Thursday, September 8, 2011

2011 NFL Pickery -- Week #1

And, we're back!

I know that new posts have been few and far between in recent months, so I was glad when my friend Movie Joe Reid sent over this week's games with a resigned "Here We Go Again…" in the subject line. I'm equally pleased that our NFL picks have become one of the favorite features with readers. In recent weeks, I received some very complementary inquiries asking if the Pickery would be returning in 2011. So, thanks for that, you guys.

Last season, Joe bludgeoned me with his prognosticating skills – winning by nine games. This year, I hope to avoid my usual slow start with an emphasis on providing more meticulous analysis in my picks and less hackneyed comedy bits.

New Orleans at Green Bay (Thursday Night)

Aaron: Kid Rock is one of three acts – along with Lady Antebellum and Maroon 5 – who will be performing as part of an overstuffed made-for-NBC concert prior to kickoff. When did Kid Rock become the regularly-available "Celine Dion-on-Oprah" equivalent for nationally televised sporting events and professional wrestling pay-per-views? The only thing more predictable is the home team winning these annual midweek season-opening coronations/victory laps. Pick: Green Bay

Joe: The narrative for Green Bay this offseason (the part that wasn't swallowed up by the lockout) has been that they won the Super Bowl while being pretty well hampered by injuries, and now that they're healthy, everybody had better watch the fuck out. As sports narratives go, it's not about curses or fortitude or karma, so I automatically like it better than most. Not sure what the New Orleans narrative for this season is going to be, other than the record 51st consecutive year of wondering if this is the season that Robert Meachem becomes a viable fantasy football project. You guys! I'm so happy to be talking this nonsense again! So much so that I'm picking against Cam so there's a bit of dramatic tension to start the season. Pick: New Orleans

Pittsburgh at Baltimore

Aaron: Steelers WR Hines Ward was arrested on suspicion of DUI during the offseason. In the immediate aftermath, the Ward story sparked a spirited Twitter spat between Pittsburgh's Ryan Clark and Baltimore's Ray Rice. Back in MY day, feuds were started and finished on the field. Or on large squares of breakdance-able cardboard. Pick: Baltimore

Joe: Another year, another AFC North title decided by two unwatchable slugfests between these two bruising teams. At halftime, look for a ceremony where Ray Rice presents Ben Roethlisberger with a plaque commemorating his officially playing enough football games to make people stop talking about his criminal indiscretions. Pick: Pittsburgh

Detroit at Tampa Bay

Aaron: I'm not buying into the Detroit hype until they can put out a product that starts fast, doesn't break down and rewards me for my loyalty. It's why I drive an Acura and it's why I'm picking the Buccaneers. (Oh, check the archives. I'm entitled to ONE Jay Leno-quality joke per season, you guys.) Pick: Tampa Bay

Joe: Have you not watched ANY of those Eminem commercials about the resurgence of Detroit? Pick: Detroit

Philadelphia at St. Louis

Aaron: The Rams field a quietly impressive defense that's capable of chasing down Michael Vick and confounding him all day. A Philadelphia loss will, of course, lead to a week's worth of "Eagles = Miami Heat" and "What's Wrong with the Eagles?" stories by the same media that hyped them to the heavens to begin with. And, let's not forget the inevitable celebratory braying from fans in every other NFC East outpost. After ONE week! Welcome back, NFL! Pick: St. Louis

Joe: I really do like the Rams this season, as I have Sam Bradford on the bench in both my fantasy leagues, just waiting to be able to plug him into my starting lineup and look like a genius for drafting him. But while the Eagles Juggernaut may be overrated, they're certainly not going to be any worse than they were last year. And, St. Louis might take a few weeks to heat up. Pick: Philly

Buffalo at Kansas City

Aaron: I am familiar with the Chiefs because they are one of the archrivals of my favorite team and the AFC West is the default "regional" division for televised games here in San Diego. Everything I know about the Bills -- and the city of Buffalo -- came from's newly-launched sub-site, Grantland. Just this week. Pick: Kansas City

Joe: To give Grantland credit, it IS impressive they were able to find time to write two hit pieces on my hometown in between oral-history features on that one episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm where Larry trips Shaq and republishing acclaimed works by deceased authors to glom onto their literary cache. But I kid that vanity project! Anyway, I get the predictions that the Bills could be good enough to be the league's official "Entertaining Bad Team," but I'll be here in full kamikaze mode, hoping for a 2-14 season followed by an Andrew Luck draft pick that probably won't be the salvation of the franchise like I hope it will but hey, gotta believe in something. Pick: Kansas City

Tennessee at Jacksonville

Aaron: Four years ago, the Jaguars released their established -- albeit unspectacular -- starting quarterback (Byron Leftwich) days before the first game of the regular season. They lost to the Titans in week one. Earlier this week, established/unspectacular QB David Garrard was released by the Jags. They'll lose to the Titans in the week one. Pick: Tennessee

Joe: For many years now, I've championed the Jags as the absolute dregs of the NFL. And every year, they manage to grind out a mediocre year and provide endless weeks of frustration as I become chronically unable to predict what weeks they'll show up and what weeks they won't. This season I think they're finally going to put it all together for me. Pick: Tennessee

Indianapolis at Houston

Aaron: After news broke of Peyton Manning's additional neck surgery -- almost assuredly ending his season and possibly his career -- SportsCenter brought a neurosurgeon into their studio, put him on the air and walked through the procedure in a detailed, but easy-to-follow style. When he completed his explanation, one of the anchors asked him if he played fantasy football -- followed by a "Manning's Replacements" fantasy football graphic and the percentage of ESPN leagues in which, say, Donovan McNabb was available. Stay classy, Worldwide Leader in Sports. Pick: Houston

Joe: Seriously. If you were dumb enough to draft Manning in your fantasy league*, you don't deserve ghoulish help like that. Meanwhile, the Texans have become my annual "Team I'm Rooting For to Spite Bill Simmons". Last year, that team was the Jets and they made it all the way to the AFC Championship Game. Houston...will not make it that far. Pick: Houston

* -- Aaron: In my defense, my money league draft was on August 27 and it was believed Manning would play at some point this season. He was still on the board late, so I drafted him as my Tom Brady. THIS is why he's out for the year. Bringing Brady and Manning together collapsed the universe.

Cincinnati at Cleveland

Aaron: Look, I can appreciate the "fresh start" storyline coming out of Cleveland. But, enough already, with Colt McCoy's maturity and the newly-installed 4-3 defense. The Browns' season will hinge on the same thing that's MADE professional football champions since the 1920s -- handing the ball off to their white running back. Pick: Cleveland

Joe: How is it that Cincinnati manages to avoid the rhapsodies of failure that always seem to fall on Buffalo? Because they have a -- GASP -- Major League Baseball team? Come on, MILWAUKEE has one of those. The Bengals are frequently the butt of jokes for their failure on the field, but it never extends to their riverfront metropolis the way it does for other towns. My question is, why? Aren't they constantly one overzealous police action away from ending up burned to cinders in a race riot? Aren't they Ohio's Kentucky? Let's all spend the week workshopping insulting narratives about the city of Cincinnati and meet here on Friday with at least five good ideas, huh? Pick: Cleveland

Atlanta at Chicago

Aaron: The Jay Cutler NFC Championship vitriol immediately crossed over into absurdity ("He should've played hurt!!!" -- Signed, NFL Player watching the playoffs from home) and almost has me rooting for the guy. But, then, I remember that any success Cutler enjoys means less recognition for Chicago's first upper lip-less superstar, Larry Appleton. Y'know, from Perfect Strangers. No, not Balki. That was Bronson Pinchot. The other guy. Pick: Atlanta

Joe: I'm totally with you on the Jay Cutler reverse-bandwagon. Also, this game troubles me. I like Atlanta a lot this season, and I really hope their offense becomes the powerhouse Greatest Show on Turf II that they're saying it will. But I will never not get spooked by an indoor team playing in a city like Chicago. It's a stupid superstition, because it's September, but here we are. Pick: Chicago

N.Y. Giants at Washington

Aaron: In the final game of the 2010 season, Redskins QB Rex Grossman threw for 336 yards -- just three shy of his career-high -- against the Giants. OK, OK...apply whatever caveats you want. Here, I'll start: the Redskins still lost that game, 17-14. Pick: NY Giants

Joe: The offseason may have been severely shortened, but it was just long enough to decimate the Giants defense. It might end up dooming their playoff chances, but if they plan to chug along, beating the bottom half of the league, this is the kind of game they should win. Might take a while for those replacement defenders to gel, though. Pick: Washington

Seattle at San Francisco

Aaron: Any chance we can get a one-season reprieve from the annual "Gasp! A 7-9 record could win the NFC West!" panic that grips the nation from October through December? The Seahawks won the division with that record last year. We survived. And, with new quarterback Tarvaris Jackson behind center, they're clearly shooting for the first-ever six-win playoff berth. We'll survive that, too. Pick: San Francisco

Joe: Fine, I guess I'll have to be the only person in this betting pool with any kind of INTEGRITY, then. Are we all sleeping on the 49ers to be a whole lot better this year, now that Mike Singletary isn't psyching his own players out in the locker room anymore? Couldn't any old goofus guide them to 8-8? ...Oh, right, Alex Smith. One level below goofus. Pick: Seattle

Minnesota at San Diego

Aaron: The signing of Donovan McNabb continues the rich Vikings tradition of propping up old black quarterbacks who are clearly past their prime. Most people don't know that Warren Moon and Randall Cunningham are part of ancient Norse mythology. Yet, it's Thor that's gets the movie deal. Pick: San Diego

Joe: Also Daunte Culpepper, the young black quarterback past his prime. Or Jeff George and Jim McMahon, old white quarterbacks past their prime. Or Brett Favre, the ... you know what I mean. This is the team that started Fran Tarkenton into his early 70s. They like their quarterbacks like America liked its situation comedy in the 1980s. Randy and retirement-aged. Anyway, the Chargers are supposed to be pretty great this year, right? ...Sorry, Cam. Pick: San Diego

Carolina at Arizona

Aaron: Last year, Kevin Kolb began the season at the Eagles #1 QB while the experts predicted his big arm would do big things in Philadelphia. He was injured early in his first start, returned midseason -- averaging 253 yards over five games and then ceded the job to Michael Vick for good. The same experts now doubt Kolb after he was traded to Arizona. Last I checked, Cards WR Larry Fitzgerald was still alive. Pick: Arizona

Joe: Yeah, I tend to agree that Kolb is in a pretty good situation in Arizona -- reduced expectations, better WR1. You’d like to have a better running game to rely on, but overall, I'm kind of bullish on the Cards this year. Meanwhile, the Cam Newton experiment will be interesting, if not necessarily good. Pick: Arizona

Dallas at N.Y. Jets

Aaron: I'm not sold on the Jets, you guys. QB Mark Sanchez has been uneven over his first two seasons, the running game seems awfully reliant on 2010 bust Shonn Greene and Plaxico Burress is considered a viable receiving option. That said, if there was ever a game --against a tragic backdrop of remembrance -- that was going to be won by the home team on a last-second something, it's this one. Pick: NY Jets

Joe: Oooh, Dallas vs. the Jets. The two franchises that are most hated by sports fans/media for the most specious reasons. The Cowboys are bound to benefit from the Our Head Coach Is No Longer Wade Phillips bump, while I think the Jets will probably do better in close games with the confidence of last season's playoff run. Because what that team needs more of is confidence. Seriously, though, are we really going to go through another season of universal Mark Sanchez vitriol for absolutely no reason? Pick: NY Jets

New England at Miami

Aaron: I'm setting the over/under on "Reggie Bush, every down Dolphins running back" at 1.5 games before he's seriously maimed, mutilated, injured or disfigured. Place your bets. Pick: New England

Joe: Ah yes, Reggie Bush. The other guy everybody hates for reasons that seem flimsy (...Kim Kardashian? The fact that he was one of approximately ALL college football players to accept bribes?). Meanwhile, New England signed Albert Haynesworth AND Chad Ochocinco and still seems to be flying well under the radar of offseason controversy. But God help Tom Brady if he's photographed wearing Crocs during Fashion Week. Pick: New England

Oakland at Denver

Aaron: Hearing a lot about how my Raiders scored a combined 98 points in beating the Broncos twice last year. I'm also hearing a lot about the Raiders leaky run defense that finished 29th, 29th, 31st and 31st over the past four years. Knowshon Moreno fantasy know what to do. Pick: Denver

Joe: Once again, I have more faith in the Raiders than Cam does. Denver was a mess last season and despite the coaching upgrade to John Fox, I don't think they pull it together so quickly. Pick: Oakland


Smitty said...

Really should have ran the naked at the end. Coaches don't seem to call it much anymore. If you are afraid to get your QB smacked, have the backside TE run a drag.

Yvonne said...

HEY! Looks like you're only one game behind Joe entering Monday Night! This is your best first week showing in...ever!

(Also, when do we get our recap of your first game as manager of Jalen's baseball team???)