The NFL starts Thursday, and just in time. I’ve spent the last week torn between the news cycle of following the horrible trades of the Texans, interspersed with the travel-network-style stalking of Ezekiel Elliott. It’s time to actually see a game that matters.
By the way, that constant coverage of Elliott’s return just goes to show you the national spotlight the Cowboys exist under. He has press coverage and Facebook Live broadcasts of every moment of him flying from Cabo to Dallas. Meanwhile, Chargers hold-out running back Melvin Gordon could fly back into LAX at rush hour, and still have to wait for an Uber driver.
Zeke is finally signed. We’ve put up with all the preseason football we can stand. And we’ve all drafted our fantasy football teams, and had a good laugh at the guy who grabbed Andrew Luck the day before he retired. It’s finally time to play for real, and make those season predictions that are always wrong, but we still do them every year.
I picked my division winners last week, but for my seeds in the NFC, I’ll take the Saints, Cowboys, Packers and Seahawks, with the Bears and Eagles as the wild card Teams. For the AFC, I’ll go Chiefs, Patriots, Steelers and Colts, and Jaguars and Chargers in the wild card spots.
And yes, leaving the Rams and Browns out wasn’t a typo. Feel free to yell at me on Twitter but I’m playing the odds here. Over the last two years, only four of the 12 previous playoff teams repeated, and Super Bowl teams coming off a drubbing don’t usually respond well. As for the Browns, they’ll be a huge draw all season, and no one on that team or coaching staff will be ready for that. It may be laziness on my part, but you show me 20 years of being Cleveland, I’m going to need to see more than a different roster before I change my mind about you.
For the playoffs, I say we see the Chiefs beat the Patriots in the AFC Championship in the early game, followed by the Saints edging the Cowboys. Two weeks later, and the Saints hoist the championship trophy, with Drew Brees the regular season and Super Bowl MVP.
On to the picks. Last year counting the playoffs, I went 39-22 picking games, and 38-22-1 picking against the Las Vegas lines. Admittedly, that’s not awful, which means I am primed for a horrible crash this season. In my last six years of writing for the paper, I’m 172-108-1, and 267-248-15 against Vegas. Not bad, but not good enough yet to have a casino pick me up in their private jet and take me to Whataburger.
Here’s my pick for the season opener tonight, which may be the first time the NFL has declined to feature the Super Bowl champion on opening night because of something that happened in a Florida massage parlor. As always, these are for the purposes of comedic discussion only, and inspired by research, analysis, and enough preseason football to put my frontal lobe in a coma. As always, no wagering.
Green Bay (plus 3) at Chicago: Last year the Packers struggled against the Bears, probably because they only had five minutes to game plan for a late-arriving Khalil Mack. This year, everyone is picking Mitchell Trubisky as their dark horse MVP candidate, possibly because we can’t name anyone else who plays offense for the Bears.
Pick: Vegas thinks the Bears will win it by more than three, I disagree. I’ll take the Packers to win it outright.
We’ll take a look at the rest of the week one games on Sunday, hopefully between now and then the Texans won’t trade away any more of their players for magic beans. Good luck, everybody.
Reid Kerr will take LSU over Texas, and hope he’s wronger than he’s been at any point since his first marriage. Reid’s second book, “I Hate It Here: A Love Story,” is out now on Amazon.com. You can always tweet questions, comments, and angry messages to him at @reidaboutit.