by Ryan Meehan
The last seven and a half months have seemed like an eternity for us football fans. My Tuesday and Thursday deadlines are something that I have missed to a disturbing degree since the end of February, but now we shall reap the rewards of our time spent idle. This is week one in the NFL:
Opening night: Thursday, September 5th
Baltimore Ravens (-7.5) at Denver Broncos, 7:30 PM CST (48.5)
It’s funny how when something in the NFL is a certain way and then when it suddenly changes, the first team to fall victim to such an occurrence gets pissed off. This is a perfect example of that, because in the five years previous to this year the team who won the Super Bowl gets to host the opening Thursday night game…until now.
You could make the argument that the NFL doesn’t really want to open the season in a city like Baltimore, as well as the argument that the NFL tends to schedule games based around the favor of the Manning brothers. Both are great points, but regardless of whatever the reason is opening night will go down a mile above sea level in Denver, Colorado.
The Broncos are reeling from uncertainty regarding the health of Wes Welker, whom they just acquired from the Patriots. They are also a little light on defense because not only did they lose Elvis Dumervil who will be lining up opposite them for the Ravens, but Von Miller begins his extremely confusing six game suspension for either doing ecstasy or not doing ecstasy. However, I still think that at home the Broncos will come out on top because I can’t imagine the memory of letting that AFC Divisional playoff loss that slipped out of their fingers is something that has been a minor oversight. They won’t win by much, but they’ll be bitter enough about it to pull off the victory.
Prediction: Broncos 24, Ravens 21
Sunday, September 8th
New England Patriots (-10.5) at Buffalo Bills (49.5)
The first of many divisional matches opening weekend, this one should prove to be one of the least interesting. Outside of Jacksonville, Buffalo may be one of the least potent offenses in the league and possess the least threatening roster. Although things have really changed for the Patriots, this is still a gift of a first game for them as they will likely be able to pull Brady in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately for them, every game isn’t going to be this easy.
Prediction: Patriots 39, Bills 16
Cincinnati Bengals (+3) at Chicago Bears (42)
Bears fans pay very close attention to this game. Why? Because the Bengals are just a step above the Bears at the moment, and for Bears fans this will be an indication of how your season may very well go.
Prediction: Bengals 26, Bears 22
Miami Dolphins (EVEN) at Cleveland Browns (41)
This here is a matchup between two teams that are expected to be much better than they were last year, with Trent Richardson likely to step out into the forefront as an emerging fantasy back.
Dolphins 23, Browns 20
Atlanta Falcons (+3) at New Orleans Saints (54)
This is a crucial moment in my ability to predict the 2013 football season, because I could care less about the NFC South aside from two things: I am expecting the Falcons to struggle, and I am expecting the world out of the Saints. As discussed in the SBM preview article, I think that the New Orleans Saints are going to be a very angry team coming out of the box and I think it will start here. Everybody is jocking the shit out of the Falcons and yes – they do have a great roster…But ask yourself this – How much of an impact does Tony Gonzalez really expect to make coming back from the mental state that was his retirement? And if the Giants really saw that Osi Umenyura was going to be able to stick around and they could make it work, why is he all of a sudden wearing a Falcons uniform? But most importantly, how much more do you trust Matt Ryan than you trust Drew Brees?
Saints 31, Falcons 22
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3) at New York Jets (39.5)
Wherever you’re watching the games at opening Sunday, let’s hope this TV is on the other side of the bar. A three hour confrontation between the seemingly always overachieving Buccaneers and the seemingly always underachieving Jets is more than enough to put even the most die hard football fans to sleep. Darrelle Revis will be headed home to face his old team, which looks a lot like his new team – which looks a lot like every other team that looks like the Bucs or the Jets.
Buccaneers 18, Jets 12
Tennessee Titans (+7) at Pittsburgh Steelers (42)
Now here’s one that’s between a team who has nowhere to go but up clashing with a team that’s on an escalator to hell. Just three short years removed from the Super Bowl, the Steelers look a lot like the Saints of last year without all of the coaching abscences and wiretapping problems. Mark my words – NOBODY in the NFL will have a more disappointing year than the Pittsburgh Steelers will in 2013. The power shift has already clearly started in the AFC North, and Pittsburgh doesn’t come out on the good end of it. Tennessee? They have a decent roster (as far as poorly assembled rosters go) and even with Shonn Greene, Chris Johnson, and Kenny Britt I can’t see Locker making it work. They are going to be unhealthily reliant on the running game, and Chris Johnson will need a drink with one of those little umbrellas in it before too long because he’s going to feel like he could use a vacation. But even with all that, they still matchup well with the Steelers. Times have changed indeed. Either way, the total points should be a gimme – take the under.
Titans 20, Steelers 16
Minnesota Vikings (+4.5) at Detroit Lions (46.5)
The hot seat that Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwarz is currently sitting on might very well be burning a slow hole to China, which I guess is fitting because it will only be a matter of time until most of the auto jobs that used to be in that area are in Beijing. These two are the bottom feeders of the NFC North, so it will be slow and painful to sit through…
Lions 21, Vikings 20
Oakland Raiders (+9.5) at Indianapolis Colts (47)
Oakland will be better, but it’s going to be very spotty. It’s going to take them a while to get going with Matt Flynn in charge. But on the other side of the field, the Colts won’t be nearly as good as they were last year. There’s no way that they can continue the momentum that they possessed in the middle to the end of the season when Chuck Pagano was battling cancer. So this one may be a bit of a toss up – Indy is somewhere between being as good as they were two years back and as good as they were last year, but it’s probably a little bit closer to the first one. I do think that Andrew Luck will have a pretty decent career, but that he’ll also go through a bit of a sophomore slump when it comes to how he’s going to respond to such a sudden spike in ticket sales. Since this is a home game, I’m taking the Colts by a little over a field goal.
Colts 27, Raiders 23
Seattle Seahawks (-3.5) at Carolina Panthers (45)
Did I say earlier that the only team whose home field advantage is more useless than the Buffalo Bills is the Jacksonville Jaguars? Yeah, I forgot to take the Carolina Panthers into account. They showed a little bit of improvement and character in the preseason game against the Ravens, but the Seahawks aren’t going to let this one slide by them. Rivera might have the Panthers playing more aware of their surroundings than they were last year, but that’s hardly an improvement. Take Seattle to cover easily, and don’t feel any shame doing so. You’ll be safe, as you indeed read that correctly – the spread in this one is a measly three points.
While I am doing my touchup work for this article…does anybody else think that it’s a little weird that the spread of this game has only moved a half of a point? That seems very bizarre to me…
Seahawks 37, Panthers 13
Kansas City Chiefs (+3.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars (41)
The Alex Smith era in Kansas City begins with a virtual freebie, as they travel to the swampyard to face the Jacksonville Kitty Cats. This game should mean nothing, other than the fact that if Denver loses the radio is going to be full of grade A shitbags talking about how a month ago they were all telling us how the Alex Smith thing was the smartest acquisition in the history of sports. Yawn.
Chiefs 31, Jaguars 15
Arizona Cardinals (+5) at St. Louis Rams (41)
This is one of the two 3:15 games. The other one is San Francisco / Green Bay. Which one will you be watching? That’s what I thought, now run along….
Rams 21, Cardinals 9
Regardless of whatever anybody tries to sell you as far as opening night or SNF or either of the Monday Night games, THIS is by far the game of the week. This is the one that everybody will be tweeting about when they are in the bathroom during the second half of the 3PM games. (I like to call it Twitter on the shitter) The Green Bay Packers suffered a huge loss when offensive lineman Bryan Bulaga was determined to be out for the year. (http://sportsblogmovement.wordpress.com/2013/08/09/injury-to-packers-offensive-lineman-bryan-bulaga-could-shake-up-the-rest-of-the-nfc%E2%80%8F/) This is of course compounded by the fact that they were already having issues providing pass protection for the best quarterback in football before that injury took place. Nevermind on defense that they can’t tackle anybody or stop anybody on third down (see New York Giants) and you could understand how the first game of the year being a stop in San Francisco isn’t exactly the most desirable opener in the world. Even after all of that, along with all of the great things that I have had to say about the 49ers this offseason I am taking the Packers to win week one, and ONLY because it’s week one. The Niners are still going to be a bit rusty and Colin Kaepernick isn’t seasoned enough to be able to show an amazing hand the firs weekend of the year. I also would like to publicly state that if this matchup was being held week ten in Wisconsin, I would have no problem taking the 49ers by at least six or seven points. It’s just a bad matchup for the Niners right out of the box, and although I believe they will look better at the year moves along, I think they will start out rough.
Packers 24, 49ers 22
New York Giants (+3) at Dallas Cowboys (48.5)
I expect this game to be very high scoring and full of a lot of mistakes by both teams. There are going to be so many turnovers throughout the year by both of those teams that both AT&T and MetLife Stadiums should put in rows of apple trees on the sidelines. Although I expect more out of Dallas this year, these two teams are very alike in that way and many others. The difference here is that I firmly believe the main difference between the Cowboys this year and the Cowboys in recent years is going to be their heightened ability to make plays late in the game ad exploit teams who can’t. Which is a perfect segue into the Giants, because as we all know there’s been a lot of games over the past few decades that they just haven’t been able to slam shut. This will be another one of those games. If Taco Bell was giving away free tacos for every time somebody fumbled a punt return in this game like they do every time someone hits a homerun in some meaningless inning of the World Series, America’s production would slow down to a screeching halt while we all attempted to nurse a collective bout of diarrhea that is of mythic proportions.
Cowboys 34, Giants 30
Philadelphia Eagles (+3.5) at Washington Redskins (51)
Seeing as how the last memory that Redskins had at FedEx field was everything falling apart as their magical season ended with a debate on whether or not we should play guys in the most crucial moment in the season, I would imagine they are going to be pretty riled up for this one. And the crowd should as well. But even though the Eagles are supposed to look terrible, I have to say they will be competitive for more of this game than one might expect.
The good news of course is if RG3 plays and there appears to be nothing overly wrong with his ability to move, maybe finally we’ll be done hearing about this concocted story that the media has been feeding us about a feud between Robert and Mike Shanahan. Bitch, please. There couldn’t be two more law abiding citizens that have ever been on the same sideline. So really it’s a win-win – The Philadelphia Eagles lose and we don’t have to listen to this shit anymore.
Redskins 34, Eagles 19
Houston Texans (+3.5) at San Diego Chargers (44)
Couple of things here: The idea of this whole “Two Monday Night Football games on opening weekend” is something I’ve never liked. There’s two main reasons behind my feeling that this is stupid: First off, we end up getting the F team when it comes to a broadcasting unit – usually Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg who have no business calling a regular season football game. (Editor’s Note: Nope, it’ll be Chris Berman and Trent Dilfer – even worse…) Second and most important, the second game doesn’t even get over until about 1:15 in the morning on the East Coast. What the hell is that?
Oh, the game itself? The Chargers are prepping themselves to eat the juiciest, fattest dick they can find this year. This game ought to be a perfect stepping stone to that, because the Texans are always dominant on defense and the Chargers’ offense is slowly becoming the punchline to a joke nobody wants to sit through. I believe in the Texans because I have no reason to change my opinion.
Texans 27, Chargers 3
What will we know after week one? Probably not much, unless there is a major injury or power shift. But even in the case of the latter, it could takes weeks and even months for us to really know for sure. It should be a blast, so everybody have fun watching the games this week and stay tuned to First Order Historians to enjoy more of the internet’s finest in user generated content.