Week 1 full of good NFL matchups

For the last several years I have spent my time migrating between Alaska and the lower 48 chasing the ever scarce phenomenon scientists refer to as “sunshine”. You see, golfer’s need sunshine to survive and for those of you that aren’t familiar with me, I’m as golf bum as it gets. 


For better or worse my life is heading in a different direction now and for the first time in a long time I’m going to put the clubs in the closet and spend my winter in beautiful Soldotna. My decision to stay has left me pondering a very basic question that most Alaskan’s have asked themselves at one point or another, that being, “what in the hell am I going to do this winter to remain sane”.  Fortunately the Peninsula Clarion came to my rescue and provided me with an opportunity to write an NFL column for each week of the 2012 season. Unfortunately, my athletic experience as a football player is limited. I did not play in the NFL. I did not play collegiately. I didn’t even play high school football, but I played a mean game of two-hand touch at Tustumena Elementary in the mid 90’s, which leaves me uniquely qualified to do this. Each week of the season I’m going to provide you with important information about the upcoming slate of games. For example, I’m going to tell you who’s going to win. I’m even going to tell you how much they’ll win by. How do I know all this? I don’t... But it’s fun to think I do!

Enough with the introductions, let’s talk football. The season gets under way this Wednesday with the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants hosting the Dallas Cowboys. Other notable games include the San Francisco 49ers travelling to Green Bay to battle the Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers visiting the Denver Broncos and their surgically repaired, bionic quarterback, Peyton Manning. An amazing five rookie quarterbacks will start for their respective teams opening week. Andrew Luck (Indianapolis Colts) and Robert Griffin III (Washington Redskins) headline the group. Russell Wilson, another rookie QB, won the starting job for everyone’s favorite team, the Seattle Seahawks. Quick admission of guilt, I’m an unabashed Seattle Seahawks homer. I’m as biased as biased can be and have been for 29 years. My Seahawks are heading to Arizona to play a Cardinals team that doesn’t have a quarterback, unless you count John Skelton and Kevin Kolb as real life NFL players, which I don’t. The New Orleans Saints host the Washington Redskins in their first game  since “Bounty Gate” resulted in their coach, Sean Payton, being banished for an entire season for his involvement in a ”pay to play” Ponzi scheme that would make Bernie Madoff proud. Tim Tebow can end world hunger, but can he cure the New York Jets offense? Consider me a skeptic. The Jets host the Buffalo Bills in what will surely be the first game of Rex Ryan’s last season coaching the J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets. There’s so much to cover, I don’t know where to stop. I hope you enjoy reading the column as much as I will enjoy writing it. May all your Sunday’s end in victory, unless your team is playing the Seahawks, then I hope your team loses by thirty, and there isn’t enough beer in the fridge to erase the beat down from memory.

Dallas Cowboys @
New York Giants -4

Its easy to forget the Giants were a 9-7 team last year. Sure, they got hot and won the Superbowl, but they’re not unbeatable. Tony Romo can be shaky, but the Cowboys will show up for the season opener. Giants 23-20

Indianapolis Colts @
Chicago Bears -9

Andrew Luck isn’t just the foundation of the Colts franchise. He’s also the foundation of my fantasy football team. Unfortunately Luck will need a lot of luck against the Bears defense. Jay Cutler is hard to root for but the Bears offense should be improved this season with the additions of Brandon Marshall and Michael Bush. Bears 31-17

Philadelphia Eagles @
Cleveland Browns +9

Cleveland is really bad at football. I’m not going to spend precious time talking about them. The Eagles should win this game by three touchdowns but they have some questions of their own. Can Michael Vick survive four quarters without leaving the field on a stretcher? Will Head Coach Andy Reid be emotionally fit to direct his team following the tragic death of his son? My gut says the Eagles play inspired ball. Eagles 31-13

St. Louis Rams @
Detroit Lions -9

Lions wide receiver, Calvin Johnson, has the coolest nickname in football. There’s no stopping Megatron, especially not at home. St. Louis has a new coach, Jeff Fischer, and things look to be finally heading in the right direction, but the Rams don’t have the fire power to keep up with Detroit. Lions 35-21

New England Patriots @ Tennessee Titans +6

Tough to understand why the Patriots are only six point favorites. These are the same Patriots that have Tom Brady right? The obvious is usually a red flag in Las Vegas. I worked in a Vegas sports book. They make their money off lines like this one. But how can Titans quarterback Jake Locker keep up with Brady and Gronk? Patriots 30-21

Atlanta Falcons @
Kansas City Chiefs +3

The Chiefs made the playoffs two seasons ago with the same core of young, talented players. Last year their roster was ravaged with injuries and they regressed. Healthy again, this team could surprise out west. The Falcons are a good but not great football team. Chiefs 24-21

Jacksonville Jaguars @
Minnesota Vikings -4

This match-up features a pair of teams with second year quarterbacks in Blaine Gabbert (Jacksonville) and Christian Ponder (Minnesota). Neither is very good. Jaguars running back, Maurice Jones-Drew, recently ended his unsuccessful hold-out and reported to the team in time for the opener. You have to assume his touches will be limited. Same goes for star Vikings running back Adrian Peterson who’s recovering from a torn ACL. It all leaves me clueless. Vikings 20-14

Washington Redskins @
New Orleans Saints -9

Robert Griffin III will find out real quickly that he’s not playing against Big 12 defenses anymore, but the kid was selected 2nd overall in the 2012 NFL Draft for a reason. Being a world class sprinter can only help. The Saints will put up points as long as Drew Brees is under center, but I think the Redskins keep it close. Saints 27-21 

Buffalo Bills @
New York Jets -3

I can’t stand the Jets. To be more precise, I can’t stand Rex Ryan and the media creation that is Tim Tebow. The crowd will be all over starting quarterback Mark Sanchez the second he shows any sign of struggle. The Jets quarterback controversy is a recipe for disaster and the Bills are good enough to take advantage. Bills 20-13

Miami Dolphins @
Houston Texans -11.5

The Dolphins are starting a rookie quarterback in the NFL that wasn’t a very good quarterback in college. That’s a scary proposition. The Houston Texans are very good. They can run the ball, they can throw the ball, and they play great defense. Miami can start preparing for next year’s draft right after kick-off. At least that will give their fans something to look forward to. Houston 35-7

San Francisco 49ers @ Green Bay Packers -5.5

I’m really looking forward to this one. Were the 49ers one hit wonders with their out of nowhere run to the NFC Championship game last season under first year coach Jim Harbaugh? Not with that defense. Can the 49ers score enough points to hang with Aaron Rodgers and the high powered Green Bay Packers on the road? It’s going to be tough. Packers 27-20

Seattle Seahawks @
Arizona Cardinals +3

I’m a believer! Russell Wilson can make plays with his arm and his legs, but he won’t have to do much in this one. I don’t see any way the Cardinals light it up against the Seahawks defense. One of the most underrated units in the league. Seahawks 23-14

Carolina Panthers @
Tampa Bay Buccaneers +3

Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers are squaring off against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and their new head coach Greg Schiano to open the season. Schiano should be uniquely prepared to face a mobile quarterback coming from Rutgers University. I think the Bucs have enough to pull out the win at home. Buccaneers 24-23

Pittsburgh Steelers @
Denver Broncos -1.5

Peyton Manning and his surgically repaired neck take the field for the first time as a Denver Bronco. Manning will be facing a longtime nemesis in the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers are coming into town battling a number of injuries however and as long as Peyton can stay upright Denver will score enough points to win at home. Broncos 20-17

Cincinnati Bengals @
Baltimore Ravens -6

The Ravens should still be stinging from their brutal loss at the hands of the Patriots in last season’s AFC Championship game. The Bengals are a young team on the rise and will be looking at this as a statement game. Cincy’s defense is sneaky good. The Bengals will give Baltimore all they can handle. Ravens 17-13

San Diego Chargers @
Oakland Raiders -1

The Raiders begin life without Al Davis, which bless his heart, can only be a good thing. San Diego has Norv Turner, who excels at being a bad coach. Turner’s ineptitude gives Oakland an advantage at home. Raiders 27-21


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