Hey football fans! Jeremy here to introduce you guys to Tom Suitt and Jesse Perry who are going to be sharing their picks for every week as the season goes along. This week’s entry is a little late (my fault!) but expect them to be much more punctual from here on out. So that’s enough outta me, I’ll turn it over to the dudes you came here to see.
Jesse: Finally, football returns, and the season begins with a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship. A couple of months ago, I would have pegged this as a blowout by the Broncos, with Peyton Manning slicing through a Ravens’ D getting used to its new personnel. However, with the Broncos’ O-Line depleted by injury, and Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil gone from the defense (one from suspension, one from a trade deadline fax debacle that eventually sent him to, wait for it, Baltimore), I predict that this will be a shootout, with Baltimore squeaking out a victory.
Tom: I rode the Ravens to the Super Bowl last year during our playoffs picks, fighting every Steeler-ingrained feeling I had. Early in the season, it’s tough to figure out who’s ready to play, and who’s still feeling things out (see Buffalo blanking New England 31-0 a decade or so back in week one and the Pats went on to win the Super Bowl that same year). Denver’s defense is in a bit of disarray, and Peyton’s center went down, necessitating calling a guy out of retirement to play instead (who they ended up cutting). I think the Broncos think they have something to prove, but I also believe the Ravens will have a big chip on their shoulder after winning the Super Bowl.
Tom: Dear lord, the Jets have become so desperate for a QB they signed Brady Quinn (full well knowing that Tim Tebow is available). But I still think the Jets are a dangerous team on offense, with Greene Ivory Powell as the starting RB and…um…those guys at WR they have. Who am I kidding? This team is the Titanic hitting the iceberg before they ever leave port. Revis is probably thanking his lucky stars he’s down south now. Freeman may try to give this one away, but there’s nothing there on the Jets side to do anything with it.
Jesse: The Bucs and Jets begin their season with The Revis Bowl, as the Pro Bowl defensive back seeks revenge against the team that traded him. The Jets’ offense is a tire fire, and the thought of Mark Sanchez trying not to throw the ball to the other team gives me the giggles. Jets fans wonder if Geno Smith will be named starter. Psst: It doesn’t matter.
Jesse: Many pundits are expecting big things from the Chiefs this year. After a season where they had more Pro Bowl players than wins, Chiefs fans are expecting Andy Reid and Alex Smith to be saviors, which I would consider somewhat pathetic if I weren’t pinning my hopes on Norv Turner (more on that later). While the Chiefs are feeling rejuvenated, the Jags remain the Jags, a dismal team with a dismal fanbase led by a dismal QB. Blaine Gabbert won’t lead the Jags to the Super Bowl, but thanks to Blaine, we’ll always have this video, and for that I am grateful:
Tom: This opening week, there are some great games, and some expected clunkers. Guess which one this is. The Chiefs offense doesn’t look any better with Andy “Yes, goddammit I want fries with that” Reid at the helm. But the Jags are starting over too–whereas I think they should have kept the coach and axed the QB. But what do I know. Even though Jax is at home, I’m still leaning toward KC just because of the talent on that team. But this could go either way.
Tom: Continuing with my strategy last year, I will shoot for the moon and pick against the Browns continuously. Now with Jesse doing picks with me, this seems like an even better plan. Fear the Fleed!
Jesse: For reasons that get less clear with each passing season, I’m a longtime Browns fan. Last year, the Browns gained a new owner who gave Browns fans hope after vowing to make organizational changes that would turn the franchise around. Thankfully, this is the Browns, so all hope was dashed a couple of months, as it was revealed that the owner is a shady prick who’s using my alma mater to destroy the Appalachian environment. GO BROWNS!
Still, despite an owner as dumb as he is corrupt, the team itself has some intriguing pieces. Hiring His Norvness to run the offense is an immediate upgrade from Pat “The Human Nap” Shurmur, and new coordinator Ray Horton will improve an already-potent defense. Led by 71-year old QB Brandon Weeden, I predict the Browns will have some good wins in 2013, and this will be the first.
Jesse: The 49ers hung 45 on the Packers during last year’s playoffs, as Dom Capers’ defense had no idea how to stop Colin Kaepernick. Capers returns, and it will be interesting to see if he figured out how to stop the 49ers in the offseason. The big question for the 49ers: Can Anquan Boldin take over as #1 receiver with Michael Crabtree out? I say yes.
Tom: This is another re-match of a 2012 playoff game, with the prior result showcasing Colin Kaepernick’s ability to make Clay Matthews look like an idiot on the field, and entrenching Chip Kelly’s move to the NFL by showing the spread offense could work (for now) in the NFL. I don’t think the Packers defense is going to be much better than last year, and the 49ers have Anquan Boldin now, too. Rodgers has a swiss cheese of an oline (see what I did there?) and it’s RB by committee apparently. The Pack will need to wait another week before their first victory of 2013.
Tom: Speaking of Chip Kelly, here comes two offenses in the NFC East running the so-called “spread option”. One with a brittle QB and the other with a…possibly future brittle QB. Shanahan has proclaimed RGIII will play “the full playbook” when these teams meet after recovering from his knee injury. On a personal note, I hope he does great, as I drafted him in a CHUD FFL. The real question here is, which QB will tap out first? The Redskins got on a roll last year, and that defense is used to seeing this type of offense. I’m once again flying with last season’s results and going with RGIII and his bionic knee.
Jesse: This game features the two biggest mysteries going into the 2013 season:
1) How will Chip Kelly’s offense perform in the NFL? Philly fans have visions of Michael Vick circa 2010, and the thought of LeSean McCoy given room to run will make fantasy players salivate.
2) Is RG3 healed? Mike Shanahan has kept Robert Griffith under wraps (KINDA LATE, SHANNY), and we won’t know how he feels until he gets on the field. I can’t wait to find out. I suspect that RG3 may be slow at first, but like last year, the Skins will be hard to beat the second half of the season.
Jesse: After a magical, inspiring season, the Colts may not have the same luck they had last season, but they should have the same Luck they had last season. Hardy har. Also, the Raiders are hot garbage.
Tom: I think if the Jets and Raiders played each other in Week 1, the NFL would fold in upon itself and disappear. The only other team that I would have to seriously think about picking the Jets to beat (aside from the Browns of course) is the Raiders. Is Al Davis still running this team from the grave? Terrelle Pryor and his tats have been named as the starting QB, such as it is. The Colts are coming off an improbable season and have a superstar in Andrew Luck as their QB, and some good WRs around him. This one should be your suicide pick for the week.
Tom: So, will Russell Wilson have a year 2 like Cam did? Percy Harvin won’t be around to help until late in the season (the Vikings have got to be giggling to themselves over that), but Lynch and a nasty defense are still there. The Panthers running game last year was awful, and starting back up again vs. the Seahawks front 7 won’t help. Cam will need to be all Cam-like this game if the Panthers have a shot. But I don’t think that happens.
Jesse: Cam Newton had a solid second half last season, and the Panthers ended up 7-9 after a 2-8 start. Cam Newton has unique superstar abilities, but his #1 receiver is entering his late 30s and, well, Newton’s kind of a dick. Throw in Ron Rivera, whose coaching strategy seems to involve standing perfectly still a la Art Shell and Romeo Crennel and I’m skeptical of the Panthers this season.
I don’t totally buy the Seahawks, either. They’ve been hyped all offseason as NFC contenders, but between Percy Harvin’s busted hip and defense that seems to be taking turns getting suspended for Adderall, I’m dubious that they can go all the way. I don’t think the Seahawks will miss Harvin this game.
Tom: I, of course, am a Steelers fan. But dear Cthulu did they look horrid in the pre-season. And while Todd “Bill” Haley is still the OC, I don’t see things changing soon. You’re trying to take a guy that can sling the ball down the field, and make him throw little screens and short passes. Plus you take away his no-huddle skills, which is arguably the best the offense ever runs. The defense is still old, especially in the secondary, where they keep recycling old Steelers (welcome back, William Gay–you still suck). The downward slide began in 2012 with a loss to a terrible Titans team. Chris Johnson looks like he might be back to old CJ2K, but if Pittsburgh has anything, it’s a run defense. Plus, they’re at home, and that’s the ONLY reason I’m going with them.
Jesse: The Steelers seem down this year, but the Titans are about as inspiring as a piece of wet toast. Adding Gregg “Aim For The Skull” Williams to the defensive staff will likely make the defense more aggressive, but Tennessee isn’t going anywhere with Jake Locker at QB.
Jesse: The Pats have lost their entire receiving corps, but I’m not sure how much that matters when Tom Brady is still throwing to them. I have a feeling that the first half will be the best play of Buffalo’s season…and they’ll still lose.
Tom: I mentioned the 31-0 game with the Pats/Bills a little while ago–I don’t think that will happen here. The Bills finally cut bait on everyone’s favorite Ivy League QB and went with two rookies as their QBs. I watched EJ Manuel in college (as I am an FSU fan), and say good luck to the Bills with him–the guy has the tools, but for some reason just seems to lose his mind at the worst times (see: UF/NC State games, 2012). Maybe the NFL will work out better for him. But this is Brady and the Pats, and while there is no Gronk nor Killer (alleged) on the field, the Pats will still wear out the Bills.
Tom: The Falcons long win streak last year ended with the Saints (which was about the only thing worth noting about New Orleans in 2012), and they came up just short of the big game in 2012. Now they have Steven Jackson, and supposedly a better defense. The BMOC is back at New Orleans, and it seems like old times…not because they’re calling for bounties on Matt Ryan, but, well, it’s hard to stay sad in the Big Easy. Up until recently, this series usually went to the away team, but times have changed. The Falcons need to make a statement early, and what better way than against your biggest rival? New Orleans wants to show last year was a bump in the road and their new defense is ready to rock. This is a tough one, but I’ll let my home team love prevail.
Jesse: Matt Ryan has a great nickname. “Matty Ice”! Come on, that’s fantastic. Too bad he doesn’t live up to it. The Falcons are phenomenally talented, but does anyone expect them to go to the Super Bowl? They’re like the Dan Fouts-era Chargers in that sense. I’m skeptical of the Saints’ defense, but with Sean Payton returning to call plays for Drew Brees, you have to figure that the offense will be at the same high level it’s been for the past few years. Plus, you have to figure New Orleans is motivated after the bounty debacle.
Jesse: It’s crazy to think that the Bengals are the favorite of the AFC North, but with Baltimore and Pittsburgh looking to have down seasons, and Cleveland being Cleveland (sigh), Cincinnati is in prime position to take over the division. Their defense is excellent, and if Andy Dalton can show any improvement at all, this team could make the AFC Championship Game. As for the Bears, I’m eager to see how longtime NFL/CFL vet Marc Trestman will do in his first head coaching gig. The defense may not be as good, but perhaps they’ll be bolstered by a strong offense as the season goes on. Not this game, though.
Tom: This actually could be two of the sleeper teams of 2013–Cincy has been hanging around and making waves for a couple of years in a row now in the AFC North, and Chicago has a new coach, even though they weren’t that bad last year. With a new attitude change, no Urlacher, and a new coaching staff, the Bears could sneak up on people this year. But even though the game is in Chicago, I will still side with the Bengals.
Tom: Somehow the Lions only won 4 games last year with all that talent on the roster. Somehow, the Vikings made the playoffs last year with only one really talented guy on the roster. AD continues to expect to rush for 2500 yards this year, so that means they will keep feeding him the rock. The Lions will try to contain him, but if they stack the box, Ponder will have a field day throwing to all those talented guys at WR…yeah, I’m kidding. Ponder will make 1-2 good throws, then screw something up and almost lose the game. But AD will save the day again.
Jesse: As much trash as the Lions player talk, you would think they’ve actually accomplished something. A team of hot-headed doofus, led by hot-headed doofus Jim Schwartz, the Lions have talent but an utter lack of sense. Meanwhile, the Vikings have a sound defense and the best RB in the league, and will win games despite Christian Ponder’s noodle arm.
Jesse: Jeff Fisher is bringing his brutal-yet-dull style of coaching to St. Louis, and I think the Rams have a shot at the playoffs. I spent years watching the Fisher-led Titans play, and they were always at their best when people weren’t expecting anything from them, so I’m guessing they go to the playoffs this year. The Cards are viewing Carson Palmer as a savior, which neatly sums up the dire state of the Cardinals.
Tom: Ugh. Another clunker this week–and these two teams have to play twice. The Cardinals are attempting to go back to the “old veteran at QB” to see if that will work magic again. Their OL took a big hit when their prized rookie broke his leg. The Rams are in their 2nd year with the ‘stache Jeff Fisher…and seem to look as boring as the Titans did under Jeff Fisher. I think the Cards have a bit more talent on offense and a defense that can bring it. And since the Rams aren’t playing the 49ers this week, I’ll have to go with Arizona.
Tom: At least we have some good matchups to go with the clunkers. The Cowboys are still looking to meet expectations, and the Giants have to had to re-tool a bit, both on offense and defense. Andre Brown is out for while to injury, but Cruz and Nicks are back for Eli. Last year New York embarrassed Dallas in their house, but the ‘boys won the season opener in NJ. This year the tables are turned as they start out in Dallas–the Cowboys seem to have a bit of a spark at the start of each season, then slowly fade as the weeks go by and they realize Jerry Jones is their owner and Jason Garrett is their HC. So let’s go with the early hot hand.
Jesse: Another year begins, and the Cowboys are left with the same questions: What is Jerry Jones thinking? How will Tony Romo cost Dallas the game? When will Jason Garrett make his next hilarious coaching gaffe? In keeping with tradition, I expect Dallas to come out like a house afire to start the season, and save the misery for when it matters most.
Jesse: The Chargers are bad. Very, very bad. I think Houston’s run of consistent pretty-goodness (™) will end this year, but not this game. I expect a slaughter.
Tom: And finally–Houston and San Diego. And hey! No Norv in San Diego! What will that mean? Well, hopefully no collapses by the Chargers this year. Rivers is running out of time in San Diego, so he needs to get it done sooner than later. And maybe a new coaching staff can get it out of him (or he’ll just freak out and crawl in a corner and suck his thumb). Houston has gotten over the playoff hump, but Arian Foster is a big question mark, but now they have Deandre Hopkins to line up on the other side of Andre Johnson (and I believe Hopkins is a baller). I think this might end up being a shoot-out, but if the Chargers still can’t protect Rivers, they’re screwed.