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NFL Week 1: Finding Out Who's Good
September 6, 2008 - John Whittaker
Whitless Wonder: College -- Ohio State, Wisconsin, Illinois, Auburn, Virginia Tech, Georgia, Oklahoma, Clemson, Oregon, Penn State, Wake Forest, Notre Dame, West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Missouri, Kansas, South Florida, Alabama, Florida, LSU, Texas Tech, Arizona State, Texas. NFL -- Detroit, Baltimore, Buffalo, NY Jets, New England, New Orleans/Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Jacksonville, Dallas, Carolina, Arizona, Indianapolis, Green Bay, Denver.
Todd: College -- Ohio State, Wisconsin, Illinois, Auburn, Virginia Tech, Georgia, Oklahoma, Clemson, Oregon, Penn State, Wake Forest, Notre Dame, West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Missouri, Louisiana Tech, South Florida, Alabama, Florida, LSU, Texas Tech, Arizona State, Texas. NFL -- Detroit, Cincinnati, Seattle, NY Jets, New England, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Houston, Tennessee, Dallas, San Diego, Arizona, Indianapolis, Minnesota, Denver.
Simon: College -- Ohio State, Wisconsin, Illinois, Auburn, Virginia Tech, Georgia, Oklahoma, Clemson, Oregon, Oregon State, Wake Forest, San Diego State, West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Missouri, Kansas, South Florida, Alabama, Miami, LSU, Texas Tech, Arizona State, Texas. NFL -- Detroit, Baltimore, Buffalo, NY Jets, Kansas City, New Orleans, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Jacksonville, Dallas, San Diego, Arizona, Indianapolis, Green Bay, Denver.
Sir Cumference: College -- Ohio State, Wisconsin, Illinois, Auburn, Virginia Tech, Georgia, Oklahoma, Clemson, Oregon, Penn State, Mississippi, Notre Dame, West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Missouri, Kansas, South Florida, Alabama, Florida, LSU, Nevada, Arizona State, Texas. NFL -- Detroit, Baltimore, Seattle, Miami, New England, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Jacksonville, Dallas, San Diego, Arizona, Indianapolis, Green Bay, Denver.
Finn: College -- Ohio State, Wisconsin, Illinois, Auburn, Virginia Tech, Georgia, Oklahoma, Clemson, Oregon, Penn State, Wake Forest, Notre Dame, West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Missouri, Kansas, South Florida, Alabama, Florida, LSU, Texas Tech, Arizona State, Texas, NFL -- Atlanta, Cincinnati, Buffalo, NY Jets, New England, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Jacksonville, Cleveland, San Diego, Arizona, Indianapolis, Green Bay, Oakland.
Let the trash talking begin.
You see, the guys in the picks contest were just in pre-season mode in earlier posts. We didn't want to use a good play in the pre-season and then not be able to use it when it counts. With that, Finn fires the first salvo at the Whitless Wonder and Teddy.
"I'm not sure which is going to be easier?" the formerly chunky Finn said about the Whitless Wonder and Teddy. "Beating the two of you at picking football or beating the two of you at a 100 yard dash if you both started with a 90 yard lead!! It's one thing to be fat … it's another to be fat and bad at picking sports."
For those of you who haven't been in the same room as the Whitless Wonder, Sir Cumference, Finn and Teddy, let me just say one-liners are as common as Bill Belichick handing out videocameras to assistant coaches.
This ought to be fun.
With parity running rampant in the NFL, I'm glad I'm not a gambler.
I don’t mind putting up the Fat Guy Trophy in a contest, but I'd hate to lose real money, especially in the first four weeks of the season when things haven't quite sorted themselves out. It's a long season, though, so a disastrous first week won't take me out of FGT contention.
For someone like Sir Cumference, though, there will be money on the line this weekend as well as the Fat Guy Trophy.
Some of his picks and reasoning will be listed with the games below, but here's a good example of why I don't put money on football games -- not that gambling is legal or anything.
The Kournikova (teaser of the week): Philly -1.5/San Diego -2.5/Indy -4
That's actually a 6.5 point tease instead of the standard 6, but I think buying the extra half-point is worth it here since it offers useful protection in the SD & Indy games by turning a 3 point win from a push into a win and a 4 point win from a loss into a push, respectively. Philly should hammer St. Louis, but they're a team I never trust to cover a big spread, so a tease works well here; San Diego are miles better than Carolina, and should easily win by a FG at the bare minimum even on an off-day; the same applies to Indy, as the QB matchup there is worth at least two touchdowns and even if the Bears defense/special teams are excellent it still won't be enough to make up the difference.
Damn. Let me reiterate, damn. That's a lot of thought right there for a guy who won't bet more than $25 a weekend. I'll be happy picking the games straight up.
Forgive me if there is precious little written about the college games this weekend -- I couldn't think of anything to say about them … other than this. I'm tired of hearing talking heads on ESPN defend the BCS with the argument that the regular season is really a 12-week playoff. Every game counts so much because a loss can kill your championship hopes.
I'm sorry, but the games this week should have a forest named after them in CandyLand -- Cupcake City, where college teams go to get fat. Implement playoffs, or make college teams play competitive games every week. With that, I'm done with the college games this week.
On to the NFL games.
Detroit at Atlanta -- Who cares? No one in Atlanta does - the Falcons can't give tickets away. Chances are no one in Detroit cares much either. Suprisingly, Jon Kitna kept his mouth shut this pre-season. I can't believe he didn't make another 10 win guarantee.
Cincinnati at Baltimore -- At least Joe Flacco doesn't have to worry about facing an NFL defense this week.
Seattle at Buffalo -- I'm going with the quarterback rule in this game. Matt Hasselback and his bad back take apart the Bills, sans Jason Peters and a proven quarterback, say 24-14.
N.Y. Jets at Miami -- I'll let Sir Cumference handle this one.
Best in Show (dog of the week): Miami +140 (moneyline)
I don't love this Jets team to begin with, and I think Miami will give Favre a hard time in the heat & humidity of south Florida. Pennington knows their personnel and their playcalling, and that should be enough for the Fish to scrape a home win.
Kansas City at New England -- If HBO filmed Hard Knocks with the Patriots, would it look like the 18 missing minutes from the Nixon tapes? I'm worried about the Pats, and it has little to do with Tom Brady's foot injury, or non-injury, depending on who you listen to. Ben Watson is hurt, again. Can Laurence Maroney provide a stable running game? Can the linebackers move their wheelchairs fast enough to keep teams out of the end zone? Will Rodney Harrison's HGH show up on time? I'm still picking the Pats this week, but that says more about the Kansas City Brodie Croyles than it does my faith in the Pats.
Tampa Bay at New Orleans -- This is a bit of a toss-up for me. Tampa Bay could win an ugly 17-14 game or get blown out by 30. I'm going to the old QB tiebreaker -- and Drew Brees is a lot safer bet than Jeff Garcia. St. Louis at Philadelphia -- What happened to St. Louis? Five years ago, it's the Greatest Show on Turf. Now, it's the Greatest Turd on Turf. Donovan McNabb's Comeback Tour gets off to a fast start.
Houston at Pittsburgh -- Because of my fantasy team, I'm contractually bound to root for the Steelers to do well -- but I really think Houston could give them problems. If Matt Schaub can stay upright, if Ahman Green and Steve Slaton can run the ball to set up play-action, if Mario Williams can set consistent pressure … That's way too many ifs for me. Pittsburgh wins by 10.
Jacksonville at Tennessee -- A couple of seasons ago, Bill Simmons wrote about the Popsicle Test -- see http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmonspreview/070906 and scroll to number 21. Jacksonville has to prove to me they're good before I'm a believer. Tennessee in the upset.
Dallas at Cleveland -- Cleveland's getting a bit too much respect coming off a season in which they tanked down the stretch, have a quarterback controversy, and are relying on Kellen Winslow to be an offensive threat.
Carolina at San Diego -- San Diego's a weird team to gauge this year. LT hasn't played in the pre-season. I'm not terribly sold in their wide receivers, and Shawn Merriman's knee is being held together with duct tape and old chewing gum. For some reason, I'm drawn to Jake Delhomme.
Arizona at San Francisco -- An old, injury prone, turnover prone Kurt Warner vs. J.T. O'Sullivan. Enough said.
Sir Cumference, meanwhile, loves this game.
Best Bet: Arizona -2.5
I'm not ready to trust a 49ers team that (a) has a QB who may or may not have been named after a faux Irish pub and (b) seems overly reliant on a 6th round pick to overcome their woes at WR. The Cards are definitely a good-bad team, but they should handle SF with no problem, even on the road.
Chicago at Indianapolis -- Chicago could bring Jim McMahon out of retirement and I'd not have thought about taking the Bears. Teska sent in this reasoning behind his pick:
Peyton is back. in the form of 3 TDs -- two to Big Reggie Style, one to Starvin Marvin. Addai runs for 150 and the Colts roll over Da' Bears. Hester does return 1 kick for a TD. Patriots leftovers can't kick deep and the Cotls special teams isn't very special at all. 38-10 Colts.
Minnesota at Green Bay -- I'm absolutely not sold on Tavares Jackson, who reminds me of Steamin' Willie Beamon from Any Given Sunday. If there's a commercial with Jackson flexing to a rap song on TV on Sunday, I'm switching over to the Yankees game.
Denver at Oakland -- This used to be such a great game to watch. By 10:15 p.m. Monday, though, I may be sleeping. Oakland's terrible. On the plus side, the model for the Fat Guy Trophy plays quarterback for Oakland, so that should prove entertaining. If Oakland signed Jared Lorenzen as its backup, would that set a record for heaviest combined weight by a team's quarterbacks in NFL history? Could they announce the quarterbacks' total weight like a WWE tag team? Would there be fights in the locker room over who gets the last Ring Ding? At least it would make Oakland interesting.
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