For those of us who have had enough of Albert Haynesworth, Darrelle Revis, Brett Favre, and Major League Baseball leading sports radio and SportsCenter on a daily basis, Thursday will be a glorious day.
I'm just relieved the Wayne Rooney sex scandal happened now and not two months ago, when it would have been a contrived big story in America just because no one wanted to talk about the American League Central race anymore.
By the way, for anyone who missed Pardon the Interruption on ESPN yesterday (Tuesday), Mike Wilbon confessed he would be more interested in a sex scandal involving Kaka. I found this to be hysterical. Perhaps I'm just immature.
The start of NCAA Football this past weekend was a much needed palette cleanser from a six week stretch of boring baseball and an as of yet boring World Championships in basketball. Now the smell of autumn has crept back into our consciousness and we've arrived at the main course, the NFL.
As I articulated here, the first week of any sport is great for the casual viewer because no one really knows what to expect. Unfortunately with unexpected results comes the reality that in the first week of anything, let alone professional football, it's hard to feel great about picking games.
That doesn't mean I won't give it the old college try anyway. If you're in a survival pool, a pick 'em league, or if you're just a degenerate who puts money on football games (shame on you), sit back and enjoy as we go through the games and find some saucy picks. Home team in caps, picks in bold.
NEW ORLEANS (-6) over Minnesota. How much higher can this line climb? I can't think of any reason why the Saints will win this one handily, except that Favre's ankle might fall off at any time, Minnesota's receiving corps is as solid as a high school team's without Sidney Rice, Brad Childress is still the Vikings head coach, and the Super Bowl winner has won and covered this game every year since 2005. New England beat Oakland by ten in '05, Pittsburgh beat Miami by 11 in '06, Indy crushed New Orleans by 31 in '07, the Giants beat Washington by nine in '08, and Pittsburgh, well, they didn't cover last year against Tennessee, but at least they won. Damn facts going against my statistics. Nevertheless, New Orleans will win by ten, at least.
Carolina (+7) over GIANTS. Much like the Giants said farewell to their old stadium last December with an ugly, embarrassing loss to Matt Moore and the Panthers, New York will open up the new stadium with more of the same on Sunday. Carolina is a really solid pick if you want to take an underdog to win outright, because it is ridiculous that this is the highest spread on the board this week. It's been a pretty well kept secret this preseason, but the Giants aren't any good. Shh, don't tell Vegas.
Miami (-3) over BUFFALO. Am I afraid of CJ Spiller going nuts in his home opener and running all over the Dolphins? Half-heartedly, seeing as he's one of my fantasy running backs. Back to reality, I'm picking Miami because aside from Spiller, there's no one on Buffalo's roster I'm even mildly concerned about. Yes, that's aimed at you, Trent Edwards.
Atlanta (-2.5) over PITTSBURGH. So disappointing that Atlanta became a trendy sleeper pick, seeing as they were mine since March and now I don't feel special. The narrative: surprise team two years ago takes a step back the next year but has a breakthrough season in in year three. I'd be surprised if the Falcons don't snag a playoff berth in the NFC. The Steelers are still a solid team without Roethlisberger and I've rooted for Dixon since his days at Oregon, but I don't see him getting it done in Week One.
Detroit (+6.5) over CHICAGO. Again, I wish I was a famous writer, because then my cool sleeper picks wouldn't have already been "taken" by those much more successful than myself. Whatever. Detroit will win and Cutler and Martz will have to go into hiding.
NEW ENGLAND (-4.5) over Cincinnati. I feel badly for those touting Cincy as a Super Bowl contender. They have unfortunately forgotten that Carson Palmer is no longer an NFL caliber quarterback. A rude awakening is in order at Gillette Stadium on Sunday.
Cleveland (+3) over TAMPA BAY. Wow. What an exciting game. As Bill Simmons would say, "Delhomme! Freeman! It's the NFL on FOX!"
JACKSONVILLE (-3) over Denver. Again, "Orton! Garrard! It's the NFL on CBS!" Actually it's not, because this game will be blacked out on television. No one shows up to Jaguars games and probably with good reason.
TENNESSEE (-6.5) over Oakland. I didn't have much confidence in this pick until I considered that when in doubt, one should go with the east coast team hosting the west coast team traveling for a 1pm game, since it will feel like 10am to the Raiders.
San Francisco (-3) over SEATTLE. Why not?
Dallas (-3.5) over WASHINGTON. The regular season must be starting. The optimism associated with the Redskins in the off-season has been replaced with disorganization and drama. 6-10, here they come! Look for Felix Jones to run wild.
Baltimore (+2.5) over JETS. Sanchez throws three picks, LT sits on the bench with his Darth Vader mask on when he fumbles twice and tweaks his knee, Revis blows a coverage and the Ravens escape with a win. Chaos ensues in New York. After Hard Knocks and all the positive momentum, the let down on Monday night is so blatantly obvious. The Jets are a good team and they will be fine, but they're starting 0-1.
KANSAS CITY (+4.5) over San Diego. This just smells like a slow start for the Chargers. People may be surprised by the possible success of the Cassel, Jamaal Charles, Dwayne Bowe, and Charlie Weis combination. Sure, this is a strange pick, but what's the point of being boring for the last game of the week?
Enjoy the games everybody. And remember, it's a long season. Avoid pulling a Rick Pitino in the first week. No one wants a survival pool, pick 'em league, or illegal account to last 15 seconds and leave us with unfortunate feelings.