NFL Picks Week 1
Asif: Jay Cutler was emotionally abused by Kristin Cavallari. This doesn’t have any relevance to the game, I just like pointing out that Cutler is a huge, sulky faced wuss. He’ll probably beg out of this game with an injury in the second quarter. Atlanta has a great offense and the defense should be at least marginally improved. Falcons to cover.
Cincinnati @ Cleveland (-6.5)
Ryan: The Bengals are going to be really bad this season. That should come as little surprise because the Bengals are really bad almost every season but it must be said. Andy Dalton may well end up being a decent starting quarterback in this league but right now, with a limited training camp, no real weapons at receiver and in that dysfunctional organization, he has little chance at success.
The Browns have been one of those good bad teams for a few years and I think they make a slight leap to better good bad team this year. Colt McCoy looks like he is going to be a viable NFL starter but these things take time. I think the Browns come out and stomp the Bengals though. Browns Cover.
Asif: Yuck. The Cleveland Browns are the most aptly named team in sports. That’s a poop joke, get it? Another little known fact, the Bengals don’t start quarterbacks who aren’t gingers. Peter King’s sources say this is the reason they never win the Super Bowl. This line is way too high. I’ll take the Bengals and the points.
Buffalo @ Kansas City (-5.5)
Ryan: In Part II of his massively long but quite informative 4-part NFL Preview on Grantland, Bill Barnwell pointed something out that defied logic to the extent that it was beyond shocking:
Despite Jamaal Charles’ grossly outplaying Thomas Jones in every situation imaginable, Jones still got 15 more carries than Charles did during the regular season. It makes sense to give Charles regular rest, but there’s no possible explanation for giving Jones more carries than Charles. A 70/30 split between Charles and Jones would make sense. An 80/20 split would be even better. Fifty-fifty is absurd.
Ryan: You know how at this point stats exist for every obscure corner of what happens on the field in sports? Since we have saturated this market is there any way we could start getting stats for players and coaches about what happens off the field? For example, I am deeply interested in Andy Reid’s season and career Big Mac (or Big Mac near equivalent like the Whopper or Double Quarterpounder with Cheese or one of those Baconalia burgers at Denny’s) totals. I would set the 2011 over/under at 450. How does Reid stack up in this department to other greats like Rex Ryan or Romeo Crennel? We need more advanced statistics on things like this if we are going to properly evaluate legacies. Also, Eagles cover.
Asif: I hate the Eagles. I hate their players, their fans, their city, I hate their uniforms. I hate the Eagles so much that I automatically dislike other sports teams from Philadelphia (suck it Phillies). I hope they make it to the Super Bowl just to lose in the most soul-crushing way possible so that their fans can feel a tiny piece of the anger and animosity I feel every time I see the Eagles on TV. The Eagles probably one of the two best teams in the NFC (the Packers being the other), but there’s no law against me rooting for Michael Vick to break his dog-murdering leg. St. Louis is the least interesting team in the conference. Philly covers, easily.
Detroit @ Tampa Bay (-1.5)
Ryan: I may or may not have written this before but why is it not generally accepted that Ndamukong Suh’s nickname is Donkey Kong? This situation is so glaring that it should be one of those circumstances where the nickname effectively becomes the name. Suh IS Donkey Kong. Donkey Kong IS Suh. I don’t have a firm grasp on this game but I think Tampa Bay covers.
Asif: I don’t care about this game, I just want to see Ndamukong Suh take someone’s head off. Between Suh and Nick Fairley, the Lions defensive line should lead the league in unnecessarily violent QB sacks. Tampa Bay is only slightly more interesting than St. Louis. Fact: nobody will watch this game. I’m going with Detroit.
Tennessee @ Jacksonville (-3)
Ryan: If the goal of an organization is for its players to quit on its coach, waste a season, and garner a high draft pick, I think the Jaguars made the absolute right decision by cutting David Garrard when they did. This isn’t to say that he is much better than Luke McCown but the timing of the whole situation was very curious.
I don’t understand what the point of the Hasselbeck signing was for Tennessee. If I was running that organization, this would have been the season to take the medicine for re-building. I may have explored trading Chris Johnson, starting Jake Locker right away, and set about on a 3-5 year re-building plan with a new nucleus. Much easier said than done though because fans rarely tolerate overt re-building. I just don’t see what the point is in winning six games instead of two. Tennessee wins outright and therefore covers.
Asif: Luke McCown is the Jaguars’ starter. Jack Del Rio is so getting fired this year. Chris Johnson is awesome, too bad the Titans have absolutely nothing else on offense. Cortland Finnegan is an angry leprechaun. Fact: no one will watch this game either. I’ll take Tennessee and the points.
Pittsburgh @ Baltimore (-2.5)
Ryan: This is a great game and an absolute treat to get in the Sunday noon slot as stressfree football since the Packers already took care of business. The dilemma for where I watch football this Sunday is as follows: Joe’s on Weed Street has the best vantage point in Chicago for seeing all of the games. It has decent drink specials. The problem is that its food is absolute garbage. It is also kind of far away. A bar in sort of my neighborhood, Schoolyard Tavern, has one seating area where you can see six screens (including a rectangle wall of four together which is awesome) but sometimes one or two of them overlap (fact: I would be much better at NFL Sunday TV distribution than any bar manager I have come across in my illustrious football watching career). Its TVs are HD but nothing spectacular. It has very good bar food but the drink specials aren’t really specials ($5.00 for a 16 oz Miller Lite is arguably worse than a normal). These obviously aren’t the only two choices in the city but I’ve talked myself into this being an A or B situation. I think I’m going to go with Schoolyard because of the food but am open to being talked into a better bar.
I really don’t have a read on this game so I’m going to take the points. Steelers cover.
Asif: The two dirtiest teams with the most annoying fan bases in the NFL, except the Steelers get celebrated because the Rooney’s are classy or something. Well everyone is on to your games now Pittsburgh. Ben Roethlisberger is still a creep (just a married one), Rashard Mendenhall likes bin Laden and James Harrison… actually I’m not going to say anything bad about James Harrison because I fear he might find and murder me:
Ryan: All five of my regular readers are aware that I wrote a Peyton Manning column a couple weeks ago. I wrote:
Spoiler alert: whether he or the Colts actually know it now or not, he will play. We all know this right now but that won’t stop us from hearing about it incessantly possibly all the way up until 90 minutes before the game.
So, I was quite clearly VERY wrong. Like, I predicted 100 with absolute surety and it ended up 0. On the positive side, this enhances my Texans sleeper pick and I now know what Skip Bayless must feel like when he looks in the mirror. Houston covers.
Asif: This game will feature more fat people in the stands than any other this week. To be a Colts fan you have to have a BMI in the obese range. Also, Pey Pey’s neck is broken so it looks like we won’t have to listen to the bragging of insufferable Colts fans for much longer. I’ll take Houston to cover and I’ll probably regret it.
NY Giants (-3) @ Washington
Ryan: This line seems way too low but IS THAT JUST WHAT VEGAS WANTS US TO THINK?! The Giants always seem to have great Septembers and awful Decembers and I am resolved to pick against noted egomaniac Mike Shanahan every chance I get until I am proven wrong. Giants cover.
Asif: No team had a more devastating pre-season than my beloved Giants. They lost their top corner, their number 1 pick and likely 3rd corner, their 5th corner who became their 3rd corner after the other two went down and their starting middle linebacker. Still the Redskins are starting Sexy Rexy at QB, so this should be an easy win for Big Blue. Giants by a TD.
Seattle @ San Fransisco (-5)
Ryan: Huh? Didn’t Seattle just win a playoff game? Didn’t San Francisco only have seven weeks to install an entirely new system? I have a hard time thinking that new coaches are going to be successful the first few weeks of this season so I am taking Seattle and the points.
Asif: Starting Alex Smith is clearly a ploy to get the number one pick and Andrew Luck. Too bad San Fransisco has a halfway decent defense or it might have worked. Enjoy another decade of mediocrity Bay Area! Tarvaris Jackson is the Seahawks’ starting QB, that is all you need to know. I’m still taking Seattle and the points.
Minnesota @ San Diego (-8.5)
Ryan: I am certainly not high on the Vikings this season but this line seems a couple points too high. I would have had similar advice for the Vikings as I had for the Titans – take your medicine now and rebuild around Christian Ponder. Having McNabb win an extra two or three games doesn’t seem to be in the long-term best interest of the franchise. Vikings lose but cover.
Asif: Donovan McNabb is fat. Philip Rivers is a jerk. Norv Turner is the only head coach who could see a team that led the league in offense and defense miss the playoffs. Minnesota and the points.
Carolina @ Arizona (-7)
Ryan: This line would have to be substantially higher for me to take a rookie quarterback and new head coach on the road. I think Cam Newton will ultimately be a pretty serviceable NFL quarterback but he is going to take some lumps this year.
I am very interested to see how Kevin Kolb does this season and beyond. Certainly he will be better than the three-headed monster that was John Skelton, Derek Anderson, and Max Hall but, um, I would set my sights well above that bar if I was a Cardinals fan (thankfully I am not). Cardinals cover.
Asif: Cam Newton is chocolate Tim Tebow, with a nicer smile and less Jesus. If Kevin Kolb is the real deal then Arizona should win the NFC West handily. They’ll probably win it even if he sucks, because the NFC West is dog sh*t. Cards.
Dallas @ NY Jets (-4.5)
Ryan: The Cowboys were actually decent in the second half last season. After a 1-7 start which saw Wade Philips get fired, they finished the season 5-3. The Cowboys offense should be quite good this season if its key components stay healthy and I think the team continues its momentum from the end of last season into the start of this year.
I am interested to see how beautiful GQ cover boy Mark Sanchez and the J-E-T-S do this season after two straight AFC Championship Game losses. I know that stats say Sanchez is a below average quarterback but it does seem as though he possesses the poise and intangibles to guide the Jets through close games. I think Dallas covers though.
Asif: Remember all that bad stuff I said about Philadelphia earlier? Take that and double it and you’ll understand how I feel about Dallas. Tony Romo may not be a good quarterback, but he’s the league leader in smiles! Mark Sanchez should probably ask the girls he dates for ID before he, you know, dates them. While he’s at it he should also learn how to complete 60% of his passes. Which Ryan is the evil twin? I’m going with Rob because of the goatee, and because foot fetishes aren’t evil, just gross. Jets to cover.
New England (-7) @ Miami
Ryan: As Asif says below, I really think this game is as simple as the Patriots being really good and the Dolphins being really bad. If you recall, the Dolphins tried but failed to fire their coach this offseason and then gave him an extension when their motives came out. This reminds me a little bit of when Norm MacDonald hosted SNL 1.5 years after being fired for not being funny enough. Pats cover.
Asif: The Patriots are good. The Dolphins are bad. I lived in Boston for the past year and one of my favorite things to do was to listen to sports radio callers. Patriots fans are the most ignorant front-running bunch of mouth breathers ever and I’m a Boston sports fan myself (Patriots excepted). I would venture that the average Patriots fan has an IQ below 70 and that none of them had seen a football game before the 2001 season. I’ll step down from my soap box now, long enough to pick the Pats by a jillion points because the Dolphins suck. Why do the worst fans get to enjoy the best teams?
Oakland @ Denver (-3)
Ryan: This game is gross and there is a 100% I watch all of it. I would never watch a prime time NBA game between the Nets and Warriors but that is why the NFL the is king while David Stern spends the season railroading the players for extra money for the owners. With very little conviction in this pick, I say Denver covers.
Asif: I’ve got Denver as the winner of the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. The Broncos aren’t really good at anything. Well, Kyle Orton is good at being drunk. Their backup QBs were both 1st round draft picks. They both suck, but oo look muscles. The Raiders are the Raiders and they play in Oakland, where dreams go to die, in a crack den gang massacre. Broncos to cover.