NFL Week 1 open thread

Are you ready for some football?  Welcome back to my favorite time of year, when I have an easy post every Sunday morning that focuses on anything but politics, and when people across the political spectrum can agree on one thing: I’m gonna pick the Pittsburgh Steelers every single frickin’ week.  Get used to it, newbies.  And don’t forget the occasional crying/gloating over Notre Dame football, which is off to a 2-0 start for the first time in what seems like decades after yesterday’s come-from-behind win over Purdue.

But we’re here to talk about NFL football and my weekly argument (rationalization) for a Steelers win.  Today they’re on the road in Denver, where Peyton Manning now plays after what should have been a career-ending neck injury two seasons ago.  Pittsburgh lost their last game of the season in Denver in OT despite a gutsy performance by a hobbled Ben Roethlisberger, thanks to the heroics of Tim Tebow, who got rewarded by being sent to the New York Jets to sit on the bench.  The Steelers come into Denver dinged up again, with James Harrison and Rashard Mendenhall both sitting out the game, and of course Ryan Clark unable to play in Denver ever.  Still, the Steelers O-line improved in the off-season, and the defense looked sharp in pre-season as well.  Manning has a new team and a new system, and I’m not sure that Denver improved much of anything in the off-season.  I’m picking the Steelers to win by four, 21-17.

Last season, my record was 70-24, so it’s not like I don’t get some picks correct.  I also got the Super Bowl pick right after going about .500 in playoff picks.  Let’s highlight five more games for this week and see how I start off the season:

  • 49ers at Packers — Both teams were strong last year, but I’m not going against the Pack at home, not even in relatively warm weather.  Green Bay 31-21 over San Francisco.
  • Jaguars at Vikings — Both teams were relentlessly mediocre last year, but the Vikings’ big problem was a QB deficiency and an inability to hold a lead.  I’m assuming they’ve worked on both in the off-season.  I’ll pick the Vikings to be up by three TDs at the half and win 27-24 in the end.
  • Colts at Bears — Andrew Luck, welcome to the NFL. Don’t expect to beat the Monsters of Midway, who may not be able to win this division but are still a better team on paper than last year’s Luck-less Colts.  The line has the Bears up by 10, and that sounds about right.  Chicago wins 31-21.
  • Patriots at Titans — Tom Brady will be looking for some redemption after losing a second time to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl, and the Titans aren’t a good enough team to stand in his way.  New England 35-17 over the Titans.
  • Bengals at Ravens — As a Steelers fan, I’m hoping they both lose.  I’d prefer that Baltimore gets off to the slower start … but I don’t think I’ll get my wish.  Ravens win 24-14 over Cincinnati.