When I think about football on a Wednesday night I think of Toledo vs. Marshall. Perhaps Hawaii. For people who aren’t degenerate college football gamblers, football gets a little lost in the middle of the week. I expect to be able to turn on a baseball game on Wednesday night, but the NFL Opener? It’s going to feel different. Can an adult citizen of the Philadelphia area really get pumped up for Cowboys/Giants? I think that Opening Day should be a collective experience across all sports. All baseball teams should open on Monday afternoons and all 1st week NFL games should be played Sunday. Spreading things out doesn’t make them special. But, we’ll never be able to turn back the clock on that, so now I’ve got to rush to get the NFL previewed the day after Labor Day. Thanks again, Goodell.
I’ve perused a lot of NFL previews over the last week or two and you know what my one takeaway is? No one really cares about a full NFL preview. They read their team’s blurb. They scan for players on their fantasy team. They try to glean facts that will help them make losing bets. All that happens, but no one sits down and reads a full NFL preview. At least I hope they don’t. So, I’m not going to do anything like that. The rest of this post will just be an odd collection of junk. Scan for what’s important TO YOU.
The Hometown Team:
The Eagles are once again sprinkling the city with Super Bowl dreams. The question is if those dreams are based on anything or if they’re just boilerplate delusion. When I look at the Eagles season, aside from obviously needing to stay healthy, I see two things jumping out. They happen to be related. The first issue is if the defense is any better and the second is, if it isn’t, can they possibly survive this schedule? In the first 9 games of the season the Eagles will face a collection of the league’s best receivers. Megatron, Fitzgerald, Wallace, Austin/Bryant, Cruz/Nicks, and White/Jones should help identify whether or not the Eagles have improved in the secondary. These are some of the most high-powered offenses in the league, so if the Birds are going to get pushed around and blow leads again–prepare yourself for a slow start. If the Eagles can survive the start of their schedule, things do get a bit more friendly, but for those out there predicting 11 or 12 wins–I just don’t see it. I think the Eagles will be scrapping for a wild-card berth, right in that uncomfortable 9,10-win range.
Two New Things that Will Make the NFL Less Watchable.
1. Teams are just turning over their offenses to quarterbacks with no track records. Russell Wilson? PRESEASON GOD. Tannehill, Locker, Griffin, Luck, Skelton, Gabbert, Weeden…they’re all taking the ball. In some ways I like that teams are getting away from the QB recycling program. It’s nice that Donovan McNabb didn’t land in someone’s camp, for example. But, let’s be reminded of the fact that Chaz Whitehurst led the NFL in QB rating during the 2011 preseason. The harsh truth is, at least half of these guys are going to fail, and others will take time to develop. In a league that’s essentially become a showcase for great QBs, the gap between the top and bottom of the league has never been wider.
2. The referees will be especially bad. The NFL referees do not have a contract. By all accounts the replacement refs have been absolutely brutal. Keep in mind the regular officials are often considered inadequate. I don’t know where the NFL gathered up the replacements, but it’s likely the officiating is going to be a big topic throughout the year. A lot of people think the officiating is getting worse in all sports, but I just think the games are harder to call. The players are more athletic, the pace is quicker, we’ve taken the window for human error and blown it wide-open. I just hope the refs don’t end up becoming the only story of the season.
Super Bowl Pick: Texans Over Falcons.
I think there are only a handful of teams that can win the Super Bowl. It’s tempting to pick Green Bay. Remember they went 15-1 last year? It’s also easy to return to the usual suspects in the AFC–Pittsburgh, New England and Baltimore. But, I think the NFL is due for a bit of a shakeup. There seems to be two ways to get to the Super Bowl in recent years. You either outscore everyone, or you have a very solid team that peaks at the right time. I look at Atlanta’s weapons on offense and think this might be the year they put everything together and elevate to the Green Bay/New Orleans level. The Texans may have been the best team in the AFC last year before Matt Schaub went down. Schaub hasn’t proved himself in big games, but he doesn’t strike me as a quarterback who will keep a team from winning a Super Bowl. With a solid defense and Arian Foster–I think Houston could be the most balanced team in the league. They’re my pick to win the Super Bowl–for now.
The Definitive, yet Arbitrary NFL Top-10:
- New York Giants
- Green Bay Packers
- Baltimore Ravens
- New England Patriots
- New Orleans Saints
- Pittsburgh Steelers
- Chicago Bears
- San Francisco 49ers
D.A. Fantasy Football News.
D.A. might have a bit less profile on the blog this year. A lot of that will probably depend on how much time I have to do the recaps on Tuesday. If you didn’t notice it already, we do have the D.A. link for 2012 at the top of the page. It features one of the worst MS Paint jobs ever put together. The historical D.A. has been retired for this season, and each week the D.A. page will feature the 3-PT D.A. winner from the previous week. So if you want to live vicariously through our fantasy exploits, just check out the D.A. page from time to time.
NFL Pick ‘Em:
I think we’ve got six going for NFL Pick ‘Em this year, which is a robust total and will be the envy of websites around the world. The line for opening night is New York (-4). From what I hear, the game could be played in monsoon conditions. It’s tough to get a feel for week one, especially with a 4-pt line in a rivalry game staring you in the face. I will not be picking this game, and as of now, the rest of our experts are also staying away. If I do get a pick in before tomorrow, I’ll be sure to share–everything must be DOCUMENTED. The remainder of the NFL picks will go up Friday or Saturday–so check back in for those locks.
I think that’s it for now. There’s nothing less revealing than the NFL preseason, so we’re not going to know where we’re headed for at least a few more weeks. But the good news is, the NFL is back, even if it is on a Wednesday night.