Andy Hayes kicks off his weekly column for TheDC with Week 1 picks. Without further ado …
• MN @ NO (-4.5). I am pumped for the start of this NFL season. And what a great game to start the season. One reason I’m so excited the season is finally here is that we don’t have to listen to ridiculous speculation anymore about Brett Favre returning. He’s back with an injured ankle, the Viking defense is older, Sidney Rice is out for a while, Percy Harvin can’t shake the debilitating migraines (something you’d think more NFL players would suffer from), Adrian Peterson fumbles in 50% of his games and Brad Childress remains … Brad Childress. Looks like a nice opening night for the Saints. NO 38, MN 20.
• Mia @ Buff (+2.5). I don’t think the Miami Dolphins have a Marketing/Promotions department. I can’t remember a quieter professional sports team. Just a few days ago, one of the legends of NFL football (Bill Parcells) abruptly resigned his post as exec VP of football with zero fanfare – only a few brief, after-thought type articles. Earlier in the year, the Dolphins quietly acquired a not-so-quiet young whipper-snapper (only time I ever have, or will, use that expression — promise) named Brandon Marshall. He was a huge free agent signing, but again, the expected buzz around such a signing was just not there. Like all things Dolphins, the excitement was short-lived and then snuffed out. Communism anyone? Now, they head into the season with what could be a very good team and folks aren’t even sure Miami is even in the NFL anymore. Meanwhile, the Buff spent the offseason apparently focused on bolstering the one position that needed no attention: RB. Rookie RB CJ Spiller might end up being very good – but the Buff already had 2 good RBs and the rest of the team needed serious attention but was neglected. Not smart. Mia 24, Buff 17.
• Cleve @ TB (2.5). Still wondering how Raheem Morris got the head coaching job for TB. He was 33 at the time of the hire and had zero head coaching experience at ANY level. Makes me believe it IS possible that one day, I’ll simply be named the GM of the Packers. If I had to guess, I’d say this is how Morris ended up with the job. The Glazer family was busy tending to some matter in Manchester, England in January of 2009 (they also own a significant stake in the Manchester United soccer team) when someone from Tampa called them and said that Jon Gruden was fired so they needed a new coach. They took action immediately – at the pub they were drinking in – by printing off the roster of TB coaches and taping it to the dartboard. Malcolm (daddy Glazer, 82 years old) hit Raheem’s name with the first dart and proclaimed “COACH!”. Then Glazer urged his cronies to join him in a game of beer-pong. Despite their n0-experience coach, Tampa might not be bad this year. Josh Freeman was a good draft pick last year and could be good, their RB group looks decent, Kellen Winslow could be excellent and WR Mike Williams could surprise. Still, there is just something about the Cleve’s Jake Delhomme, a guy who loves the underdog role, landing in sucky Cleveland that makes me think that the team may get its fans excited by showing some cleave this year, as it were. Cleve 24, TB 17.
• Det @ Chic (-6.5). Like many NFL fans, I get an annual urge to pick Detroit to surprise. Every year the temptation is huge and it’s usually not based on much. This year, I think there is a bit more to base the temptation on because of some good additions and the potential of Matthew Stafford. I think Jahvid Best will be very good (though injury-prone) and the additions of Nate Burleson and Tony Scheffler will help spread out the offense. But the temptation to get too excited this year is tempered by the fact that I saw the Packers handle Detroit last year at Lambeau and I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen a less inspired effort by a team. I was sitting right behind the Detroit bench and there was zero spark and absolutely zero coaching going on. It was amazing really, as Jim Schwartz stood alone most of the game seemingly not even talking into his headset thing. At the risk of being crass, actually there is no risk here – this will be crass – judging by their facial expressions, it seemed like a number of coaches and players may have been dealing with diahrrea. As for the Bears, the only real question is, has Jay Cutler let Mike Martz into his frat? Whenever I hear the word “frat” or “Fraternity house”, I don’t think of Animal House like most my age do – I think of Jay Cutler, ultimate frat boy. This may be a better game than most think – Bears 33, Detroit 24.