Culture of Hoops

Sonny’s NFL Picks: Week 1

Listen to this:


Now this:


And this one too:


And now you’re so excited for NFL season that I don’t even need to write an intro to my Week 1 picks column. Thanks YouTube. And thanks to the people who composed these amazing NFL related theme songs. Don’t listen to Kevin Durant, you guys are the real MVP’s. Let’s get after it!

NOTE: Home teams in all CAPS 

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS over Pittsburgh Steelers 

Who could have predicted that the NFL’s 50th Super Bowl result could end up being swung by one of the most pointless court cases ever? Speaking of a court case, do you think Aaron Hernandez is chiseling away at a wall in his jail cell with a rock hammer like Andy Dufresne did thinking to himself “Damn, I wish I had that judge,” or does he not even care about football anymore. Is that an inappropriate joke to make since he’s a convicted murderer, or am I good since I figured out a way to include The Shawshank Redemption?

Anyway, before Brady’s suspension was overturned it felt to me like the Patriots were going to go 1-3 in their first four games and then win something like 10 or 11 of their next twelve games. They weren’t going to miss the Playoffs, that’s for sure. Now we need to recalibrate this entire season. It feels like Brady, Belichick, Gronk and co. are primed to put a unholy beatdown on the rest of the league, and truthfully, everyone else is just an innocent bystander.

This season will be an eff-you to Roger Goodell, the most incompetent, power-hungry and out of touch professional sports commissioner in my lifetime, who made matters worse by insisting that the NFL will appeal Judge Berman’s Deflategate decision. In a weird way, it’s both admirable and maddening to see how brazen and power hungry this guy is. He seemingly just doesn’t give a shit about the repercussions of the decisions he’s making, no matter how out of whack they seem to everyone else. Just think about this: everyone hates the Patriots, and almost everyone felt like it was a good thing that Brady’s suspension was lifted. It’s a breath of fresh air to see that NFL owners are apparently getting sick of this guy and his misuse of power. Hopefully he’s gone sooner rather than later and replaced with someone who can move the league in a better direction.

Anyway, I’ve got the Patriots over the Steelers, and just about everyone else this season. Just remember Steelers fans, your team is just an innocent bystander this week. It’s nothing personal.

Green Bay Packers over CHICAGO BEARS 

Seriously, we have to play the Packers Week 1? This is like if Mufasa got trampled by the stampede and died in the first scene of The Lion King instead of halfway through the movie. Oh well, at least I can prepare myself for the 45-20 beatdown that’s coming. I didn’t expect EJ Manuel to beat the Bears in Chicago Week 1 last year. That was like if Zazu stabbed Mufasa 17 times with a pitchfork in the opening scene of The Lion King. 

As far as the Packers go, I’m not too worried about Jordy Nelson‘s ACL, Randall Cobb‘s shoulder or any other lingering concerns Packers fans might have. As long as the Packers have the second best player in the NFL they’ll be just fine.

HOUSTON TEXANS over Kansas City Chiefs

This is the best NFL player alive, and for all we know, he might be the best player any professional sport if he really tried at it.


And in case you were wondering, there are just a few seats available on the Houston Texans bandwagon. I bought mine last year and never gave them up. Watching them on Hard Knocks each of the last five weeks hasn’t helped my rationality when it comes to the Texans either. I worked through the entire NFL schedule picking every game each week and somehow the Texans ended up with 18 wins in 16 games. I have no idea how that happened.

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS over Carolina Panthers 

My first upset pick of the week, and I have one more to come. The Panthers are just so banged up, and yes, I’m aware Jaguars newcomer Julius Thomas is sidelined with an elbow for up to a month. Neither team has too much juice on the outside, especially Carolina now that Kelvin Benjamin is gone for the year. I don’t know, there are one or two wacky games in the first week of the season each year and this just feels like one of them to me. I’m not sold on Cam Newton, Ron Rivera or a team that wins their division with a losing record and then beats a Ryan Lindley led offense in the Wild Card Round of the Playoffs. If I had Panthers stock I’d be selling it before it’s worth nothing. And if you have Blake Bortles stock then get in touch with me, because I’m buying.

Seattle Seahawks over ST. LOUIS RAMS 

The hardest hitting game of Week 1 will probably serve as a good indicator to the following questions:

1: Is the NFC West the best division in the league?

2: Is Seattle going to be hungover from the most devastating Super Bowl loss in NFL history?

3: Is St. Louis ready to make the leap from being the “They’re only one year away from being competitive” Team to “They’re only one year away from being a legitimate Playoff contender” Team?

4: Will the addition of Jimmy Graham lead to a noticeable improvement in Seattle’s offense?

5: Is Nick Foles the answer to the Rams quarterback problem?

My guesses:

1: I’d say it’s at least one of the three toughest. Can I decline to answer my own question until like Week 8? Sure I can, this is my column.

2: I say no.

3: I say yes.

4: I say yes.

5: I say he can’t be worse than Austin Davis, Kellen Clemens, Shaun Hill, A.J. Feeley or Kyle Boller. If Foles falls somewhere between Marc Bulger and Kurt Warner then all of the Los Angeles St. Louis Rams fans out there should be elated.

NEW YORK JETS over Cleveland Browns

Shit, this game is a real bummer. Wait, just listen to this:


And now you’re excited again! Oh, by the way, I work at a sports apparel store and I had a Browns fan come in the other day and ask if we had any Josh McCown jerseys, and I’m 80 percent sure he was being serious. Ladies and gentlemen, the 2015 Cleveland Browns!

BUFFALO BILLS over Indianapolis Colts 

According to the oddsmakers in Vegas this is my second upset pick of the week, but this one is a such a textbook Bills win that I didn’t even need to think twice about it. In case you don’t know me, or if you read this column last year and forgot, I’m originally from near Buffalo, New York, and I know how Bills seasons go and I know how Bills fans think. After the Bills “upset” one of the popular AFC Champion picks in their first game of the season, every single Bills fan is going to be on Facebook talking about how this is Buffalo’s year. This is the year the Bills make the Playoffs. This is the year the Bills finally win the Super Bowl. This is the year Tyrod Taylor punches his ticket to the Hall of Fame. And do you know what?

(Taking a deep breath)

I actually feel like the Bills aren’t that far off this year. I know, I know. By saying this I’m totally changing my shtick from last year, but for the first time ever in my lifetime as a full-functioning NFL fan, it feels like the Bills aren’t too far off from being a serious contender. Now as you’ll see later on in this column, I don’t even have the Bills making the Playoffs this year, but that has more to do with the insane number of Playoff-caliber teams in the AFC than anything that is wrong with Buffalo.

Miami Dolphins over WASHINGTON REDSKINS 

Wanna play a fun game? Ask Redskins and Dolphins fans who they would rather have taking snaps for them: Ryan Tannehill or Robert Griffin III. Every Redskins fans will be rightfully pissed off at you for asking a snarky question that has such an obvious answer. Any Dolphins fan over the age of 35 will pick Griffin and then proceed to shit all over Tannehill AND Grffin because neither of the two are Dan Marino. Miami sports fans are just the best.

Anyway, the Redskins are clearly the bottom feeders of the NFC East and in that same discussion when it comes to the NFC as a whole. The Dolphins on the other hand are a safe bet to be one of the five or six AFC teams fighting for a Wild Card spot in the final quarter of the season. Their defense looked stellar in the pre-season (take that with several grains of salt) and Tannehill has a few new weapons to toss the ball to on the outside. The question now is whether Joe Philbin is the guy to take a talented roster to the next level, or if there will be an change in the offseason if the Dolphins miss the Playoffs for the seventh straight season.

ARIZONA CARDINALS over New Orleans Saints 

Can someone explain to me why Arizona isn’t favored by a full three points in this game? New Orleans hasn’t had a winning record on the road since Barack Obama was serving his first term as President of the United State, and Arizona is 13-3 at home in the last two seasons, and two of those losses came to Seattle. Give me Arizona and give me them by more than a touchdown.

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS over Detroit Lions 

Is it possible to have an inter-conference Week 1 loser leaves town game, because if so, this is it. Neither the Chargers or Lions are in the upper-echelon of teams in their respective conferences, and they both need a lot of these 50/50 games to go their way in order to sneak into the postseason, especially San Diego. Like I said before, the AFC is a damn juggernaut this year. There could possibly be two or even three ten win AFC teams that don’t even make the Playoffs. That’s ridiculous. As of now, San Diego is on the outside looking in. And as of now, I don’t see a game on the schedule that screams “This game is going to have a really wacky finish” as loud as this one does. I just have a hunch.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS over Tennessee Titans 

This game is going to be so much fun until we all realize that both Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota are both going to need a lot more reps before they look like actual NFL starting quarterbacks. There isn’t much more intrigue here.

OAKLAND RAIDERS over Cincinnati Bengals 

Upset pick number two of the week, and I’ve even come armed with two bonus predictions, both of which will probably be wrong. First, Marvin Lewis gets fired during or immediately following the season (in all fairness, he’s been on borrowed time for a while now). Second, the Raiders will win eight games … next season.

DENVER BRONCOS over Baltimore Ravens 

984 yards, 12 touchdowns, zero interceptions, three wins. Those are Peyton Manning‘s numbers his three season openers as a member of the Denver Broncos. I’m not going to overthink this one. Does it worry me that Manning’s body seemingly started breaking down in the second half of last season and as the saying goes, he’s not getting any younger? Yes it does, and that’s why I’m very cautiously not going to back the Broncos too much this season. I’d rather be proven wrong by one of the five greatest quarterbacks ever than crash and burn while I’m watching Manning have one of those sad Brett Favre on the Jets seasons.

DALLAS COWBOYS over New York Giants
Philadelphia Eagles over ATLANTA FALCONS 

Well, it’s been four years and that means that it’s time for the New York Giants to make another trip to the Super Bowl. That’s how it works, right? Every four years the Giants get hot at the right time, barely sneak in the Playoffs, remove a horseshoe from their collective ass, watch Tom Coughlin’s head turn a dangerous shade of red in a cold-weathered postseason game and then win the Super Bowl in dramatic fashion? Why even play the season?

Maybe I’m getting carried away since the G-Men probably won’t start the season off with a win, and they’ve got two rivals within the division that the consensus would agree are more talented teams top to bottom. The Cowboys are without last year’s leading rusher DeMarco Murray, who took his talents to the City of Brotherly Love, but there are still plenty of weapons for last season’s should’ve-been-MVP Tony Romo to distribute the ball to. The Eagles should be an offensive dynamo but the jury is still out on whether Chip Kelly can win in the NFL … or if God will forgive Chip Kelly for cutting his son from the Eagles roster.

MINNESOTA VIKINGS over San Francisco 49ers 

Super Bowl 50 is in San Francisco this year and that means the trend will continue that no team will play a Super Bowl in their home stadium. As for my Super Bowl pick …


1: Seattle, 13-3

2: Green Bay, 12-4

3: Dallas, 11-5

4: Atlanta, 9-7

5: Philadelphia, 10-6

6: New York, 9-7

Everyone Else: Arizona (9-7), Detroit (9-7), Minnesota (8-8), St. Louis (8-8), Carolina (7-9), New Orleans (6-10), Tampa Bay (5-11), Chicago (5-11), San Francisco (4-12), Washington (4-12)

Wild Card Round: Dallas over New York, Philadelphia over Atlanta

Divisional Round: Seattle over Philadelphia, Green Bay over Dallas

NFC Championship: Seattle over Green Bay


1: Indianapolis, 13-3

2: New England, 13-3

3: Baltimore, 11-5

4: Kansas City, 10-6

5: Houston, 11-5

6: Pittsburgh, 10-6

Everyone else: Buffalo (10-6), Denver (9-7), San Diego (8-8), Miami (8-8), Cincinnati (8-8), Jacksonville (4-12), Oakland (4-12), Tennessee (3-13), New York (3-13), Cleveland (2-14)

Wild Card Round: Baltimore over Pittsburgh, Houston over Kansas City

Divisional Round: Indianapolis over Houston, New England over Baltimore

AFC Championship: Indianapolis over New England

Super Bowl 50 

Seattle over Indianapolis

For the third straight year I’ll take Seattle over Indy in the Super Bowl. As they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Enjoy the season, friends.

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