Tuesday, September 4, 2012

3 NFL Week One Picks That Can't Miss

The worst part about this time of year is hard to put your finger on. The awful memory as a child of going back to school. The days getting shorter. The weather getting colder.

The best part about this time of year? Football. Easy.

The independent voter inside of me is leaning ever closer to D than R these days, and not only on account of foreign policy. This year the football season kicks off on Wednesday because of the Democratic National Convention taking place on a Thursday. What that means is that all those Survivor pools and spread chasers have to get an early start on the action.

New York Giants (-4.5) over the Dallas Cowboys

I don't know what to do about the Cowboys and Giants. Four and a half seems like a lot of points for the defending champs. The last time Eli Manning and the Giants were defending a title they opened the season at home by losing to Dallas by 10 points. Then again Jason Witten will not play for Dallas. It's one of those game I don't need to pick one because I'm just going to watch anyway. However, the next three are too hard to resist:

Jacksonville Jaguars -4.5 over Minnesota Vikings

In the "Avoid Throwing Up in Your Mouth" Bowl, you could get a look at the first game in history to have two teams playing head-to-head both start the season 0-1.  In the Jaguars' last preseason game against the Falcons, Blaine Gabbert could not successfully transfer a pitch to Rashad Jennings. The Jaguars fumbled the first play of their last preseason game against a team that started two regulars. Speaking of Gabbert, does any NFL quarterback look remind you more of Sunshine from Remember the Titans? 

As bad as the Jaguars are, there are the Vikings. Yup, these Vikings. Adrian Peterson is a game-time decision and already sat out the entire preseason (MJD has it much better than AP). He is never going to be the same player he was before the knee injury, and that's tough news to swallow for a team that is relying on a second year guy who had his ups and downs last year in Christian Ponder. The Vikings have very little hope this season based on the rest of the team's in the NFC North. This glowing report from CBS on the Vikings said "the Vikings are the fourth team in the division and appear to be a ways away from the other three." 

Most importantly, the Jaguars have that "Rudy just walked back onto the field after quitting" thing going for them with Maurice Jones-Drew returning after a brief holdout. Coach Mike Mularky's gotta have this speech in him, no?

"When I was fifteen years old I lost my mother and my father in the same month Ronnie, same month. 12 brother and sisters I was the youngest one of them, now I wasn't ready either, but they needed me. Your team needs you tonight, you're the Colonel, you're going to command your troops! Twins right 48 zero read. Go." Coach Boone nailed it.

In a game this ugly, just take the points.

Washington Red Skins (-8.5) at New Orleans Saints

The same franchise that once saw one of the most devastating career-ending injuries of all-time when Lawrence Taylor broke Joe Theismann's leg, has more optimism than it has had in this century with the quarterback that just won Baylor its first Heisman. And as only Daniel Snyder's karma would have it, the bounty for Robert Griffin III this week is essentially Six Flags since that is the only asset Snyder has left after trading for RG III. He does run Six Flags, right?

RG III is not Cam Newton. But Drew Brees is Drew Brees. The Saints lost one game after November last season and beat the Giants, Falcons (twice), and Lions (twice) along the way. In fact, their only loss was in San Francisco in the game of the 2012 playoffs. At home, this is just not enough points for a team that won 10 games by double digits last season.

Buffalo Bills (-2.5) at New York Jets

Preseason games are as important as throwing down a triple jump in checkers against a four year old. Both these teams were 0-4, so all the more reason to throw out the records.

Let's assume that you know as much as me about picking these guys and call this game a coin flip. This is one of those games where if you bet the Jets, you wouldn't feel that great about winning anyway. And to top that point, the Jets are going to lose this game outright. 

Mark Sanchez probably won't sleep much before the game. That's because he's not a good quarterback and some people are starting to make him aware of that. The only score he had this preseason was with Eva Longoria, but on the field Eva needs to understand that Tony Parker is not walking through that door, nor is it Tim Tebow. It's actually going to be Greg McElroy (the guy that threw a TD pass in the preseason) that's knocking on the door.

Ryan Fitzpatrick on the other hand demonstrated last year that he can come out of the gates firing. Fitzpatrick had 9 touchdowns through the Bills first three games (all wins). He also went to Harvard. That's gotta count for something positive, right?

Ron Jaworski calls the Bills the most improved team in football. I would have argued that it's the Monday Night Football team before hearing Jaws make this statement, but I actually see eye-to-eye with Jaws on this one. Take the Bills here before the surprise is out. 

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