Thursday, September 5, 2013

NFL Picks Week One: Take a deep breath. It's finally here.

Ok, everyone. Relax. Take a few seconds to lower your heart rate if you need to. I know. It's been a long seven months -- a trying seven months. But we did it. We survived. We've gotten to the light at the end of the tunnel. And now it's time to celebrate.

Tonight, in Denver, Colorado, football will return.

Yeah, I know college football started last week, and that is no less significant. Hell, I told you all about it right here and then flew across the country to watch my Wildcats eke out a 44-30 win against Cal. And yes, "eke." If there's a way to eke out a 14-point win, this was it. Northwestern makes a habit of trying to make winning more difficult than is really necessary, and damn are the Cats good at it. This past Saturday was a textbook example, but I mean, NU can always count on getting two pick-sixes from the same linebacker in one half, right? Sure. Either way, it was good enough to move Northwestern up to No. 19 in the AP Poll, so that's certainly progress.

In any event, it was a great weekend in San Francisco and Berkeley (I mean, isn't a weekend there great?), and I had a tremendous time introducing Bert to D-1 college football even if the outcome wasn't quite what he was looking for, and I tailgated with friends I don't see often for six hours. In addition to beer, this included jian bing, which I had never really heard of but is some awfully good eatin'. I have to assume it's solely responsible for China's economic boom over the past decade or so.

But while I do love college football and the numerous amazing burritos it provided me access with this past weekend, we all know the NFL is the cream of the crop, and in less than nine hours, that will be getting fully underway for the 2013 NFL season. Unfortunately, I will have to wait a while for the Giants to get in the swing of things -- New York doesn't play until Sunday night this weekend -- but I still plan on spending an irrational amount of time watching football this weekend (in multiple countries). After all, that's the excitement the NFL inspires when it finally comes to be that time of year. How else could you explain me doing something as silly as joining the season ticket waiting list for a team I have no particular feelings for one way or the other?

Well, that may be a more irrational action than must, but whatever. With the way Giants tickets are priced, it'd probably be cheaper to see them in Green Bay even with the plane flight.

So here we are. The four-month NFL regular season bonanza kicks off tonight, and I am excited to not go outside for the next 17 Sundays. I don't think I'm alone in this, but if I am I'll be eating an awful lot of buffalo wings on my own. The magic about all of this, of couse, is that I don't really know what will happen, even if I'm irrationally optimistic about the Giants' chances like I always am. Why do I tell you something so obvious like not knowing what will happen? Because I'm about to give you my predictions, which always prompts someone's criticism and prompts my response that they are completely and utterly meaningless. And they are. Like totally pointless. They mean nothing. At all. Unless I get it right like I did with the 2012 World Series. But they probably won't be right, most of you probably won't agree, and the predicted records almost certainly will not add up to 256 games played like the NFL schedule does.

Get over it. Particularly since I don't even know who I'm going to pick to win the Super Bowl as I write this. I'll come to a conclusion by the end. It'll probably change before kickoff tonight. Oops.

2013 NFL Preview
AFC East
1. New England - 13-3
2. Buffalo - 6-10
3. NY Jets - 5-11
4. Miami - 3-13

AFC North
1. Cincinnati - 10-6
2. Baltimore - 10-6*
3. Pittsburgh - 8-8
4. Cleveland - 5-11

AFC South
1. Houston - 12-4
2. Indianapolis - 9-7*
3. Tennessee - 6-10
4. Jacksonville - 4-12

AFC West
1. Denver - 13-3
2. Kansas City - 8-8
3. San Diego - 6-10
4. Oakland - 2-14

AFC Wild Card Playoffs
(3) Houston over (6) Indianapolis
(4) Cincinnati over (5) Baltimore

AFC Divisional Playoffs
(1) Denver over (4) Cincinnati
(3) Houston over (2) New England

AFC Championship Game
(1) Denver over (3) Houston

NFC East
1. NY Giants - 11-5
2. Washington - 8-8
3. Dallas - 8-8
4. Philadelphia - 5-11

NFC North
1. Green Bay - 12-4
2. Chicago - 9-7
3. Detroit - 7-9
4. Minnesota - 6-10

NFC South
1. Atlanta - 11-5
2. New Orleans - 10-6*
3. Carolina - 7-9
4. Tampa Bay - 4-12

NFC West
1. San Francisco - 13-3
2. Seattle - 11-5*
3. St. Louis - 6-10
4. Arizona - 4-12

NFC Wild Card Playoffs
(3) NY Giants over (6) New Orleans
(5) Seattle over (4) Atlanta

NFC Divisional Playoffs
(1) San Francisco over (5) Seattle
(2) Green Bay over (3) NY Giants

NFC Championship Game
(1) San Francisco over (2) Green Bay

Super Bowl XLVIII
(1) San Francisco over (1) Denver

So yeah, those are my picks. They won't all be right (or at least I hope not). What can you do? And you know what else won't all be correct? My picks for this week. But at least you'll all be able to criticize them more immediately.

Last week: 0-0-0
Season: 0-0-0

DENVER (-7.5) over Baltimore
New England (-9.5) over BUFFALO
Cincinnati (-3) over CHICAGO
CLEVELAND (even) over Miami
Minnesota (+5) over DETROIT
INDIANAPOLIS (-9.5) over Oakland
Atlanta (+3) over NEW ORLEANS
Tampa Bay (-3.5) over NY JETS
PITTSBURGH (-7) over Tennessee
Seattle (-3.5) over CAROLINA
Kansas City (-4) over JACKSONVILLE
ST. LOUIS (-4.5) over Arizona
SAN FRANCISCO (-4.5) over Green Bay
NY Giants (+3.5) over DALLAS
WASHINGTON (-3.5) over Philadelphia
Houston (-4) over SAN DIEGO

There it is. Go turn on your TV. It's football season. And not a moment too soon.

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