Week 1 Football Picks – De FlaterMass Edition

ESPO

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES -3 AT ATLANTA FALCONS

We are BACK, everybody! Glad to be here!

*crickets*

Right! Without further ado, lets kick this shit off with an NFC bird on bird matchup, as Chip Kellys Eagles travel to the Georgia Dome to take on the Hotlanta Falcons.

As we’re all aware, Chip Kelly got drunk as a fuckin skunk this offseason and went Madden 16 all over the fucking place on this team. He traded Shady McCoy for Kiko Alonso, because he is a racist. A racist who values a 25-year old tackle-machine stud middle linebacker more than a player whos arguably at the peak of his valuable playing at the most wear-and-tear heavy position in football. He also released notable black men (and also football players) Trent Cole and Cary Williams, and guard Todd Herrema- wait nevermind, that ones white. When DeMarco Murray showed up to put pen to paper on a shiny new Philadelphia contract, Chip was shocked to find that he was a black man. He thought the reigning rushing yard leader had blueblood parents who named him The Mark Murray, to separate him from all the other Mark Murrays at the whitewashed University of Oklahoma. Regardless, he had already committed to the deal, so he just got real fuckin drunk afterwards and went to a Keith Urban concert with Riley Cooper. When Ryan Mathews showed up at his door also looking for a new contract, Chip exclaimed, My daughtah tells me youre half white! and Mathews smiled knowingly and said, Just the good half, maam. Chip chortled and immediately took a liking to the young underachiever. He signed him as well.

A day before the draft, Chip was on a SERIOUS bender. With a bottle of Chivas Regal and some methamphetamines in his tummy, he finally went to sleep at 5 am. When his assistant coaches frantically tried to wake him up for the draft, he could barely see through the screaming headache. He did a few bumps of coke and put down a bloody mary (hold the tomato juice) to take the edge off. It didnt last long, as he was in a total stupor during the draft. He was really upset the next day when 4 of the 5 guys his staff had drafted in his stead turned out to be black. He was forced to pencil the highest pick of them all, Nelson Agholor, directly into a starting receiver gig, because he had already driven away Jeremy Maclin by referring to him as a mulignan after a particularly rough weekend in which he had watched all 6 seasons of the Sopranos, naked.

One day at practice, Chip and then-quarterback Nick Foles were running through some drills in which Chip was trying to impress upon his player the importance of not standing like a statue in the face of a 4-man pass rush, and not to throw 3 interceptions in a game. Gradually, the conversation turned to pop culture, which is when Foles foolishly mentioned that he thought Kanye was right to trash Becks album that no one had ever heard, and that Kanye was clearly a more accomplished musician than the pencil-necked Beck. Chip didnt respond – he merely looked at his stultifyingly stupid face with his beady eyes and decided right then and there that he would trade this man. He inquired around the league about quarterbacks that were available. Jeff Fisher said that he was sick of his perpetually injured quarterback, Sam Bradford. Chip interviewed him, and while he was a little worried about his 1/16th Cherokee blood, at one point he deigned to ask him who his favorite musician was. Neil Young, replied a confident Bradford, and Chip had knew he had found his man.

The other bird in this equation, the Falcons, went through a major housecleaning of their own. They finally, FINALLY got rid of possible actual-idiot Mike Smith, most notably. The man taking his place was former Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, which is probably a good idea because the Falcons were the literal WORST defense in the league last year. They also replaced vanilla OC Dirk Koetter with Kyle Shanahan, who will presumably bring his Shanahan-branded zone blocking scheme to Atlanta. These moves look good on paper, but its a big question mark whether these moves will translate to wins. The trade-up for Julio Jones, some injuries and some poor drafting have left the depth of this team in tatters. The offensive and defensive lines still need serious help. So serious, in fact, that the Falcons just signed epic free agent bust guard Andy Levitre. Its week one and the line is already THAT dire. Zone blocking schemes are traditionally effective, but require a very adept line who can work together well as a unit. Shuffling around your linemen constantly as the Falcons have done all offseason doesnt bode well for this, at least at the beginning of the season. Left tackle Jake Matthews is coming off Lisfranc surgery. They also have 2 highly untested running backs who arent totally healthy, and probably not adept at pass protection. They do have Julio Jones, who is obviously a top-3 receiver talent in the league. But will that be enough in this matchup? I have my doubts.

I feel pretty confident in the Eagles covering 3 here in week 1. Id also probably play the over, even though its a whopping 55.5. The Eagles run fast fast fast, and they will no doubt be looking to flex their offensive muscle. And a fast offense will allow the Falcons to come back on the field – if they are down, theyll no doubt be looking to throw bombs to Julio, some of which will probably work. Ca-caw!

THE PICK: EAGLES -3

MINNESOTA VIKINGS -2.5 AT SAN FRANCISCO 49ers

If youve read these picks before, you remember that I live in San Francisco, and hate the 49ers. Mostly because of Kaepernick, but for a variety of other reasons, which I dont need to go over again. So, the schadenfreude I experienced from the 49ers Offseason From Hell was immense. Glorious! Harbaugh forced out of town! Defensive stalwarts retiring out of nowhere! Aldon Smith not being able to put down the bottle! Losing Gore, Iupati, Anthony Davis, Crabtree, it goes on and on. Jim Tomsula, tapped by movie-villain CEO Jed York to be February fall guy for this disasterpiece, made his TV debut with all the charm of a can of tomato soup. They hired an offensive coordinator named GEEP CHRYST! Come ON! I still am not how his name is pronounced. Jeep? Geep, like geek? Jip? Is it Chryst, like Jesus? Chris + T? Maybe his whole name is a taste of the misdirection he plans on throwing unsuspecting defenses. Will I BOOTLEG and have Kap THROW IT AWAY? Will we throw into triple coverage? YOU DONT KNOW! YOU CANT KNOW!

The downside to all this is that its almost not fun anymore to shit all over the Niners. The bandwagoners jumped off the ship in droves last year, exchanging their one-year old red and gold apparel for brand-new blue and yellow Curry shirts. Now, all Im left with are the depressed real fans. 2 years ago, I had to hear about how fucking awesome Kaepernick was. Now everyone realizes that hes just a simpleton with fast feet and a big arm.

The Vikings, on the other hand, are a team Im high on. Ive bet my buddy on the over on 7.5 wins. Bridgewater was excellent down the stretch last year, leading the league in completion percentage over the last 5 weeks, Obviously, Adrian Peterson has returned from his year-long Son-Beating Sabbatical. Some people fear rust, but I think he comes back in his typical All-Pro form. The man is an absolute physical freak of nature, and he is going to be MOTIVATED. I think he leads the league in rushing, again. I think Mike Zimmer has the makings of an excellent coach, and I very much like the addition of Norv Turner as OC. They also replaced Greg Jennings with Mike Wallace. Since his departure from Pittsburgh, Wallace has been a mercurial personality to say the least. He never seemed to gel with the team in Miami, seemed at odds with the coaching staff and certainly never developed a rapport with Tannehill. Camp reports are mostly fluff, but the early signs out of Minnesota are encouraging. Some question Bridgewaters arm strength and his ability to hit Wallace on his signature go routes, but I believe hell create a solid tandem with young talent Charles Johnson and Turner is smart enough to get them both open.

All that being said, something about this game just stinks to me. The line has moved a HUGE amount since opening. The Niners debuted as 4 point favorites, and the line has swung all the way past the midpoint to make them 2.5 point home dogs! Thats a CRAZY swing – especially without any major player availability news (for example, Bradys return in week 1 vaulted the Pats from 3 point favorites to 7.) And even with this massive swing, the public is still pounding the Vikings, to the tune of 75% of the action! Thats just nuts. Yes, the 49ers had a disastrous offseason, and yes the arrow is pointing up on Minnesota. But its not like the Niners just fell asleep and woke up as the 2014 Titans. Theyve still got impact players on both sides of the ball. NaVorro Bowman is supposedly healthy and Ahmad Brooks has been cleared to play through his domestic abuse allegations (god seriously?). Vernon Davis is healthy and motivated, Torrey Smith and Boldin are still legitimate weapons, Carlos Hyde is an intriguing talent and Reggie Bushs legs havent yet fallen off. Kap is a bonehead, but hes got tools and is also 4-0 on MNF. Tomsula may be an idiot, but maybe not.

So, yeah. Something just feels off here. Vegas oddsmakers are very good at their jobs, and their willingness to keep moving this line towards Minny and and the publics thirst to pound Minnys side anyway makes me very suspicious. I feel like the smart money goes on the Niners here, coming out with some bloodthirst to prove their doubters and haters wrong after people shat on them all summer.

THE PICK: NINERS +2.5

DAN K

CAROLINA PANTHERS -3 AT JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

Welp, here we go again. Another exciting season of that classic game we know and love, and more importantly, another season of wagering vast sums of money predicting what will happen when large dudes plow into each other at full speed. For those of us who like sports and don’t follow any particular religion, this is it basically – though, I am told by sources in Iraq that ISIS is primarily composed of Patriots fans from the greater New England area. That’s enough rambling though, on to the picks!

We all know that the Jaguars have sucked badly, for a long time. They had some OK years with Mark Brunell and Byron Leftwich, but recently have been mired in failure after a string of first round busts like Tyson Alualu, Justin Blackmon, and the hilariously awful Blaine Gabbert. Nobody even really knows where Jacksonville is in Florida, and they don’t care. Things seem to be looking up (at least to me) with their drafting of QB Blake Bortles in the first round last year – and history has shown that a good QB can turn around a franchise relatively quickly. He had his ups and downs as a rookie, with 11-17 TD-INT ratio and being sacked a whopping 55 times, but showed promise and has had a great preseason. Bortles is mobile and has a decent arm, and I think he could be really good with a quality supporting cast around him. He’s had a great camp and preseason, but it remains to be seen if he can make enough of a jump to bring the Jags out of the NFL depths. The Jaguars have made an effort to at least add some playmakers to the team, and although free agent TE Julius Thomas and WR Marquise Lee will be out for this game, he has Alan Robinson, who has the skills to be one of the best in the league. His season was cut short by injury, but he has all the makings of a future star. Denard Robinson was surprisingly good at RB last year, but has been supplanted as starter by rookie RB TJ Yeldon, who looked great in college but could have the Saban curse (the curse is that Saban grinds every Alabama player into dust before they get to the league). In any case, the Jaguars offense is an unknown quantity with the potential to be good. Their defense though? It’s bad folks, and it’s missing both a starting DE and tackle to injury. Also, their rookie #3 overall-pick-pass-rusher-of-the-future tore his ACL in fucking rookie minicamp! Suffice to say, if the Jags want to win (or cover) the offense needs to carry them.

I have a gut feeling that the Jags will surprise this season, but to be honest I don’t have a clue about the Panthers. When we were doing season win totals last year, I picked the Panthers to go under the win total and miss the playoffs. I was right on taking the under, but they made the playoffs at 7-8-1 because the NFC South is schizophrenic and advanced to the divisional round. Buh. This preseason they lost their best receiver to an ACL tear, so a finally healthy Cam has to throw to guys like Ted Ginn, who should never do anything other than return kicks, and Devin Funchess, who was a dual threat coming out of college in that he was slow AND had bad hands. The exception is Greg Olson of course, one of the better tight ends in the NFL, but he can’t do everything. My guess is that Cam will be running a lot after Jonathan Stewart inevitably gets injured. The Panthers D is excellent as always, with Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly holding down the linebacker spot and should be able to keep them in games if the offense stutters. I can see the Panthers season going a lot of different ways depending on how things shake up.

So, who to pick? The first week is always tough because the composition of a team can change a lot from year to year. Usually, picking the Jaguars to do badly is a smart move. It looks like around 65% of the money is on Carolina, but the line has been bet down from -4 at opening. That tells me at least a few sharps like the Panthers in this game. The Jags have covered 4 of their last 5 too. I’d really like that extra point, but I think I’ll Bet on Bortles this week. There’s always one or two teams that surprise every year, why not Jax? I’m going Jaguars.

THE PICK: JAGS +1

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS +1 AT ARIZONA CARDINALS

This is a pretty cool matchup at first glance. The Saints had an ugly season last year marred by a complete defensive breakdown and a lot of uncharacteristic interceptions from Drew Brees. They were still in playoff contention up until the end because of the NFC South’s penchant for teams beating each other up in divisional matchups. They jettisoned some key players in the offseason due to cap concerns and assaulted a bunch of people with a belt concerns including some major contributors like Jimmy Graham, Kenny Stills, Pierre Thomas, Curtis Lofton, and Junior Galette, but they still have one of the best QBs in the NFL and a promising young receiver in Brandin Cooks. It remains to be seen if Mark Ingram still plays at a high level after getting a big contract and if CJ Spiller can remain injury free, but if you give Drew Brees weapons he’ll find a way to use them. As far as their defense, Jairus Byrd, the prize of their free agent class a year ago still isn’t ready to play due to injury, but the Saints defense has a few good young players that could pan out. I think last year was a fluke and they’ll come out ready to play.

Let me say this: I’m a Carson Palmer hater. I used to think he was an overrated diva, but maybe he’s mellowed out in his old age because he hasn’t gotten on my nerves in a while. To be fair, he was the steady QB Arizona needed, and likely would have taken them on a deep playoff run had he not been injured and forced the Cardinals to go so deep down their QB depth chart that they were one or two injuries away from bringing Jeff George out of retirement (it could have been a fever dream, but I thought I remembered someone suggested that they ask Warner to give it another go too). Arizona really has so much talent on their roster that it was a shame to see their season end like that. Larry Fitzgerald is a veteran mentor who can still play at a high level, John Brown is full of potential, Andre Ellington, albeit frequently injured, is a threat in the running and passing games, their defense is full of playmakers, the list goes on. If Palmer can stay healthy this year, the sky is the limit.

Anyway, this is a tough matchup. It’s two teams that I think will either be very good or just good. The Cards were 11-6 ATS in the regular season last year, and I always feel better about taking a balanced team over one that could just excel in one aspect. I think this will be a great game, but for now I’m going to say Arizona takes it. Brees is Brees, but that ball hawking Arizona defense is no joke and I think it could give him trouble. Cards.

THE PICK: CARDINALS -1

DICK

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS -4 AT ST LOUIS RAMS

Fuck you, St. Louis, the Rams are coming back to Los Angeles. Your town sucks because of your institutional racism and inferiority complex. You’re pretty good at lying to yourselves about civic priorities when you have politicians lobbying for a publicly financed stadium while the entire north side of the city has become a real life version of Grand Theft Auto. So, shitbirds of the Show Me State, enjoy one last year with my team before Stan moves them, builds a stadium with his own money, and watches the value of his franchise more than double. Anyways, about the game:

The Rams are an unbalanced mess. Right now they have possibly the best group of players that they can mix and match on the defensive front seven of almost anyone, but their defensive backfield gives up gargantuan amounts of passing yards and the offense is dog shit. The offensive line is staffed with rookies and projects so it’s little wonder that Nick Foles was swapped in for Sam Bradford if only to save the Rams psychiatry bills related to his PTSD. Sure, Todd Gurley was taken in the first round and he’s a beast, but he’s not going to see any action until at least week four and if the line is having serious problems Jeff Fisher may not use Gurley as much as Tre Mason to save the former’s knee from being shredded. Tavon Austin is talented, but Fisher doesn’t know how to use him. Kenny Britt, Brian Quick, and Jared Cook are pretty solid, but Foles is going to have to be upright to get them the ball. I swear the Rams are Lindsay Lohan. Hot as balls and incredible in the sack (on defense), but (on offense) liable to fuck your week up with a bender of vodka and pills barfing all over the house and breaking into your neighbor’s car naked. Or getting blown out by the fucking GIANTS!

I’m not sure Russell Wilson is a top-five quarterback, but he’s being paid like one. Now that he has his $60 million guaranteed (please stop quoting total contract figures, ESPN, the only money that counts is guaranteed cash) and Jimmy Graham to throw to in the red zone the average fan thinks he’s going to need to put up crazy Tom Brady/Aaron Rodgers/Drew Brees numbers to justify it. Don’t expect it this year or ever. The Seahawks grind it out and rely on avoiding mistakes, not airing it out and taking shots downfield. They are safe as houses. They are also going to have a lot of close games this year because injuries, salary attrition/free agency, and the league catching up are going to take their toll. Now, let’s clear up that little interception fiasco. Everyone screaming for Beast Mode inside the one (including me when it happened) need to calm the fuck down. The success rate on a pass inside the one is insanely high and out of 109 pass plays inside the one last season this was the first one to be intercepted. Sure, there’s someone out there who is going to say LAW OF AVERAGES CATCH UP, but people who do that are clueless morons who don’t understand how the law of averages works. Also buried under a mountain of bullshit is the fact that in the last five years Lynch scored touchdowns on one out of every five chances from the one yard making him 30th out of 39 running backs with at least 10 carries inside the one. Not saying Carroll should not have insisted on giving Beast the ball while he was on a hot streak, but I am saying it’s not like the Seahawks fucked up. The Pats guessed right and won the game fair and square even though Bill probably paid off a Seattle ball boy to relay the play call in real time using a couple of tin cans and a string, costing me $300 bucks when Seattle didn’t cover. Anyways, the Seahawks are going to have some trouble on defense with Kam Chancellor holding out. He’s their biggest hitter and arguably the real linchpin of their defensive schemes. He can play like a fourth linebacker and he’s good in coverage, so taking Kenny Easly Lite out of the game makes things pretty difficult for Seattle to run its signature man on man schemes since who else can be lined up anywhere inside the hashmarks? Let’s just say they have problems and also don’t start seasons particularly fast.

Oh yeah, Dick, what about actual gambling? Well, here’s the thing: Did you know that in the last 15 years Super Bowl losers are 2-13 ATS in week one? Sure, the Rams were only 7-9 ATS last year and had some pretty shitty losses, but they knocked off San Francisco, Denver, and the Seahawks last year as pretty heavy dogs. Getting four points at home in week one with the public clocking in at 73-percent on Seattle in what promises to be a defensive stand off? Gimme the Rams all day.

THE PICK: RAMS +4

GIANTS +6.5 AT JERRYS TAX DOLLAR FUCK PALACE

There are entire cadres of people howling about Eli Manning getting paid and a no-trade clause. They are morons and only wish they had a guy with two big fucking gaudy Super Bowl rings that were both at the expense of Prince Timmy Brady. Eat shit, Phil Rivers. Now, with the New York every-other-year magic facing the rest of football the Giants travel to Dallas to take on the best offensive line in football and four guys who are hoping to replace DeMarco Murray as the feature back. Also, let’s be clear: JERREH let it be known that if that stupid salary cap wasn’t in the way he would have backed up a trash truck full of cash for DeMarco, but he had to pick between Dez Bryant and his stud running back and since JERREH has started doing sensible things like drafting offensive lineman instead of Johnny Manziel you should be praising the man for keeping his star receiver. That being said, justifying the Cowboys as touchdown favorites on opening weekend is almost absurd. Sure, Dallas is 4-0 in real life and 3-1 ATS against the G-Spots over the last couple years, but Dallas has serious problems at defensive back and they need to figure out if Joseph Randle is an actual running back or will end up relying on Darren McFadden’s glass slipper feet. I love me some Romo (got him on two fantasy teams) and the ‘Boys are 5-1 ATS in September the last two years, but four of the last five games between these teams have been decided by five points or less. So a rivalry game in week one with an untested running back behind the best line in football and a great passing game against a Super Bowl winning QB with a new contract and no shits given and a decent receiving corps makes me think this thing ends up being a close one. Giants could outright steal this one on the road, so yes, I’ll take the Giants and the points, please.
THE PICK: GIANTS +6.5

ZACK

MIAMI DOLPHINS -3 AT WASHINGTON REDSKINS

The start of a new football season brings hope for the possibilities of the future. I’m new here, and looking forward to all this season will provide. So, what better way to begin the future than by…. hopping in the way-back machine.

Come with me Sherman, back into the dark mists of time to the distant year of 2012. It was a simpler time. Imagine a world in which we still knew nothing about Gangnam Style. We had not yet begun to use our phones for vicious avian attacks on porcine domiciles. And the Washington Redskins and Miami Dolphins were terrible…ok sometimes things don’t really change that much. As a Dolphins fan, I watched the 2011 season end with a couple meaningless victories taking us out of the race for generational talent Andrew Luck (more on him later) and for the consensus #2 Robert Griffin III. This meant we could trade a fortune to move up and snag RGIII or we could stand pat and make a great reach for a QB with only 2 years college experience at the position or drop to later rounds and draft turnover machine Kirk Cousins or take a chance on a little known, Doug Flutie clone named Russell Wilson. The rest, as they say, is history.

Not since Zach Thomas have the Phins had a player who looked so much like a good ‘ol Texas boy who had been hit by a truck as a child (ok, that really did happen to Zach Thomas). Tannehill wasn’t supposed to begin his rookie year as the starter and yet all he has done is improve. The Potomac River Native Americans paid a king’s ransom to snag the talented and charismatic QB they had been missing since Joe Theisman had his leg chopped to kindling on national TV by LT (that’s what we writerly types call foreshadowing). RGIII was transcendent as a rookie until Mike Shanahan tried to burn him out the way he did with John Elway (fun fact, Mike Shanahan has a losing record as coach when his QB isn’t John Elway).

RGIII is now a national joke and the Ethnic Slurs start their safety school pick of Kirk Cousins. Ryan Tannehill is being touted as a franchise Quarterback and looks poised to take the Dolphins far. The Team That Should Be Renamed The Hogs will rely on its running game and Alfred Morris because their offensive line, outside of Trent “Silverback” Williams are a bunch of paste eating scrubs who can’t be trusted with the health of their QB. The Dolphins D was 24th in DVOA against the run last year and went out to pick up a shiny new DT (you may have heard some stories about this). Watch for the matchup of DeSean Jackson and Brent Grimes, two of the best feisty fast guys in the league. I expect Miami to win the defensive matchup fairly easily.

On the other side of the ball, the Miami offense looks poised for great things this year with a whole new cast of receiving weapons and the league’s second-most effective RB, Lamar Miller (5.1 YPC last year). Assuming they stay healthy, they could be a force to be reckoned with. The CrimsonEpidermi have one of the more talented front 7s, even with the loss of Brian Orakpo in the off-season, but their secondary is probably the worst in football so look for a big fantasy weekend from Ryan Tannehill. Miami wins 35-13.

THE PICK: MIAMI -3

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS -2.5 AT BUFFALO BILLS

The Colts and the Bills face of in a matchup of former AFC East rivals…ok when the Colts were in the East they were a dumpster fire good for two wins a year, but since they’ve left for the comfy confines of the AFC South they have had the best QB of all time and followed that up with potentially the best QB of the next generation. The offensive version of JJ Watt, a tank of a man, with tremendous football IQ who loves to hit and be hit. Andrew Luck follows in the Peyton mold of dragging a team with good receivers and a reprehensible defense into respectability (while keeping them from getting draft picks high enough to really contend).

The Bills have used the intervening years away from the Colts to sink below mediocrity and into the dumps. Buffalo is the only NFL team to not make the playoffs this century (yes even the Browns and Jaguars have made the playoffs in the last 15 years). There is hope in Buffalo, which, as any native wing eater will tell you is actually as much a sign of impending doom as a lake effect snow bank looming in the distance.

The Bills might have the best defense in football, and they picked up defensive genius Rex Ryan as their Head Coach. But the Colts have upgraded their offense hoping that wily veterans Frank Gore and Andre Johnson can help TY Hilton. This should be one of the better matchups of Week One.

On the other side of the ball, well….the Colts D was last seen being turned into confetti by the “Enhanced Winning Techniques” of the New England Patriots and the Bills “Offense” has been just plain offensive. Buffalo got much better on paper adding LeSean McCoy, in a deal that will look increasingly terrible as Kiko Alonso shines in Philly and the Shady Show brings distraction. The pick up of oft-injured Charles Clay to replace Scott Chandler should be a big upgrade. The problem is their Offensive line is deplorable bad, lead by the return of Richie Incognito. Yeah, it’s that bad. But where the Bills offensive turd really shines is at QB where soon to be out of the league EJ Manuel, Captain Mediocrity Matt Cassel and Joe Flacco Backup Tyrod Taylor competed for the starting position. Taylor gets the start and has shown flashes of brilliant competence. Colts win 27-21

THE PICK: COLTS -2.5

About Dan K

Dan is a Southern hip-hop historian who hitchhiked from his home in rural Pennsylvania to Montreal to pursue his dream of working in a call center. Within days of seeing his first computer, @dankmtl became a twitter celebrity by skewering the evil and stupid in immensely entertaining fashion.