Ravens Vs. Broncos
And so the traditional Super Bowl Champions Hosted Kick Off Game features Baltimore hosting…
Oh, yeah, that’s right. No one anticipated that the Orioles would, you know, matter this late in the baseball season and that there’d be a conflict, so the Ravens are coming to Mile High to kick off the season.
But this is not the conquering squad of last year. Apparently taking a page out of the now-Florida Marlins’ playbook, the front office has divested itself of, well, pretty much every single player that ever mattered to the team save for The Marlboro Man himself. This is a team put together with tape and bailing wire, and whether the team rises or falls this year is purely due to Joe Flacco’s efforts. On the other hand, Denver has taken a page from the Indianapolis Colts’ playbook and stolen a key piece from The Sucking Black Hole of Evil. Even without the talent of Von Miller, we should see the Broncos stampeding over the new look Ravens by about two possessions or more.
Sunday Games–1 p.m.
The Sucking Black Hole Of Evil vs. Bills
Ladies and Gentlemen, I want to make this very, very clear right now: New England is going to win the AFC East because, and only because, they’re the least chuckleheaded of a division of chuckleheads. The Sucking Black Hole’s play should continue to degrade, especially given how The Sinister Sweatshirt has spent the last two seasons installing a new, tight-end-intensive offense only for both his tight ends to suddenly be unavailable to him. Sure, there was that moment of anxiety when we all thought he was going to convert Football Jeebus into a Tight End, but that fell through when Timmy decided he only wanted to be a quarterback (enjoy the CFL, kiddo!). So we’re stuck with a team everyone still treats as an elite organization which isn’t, but since they spend a third of their season beating the crap out of their division mates it seems like they still are elite.
And seeing them pound on Buffalo is going to make all the lazy commentors–you know, like that Simms fella–insist that the road to the Super Bowl will lead directly through Foxboro. The whole merry-go-round quarterback stuff does conceal the fact that there are some promising things happening up in Ralph Wilson Stadium in regards to some offensive additions…but they’ve still got a sieve for a defense, a culture of losing, and a talent for making the Sucking Black Hole look good. Expect a three possession or more slaughter and lots of repetitions of ‘As long as they have Tom Brady, the Patriots will be the elite of the league.’
Seahawks Vs. Panthers
I don’t know if you heard the last episode of the Moves Like Curtis Podcast (the plan is that MlC is a podcast during the off-season, and column during the season), but I picked Seattle to be the NFC rep at the Most Disastrous Super Bowl Ever this coming year. I think the organization has done nothing but make positive moves, even if some of those moves have had bittersweet results.
And to be fair, I don’t think Carolina is a scrub team. They are competitive, and their biggest obstacles are a) being in the same division as Atlanta and New Orleans and b) having an undeniably super-talented but self-absorbed doofus as a quarterback. Whether this team steps up to be on a level with the Falcons and the Saints depends on whether Cam Newton finally gets it through his head that football is a team sport. If he can do that, then we’re looking at a tough scrapper of an organization that will act as spoiler when it’s not contending for a playoff berth. If he’s still insistent on celebrating every time he makes an inconsequential pass, this team will be contending with Tampa Bay for last place.
I suspect this will be a very tight, very toughly played game…but the tie goes to the runner. Seattle should take this by a possession or less.
Vikings Vs. Lions
This NFC North matchup is not going to be very good. As I’ve mentioned before, I have a soft spot for the Lions, but it seems that the momentum they had quietly built up after the embarrassment of the no-win season stopped with their sole playoff appearance during the 2011 season. Plus they seem to have taken the ‘Jailhouse Team’ crown vacated by the Bengals. A football team that earns most of its headlines for stuff not involving football may find itself underprepared for a game against a division rivals (as I suspect I’ll see first hand soon enough).
But, to be fair, we are talking The Vikings here, with the Ponderous One under center….and as long as Christian Ponder is under center, Minnesota is never going to get all that deep into the playoffs. Yes, Adrian Peterson will carry the team–literally–to a couple of wins, but the loss of some key personnel is going to affect the Vikes detrimentally. This is going to be an ugly, ugly game (not the ugliest by far this week; see below), but I suspect Detroit will be lulled into a sense of false hope with a win of a possession and a half.
Chiefs Vs. Gerbils
Just as with last year, Jacksonville is going to be the worst team in the league (although, as Zach Joiner pointed out in that last podcast, their owner has the best ‘stache in that selfsame league. Go figure). I feel really bad for Gerbil fans, who have had to suffer from one of the biggest falls from grace in NFL history. The Culture Of Losing is so ingrained in there that even with some good-to-great wideouts and one of the most talented runningbacks in the league, they will be lucky to win four games.
On the flip side, you’ve got Kansas City, which seems to have found its way out of the wilderness. They’re now coached by Andy Reid, who knows how to win games, and have Alex Smith under center, whose only failing last season was Not Being Colin Kaepernick. They’ve been going Waivers Crazy, dropping a slew of players and picking up a slew more in the wake of preseason cuts. There’s a definite sense of forward momentum here, that Reid has a plan and everyone seems all in. This is why I think that the Gerbils will wi–
What am I thinking? It’ll be a massacre, with the Chiefs handing the Gerbils the first of a series of double digits triumphs.
Buccaneers Vs. Paper Planes
Now this…this is the ugliest game of Week One. My beloved Paper Plans seem determined to turn their 2013 season into a bizarre comedic performance art piece (BRADY QUINN? Brady Fucking Quinn? Are you serious???) that will result in the ritual beheading of Coach Ryan. There is literally nothing I can point to that makes me feel positive about the offense. The defense should still be good-to-great even with the destruction of its secondary, but they’re going to be gassed early on because they’ll be on the field All. The. Time. This is a disastrous team that will be lucky if it wins more than six games this year.
And then there’s Tampa Bay. To be fair, Greg Schiano has done a lot to whip this team into shape…but it’s still not ready for prime time. I don’t think Josh Freeman is the answer here, and there’s still a need for a few weapons before the Buccs can compete effectively in the NFC South. The defense should still be stiff, especially with the addition of Revis Island. This is a team that will have a losing record solely because of the division they’re in, but they’ll be one of the better losing teams in the league.
This is not going to be pretty (expect me to say this a lot throughout the season when it comes to the Paper Planes), and will result in the Buccs winning by less than a possession.
Dolphins Vs. Browns
Now here’s a game between two teams that are promising. Both have shown signs of real improvement, both seem to have found a quarterback they can trust, and both made some positive additions. Granted, one may actually prove to the only serious rival to The Sucking Black Hole’s dominance of the AFC East and the other is destined to be in last place because it’s in the AFC North (unless Baltimore’s Marlin Strategy does result in the team total bottoming out).
This game should feature a couple of lead changes, but when all is said and done, Miami should take it by a field goal.
Bengals Vs. Bears
Oh, boy….Kid Nastyman versus Football Spock! What’s not to love?
Well, the curious shift in the Bears could potentially be something not to love. The fact that Cincinnati cannot make that final leap, even with an effective play caller is another. This could be a referendum on who is going to advance on their career path this season–the Bengals by winning a playoff game, and the Bears by getting back into the playoffs. For what it’s worth, I think there’s a strong chance for both to achieve their goals.
As for this game, I have to go with the Cincinnati by a possession to a possession and a half.
Raiders Vs. Colts
I’m sorry Kelen. This is not even a match up. Oakland is so fucked up that it might rival Jacksonville for Worst Team In The League (just rival, though; the kind of suck that has settled on the Gerbils is a one-of-a-time wondrous thing) and the Colts…well, aren’t. Expect Indianapolis to pull out to an early lead and win by two possessions or more.
Falcons Vs. Saints
This is going to be an exciting game, and may very well be a preview of which team may end up taking the NFC South. Having Sean ‘The Drew Whisperer’ Payton back is bound to make the Saints play at another level, and the Falcons are truly on their level. This is going to be a high scoring game that’s a toss-up as to who comes up on top. I’m picking the Saints by a possession only because the high of being reunited with their beloved head coach might give them a temporary emotional lift.
Titans Vs. Steelers
This is why this game is potentially frustrating…
Yes, The Titans seem to be aggressively mediocre and on paper should lose handily to the Steelers…except that, much like The Sucking Black Hole, the Steelers’ performance has been degrading over the last few seasons. Roethlisberger seems to be breaking down, and the defense can’t stay healthy. This may result in a closer game than we’d expect. Yes, I’m still expecting Pittsburgh to take it, but by a possession or less in a low-scoring game.
Sunday Games–4:25 p.m
Packers Vs. 49ers
This is also going to be a pretty exciting game, with two potential division leaders going at it hammer and tong. What I think will tip this game–which will be very close–towards the 49ers is simply that the Packers’ offense has lost a couple of components, while the 49ers have not. Given how evenly matched their defense is, I expect SF to take it by a possession, maybe a possession and a half.
Cardinals Vs. Rams
Well, someone’s gotta be at the bottom of the NFC West–which went from being the worst to the best division in football in two seasons–and it’s probably going to be St. Louis. I’m somewhat encouraged by Arizona’s moves in the offseason, and think that they’ve finally figured out the quarterback bullcrap that hobbled them last season. I think if everything falls into place, the Cards can win over the Rams by about a possession.
Sunday Games–8:20 p.m
Giants Vs. Cowboys
How ‘bout them Cowboys? As Zach explained in our last podcast, Jason Garrett has made a number of improvements to the ‘Boys, and I tend to believe him when he says they will be contending with the Native Americans for the NFC East title…
And the Giants? They’re on their way down. Eli Manning’s performance has begun to degrade, there an overall tiredness to New York’s play, and Tom Coughlin’s got to have one eye on the door. This is not going to be a pretty season for New York football fans, no matter if you wear blue or green.
That being said, the Cowboys have a history of screwing up their opening game, so I’m suspecting it’ll happen again. The Giants should win either at the last minute or in overtime by a field goal.
Eagles Vs. Native Americans
Well, on the other end of this division, we have a team that got a whole lot better thanks to Mike Shanahan and RG III and…a team that can’t help but be better this season. It should be interesting how the old wine of Michael Vick and company does in the new bottle Chip Kelly provides. At the very least, we should see a stouter defense. This should be a pretty exciting game with a number of lead changes…but in the end, the Native Americans will triumph by roughly two possessions.
Monday Games–10:15 p.m.
Texans Vs. Chargers
And finally, what would a Moves Like Curtis column be without another shout out to The Juggernaut himself, J.J. Watt? I am so looking forward to Watt standing over a succession of dazed quarterbacks this season, and I think it’s a fait accompli they’ll win. However, I will say this–I do think we’re going to be seeing an improved group of Superchargers, and the game itself will end up tight, with Houston winning by less than a possession.
See you next week.