If you read or listen to the experts, the NFL can go ahead and award the Lombardi trophy to either the Colts or the Pats, and the NFC East crown to either Philadelphia or the Cowboys. This third season of THN’s Hognostications, as with the two seasons prior, attempts to serve as the antithesis of the talking heads' babble. No implied expertise or football pedigree here, just one of you who bleeds burgundy and gold, attempting to pick weekly game winners and have a little fun in the process. Best of luck to all THN Hognostication competitors, whose leaders have out picked the so-called experts two years running. This year won’t be any different.
New Orleans at Indianapolis Kudos to the NFL. What a great match-up and scheduling for the season opener. Look for Peyton to begin making his newest target, Anthony Gonzalez, a star, while Drew Brees shows if he can do the same for another outstanding newcomer, WR, Robert Meachem. This ought to be a track meet and a fun game to watch. Try not to get WR envy while watching.
Pick - Colts
Kansas City at Houston The Texans will start the season with a new and improved offense and welcome an upgrade at the QB position with Matt Shaub and at RB with Ahman Green; question is how will the OL hold up against an improved Chief pass rush. Larry Johnson should require a game or two to get into game shape and Damon Huard could spend the game looking over his shoulder as the Chief’s QB battle and scoring woes continue.
Pick - Texans
Denver at Buffalo In the ‘who knew’ category - none other than Patrick Ramsey is backing up (and outperformed) Jay Cutler in the Broncos' preseason… and the Broncos are only carrying two QBs? The Bills will debut RB, Marshawn Lynch, but find out just how much they miss Mr. Fletcher when the Broncos introduce their off season free-agent acquisition, and former Bill, Travis Henry. Henry should have some extra motivation and a big day against his former team.
Pick - Broncos
Pittsburgh at Cleveland There’s no reason to believe that the Brownies will show much, if any, improvement over last season. The Steelers on the other hand underachieved last season and are loaded with talent as usual. New coach Mike Tomlin should provide the necessary excitement and motivation.
Pick - Steelers
Tennessee at Jacksonville Jack Del Rio is praised for cutting Byron Leftwich and signing Aaron Glenn? The Jags are not a better team without Leftwich and better hope David Garrard can stay healthy. It will seem a bit peculiar to see Vince Young handing off to LenDale White, who is expected to start for the Titans. Wasn’t it just the other day the two were starring against each other in a Rose Bowl to remember? The Jags rushing attack of Taylor and Jones-Drew is top drawer.
Pick - Jaguars
Carolina at St. Louis The Panthers have gone from a 6-to-1 shot to win the Super Bowl last year to a 20-to-1 shot, and their talent pool is dwindling and getting older. Same could be said for the Rams with the exception of Steven Jackson.
Pick - Rams
Philadelphia at Green Bay Go Pack! It sure would be nice to see Philthy struggle on defense with their entirely new linebacker corps and start the season with an NFC loss. The improving Pack defense will tire of compensating for an ineffective, turn-over happy offense.
Pick - Eagles
Atlanta at Minnesota Research is required to determine who will be playing QB in this game. Oh yeah, Joey Harrington and Tarvaris Jackson. At least the expectations aren’t high. This is a tough pick for two teams stranded in mediocrity. Where’s the criticism for these owners and front offices?
Pick - Vikings
Miami at Washington This is as close to a must win in week one as you’ll see for a franchise. If the Skins are going to get off to a good start, the defensive front must provide pressure and shut down the run against a suspect Dolphin OL. The Dolphin defense will be stout and bring pressure, as usual, but coaching, preparation and play calling will provide the Skin offense with an edge. Let’s go CP!
Pick - Redskins
New England at New York Jets Ok….so the experts are probably right about the Pats. Brady has more weapons at his disposal than ever before. Pennington may have less and the Jet’s OL is a concern, suffering the late preseason loss of Pete Kendall, the Skins new stud left guard.
Pick - Patriots
Tampa Bay at Seattle The Bucs are going to be a better team with Jeff Garcia and upset the aging Hawks in week 1.
Pick - Bucs
Chicago at San Diego Norv Turner will find a way to screw up all the talent in San Diego, but that’ll take at least 5-6 games. Boy will they regret hiring Turner!
Pick - Chargers
Detroit at Oakland The Lions on the road, even against the Raiders, equals an opening day loss for the Detroit faithful. It’ll be fun to watch Calvin Johnson at this level. The Raiders need to get Russell signed. Culpepper’s play will determine how quickly that happens and at what price.
Pick - Raiders
New York Giants at Dallas It’s time to see Phillips fail in Dallas, just like ‘man boobs’. Just won’t happen this week, as Eli feels the pressure of not having Tiki carry the load. Either way it’ll be nice to see one of our divisional foes with a loss after week one.
Pick - Pukes
Baltimore at Cincinnati The Bengals show promise of being an improved club this season, but the Ravens will be prepared and well aware of how important this divisional opener is.
Pick - Ravens
Arizona at San Francisco This game features two other improving teams (particularly the 9ers, as much as it hurts to admit) meeting in what could be an important early divisional match up. The 9ers have a brutal 5 game stretch to open the season and need this win.
Pick - 49ers
Be sure to visit the Hognostications section for our selections every week, and you can enter our free Pick 'Em Football Pool there too!!