We are a few days away from the start of the greatest six months of the year. We tolerated a Stanley Cup Final, managed to get through the NBA Finals and are just about through with the marathon that baseball season is, and our ultimate reward is the beauty of NFL football. It all gets underway this Thursday at 8:30 PM when the Green Bay Packers travel to Seattle for a bout with the defending World Champs. One of the premiere defenses in football takes on The Discount Double Check and one of the most prolific offenses in the NFL. It’s like football porn.
If we learned one thing from me and my group of NFL prediction makers (more endearingly known as The Thread), it’s that we aren’t very good at predictions. So, instead of trying to predict what the future holds five months from now, Wayniac Nation is going with a simpler approach… or at least one that makes us look less like a group of monkeys making uneducated guesses, which would, in fact, be one hell of a blog in itself, but that’s for another time. But I digress. Without further ado:
THE TOP THREE THINGS TO LOOK FORWARD TO IN WEEK ONE OF THE NFL SEASON:
3. The Post Ralph Wilson Era of Buffalo Bills football begins in Chicago.
When the NFL opens its season Thursday, it will be the first time since the AFL/NFL merger that Ralph Wilson won’t be a part of it. Since 1959, Wilson and the Bills were synonymous with AFC football and now the new era begins. The team is in flux as there is a battle over who the new ownership will be. Will the Bills move to Canada? Will feather-haired, denim-wearing, 80s pop icon, Jon Bon Jovi by the team and give it a shot (WHOOOOOAAAA he’s halfway there)? No one knows for sure, but here’s what we do know. The Bills, on paper, look like a terrible team. EJ Manuel may be the worst starting quarterback in football. The majority of this team, like Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods, are much like their coaching staff: young and inexperienced in the NFL. Teams have rallied around disasters before (see the Boston Red Sox) and with the passing of the man who bares the name of their own home field, the Bills may be poised to make some noise this season. Starting things off right against a highly touted Chicago Bears team would be a great start.
2. Jay Gruden takes over the Washington Politically Incorrects.
Mike Shanahan’s tenure in the Capitol City ends with a whimper on the heels of a 3-13 season. Shanahan, who’s four year reign in DC ended with a 24-40 overall record, did nothing to change my mind that he is one of the most over rated coaches in the history of the NFL. Shanahan was heralded as the architect who finally brought Denver their long awaited Lombardi Trophy, but the reality was is he was surrounded by Hall of Fame talent. John Elway and Shannon Sharpe were two of the best ever at their positions and Terrell Davis was the best running back in the game at the time. Shanahan and his power happy, run heavy offensive schemes didn’t seem like the right fight for a player as dynamic as Robert Griffin III. Maybe that’s why he kept playing him on a torn ACL? Anyway, now the one time Arena Football League MVP (no lie) Jay Gruden is at the helms. Considering this is the guy that just made Andy Dalton a multi-gazillionaire, I think what he can pull off with RGIII and his bevy of talented receivers that are all finally healthy or on new contracts will be exciting to watch. Unfortunately, they kick things off against my beloved Texans, and while I think they will win, I sure hope they don’t.
1. Peyton gets some Luck on the first Sunday Night Football matchup of the year.
Andrew Luck is fourteen years younger than Peyton Manning, but they will be forever linked. Manning, arguably the greatest Colt to ever suit up (sorry Johnny U), and his heir apparent go head to head for the second time this coming Sunday. Last season, Peyton Manning got his Denver Broncos out to a 6-0 start by amassing 265 points over their first six games. This guy threw SEVEN touchdowns in a game and heading into Week 7 of the season, Manning had 22 touchdowns and just two interceptions. Right when everyone was saying this team was unstoppable, right when the undefeated talks really started to pick up steam, the Colts “next Peyton” Andrew Luck wanted nothing to do with it. Luck went out and amassed four total touchdowns and the Colts defense did just enough to hold off Denver’s fourth quarter run for the victory. With the bitter taste from his Super Bowl loss last season, and revenge on the mind against his one-time Colts, we can only imagine what Peyton has in store. Last year, he had seven touchdowns on opening night. What can he and Luck give us from the Mile High City this year?
Game of the Week: Thursday’s matchup between Aaron Rodgers and his Packers and Russell Wilson and his Seahawks will certainly be exciting. As I just mentioned, any time that Luck and Manning face off will always be highly anticipated and full of action. The Wayniac Nation Game of the Week for week one has bigger implications than those two games, however. Fresh off their acting debuts on Hard Knocks, Matt Ryan, Roddy White and Julio Jones are armed and ready to prove last season was a fluke and that they are in fact way less boring of a team than they portrayed on Hard Knocks. Drew Brees has some new toys to play with, but he has his biggest and best one (Jimmy Graham) ready to go and earn even more money than he just got paid. This isn’t simply a marquee matchup of two good teams. This game can lay the foundation of how the NFC South will be won.
Survivor Pool Pick of the Week: Every year I enter the infamous Beat The Pooch survivor pool and every year I seem to go home empty handed by week three. That being said, there are two ways to approach a survivor pool. One way is to just take the best matchup and not care about saving the good teams for later on in the season. The other approach is to gamble and take a team that no one else will pick, leaving you all of the good teams for an end run. So, if you want to play it safe, the San Francisco 49ers against that horrid Dallas defense should be a lock for week one, even giving up the five points. But if you got a little gamble in you, I really like the Vikings covering on the road against the Rams. If Bradford was there it would be another story, but I don’t see Shaun Hill keeping this team on the field long enough to keep Adrian Peterson off of it.
Alrighty, folks. That’s week one in a nutshell. So, rest up and get ready. Kickoff is just days away!