Week 1 picks are always difficult because I have no real performance to gauge from to date. That being said, let’s give this a whirl!
Cowboys vs Giants: One of these teams is the defending Super Bowl champ. The other team has a really expensive stadium and a QB that chokes, nearly on command. I have a hard time imagining the Cowboys being able to pull this one off against Eli Manning & friends. Giants 27, Cowboys 17.
Colts vs Bears: Perhaps you were as surprised as I was to see Cutler looking sharp during the 3rd pre-season game. This will be the first real test drive the Colts have with Andrew Luck. With Cutler looking shockingly decent, and this being Luck’s first real NFL showing, I gotta give this one to the Bears. Especially at home. Bears 24, Colts 14.
Eagles vs Browns: This is an interesting match up. The Dog Pound will be there, cheering on the electrifying aerial stylings of… Brandon Weeden, who will be backed up by Colt McCoy (can we call him a draft-bust yet?). Michael Vick better not get hurt because the 2nd QB on the depth chart for the Eagles is… empty air… with Mike Kafka as the 3rd string QB. You know your 3rd string QB is bad when an empty space in the depth chart as 2nd string is a better option. Yikes. Regardless… Vick (of whom I am no fan, as we all know) seems fairly resilient and should make it through the game fine. With Vick’s experience, I’m going to give this one to the Eagles. Eagles 17, Browns 13.
Rams vs Lions: The Rams looked kinda sad during the preseason. Seems Bradford cannot yet find his groove. Matt Stafford, on the other hand, is shaping up as I anticipated he would. And also has Megatron available to catch passes at home on Ford Field. Lions 20, Rams 14.
Dolphins vs Texans: While I think the commentators for the Vikings/Texans game went overboard when they said that we were looking at a potential Super Bowl contender (Really??? In a pre-season game 4?), the Texans are coming off their best season – and first play-off berth - in team history. The Dolphins… they’ve divested themselves of Chads at QB and are now hanging their collective hat on the finesse of…. Ryan Tannehill, an unproven rookie who Mike Mayock thinks isn’t ready. Of course, Mike Mayock can’t pronounce “Aromashodu”, so what does he know? Um… I’m actually with Mayock on this one. Texans 27, Dolphins 10.
Falcons vs Chiefs: Oh, little Matty Ryan. Still hasn’t achieved what everyone thought he would but still out there trying. Matt Cassel is the likely starter for the Chiefs (although they don’t have a depth chart published yet). The Chiefs looked like they might put together a decent 2011 season until the injury bug came for a visit. This game is a tough call, but I’m going to go with the Chiefs at home. Chiefs 19, Falcons 14.
Jaguars vs Vikings: Blaine Gabbert is the #1 QB on the Jaguars’ roster, with Chad Henne backing him up. Gabbert will be showing us if Justin Blackmon was a good pick or not in this year’s draft. The Vikings have cut the only experienced QB on the roster – not that having Rosencopter holding a clip board would necessarily make a difference, but he felt reassuring in some small way. Ponder terrified me in the 3rd pre-season game, and Joe Webb isn’t tearing up the turf… but hey – McLeod Bethel-Thompson is waiting in the wings! I saw enough spark in the 2nd pre-season game to pick my team at home this week – with some trepidation. Vikings 14, Jaguars 10.
Redskins vs Saints: Well – this game is certainly one that many will have their eyes on this weekend. RGIII is taking the field in his first regular season NFL game against a Saints team reeling from actually being punished for their dastardly lack of ethics in BountyGate. The Saints are missing coaches & players (and I can’t think of a more deserving team!) and one has to think that it’ll be a while before they can overcome those obstacles. Or, at least I do. Redskins 17, Saints 13.
Bills vs Jets: Crikey - if this doesn’t scream snooze-fest, I don’t know what does. We have Ryan Fitzpatrick, who leaves us mostly with a feeling of “meh” against a Mark Sanchez who is still trying to find a way to make magic happen as Tebow tebows along the sideline, praying for the success of the Gang Green (or for a hammy-tweak for Sanchez - one of those). As uninspiring as the Jets are (and you know a team is uninspiring when an explanation for Revis Island failure makes it onto the NFL Network), I can’t imagine the Bills securing a win on the road for this one. Jets 20, Bills 14.
Patriots vs Titans: Jake Locker vs Tom Brady. That’s actually kind of funny when I write it out like that. Let’s hope the Titans’ LG, RG and Center don’t all go down at the same time during the game because the Titans’ Kevin Matthews would surely have his hands full (as the 2nd string for all of those positions). Let’s assume that isn’t going to happen and that the Titans will be a full strength… I don’t see that stopping the Patriots from getting their first win on the road. Patriots 28, Titans 13.
Seahawks vs Cardinals: In a fascinating turn of events, the Seahawks are starting unproven rookie Russell Wilson at QB over a Matt Flynn who has done nothing but shine when on the field. I’d be more surprised if Pete Carroll weren’t the same coach who thought Tarvaris Jackson was a good option as a starter. Wilson will be going up against John Skelton, who was average at best last year. Wilson will have Sidney Rice (of the glass shoulder and glass hip variety) to target, while Skelton will have Minnesota’s own LFitz. My money’s on Minnesota. Cardinals 14, Seahawks 10.
49ers vs Packers: The 49ers are going to be a good team this year. The Packers haven’t looked good in the pre-season, but they didn’t look good the last 2 seasons either. As any good Vikings fan knows, no matter what the Packers’ record is, upon review, they still suck! If this were being played at a good stadium, like Candlestick Park, I’d be inclined to choose the 49ers. Instead, it’s being played at that horrible drab green stadium to the east and I can’t quite imagine the puke green & gold dropping the home opener. More’s the pity. Let’s hope I’m wrong! Packers 27, 49ers 21.
Panthers vs Buccaneers: Cam Newton will be flinging the ball all over the half-full stadium in Tampa this weekend. Will that be enough, however, to off-set the newly minted combination of Josh Freeman to Vincent Jackson? The Bucs keep looking like they’re going to do something… but they don’t – at least in seasons past. Will that happen this year, too? It takes a while to get timing down and V-Jack is making the change from the Chargers’ offensive scheme to that of a West Coast offense. I think that bodes will for the Panthers in the short-term. Panthers 20, Bucs 13.
Steelers vs Broncos: Big Ben vs the Six Billion Dollar man Peyton Manning (we can rebuild him with bone grafts & stem cells!). Manning’s arm isn’t quite up to snuff, if pre-season performance is any indicator. Since I’ve had the same surgery that Manning has, I’m guessing nerve damage that might never repair itself (not to be the voice of doom – although I love being the voice of doom…). Even though this game is in Mile High Stadium, I don’t see a rebuilt Manning with a new team, few weapons and a new offensive scheme squashing a Steerlers team led by a stout Ben Roethlisberger. Steelers 21, Broncos 13.
Bengals vs Ravens: Andy Dalton was a bit of a surprise last season while Joe Flacco continues to battle Matt Ryan for QB almost-goodness. There is a bit of a rivalry between these two teams – although it’s not the kind of rivalry worth spending a lot of time talking about for this blog. These teams have a decent amount of potential – in theory. For this particular game, I’m going to go with the home team. Ravens 24, Bengals 14.
Chargers vs Raiders: The Raiders have a fascinating line up at QB this year: Carson Palmer backed up by Matt Leinart. I’ll be interested to see if Palmer is in season-ready shape both physically and mentally. Philip Rivers, my favorite whiner west of the Mississippi, will be at the helm for the Chargers without Vincent Jackson to throw to this season. I can’t quite figure out how this match up got on MNF – although being the late game makes geographical sense, at least. Given the state of the Chargers during the 3rd pre-season game, I’m going with the Raiders in this match up, even though I don’t feel especially good about that choice. Raiders 19, Chargers 14.
These are my picks for Week 1 of the 2012 season. Let’s see if I break .500, which I would consider to be pretty decent sans data!