Today is the day, we get the NFL back and I can already feel the rush that this drug will cause. It seems like yesterday that the Giants won the Superbowl (Michelle you gonna have to take all that Giants paraphernalia down now) and now we start Week 1 for the 2012-13 season. Buckle up, because it's gonna be a fun ride.
For those that are new here, we are pickin every week and will be putting up our picks versus the wonderful ESPN panel. Feel free to follow us this year and see how good we are. Are you ready for some football?!?!?!
Dallas @ New York Giants - First game of the year on a Wednesday night, thank goodness. The Cowboys come to town with question marks around the health of Jason Witten's spleen, and whether their offensive line will keep Romo upright against the Giants front. Tyron Smith looks good at LT, but the real bullets haven't been fired yet. Doug Free (RT) may don his normal matador garb for this game and at least Romo will see the person that's going to hit him. If the Cowboys are going to win, Dez Bryant is going to have to have one of those games, along with Romo. Really waiting to see what DeMarco Murray can do with the majority of touches.
The Giants are the Giants. They can run the ball and the hopes are that Bradshaw can carry the full load and stay healthy all year. Eli has weapons at WR with Nicks and Cruz, who should match up well against the new secondary of the Cowboys, and then add in Pascoe at TE and I'm looking for a big night from Elite. But back to the reason the Giants are the Giants and that's the defense. They are solid up the middle and can get pressure with Kiwanuka, Tuck, and Osi, which allows their corners to play tight and take chances. Watch for Bernard to have a good game making things tough in the middle for the Cowboys. Winner - Giants.
Indianapolis @ Chicago - The Colts new regime is coming to Chicago and Luck draws the Bears for his first NFL start. I actually think that he'll do reasonably well since the Cover 2 is meant to bend and not break, and Luck seems amenable to taking what the defense gives him. Looking at the talent on the Colts and it leaves me wanting. If Donald Brown and the rest of the Colts RBs have a solid ground game, this game could be closer than we think.
The Bears are getting back to being dangerous, but are thisclose to being an old team on defense. Urlacher should be on the field after having his knee scoped recently and Peppers should be able to deal with his 'foot soreness', so I expect a big game from arguably the best LB they have, Briggs. On offense, Cutler and Marshall are singing that old Peaches and Herb song, Reunited. The only issue with the Bears is their offensive line as they still don't have a LT and when they move their OL around it seems to get worse. If Cutler can stay healthy this year and not so bruised and battered, look for a good year. Winner - Bears.
Philadelphia @ Cleveland - The Eagles are going into the 2nd year of this plan. They were the Dreamteam or whatever team last year but we see how that ended. This year, they gotta find a way to keep Vick from running because he's gonna get hurt again this year (he's hurt already? already? Dayum. Tigers do not change their stripes). This is going to require a lot more big plays for the offense or a whole lot of running for LeSean McCoy.
The Browns come in hoping that Brandon Weeden is the real deal and not the bridge to the next good QB in Cleveland. Any rookie QB needs a good running game and the Browns should be able to provide some punch, but I don't think enough until they have a few more options at the RB position. They have to find a way to get Cribbs on the field and maximize his abilities to get to the end zone. Winner - Eagles.
New England @ Tennessee - Brady and the TEs come to Tennessee. Both Hernandez and Gronk got re-upped and they are reloaded for this year. This Pats team is like groundhog day with some new pieces coming in and out of the system. I imagine that this team will miss some of the production from the Law Firm being gone, but let's not get it twisted, a 5 yard pass to Welker is as good as a run any day for this Pats' team. I am worried that Brady has been off a little during the pre-season, but as he has done in the past, he'll show up and be ok.
The Titans have to hope that the Pats are doing the groundhog day on defense also. Chris Johnson gets back with a full pre-season of work in and ready to prove the naysayers wrong about his demise. Kenny Brit is sitting this first game, so Jake Locker will have to make the most of the talent that he has at the WR spot this week. Titans defense is consistent and should help keep some of the scoring down, but maybe not for long. Winner - Patriots.
Atlanta @ Kansas City - The Falcons have looked good on paper the last few years, but they never seem to be able to take that next step. I will say that Michael Turner looked like he lost that 'Burner' nickname and maybe the pounding he takes is catching up to him. Tony Gonzalez is a year older, and Matt Ryan is that QB that hasn't quite progressed to that next level. The defense is aggressive and can be good at stretches, but they can't seem to play outdoors. What will they do this year?
The Chiefs are the quiet sleeping giant. They went all on on Matt Cassel a few years ago and injuries have really hampered their rebuilding plan. Looks like Jamal Charles is back and Bowe seems ready for a breakout year. If Charles falters, the pickup of Peyton Hillis should pay dividends. The Chiefs can play their own 2 TE sets with Moeaki and Boss or can spread you out and go with Breaston as 3rd WR. Did I mention their defense? The Chiefs will make some noise this year and I think that they start with the Falcons. Winner - Chiefs.
Jacksonville @ Minnesota - Do I have to pick one of these teams? Blaine Gabbert gets the start for this woeful team and although MJD returned from his holdout, he'll play sparingly this game. Rashard Jennings gets the start and should provide some punch. I am very interested to see how Justin Blackmon plays because he could be a beast against these Vikings corners. They have Marcedes Lewis who can wreak some havoc in the middle of the field also.
The Vikings have Christian Ponder at the helm and no word as to how many snaps AP will play this week. If I'm the Vikings that number would be 0. He's all we got and if he gets hurt again, we're looking at another bad, bad season. The big questions are is Ponder ready? Can the defense keep this team in the mix until AP gets back or they show some promise? Winner - Vikings.
Washington @ New Orleans - RGIII goes to New Orleans. He brings with him a tough Redskins team that has the same problems as many, offensive line. Can they protect the rookie and keep him upright so he can get some things done? Fred Davis looks to have a good year and I hope Garcon can mimic that. The question really is going to be who's their 3rd pass catcher? Josh Morgan/Santana Moss? On defense the Redskins are solid led by London Fletcher and they have some hitters out there in Carriker and Orakpo.
The Saints are the Saints and I think by having an elite QB in Brees they won't really miss a beat on offense. With Colston, Sproles, Graham, and Henderson (and hopefully Nick Toon), the Saints have the bodies to move the ball. Can they stop anyone? Most of their defense is sitting waiting to see how many games they'll play this year, so the Saints may be involved in a few shootouts this year. Winner - Saints.
Buffalo @ New York Jets - This is actually a game I want to see. Why? Let's just say I'm glutton for punishment. The Soon to be Tebows host the Bills. The Jets come in not meshing at all on offense and that's a big problem for not only their scoring ability but the safety of Mark Sanchez's job. I think the Jets have some pieces in Holmes, Keller and Greene, but there's something missing and I can't put my finger on it. The Jets will stay in games due to their defense. I like the attacking style and they actually are pretty good against the run. Did I mention that I like the Landry addition. But at this rate, the defense might have to put 7 on the board a game.
The Bills are revamped and ready to go. They have (the other) Fitz at QB with a nice group of RBs behind him (Jackson, Spiller and Choice) but other than Stevie Johnson, not sure who's gonna catch the ball. They make it work because Fitz will spread it around and if the running game is tight, they will be decent this year. On the defensive side of the ball, I'm liking this team. They have enough upfront to make things happen with Dareus, (former Bear) Anderson, and (New Money) Mario Williams. They can be physical and they are solid at the corner spots (Gilmore and Williams). Don't sleep on the Bills. Winner - Bills.
St. Louis @ Detroit - This is pretty much the same Lions team that was several stupid penalties away from making a major impact in the NFC last year. They aren't spectacular on offense, but Stafford and his crew of pass catchers (Calvin Johnson and Brandon Pettigrew come to mind quickly) should make this offense really click. Can you imagine what would happen if they actually had a good running game? Please don't mention the _______________ jinx, just don't want to see Megatron go down like that. On defense this crew is still deadly. Their front four of Suh, Avril, KVB, and Williams get enough pressure on most offenses to make these Lions corners that much better. If they can keep their heads (great poem about that is here) this team is gonna fair pretty well in their division and the NFC.
The Rams are that team that have some promise, but I think they are only as good as Bradford's health which can be impacted at any point. I am looking for Steve Smith (former Giant) to make some headway into this WR corp to give them some kind of lift, but it's gonna come down to the workhorse Steven Jackson. The defense should be solid with the backers that they have (Lauranaitis, McIntosh and Dunbar). Add veteran Cortland Finnegan who came over with new Head Coach Jeff Fisher and you have to believe that sometime soon this team will get rolling. Winner - Lions.
Miami @ Houston - Miami, Dan Marino is not walking through that door, no really, he could probably start at QB right now. Yes, that's shade thrown at the present Dolphins starting QB (Tannehill), but really more at the organization. We know that they are going to flip flop QBs almost every 3 weeks. The rest of the offense,...well, I do like Davone Bess, Fasano and I'll give Reggie Bush some love,..but they are in trouble. I think we all know that. On defense they are decent and may be able to stay in games with teams who can't score. Paul Soliai, I will start the campaign to get you some help right about,....now!!!
Houston, we have a problem? Maybe not, the usual characters are back on offense and hopefully healthy (Foster, Tate, Johnson and Daniels), but it's all on the shoulders on Matt Schaub. I like Schaub, but it seems more and more like his nickname should be 'Senor Pinata'. If, and that's a big if, he stays healthy, this Texans team should be in contention all year long. Winner - Texans.
San Francisco @ Green Bay - Two juggernauts starting the year early and on the not so frozen tundra in Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers, minus a contract extension, is back with his old weapons and one new one in Cedric Benson whom I believe will have a great year for this team. Every good passing team needs a collective of RBs or one good one to make it all work. On defense this Packers team has got to stop trying to look hard and play ball. They have all the pieces, but they gotta play better than they did the last quarter of last year. It is tackle football and they stopped (tackling) late last year.
The 49ers are pretty much the same team with the exception of adding Randy Moss and Brandon Jacobs. I'm sorry, I think this team takes a step backwards this year. I think they worked a miracle with Alex Smith last year, but his feelings being hurt by the team pursuing Peyton Manning, screams of a level of immaturity that makes me think he implodes this year. They still have the defense in place and we're just gonna see what they got this year. Winner - Packers.
Seattle @ Arizona - All I have to say is, people thought Kevin Kolb was going to be 'THE MAN', eh? The Cardinals come into this game starting John Skelton at QB and at least we know it didn't happen over a coin toss. Skelton outplayed Kolb last year and in camp this year. I look at this roster and all I can say is FREE LARRY FITZGERALD. Good guy and great competitor, but me thinks his prime years are gonna be wasted with no QB to get him the ball. The defense will be pretty good this year and that might be their only hope to stay in some games.
The Seahawks bring in rookie Russell Wilson to his first NFL start. How many teams passed over this guy? Anyway, he actually has some talent on this team with Marshawn Lynch behind him and a few good receivers on the outside (Rice, Tate, Edwards) and Zach Miller. On defense the Seahawks bring a squad that's gonna attack and epitomizes Carroll and his facial expressions on the sidelines. If their rookie QB gets them some points, I don't see this defense giving games away. Winner - Seahawks.
Carolina @ Tampa Bay - Big game for both teams, in a very competitive NFC South. The Panthers have to hope that Cam Newton doesn't have a sophomore slump and that they have gotten better on the defensive side of the ball. They have the stable of RBs and call me crazy but I think that either Louis Murphy or Armanti Edwards help make this offense dangerous while taking some pressure off of Steve Smith. The defense was hit hard last year by injuries and other than health, the defense hasn't really added much. they just need some time to gel and build on the positive from last year.
The Bucs have a young stud at QB also, whom the Bucs hope will have a much better year than he did last year. The Bucs have a great 1-2 punch in the backfield with Blount and Martin, but the addition of Vincent Jackson should pay dividends to give their young QB a true #1 receiver. On defense, and the Bucs used to be known for their defense, they are very young (take out of Barber, Talib and Wright). Can this squad put it all together and give Ronde Barber something to get excited about? Winner - Panthers.
Pittsburgh @ Denver - The Steelers visit Denver in week 1. Who put this schedule together? The Steelers look like they looked last year with one big change, no running game. Hate me because I don't think that Mendenhall will be any good this year and Dwyer is the only answer the Steelers have. I do like the fact that Big Ben may air that thing out this year to both Brown and Wallace. On defense, I can't really find a hole. I mean yes, Taylor and Lewis may make some mistakes, but I can't see a hole in this defense and everyone is healthy. Dangerous.
This starts the Manning Years in Denver. He starts off with some good weapons in Thomas, Decker, Dreessen, Tamme, Moreno and McGahee. If they were used to catching balls from Tebow, this ought to be cake for them. The biggest question is whether Manning can take a hit and with this Steelers defense on the field, we'll find out. The Denver defense is solid and if they play as well as they did last year, we just might see this Denver squad deep in the playoffs. Winner - Steelers.
Cincinnati @ Baltimore - ** Homer Alert ** Yes, in Ray I trust. I can't help but root for this team because of the the defense that they play year in and year out. Ray is back to 220lbs or 230lbs and looks ready to punish cats all over again. You know that Ray, Ed and Haloti are going to show up, but this team is more dangerous when Cody, Webb and Williams show up. The question is how will this team manage with Suggs being out and whether he'll be able to come back this year as he has stated. This year, the offense all rides on the shoulders of Joe 'Cool' Flacco. Enough of the staches and the talk about contract extensions, Flacco has to show that he is one of the elite QBs in the league for this team to get to the big game. He has a good backfield and he has some decent receivers, so now is the time.
The Bengals are quietly showing people that they do matter. Andy Dalton was tossing the rock around last year in line with some of the better QBs in the game and this year they went out and got him a ground game in the Law Firm (BenJarvis Green-Ellis). The question is whether Tate and Gresham can keep the heat off of A.J. Green to help make this offense click. On defense, the Bengals are solid and should be a little better when they get fully healthy. I expect this to be a knock out drag'em out game. Winner - Ravens.
San Diego @ Oakland -This used to be a good game to watch, but not so much anymore. Both teams have taken small steps back, but the Chargers are trying to pick up where they left off last year. Hopefully they do because they always start the season off slow, or so it seems. There are a few additions to the Chargers with Le'Ron McClain, Robert Meachem, and Eddie Royal, but it all comes down to Philip (with 1 'l') Rivers. I would add in Ryan (with 1 't') Mathews, but he has hurt me (Fantasy alert) over the past years. Add to that, Matthews has already hurt his clavicle and will miss this game. Look for Rivers to air it out and often. The defense is a little better and that may help, but I think it comes down to coaching for this team. You know what I think about that, right?
The Raiders just aren't the Raiders anymore, although they still seem to draft on combine promise. Their WR corp could probably do well in a 4x400 relay, but this year they have to catch some balls and make some plays. They lost Bush to the Bears and so now it's going to be (Run) DMC all day every day. Carson Palmer returns and I just hope that he plays well this year. Honestly Palmer hasn't been the same since his knee got torn up in Cincy against the Steelers. On defense, this is starting to look like the Raiders of old. They like to hit and with Seymour and Kelly up front, they can make some things happen. This could be the year of resurgence for the Raiders, at least some of us hope. Winner - Raiders.
So, that's a long list for Week 1. Who you got?!?!?!?!