My girlfriend has returned to my life and all I want to do is kiss her face and hold her tightly. Wait, this is about football…right? Whoa, wrong column, sorry about that folks. It’s that time of the year when there’s a chill in the breeze, the weather begins to turn and the down comforter comes out of the closet – unless you reside in SoCal. (Where is my comforter by the way? Somewhere on Venice Beach or Santa Monica, I’m sure. Damn music festivals!)

This will be the first football season that I can remember when I didn’t have to root, hard, for Peyton Manning to shut the mouths of every one of his detractors. He earned his second title and walked off with absolutely nothing left to prove – and I’m elated for him. I know Tom Brady’s got four rings – and I’ve come to begrudgingly respect the operation going on in New England – but I’m a Manning guy if I have to choose.

I feel free in that I won’t have to watch this season with any rooting interest. I can view it from the sidelines and enjoy the sport that I love above all else. (I’m not mentioning women or food here but you should get the point.) There are times over the last four years when I watched the Denver Broncos, in the postseason, and left relieved when they won, not really happy.

My game is back at a time when I really need it – and I’ll sprinkle in my Super Bowl pick. I’d like to send a special acknowledgement to the Los Angeles Rams for all the new traffic on Sundays; thank you.

Week 1:                                              

Carolina 23 @ Denver 17: This is not a Super Bowl rematch as the rings are on the line for the winner. It’s a game between the Super Bowl participants with the champion…starting a new quarterback under center. I’m going with the road team here.

Green Bay 30 @ Jacksonville 16: Whatever people are seeing in Jacksonville, I must need a new prescription because I see the same squad coming out of Florida.

Buffalo 21 @ Baltimore 23: The Bills are hurting on defense already so I’ll take the health and (home field) of the Ravens.

Chicago 24 @ Houston 27: I don’t know how to handicap this game as they both are searching for new identities…so I’ll take the home team.

Cleveland 17 @ Philadelphia 10: I don’t know why I’m setting myself up to bang my head against the wall but take some time. After declaring that Carson Wentz wasn’t “ready” to take meaningful snaps this year…he’s the starter. Isn’t Chase Daniel on the team?

They just traded an average quarterback in Sam Bradford in order to start a rookie? The Browns will do enough to win and Believeland will get suckered into something they won’t be able to turn away from, like a child peering through their fingers at a horror film.

Tampa Bay 20 @ Atlanta 23: I think Julio Jones will be healthy enough to help Matt Ryan and the Falcons start the season with a win.

Minnesota 17 @ Tennessee 19: Adrian Peterson should get a lot of work with a new quarterback breaking in this week and I like the Titans to be a sleeper playoff contender this year. Calm down, I haven’t been drinking.

Cincinnati 27 @ NY Jets 16: Bengals.

Oakland 30 @ New Orleans 31: Saints? Will they try to play defense this season?

San Diego 24 @ Kansas City 26: I have the Chiefs winning the AFC West so I’ll pick them for the opening week.

Miami 20 @ Seattle 28: The Dolphins have a good chance to get a jump on the Patriots but it won’t be in this game.

Detroit 24 @ Indianapolis 27: A huge part of me wants to believe that Calvin Johnson is going to play this weekend but he’s really retired. Something about that makes me question the health of the league’s future when marquee players walk away…when still in their primes.

I don’t know what to make of the Colts. The football universe lost their minds last year by picking them to possibly make the Super Bowl. Andrew Luck’s abilities were masking their deficiencies – namely on the offensive line – and even owner Jim Irsay fell for it by thinking his team was a title contender. No! They were guilty of playing better than they actually were due to the health of Luck – and last year he took too much punishment for the team to reach the lofty expectations placed on them. Another home pick here.

NY Giants 20 @ Dallas 16: The Giants aren’t getting a ton of respect anywhere but I’m picking them to win this game – and the NFC East.

New England 13 @ Arizona 26: I feel as strongly towards the Cardinals as I did last year when I felt they were underestimated as a threat to capture a Super Bowl title. I don’t think the Patriots will completely bottom out without Brady but I can’t give them a win in this one.

Pittsburgh 27 @ Washington 21: I like the Steelers a great deal this year, as in I think they prevail in the Super Bowl over the Cardinals.

Los Angeles 10 @ San Francisco 19: I’m patiently awaiting the 30 for 30 that highlights the Bill Belichick-like job security of Jeff Fisher. I’m absolutely baffled on how he keeps a job when he hasn’t been…winning. Again, thanks for the extra traffic guys. I’m so excited to share the road with fans of a team that’s going to have a tough year.


(This article can also be found here.)

Published by Sthe writer