The first week of the season ended with only a handful of concussion-like symptoms to report. A few rookie quarterbacks turfed out, but we don’t blame them because they are rookie quarterbacks and we say it’s only week one. RGIII was beautiful – with an assist from the second string officials – and it was nice to see the Redskins have a strong quarterback performance for one week at least. Similar to American fiction master, Thomas McGuane keeping his efficiency and control of the written word after leaving Key West for Montana, we saw Peyton being Peyton in a new jersey, in a new home. Michael Vick played as if my ten-year-old cousin was controlling him via EA’s Madden, and the Packers, Saints, Giants, and Steelers all lost. For a sport that has been feeling the noose lately, it was a good opening week. I think. I watched the Cowboys and then slept all weekend.
I had to split time last Wednesday night between the Cowboys tempering the Giants with the DNC and Bill Clinton gliding through nonstop applause. The pairing made sense, and reached me in a deeper level of nostalgia than for what I was prepared. The weather dropping, the sun setting earlier, fall – or more specifically any transitional period between seasons – gives us the opportunity to think of years past. The picture-in-picture set up with Clinton gesturing over the crowd enveloping a tiny square of Romo and company driving with success on the Giants had me nearly fooled I was somewhere in my youth. Our apartment was happy and briefly felt the ignorance and excitability of the mid 90s. I was sent back to the days when everything but my underwear was blazoned with the Dallas star: slippers, Zubaz, turtleneck, jersey, hat, robe, all were required arsenal to will the team to victory.
The take away from week one is some teams are better than others. The warning we are taught to issue is to not give in to hyperbole. Week one is always just that, one week, but there is no fun toeing lightly among the predictions. So no matter how much money is in the pot, we go all in. Money is just money, and I’ve got fifteen stacks on the ‘Boys bringing home the Lombardi this season.
The Bears go to Green Bay for the first game of the week and they will add another impressive win because the NFL is only big enough for one hokey, aww-shucks quarterback and that’s Romo not Rodgers. The early games on Sunday might be competitive within themselves, but for the most part it’s a school of bottom-feeders. There is Philly hosting Baltimore. We watch this game, and every Philly game, with the same energy we watch Nascar: will this be the week Vick’s risk outweighs his gains and he leaves on a stretcher? We don’t want this, in the same way we don’t want an accident on the racetrack, but there are certain dark reasons we watch football and there is an excitement you can’t deny when Suggs, Reed, and Lewis line up opposite Michael Vick.
Just for thoroughness, here’s the lightning round predictions of the games that sound miserable to watch (offense intended if any of these teams are “your” teams):
Kansas City Chiefs at Buffalo Bills
Marcus Allen rushes for 200 plus while. Fitzpatrick, sluggish after reports of scandal at his alma mater, throws only two interceptions. KC over Buffalo by three.
Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals
One of the few intrastate battles to be nearly impossible to promote. Cincy by ten.
Minnesota Vikings at Indianapolis Colts
Chris Kluwe gets appointed as Al Franken’s successor.
New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers
It’s a shame Katrina happened in the same place as Bountygate. Rather, it’s a shame Bountygate happened in the same place as Katrina. I want to feel for New Orleans and not have interference from toads like Gregg Williams. Cam Newton synchs an impressive stat line with a victory for once. Panthers by sixteen.
Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars
Blaine Gabbert? There is a boy named Blaine Gabbert and he is called a professional. My summer hibernation lasted a little longer than planned. Houston over Jacksonville by twenty-one.
Oakland Raiders at Miami Dolphins
Arizona Cardinals at New England Patriots
I have no idea how New England does it. Mostly because I don’t understand how football works, nor do I pay attention to anything regarding the New England area, but they simply win. This is a team that seems more like a business than any other team: their level of efficiency, repeatable outcomes, etc. There’s an absence of drama, but it’s effective. Pats by seventeen.
Tampa Bay Bucaneers at NY Giants
G-men by twenty or Coughlin makes the rookie running back cry again.
Baltimore Ravens at Philadelphia Eagles
Baltimore by seven.
In the afternoon, RGIII tries for a repeat performance at St. Louis. Spoiler alert: he and Bradford do their best NFL Blitz and just run Da Bomb for four quarters. Dallas starts 2-0 for the first time since 2008 as they do what they want with Seattle, but Seattleites are unconcerned, as they’ve shifted focus toward moving forward with rejoining the NBA. The Jets go to Pittsburgh. This will be an exciting game from which we can deduce a lot about the remainder of each teams’ season. Or it won’t be. I give it four out of five aggravated assaults: Jets win by six.
Tennessee and San Diego face off in a battle of the perennial shoulda, coulda, woulda teams. The general consensus is, “fuck Philip Rivers,” and that sounds good enough for me. Maybe the truth is he’s donating half his paycheck to autism research and off the field he’s morally incorruptible, but that’s nothing the crumb bum fan should concern him or herself with. The TV version of Rivers has him with that Lleyton Hewitt vibe and that makes it fun to hate. As Juicy J says: “Bustin’ and fightin’ and bitin’ I’m like a Tennessee Titan tacklin’ and bringin’ the lightning.” Titans by ten.
The Sunday night game is the lone matchup this week that – across the board – generates a decent amount of excitement. Detroit snuck out a win over St. Louis last week and now heads to San Francisco. Does Alex Smith look like Aaron Rodgers or do just all white quarterbacks look the same? Staffords got some of that baby fat on him still, so he’s easy to spot in a crowd. He’s in his mid-twenties, though, so not so sure it can be called baby fat. Is Randy Moss the only active player that was seen on an N64 game? Megatron puts up triple digits through the air, but Frank Gore amasses an equal measure on the ground. David Akers and Jason Hanson, much to the NFL’s displeasure, settle the matter. I think there’s a Monday night game. It’s been a long off-season. The rust I’m trying to shed is yards deep. Peyton wins by twenty.
And let these influence you:
AFC Champs – New York Jets
NFC Champs – Dallas Cowboys
Super Bowl Champs – Dallas Cowboys
Season MVP – Tony Romo
Offensive Player of the Year – Megatron
Defensive Player of the Year – Demarcus Ware
Rookie of the Year – RGIII
Storyline of the Year – Some reporter working with the black QB narrative and really just putting his foot in his mouth saying some dumb shit a la Mac McGill from Friday Night Lights (season 1, episode 15)