Well, it’s ‘awkward reunion’ week, as the NFL inaugurates a brand new season by generating some familial discomfort with the schedule. Baker Mayfield gets to try and reverse his misfortunes along with Carolina’s by thumping the visiting Browns in his new living room…meanwhile, Russell Wilson rides back into rainy Seattle to brawl with his former team, where there is now nobody to throw the ball to newly inked DK Metcalf. The season opener features Von Miller’s return to LA where just months ago he won a Ram Super Bowl ring and now will be gunning that relentless motor of his to take down his former team. One thing Roger Goodell does know how to do is generate drama…and not much else. Here’s the picks! Let’s GO, as TB12 would bellow!!
Bills at Rams – I feel this should have been last year’s SB matchup. Were it not for bad coaching against KC in the playoffs, Buffalo would likely have knocked off Cincy and punched their ticket on schedule, instead of being set back another year. But that extra year has stiffened an already superb team with some fine additions. The reigning champs are also still solid and ready to defend their new silverware. I think the combo of Allen’s mobility and McDermott’s airtight defense are going to catch the Rambos off-guard. It’s Miller Time in LA again, but wearing new laundry now. Bisons trample the Rams.
Saints at Falcons – The Saints come marching into the Home Depots in Peach City. Jameis ‘Crab Legs’ Winston will be opposing Marcus ‘Retread’ Mariota, who STILL has a lot to prove this late in his disappointing career. N’awlins added Tyrann Mathieu to their burly D, so Kyle Pitts is going to have to work extra hard for his separation. DB Marcus Maye find opportunities to prevent dangerous Swiss Army knife Cordarrelle Patterson from doing his run/catch/score antics for the Falcs. Can Atlanta pump the brakes on Alvin Camaro? Winston is winsome as the Whodats pluck the hapless hawks.
Browns at Panthers – Revenge game! Baker is ticked at his old club, and chafing to show them what they gave up on in their shameless pursuit of renowned feminist Deshaun ‘Rubdown’ Watson. He does have a lot to prove, and will be dodging the Cleveland hammer-n-anvil of Garrett and Clowney, but he has Christian McCaffiene healthy to provide high octane to the Carolina offense. The Orangeheads start Brissett under center, which means they don’t get ‘their guy’ slinging the pig until near the end of the season. Jacoby is likely to find that Panther Brian Burns his pocket down early and often, making Charlotte hotter than the city limits of Purgatory on Sunday. I’m not sure what Mayfield really has left in his disappointing career so far, but he’s got a fresh start and a team that wants him. Black is the new Orange. Panthers Bake the Brownies.
Niners at Bears – No contest here. Chicago is still a dumpster fire, and a long way from ready to contend with a juggernaut like San Fran. Not much I need to say here, except ‘Incoming!’ as Deebo demo’s DaBears.
Steelers at Bengals – Pittsburgh brings another famous pass rush front to face Smokin’ Joe Burrow’s SuperBengals. This divisional rivalry will likely run hot again this year, but Cincy is clearly the better club whilst the Ironhats rebuild. Mitch Falsebisky is unlikely to impress or even keep the QB job, unless he suddenly found skills he couldn’t locate previously. Joe will be Mixon it up from the backfield while Steeler safeties will be busy Chase-ing JaMarr downfield. Cincy forges an opening win against the Metalheads.
Eagles at Lions – The Lyins are still a team with much to prove, and even if you love Dan Campbell’s style of emotional backslap leadership, he can’t pull talent from guys who don’t have enough of it. Philly’s stock is on the rise, adding solid talent each season as they steadily improve. Adding AJ Brown was a master stroke, and he should pay dividends right away. Jalen Hurts other teams with his legs and his arm, and rookie LB Nakobe Dean should make an impact right away…particularly denting opposing runners and slot receivers. Eagles soar but Lions roar no more.
Colts at Texans – I fully expect Indy to take over their division this year. With the addition of a legit star QB in Matty Heisman, they have all the pieces together finally. Their receiver corps is solid, they have a nasty defense, solid O-line, and the phenom that is Jonathan ‘Swift’ Taylor. Houston has a lot of try-hard, but they are the caboose of the NFL right now. Horseshoes have all the luck in this one.
Patriots at Dolphins – Flying Elvis heads to South Beach for some sun, and what is likely to be a drubbing by the more-talented (yup, I said it) Miami Dolphins. My Patriots have very few impact players who can scare you (Judon, if he returns to first-half form of last season), Christian Barmore and Kyle Dugger, all on D. The offense was…offensive in preseason. We’ll see what Matt Patricia can cook up for this bunch of ham-n-eggers, but he’s no Josh McDaniel and never was. Miami, for all its stops and start-overs with new coaches, has nonetheless been steadily acquiring talent at key positions. Even with yet another new head coach, they are better than New England, and hungry to prove it. They deserve to lose as karma for the shabby way the owner treated Brian Flores, but they won’t. Pats jump the shark, while Dolphins jump New England.
Ravens at Jets – Speaking of awkward reunions, Joe ‘Fossil’ Flacco will be taking the snaps for GangGreen this week against his former team, proving that no matter how mediocre and ineffectual you have been over your career, there’s still an NFL franchise that will pay you to stink for them. And his backup is Y.A. Tittle….Look for the healed Humphries and Peters to establish a no-fly zone deep for Baltimore, while Calais Campbell and Company continue the Ravens’ no-run zone in the trenches. We’ll see if rookie Gardner has any Sauce in him, but Robert Saleh’s team is still not ready for prime time. Jets get a shavin’ by the Ravens.
Jaguars at Salamanders – The only thing settled in DC is the team name, which I will make fun of all year. The arrival of Carson Wentz ‘should’ bring some stability to this well-stocked offense, although a guy who couldn’t flourish with Jonathan Taylor and Michael Pittman casts his own circle of doubt…Still, the Snydermanders are a lot further along than the Snaguars and Goldie-Locks Lawrence at this point. Lawrence is apt to hear approaching death Sunday as Montez makes him Sweat, Daron brings the Payne and Jonathan Allen is ‘all-in’ on flattening the flying follicles of Trevor Tresses. Jacksonville is improving rapidly due to endless #1 draft picks, but they aren’t out of the weeds yet. Duval is due for a fall, again. Salamanders Capitol-ize at home, as Jags get bagged and tagged.
Giants at Titans – A sort of awkward reunion, as Vrabel and Daboll (say THAT five times fast) face each other for the first time as head coaches who were once part of the Patriots organization. The Titans are still solid, although they still have O Tannehill under center and nearly all-new receivers. Lucky for them, Derek ‘Wrecking Ball’ Henry returns to lug the pig again this year, cuz Tannehill isn’t getting better with age. Daboll’s Jints are coming slowly, and one wonders if they ever will get there again, as Danny Dimes is now throwing nickels and Saquon is no longer the yardage monster he once was. Speaking of monsters, Titan Harold Landry has torn up opposing offenses like Godzilla through Tokyo, and what he doesn’t squash in his giant mitts Kevin Byard hunts down from the Secondary.
True to mythological form, Giants are smaller than Titans. Vrabel is able to table Daboll.
Chiefs at Cardinals – These two clubs can hang points in a hurry. Problem is both can surrender them too, particularly on the ground. Featured in the edge-rushing game will be JJ ‘Mega’ Watt countered by rookie George ‘Boris’ Karlaftis, both hungry for the taste of fresh quarterback. Murray in a Hurry will be starting without D-Hop’s highlight-film catches for a while, so we’ll see Moore of Rondale. Across the football pitch, Mahomes will be without the blinding speed of Tyreek the Freak from now on, which is significant to their lightning-strike abilities. The biggest edge here might be the KC brain-trust of Reid/Bieniemy/Spagnuolo, which is as good as any in the league. Chiefs add Cardinal feathers to their war bonnets.
Raiders at Chargers – The Wild West at its best. Vegas bet heavily on adding big talent to their already-potent roster, while the Bolts kept their strength and get ever closer to a ring run. This will be the year Carr has to show he can crack the top tier of gunslingers, or fade into mediocrity. His weapons are truly formidable, so no excuses. Justin Herbert continues to improve, pulling his team along with him while Joey ‘Hiya’ Bosa and Khalil ‘Big’ Mack slice through offensive lines like a pair of katanas, escalating life insurance premiums for signal callers every week. I think Josh McDaniels does better this time around wearing the cans. Raiders ground the Lightning.
Packers at Vikings – Far North head-knocker here, as division powerhouses get their opening salvoes in for ’22. For pressure on Mr. Rodgers’ neighborhood, the Vikes have Danielle the Hunter and Mr. Smith (Za’Darius) Goes To Minneapolis, doffing his former Green ‘n Gold. The Purples boast three returning D-backs, a rookie and Li’l Paddy Peterson sucking up all the airspace downfield, so Airin’ Aaron will have to find out what he has for targets this season with the departure of Davonte Adams. Patrolling deep lanes for the Cheese are standouts Jaire ‘Jump Route’ Alexander and Eric ‘Stoked’ Stokes, trying to keep deep threats Just Jeff and ‘Stealin’ Thielin in front of them instead of behind. Dalvin will Cook again this season, so Green Bay will need a lot of help from their D if the season is going to get off on a good note. With the Zimmer Shimmer growing dimmer, we’ll see how quickly new HC O’Connell has pulled the Vikes together. I’m leaning away from fromage in this one. Vikings eat the Cheese.
Buccaneers at Cowboys – The Black Pearl sails into J.R. Ewing’s living room this week, cannons blazing. Capt. Brady wants one more chance at pirates’ booty before he gets his own booty kicked in divorce court, and the new ‘Old-Look’ Buccaneers are along for the thrills. Tampa is a strong, well-balanced team, seasoned at many key positions. Dallas is still a team of promise and developing stars…but when will they finally arrive? The Zeke ‘n Dak Attack has yet to return to earlier glory, even with the emergence of CD Lamb and Dalton ‘I See Nothing!’ Schultz. Dallas’ defense is better with emerging stars Parsons and Diggs, but not a complete unit yet. Pirates still rule the seas in this one, as they sink the SS Gerry Jones once again. Aargh!
Broncos at Seahawks – In Awkward Reunion game number 16 this week, just gimme Denver. They were a QB short of legitimacy AGAIN last year (thanks Elway!), but solid in most other areas, and now they can coalesce around a legit top-tier playmaker in Russell Wilson. Seattle is all over the place roster-wise, and Geno Smith scares nobody. I don’t see a Seahawk win here anywhere, as Denver is going to want to throw down strong in their inaugural game with Wilson. Orange crushes the Squawks.
Enjoy the games!