Too Many X-Factors in week 1 of the NFL Season: Be Careful Out there

hippo-toe-water-lores

If you’re ever going to profit off the NFL, there are two traits you must have: Discipline and Patience.

We’ve been waiting since February 7th for the moment where week 1 is upon us and we can fire off a variety of ridiculous bets. I get it. I’ve been walking around with a week 1 boner for about a month now.

But when we have no recent results or stats to go on for these week 1 picks, we default back to the way teams played last season. That can be useful, of course, because a lot of players, coaches, schemes and talent remain similar to the recent past. But there are also huge changes, or maybe more appropriately said, there are huge unknowns for many of these teams going into the start of the new season.

It feels like this year more than other years we really need to take a wait-and-see approach to some of these unknowns

By my count, there are only four games in week 1 where there isn’t a huge blinking warning sign telling me to slow the fuck down and let the situation play out over a couple weeks before drawing a conclusion on a player or team. Here they are:

  • San Diego at Kansas City – Jamaal Charles’ slow-healing knee is a minor factor when considering this game. The Chiefs did just fine without him last year. Other than that, no crazy QB or coaching changes. No suspensions to deal with. Pretty much business as usual for these two AFC West teams.
  • Oakland at New Orleans – I can’t think of any monumental changes to these two teams compared to how they ended last year. Thinking Oakland is going to be a playoff team isn’t really an X factor.
  • Tampa Bay at Atlanta – Ditto for these NFC South rivals. Sure, Dirk Koetter is technically a brand new coach in Tampa, but he was the team’s offensive coordinator in 2015 so there’s actually good continuity there.
  • Miami at Seattle – The Dolphins also have a new head coach in Adam Gase, but I’m not expecting him to have a dramatic effect on such a lousy team, and certainly he won’t be a difference-maker in how badly the Dolphins will get slaughtered up in Seattle.

So those are the only four games where I feel I can judge who will win, by how many points, what will the over/under outcome be, etc, based on last year’s results and minor offseason roster changes.

The rest of these games? See for yourself:

  • Carolina @ Denver – Starting at quarterback for your defending Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos…2015 7th round pick Trevor Siemian?? X fucking factor!
  • Green Bay @ Jacksonville – Jordy Nelson returns to the Packers with zero preseason reps under his belt. Does he immediately cure the mediocre Green Bay offense? And what about this Jacksonville defense that has all sorts of shiny new toys? Overhyped or ready to make a huge first impression by shutting down Aaron Rodgers?
  • Cincinnati at NY Jets – Andy Dalton’s playing meaningful football for the first time since December 13th, but he has to do it without key pass catchers in Marvin Jones, Mohamed Sanu and Tyler Eifert. Oh, and offensive coordinator extraordinaire Hue Jackson is gone.
  • Cleveland at Philadelphia – All the X factors!! The new tandem of Robert Griffin and Hue Jackson try to lead the Browns to relevance while Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz look to do the same for Philly. It’s new head coach & QB vs new head coach & QB! And we don’t even know if either of these teams is trying to win, considering some of their offseason moves.
  • Minnesota @ Tennessee – Teddy Bridgewater is out for the year, you might have heard. And either Shaun Hill or Sam Bradford is going to try to replace him.
  • Chicago @ Houston – Super Bowl Champ Brock Osweiler tries to give the Texans the first bit of stability they’ve had at QB since 2012. Also, J.J. Watt and the Texans’ medical staff are saying he’s healthy after back surgery in the summer, but most medical experts are stunned and expect him to be far less than 100%. On the Chicago side, Kevin White should be lining up opposite Alshon Jeffrey for the first time ever.
  • Buffalo at Baltimore – Joe Flacco returns after tearing his ACL in late November (we’ve seen players struggle in their first year back off a major knee injury in the past). More importantly, the Bills’ defense is a complete unknown. The pedigree of Rex Ryan is still there, but they’re missing a handful of guys due to suspension (Marcell Dareus), injury (Reggie Ragland & Shaq Lawson) or being released (Manny Lawson). They also have the shitty Ryan brother in Rob trying to make a defense good for the first time in his career.
  • NY Giants at Dallas – Rookies Dak Prescott & Ezekiel Elliott take center stage for the Cowboys. And Ben McAdoo gets his first gig as a head coach, taking over for Tom Coughlin in New York.
  • Detroit at Indianapolis – Matt Stafford’s first year in the NFL without Calvin Johnson picking up all the slack in the passing game. A full season of Jim Bob Cooter! And for Indy, Andrew Luck’s return to health combined with being the team under the most pressure to succeed early.
  • New England at Arizona – Future Hall of Famer Jimmy Garoppolo makes his first career start.
  • Pittsburgh at Washington – The Steelers start the year without Le’Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant.
  • Los Angeles at San Francisco – For the Rams it’s a new location and the ridiculous promise from Jeff Fisher that “I’m not fucking going 7-9.” For San Francisco, it’s Blaine Gabbert as their best option at QB and Chip Kelly trying to save his joke of an NFL coaching career. And sure, you can throw Colin Kaepernick as a “distraction” into the mix if you want.

So tell me how you’re going to bet on all these games when we don’t have a friggen clue how any of these changes will play out. I’m all ears.

It’s a long season. There’s plenty of time for you to waste money on stupid bets. Don’t let it happen in week 1. (But check out my picks for week 1 coming out later today where I will, in fact, make some bet recommendations.)

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NFL Week 1 Recap: Yes, Football Was Played Before the Ray Rice ShitStorm Ensued

antonio brown

Let’s begin with two words about my bets & picks this week:

THEY SUCKED.

In week 1, you shouldn’t be too upset if you misfire on the majority of games. You should only feel upset if you put waaaaaaaaay too much money on the “feeling it out” week of the season, like me. I overextended myself as if the NFL season is only one week long, and all the money in my gambling account would vanish by Monday if I didn’t use every last cent. Whoops.

Two comments I actually made leading up to Sunday that would have changed my week 1 record from 6-10 to 9-7 if I had listened to my gut instincts

  • “When I play a little game each year called ‘How can I justify predicting a 16-0 New England record,’ this game gave me immediate pause for the 2014 Patriots. They typically lose a bad game early in the season these days. Miami might be solid. They also seem to have the Patriots’ number more than most teams. I’ve also convinced myself the offensive line might need a few weeks to really gel after the Logan Mankins trade (don’t forget they have a new O-line coach for the first time in 150 years).” I wrote that in my picks blog but couldn’t bring myself to go with Miami.
  • “The aggressive amount of $ that has come in on the Saints and Bears makes me want to go against both.” That was a text I wrote to someone exactly 30 minutes before the morning kickoffs on Sunday, but of course, I didn’t change my picks or bets and still backed those two losing favorites.

The 6-10 or 7-9 weeks on picks aren’t crippling unless you don’t get your confidence picks right. That’s what kills your Pick ‘Em leagues and obviously gets you in the most trouble with your bets. This week I had New Orleans, New England, Jacksonville, Houston and San Diego as my confidence picks. Two of five just won’t do. I’m especially hating the fact that all five teams were covering at halftime. That’s what made week 1 particularly crushing.

In the silver lining department

  • At least we got that week where 90% of my bets are winning for three quarters only the 4th quarter is disastrous and I lose everything out of the way early this year.

Early nomination for the team that’s most likely not to have any of its players starting in a single fantasy league on a week-to-week basis

  • The Oakland Raiders. At the Jets or not, 158 total yards including only 25 rushing yards…six of 11 drives that end in three and outs…the patheticism goes on and on.

Non-football note of the night

  • I spent way too much time on Monday night trying to finally figure out what a supermoon is. I had never heard that word until a few months ago so I figured it was a once-in-a-lifetime thing. But I feel like I might have missed something. Are we just calling all full moons super moons now? If I missed that, I’m sorry.

In-game Observations

  • [from Thursday] Umm…my friends & I once went to a park and practiced fair catching and downing punts. I believe that makes us more qualified to return punts at the NFL level than Earl Thomas. Listen, Seattle, you’re awesome, you’re clearly the Super Bowl favorite, you can probably go ultra conservative with every decision this year and still lock up the NFC’s #1 seed. I don’t think the potentially small advantage of Thomas over someone else returning punts is worth it. Smart people are so fucking stupid sometimes.
  • If you look back at the Packers’ last 33 games, it’s pretty obvious what’s going on here: They almost never beat good football teams. Go look. It seems like they can always win those 10 or so games against the inferior opponents, but the other elite teams in the league always handle them. I don’t see that changing this year.
  • Possibly the most foreboding loss of Sunday? Not Chicago, New Orleans or New England. Tampa Bay. A Carolina team that may still turn out to be pretty bad with Derek Anderson visiting the Bucs and you still lose convincingly? That seems almost impossible to do.
  • Here’s another thing about Tampa that we can’t overlook even if it’s just one play in one game: Josh McCown pulled off a play so sloppy and reckless that even Brandon Weeden would be proud. It happened with 58 seconds left in the 3rd quarter, and it’s just something you really gotta see:  
  • We’ll get to the person-on-person assault story that’s dominating our lives in one second, but first, I trust everyone saw this piece of assault in the Cleveland/Pittsburgh game that will go down as the coolest penalty in NFL history:
  • Which has led to semi-decent parodies that are really just an excuse to watch clips of Karate Kid: 
  •  I love that Ryan Fitzpatrick did a perfectly fine job for Houston on Sunday. Efficient, didn’t turn the ball over, only took one sack. This is perfect because a terrible game that reminds everyone that the Texans can’t escape the season with a winning record as long as Fitzy is their QB is on the horizon. I’m calling week 3 at the Giants as that game.
  • Eli Manning is the only quarterback in the league who throws a 1lb football like it’s a 50lb medicine ball. Why is this? And am I the only one who notices that?
  • The only comment I’ll make about fantasy football this week: I learned the lesson that I should never think “I probably have this week locked up” when I’m up by 24 points and my opponent still has Calvin Johnson playing later on in the weekend.

Bitter Patriots comment overheard during their game

  • “Oh, hey, look at that. Amendola is still on the team. He was the first one to reach Gronk to celebrate his touchdown. Huh.”

Preseason Player Prediction Update

  • I never thought a preseason prediction would be lost by halftime of week 1, but for a minute there it seemed like Shaun Hill was the first QB benched due to ineffectiveness. A badge of honor I predicted EJ Manuel would wear this season. But then it turns out it was a leg injury that caused Hill to be pulled. But then there’s this story about the media grilling Jeff Fisher on whether or not the injury was an excuse to pull him. Hmm…

Cliché Police: On Monday night Jon Gruden said, “You can’t let a quarterback like Eli Manning hang around.” On that note, let’s make a list of quarterbacks you can let hang around

  • Alex Smith
  • Josh McCown
  • Austin Davis
  • EJ Manuel
  • Derek Carr
  • Tony Romo (in fact, you’d prefer to let him hang around)

Thoughts on Ray

  • After this blog, If I make no more comments on it and don’t express my complete disgust, know that I’m not condoning hitting people, I’m just taking the calming approach of avoiding all media outlets for the next couple months.
  • But if Roger Goodell somehow gets ousted, I’ll probably have some comments on that. It would be historic.
  • Listen, I’m the commissioner of a long-running fantasy football league, and when I so much as change the draft day and time, most of the owners call for my impeachment. I don’t think it’s right if no punishment comes to Goodell considering this cover-up is a little worse than my impeachable offenses.
  • The strangest part of Monday for me was seeing the clip of the elevator video repeatedly on ESPN. When a basketball players gets a compound fracture on the court, ESPN (and other media outlets) say things like, “We’re only going to show this clip once because it’s very gruesome.” But while I worked from home yesterday, I saw the Rice video roughly 17 times..
  • And finally, here are three jokes I didn’t have the balls to make on twitter yesterday:
    1. I didn’t know Ray Rice was left-handed.
    2. Why isn’t anyone talking about the racist old lady who goes to get in the elevator and then decides on another route when she sees who’s in there?
    3. So how many criminals played in that Ravens/49ers Super Bowl after all? And is it clearly the record for most criminals playing in one Super Bowl?

As the weeks go on, these recap articles will include more legitimate football analysis, but it’s pretty lame to go too in-depth when only one week is in the books. And besides, this week SUCKED.

Back on Thursday with the week 2 picks.