Andrew Hamm: the Bipolar Express

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

Friday, September 24, 2010

NFL Picks Week 3

After week two, the tally is as follows:

Peter King: 10-6 (20-12 on the season), looking very much like a professional NFL analyst.
Andrew Hamm: 8-8 (16-16), looking very much like I have no idea what I'm talking about.
George Washington: 8-8 (14-18), looking very much like a random coin toss.
Ryan Capps: 10-6 (19-15), looking very much retro in his Nate Newton jersey.
Rick Olson: 11-5, looking very much like a newcomer to the event.

I was ruminating on the Dallas Cowboys at work today, and I came to an interesting conclusion: take away their early-'90s winning seasons and they're the Washington Redskins. Upper management thinks they know more about football than the wisdom of their choices demonstrates. Quarterback after quarterback fails to impress. Streaky play, just enough to give the fan base hope for next season--every season. Splashy signings yielding limited results. Consistent inconsistency. Stat you probably don't know: The NFC East team with the fewest playoff wins in the past 14 years (1) is the Cowboys.

The difference? In 2010 the Redskins have Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan. The Cowboys have Jerry Jones and Wade Phillips. Until Jerry Jones has the "Hallelujah I need to hire some football experts and get my ego out of their way" moment Dan Snyder had after the 2009 fiasco, the Cowboys are going nowhere. Trust me; I know from experience.

On with the picks. I'm doing my part early, as I'll be at Sycamore Rouge all day tomorrow directing for the 24-Hour Experience. You should come see it!

Cleveland Browns (0-2) at Baltimore Ravens (1-1)
  • Peter: Ravens. Ravens have won four straight in the series by an average of 19 points. If the Browns could run the ball even a little bit, they could threaten to make a game of this on the road in Crabcakeville. (I really miss the halftime crab crakes at M&T Bank Stadium.) But they can't.
  • Me: Ravens. Not a chance.
  • George: Browns.
  • Ryan: Ravens.
  • Rick: Ravens.
Buffalo Bills (0-2) at New England Patriots (1-1)
  • Peter: Patriots. Stat You'll Get Sick Of Hearing This Weekend Dept.: Patriots have beaten Buffalo 13 times in a row. And the Bills are bad again this year, and they're starting Harvard's Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback, and C.J. Spiller has been swallowed up by the mediocrity (eight carries for nine yards in two games). Western New York optimism level: zero point zero, with apologies to Dean Wormer.
  • Andrew: Patriots. They might win by 30 points.
  • George: Bills.
  • Ryan: Patriots.
  • Rick: Patriots.
Atlanta Falcons (1-1) at New Orleans Saints (2-0)
  • Peter: Saints. Tempted to pick the Falcons after New Orleans' short week following an unimpressive performance on Monday night and the loss of Reggie Bush. In the last four meetings between the teams, the score is Saints 110, Falcons 109. But I've picked against the Saints too much already this year. They're pretty good.
  • Andrew: Saints. As long as New Orleans continues to win games while they're not playing their best, I'm going to keep picking them to repeat.
  • George: Falcons. George is really into the away teams this week.
  • Ryan: Falcons.
  • Rick: Falcons.
Tennessee Titans (1-1) at New York Giants (1-1)
  • Peter: Titans. Given that Joseph Addai ran like O.J. Simpson against the Giants last week (and I mean the O.J. of 1972), what's Chris Johnson going to do this week? I'm stunned at the papier-mâché effort the Giants' front put up in Indy last week. No other team is getting less production out of more money spent on the defensive line than the Giants.
  • Andrew: Titans. I am sooooo close to picking the New York upset here... 
  • George: Titans.
  • Ryan: Giants.
  • Rick: Giants.
Cincinnati Bengals (1-1) at Carolina Panthers (0-2)
  • Peter: Bengals. A creditable first NFL start for Jimmy Clausen, but I say he'll be done in by some exotic blitzes from Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer -- and because the Bengals cover better than Clausen was used to seeing at Notre Dame.
  • Andrew: Bengals. I'm starting to feel like a weenie for agreeing with King, but there aren't as many ambiguous matchups this week as we've seen so far.
  • George: Panthers. It's gonna be a long week for George.
  • Ryan: Bengals.
  • Rick: Bengals.
Pittsburgh Steelers (2-0) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-0)
  • Peter: Steelers. Great point by reader and longtime Pittsburgh TV personality John Steigerwald to me this week: "I'm on a new futile crusade," he said. "The goal is the end of the field goal. In the three games involving AFC North teams [Sunday], the winning teams had a total of 12 field goals and NO offensive touchdowns. Boring.'' Sorry, John. Two more field goals by the Steelers this week, but Charlie Batch does enough to get a win and send the Steelers to 3-0.
  • Andrew: Steelers. Raise your hand if you predicted that Tampa would start the season 2-0 and Dallas 0-2. Anyone?... Anyone?... Bueller?...
  • George: Buccaneers. George likes pirates.
  • Ryan: Steelers.
  • Rick: Steelers.
San Francisco 49ers (0-2) at Kansas City Chiefs (2-0)
  • Peter: 49ers. I guess you're going to call this an upset, because the Niners are 0-2 and the Chiefs 2-0. But think of this: If two weeks ago you had forecast the winner of San Francisco at Kansas City, who would you have picked? And think of this, too: If the Niners had turned the ball over one fewer time Monday night against New Orleans, there's a very good chance we all would have been talking about San Francisco upsetting the Super Bowl champs.
  • Andrew: 49ers. See above, re: undefeated and unlikely. It ends here.
  • George: Chiefs. Man, Washington is the upset capital of the NFL world this week.
  • Ryan: Chiefs.
  • Rick: 49ers.
Detroit Lions (0-2) at Minnesota Vikings (0-2)
  • Peter: Vikings. Nothing comes easy for the Men of Childress this year, but they're fortunate to get the Lions at home when they really need a win. I think if Brett Favre and Bernard Berrian can't get on the same wavelength, Favre has to turn to the next-best weapon -- Greg Camarillo -- and lobby Childress again to get Javon Walker back in the house. For now, I say he should wear the extra-large should pads this week. Ndamukong Suh's coming to town.
  • Andrew: Vikings. Minnesota has big problems, but losing to Detroit simply won't be one of them.
  • George: Lions. Jeez; GW is going for 0-16 this week.
  • Ryan: Vikings.
  • Rick: Vikings.
Dallas Cowboys (0-2) at Houston Texans (2-0)
  • Peter: Texans. Toughest game of the week to call, in part because of the suspension of left tackle Duane Brown of the Texans. Imagine you're Rashad Butler, and you're starting your first NFL game at left tackle, and though you're going to get some help, you've got DeMarcus Ware with the fast-twitch movements coming around the corner for three hours. Yikes. But I'm counting on Arian Foster to eat up the clock and make Ware play run defense more than he'd like.
  • Andrew: Texans. It will be close, but I believe in Wade Phillips' innate ability to wreck this Dallas team despite their imposing, albeit overrated, talent.
  • George: Texans. Finally, some sense.
  • Ryan: Texans.
  • Rick: Cowboys.
Philadelphia Eagles (1-1) at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1)
  • Peter: Eagles. The Eagles' offensive line is the worst it's been in a decade, and deep down, that had to play some part in Andy Reid's decision to go to Michael Vick on Tuesday. Vick's never been sacked more than three times a game on average in any previous season. He's gone down nine times in six quarters this year. But the big difference in this game, even if the Jags send the house more often than usual, is that Vick is more accurate than he's been before. Granted it's only a game and a half, but that's a big factor in how well he's playing, and I think it continues in Jacksonville.
  • Andrew: Jaguars. Finally some dissent. An Eagles win wouldn't surprise me, but Michael Vick stepping right back into 2006 form does. I believe his good play of the past couple weeks is the aberration, and he's due to come down this week. The Jags will play tough and eke it out.
  • George: Jaguars.
  • Ryan: Eagles.
  • Rick: Jaguars.
Washington Redskins (1-1) at St. Louis Rams (0-2)
  • Peter: Redskins. After this one, the Redskins will be a Schaub-to-Johnson bomb from 3-0. This one's a little scary because injuries start to make the offensive line shaky.
  • Andrew: Redskins. Yeah, Peter, but the 'Skins are also a fumble return away from being 0-2. I'll take a 2-1 start, though.
  • George: Rams.
  • Ryan: Redskins.
  • Rick: Redskins.
Indianapolis Colts (1-1) at Denver Broncos (1-1)
  • Peter: Colts. There's no chapter in the Head Coaching Manual about dealing with the suicide of a player, then getting one's emotions in check in time to defend one of the best quarterbacks ever to play. Sorry, Josh McDaniels, but this is a cruel business sometimes.
  • Andrew: Colts. Even without emotional distraction, the Colts are just better.
  • George: Broncos.
  • Ryan: Colts.
  • Rick: Colts.
Oakland Raiders (1-1) at Arizona Cardinals (1-1)
  • Peter: Cardinals. Derek Anderson saves his job for a couple of weeks, but he knows Max Hall is in the bullpen, and Ken Whisenhunt won't hesitate to go to his reliever.
  • Andrew: Raiders. Gradkowski seems to bring a spark to this Raiders team for some reason. Giving up on Jason Campbell after less than two games is typical Raider nonsense. Redskin fans, Cowboy fans: at least our owner isn't Al Davis. Hey-o!
  • George: Cardinals.
  • Ryan: Cardinals.
  • Rick: Raiders.
San Diego Chargers (1-1) at Seattle Seahawks (1-1)
  • Peter: Chargers. Get the ball to Golden Tate more, Pete Carroll, and you've got a heck of a chance to win this one. Last week, Tate returned a punt for 63 yards and caught a pass for 52. That's why he was drafted. He needs more touches.
  • Andrew: Chargers. I've been sick all week. I'm entitled to an arbitrary choice. 
  • George: Seahawks.
  • Ryan: Chargers.
  • Rick: Chargers.
New York Jets (1-1) at Miami Dolphins (2-0)
  • Peter: Dolphins. This doesn't have as much to do with the Braylon Edwards distraction and the probable absence of Darrelle Revis as it does recent history. Last season, Miami swept the Jets and put up 61 points on them; Chad Henne played better against the league's top-ranked defense than he did against Buffalo. Some teams just match up well.
  • Andrew: Jets. All the above reasons are why I think the Jets will bring a good game.
  • George: Dolphins.
  • Ryan: Dolphins.
  • Rick: Dolphins.
Green Bay Packers (2-0) at Chicago Bears (2-0)
  • Peter: Packers. Closer than you think? That's because Mike Martz is figuring ways to get the ball out of Jay Cutler's right hand faster than the defense can get to Cutler. Smart. Because the line's not going to get fixed this year. I see Aaron Rodgers outdueling Cutler, though.
  • Andrew: Packers. I totally agree with Peter. This game will be closer than we're accustomed to seeing Pack-Bears games, but Rodgers is too much for the Bears. Chicago's only hope is for the "new" Jay Cutler we've seen the past two weeks to be the oasis, not the mirage. My fantasy football team hopes so, too.
  • George: Packers.
  • Ryan: Packers.
  • Rick: Packers.
We have a ton of unanimity. Looks like a lot of one-sided match-ups. This week will either be very boring or else very very interesting.

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Saturday, September 18, 2010

NFL Picks Week 2

Welcome back. Last week's tally was as follows:

Peter King: 10-6
Andrew Hamm: 8-8
George Washington: 6-10
Ryan Capps (joining the party late): 9-7

Week two commences to the sound of  Transatlantic's Bridge Across Forever. I'm italicizing King's comments to help them stand out as not-my-writing. 

Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals
  • Peter King: Ravens. Two of the starters on the Cincinnati offensive line that was semi-shredded by the Patriots the other day were guard Nate Livings and tackle Dennis Roland. They'll start Sunday against the rush-heavy Ravens. Neither was drafted out of college. Meanwhile, the sixth pick in the 2009 draft, tackle Andre Smith, played 10 snaps in New England. What is wrong with this picture?
  • Me: Ravens. This will be close, but the Ravens' greater physicality wins the day over Cincy's air attack.
  • George: Ravens.
  • Ryan: Ravens.
 Chicago Bears at Dallas Cowboys
  • Peter King: Cowboys. I am no doctor of football, though I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. I do know, however, that when you have 71 offensive snaps in a game, as the Cowboys had Sunday night in Washington, and Felix Jones touches the ball on 10 of them, you've made a game-planning error. Free Felix Jones.
  • Me: Bears. This one is probably going to bite me, but I stand behind my prediction that Dallas will be the most disappointing team in the NFC. I don't believe in their O-line, and I don't believe in their coaching staff. I said that last week, and look where it got them.
  • George: Cowboys. He likes the star. I swear, sometimes it's like picking fotball games against a nine-year-old girl.
  • Ryan: Dallas.
Arizona Cardinals at Atlanta Falcons
  • Peter King: Falcons. Midway through the third quarter, on the Cardinals' sideline, this thought goes through Ken Whisenhunt's head: "How many more Derek Anderson series do I have to watch?''
  • Me: Falcons. Only as many as you choose to, Ken.
  • George: Cardinals.
  • Ryan: Falcons.
Buffalo Bills at Green Bay Packers
  • Peter King: Packers. I like Ryan Grant as much as the next guy, but he's a great example of the interchangeability of running backs in the NFL right now. Maybe the Packers will go out and get a Marshawn Lynch -- I don't know -- but they probably won't need him to get to where they're going.
  • Me: Packers. Biggest beat-down of week two.
  • George: Packers.
  • Ryan: Packers.
Philadelphia Eagles at Detroit Lions
  • Peter King: Eagles. Tempting, very tempting, to pick the Lions, and I probably would if Matthew Stafford were playing. But I can't pick Shaun Hill to beat the Philadelphia Eagles when the game really matters.
  • Me: Okay, I'll yield to the temptation and pick the Lions. As a Redskins fan, I have a lot of history of rooting for a scrappy underdog. Also, they've had all week to prepare for Michael Vick, which Green Bay did not.
  • George: Eagles. Because of patriotism.
  • Ryan: Eagles.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Tennessee Titans
  • Peter King: Titans. The other day, Chris Johnson told me he thinks he can "most definitely'' rush for 2,500 yards in a year, and that he would love to see the Titans acquire Albert Haynesworth from Washington. If he breaks a buck and a quarter against the Steelers in this game -- which I think he'll do -- I'm inclined to make him GM Mike Reinfeldt's assistant and let him broker the deal.
  • Me: Titans. No problem, Pete. Tennessee can have his sulky-six-year-old fat behind. And I'd like to see that 2,500 yards.
  • George: Titans.
  • Ryan: Titans.
Kansas City Chiefs at Cleveland Browns
  • Peter King: Chiefs. I have no idea why.
  • Me: Browns. Because it really doesn't matter.
  • George: Browns.
  • Ryan: Chiefs.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers
  • Peter King: Panthers. I'd make the argument that, with Cincinnati and New Orleans on the schedule in the next two weeks, no 0-1 team with the playoff prayer has a bigger game on the docket this weekend than Carolina. Because if you can't beat Tampa Bay at home, you know you're going absolutely nowhere this year.
  • Me: Panthers. This could go either way, and may come down to which sloppy team has the sloppy ball sloppy last.
  • George: Buccaneers.
  • Ryan: Buccaneers.
Miami Dolphins at Minnesota Vikings
  • Peter King: Vikings. Visions of Vincent Jackson are dancing in Brett Favre's head. For now, against the Dolphins, he'll have to settle for Greg Camarillo.
  • Me: Vikings. I really hope the Vikes do get Jackson, so the Redskins don't. We already have enough players (Rex Grossman, Larry Johnson) who I don't like. I'd rather lose without him than win with him.
  • George: Vikings.
  • Ryan: Vikings. I love it when we're unanimous. What a great competition.
Seatte Seahawks at Denver Broncons:
  • Peter King: Broncos. Another one of those I-have-no-clue-who'll-win games. I have a hunch that Robert Ayers will take advantage of the weak edge of the Seattle offensive line to torment Matt Hasselbeck.
  • Me: Seahawks. I feel like the Broncons are going to be either 11-5 or 5-11 this year. Until I have a sense of which, I'm going to tend to pick against them.
  • George: Broncons.
  • Ryan: Seahawks. Broncon pride never.
St. Louis Rams at Oakland Raiders
  • Peter: Raiders. Al Davis can never complain about the schedule again, not when the league gives the Raiders a season-saving parachute in Week 2 by having the Rams drop into the gloom that is enveloping this team.
  • Me: Ohhh, it's sooooo tempting to pick the Rams in this matchup. If St. Louis were to beat anyone early in a rebuilding season, it would be Oakland. But I'm really just picking Raiders dysfunction over Ram rebuilding.
  • George: Raiders.
  • Ryan: Raiders.
New England Patriots at New York Jets
  • Peter: Jets. Rex Ryan wants to win the game so bad I swear he'd suit up and put the big-boy pads on and replace Kris Jenkins if the rules would allow. It'd be more valuable, though, if he could channel his intensity into the head of Mark Sanchez.
  • Me: Patriots. The AFC Disappointment of the Year Jets will be stymied on offense while their defense lets enough big plays through the seams for a 10-point Pats win. I think the worst thing to happen for Mark Sanchez's development as a quarterback was a wide and unfounded public perception that he had a great rookie season.
  • George: Of course he likes the Patriots.
  • Ryan: Patriots. I love it when it's all three of us scrubs picking against the expert. Somebody gonna look stupid...
Houston Texans at Washington Redskins
  • Peter: Texans. Some Hollywood-type with DirecTV and NFL Sunday Ticket is working weekends at the office, with football on his big-screen ... His ears perk up when Ian Eagle, on the CBS telecast, starts talking about this stunning back from Houston, Arian Foster. He hears snippets like "philosophy major from Tennessee'' and "girlfriend's a singer from Germany who studied depth charts to help him pick an NFL team" and "undrafted, adrift 10 months ago on the Texans practice squad'' and "running away with the NFL rushing race'' and thinks: Could Arian Foster be a movie?
  • Me: Texans. If the Redskins had lost last week, I'd be picking them to win this week, but I see letdown--and a 140-yard performance by Foster--in the cards. But a Redskins win, unlike last week, would not surprise me much. They really do look like they're one receiver away from being an elite team, and I wasn't expecting that until next year. By the way, Pete, how about writing a little something about the game? Just a little.
  • George: Redskins. Shameless homer.
  • Ryan: Texans. Ryan sez: "Sorry, the better team from Texas shows up this week."  Hard to argue with him after watching the Redskins' preseason run D.
Jacksonville Jaguars at San Diego Chargers
  • Peter: Chargers. You're surprised by how close of a game I see? Part of the reason is that David Garrard is going to be able to make some plays, based on the meek Charger pass-rush from Monday night. Against a weak Chiefs offensive line, the Chargers managed one sack and one additional quarterback hit. How long will we in the media continue to misstate how dominant the San Diego defensive front is?
  • Me: I also like Garrard, enough to have him as my fantasy backup (mainly because my team was autodrafted and I started with one QB and six RBs and it was pretty much him or Jason Campbell). He won't beat the Chargers, though.
  • George: Chargers.
  • Ryan: Chargers.
New York Giants at Indianapolis Colts
  • Peter: Colts. Can't see the Colts starting 0-2, especially at home, especially against a team with a weak intermediate pass defense, especially with Peyton Manning determined not to lose to his little brother.
  • Me: I really like Manning in this game. I think his team's D will keep consistent enough pressure on Manning to force a late mistake. Meanwhile, Manning's precision attack will control the clock enough to.... Wow, this joke isn't as funny on the screen as it was in my head. Colts.
  • George: Colts.
  • Ryan: Colts.
Music change to Spock's Beard's V.

San Francisco 49ers at New Orleans Saints 
  • Peter: 49ers. File this one under "Super Bowl Champs Always Get Best Effort From Mediocre Teams" department. I just know this -- Mike Singletary will spend this week hammering into his players that this is the most important thing they will ever do in their lives, and some of them will actually believe it.
  • Me: Saints. I agree with Peter that the 49ers will give their best effort of the season. I just don't think it's enough to stop Drew Brees and the best team in the NFL. On the other hand, the Redskins almost beat New Orleans last year...
  • George: Saints.
  • Ryan: Saints.
That's all for now. Stay thirsty, my friends. I'm on a horse.

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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