Culture of Hoops

Sonny’s NFL Picks: Week 1

Photo courtesy of Mike Morbeck/Flickr

Photo courtesy of Mike Morbeck/Flickr

If you’re like me then you already have the warm and fuzzies thinking about the Week 1 games and you definitely don’t need me bending your ear hyping them up since this column is hefty enough to begin with. You’re already hyped up. I say screw dipping our toes in the pool to test the waters. Let’s dive right into our NFL picks!

NOTE: Home team in ALL CAPS

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS over Green Bay Packers
God, I have no words! I’m practically salivating. Aaron Rodgers vs. the Seahawks D on the opening Thursday Night Football game? Sweet Jesus! By the way, this is my NFC Championship game matchup. Stay tuned for my Super Bowl pick.

CHICAGO BEARS over Buffalo Bills
An interesting game for yours truly because I grew up 30 minutes outside of Buffalo, but my dad had decided before I was born that I would join him in being a Chicago Bears fan, and I’ve loved every minute of it. Actually, that’s not true; Rex Grossman, Jim Miller, Cade McNown, Caleb Hanie, our receiving corps for all of the 2000s, Brett Favre in Green Bay, Brett Favre in Minnesota, the three-year stretch where our offensive line was pathetic, the 2011 NFC Championship Game, Grossman again, and Brian Urlacher’s retirement really bummed me out. I have a feeling that the once mighty Chicago Bears defense is going to bum out my Dad and I this year, but hey, at least we’re not Bills fans. Scott Norwood, 0-4 in Super Bowls, the Music City Miracle, J.P. Losman, the Monday Night Football loss to the Dallas Cowboys, high expectations each year that are out the window by Week 8… do I need to keep going?

We might as well add EJ Manuel to that growing list. The Bills have some playmakers that can frighten opposing defenses, but there is nothing frightening about EJ Manuel. It might as well be a Yorkie puppy under center. And trust me, Kyle Orton isn’t the answer. I know from experience.

PITTSBURGH STEELERS over Cleveland Browns
The Steelers are due for one of those years where the offense tosses up a few clunkers, the defense looks a little worn down and they somehow pull a 10-6 record out of their “Ray Rice” and suddenly they’re “the team you don’t want to be playing” Wild Card weekend. That’s also known as the “Tom Coughlin Special.” Yeah, that might be in play for Pittsburgh this year. The defense is aging and it’s a sure thing that the offensive line will be so depleted by Week 7 that the coaching staff will have to find three overweight Pennsylvanians to fill in… and I still feel like they might win ten games.

The Browns aren’t winning ten games. But by Week 10 they’ll be ready to make the announcement that will headline SportsCenter for a week straight: “Johnny Manziel will start this Sunday for Cleveland.” Just take a look at the schedule and it will make sense, I swear. By the time Week 10 rolls around, the Browns will be in rough shape (I’m thinking 2-6) and the Dawg Pound will be clamoring for Johnny Football. The problem is Mike Pettine can’t possibly feed Manziel to the Cincinnati Bengals defense on the road on a short week and feel like he’s actually giving him a fighting chance. Might as well give him ten days, so he can go to Vegas prepare for the Texans and hope J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney don’t mutilate him. Hey, speaking of Watt and Clowney…

HOUSTON TEXANS over Washington Redskins
I’ve got an extra ticket for the Texans bandwagon guys, anyone interested? They’re a sneaky, “We Weren’t Really As Bad As Our Record Looked Last Year” candidate. I’m 77 percent sure we can place most of the blame on Matt Schaub for Houston’s season from hell. I’m also 77 percent sure that the Texans would be better off with Ryan Mallet taking snaps over the “Amish Rifle” Ryan Fitzpatrick. Let’s keep it going: I’m 77 percent sure Kirk Cousins will end up starting more games this year than Robert Griffin Triple Sticks… and that might not be a bad thing for Redskins fans. If I’m Washington, I’m getting on the phone and dangling Kirk Cousins for a first round pick like he’s bait at the end of a fishing line. And if they can’t get a first rounder, then I’m tossing Griffin out there and seeing if anyone bites and how much they’re willing to give up for him.

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS over Tennessee Titans
I’ve watched enough football in my 22 years to know exactly what to expect out of both of these teams. Kansas City is the classic regressor—everyone and their mother has already sniffed this one out, so I can’t take too much credit for it—and Tennessee is the “Blah Team” that will finish 6-10, 7-9 or 8-8 and be almost unthinkably uninteresting all season long. That’s too easy.

NEW YORK JETS over Oakland Raiders
Who else is excited for an ugly, old fashioned rock fight!? I hope NFL RedZone’s Scott Hanson isn’t from the New York/New Jersey area. If he is, he’s going to be pissed that he won’t have the chance to send us to MetLife Stadium too often.

ST. LOUIS RAMS over Minnesota Vikings
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES over Jacksonville Jaguars

Jeez we’re on a pretty rough stretch of subpar games right now. Where did my warm and fuzzies go? I hope you don’t mind me breezing through these two games. Any chance we can turn this early slate of games around?

ATLANTA FALCONS over New Orleans Saints
Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in! An NFC South rivalry that’s littered with good games over the past few years doubles as one of my upset picks of Week 1. As usual, I’m not as high on the Saints as everyone else is—it’s just in my wiring; Sean Payton returning to the sideline nearly swung me—and thanks to Hard Knocks, I’m much higher on the Atlanta Falcons than I expected I would be. It’s amazing what watching people do their job can do in regards to your opinion about them. I’d pay $500 to bowl ten frames with Roddy White, Julio Jones, and Harry Douglas. That’s a substantial portion of the money I have saved at the moment. Anyway, I like the Falcons as a home underdog Week 1.

Cincinnati Bengals over BALTIMORE RAVENS
I’ve whiffed on the Bengals opening week game for what seems like the last decade, so chalk Baltimore up as a winner this week. I’m not as worried about the Andy Dalton dynamic in Cincinnati as most people seem to be. Apparently they’ve forgotten that Joe Flacco, once a proverbial punching bag for analysts and experts, won the Super Bowl two years ago and tore through the NFL Playoffs in the process like he was Joe Montana. I’m not saying Dalton is destined to do the same—in fact it would be more unprecedented if Dalton were to do so considering his hair is as orange as Chuckie Finster’s was—but let’s cool our collective jets for a minute.

Dalton has a rather large menu of offensive weapons, far more than Flacco had then or has now. Like Flacco however, Dalton has over $100 million in the bank thanks to ludicrously lucrative contracts that either both or one of the two teams will regret signing five years from now. I’ll go out on a limb and say both.

New England Patriots over MIAMI DOLPHINS
New England hasn’t lost a Week 1 game since 2003 when they were on the crappy end of a 31-0 shutout loss to the Buffalo Bills. To put that in perspective here are some fun facts: In 2003 Facebook was not yet invented. Neither was Twitter. Myspace was founded in 2003 though. Nelly’s Shake Ya Tailfeather was the number one song in the United States the weekend New England lost to Buffalo, and Andy Roddick won his first and only Grand Slam title on the same day as the Pats loss. Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal were entering their final season as teammates. Slamball was in year two of existence. Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair were still wrestling in WWE. I was one month removed from having my first French kiss.

The moral of the story is the Patriots aren’t losing this week. You’re welcome for the walk down memory lane and the glimpse into my sexual past.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS over Carolina Panthers
Three reasons why Tampa Bay over Carolina is my second de facto upset pick of the week.

1: Carolina joins Kansas City as the “Classic Regressors” this season. Questionable quarterback + limited number of playmakers + shaky coach + a more difficult schedule = a down season. And yeah, I still question Cam Newton.
2: The NFC South is a particularly wonky division that is never really consistent with its yearly winners. In its 12 years of existence, all four teams have won the division title three times and no team has ever won it in back-to-back seasons. Maybe as expected, New Orleans claims the top spot, or perhaps Atlanta climbs back atop the division.
3: I’m an unapologetic Bears supporter and I still believe Lovie Smith is an above-average NFL head coach (He’s 81-63 as a head coach). At the very least he’s better than Greg Schiano. He’s roughly 600 times better than Raheem Morris was.

San Francisco 49ers over DALLAS COWBOYS
You think Jerry Jones will give Colin Kaepernick a call before or after Sunday’s game to see if he has any interest in playing for the Cowboys somewhere down the road? Is he going to include Adrian Peterson as part of the sales pitch? I need to know these things. I also need to know if there are any more pictures of Jerry Jones with twenty-something-year-old girls on their knees in front of him. I plan on making a collage with all of the risqué and drunk pictures of Jerry and hanging it above my bed, so I never forget that no matter how much money I make over the course of my life, my actions or inopportune photos can make me look like a total ass.

DENVER BRONCOS over Indianapolis Colts
God, I have no words. I’m practically salivating. Peyton Manning vs. Andrew Luck on the opening Sunday Night Football game? Sweet Jesus! By the way, this is my AFC Championship game matchup. Stay tuned for my Super Bowl pick.

DETROIT LIONS over New York Giants
The Detroit Lions higher-ups must have really despised former head coach Jim Schwartz. Why do I suspect this? After Schwartz was sent packing, the Lions hired Jim Caldwell, which means the franchise was so soured by Schwartz’s abrasive style that they felt like going in the complete opposite direction. In Caldwell the Lions found the quietest and most lifeless head coach on the market, someone who certainly won’t chase an opposing coach into the locker room after a surly postgame handshake.

Note to the NFL schedule makers: Couldn’t you guys have schedule this game for later in the season? For God’s sake, it’s like you enjoy seeing how red Tom Coughlin’s face gets in cold weather games? Unless the Giants are playing at home in December, have the decency to keep them in a dome or out of cold weather cities. Please, do it for Tom.

ARIZONA CARDINALS over San Diego Chargers
First, can we get rid of the weekly Thursday night game and run with a Monday Night Football doubleheader every week? At the very least it should be an every other week kind of thing; odd-numbered weeks feature a MNF double-header and even-numbered weeks there is one Thursday night game. Would any fan object to this? Truthfully, I wouldn’t mind if the only games played on Thursday were the opening night game and the Thanksgiving day games. Any time other than that, it just feels forced.

Second, as you can see above I have the Cardinals taking down frisky AFC-contending Chargers in the second game of the doubleheader. If Arizona were in the AFC West, I’d have them in the playoffs, but since they reside in the more difficult NFC, they’ll fall short of the postseason once again and miss out on the opportunity to play in the Super Bowl on their home field. Like Chris Berman, I have a tendency to repeat my Super Bowl picks each year (Philadelphia/New England, anyone?) Last year I picked Seattle over Indianapolis, so I figured if it ain’t broke, why fix it… or something like that.

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