We miss you champ, wherever you are!
So, with Rat Boy's seat vacated, apparently I am taking over the weekly thread / pick'em duties. Possibly, if I get less lazy, I will put my own spin on this space as the season goes.
For the uninitiated, here's how the pick'em works: I pick four matchups every week. You tell me who you think is going to win each game. I tally the results and show you the running totals each week.
First game of the season happens Wednesday (tomorrow!). For the rest, check out the506.com to see what games are airing in your area this week.
Pick 'em time:
Cowboys at Giants: Opening acts: Mariah Carey and No Doubt. Rematch of the week 17 battle that sent the Giants into a wildcard berth and on to another Super Bowl run. The quarterbacks define this matchup. Eli Manning made comments a year ago about being elite that got snickered at, then he went out and played like he's elite. Tony Romo, coming off a career season, may be the most maligned career 96+ rated passer in NFL history. Also, Martellus Bennett has switched sides on this rivalry, though it is unlikely anyone will notice. Cowboys. And probably No Doubt by default.
49ers at Packers: Will the real Alex Smith please stand up? A year ago, Smith signed a stop-gap 1-year deal, while the team spent a high 2nd round pick on man-god Colin Kaepernick. A highly efficient 445 pass attempts later, and Smith is the guy that took the 49ers to their first playoff win since 2002, with a new 3-year deal in hand. Yet, that incentive-laden deal is far from an iron-clad commitment on the part of the 49ers, and Kaepernick's preseason performance led the 49ers to cut loose all other viable backup QBs, keeping only assistant-coach-in-a-helmet Scott Tolzien as the teams clipboard holding QB3. Meanwhile, Aaron Rodgers doesn't yet have his new contract. You can bet he will be looking to make his extension even more expensive. Packers.
Jaguars at Vikings: Rat Boy is gone, and that means I can pick the Jags game every week if I want! Here's a game with the two best running backs of the past few years, coming into this game with a lot of uncertainty. Adrian Peterson returns from a knee-asplode ACL/MCL injury, and it will be a game-time decision if he even plays at all. Maurice Jones-Drew returns from an ill-advised contract holdout that resulted in gaining absolutely nothing. He will play but as a 3rd down back, to ease him into action. Meanwhile, 2nd year QBs Christian Ponder and Blaine Gabbert will shoot it out without the benefit of their stud RB security blankets. Gabbert was sharp in preseason, Ponder less so. I don't know if either will blow the roof off the Metrodome this week, but then again, it doesn't take much to bring that roof down. Jaguars. Hmm, this plan of including the Jags every week could be dangerous to my totals.
Redskins at Saints: I am fascinated to see what becomes of the New Orleans Saints this season. After the Wrath of Goodell, the team has been licking their wounds, and figuring out life without Sean Payton. And for the start of the season, they won't even have their interim head coach, Joe Vitt. New Orleans still has their firepower, but you have to wonder how well-oiled the machine will be at this point. The Redskins come to the table with their new toy, RG3, for whom they have visions of a Cam Newton-like rookie year. As is typical of Washington, they went boom-or-bust on Griffin, trading away a king's ransom of draft picks to move up to the #2 spot to land him. He'll need to become a franchise QB and fairly soon to make that move remotely worthwhile. It may happen, but I think he'll start off with an L against a Saints team in disarray but still dangerous. Saints.