By: Ryan Wooley
With Labor Day now behind us and the NFL season getting set to officially get underway, it means it’s time to bring you another edition of my weekly winners.
If you have been a faithful reader of this blog every Friday, you know I pick three topics that I deem to be worthy of the title ‘weekly winner’ and it could be an athlete, team or anything that has to do with sports, but with the NFL now back in full swing I’m going to change some things up and only pick one topic to give the ‘weekly winner’ title to and in place of the other two, give who I think will win in the NFL that week and see if I can help those of you that bet on games.
As always, feel free to follow me on Twitter @WooleyMammoth85 and let me know if my picks have helped or hurt you in your suicide pools or with your local bookie.
Eastern Michigan University Marching Band
There is a quote that says; “no matter what you do or where you go in life, never forget where you came from” and EMU has taken that quote and ran with it as the marching band is wearing new uniforms this weekend that will honor their former mascots in the Hurons and Normalities as both logos have been added to the inside of the coat.
As expected, the move is being met with some criticism as some feel that the use of Indian logos is offensive to Native Americans, but Eastern Michigan president Susan Martin said that the University still has many alumni that wear Normalite apparel, just like there are many Hurons who wear their Huron logos with pride and this is a way to show respect to the past and embrace the future as Eagles, but all under the block “E” of EMU.
I personally applaud this move because being an Eagle myself, I do appreciate those that came before me and just because I was never there when it was Michigan State Normal School or when the mascot was a Huron, doesn’t mean I don’t like learning about the past and keeping the tradition alive. Great job EMU!
Week 1 NFL Picks: (Minus Cowboys/Giants who played on Wednesday)
Colts @ Bears—For as sharp as Andrew Luck looked in the preseason, everyone has to keep in mind it was just that, the preseason. Chicago’s defense will have a field day and this should be a route. Bears win.
Browns vs. Eagles—Remember what happened last year with the Detroit Lions? They won their final four games of the 2010 season and all four of their preseason games and eventually won their first five games of the 2011 season. Well Philly has done the same thing, and while I’m not saying the Eagles will win their first five games, they should have no problem with the Browns and their pathetic defense. Michael Vick is also poised to have a breakout game after missing the majority of the preseason. Eagles by double digits.
Patriots @ Titans—This is a pretty easy pick. New England had all summer to think about their Super Bowl loss to the Giants while the Titans scorned Matt Hasselbeck in favor of Jake Locker. Patriots take it.
Chiefs vs. Falcons—This is kind of a tossup. Matt Cassel is coming off a significant hand injury while Atlanta is starting to age in the key areas of running back and tight end. However, with that said, I feel the Falcons are still the more talented team and more experienced team. Falcons win.
Jaguars @ Vikings—The good news? MJD ended his holdout. The bad news? MJD held out all preseason long. Last season we saw what the lockout did to players and how it affected their play, so I’m saying Maurice Jones Drew will not be as effective as the Jags will need and Minnesota takes advantage. Vikings win.
Saints vs. Redskins—RG3 makes his debut on the road in a hostile environment as the Saints try and move past “bountygate”? Give me New Orleans all day.
Bills @ Jets—Remember how excited Buffalo was when the Bills got off to that fast start last year? Well this won’t exactly be the same feeling, but the Bill should have no problem with a struggling Jets team that managed just one offensive touchdown in the preseason. Give me Buffalo.
Texans vs. Dolphins—This is a miss-match if there ever was one. Miami doesn’t have the talent to match up with Houston on either side of the ball while the Texans feel they missed out on a big opportunity last year because of injuries to both Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart. With a healthy Arian Foster back in the fold, along with Andre Johnson, Houston rolls Miami.
49ers @ Packers—This to me is the most intriguing matchup of week 1. Both teams were a surprise for different reasons last season. San Francisco came out of nowhere and came close to making the Super Bowl only to lose in the NFC title game while the Packers went 15-1 and fell to the Giants in the divisional round. This game won’t decide who wins the NFC, but it will make for some interesting talk about who is better going forward after week one. Overall, I think the Packers are the better team, but I’m going with San Francisco in this one.
Cardinals vs. Seahawks—With Seattle going out and signing QB Matt Flynn in the offseason thinking he would be their starter and then naming rookie quarterback Russell Wilson their starter in the preseason, they really must be sure of Wilson and happy with what they saw. On the other side, Arizona has put their trust in John Skelton who performed pretty well last year and should make strides forward again this season. With all that said though, gut feeling tells me Wilson and Seahawks take this one.
Panthers @ Buccaneers—Can the new looks Bucs get back on track after a dismal season last year? And can Cam Newton duplicate his stellar rookie season or will he suffer from the dreaded sophomore slump? I think Cam will once again have a good year and it all starts in week one. Panthers in this one.
Broncos vs. Steelers—The long wait will finally be over as Peyton Manning will make his return to the field in a meaningful game after missing all of last season. After watching Peyton in the preseason he looked pretty good but also a little rusty and I think that will carry over into the first game of the year and will hurt Denver early on. On top of that, he really hasn’t taken a big hit and we need to see how he responds after his first brutal sack. I think with how good the Steelers defense is and how they will be looking to welcome Manning back, I give the edge to Pittsburgh.
Bengals @ Ravens—Every year we see a surprise team make the playoffs and Cincinnati, along with Detroit, was that team last year. The Bengals have a good young core at wide receiver and quarterback with AJ Green and Andy Dalton, so that should make them a tough foe game in and game out, but when it comes down to it, they still are the Bengals and still the third best team in their division behind Baltimore and Pittsburgh. Ravens take this one.
Raiders vs. Chargers—Last year the Raiders went out and signed Carson Palmer off the couch and played him the final 10 weeks of the season and it took him some time to adjust, while San Diego got off to a fast start by winning four of their first five and then losing six straight and finishing the season winning four of five. If there is any such thing of a carryover from season to season, I believe the Chargers would have the edge—but since there is not and Darren McFadden is healthy and Carson Palmer had a full offseason with the team, give me Oakland.
Lions vs. Rams—After a stellar season last year that saw Detroit win 10 games and make the playoffs for the first time since 99, they’re anxiously awaiting the new season to try and pick up where they left off and take care of some unfinished business. The Rams meanwhile are anxiously awaiting the game as well after a disaster of a season last year that saw them go 2-14 and would like nothing more than to knock Detroit off its pedestal and start their season off the right way. In any event, I see the Rams running all over Detroit’s defense while Matthew Stafford is going to torch the Rams secondary. Should be a high scoring game with the Lions standing tall in the end.