Jazz: We’re back for another season of incredible prognostication, perspicacity and propaganda in the NFL! Last season I finally managed to take the regular season victory, squeaking by with a record of 73-44. Of course, then Ed came back and trounced me in the post-season, but so goes the wheel of life. I do have one announcement to make before we kick things off, however. In the past, both Ed and I have been stalwart predictors of victory for our respective teams, me with the New York Jets and Ed with the Pittsburgh Steelers. This season there will be a change. Given the ungodly trading and shenanigans the Jets have been up to, more than a few analysts have concluded that the ownership of the Jets is purposely trying to set up a team so incredibly bad that they will go 0-16, securing a first round draft pick in 2018. I think they have accomplished this nicely. Maybe they’ll surprise all of us and this plucky pack of relatively nameless upstarts will shock the world. But I’m not betting the ranch on it. And I will not be automatically picking the Jets every week and simply giving Ed a free point. Our team looks horrible and I finally have to own up to that.
Ed: We’ve already had quite a start to the 2017 season. The Patriots lost a home opener for the first time since 2012. Even with Brady on suspension last season, New England managed to win against Miami. Looking at their schedule, upcoming games at New Orleans and against Houston at home might be tough to pick. Could Brady and Belichick start off 0-3 in 2017? We’ll see, but as Jazz notes, they won’t go 0-5 with the Jets as their Week 5 opponent. Besides that, we have a weather-related postponement due to Hurricane Irma, with the Tampa Bay at Miami game moved to week 11. On the plus side, even for Patriot fans, Week 1 will renew lots of rivalries and should have some great games in store for fans, so here we go ….
Jazz: Our three feature games this week should hopefully give all the fans something to cheer about, at least until the inevitable bad news arrives for some of us. The Jets travel to Buffalo to face their divisional rivals the Bills (1:00, CBS). The Bills look pretty good if not great coming out of the off season. The Jets look like… let’s face it. I don’t know who most of these guys are and I’m subscribed to their newsletter and all their social media. I’ll put the Jets’ cheerleaders up against any other squad in the league, but today I’ll go with the Bills in a horrific 37-9 beatdown. (Unless the Jets put some of their cheerleaders in uniform as starters.) The Steelers visit the perennially hapless Cleveland Browns and are favored by, I believe, roughly 70 points. That’s probably a bit optimistic even for Cleveland so I’ll take Pittsburgh 33-20 (1:00, CBS). Finally, the Vikings host the Saints in what should be an interesting Monday night match. On paper Minnesota looks a little better, but the Saints’ defense looked pretty good in the pre-season. In the end it may all come down to Drew Brees. I’m going to go with a minor upset here and take New Orleans 23-20 in a Monday Night (7:10 pm) nail biter.
Ed: The Steelers start off on the road this time, and will face the latest Brown’s starting QB, former Notre Dame star DeShone Kizer. Unlike the Pats, the Browns have lost 12 straight home openers, and unlike the Pats, this streak won’t get broken either. They’re already starting off dinged up on the O-line and the D-line, and they’re playing against an always-tough D and perhaps the league’s best running back in La’Veon Bell. Steelers win 35-14. The Jets have finally gone fully into the demolition phase of a rebuilding plan. Don’t expect the Bills to take it easy on their intrastate (kinda) rivals, winning 42-16. Here in Minnesota, don’t count out the Vikes. Yes, Adrian Peterson’s coming back as a Saint, but the Vikes have a tough D and home-field advantage against a mediocre New Orleans squad. Give it to Minnesooooooooota by a 27-19 margin.
Jazz: Let’s pick four more to see if we can get 2017 off to a good start.
- Eagles at Redskins (1:00 pm, FOX) – The Eagles actually look pretty good this season, but Cousins (assuming he can stay healthy) has a lot of receiver talent to pick from. I think this one will be close, but I’ll take the home field advantage and go with Washington 30-24.
- Ravens at Bengals (1:00 pm, CBS) – Cincinnati is a 3 point favorite, but Joe Mixon probably isn’t starting. Baltimore has their share of injuries from the pre-season, but their offensive and defensive lines just looked better from the scouting reports. I’ll go with the underdog and take the Ravens in a low scoring match, 20-17.
- Seahawks at Packers (4:25 pm, FOX) – Plenty of high hopes for both of these teams. Seattle is notoriously tough at home, but Rogers still has a lot of tools to work with against a secondary missing a couple of key guys. I’ll take the Packers at home in a shootout 27-23.
- Chargers at Broncos (MONDAY 10:20 pm, ESPN) – This is the OTHER Monday night game. Denver is the obvious favorite but the line is only 3 points. Philip Rivers has been slowly building up a reputation and he looked very good in the preseason. Also, as good as they’ve been in recent years, Denver’s defense looks rather suspect. I’ll take the Chargers in a bit of an upset, 29-20.
- Eagles at Redskins (1:00 pm, FOX) – What makes this rivalry so compelling? No one can figure out who’s supposed to win these games. The Redskins have a way of failing to meet the challenge, especially early in the season, so I’ll go with Philly by 27-21.
- Ravens at Bengals (1:00 pm, CBS) – Can both teams please lose today? No? Cincy’s still got a strong squad, while the Ravens have drifted the last couple of seasons. Home field advantage probably makes the difference today in a defensive battle. 19-14 Cincinnati.
- Seahawks at Packers (4:25 pm, FOX) – The Seahawks are not a road team of late, and the Packers are one of the best home teams in the league. Aaron Rodgers will start out with his receiving corps fully healthy, and that’s going to be bad news for Seattle’s D. Pack wins 35-21.
- Chargers at Broncos (MONDAY 10:20 pm, ESPN) – The Los Angeles Chargers may have moved cities, but are probably the same underperforming team they’ve been for years. Philip Rivers is getting older at QB, and time is slipping away for him to be the kind of guy who can carry a team on his back. Playing Denver on the road is a tough way to start, even if he does have Keenan Allen back healthy. Denver’s D and the home field advantage means Broncos win this one, 24-17.
Also, my Colin Kaepernick prediction: Back on the field in Week 5.