The first column of the season is always the hardest to write. Once the preview columns are done, then it’s time to get to the week to week and this early, it’s hard to tell who is going to do what week to week. Can’t say that my first week record is very good. Of course, I’m not going to go back and add it up either. So just take my word for it.
If you’ve never read this column, it’s like this, I predict a winner for the upcoming games by looking at the previous week, babbling about my fantasy team and speculating on things I may have heard, read or made up. Frankly, the whole thing is a crap shoot. I generally end the season with around a 65% success rate, so if you are using this column for gambling purposes – you’re a moron. While that is a good pick percentage, chances are you have a gambling problem and are losing money anyway. I don’t want to be involved in your losses. Take your addiction somewhere else buddy.
I already picked last nights game earlier in the week, so I’m going to skip that one. Hell, when I wrote this the game hadn’t even been played yet. So, I’ll just say the [INSERT TEAM HERE] won. Go team!
Indianapolis at Chicago -9.0 UPSET SPECIAL!!
Yeah, I think I just gave away this pick. Look, I think Cutler and the Bears have been playing well the past couple seasons, but with Urlacher coming back from an injury and Forte getting his huge contract, I don’t think they are going to come out of the gate firing. The Colts looked great in preseason, and I know, it’s just preseason but I like this Luck kid and I think that he’s going to start off the season surprising the hell out of the Bears. Unlike Manning, Luck does pretty well in the outdoors and the weather is still nice in Chicago. If this were a later season game I might look at it a different way. As confident as I am, I’m starting Luck in all my fantasy leagues. Colts to upset on the road.
Philadelphia at Cleveland +6.5 CRAPFEST OF THE WEEK!
The Browns are terrible. While I’d love to predict a win for them at some point this season, I don’t see it happening. And now with Haden suspended for three games, their defense has taken a huge hit. The only positive in this game is hoping the Browns put some damage on Vick. They won’t be able to cover the receivers without Haden playing dirty out there in the secondary and their run defense is suspect. The Eagles are going to light them up in the air. If you have any Eagles players on your fantasy team, make sure you start them this week.
St. Louis at Detroit -9.0
The Rams are getting some hype right now, new coach, new system, new offensive plan. I’m not sold. I think Stephen Jackson will have a solid season, but I don’t think that Bradford will get hit any less. They still have problems on the lines and Detroit will exploit them, especially when the Lions are on defense. The Rams might make a contest out of it, but Stafford is a much more bon-a-fide QB than Bradford, and he’s proven it. The Lions are a team to no longer take lightly. Lions to win at home, with the points.
New England at Tennessee +7.0
What a test for Jake Locker right out of the gate, and Chris Johnson. The Patriots roll in, fresh off a Superbowl loss, looking to redeem themselves by making it back this year. Considering I predicted the Pats to go 16-0, clearly I can’t pick them to lose. This game will be interesting though, as we’ll see if the Pats defense has improved since last year, when they were absolutely terrible. An improved defense, with that offense, they’ll be unstoppable. I’m hoping that losing this game won’t destroy Jake Locker for the season. If you have Rob Bironas on your fantasy team – start him. Pats to win on the road.
Atlanta at Kansas City +1.0
I’m a bit surprised at this line. I guess the Chiefs gained a couple points by playing at home, and Atlanta dropped a couple not playing in the dome. The key to this game for the Chiefs is the running game. Can they get Johnson and Hillis past the Falcons front D-line? Probably. The Falcons aren’t the greatest on run defense. The Chiefs will have to press them on offense and press Ryan on defense. He’s got too many weapons to not pressure him out of the box on a regular basis. I’m taking the home team on this one though, just because of home team statistics during week one. Chiefs to win.
Jacksonville at Minnesota -4.5
The Jags are going to have a rough year. Even though MJD has shown up, it’s still a question of whether he is going to “show up”. It could go either way. Meanwhile the Vikings aren’t exactly playoff bound, but the Jags are a good opponent for young Ponder to show us that he’s been studying in the off season. Late game mistakes killed this kid last season, and I’m going to guess we’ll see a bit more maturity out of him this time around. I like the Vikings at home, just cause the Jags suck worse.
Washington at New Orleans -8.5
What a fun test for RGIII. Too bad he didn’t get the Bucs to start off the season. Instead he gets the lights out secondary of the Saints and his defense gets to get smoked by the Saints offense. The Saints are going to win this game, it’s just a question of by how much. I’m thinking by at least two touchdowns. The Skins need to take advantage of the Saints run defense, which isn’t all there thanks to suspensions. RGIII isn’t really a running QB though, but he’s got mobility. That should open up enough time to get a pass off. And unlike Vick, he can take a hit. Saints to win at home.
Buffalo at NY Jets -6.0
I read one column last night predicting the Bills to make the playoffs. Yeah, I’m not buying it. I like the Bills, but they don’t have the winning spirit, whatever that is. Chan Gailey just doesn’t take enough chances. The Jets are going to be fun to watch this year. How long before Sanchez makes a mistake and the crowd starts chanting for Tebow? Not long. I expect it by the third quarter of this game. Rex Ryan knows what he’s doing and he knows that Sanchez is not as electric as some think he is. I expect Tebow time to start early this year. Jets to win at home.
Miami at Houston -6.5
The Dolphins are coming in with a revamped defense, only because they have a new coordinator, and a rookie QB. Meanwhile, the Texans are without Mario Williams for the first time since he entered the league. How will this affect their defense this year? Against the Fins, shouldn’t change anything. We’ll have to wait until they play a strong offensive unit. Speaking of offense, Foster is going to shred the Dolphins on the ground. There is no doubt about that. I’m putting him at over 100 yards for this game for sure. Texans to win at home.
San Francisco at Green Bay -7.0 GAME OF THE WEEK!
This is a great match-up with playoff implications. As in, these teams will most likely see each other again in the playoffs. You have the best defense in the Niners against the best passing offense in the Packers, in my estimation. The Packers won’t be able to run against the Niners, but they’ll try. Alex Smith has some new weapons to play with on offense, while Rodgers is gunning with pretty much the same guys, which means he’s already got the cadence down pat. I’m taking the Packers to win at home, but this is going to be a back and forth affair with a chance that the Niners upset.
Seattle at Arizona +1.0
I guess it is too early in the season for me to not give a shit about the Cardinals. Actually, this whole division is just crap save for the Niners. An in-division match-up like this, it may as well be week 17 and both these teams are 6-9. The Hawks haven’t been the same since letting Hasselbeck leave, even though he had at least a year left in him as a starter, as he proved in Tennessee. The Cardinals are starting Skelton over Kolb, who cares? Both of these guys will be floating around the league as backups after this season for the rest of their careers. Meh. Cardinals to win just cause they are home.
Carolina at Tampa Bay +3.0
As with the Cardinals, it’s too early for me not to give a shit about the Bucs. I don’t think they will do as well as some people (mostly people here in Tampa) seem to think they will do. I think they are going to suck hard nuts. This first game will be a huge indicator for that. Will they be able to put the brakes on Cam Newton as they were unable to do last year? I highly doubt it. Newton is a fucking pro. That kid can run, jump and pass. The Bucs won’t be able to defend him – again. They might be able to contain him a bit. And I don’t even know about the Bucs offense. I can see them forcing the ball to Jackson just cause of the price they paid. Panthers to win on the road.
Pittsburgh at Denver -1.5
Without Tebow, this doesn’t seem like much of a rematch. Without Tebow, but with Manning, the Broncos are favored in this game. The Steelers don’t perform well in Denver, that much is clear. Regardless, the match-up of the Denver Mannings vs. the Steelers defense is going to be a good one. This, like many games, is an early test for the QB. If there is one team that is going to bring the pressure and the hits, it’s going to be the Steelers. For that reason, and that I don’t think Manning has got his system in place 100% just yet, I’m taking the Steelers to win.
Cincinnati at Baltimore -7.0
Most pundits, including me, are saying that A.J. Green is going to be one of the premier receivers in the league this year. Go ahead and dispute that. The Dalton to Green connection is hot and will lead the Bengals to more than a few wins. But this week, they travel to Baltimore and the Ravens lights out defense. The Ravens are one team that I can say has a really good secondary backed by a pretty good offense. The Ravens are playoff bound and are going to start the season off by roughing up the Bengals a bit. Don’t expect the Bengals to sit this one out though, they’ll be in the game. Ravens to win at home.
San Diego at Oakland -1.0
And finally we come to the Raiders. While I have them winning a few games, it’s going to be awhile before they get on any kind of track. This season is the last chance for Norv Turner with the Chargers, and maybe for Rivers as well. They have got to make something happen with this team. Starting off with a road win in the black hole will bode well for them. Plus, the Chargers generally get off to a hot start. Chargers to win on the road.