Wednesday, September 5, 2012

NFL 2012: Week 1 -- Changes, Replacements, and the Same Old Stuff

The first week of the 2012 NFL season opens with some fascinating changes, some contentious issues, and a lot more of the usual good stuff that will have us locked in front of our televisions for the next 22 weeks when the next Super Bowl Champ will be chosen.

Contention: the season opens with replacement officials. The NFL and the zebras have long been deadlocked largely on pension issues. In the meantime, regardless of how effective or ineffective the stand-in's are, they will draw blame for disputed calls, taking too much time, mass confusion, and whatever else doesn't lend itself to a standard story line.

More contention: eyes will be on the New York Jets who missed the playoffs last year for the first time since Rex Ryan took the helm as head coach. Who will be their quarterback, Mark Sanchez, who many felt failed miserably last year versus America's wholesome sweetheart while many debate his true NFL quarterback talent, Tim Tebow. Every quarterback move regardless of which fellow is under center will be under the microscope.

The new: the Indianapolis Colts will be rebuilding from the Payton Manning era as the #1 draft pick, Andrew Luck, takes over a squad with a new head coach and changing faces playing. Meanwhile, the Washington Redskins, who've accomplished little but blips of excitement since the when Joe Gibbs retired from his first tenure as coach for NASCAR in the early 90's, Robert Griffin III.

The big change, of course, is the change of address for Peyton Manning, in contention with Tom Brady of New England for the best quarterback of his era, moving on to Denver after missing the 2011 season due to a chronic neck injury. The Broncos will go as far as their new field general takes them.

The same old good stuff:  The New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens, and Houston Texans will fight to reign over the AFC while Cincinnati will attempt to win in two consecutive seasons in a row, a feat that escapes them, showing they are truly a team on the move upward. Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Steelers, starting to look battered and bruised in 2011, will attempt to revert to their dominant ways despite all indications they might be starting to crack. The situation remains the same in San Diego. Msot believe Norv Turner is in a do-or-die fight for his job leading a team of perennial underachievers.

The same old stuff: Hype surrounds the Dallas Cowboys particularly at ESPN, who at times seem intoxicated with Dallas Kool Aid, are getting their usual hype, but they are not a good team and facing a tough schedule might unravel to the point of no return. The New York Giants look to defend their title while Green Bay under Aaron Rodgers can never be ruled out, but keep an eye on San Francisco, who will surprise no one in their second year for Jim Harbaugh. The Philadelphia Eagles might be at a nexus having to improve or the end of the Andy Reid era could be at hand. The Atlanta Falcons still haven't had their breakthrough season with QB Matt Ryan. Recent NFC South powerhouse, New Orleans will be rocked with suspensions resulting from their bounty ring. The Detroit Lions will look to start putting some distance between their growing success as a respectable franchise and their long history as a losing outfit.

Here are our picks for Week One. Last year, we were successful 65% of the time. You can count on us for at least two out of three picks in your office pool far better than the Swami and the rest of the ESPN nutcases.

) NY Giants ( -3.5 ) NY Giants
Indianapolis ) Chicago ( -9.5 ) Chicago
Atlanta ( -3 ) Kansas City ( ) Atlanta
Philadelphia ( -8.5 ) Cleveland ( ) Philadelphia
Washington ( ) New Orleans ( -7 ) New Orleans
St. Louis ( ) Detroit ( -7 ) Detroit
New England ( -5.5 ) Tennessee ( ) New England
Jacksonville ( ) Minnesota ( -4 ) Minnesota
Buffalo ( ) NY Jets ( -3 ) Buffalo
Miami ( ) Houston ( -11.5 ) Miami
Seattle ( -2.5 ) Arizona ( ) Seattle
San Francisco ( ) Green Bay ( -5 ) Green Bay
Carolina ( -2.5 ) Tampa Bay ( ) Carolina
Pittsburgh ( ) Denver ( -2 ) Denver
Cincinnati ( ) Baltimore ( -6 ) Baltimore
San Diego ( NA ) Oakland ( NA ) San Diego

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