As I mentioned when I started posting my Prevues to MHR, I've been doing a Picks thing since 2000. I'd be glad to continue sending them to MHR if y'all want, or send me an eddress to firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll include you in my initial posting. Still having some trouble with the copy and paste thing into the MHR site, but it's totally readable.
Brad's NFL Picks is back for its 8th season. We have a couple of new, and I hope fun, or at least interesting, features. One is that we here at Brad's Picks will monitor, on a weekly basis, the home vs.visitor record (139-115 last year, or thereabouts); the NFC vs. AFC record (32-32 last year, not counting the SB); and the coast-to-coast record. I've long been curious about the effects of the really long plane ride on visiting teams, so let's keep track (as against the total home-visitor record). This presents a problem, because what teams do you include as a 'coast' team? The obvious ones are: Giants and Jets; Redskins; Ravens; Patriots; Dolphins; Seahawks; Eagles; Forty Niners; Raiders; Panthers; and Chargers. I'm also going to include the Falcons; Steelers; Jaguars; Bucs; Bills; and Cardinals. I know there are other teams almost as close to a coast as the Steelers, for example, but you have to draw the line somewhere.
Also, Brad's Picks has been correct about 64% of the time, year in and year out. Sounds OK, but heck, a coin flip should get 50% correct. So this year, we introduce George, who will flip every game. George is a standard quarter, with George Washington (the best President the country has ever had, IMO) as heads, and the Virgina symbol (a sailing ship) as tails. Heads will be the home team.
So, here we go. 32 teams with perfect records so far.
the Thursday night game:
Washington at New York Giants- 7:00 MDT. Division game.
Giants won the SB last February (remember snow?) and Michael Strahan retired with his ring. Then Osi Umenyiora went down for the season. That's two starting DE's gone. But they'll move Mathias Kiwanuka back to nd, his natural position. Anyway, the Redskins have a new head coach, Jim Zorn, and a QB that has yet to prove himself in Jason Campbell.
Giants QB Eli Manning was the star of the playoffs and the SB last season, but he wasn't very good before that. How's he gonna do in this regular season? I'm gonna pick the Giants - they're more established, with the same coaching staff, and won't want to give the "SB hangover" any credence against a division rival on national tv. George will pick Washington -an auspicious start for George.
the 11:00 MDT games:
Cincinnati at Baltimore- Division game.
Ravens defensive end Dwan Edwards will miss the season because of a back injury. Edwards would not have been a starter, but he did start13 games last year when Trevor Pryce sat out with an injury. Couple Edwards' absence with injuries to starting DT's Kelly Gregg (they both missed the entire pre season) and you have major problems on the D line. QB Steve McNair retired after last season, but the Ravens aren't happy with Kyle Boller, who, after 5 years in the league, has not impressed. Anyway, Boller is out with a shoulder injury, and might miss the whole season. That leaves it up to 2nd year QB Troy Smith, or rookie Joe Flacco from Delaware. Smith has missed much of the preseason with tonsilitis, and Flacco has done well, so I look to Flacco to start. Ravens have a new head coach in John Harbaugh.
Cincinnati continues to be the most disfunctional team in the league, unless you count the Raiders. Long sufferng Head Coach Marvin Lewis still has to put up with a crazy bunch, especially at wide receiver. Chris Henry was dropped by the team after his fifth arrest, but brought back by the owner over Lewis' objections. WR Chad Johnson tried to call himself Ocho Cinco last year, prompting Lewis to refer to him as Ocho Psycho. Johnson then threatened to sit out the year if his contract wasn't redone. It wasn't, and he's back with the team. In the meantime, he legally changed his name to Ocho Cinco. Anyway, both Ocho and Henry are really good wides (Henry has a four game suspension to start the year) and T.J. Houshmandzadeh is very good, with no head problems. QB Carson Palmer is very steady and very good. Gotta take the Bengals. George also takes the Bengals.
Detroit at Atlanta-
Falcons will start rookie QB Matt Ryan. Lions counter with veteran Jon Kitna. Lions have the better receivers in Roy Williams, Mike Furrey, and Calvin Johnson. Falcons have RB Michael Turner, who used to back up LT in San Diego. Falcons have a new head coach (Mike Smith) and a new scheme. Gotta take the Lions on the road. George likes the Lions too.
Houston at Pittsburgh-
Two good teams. Houston is up and coming, Pittsburgh is established. This could come down to Pittsburgh's suspect O line vs. Houston's young and promising D line. I hope this game gets national play - I'd like to watch it. I'll take the Steelers at home. George will also go with the Steelers.
Jacksonville at Tennessee- Division game.
These two teams were 1-1 last year, each winning in the other's arena. Titans are mostly about defense (5th in the league last year), plus Vince Young at QB. Jags are a steady team that likes to run the ball behind Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew. I'm gonna take the Jags - the Titans haven't given Young much help in the wide receiver department. George will also go with the Jags.
Kansas City at New England-
QB Tom Brady hasn't played at all in the pre season, with what has been described a a deep bone bruise in his foot. RG Steve Neal has been placed on the physically unable to perform list, after off season surgery, and LT Matt Light just returned to practice. That spells problems for the Patriots' O. They have problems in the D backfield also, after letting their two starting CB's and a safety go in free agency. They signed aging John Lynch after the Broncos released him, but then they released Lynch, and then signed CB Deltha O'Neal, another Broncos castoff who has been with the Bengals the last 4 seasons.
Luckily for the Patriots, they have a gimme this week, as they host the Chiefs, who, along with the Dolphins, are in a serious re-build mode. Chiefs' once vaunted O line has disintegrated, so they drafted big Branden Albert with one of their first round picks, but he's been in a bootie all pre season. RT Damion McIntosh might also miss the first few games. QB Brodie Croyle has been given the starting job, but I don't envy him. Larry Johnson is back and healthy after a sub par year, but how much can he do with not much of a line in front of him? Take the Patriots at home. Might be a fun game to watch though, with all the young Chiefs and an aging, injured Tom Brady going at it. George will also take New England.
New York Jets at Miami- Division game.
This game would be a lot of fun to watch. Bret Favre is now the QB of the Jets, and he's looked good in the pre season. When Jet Bret arrived, the Jets unloaded Chad Pennington, who landed with the Dolphins, and he's also looked good in the pre season. Pennington was good with the Jets when he had RB Curtis Martin behind him (really good to set up the play action) and now he has Ricky Williams behind him. Jets have a bruising RB in Thomas Jones, who came over from the Bears last year and ground out 1,119 yards, albeit with just a 3.6 average. Leon Washington had a 5.0 average (353 yards). Ricky Williams is looking very good after his various misadventures. I'd really like to watch this game. Gonna take the Jets, because the Dolphins were a lot worse last year, have a new head coach, and all that. George kinda likes Miami.
Seattle at Buffalo-
Buffalo's starting left tackle Jason Peters is still holding out, in one of those destructive things that does no one any good. Bills are a good young up and coming team. Seahawks are a good, established team. Gonna take the Bills at home. George will take the Bills also.
St. Louis at Philadelphia-
Rams had a lot of injury problems on the O line last year, and here we go again. Starting Center Brett Romberg is still recuperating from a broken hand. Nick Leckey (a 6th round pick by AZ in 04) will start in his place. Eagles have lost their best receiver from last year, Kevin Curtis, for the season. But 2nd round pick DeSean Jackson (Cal) has been very good in the pre season, and also very good on returns. Brian Westbrook remains one of the best all purpose RB's in the league.
Steven Jackson of the Rams is maybe the best RB in the league right now, but he held out for most of the pre season. Marc Bulger is one of the best QB's, but so is Donovan McNabb. You gotta take the Eagles at home. George will take the Rams.
Tampa Bay at New Orleans- Division game.
Saints have been evacuated from New Orleans because Hurricane Gustav is bearing down on the Big Easy. It now looks like Gustav will not hit New Orleans, and the game will go on in N.O. Tampa won the division lst year, whupping the Saints twice. Saints had an off year (7-9) after going 10-6 in 06. Both of these teams are good, but the NFC South has been an up and down division the last few years. I think the Saints will be up this year. George likes the Bucs.
the 215 MDT games:
Arizona at San Francisco- Division game.
Niners have a new O Coordinator, and a new QB. Mike Martz came over from the Lions, and brought J.T. O'Sullivan with him. O'Sullivan is in his 6th year out of Cal-Davis, and has not been heard of previously in the NFL. But he's got the start over Alex Smith, who was the top pick in 05, and is hearing the 'bust' word a lot these days. In Smith's defense, Martz is the 4th O Coordinator the kid has had to deal with. Anyway, the Niners have Frank Gore at RB, and he's one of the best (1,102 yards last year, 4.2 per). They brought in aging but still good Isaac Bruce from the Rams, and young Bryant Johnson from the Cards (Johnson was the third wide behind Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin, maybe the best pair of wides in the league, and Johnson caught 46 balls for 528 yards last year). Cardinals will start venerable Kurt Warner at QB, over young Matt Leinart, and the big sigh of relief you hear out of the desert is the Cards players after that decision. Niners won both games last year (both by 3 points, one in OT) and on sunday the Cardinals will get a little payback. George likes the Cardinals also.
Carolina at San Diego-
Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith will sit this game (and the next) because of a team imposed suspension that he got for punching a teammate. Panthers running game has been running wild this pre season (DeAngelo Williams and rookie Jonathan Stewart), and QB Jake Delhomme is back from Tommy John surgery. Smith said a month ago that Delhomme's arm seems stronger than ever. Carolina brought back Muhsin Muhammad, who paired with Smith back when, but then went to Chicago for a couple years. Muhammad is in his 13th season, but still has something left. Chargers are hurting a little bit - all pro Antonio Gates has been nursing a sore foot all pre season, and LB Shawne Merriman has two torn ligaments in one knee, but intends to try to play the season (against the advice of doctors). QB Philip Rivers had ACL surgery last February, but seems to be OK. LaDainian Tomlinson is good also. I'd like to take the Panthers and would but for the absence of Smith. So, Chargers. But George likes the Panthers.
Dallas at Cleveland-
Browns have had a lot of injuries in a winless pre season. QB Derek Anderson suffered a concussion a couple weeks ago, but returned to practice recently, which is a good thing for the Browns because back up Brady Quinn has been awful. Unfortunately, two starting OL's for the Browns will miss the game. WR Braylon Edwards and TE Steve Heiden have missed time, so the Browns O should struggle to get their timing down. Return ace Joshua Cribbs has been injured and it's unknown whether he'll play.
Cowboys have had a few injuries also. Left guard Kyle Kosier will miss the game (but hey, the 'Boys recently traded with the Broncos for guard Montrae Holland). 'Boys will also be without most of their back up receivers, but will have starters Terrell Owens and Patrick Crayton. TE Jason Witten is one of the best.
Cleveland was pretty good last year, but so was Dallas. I think Dallas is the better team, and has the fewer injuries. George will go with Cleveland.
the Sunday Night game:
Chicago at Indeepol- 6:15 MDT.
This game should be interesting. Peyton Manning hasn't played at all this pre season, after summer surgery to remove an infected bursa sac from his knee (this is the same injury that sidelined Marvin Harrison for most of last season). Manning just started practicing, but on a limited basis. But more bad news for Colts fans: Long time Center Jeff Saturday is out with ligament damage to his right knee, and will miss anywhere from 6-11 weeks. Rookie Jamey Richard (7th round pick out of Buffalo) will likely start. Also, starting left guard Ryan Lilja hasn't been able to practice after off season knee surgery and rookie guard Mike Pollak missed the last half of the pre season with a knee injury. I wouldn't be surprised to see Jim Sorgi get the start at QB (rather than risk Manning's knee behind a banged up O line) - kid's been on the team for four years now, so can he play in this league or what?.
Chicago has decided to go with Kyle Orton at QB, over Rex Grossman. Orton's the better player, Grossman has the better arm. Bears will go with rookie Matt Forte at RB, after lettingCedric Benson go (Benson was the 4th overall pick in 05, but stunk it up in the NFL). Bears let their two best receivers go in free agency, so who is Orton going to throw to? They did bring back 10 year vet Marty Booker, and are still trying to turn Devin Hester into a wide out. 2nd hear TE Greg Olsen had a little flash last year, and Desmond Clark had 44 catches last year. So, lots of questions here. I'm gonna take the Bears in an upset to get things started properly (IMO) in the quaintly named Lucas Oil Stadium. George, however, likes the Colts.
the two MNF games:
Minnesota at Green Bay- 7:00 MDT. Division game.
The Bret Favre era has ended at Lambeau, and the Aaron Rogers era has begun. Packers have a good young team (13-3 last year, then a 42-20 win over the Seahawks in the playoffs, and then a 23-20 OT loss to the Giants). Rogers has looked good in the pre season, and RB Ryan Grant was excellent last year (956 yards, 5.1 per). Vikings come in with a D that was 1st in the league vs. the run, but last vs. the pass. They helped the pass D with the addition of DE Jared Allen from the Chiefs. Vikings were also 1st in the league in rushing, but 28th in passing. QB Tarvaris Jackson has the support of coach Brad Childress, after being drafted by Childress in 06 (2nd round, Alabama State). Jackson was only 171-294-1,911, with 9 TD's and 12 INT's last year, but the hope in the Land of Lakes is he's getting better. At any rate, he's got more game experience than Rogers, and he also has RB Adrian Peterson (1,341 yards in his rookie season, 5.6 per). This is not a game I'd put money on, but I will pick the Vikings here. George says to take the Packers at Lambeau.
Denver at Oakland- 8:15 MDT. Division game.
These two teams were 1-1 last year, Broncos winning at home in OT, Raiders winning in the Black Hole 34-20. Raiders came up with a very good running game last year (6th in the league) but the Broncos had the 9th best. Raiders will start young JaMarcus Russell at QB. In his second season, but he's sort of a rookie, since he hardly played last year after a holdout. Broncos will start Jay Cutler at QB. Cutler starts his third year, and has 17 game starts in the league, and is already one of the best QB's. Broncos D was pretty bad last year, but jettisoning D Coach Jim Bates will go a long way to fixing that problem. Raiders' pass D was 8th in the league last year, but some of that was because the run D was so bad (why pass when you can run?). Broncos will be without their top wide receiver, Brandon Marshall, who is serving a one game league imposed suspension. Even so, Cutler will carve up the Raiders D, and the Broncos will win the game. George says to take the Raiders.