitably failed quest to beat Vegas -- it's a good thing I don't actually bet on sports -- but before I tell you who will win this week I suppose I need to tell you who's going to win in general.

And with that in mind, it's time for my almost certain to be wrong 2011 NFL Season Predictions.

AFC East
1. NY Jets - This is by far my most unreasonable pick of the season, but I think New England is overrated and the Jets tend to overachieve under Ryan. 12-4.
2. New England - But don't underestimate Darth Belichick. I'm sure he'd have something up his sleeves if he wore any. 10-6.
3. Buffalo - The new uniforms are an incredible upgrade. Step 2 is upgrading the team. 5-11.
4. Miami - These boys can't swim. 4-12.

AFC North
1. Pittsburgh - Honestly, who wants to disagree with me on this? Yeah, I didn't think so. 13-3.
2. Baltimore - I say this a lot, but people probably won't give the Ravens their due for being as dominant as they have been for the past decade if they don't win another championship. 11-5.
3. Cleveland - The Peyton Hillis Speedwagon just keeps on rolling. Right to a sixth win. 6-10.
4. Cincinnati - No quarterback? No problem. Oh wait, lots of problems. At least until Andy Dalton grows up. 1-15.

AFC South
1. Houston - Oh my lord, it's finally here. I don't know what to say. Really. 11-5.
2. Indianapolis - This team is so well-rounded and complete, and they never fail to make their presence felt. Huh? His neck is sore? Are you sure? 7-9.
3. Tennessee - Matt Hasselbeck can really add another dimension to this offense if he doesn't throw his back out while moving his walker. 6-10.
4. Jacksonville - Oh man. I've got a great idea. Let's tell the coach that his future is on the line this season if he doesn't make the playoffs. And then, let's cut his starting quarterback five days before the season. 4-12.

AFC West
1. San Diego - Fact: The Chargers had the No. 1 offense in the NFL last season. Fact: The Chargers had the No. 1 defense in the NFL last season. Fact: The Chargers missed the playoffs last season. So... regression to the mean, right? 12-4.
2. Kansas City - You have to expect the Chiefs to come back a little from last year, but they're poised to take over this division when San Diego's window closes. 8-8.
3. Denver - Go ahead. Bet against Kyle Orton. He'll win more games than you expect. Not many more, but definitely, like, one more. 6-10.
4. Oakland - So this is some fun, the Raiders were the only team in the League to go undefeated in their division last season, a feat that will be tough to duplicate. Against the rest of the League the Raiders won... twice. That, too, will be tough to duplicate. 5-11.

NFC East
1. Philadelphia - IT'S A DREAM TEAM. But definitely one of those dreams where you wake up right before finding out who the murderer is or that hot girl in your apartment building takes her clothes off. 11-5.
2. NY Gia - Get it? Because they're injured! Whatever, I'm still optimistically blinded by my fandom. And so are most pundits if you look at the predictions. 10-6.
3. Dallas - Now that the Cowboys aren't hosting the Super Bowl anymore, do you think people might stop considering them Super Bowl contenders? 7-9.
4. Washington - I'm pretty sure every defensive player in the NFC East got aroused when they found out Rex Grossman was the starting quarterback. 4-12.

NFC North
1. Green Bay - Um. Yeah. These guys are really, pretty good. 13-3.
2. Detroit - And you know what? So are these guys. 9-7.
3. Minnesota - I have never been this clueless about where to put a team maybe ever. There are so many variables and a decent amount of talent. Not enough though. Really, if the roof stays in one piece they should consider the season a success. 7-9.
4. Chicago - These guys are almost as confusing as Minnesota. But just almost. 5-11.

NFC South
1. Atlanta - I'm willing to bet that playoff loss to the Packers sticks in Atlanta's craw more than just a little. 12-4.
2. New Orleans - These guys are looking to rebound from a tough postseason loss, too. Too bad they play in such a tough division. 9-7.
3. Tampa Bay - That Josh Freeman is pretty awesome. At least he better be for the sake of my fantasy team. 8-8.
4. Carolina - Cam Newton is going to be getting a really talented side kick soon. Only problem is he's getting him because the Panthers will have a top 5 pick. Again. 2-14.

NFC West
1. St. Louis - Sam Bradford has a lot more weapons than people think. The Rams just might scare some people. 9-7.
2. San Francisco - Welcome to the show Jim Harbaugh. This team probably won't fare as well as Stanford did last season, but most of your rivals are just about as good as USC normally is. 7-9.
3. Arizona - So Kevin Kolb is expected to be quite the elixir for this team, but I'd really love to know when everyone made the communal decision to decide that Kevin Kolb is really, really good. 6-10.
4. Seattle - The Seahawks won the division last year. The division did not have any teams with a winning record. Seriously. Not one. 5-11.

AFC Playoffs
Wild Card weekend
(3) NY Jets over (6) New England
Still can't justify this. I'm still sticking with it, though.
(5) Baltimore over (4) Houston
Man the Texans are just so happy to be here. So very, very happy.

Divisional weekend
(1) Pittsburgh over (5) Baltimore
Cities will be destroyed during this game. There's simply no other way to describe the certain destruction that awaits.
(2) San Diego over (3) NY Jets
The Jets love to over achieve, but I have a feeling their run of AFC title game appearances is about to end. It was a good run, though, wasn't it?

AFC Championship Game
(2) San Diego over (1) Pittsburgh
I mean, seriously, how due is this team. Really. They've got to break through one of these years, right?

NFC Playoffs
Wild Card weekend
(6) New Orleans over (3) Philadelphia
You know a few weeks ago I was taking a girl on a date and I told her I hated the Eagles. She thought this seemed like a bit of a strong word and said, "I can't imagine hating anybody unless they, like, killed puppies or something." To this I responded, "You know, it's funny you should mention." True story.
(5) NY Gia over (4) St. Louis
I would sign up for this first round matchup in a heartbeat. Right now.

Divisional weekend
(6) New Orleans over (1) Green Bay
Really, they could be the best No. 6 seed in history
(2) Atlanta over (5) NY Gia
Well, it was fun while it lasted, folks.

NFC Championship Game
(2) Atlanta over (6) New Orleans
You know, I'm not going to lie. It makes me feel kind of gross picking the same Super Bowl matchup as Sports Illustrated.

Super Bowl XLVI
(2) San Diego over (2) Atlanta 
But I'm not picking the same winner. Let's be honest. For the Chargers? It's about time.

So there you go kids. My official certain to be wrong NFL season preview. Good ol' Stan Humphries will be so proud of his old team. Maybe.

And now that you've gone through that exhausting read, perhaps you'll go a little further with this week's picks. Here. We. Go.

Last week: n/a
Season: 0-0-0

GREEN BAY (-4.5) over New Orleans
Atlanta (-3) over CHICAGO
CLEVELAND (-7) over Cincinnati
KANSAS CITY (-6) over Buffalo
Philadelphia (-6) over ST. LOUIS
TAMPA BAY (-1) over Detroit
Tennessee (+3) over JACKSONVILLE
Pittsburgh (+3) over BALTIMORE
HOUSTON (-9) over Indianapolis
Carolina (+7) over ARIZONA
SAN DIEGO (-9) over Minnesota
SAN FRANCISCO (-6) over Seattle
NY Giants (-3) over WASHINGTON
NY JETS (-4) over Dallas
New England (-7) over MIAMI
DENVER (-3) over Oakland

And there you have it. See you all at kickoff tonight. Thank God it's football season.


  1. I do not see where all of this optimism about the Chargers is coming from. Last I checked, Norv Turner is still the coach, and they can not beat the Patriots or Jets in the playoffs and will most likely have to face at least one of them. Too many demons to overcome. With that being said, I will be wearing my powder blue every week this season and will be vastly disappointed when the inevitably fail.

  2. The postseason is a mostly random affair, with sample sizes too small to really determine who's the best. The best you can really hope for is to take multiple shots and maybe you'll break through on one of them. The Colts, Steelers, Giants, all of these are teams that were consistently good and broke through once because it was simply their time. San Diego is long overdue.

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