The time has come, ladies and gentlemen. Tomorrow we’ll all (well, anyone in their right mind will) be watching football. I’m not talking about pre-season football, or high school football, or Canadian football, or European football, or the other European football (soccer), or football movies, or Madden. Nope. Not football, not car stall, not bar brawl, not prayer shawl, not strip mall, not even roll call. I’M TALKING ABOUT AMERICA’S GIFT TO THE WORLD, BABY! The NFL returns in full this Sunday and that means we’ve got some picking to do, my friends! Plus, on the eve of our first NFL Sunday, you get a front-row seat to my misguided and completely arbitrary predictions for the season! Luck you! But first…a word from our sponsors, to whom we are extremely grateful.
4th & Gyas is sponsored by my neighbor’s wi-fi and all of the sleep that I lose when I get up early to write before going to work. A few of our other sponsors include Monster Energy Drink™, Gatorade™, Hot Pockets™, Nico’s Taco Shop, and the cute girl always tanning by the pool in my apartment complex. You guys really keep things moving here at 4th & Gyas, so here’s a big thank you from the whole Redding Report Sports family. Forward!
Weekly picks are really one of my favorite parts of this whole gig, especially early in the season. You see, as the year goes on, more and more data piles up. Statistics about completion percentage, yards per carry, the yards a defense gives up each game, the list goes on. The first few weeks are too early to rank and compare so as sportswriters we can pretty much say whatever we want. And if you couldn’t tell by now, that’s where 4th & Gyas really shines. Naturally, I can’t wait to get into this week’s picks. Shall we? Remember, home teams are listed on the left and all game times are according to the Pacific time zone, because I live at the beach and you don’t.
Bears vs. Packers, 10:00 am
Now obviously, the Packers have had the advantage in this series for a few years. Without Brandon Marshall (traded) and Kevin White (injured) the Bears are boasting even less firepower than usual. The playing field may be leveled now that Aaron Rodgers is missing his two favorite (and most talented) targets, but history tells us that Rodgers will always find a way to terrorize Chicago and its fan base. Our pick: Packers
Texans vs. Chiefs, 10:00 am
It seems like whichever team gets selected for Hard Knocks every year spends the whole summer making America fall in love with them and then immediately implodes when the season begins. The Texans could be the ones to break the curse, but don’t let all the hype about their defense distract you from the fact that their offense has been a dumpster fire (see? there it is) for a couple of seasons now. Arian Foster is hurt (again) and Andre Johnson left town to literally join em’ when he couldn’t beat em’. Plus, the Chiefs still have Jamaal Charles and a vicious defense. Our pick: Chiefs
Jets vs. Browns, 10:00 am
As a general rule, I usually pick against the New Jersey Jesters because A) I despise them from a place deep, deep within and B) it’s a pretty safe bet that they’ll lose. The Browns may not necessarily be an offensive juggernaut, but Johnny Manziel showed improvement in the preseason and they’ve got one of the scariest offensive lines in the league. While acknowledging that the Jets are trash, I do also have to admit that their defense can bring almost any offense to its knees on a good day. My gut tells me that Cleveland will have some tricks up its sleeve for rookie head coach Todd Bowles, and that may be just enough to give them the edge. Our pick: Browns
Bills vs. Colts, 10:00 am
There was much offseason hype about Frank Gore and Andre Johnson joining the Colts as if instantly made them legitimate Super Bowl contenders. I don’t buy it. What I’m more excited about is the fact that Rex Ryan now has one of the league’s most dominating D-lines and stingiest secondaries at his disposal. This is going to be fun. No matter who you are, free agents will always need time to acquaint themselves with a new team, and Sexy Rexy wants to give Bills fans some hope in his first game as head coach. Our pick: Bills
Redskins vs. Dolphins, 10:00 am
Here’s the thing about the Redskins: they suck. As my high school janitor (who was secretly a genius) once said about Matt Cassel during his season as New England’s starting quarterback, those guys “stink on ice”. Once DeAndre Hopkins absolutely destroyed DeAngelo Hall’s ankles in a preseason joint practice with the Texans, I knew all hope was lost for Washington’s 2015 campaign. The Redskins are so bad that I haven’t said one nice thing about the Dolphins and they’re the team I’m picking to win the game. Our pick: Dolphins
Jaguars vs. Panthers, 10:00 am
I really want to tell you that Blake Bortles is going to experience a second-year leap and establish a connection with Marquise Lee that will take the league by storm as he leads Jacksonville to the playoffs “for the first time in foreeeever”. Maybe it hasn’t actually been forever, but it’s been a long time since Mark Brunell left town. More than likely, the Panthers linebacker corps will dominate all day and Bortles will go on to lead the league in interceptions, BUT you almost forgot about T.J. Yeldon. The Jag’s new running back from Alabama could be just what the team needs to re-discover its winning ways. I can’t be so sure though, not when Luke Keuchly is shutting down running backs AND playing lockdown coverage:
Our pick: Panthers
Rams vs. Seahawks, 10:00 am
While you were away, the Rams traded their highly-touted, injury-prone quarterback for…a highly-touted, injury-prone quarterback. Nick Foles is basically Sam Bradford; everyone believes he’s got all this great potential, but nobody really knows because we haven’t actually seen him play very much. The only difference is that St. Louis didn’t draft him #1 overall and pay him a bunch of money to contribute absolutely nothing to their franchise. Au revoir, Sammy! On the other hand, the Seahawks are still the meanest bunch in the NFL and pissed off about losing the Super Bowl. They’ll be looking to make a statement this Sunday. Our pick: Seahawks
Cardinals vs. Saints, 1:05 pm
If you read our first-ever (!!!) Fantasy Thursday earlier this week, you’ll recall that I pleaded with fantasy owners to sit Drew Brees this week. Now, if you loaded up on receivers and your back-up QB is Mariota, take the chance and start Brees. Everyone besides that guy, heed this warning: the Cardinals secondary may the best collection of ball-hawks since the 2012 Legion of Boom. Arizona has some questions to be answered on offense, but the Saints will be the only one questioning why Calais Campbell is in Drew Brees’ face all day. Our pick: Cardinals
Chargers vs. Lions, 1:05 pm
This should end up being one of the best games of opening weekend if everything comes up Millhouse (thanks, Sam). San Diego has been quietly stacking their defense over the past couple of years and has been able to create a pretty stout unit. Stand-outs this year should include second-year corner Jason Verett and fan-favorite linebacker Melvin Ingram. The guys on the other sideline were one of the league’s top defenses last season (even though the Patriots put 50 on them, but whatever) and might be looking at some regression. This will come down to offense for both teams. San Diego needs Melvin Gordon to be everything he was at Wisconsin and more, Detroit will be looking for Golden Tate to pick up where he left off last season and have Russell Wilson listening to “Marvin’s Room” in a candle-lit room all by himself. Our pick: Lions
We’re going to take this opportunity to address the allegations made against the Patriots by the Steelers after Gronk basically beat them on his own. According to Pittsburgh, their league-provided headsets were tuned to New England’s radio broadcast of the game for most of the first half, instead of allowing coach-to-coach communication. Now before you get all logical on me and ask, “But Gyasi, weren’t they playing during a storm? Wasn’t there heavy rain throughout the game? Don’t water and electrical equipment usually not play very nice with each other?” let me stop you right there. Clearly, the ONLY explanation here is that the Patriots were somehow jamming the signal with a device they developed after watching Star Wars as kids. In his post-game press conference, Bill Belicheck was asked about the allegations and was quoted saying that it’s just “kind of sad, really” that everyone is convinced that New England isn’t playing fair and square.
But you know what I think? I THINK IT’S AWESOME. With this kind of paranoia gripping the league, the Patriots may never lose at home again. If teams are spending so much time trying to counter-act our obvious attempts to spy on them, learn their plays, and otherwise sabotage them, nobody will have any time to actually prepare for the game. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is all right with me. As I told a co-worker yesterday afternoon, the cheating is alleged; the winning is not. Now let’s get back to these picks before I really go off…
Buccaneers vs. Titans, 1:25 pm
For obvious reasons, this may be the most-hyped game of the season, short of any playoff matchup. In case you’re wondering just what those obvious reasons are, the #1 and #2 overall draft picks, respectively, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota will be facing off in their first NFL game. I’m not really sure which of these quarterbacks is better when it comes to talent. Jameis was a turnover machine in his final year at Florida State and Mariota looked like a system-quarterback who couldn’t lead his team in the National Championship against Ohio State. However, Winston had definitely been provided an environment for success that the former Duck has not been afforded. If Winston can find a way to keep the ball out of the hands of opposing defensive backs and score about 20 points per game, Tampa Bay has a good chance to finish above .500 this season. The Titans leave a lot to be desired for a rookie QB. Our pick: Bucs
Raiders vs. Bengals, 1:25 pm
I’ll elaborate on this when we get to my completely arbitrary predictions for the season, but I really think something special is brewing in Oakland. I know my boy Lefty doesn’t want to hear this, but the Bengals may never get past the first round of the playoffs as long as Andy Dalton is their quarterback. That is to say, I haven’t seen any improvement over the last four years that would lead me to believe that he’s going to progress into one of the league’s top signal-callers. Quick loosely-related tangent: I got into an argument with a Bengals fan the other day and he told me he’d take the Bengals honest legacy over the Patriots’ tainted one. Two things here: 1) Our legacy is only tainted if you’re an idiot and 2) Bengals legacy? What legacy, kid?! You lost a Super Bowl to Joe Montana in the 80’s, that’s not a legacy. Nobody even remembers that you were there. Let’s be real here! Anyway, I think Oakland’s young defense will be too much for Dalton to handle. (But why did they trade Sio Moore?? Why?!) Our pick: Raiders
Broncos vs. Ravens, 1:25 pm
I’m kind of sad that this game is happening during kick-off weekend because it’d be great match-up in December when Manning can’t throw past 15 yards and Flacco is working on his “close your eyes and chuck it” form for the playoffs. Ah well, as it is we should see a pretty good match. Denver’s offense may look a little differently after losing offensive coordinator Adam Gase and tight end Julius Thomas, but Emmanuel Sanders should keep things humming right along. The key for Baltimore will be establishing a productive run game. If they start to fall behind on the scoreboard and abandon the ground altogether, Flacco will throw an interception eventually (probably at least two) so the Ravens will really need their defense to get off to a strong start. If Elvis Dumervil and Baltimore’s pass rush can harass Peyton enough, limiting Denver’s air attack will be a much easier task. Our pick: Broncos
Cowboys vs. Giants, 5:30 pm
As a person who has a deeply-embedded hatred for the Giants in the darkest part of my soul, I’ll never pick them to win a game or say anything remotely nice about them in this blog. Ever. Lucky for me New York has been a disappointing bottom-feeder for years and Eli is hell-bent on throwing more interceptions than anyone else in history (one of my fantasy leagues is named Eli’s Interception Academy, and I’m not even the commissioner of that one!). Plus, I genuinely hope that the Cowboys can get back into the playoffs this season after they were absolutely robbed last January. Dez absolutely caught that ball. I’m still not sure what to expect from Dallas offensively now that Demarco Murray is playing across the division, but that offensive line could turn almost anyone into a star. Our pick: Cowboys
Falcons vs. Eagles, 3:55 pm (Monday)
The Falcons are a mystery to me at this point. They didn’t really do much in the offseason, outside of drafting absolute monster Vic Beasley to help their pass rush, but everyone just expects them to be better. On the other hand, the Eagles had a very busy offseason that included adding Demarco Murray and more-injured Nick Foles (Sam Bradford). I’m not so sure that Murray is an upgrade over LeSean McCoy, but Chip Kelly (wants you to believe that he) knows what he’s doing. Philly doesn’t like to collapse until at least six games into the season, so expect them to look good for a while before breaking your heart (again). Our pick: Eagles
49ers vs Vikings, 7:15 pm (Monday)
I’d love to be in the room when someone decided that this matchup would be a good draw for our first Monday Night Football of the season.
“What if we had Broncos vs. Ravens? That’s usually a great game.”
*middling agreement in the room, a few heads nodding*
“No, wait! Guys, it’s so obvious. We’re gonna show 49ers vs. Vikings, Monday Night Football. Give the fans what they really want.”
*about 20 seconds of silence…suddenly the room breaks out in a raucous applause*
*the guy who suggested Broncos vs. Ravens goes home and kicks his dog*
I’ll just assume that’s exactly how it went down. As a result, you get to watch a bunch of guys you’ve never heard of play football on Monday night. But hey, we’re into silver linings here at 4th & Gyas, so here are a few things to get excited about: Teddy Bridgewater, Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota’s young, hungry defense, Teddy Bridgewater. Oh, and Jarryd Hayne hopefully doing more of this:
Our pick: Vikings
We made it, guys! We got through all of our Week 1 picks and I didn’t even make any call anyone garbage. What a morning, huh? Now we can move on to the real fun, the part where I get to predict a bunch of stuff and then bring it back up when it happens to remind everyone about how much a football genius I am. I’m heading to USC in about an hour, so I’ll try to filter out the so-so content and really give you guys my best stuff here. LET IT BEGIIIIIIN!
- The New England Patriots will play in Super Bowl 50. I thought I’d just get this one out of the way early, because c’mon, you knew it was coming. Scoff all you want, but I’ll be laughing in February.
- The Baltimore Ravens will miss the playoffs. (See next prediction)
- The AFC East will send three teams to the playoffs. You could probably guess that I’m not picking the Jets to reach the post-season, but I think the Bills and Dolphins have the legitimate potential to join New England in the playoffs.
- Rob Gronkowski will score 30+ touchdowns this season. It’s not just the bias, I swear! I mean, DID YOU SEE GRONK ON THURSDAY NIGHT? 30 may be a polite estimate.
- Eli will have the best Manning-face of the season. This will happen somewhere around the time that Eli throws the pick-six that dashes any of New York’s playoff hopes. Peyton’s confused, disappointed, five-headed expression is hard to compete with, but Eli is coming for the title.
- Tampa Bay’s stadium will be swallowed by a sinkhole. Call me crazy, but is this really even that bold of a prediction considering that we’re talking about Florida? Mark my words, good ol’ Raymond James will be here one day, gone the next.
- Rex Ryan will be caught eating hotdogs on the sideline. Just saying.
- Antonio Brown will be held completely in check during fantasy-championship weekend, ruining thousands of lives. It just feels inevitable, ya know?
- Somebody will do something wrong and then Roger Goodell will completely gaffe in handling the situation. The NFL is a league of trends, and this one has dominated the league for years now.
- People who claim to be offended by the Washington Redskins will continue to be actual racists. Wait, sorry, I’m listening to Wale. Did we get too serious?
- J. Watt will hit someone so hard that their entire uniform will come off instantaneously. That’s better! But seriously, tell me you can’t see that happening. I want to see this happen so badly.
- Tyrann Mathieu will lead the league in interceptions. What’s that, an actual football prediction? Yep, I do those too. And trust me, Mathieu is about to put on an absolute show this season.
There you have it, folks! Picks, predictions, and sarcasm! What more could you ask for on a beautiful (read: unacceptably humid) Saturday afternoon? I just broke 3,000 words and I could honestly go all day, so let’s wrap this up before I get carried away. Check back next Saturday for picks and gloating about things I got right this week. Until next time!