Thursday, September 07, 2006

NFL Week One

I completely lost interest in writing up NFL previews (surprise!) but here are my thoughts on the Steelers, for Deppen:

In a division where every team improved, the Steelers got worse. I know they still have a lot of talent, and they will win a lot of battles in the trenches...but I can't see how a team that went 10-6 last year (including four cakewalks against the NFC North) can maintain that same record after losing their starting nose tackle, starting safety, starting wide receiver, and short-yardage back...especially with a tougher schedule. Bill Cowher is the best coach in football (don't count me among the legions of Bill Belichick ass-kissers...if he doesn't stumble upon a Hall of Fame QB in the sixth round, and they don't win a playoff game on the worst ruling in NFL history, he's the defensive coordinator on the Dolphins right now) but I can't logically make a case for this team being better, or even as good as last season. I see them at 8-8 or 9-7, third in the division.

Now, to amuse myself and risk further "public" humiliation, here are my picks against the spreads for Week 1.

Miami at Pittsburgh (-1) - I've no idea what to expect from Miami this season, but I know this much: Charlie Batch sucks. Both defenses will be able to confuse the QBs and cause mistakes. In a game of turnovers, I should take the defense with Troy Palomalu, but then again...Charlie Batch. Miami 17-14.

Denver (-4) at St. Louis - The Rams will be better now that the mismanagement of Mike Martz moved to Motown (hey Manns, can I play too?), but Denver is a really, really good team. St. Louis won't even come close to stopping the run, and Denver's defense is fast. Denver 28-13.

NY Jets at Tennessee (-2.5) - I shouldn't have to pick either one of these teams. The Jets have a disastrous offensive line, a four-headed RB-by-committee situation (ie: they all suck), and only one of their defensive players should be starting in the NFL. Tennessee, meanwhile, has signed some good players in the offseason, but is trying desperately to sabotage themselves by making an absolute travesty out of their QB situation. Forced to differentiate between these pseudo-competitors, I like the matchup of the Titans' DL against the Jets' OL. Tennessee 13-10.

Buffalo at New England (-9.5) - New England has problems on defense. Too bad Buffalo doesn't have an NFL-quality OL or QB. New England 31-17.

Baltimore at Tampa Bay (-3) - This game's a tossup. Expect a lot of defense and a close finish. I'll take Steve McNair in the two-minute drill over Chris Simms. Baltimore 17-16.

Cincinnati at Kansas City (-2.5) - I keep picking road teams, which is a pretty good indicator that I'm in for a disastrous week. But I'm not stopping here! Cincinnati is better than KC...a lot better. I can't wait to see the Chiefs "defense" attempt to stop Rudi Johnson and Carson Palmer. Cincinnati 41-24.

Seattle (-6) at Detroit - Home dogs tend to do well against the spread. But I'm still taking Seattle, who is better than Detroit at every single position. Can you name one Detroit player that could start on the Seahawks? I can't. Seattle 35-10.

Atlanta at Carolina (-5.5) - Atlanta always seems to find a way to beat Carolina. I'm not sure why...they have a small defense that should get pushed around by a physical OL. (No, I'm not impressed by the signing of Grady Jackson.) John Abraham will be a force on third-and-long, but I'll be shocked if Carolina sees many of those situations. Carolina 27-20.

Philadelphia (-5) at Houston - See Seattle at Detroit. Maybe one player (Andre Johnson) on the Texans could start for the Eagles. One DL and maybe two OL would even make the Eagles' 53-man roster, and that would be as prospects only. Houston will be a better team this year, especially later in the season. But right now, the Eagles are in a different league. Philadelphia 34-13.

New Orleans at Cleveland (-3) - Yuck. Cleveland's DBs are a MASH unit, so expect New Orleans to spread the field with their talented receivers...Oops, they just traded one of those talented receivers to the Eagles! Still, you have to like the matchup of Reggie Bush against Cleveland's third safety, who will be the nickel DB. New Orleans 20-17.

Dallas at Jacksonville (-2) - This should be a tough matchup for Dallas, because the Jags have the best DL in football, and the OL for Dallas is a question mark. On offense, the Jags are very physical and will be content to pound the ball against Dallas' very fast but smallish defense. Parcells isn't stupid, though...he'll have a safety or two in the box and dare Leftwich to beat his defense through the air. I really don't have a lot of faith in Jacksonville...they are talented but find ways to lose against good teams. I like the Jags in the trenches, but Dallas is better everywhere else. Just a gut feeling: Dallas 24-17.

Chicago (-3.5) at Green Bay - Chicago's defense is overrated...they dominate bad teams and get pushed around by good teams (e.g. Carolina and Pittsburgh). Chicago's offense is adept at sucking monkey balls, and not much else. Green Bay will still make them look like a Super Bowl team. Chicago 16-3.

San Francisco at Arizona (-8) - Every year, I think Arizona will get better, and every year they look like the Cardinals all over again. But even last year's edition managed to beat the 49ers twice. Arizona 28-14.

NY Giants at Indianapolis (-3.5) - A fantastic game featuring two of the best teams in the NFL. I really like the matchup of Tiki Barber against the Colts' defense, but I can't pick against Peyton Manning at home. Indianapolis 28-24.

Minnesota at Washington (-4.5) - Neither team is good enough to win this game, but both teams are quite capable of losing. This game will be ugly to watch, but someone has to win, right? There's about one tie in the NFL every three years. I'll take the Vikings and the points. Final score: 6-6.

San Diego (-3) at Oakland - Great idea, NFL, with the double-header on Monday night that no one outside of SoCal will care about. And with the convenient 10:15 start time, the ratings should rival U.S. Open tennis. Oakland is a terrible team, and San Diego's front seven will dominate their OL and force Aaron Brooks into horrible turnovers (not that he needs a lot of forcing.) San Diego 24-10.


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