Andrew Hamm: the Bipolar Express

Ruminations on theatre, music, and just about anything else that crosses my bipolar brain.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

NFL Picks 2010: Me vs an expert and a random coin toss - Week 1

A few years back (okay, it was 11), I wrote an NFL column for a now-defunct website wherein I argued that the league's parity was such that a random coin flip was as good a prognosticator as any. Over a decade later, with worst-to-first and first-to-worst finishes happening every season, I think it's even more true.

So I thought I'd continue the tradition, at least until I get tired of it. I'm going to pick the winners (no scores or points against the spread, just straight-up winners) and compare my record with that of my favorite NFL writer, SI's Peter King, and a random coin toss, a USA quarter which I will affectionately refer to as George. At the risk of being sued or killed, I'm going to go ahead and copy-and-paste PK's content rather than linking to it. It's copyright SI and all that jazz.

Anyone else want to throw in their hat? I'll keep your stats too. I'm also going to throw in references to whatever music I'm listening to while I write because that's awesome. EDIT: Ryan Capps has added picks. Broncon Pride Ever!

I'm backdating a bit this week because I forgot to do this Wednesday night. Trust me, I picked the Saints before the game was played.

To the tune of Liquid Tension Experiment:

Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints
  • Peter King: Saints. That this is the first game of the year saddens me. I wish the NFL had saved it until a Sunday night in Sweeps Month (November). But since it's being played now, a couple of thoughts: In the NFC title game eight months ago, Minnesota turned the ball over five times to just once for the Saints, and still New Orleans had to go to overtime to win. So don't tell me that missing Sidney Rice dooms the Vikes. I don't buy it. Thought about this one for a long time, and the difference came down to New Orleans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. His schemes led to the Saints so battering Brett Favre last January that even without excellent blitzing Saints safety Darren Sharper in Thurday's game, Williams, I figure, will come up with a few ways to torment Favre.
  • Me: Saints. I think Brees and company have an excellent chance to repeat, and I think Brett Favre's gunslinging isn't going to work so well this year with a depleted receiving corps. Not to mention his lack of practice with the receivers he does have.
  • George: Saints. Smart man, considering this coin was flipped 36 hours after the game ended.
  • Ryan: Saints.
Cleveland Browns at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Peter King: Browns. Jake Delhomme's been to the Pirate Ship a few times, and he starts his season of redemption with a respectable outing against the Rookie League Bucs.
  • Me: Brownies. This game is a coin toss (stop laughing so hard, Mr. President), but I'm banking on the superior experience of Jake Delhomme. Let the battle for the first pick in the 2011 draft begin.
  • George: Buccaneers.
  • Ryan: Browns.
Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills
  • Peter King: Dolphins. A spirited effort by the feisty Bills, with C.J. Spiller topping 100 yards on the ground in his first NFL game. But I see the Dolphins' new bookend rush combination, Cameron Wake and Koa Misi, bothering Trent Edwards enough to force a couple turnovers.
  • Me:Dolphins. The Buffalo Bills are serious contenders this year. For the worst NFL team ever fielded. 
  • George: Bills. George is a sucker for an underdog.
  • Ryan: Dolphins.
Cincinnati Bengals at New England Patriots
  • Peter King: Bengals. I'm not even sure I'd call this an upset. Without Leigh Bodden in the secondary, New England goes with a very young Big East alumni corner tandem -- rookie Devin McCourty (Rutgers) and second-year man Darius Butler (UConn) are likely to start -- and Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens should have some schooling in store for them.
  • Me: Patriots. How is this amazing game slipping under the radar this week? I really dislike TO, though I have to confess that I love Chad Eightfive's antics like a milkshake. But I think Owens learned some genuine humility in Buffalo last year, and as long as there are enough balls to share they will both be happy and productive. Not this week, though. Watch for a rematch of this game in the playoffs.
  • George:Bengals. George says that Chad Ochocinco reminds him of a young John Hancock. So bold, so outspoken.
  • Ryan: Patriots.
Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans
  • Peter King: Texans. This is your chance, Texans. Time to throw off the can't-beat-Indy tag. Time to forget the 1-5 division record last year. No team has aimed for the opener the way the Texans have since the schedule came out in April. The difference: Arian Foster will control the clock the way Peyton Manning always does. Feed him, Gary Kubiak.
  • Me: King, you're out of your mind. Colts.
  • George: Texans.
  • Ryan: Colts.
Denver Broncons at Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Peter King: Jaguars. Yes, Tim Tebow will get in the game. No, he won't be effective enough.
  • Me: Jaguars. Denver is a mess. Will we see Tebow this week? Will his play be worthy of a highlight reel on its own merits, or just because he's inexplicably the top-selling jersey in the NFL? By the way, I'm misspelling it "BRONCONS" all season long in honor of the error-filled bootleg Boise State cap I bought while wandering the streets around FedEx Field late Monday night. I really should have asked Ryan Capps if he wanted to do this too. EDIT: Obviously Ryan is now doing it. Broncon Pride Ever!
  • George: Jaguars. We are unanimous.
  • Ryan: Jaguars.
Atlanta Falcons at Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Peter King: Steelers. Fascinated about the Dennis Dixon Effect. A few guys in the Steelers locker room didn't think he was getting a fair shot to win the job in camp, behind the now-injured Byron Leftwich, and now that Dixon's the guy, I think the energy boost could pay dividends Sunday. He's going to be fun to watch. Key to the game for Atlanta: Rookie Sean Weatherspoon, in his first NFL game, trying to corral Dixon the way he corralled all those Big 12 mobile quarterbacks.
  • Me: Falcons. The NFL offseason was an unholy trinity of distraction storylines, with a triune anti-deity composed of Favre, Haynesworth and Roethlisberger. Peter is somehow convinced that the Steelers have a Super Bowl championship waiting at the end of their black-and-gold rainbow. I'd like some of whatever cigar he's smoking. because he can probably afford some really nice cigars.
  • George: Falcons.
  • Ryan: Falcons.
Oakland Raiders at Tennessee Titans
  • Peter King: Titans. So many close games this weekend ... and in Nashville, Chris Johnson takes a tattooing from a physical Raiders D but still gets his 12th straight 100-yard game.
  • Me: Raiders. Yes, Tennessee is a better team. I just have a feeling about this one. And I suspect Jason Campbell is going to be slinging rainbows in Oakland to Al Davis' senile, drooling, Depends-wearing delight for the next few years. Let's see how many "Al Davis is really quite old" jokes I can make this season! I count three so far.
  • George: Titans. George is a HUGE Chris Johnson fan.
  • Ryan: Titans.
Carolina Panthers at New York Giants
  • Peter King: Giants. I worry about Eli Manning behind an offensive line that enters the season unusually beat up, so much so that a Panthers win wouldn't surprise me. But this is the day the Giants start playing defense the way they played under former coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, and that's bad news for Matt Moore.
  • Me: Giants. Carolina is a bit of a mystery with so many of the past decade's key faces gone this year, and I just think the NFC East is going to beat the hell out of the rest of the conference all year long.
  • George: Panthers.
  • Ryan: Giants.
Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears
  • Peter King: Bears. Oh, I want to pick the Lions. I think the Suh-Vanden Bosch left side of the defensive front is going to be a 16-game tormentor, and I agree with GM Martin Mayhew, who said this week, "We have the potential to be a pretty decent team." But I think the Bears win a slobberknocker, and Jay Cutler is the key figure in it.
  • Me: Okay, I'll pick the Lions. King, you wuss.
  • George: Lions.
  • Ryan: Lions.
Arizona Cardinals at St. Louis Rams
  • Peter King: Cardinals. I love how Darnell Dockett says he wants to now outplay his third contract in the desert. Well, this game's a great time to start. He's had sacks in three of his past five games against the Rams, and Sam Bradford will be starting his first NFL game. Better get it out quick, Sam.
  • Me: Rams. I like Sam Bradford better than any QB on Arizona's roster, even grandfathering in Matt Leinart. This is the Battle of the Rebuilding, and I think the Rams are in for a long long season of sucking, but I think they win this one.
  • George: Rams. George says that "Samuel Bradford" sounds like the kind of name that should be on the Declaration of Independence. Notice he didn't have any comments on the name "Ndomukong Suh." Is Ndukwe Kalu still in the league? Gosh I love that dude's name.
  • Ryan: Rams.
Green Bay Packers at Philadelphia Eagles
  • Peter King: Packers. They last met on opening day 2007, and it was McNabb vs. Favre that day. Now it's Kolb-Rodgers, of course, and as on that day, the Packers QB is more experienced and, as I see it, the winner (Sept. 9, 2007: Pack 16, Eagles 13.) Look for Packers' defensive coordinator Dom Capers to throw lots of looks at Kolb in his opener as the Eagles' quarterback, and look for some of those rushes to hit home.
  • Me: Packers. Let me state for the record here that I see no practical, logical reason to believe in Kevin Kolb. Yet. The Packers, I believe, are headed to Dallas in February.
  • George: Eagles. Ah, George, you wooden-toothed contrarian you.
  • Ryan: Packers.
San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks
  • Peter King: 49ers. Before the game, Pete Carroll hustles through the calisthenics line. "Say a Hail Mary! Say a Hail Mary!'' Ooooops. Had him confused with Gerry Faust there for a minute. I like Seattle's effort this summer. I like Carroll starting Justin Forsett. I like a lot about what Carroll and GM John Schneider have done. But I like the San Francisco linebackers a lot more than that. And maybe I've been swayed by impressive August performances during which Alex Smith got the ball out very fast against Minnesota and Oakland, but I think he's going to have a pretty good year, starting this weekend. Plus, no Russell Okung at left tackle for the 'Hawks. Not good.
  • Me: No idea. I'm just going with whomever George doesn't pick.
  • George: 49ers.
  • Me: Okay, Seahawks.
  • Ryan: Seahawks.
Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins
  • Peter King: Cowboys. Jim Haslett's guys get in six or eight great shots on Tony Romo, who takes a licking but keeps on throwing. As Cris Collinsworth will say in the middle of the third quarter: "Romo's getting hit more than Rocky Balboa! How's he staying upright?!'' That's why they pay him the big money, Cris.
  • Me: Ah, the weekly Redskins game, where my burgundy-and-gold heart has to take a backseat to my Vulcan football brain. I have to state here that I pick the Cowboys to be one of the most disappointing teams of the season. Their talent is not nearly as good as their hype (with the exception of their deep stable of running backs), and even if it was, one has to remember that their head coach is still Wade Phillips. WADE PHILLIPS. But the Redskins are not a team yet, despite Mike Shanahan doing everything 100% right in the Fat Albert situation. That said, I think the Cowboys' running attack exploits some of the weaknesses I saw in Washington's preseason rush D. They're going to have to, because I don't think Tony Romo is going to finish the game under center. I predict a Cowboys win despite four-plus sacks.
  • George: Cowboys. George, you bastard. Rooting against the home team of the town named after you. I'd call you a Benedict Arnold except for the fact that you knew Benedict Arnold.
  • Ryan: Cowboys.
Baltimore Ravens at New York Jets
  • Peter King: Jets. You mean there's life after "Hard Knocks?'' There is, and his name is Shonn Greene. I think Greene and a fresh LaDainian Tomlinson will win the day in the Meadowlands.
  • Me: Ravens. The Jets will compete with Dallas all year in the "biggest disappointment in the NFL" category, while Baltimore just miiiiiight be the best team in the league.
  • George: Ravens.
  • Ryan: Ravens.
San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs
  • Peter King: Chargers. Someone asked me which team to pick this week in the knockout pool, and I said San Diego. There really is not a good one. Even in this one, Dexter McCluster has a chance to wreck this game for the Chargers. I look for the Chiefs to use him in four or five spots and let him be the player Darren Sproles is for San Diego.
  • Me: Chargers.
  • George: Chargers.
  • Ryan: Chargers.
So there you have it. Feel free to chime in with your picks.

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