Welcome back, football fans. This is now the third 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 these losers.
It's always more fun when my readership gets involved, so don't be shy about offering your own predictions in the comments section. At the end of each week, I'll total up everyone's W-L record (including the pudgy, middle-aged guys at 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.]
With that said, it's time for my picks for the NFL's Week One. (last season's record is in parentheses)
Thursday, September 6th
New Orleans (10-6) at Indianapolis (12-4) - 8:30 PM
Last season, the New Orleans Saints won the NFC South, snagged a playoff bye week, and made it all the way to the NFC Championship Game, where they lost to the Chicago Bears. Not bad for a team that had gone 3-13 and had its stadium destroyed in a hurricane the year before. They should have a strong offense again this season (Drew Brees at QB, Reggie Bush and Deuce McAllister at RB), but their defense is more questionable.
Tony Dungy and the Indianapolis Colts finally got past the New England Patriots and made it to the Super Bowl last season, where they were victorious over the Chicago Bears. The offense should be outstanding as usual (Peyton Manning at QB, Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne at WR, Joseph Addai at RB), but it is likely that their defense will be hit-or-miss.
PICK: The Colts were undefeated at home last season. I wouldn't bet against it happening again this year. COLTS BY 9.
Sunday, September 9th
Philadelphia (10-6) at Green Bay (8-8) - 1:00 PM
The Eagles won the NFC East last year by winning their last five regular season games, and made it to the Divisional Round of the playoffs before losing to the Saints. Injuries have taken their toll on QB Donovan McNabb, who is probably past his prime anyway. They'll be relying on their defense a lot this season.
The Packers very nearly made the playoffs last season, winning their last four games and only getting edged out for a Wild Card spot by the New York Giants based on the infamous "tiebreakers." Brett Favre will be back in the saddle at QB for this, his 57th season. Vernand Morency is unproven as a starting RB, and the second- and third-team guys at RB are all rookies (as is starting FB Korey Hall). The defense was very mediocre last year.