While the 2011 NFL regular season kicked off Thursday night, we know the "real" season starts Sunday at 1pm when the Baltimore Ravens host the Pittsburgh Steelers in the league's best rivalry. Although I knew the Green Bay Packers would beat the New Orleans Saints, I didn't realize it would be as good of a game than anyone could expect to see all season. with that in mind, let's hope that the rest of the weekend, especially in Baltimore, provides us with as much enjoyment and happiness knowing real football is back to stay.
See if you can beat my choices and post yours, with a prize offered for the best "picker" of the weekend. Here are my picks and pans for week one of the NFL regular season and as always, I'll make my pick of the Ravens-Steelers contest Sunday morning:
Browns over Bengals: I actually manned up and took Cleveland in my Suicide Pool, as I think that Cincinnati might contend in the "Andrew Luck Sweepstakes," but with a new starting QB, what would they do with that pick? The Browns are not as bad as you think, but the Bengals are.
Texans over Colts: I might have picked Houston even if Peyton Manning was playing for Indianapolis, but since he isn't and the old, recently "un-retired" Kerry Collins is, I'm definitely going with the Texans. Too bad I "stole" Manning in my fantasy football draft with a late pick, huh!?
Bears over Falcons: Part of me is doing this because of the nauseating comparisons of Joe Flacco with Matt Ryan and the other part thinks that Chicago is a decent team playing in front of a tough home crowd and if anyone thinks Atlanta is that much better than the Bears, they are buying into the hype way too much.
Chiefs over Bills: Even with a hobbling Matt Cassel, Kansas City should be able to beat a visiting Buffalo team that has nothing to lose as there are zero expectations about this team in 2011. Another "Andrew Luck Sweepstakes" contender!
Eagles over Rams: Despite a solid young QB and quality coaching and draft picking, St. Louis will have a tough time stopping Michael Vick and his cohorts on the smooth, fast indoor turf as Philadelphia is just too much to handle right out of the gate for the Rams.
Buccaneers over Lions: Detroit's Matthew Stafford gets a chance to stay healthy for a full 16-game season and while a lot of people like the Lions, a lot also like the youthful Tampa Bay kids, who should defend their home turf in a battle of two up-and-coming-but-not-quite-there-yet teams.
Titans over Jaguars: Two teams, both with major changes from top to bottom, will battle to see who is better prepared to move ahead without their previous quarterbacks. Two great running backs on both Tennessee and Jacksonville, and they will probably be the extent of their offenses, if at all. I just like Matt Hasselbeck better than anything that the Jags put under center.
Chargers over Vikings: San Diego might actually win an early game in the season for a change, but don't expect any team with Adrian Peterson to be a pushover and trust me, Donovan McNabb still has something left in the tank as what you saw in Washington just doesn't count!
Cardinals over Panthers: Now that Peyton Manning is lost to my fantasy team for now, I have pinned my hopes on Arizona's Kevin Kolb and therefore expect him to be better prepared than Carolina's Cam Newton, thus my selection to win in the desert.
Redskins over Giants: Ah, my initial "Upset Special Pick of the Week!" New York has been decimated with injuries and while Washington just couldn't decide on whom to give the starting QB gig to, they are at home and do have a decent defense and any NFC East battle is going to be tough to win on the road.
49ers over Seahawks: The lesser of two evils in the lowly NFC West, I gotta go with Ravens head coach John Harbaugh's brother to win his first NFL game with San Francisco over his long-time former PAC-10 nemesis while at Stanford, USC's, Pete Carroll, now with Seattle.
Jets over Cowboys (Sunday Night Football): Wow, never thought I'd be rooting for Dallas and while they used to be America's Team, I can't see them improved enough over last year's debacle without Tony Romo, to go to New Jersey and beat the tough-talking New Yorkers on such a memorable day in history.
Patriots over Dolphins (Monday Night Football): Even on a prime time stage in front of the home fans, I can't see Miami stopping what looks to be another loaded offensive juggernaut in New England.
Raiders over Broncos (Monday Night Football): In what may be considered a bit of an upset, I know Oakland went 6-0 in the AFC West last year and see no reason why they can't go into Denver early in the season when weather is not an issue and beat the Broncos, as without Tim Tebow, at the helm I think they have no chance!