Thursday, September 10, 2009

Lightning in a Bottle: Week 1 NFL & Fantasy Predictions

No need to explain the title, because it doesn't make any sense.

Nevertheless, here is your quick-fix for what to do and what not to do, betting and fantasy-wise (of course), this upcoming NFL Kickoff Weekend.

"Are you excited for opening weekend?"
The dumbest question since, "Have you seen The Hangover?"
Come on people.

Before I begin with the picks and prognostications, let's go over the 10 Questions (I have) for the weekend at hand.

Bonus question: How does Jack Del Rio still have his job? Seriously?
Look at that jacket...


1) Could anyone care less about the Black Eyed Pea and Tim McGraw "opening" for the Tennessee/Pittsburgh game? I didn't think so.
2) Tony Romo and Roy Williams have GIGANTIC media targets on their backs. How do they handle them against a (seemingly) weakly Tampa Bay squad.
3) Can it get worse for fans in Motown and their (beloved?) Lions?
4) Are a few too many analysts drinking the Kool-Aid about the playoff hopes for the Houston Texans?
5) If you could re-do your fantasy draft, which pick would you switch first?
6) Is that Washington Redskin offensive line ready for the mammoth challenge that the Giants have in store for them?
7) Which (now) absent coordinator-turned-head coach will be most severely missed by his team: Haley, Spags, Rex Ryan, or the field?
8) Is Seattle the safest pick for a team drafting in the top ten to return to playoff-related relevance?
9) What is playoff-related relevance, Clement?
10) Is Tom Brady going to seemlessly guide the Patriots back to the Super Bowl, past the likes of Big Ben/Rivers/Peyton/etc?

As for the we go. 5 games only this week. Sorry for the short stack.

Don't worry, I'm not a chicken. I pick the tough ones! Cocka cocka cocka caw!
Best show EVER. Not even close either. Seriously. SERIOUSLY!!!!

Season Total: 0-0 (Hey, it might be one of my better marks this campaign.)
Upset Special: 0-0 (Last year was NOT a positive showing.)
Survivor Selection: 0-0 (Well lookey lookey...something new.)

Tennessee Titans @ Pittsburgh Steelers (-6 1/2)

I don't make it a habit of picking against defending Super Bowl champs at home in Week 1. However, that lingering 1/2 is just teasing me. Vegas knows something many others don't. Kerry Collins is 37 and the Titans have been miserable in recent years without Alby in the middle. I expect the Titans to be a playoff contender, but not guilty of knocking of the Stillers in the Ketchup Bottle. Polamalu can clinch it for me with a late Pick-6.

Miami Dolphins @ Atlanta Falcons (-4 1/2)
Unlike most "experts", I don't mind picking road dogs. However, this is just a taste of what the Dolphins can expect this season: a BRUTAL schedule. While I like Ronnie Brown being as healthy as possible, I'll take Ryan/Turner/White and the newly acquired Gonzalez to cover the 4 1/2. Big question is: can John Abraham give former teammate Chad Pennington nightmares. Me thinks so.

Philadelphia Eagles @ Carolina Panthers (+1)
Is this my road dog upset? Nope. The Eagles are slight favorites not only over the Panthers but perhaps in the NFC. While we know Carolina is going to run five times more than it'll pass, I'm wondering how committed Andy Reid is towards his shaky-ankled RB (Westbrook) and his (could he be a phenom) rookie RB (McCoy)? I'll give the edge to the Iggles based on my preference of F. McNabb over Delhomme.

San Francisco 49ers @ Arizona Cardinals (-6 1/2)
The 49ers are a sleeper pick to snag a wild card and to perhaps move to the top of the AFC West. Not so fast. Arizona isn't returning to the Super Bowl; however, the offense is extremely talented and as long as Warner is upright, I like his chances against the NFC West. I'd feel better if it was under 6, but I also don't like betting against Larry Fitzgerald. Frank Gore might run wild, but the Cardinals will control this game due to the QB matchup: Warner versus Shaun Hill.

Buffalo Bills @ New England Patriots (-10 1/2)
Terrell Owens' first game against New England ends with a dynamic drive down the field by Trent Edwards with a game winning pass to...Lee Evans. Sorry, Buffalo newspapers can only dream of such a title. The Patsies own the Bills more convincingly than any sporting analogy I can think of. The Monday Night Football doubleheader STINKS (why always Oakland exactly?) and this game will be an absolute laugher. Get ready for an angry TO early and often. At least Andrea Kramer won't be able to make googily eyes at Tom Brady. [This is also YOUR Survivor League best pick. Don't overthink these leagues and "save" your top teams. Pick the safest bet each week, for as long as you last.]

Fantasy Studs and Duds
Note: I'm not going to be an ESPN-ite and tell you to start guys high on your draft board like Anquan Boldin or Thomas Jones in a flex-spot. That's idiotic. Here are five guys to avoid and five to embrace.

...5 Studs...
1) Bernard Berrian is going to catch a long TD from Favre in Week 1. He might not catch another one, but you can bank on at least one this weekend for the Vikings' speediest receiver.
2) Dustin Keller is going to see a lot of targets from Mark Sanchez. I won't guarantee a touchdown; however, if you neglected the position or hate your could do much much worse than Keller.
3) There's no guarantee Reggie Bush is your #2 running back. If he is your #3, unless you're stacked at the position...start him. I see 50+ rushing yards, 75+ receiving, and a touchdown from Bush.
4) The New York Jet Defense earned a lot more fantasy points last season than you expected. Enter Rex Ryan, Bart Scott, Lito Sheppard, and plenty of hype. Exit, via suspension, Shaun Ellis and Calvin Pace. Combine that with a STACKED fantasy offense, playing at home, in Houston...(deep breath) don't start the Jet D in Week 1.
5) Nate Washington is the next dud who will be exposed in Tennessee as a free agent B-U-S-T. Good luck to those who sorely overrated this #1-receiver (it's Justin Gage by the way).

...5 Duds...
1) I'm not buying the recent Internet-fueled hype for Mike Bell. No way, no how.
2) Every year Heath Miller has 3 good games and 13 duds. Don't try it this week. He may catch a TD even, but only for 7 yards (on his only catch). Don't do it...
3) LenDale White isn't going to see the endzone. Chris Johnson may, but "Tequilla" won't. Look for the Titans to throw in the redzone when the Stillers clamp down. Good luck, Kerry Collins.
4) Don't put any money on Patrick Crayton being the possession receiver in Dallas. When the ball isn't being thrown to Witten and Roy Williams, it's being carried by Marion Barber III, Felix Jones, and (maybe even) Tashard Choice.
5) Joey Galloway is nowhere near worthy of a roster spot until two weeks of consistent performance. He's not as healthy as some people want to believe, nor will the targets be often enough in that offense (for now).

Parting Thought

I guarantee you don't realize how FAST Chris Johnson truly is.

See you in the funny pages...

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