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Author Topic: 2012 - Finny's week 1 picks  (Read 530 times)
Finnegans Wake
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« on: Sep 05, 2012 at 13:26 »

Ahh, the preseason, when hope springs eternal, doves flutter above rainbows shining from the asses of unicorns, and NFL fans have sugar-plum dreams unsullied by even so much as a pimple-sized thought-bubble of negativity.

Then the fucking season starts.  Giddyup, motherfuckers.

Cowboys (+4) at Giants (45.5).

Cowboys are like the Chargers, a team with talent that perennially underachieves.  Unlike the Chargers, they’re in a tough division, with the Super Bowl champs, an always dangerous Eagles team, and a Redskins team that might be turning the corner.  The secondary is a work in progress, and the OL is pure suck.  Not good when facing that Giants front seven in New York.  Jason Witten is out, Miles Austin is always gimpy, and Dez Bryant is a ghost 50% of the time.  

I expect both teams to look like they’re in midseason form, with Eli hitting Nicks and Cruz to march down the field, and the Cowboys fucking up at crucial junctures.  Cowboys may get it together later, but this is a bad spot for them.  Giants 27, Cowboys 14.

Colts (+9.5) at Bears (43).

The Colts new management brought in Bruce Arians to be their OC and then promptly drafted two TEs, meaning they apparently never watched a Steelers game that Arians called.  The good news for the Colts is they have the New Peyton Manning, they have a new head coach, Chuck Pagano, from the Ravens organization, and no one expects jack shit from the Colts this year.  New Peyton Manning will have the kind of game we expect:  some flashes of brilliance you’d expect from New Peyton Manning, some bumps in the road as the rookie adjusts to real NFL game speed, and plenty of movement between the 20s, courtesy of the BA brilliance.

The Colts are installing a new 3-4 defense, with Freeney and Mathis starting new roles as OLBs.  But they’re facing a Bears team that reunites Cutler and Marshall, a running attack with Matt Forte and newly added Michael Bush, and a big rookie WR in Alshon Jeffery who could be a nice surprise.  Expect the Bears offense to roll early.  But 9.5 is a big spread and I suspect the Colts will be better this season than a lot of people expect, not completely due to New Peyton Manning.  The Bears D will harass New Peyton Manning, but they’re not the same without Urlacher being healthy, and I think his knee is going to be a problem all year long.  And I wonder if the Bears might overlook a “crappy” Colts team just a bit.  

Bears early, Colts late, New Peyton Manning has ups and downs.  Bears 27, Colts 20.

Eagles (-8) at Browns (43.5).

The Browns… well, what a fucking mess.  Seriously.  They have some decent talent on D, but with CB Haden sitting 4 games on an Adderall ding, expect some big passing numbers from the Eagles.  I’m not high on the Eagles – their OL is still shaky, I don’t think Vick makes 16 games as starter, and their DC should go back to coaching OL – but they will get after new QB Brandon Weeden, who turns 40 later this year, and who has no fucking one to throw to anyway.  Poor Trent Richardson will be the offense, and better defenses will shut him down.  I expect Richardson to get some tough mileage, but unless Greg Little has really stepped up or supplemental draft WR Josh Gordon is some freaking miracle, he’s all they have.

Meanwhile, the Eagles have Shady, and Vick throwing to Maclin, Jackson, and Celek.  Vick will get harassed, he’ll make some stupid throws, but there’s just too much firepower here.  I expect the Browns to be one of the worst teams this year, in the early running for the first pick in the 2013 draft.  New HC Shurmur will have his hands full against his old boss Andy Reid.  Eagles 31, Browns 10.

Bills (+3) at Jets (40.5).

I think the Jets are overrated and in decline, and the Bills are underrated and on the upswing.  The Jets O was tepid last year and I don’t see anything that convinces me they’ve improved.  Holmes is a slacker, Shonn Greene is a slacker, Sanchez is Sanchez.  They have a nice big rookie WR in Stephen Hill, but seriously, you gonna pin your hopes on him?  And don’t even say Tebow, motherfuckers.  The defense will be expected to win every game for them, again, but the Bills have some interesting matchups.

Bills fired out of the gates like gangbusters last year, then sputtered amidst injuries.  Seems like their defense is always injured.  But wait, motherfuckers, wait.  They have a monster RB in Fred Jackson, a WR in Stevie Johnson who has actually fared OK against Revis, and a couple of interesting young guys in Donald Jones and David Nelson.  But the real story may be that Bills D, with a healthy Kyle Wilson anchoring the interior with Marcel Dareus, former Bear Mark Anderson anchoring end across from some unknown named Mario Williams, who will help the young secondary anchored by safeties Byrd and Wilson make some plays.  When healthy, this team beat the Patriots 34-31 last year; once they got banged up, it was a different story.  That Patriots-Bills matchup, with Brady’s OL off a bit this year, just got real interesting.  

Can the Bills vie for the division this year?  You bet.  Are the Jets going to be fending off the Dolphins for cellar dwellers?  Well, not yet, but that’s just because the Fins really, really, really suck.  Bills 20, Jets 13.

Redskins (+7) at Saints (49.5).

Despite the whole Bountygate thing, this Saints team has the talent to contend this year and will contend this year.  They were 8-0 at home (9-0 including playoffs), and never won by fewer than double digits, except against Houston (won by 7).  That includes a 49-24 win over the Super Bowl Giants and a 62-7 laugher over the Colts.  The hydra offense includes Pierre Thomas, Darren Sproles, and Mark Ingram at RB, and Marcus Colston, Devery Henderson, and TE Jimmy Graham receiving.  The Redskins D is actually better than you think, with OLBs Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo notching 16.5 sacks last year, and adding CB Josh Wilson across from Deangelo Hall.  But sooner or later, that Saints O is going to push them to the limit.

If Andrew Luck is New Peyton Manning, is RG3 New Cam Newton?  He’s closer in size to Mike Vick, but I think he could well have a Newton-like frosh season.  Rat Shanahan will employ the Whothefuckknowswhothe runningbackis strategy, obviously, but the Skins add WRs Josh Morgan from the 49ers and Pierre Garcon from the Colts.  The Saints D was never the point, but with some dings and suspensions, don’t be surprised if RG3 has a surprisingly good debut.

Saints against the world versus a Redskins team that could actually wind up second in their division, if thing break right.  Tough spot for the Skins though.  Saints 31, Redskins 20.

Patriots (-6) at Titans (47).

HC Mike Munchak is starting second-year QB Jake Locker against perennial favorite New England.  Game over, right?  As Lee Corso’s baby arm would say, not so fast, motherfuckers!  Oh, Brady’s got all the weapons, no need to rehash that.  He’s also looked miserable for the first time in any preseason I can remember because his OL appears to be the worst he’s had to work with.  Is this the year the Patriots finally take a step back?  In a word, yes.  More picks, more sacks, more incompletions for the Golden Boy.  But they’re still going to beat the Titans.

I think the Pats will contain Chris Johnson, but Locker may get some room to run when he’s not hitting Nate Washington and rookie Kendall Wright.  The question is, of course, do the Patriots cover?  I think they do, but much later and by much less than most expect.  Kam Wimbley is going to have Brady cursing, and he makes sure the Patriots get their bling points in the fourth quarter.  The other three might be ugly.  Patriots 31, Titans 21.

Jaguars (+3.5) at Vikings (38).

A soap opera of suck.  Blaine Gabbert vs. Christian Ponder.  Gimpy AP vs. holdout-puzzled MJD.  Coaching powerhouses Mike Mularkey vs. Leslie Frazier.  Weak rosters of wideouts.  Defenses that have seen better days.  Both have some guys on defense, but they’re a long way from dominant.

Here’s what I expect.  Jags have growing pains.  Vikings have Jared Allen terrorizing Blaine fucking Gabbert.  Blaine fucking Gabbert’s hair… is pretty.  Christian Ponder will show some improvement this year, but nothing worth photocopying your balls on the Xerox machine and hanging the picture in the break room.  MJD will have some rough spots but they’ll keep his plays simple.  AP will see limited action.  

This game will be a soap opera of suck, but someone will have to win it, and that will be… Minnesota.  Vikings 23, Jaguars 17.

Dolphins (+12.5) at Texans (43).

How bad are the Dolphins?  Bad.  GM Jeff Ireland has fucked them over in ways that defy reason, unless he’s on the payroll of Bob Kraft.  Seriously, they’re in the race for the bottom with the Browns.  They shipped off CB Vontae Davis and WR Brandon Marshall, they have a new HC, Joe Philbin, with a rookie QB, Ryan Tannehill, and even the official Dolphins website can’t spell the name of the team correctly.  Dolphns Make Roster Movs.  I shit you not.  How fucking miserably mired in an oubliette full of diarrhea is this team?  

Don’t even try to think of a single Dolphins wideout.  I mean, seriously, is your top receiver Legadu Naanee or Davone Bess?   For fuck sake.  The Texans will bottle up Reginald Bush and Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller and whoever else tries to run the ball.  And the Dolphins sure as fuck won’t get it done through the air.  Meanwhile, one of those solid-but-respectable defenses saddled with shite for an offense (see Jaguars, Jacksonville; Redskins, Washington) will have to try to corral Arian Foster and Ben Tate running the ball, and some guy named Andre Johnson catching it.  Good luck with that, fools.

Seriously, just admit that you don’t give a shit, Miami.  This is why, as bad as the Jets may be this year, they cannot come in last in their division.  I’ll take Blowouts for a thousand, Alex.  Texans 34, Dolphins 6.

Rams (+7) at Lions (45.5).

You just know that Jeff Fisher will have the Rams turned around and never winning a Super Bowl lickety-split.  Their regular season competence will be a thing of beauty, or if not beauty, at least it will be competent.  This competence will be a vast improvement for Rams fans, who have been used to ugly, incompetent, fucking awful, Oh my God, NO!, and pining for Kurt Warner and the Greatest Show on Smurf.  Fisher goes head to head with former protégé Jim Schwartz and may even shake his hand afterwards.  Fisher’s ears are so small one might think his real ears were eaten off by piranhas and replaced by gum drops as some sort of cruel joke.

But the Lions have Calvin Johnson.  Game over.  No, seriously, game over.  Who’s gonna cover him, Cortland Finnegan?  Best hope is to draw Megatron into a fistfight and pray for a motherfucking ejection.  The Lions have a woeful group of damaged, soon to be damaged, or suspended RBs, but no matter.  Stafford will march down the field all day, throwing to other guys too, like Nate Burleson and Titus Young.

The Lions have some problems with their secondary, but the Rams don’t have any way to exploit it.  Once again, close your eyes and try to think of a Rams WR.  You can’t do it.  It’s not possible.  Jeff Fisher was so angry that the Jaguars got WR Justin Blackmon in the draft that he threw a coffee mug against the wall, which, instead of shattering, bounced back and knocked a gumdrop ear off.  That just made him madder.  I can’t tell you the Rams wideouts are, but I can tell you that none of them topped 500 yards receiving in the NFL last year.  Lions contain Steven Jackson, FTW.  Lions 30, Rams 10.

Falcons (-2.5) at Chiefs (42).

Speaking of regular season competence, the Falcons really need to show they can move to the next level.  Matt Ryan has the weapons:  Roddy White, Julio Jones, Tony Gonzalez, Michael Turner.  And the Chiefs, snakebit by injuries last year, again go into the season with injuries and suspensions on defense.  And those come to their three best D-side players (Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson, and Brandon Flowers).  

But the Chiefs are healthy on offense, and Matt Cassell will lean heavily on the rush attack of Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis.  He’s got wideouts Dwayne Bowe, Steve Breaston, Jon Baldwin, and Dexter McCluster, which ain’t the best, but ain’t bad.  The Falcons had a decent run-stop unit last year, but I’m not so sure about their secondary.  

This game looks like a slam dunk, but I think the Chiefs could rebound a bit this year under the magical influence of the gnome Romeo Crennel (Gnomeo and Juliet), and the Falcons could be in the weeds until late.  Falcons 28, Chiefs 24.
« Last Edit: Sep 05, 2012 at 13:32 by Finnegans Wake » Logged

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Finnegans Wake
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« Reply #1 on: Sep 05, 2012 at 15:53 »

49ers (+5) at Packers (45).  

Drew Brees and the Saints dissected the vaunted 49ers D in the playoffs, and the Packers have just as much firepower.  Rodgers, Jennings, Nelson, Finley, Driver, Jones, Cobb, Benson… they’re stacked.  Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman, Aldon Smith and Justin Smith will harass Rodgers, but you have to think the Packers are going to get their points.  Two points of concern for the Packers:  they’re one of two teams to keep only 7 OL and 2 QB, and their OL has not been waterproof over the years.  This could be worth watching over the season.

The 49ers have relied on tough D and a grind it out ground game, but hope to see Alex Smith fare better with improved play from Michael Crabtree and the addition of Randy Moss.  Frankly, I think the Moss signing is a bit desperate, and as surprising as the 49ers were last year, they could easily come back to earth a bit this year.  The Packers D wasn’t great on paper, but they did have key injuries, and I think they’re better than most people realize.  They should be able to contain the passing game and limit Frank Gore just enough.  49ers will have a couple of splash plays, probably Vernon Davis and Moss getting one, but this should be a win for the Pack.  Packers 31, 49ers 17.

Panthers (-2.5) at Bucs (47).

Will Cam Newton suffer the sophomore slump?  Will Greg Schiano’s discipline turn around the foundering Bucs?  Can either team jump ahead of the Saints or Falcons in the division?  No, eventually, and no.  Aren’t you glad you asked?  

With Newton’s running ability, Jonathan Stewart and Deangelo Williams, the Bucs will again be challenged to contain the run, even with Stewart’s gimp ankle.  Getting DT Gerald McCoy back will help, and adding Mark Barron to the secondary with Aqib Talib will improve matters.  But Newton also gets it done with the receiving talent, which is OK-fine past Steve Smith:  Brandon LaFell, Louis Murphy, Greg Olsen.  

Meanwhile, the Bucs add Vincent Jackson and rookie RB Doug Martin, and if third-year WR Mike Williams rebounds to his rookie form, the Bucs should see improvement.  Hell, it’s hard to see how they wouldn’t improve.  But Josh Freeman has not looked good this preseason, so there may be growing pains with the new scheme.  Still, against a Panthers D that has been a sieve, this could wind up being a very close divisional game.  The Panthers add rookie Luke Kuechly to play next to Jon Beason, but I remain unconvinced the Panthers are a solid stop team in any phase of the defense.  Panthers 27, Bucs 20.

Seahawks (-3) at Cards (40.5).

Seahawks could be a breakout team this year.  I’ve mocked Pete Carroll in the past, but his defense could be prickly and opportunistic, and the offense should have more pop than it has in years.  Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the Cardinals O, with The Great Mistake that is Kevin Kolb, and The Dawning Realization that Ken Whisenhunt is left with knowing he is going into the season with John Skelton as his starter.  And his LT is gone for the year and he has a rookie RT.  And his RB breaks down.  And beyond Larry Fitz, he has a pedestrian group of receivers.  Seriously, this Cardinals team will have trouble scoring, and in this game I can see lots of turnovers.  Earl Thomas is a ballhawking safety, CB Brandon Browner settled in and got some turnovers at the end of last year, and new additions LB Bobby Wagner and DE Bruce Irvin will add some freneticism, although Irvin may be used only on pass-rush downs.  

The Cards D is another of those solid squads left to dangle without a bit of fucking help from the O.  The front 7 is pretty good, with DE Calais Campbell and second year LB Daryl Washington leading the charge, and CB Patrick Peterson, and safeties Adrian Wilson and Kerry Rhodes are a nice trio in the secondary.  Unfortunately, they also start William Gay at corner.  ‘Nuff said.  They’ll have to stuff Marshawn Lynch, a tough call if Lynch continues where he left off in 2011.  The receivers are a mixed bag – Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, Zach Miller, Doug Baldwin, Braylon Edwards – but they all may show better than expected with rookie QB Russell Wilson, who beat out vet Matt Flynn.  Wilson has looked very sharp, throwing the ball with accuracy and zip, and able to hurt teams running.  He could be in the convo with New Peyton Manning and RG3 as the best of a good class of rookie QBs.

Still, this could be more of a defensive grudge match until Wilson can get on track and Lynch tears off some nasty runs.  Close early.  Seahawks 27, Cardinals 12.

Steelers (+2) at Broncos (44.5).

People see this game and remember the Steelers’ playoff loss, without remembering the litany of injuries that enabled it.  They see Real Peyton Manning replacing God’s Own Errand Boy Tebow and think, How can they not be vastly improved?  The usual bromides about the aging Steelers defense and the porous offensive line are reeled off.  By popular opinion, the Steelers shall backslide and finish no better than third in their division.

Which is exactly where this team wants to be.  No, not third in the division.  Overlooked, motherfuckers.  Disrespected.  Crown them world champs, they come out fat and lazy.  Disrespect a motherfucker, and look for your teeth in an alley.  Even with Mike Wallace still learning the playbook, Todd Haley has plenty of weapons.  He didn’t show much in the preseason – some underneath passing stuff, some screens, a lot of running – but that will change in the regular season.  He’s going to mix it up plenty, with the promise to utilize Heath Miller more, Antonio Brown looking to build on last year’s breakout season, Wallace peeling the top off defenses, and Sanders the forgotten man who could make for a nice trio of young receivers.  Wallace ain’t the only speed guy, either, as Sanders and Brown showed in the preseason.  Add in the X-factor, RB/WR Chris Rainey, and this offense could be one of the league’s best by season end.  

I don’t think it’ll be all smooth sailing right away – this Denver D showed that last year.  Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller will test the revamped OL, and Ben will face quality CBs in Champ Bailey and Tracy Porter, but if Redman can get positive chunks, and Dwyer can break off some long runs to spell him, it will open things up for the passing game.  Or will the passing game open things for the ground game?  Expect the usual early-season fugly that is the Steelers offense, but wait and see if this group isn’t top-10 by year’s end.

Meanwhile, Real Peyton Manning will be like Obama, spreading the wealth to Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas, Willis McGahee, TEs Dreesen and Tamme, and even depth WRs like Caldwell and Stokely.  Unfortunately, he’s also stiff as Romney and will have to rely on an OL with Ryan Clady seeming to have regressed since suffering a knee injury (similar to David DeCastro’s) a couple of years back, and with 3 of the OL guys having 3 years or less NFL experience.  He’ll try to exploit the same chinks in the secondary – Ike and Ryan Mundy – but Keenan Lewis played very well last year and Cortez Allen shuts down the slot man, TEs, anyone he’s assigned to.  Casey Hampton is listed as the starter, but Steve McClendon should get the call week 1, and the new and improved Ziggy Hood has looked very good in the preseason.  Cameron Heyward will likely rotate in to keep the front 3 fresh.  The biggest questions seem to be at LB, where Foote’s speed is a liability in coverage, Woodley has looked thick and slow to start the season (again), and Harrison and Worilds’s statuses both are fuzzy due to injury.  Manning has shown some rust from his year off, and may be a bit gunshy about getting hit.  Dick LeBeau has to be licking his wounds from the loss, and rarely follows such an embarrassment with a repeat.  Expect him to be prepared for Manning.

A defensive scrum early, with McGahee getting more yards than we would like and Manning showing flashes of his old self.  But the defense clamps down, Ben and the O open the throttle, and the Steelers storm back in the second half.  Steelers 23, Broncos 17.

Bengals (+6) at Ravens (41).[/b]

Every year is the year the Ravens D is going to fall off, and it never happens.  Ed Reed and Ray Lewis must suck goat’s blood under the full moon and have a pact with Satan to still be… actually, that explains a lot.  But the Ravens keep a pipeline of secondary talent, bringing in Bernard Pollard at SS, getting mileage out of vets like CB Cary Williams, and bringing up young guys like CB Jimmy Smith.  But it’s all about the front seven, and the keystone to that isn’t Ray Lewis, it’s Haloti Ngata, man-beast.  He’s listed as under-tackle to Terrence Cody’s NT, but Ngata can play any position in a 30-front or 40-front.  The Ravens will miss Terrell Suggs, though, and fourth-year OLB Paul Kruger will need to step it up.  RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis won’t find much room to run, and QB Andy Dalton’s steady, competent play tapered off a bit last year.  He’s got some terrific weapons in WR AJ Green and TE Jermaine Gresham, but some of the younger WRs like Sanu and Binn will need to contribute for the passing game to succeed.

Now, the Ravens D may be off a bit with Suggs out and some new faces inserted into the lineup, but the O could be even better with speedster Torrey Smith maturing and Joe Flacco adding more weapons.  Ray Rice returns, and is backed up by rookie Bernard Pierce; Anquan Boldin is joined by speedster Jacoby Jones.  TEs Dickson and Pitta are steady contributors.  The Bengals have had a nice D lately, but I don’t like their LBs or their secondary this year.  Safeties Taylor Mays and Reggie Nelson are liabilities, CB Nate Clements is old and getting slow, CB Terrence Newman sucks, and MLB Rey Maualuga never lived up to the hype.  The Bengals are really overrated.  Ravens 27, Bengals 16.

Chargers (-1) at Raiders (47).

The perpetually disappointing Chargers should come slouching out of the gate yet again, like a bleary-eyed drunk at closing time.  Philip Rivers has enjoyed some statistical success over the years, until his star RB moved on, his star TE started getting dinged up, and his favorite WR was swapped for the meh WR Robert Meachem.  Oh, and his OL started getting worse.  This might explain things.  The Raiders DL has a nice push up the middle with the aging DT Richard Seymour and DT Tommy Kelly, and while the secondary needs work, it remains to be seen whether Rivers will be able to exploit it with Meachem and Malcolm Floyd as his chief targets.

Carson Palmer didn’t exactly light the world on fire last year, but he does have better weapons than Rivers.  RB Darren McFadden can tear up the overrated Chargers D, especially with that Raggedy Ann DL they’re fielding.  The LB crew looks to be the strength of this D, but they can’t compensate for the DL or a secondary that just gave up yards in droves last year.  Palmer has two young playmakers in Denarius Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey, and two rookies who look very interesting in Streater and Crine.  

The AFC West saw the Broncos, Raiders, and Chargers finish 8-8, and the Chiefs finish 7-9.  The division was up for grabs then, and it still is.  The Chargers appear to be settling into the quicksand, but which team will step up this year?  Raiders 24, Chargers 17.

Out of my mind on Saturday night...
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