Has it been 7 months??? 7 Months since the Saints completed a magical run to their first Super Bowl title. The picture of Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees holding his young son in Sun Life Stadium in Miami as the confetti fell about was truly a heartwarming scene. Though your scribe is a Vikings fan it did feel good to know the good people of the Big Easy finally had their long suffering as fans eased now being home of the best football team on the planet.
But that was 7 months ago and a football lifetime ago. Now we begin a new march to another Super Bowl, this year’s destination is Dallas and the billion dollar playpen of Jerry Jones. Another year means another year of prognostication from your humble scribe, last year was pretty successful and as always I aim to use my football knowledge and insight to predict a good majority of the outcomes of the NFL games.
For those new to my picks I try to correctly the weeks slate of games straight up, Im not bright enough to pick with points. I do post the point spread for entertainment and comparison purposes I have two headliner picks, the Upset of the Week which is the against the grain pick for one reason or another. Then there is the Lock of The Week. Now I’m not saying to bet the house payment or the little ones college fund on it. But if you’re betting a soda on it, more often than not this pick gets that ice cold refreshment. Last year the locks were perfect the whole year, 17 weeks, 17 correct. I’m hoping to keep that streak going deep into this year. I'll repeat the mantra that the odds that I am providing this week are from Yahoo Sports and for comparison and entertainment purposes only. If you bet the lines and lose, I don’t pay off anyone’s losses. The records by every team this week is their 2009 record.
NFL SCHEDULE – KICKOFF WEEKEND
Thursday, September 9
Vikings (12-4) @ Saints (13-3)
Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans 8:30 (NBC)
Favorite Saints by 5½
Fast Fact Though the Vikings have won the last four regular season meetings and lead the postseason series, the Saints are quite happy with their only postseason win over the Vikings.
A rematch of last years thrilling NFC championship kicks off the 2010 season. The Saints have been basking in the glow of their Super Bowl title and get the honor of hosting the opening game on the national stage. The Saints return pretty much intact with the same high powered offense and underrated yet big play defense. The Vikings held their collective breath most of the summer for QB Brett Favre’s diva like return though there are now more lingering questions about the ankle that he injured in this very same venue. I think the Super Bowl hangover does not apply here and that these teams have a tendency to play entertaining high scoring shootouts. Though I want to be wrong on this, I think the Saints will be just a bit better at home
Sunday, September 12
Falcons (9-7) @ Steelers (9-7)
Heinz Field, Pittsburgh 1:00 (FOX)
Favorite Falcons by 1
Fast Fact The Falcons have never won in Pittsburgh (0-5-1)
With Ben Roethlisberger suspended, and Byron Leftwich injured the Steelers will turn to Dennis Dixon to pilot the offense. The Steelers have more questions on offense than a congressional inquiry. The Falcons are coming off their first consecutive winning seasons in team history and sports a underrated defense and a solid all-points offense behind the steady hand of Matt Ryan and the solid running of Michael Turner. Most folks say don’t bet against the Steelers in a home opener but I think that despite Dixon’s mobility the Falcons defense throws enough wrinkles at him to make it an unhappy opener.
Pick-Atlanta (Upset of the Week)
Panthers (8-8) @ NY Giants (8-8)
Meadowlands Stadium; East Rutherford, NJ 1:00 (FOX)
Favorite Giants by 7½
Fast Fact A win will give coach Tom Coughlin his 60th as Giants coach, tying his predecessor Jim Fassel for 3rd in team history.
Both these teams are a crossroads, with the Panthers undergoing a mammoth transition at QB after saying goodbye to Jake Delhomme. Matt Moore will direct a run oriented ball control offense that features DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. The G-Men are their usual inconsistent and puzzling self as Eli Manning pilots an offense that can score at will but has to since their defense gives it up just as fast. With Giants formally christening their new stadium, I think the G-Men have enough offensive firepower to keep the Panthers at bay and send the Gotham faithful home happy.
Pick- New York Giants
Bengals (10-6) @ Patriots (10-6)
Gillette Stadium; Foxboro , MA 1:00 (CBS)
Favorite Patriots by 4½
Fast Fact The Bengals have not won in Foxboro since 1986
A pair of 2009 playoff teams square off here, the Bengals have added another talkative WR in Terrell Owens while the Pats just seem to be their usual model of consistent winning over the last decade. With the exception of 2008, Tom Brady usually has really good opening days. The Pats defense is getting old really fast and I’m concerned that they may have some trouble against what could be a multifaceted Bengals offense. That said, I think the Bengals have the potential to win but they just have a bad history in Foxboro.
Browns (5-11) @ Buccaneers (3-13)
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa 1:00 (CBS)
Favorite Buccaneers by 2½
Fast Fact The Browns won the first five meetings, but the Bucs have won the last two.
The Mangini watch begins in Florida , I have the feeling that Browns team president Mike Holmgren is watch the Man-Genius closely. If the Browns come out as sluggish and apathetic (Game against Steelers excepted) as they did last year, Mangini might not make it a month. The young Bucs are just that, young and their growth is slow and painful. Josh Freeman might have a better go against a weak Browns defense. I think the Bucs play over their heads at home and the noose gets tighter against Mangini’s neck.
Broncos (8-8) @ Jaguars (7-9)
Municipal Stadium, Jacksonville 1:00 (CBS)
Favorite Jaguars by 2½
Fast Fact The Jaguars had the most home TV blackouts in the NFL in 2009 (7 of 8)
A pair of middling teams tangle in north Florida . I’ve never been a Josh McDaniels fan and I think Kyle Orton is not a top shelf quarterback. The Broncos are trying to puff themselves up as an elite team but they are only kidding themselves. Add the loss of Elvis Dumervil their suspect defense gets even more painfully so. I don’t think that highly of Jacksonville in their offense other than Maurice Jones-Drew and their emerging WR Mike Sims-Walker but I think that they have enough to beat the Broncos.
Lions (2-14) @ Bears (7-9)
Soldier Field, Chicago 1:00 (FOX)
Favorite Bears by 7½
Fast Fact The Lions have allowed 400+ points in each of the last three seasons
The Bears unveil their new-look offense run by offensive guru Mike Martz who coached a pretty pedestrian Lions attack in 2007 & 2008. QB Jay Cutler claims that the Bears preseason offensive ineptitude was due to not wanting to give away their offensive secrets but I think that its because of who is running it. Still I think that the Bears have enough tools to beat an improving Lions squad and Cutler had best keep an eye out for the havoc created by Lions rookie DT Ndamukong Suh.
Colts (14-2) @ Texans (9-7)
Reliant Field, Houston 1:00 (CBS)
Favorite Colts by 2½
Fast Fact The Colts 115-45 record was the past decade best record
The Texans want to take that next step. Problem is, taking the next step means beating perennial AFC South bully (and defending AFC Champ) Indy. Matt Schaub is a solid QB, they have a good running game and WR Andre Johnson is one of the game’s best and they have the tools and talent to be a handful. Still the Colts are the Colts and that guy named Peyton Manning is still running that multifaceted high-powered offense. Is the defense shaky? Yup. Will that make a difference? Nope. The Colts are 15-1 against the Texans who are fast improving but still are not ready.
Dolphins (7-9) @ Bills (6-10)
Ralph Wilson Stadium; Orchard Park , NY 1:00 (CBS)
Favorite Dolphins by 3
Fast Fact The Bills were the only team that played the whole decade in the AFC that missed the playoffs. Though their last playoff game was January of 2000.
The Dolphins are not one of the AFC’s glamour teams; they win games in a gritty gutty manner. Meanwhile the Bills are blander than a Buffalo winter. (I’ve been up there in winter it’s pretty bland) unimaginative on offense and pretty pedestrian on defense. In what used to be an exciting divisional matchup, this one is pretty blah. I think the Dolphins have enough weapons on both sides of the ball to bring the boo birds out in Western New York pretty fast.
Raiders (5-11) @ Titans (8-8)
LP Field, Nashville 1:00 (CBS)
Favorite Titans by 7
Fast Fact In 2009 the Titans became the first team to finish .500 after starting 0-6.
A new year and a new QB (like usual) for the Raid-ahs. Jason Campbell is the latest victim…uhhhh quarterback to take the reins. Quick name all the starting quarterbacks that the Raiders have had since they lost the Super Bowl 8 years ago? That’s ok, I have Princess Katie’s Quinceañera to go in a bit (I know she’s 13) The Titans are now Vince Young’s squad and with the dynamic running of Chris Johnson (the top pick in all three fantasy league’s I'm in) the Titans are a tough squad to prepare for. The Titans are always tough at home and West Coast teams traveling east usually are road kill in 1:00p starts.
Cardinals (10-6) @ Rams (1-15)
Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis 4:15 (FOX)
Favorite Cardinals by 3½
Fast Fact The Cards have won 3 times as many games in the last two years as the Rams have in the last three (19 for AZ, 6 for STL)
The Sam Bradford era begins in St. Louis as the Rams face a Cards team in flux. With the retirement of Cards (& Rams) legend QB Kurt Warner, the loss of WR Anquan Boldin and the hobbling of WR Larry Fitzgerald the Cards offense is far from the juggernaut it was last year. I still think the Cards defense will prove tough enough for the young Bradford to solve.
Packers (11-5) @ Eagles (11-5)
Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia 4:15 (FOX)
Favorite Packers by 2½
Fast Fact This will be the first game that Andy Reid coaches the Eagles without Donovan McNabb on the roster
Both of these teams finished with the same record in 2009, but while the Packers could realistically improve their record with a high powered offense led by Aaron Rodgers and a big play defense, the Eagles are starting over with Kevin Kolb at the helm and a fast aging defense. I think the Pack will be way too strong for the Eagles to deal with despite a talented LeSean McCoy.
49ers (8-8) @ Seahawks (5-11)
Qwest Field, Seattle 4:15 (FOX)
Favorite 49ers by 3
Fast Fact The Seahawks defense was the ultimate Jekyll & Hyde outfit in 2009, giving up 30 or more points 6 times, but also posting 2 shutouts.
Many pundits see the Niners as the sexy pick to win the NFC West; I still see them as a one dimensional team with a shaky quarterback in Alex Smith. The Seahawks though are not scaring anyone, even with a new attitude brought by USC escapee Pete Carroll whom I don’t think very highly of as a pro coach. The Seahawks so-so offense will need some of Carroll’s old boosters from USC to inject some life and points. The Niners aren’t the flashiest of teams but they have enough to beat the Seahawks.
Cowboys (11-5) @ Redskins (4-12)
FedEx Field; Landover , MD 8:20 (NBC)
Favorite Cowboys by 3½
Fast Fact The Cowboys have not given up a point in their last 8 regular season quarters.
A classic matchup closes the Sunday slate of games; The Pokes have serious aspirations of being the first NFL team to play a Super Bowl on its home turf. They have a deep and talented team. The Skins have a new coach in Mike Shanahan who has won big games and a new yet hobbled QB. But they still have the same deficiencies and a hard hitting fast moving Cowboy defense will show McNabb no quarter.
Monday, September 13
Ravens (9-7) @ NY Jets (9-7)
Meadowlands Stadium; East Rutherford , NJ 7:00 (ESPN)
Favorite Ravens by 2½
Fast Fact The Ravens have won the last five meetings
The NFL continues its tradition of its opening week Monday doubleheader for ESPN since there is no week 17 Monday game. The Jets have suddenly become the darlings of the pundit’s circles with the motormouthed Rex Ryan leading the way. The Jets have a solid defense led by the recently re-signed CB Darrelle Revis, and a decent offense led by Mark Sanchez. The Ravens have been stockpiling solid receivers for the highly capable QB Joe Flacco and Ray Rice is more than enough of a headache for opposing defenses. Revis may have an island but he can’t cover all of the WR’s. I still think the Jets are one of the more overrated teams in the NFL and I think the Ravens balanced offense and aging yet still lethal defense exposes them as such in front of a national audience
Chargers (13-3) @ Chiefs (4-12)
Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City 10:15 (ESPN)
Favorite Chargers by 4½
Fast Fact The Chiefs lead the overall series (50-48-1) but the Chargers have won the last 5 meetings.
The back half of the Monday doubleheader is likely the week’s biggest mismatch. The Chiefs are still a work in progress offense and a total mess on defense. The Chargers are a playoff liability but are lethal in the regular season and are way too balanced on both sides of the ball to have much trouble with the Chiefs even on the road.
Pick-San Diego (Lock of the Week)
Last Year: 177-79 (regular season only)
Oh and for good measure here's a quick rundown on who I think will win their respective divisions
East: New England
West: San Diego
Wild Cards: Baltimore, Houston
AFC Championship: Cincinnati over Indianapolis
South: New Orleans
West: San Francisco
Wild Cards: Green Bay, Atlanta
NFC Championship: Minnesota over New Orleans
Super Bowl 45: Minnesota over Cincinnati (And yes I know that I picked both of them to lose this week)
Thats the view from up here in the Cheap Seats...Until Next Post Fellow Sports Fans!