The combination of misinformation over the Russia-Georgia war and the depths to which the Presidential campaign here at home have now stooped have forced me to direct my energies elsewhere for the morning... like football! After a sub-part 9-7 opening week, I present my picks for week 2:
Titans over BENGALS: So Vince Young is "hurting on the inside," according to his mother. I assumed upon reading the headline that this meant he had a bruised kidney or a lacerated spleen or one of these alarming-sounding injuries that quarterbacks sometimes get. But actually these wounds are psychological. This reminds me of the New Yorker cartoon -- can't find it on google at the moment -- where the football player is being heckled on the bench and he wonders to himself, "What if I really do suck?" Tennessee did just fine without him after he got hurt in Week 1, though, so I'm going with them again, although mostly because I'm so pissed off at myself for picking the Bengals in Week 1 when I knew they would not win that I'm never picking them again. This pick is self-flagellation. Vince, I know how you feel, man. Actually, no I don't. You're a star football player making millions of dollars and I write a political blog that no one reads. Moving on.
Packers over LIONS: I watched highlights of the Lions-Falcons game, and that's enough for me to take Aaron Rodgers on the road. What is up with the Lions? One playoff win in over 50 years. To think, they beat my Bears twice last year.
CHIEFS over Raiders: Because one of them has to win.
Giants over RAMS: Because the Rams laid the nastiest egg in Philly on Sunday and their season is over. Furthermore, they need to go back to the old yellow-and-blue uniforms and cut this gold crap. They're not Notre Dame. (Though given that the Irish had to rally to beat San Diego State at home, maybe they are.) In truth, they look more like Colorado State. And those white pants? I don't care if it was a hot day in Philly, those things can never be worn again.
Colts over VIKINGS: I'm tempted to go with Minnesota here after watching Indy struggle, but I think Manning will be better and I think Minnesota is overrated. Colts, but it won't be easy.
Saints over REDSKINS: Because of karma.
PANTHERS over Bears: If this was in Chicago, I'd go with the Bears, but Carolina's win in San Diego -- which a healthy Bears team was unable to do to open the 2007 campaign -- impressed me a lot, especially without Steve Smith, who single-handedly killed the Bears when these teams met in the playoffs a few years back. I still have these nightmare images of him ripping Jake Delhomme bombs away from Charles Tillman in the Chicago end zone. I don't care if he's not playing Sunday. Some things can scar a fan for life. Panthers take this, and the winner of this game gets the honorary title of Best NFC Team Not In the East That No One Was Talking About Eight Days Ago Before They Stunned An AFC Contender On The Road. Is there such an award? There should be.
JAGUARS over Bills: If I'd known it would rain I'd have picked the Bills immediately to beat Seattle, which they did. The rule is: if the weather in Buffalo is bad, the Bills are invincible. But if the Bills are on the road, or playing at home in good weather (not that this ever happens), they lose. I figured, first week of September, temperature in New York is in the high 70s, life is good, Seahawks win. Mother Nature felt otherwise. Maybe it's good for the Bills that they are tightening their ties across the border in Canada, given how dependent they are on its weather, although the Toronto Bills would sound pretty stupid. Anyway, this game's in Jacksonville, and the Jaguars are too good to start 0-2, so I'm going with the home team here. But the real reason is that Buffalo's uniforms are the most hideous in sports, possibly of all time, and I cannot take them seriously as a contender until they change them. Minnesota and Arizona have the same problem. Apart from Denver in the late Elway years, how many teams with weird uniforms have won or even been to the Super Bowl? None. Look it up.
SEAHAWKS over 49ers: I don't care if the Seahawks have zero wide receivers, and I don't care if the quarterback has a bad back, they could run it up the gut all game and still win. All I care about is that San Francisco just got flattened at home by the Cardinals. They are done.
BUCCANEERS over Falcons: Rookie quarterback vs. Tampa Bay defense. Since no one on the Lions got to give Matt Ryan the "welcome to the NFL" bit after flattening him, I think it'll happen in Tampa this week. Michael Turner will get his yards, though. I dunno... this is a tough call. My gut says Tampa though and my gut is usually right. It's like the Bush Administration's foreign policy in reverse. The more I think before I act, the more wrong I get.
TEXANS over Ravens: Can't take Joe Flacco on the road, not yet. Give Mario Williams a sack and a half and the Texans get in the W column.
JETS over Patriots : There seems to be some sort of karmic rule that Brady can never play Favre again. They were all set to dance in the Super Bowl, and then Favre threw that hideous pick to set up the winning Giants field goal in overtime in Green Bay. Then, in the off-season, Favre gets traded to the Jets, two big-time matches between the future Hall of Fame quarterbacks loom, and what happens? Brady goes down right off the bat in the KC game and is gone for the year. I really think New England can win this game, but I'm going with the Jets just because I have to see Matt Cassel win his first start since high school to believe it. Between Cassel's inexperience and Favre's recklessness, I foresee a ton of turnovers in this game. At least five interceptions in this game. Maybe ten. Jets in a squeaker.
CARDINALS over Dolphins: Could the Cardinals be for real? I mean, they have basically five automatic wins by getting Miami at home, plus two with San Fran and St. Louis each. The rest of the schedule's not too bad either, with winnable games at Washington, home against Buffalo and Minnesota, etc. And look at the state of the Seattle Seahawks, whose top four wide receivers are injured. Who else is going to take this division? Someone has to. Why not the Cards? ... Oh, who am I kidding? Seattle will rally to go 9-7 and take the division, Zona will blow one of the St. Louis games and finish 8-8 again, and in the late-season Seattle game Kurt Warner will fumble on the goal line, shattering his confidence for good and paving the way for the Matt Leinart era, during which time the team will never finish above .500 and Bill Bidwell will try to move the franchise again. They're the Cardinals. This stuff is too easy for a prognosticator to predict for it to be even fair. It's like predicting there will be turmoil in the Middle East. Really? I couldn't have imagined that would happen.
Chargers over BRONCOS: San Diego, like Jacksonville, is too good to start 0-2, even without Shawn Merriman, who thankfully saw reason and decided to have the surgery rather than ruining his career trying to play this season. But as always, the true reasons for the outcome are more subtle than the players or the coaches, and the reason I go with San Diego here is this: remember when the Broncos used to be invincible at Mile High? Well, since "Invesco Field" came into being, they are eminently beatable up there. Sidenote: I'm delighted that Barack Obama referred to it as Mile High Stadium. Well done. Stick it to the man, Barack. Anyway, note that the same thing happened at Lucas Oil Stadium. Replace an old, homely, outdated and ferociously loud and invincible home arena with a large corporate thing that generates no crowd noise and watch your world-beating franchise devolve into middling 7-9 irrelevancy.
Steelers over BROWNS: I'm delighted to say I was in the camp that thought Cleveland was completely overrated, although after the Dallas game that camp seems to include all of the football-watching world. I was here first! Let the quarterback controversy begin after Derek Anderson completely, what, 11 passes?
COWBOYS over Eagles: I have no confidence in this pick at all. Either team could win. They looked great last week. This game is going to be a doozy. It's such a shame that my girlfriend hates football, but she's the one with the TV. sigh...
Week 1 record: 9-7
Overall record: 9-7
* I reserve the right to change picks in the event of unexpected news/injuries prior to Sunday opening kickoff.