Welcome back, NFL football fans. This is now the fourth consecutive year in which I have committed myself to picking every single NFL regular season game. I pick the winners straight-up, without taking the spread into account (although I do offer my best guess as to what the margin of victory will be). My goal, as always, is to beat ESPN's NFL "experts" at their own game.
It's always more fun when my enormously vast and intensely loyal readership gets involved, so don't be shy about offering your own predictions in the comments section below. At the end of each week, I'll total up everyone's Win-Loss record (including the out-of-shape, middle-aged guys from ESPN), and post the results in the comments for comparison.
[If you're looking for NFL picks that factor in the spread, you'll definitely want to check out David Mazzotta's weekly column, which should begin about midway through the season. Unlike me, he's actually a published author, sew u cann eckspekt mutch gooder righting their then u wil c hear.]
With that said, it's time for my picks for the NFL's Week One:
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 4th
Washington Redskins at NY Giants — 7:00 p.m.
The defending Super Bowl champs should have little difficulty winning the opening game of the 2008 regular season. I don't see the Redskins returning to the postseason this year.
RJ's Pick: New York Giants by 9
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 7th
Detroit Lions at Atlanta Falcons — 1:00 p.m.
The Detroit Lions went undefeated in the preseason, and gave up fewer points than any other team (I believe this is conclusive proof that the preseason is meaningless). Rookie RB Kevin Smith (a UCF non-grad) should still be fun to watch, though. Atlanta remains horrible. Rookie Matt Ryan will be starting.
RJ's Pick: Detroit by 6
Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens — 1:00 p.m.
These two teams will be battling with each other all season long – to determine who finishes in third place.
RJ's Pick: Baltimore by 2
Seattle Seahawks at Buffalo Bills — 1:00 p.m.
The Seahawks are looking to maintain their vise-like grip on the NFC Worst. I suspect the Bills have improved a bit over last season, but I don't know how much that matters in a division with the Patriots, Brett Favre, and Bill Parcells.
RJ's Pick: Seattle by 3
NY Jets at Miami Dolphins — 1:00 p.m.
And speaking of Brett Favre and Bill Parcells … [insert your own jokes here].
RJ's Pick: Miami by 1
Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots — 1:00 p.m.
The Patriots probably want to lose a game early in the season this year, just so they don't have to deal with the whole "will you go undefeated?" distraction. The problem is, I don't think they could lose at home to Kansas City if they tried.
RJ's Pick: New England by 30
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints — 1:00 p.m.
As I write this, Hurricane Gustav is pounding Louisiana. The levees have held so far, and let's all hope they continue to do so (Somehow I don't think the Saints want to open the season unexpectedly playing on the road … or at home, in scuba gear). New Orleans underachieved last year, and Tampa Bay overachieved. The NFC South is a fairly weak division, and I expect the Saints to finish the regular season on top.
RJ's Pick: New Orleans by 1
St. Louis Rams at Philadelphia Eagles — 1:00 p.m.
The Rams could surprise a few people this year, assuming they avoid the quantity of injuries they suffered last season. The Eagles are on a downward slide into the abyss of the NFC East.
RJ's Pick: St. Louis by 2
Houston Texans at Pittsburgh Steelers — 1:00 p.m.
I see no reason to expect the Steelers to lose here, unless Texans Head Coach Gary Kubiak changes his mind and allows Superhuman-Football-Legend-And-Hero-Of-The-Proletariat **Sage Rosenfels** to start in place of QB Matt Schaub. But there's little chance of that.
RJ's Pick: Sage Rosenfels 168, Steelers -3
RJ's Pick: Pittsburgh by 4
Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans — 1:00 p.m.
Who would you rather have at QB: David Garrard (18 TD and 3 INT last season) or Vince Young (9 TD and 17 INT last season)? Yeah, me too.
RJ's Pick: Jacksonville by 20
Dallas Cowboys at Cleveland Browns — 4:15 p.m.
I hate to say it, but I think Cleveland is going to disappoint this season. And I hate to say it even more, but I think the Cowboys are going to represent the NFC in Super Bowl XLIII. Oh, well. If I'm right, at least we'll get to watch Dallas QB Tony Romo choke in front of an even larger viewing audience than he's accustomed to.
RJ's Pick: Dallas by 10
Carolina Panthers at San Diego Chargers — 4:15 p.m.
San Diego will probably win their division again, but I don't see them achieving much beyond that. Carolina should have another mediocre season and fail to qualify for the playoffs.
RJ's Pick: San Diego by 5
Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers — 4:15 p.m.
Arizona is hoping to improve on their .500 record from last season. The 49ers would probably view an 8-8 season as a blessing.
RJ's Pick: Arizona by 6
Chicago Bears at Indianapolis Colts — 8:15 p.m.
The Bears are gonna suck. The Colts have a credible shot at getting to the Super Bowl.
RJ's Pick: Indianapolis by 15
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 8th
Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers — 7:00 p.m.
I thought there was a law in Wisconsin that made it illegal for the Packers to play football unless Brett Favre is under center? Hmmm … looks like QB Aaron Rodgers is going to the hoosegow (That's still better than playing for the Jets). A good many people are predicting the Vikings to win the NFC North this season. It's possible, I suppose, although I'd think it more likely if they had, like, a quarterback who wasn't, you know, appallingly awful. Maybe rookie QB John David Booty will get some playing time and impress. Or maybe I just wanted to include the word "booty" somewhere in this article as part of my Search Engine Optimization scheme. You don't know right now, do you? And that's why they play the games …
RJ's Pick: Green Bay by 1
Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders — 10:15 p.m.
Mike Shanahan has now officially been the Head Coach of the Denver Broncos for more years than the US military was in Vietnam (Seriously. Look it up). "Hey, hey, Shanahan! Whatcha gonna do for a Broncos fan?" In this season's opener, he'll lead his troops into battle against the … wait … Oakland still has a team? I'll be sure to stay up until 2 a.m. on a weeknight to watch this matchup of certain playoff contenders. I'll be equally likely to gouge out my own eyeballs with a spork.
RJ's Pick: Denver by 6