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False Start: Week 1 Takeaways, Week 2 Picks

Ed Hochuli's body is in midseason form after week one. (Thinh Nguyen)

Because it’s the early on a Friday. Because you spent way to much loot at the bar last night trying to impress that girl. Because your bookie takes bets via text message. Here is Ryan Hadfield’s Crappy Football Picks!

A big week last week. Great way to open the season from a monetary standpoint (I went 10-3-1 against the spread), and also entertainment outlook. I watched three Non-Patriot football games over the course of the weekend. I can’t tell you the last time I watched a Non-Sox MLB game, though I can assure it wasn’t during the Obama administration. If you want to read what I think we learned from Week 1 – enjoy the next 500+ words. Picks after the False Start Column per usual.

Remember sophomore year of high school? The first week was a joke. For the most part you get the syllabus, see old faces, meet new transfer students, and see how the summer treated everyone.

When you see the old faces you think who made the leap (Read: In other words, which classmates breast size increased). Or, incongruously, who had a rough summer (Read: Who gained some LBs). The new transfer students are always intriguing, but the experience is null and void.

Week 1 of the NFL season always resonates with the start of school. Mainly because they start at the same time, but if you want to play the analogy game (and I love the analogy game) you can find more similarities.

Week 1 shows which second year players improved or matured. (If Aaron Hernandez was a 16-year-old girl he she would have jumped from an A-cup to a DD).

Conversely, Ras-I Dowling would be considered the hot transfer student from the South Shore.

(Side note: Dowling wins the “Rob Gronkowski Award” for best rookie name. His name sounds like a cross between a Star Wars character and a Bond villain. Well played.)

And Brandon Spikes, who is rumoured to be out of shape, is the girl who put on some LBs.

As I already discussed, none of this matters. Sunday against the Chargers, Dowling could get smoked by Vincent Jackson. He could be a train wreck this year and pick up 24 pass interference penalties for all I know. Furthermore, Spikes could just be hurt. Yet, because of the novelty and anticipation, we place importance on the inception of the year.

So let’s play fact or fiction: What did we learn from Week 1 of the 2011 NFL season?

  1. People get older and we all grow with time, but there are certain aspects in life that never change — Exhibit A: One of the timeless traditions of football season: Watching erectile dysfunction commercials with your dad in awkward silence. Thanks, Cialis!
  2. Last week in this space I said Detroit was not this year’s “Team No One Saw Coming” (TNOSC), because there was so much hype around them. They went down to Tampa Bay and solidified this point, winning handily.
  3. Could the Bills be the TNOSC? Their 41-7 annihilation on the road, in Kansas City, was impressive…
  4. No. Not only was the Bills week one evisceration of Kansas City a fallacy (the Chiefs were beat up), but also look at their division. Maybe they take a game from the Jets, but I don’t see Buffalo winning against New England.
  5. This season’s TNOSC is none other than the Oakland Raiders. Just win, baby! I’m all in. Two good running backs? A staunch defense? If Jason Campell isn’t a complete disaster, I see them as a 10-6 team. Think about it. The Chiefs suck and they already beat Denver in Denver. That’s four wins right there. And you’re telling me they can’t take split with San Diego? The same Charger team that barely beat the Vikings? The same Charger team led by Mr. Norval Eugene Turner (what a name, by the way) ?
  6. If you were worried, Ref Ed Hochuli kept in shape during the lockout. Dude’s triceps are the size of my nephew’s head. How has GNC not signed him as a spokesman?
  7. Do you realize four out of the 12 playoff teams lost Week 1 of last year? That tells me the Steelers dreadful performance against the Ravens is not really a concern. Keep in mind the ’01 Super Bowl Champion Patriots started the season losing its first two games.

On to the picks (Home Team in CAPS).

SAINTS (-6.5) over Bears - I watched all of the Bears-Falcons game last Sunday. Virtuoso performance by Brian “I thought he was washed up like I thought L.T. was washed up” Urlacher. He was all over the place. But it reminded me of Kevin Garnett’s performance in Game 3 of the Celtics/Heat series. Garnett dominated Chris Bosh, and made me a believer (I did a live blog of the game). Unfortunately for the Celtics, Garnett couldn’t replicate the performance the rest of the series.

That’s how I feel about Urlacher. His mother passed away this week, and he is reportedly going to play — but can he keep up this sort of intensity all season long at 33?

The Saints devastating loss to Green Bay opening night hurt, but also is revealing. New Orleans hung tough after a poor start. They had a chance to tie the game from the one-yard line during the last play of the game. Can’t ask for much more. Keep in mind this is on the road against last year’s Super Bowl Champ. You lick your wounds. You take the good with the bad. Lastly, you move on knowing you can play with the champs.

(When I say take the good with the bad – by ‘bad’ I mean their inability to defend….Anything.)

That said, Brees and the boys know they have to win a game like this, against Chicago, to still be considered elite.

LIONS (-9) over Chiefs – I’m picking the Lions to beat a team who won 10 games last season by more than a touchdown. And I feel confident about it. The Lions are playing at home where, for the first time since the Y2K scare, Detroit fans will have something to be legitimately excited for.

Jaguars (+9) over JETS – I can’t believe the Jets won last week. Unreal. And since it pisses me off, and my editors let me write what I want, I’m going to talk about something else that pisses me off….Entourage.

The show is mercifully over. It was a guilty pleasure. From a dude’s perspective, I’d put it right up there with The Hills, Keeping Up With the Kardashians, or The Bachelor(ette) as shows you vehemently speak about but can eerily know the plot-lines. You can break down the seasons with the intelligence of Warren Buffet breaking down the economy. Any guy who has had a girlfriend since 2004 is nodding slowly.

Entourage was a fantasy-based show that never really decided what it wanted to be. Was it a comedy? Was it a dramadey? Was there ever a scenario where Vince signed on to do a film with no set-backs like contract negotiations or casting issues? Like I said, even with all that, I still watched the show. I’m not sure if that’s a commentary on me, or how bad television is — either way it is not an auspicious trend.

The series finale was incredibly active. Ari magically fixes his marriage. ‘E’ rekindles his relationship with Sloan (even though last week we were led to believe he was continuously banging her ex-mother-in-law…Yes, you read that right). And, in a total change of character, Vince decides to get married after spending one date with a Vanity Fair columnist.

This all happened in 25 minutes.

Yet, THE MOST LUDICROUS aspect of the finale was this scenario…

Vince lets it slip to Sloan’s father, Terrence, that she is preggers with Eric’s child. A surefire Eff-Up of epic proportions. The type of stuff you only see in television (Oh, wait?). If this happened in real life, you would text your buddy giving him a heads up. Like right away, right?

Well, in Entourage world, Vince is late to lunch with the guys and lets ‘E’ take the call from Terrence still unbeknownst about Vince’s Eff-Up. How does that happen? How did this show captivate me for 8 years? I need to shower.

Raiders (+3.5) over BILLS – You could accuse me of picking Oak-town on the road because I’m holding on to my TNOSC theory. And you’d be right.

REDSKINS (-4) over Cardinals – NFC West team going to the east coast time zone?  playing anyone outside another NFC West? Take the other team. Yes, even if Rex Grossman is their quarterback. I know, it feels weird writing it too.

Ravens (-6) over TITANS – Does Ed Reed not age? When did Ricky Williams sign with Baltimore? So, is Joe Flacco graduating from the “Trent Dilfer School Of Game Managers?” All valid questions. All valid reasons why the Ravens could be Super Bowl bound.

STEELERS (-14.5) over Seahawks – This line would have to broach +20 for me to consider taking Seattle. Mostly, because Pete Carroll is the type of guy who will hold a Twitter contest to determine an opening play-call. Though partly because the Steelers have to be pissed. Last week with the score 27-7 in favor of Baltimore, the Ravens faked an extra point to make the score 29-7. That way, you know, they were up 22.

If this were Madden, and some dude pulled that stunt on you, a gut reaction is to call your older brother to play. That way you can dominate to make yourself feel better.

(*Notice: How I say older? That’s because Video Game life works like Benjamin Button — the older you get the more prone you are to settle down with a family, have a few kids, and start working 60+ hours a week. Your skill erodes. You peak when your 15, and it lasts through college — or until you get a girlfriend.)

PANTHERS (+10) over Packers – I’m not saying the Panthers win, but hang-over game for the Pack coupled with a late touchdown drive by Cam Newton? To cut the lead to 7? I can see it now..

Skip Bayless claimed Arizona rookie Patrick Peterson, who was burned on a few of Newton’s highlights, upstaged Newton because of his game-winning punt return touchdown. I completely agree, I’ve heard so much Pat Peterson talk this week. I’m thinking of picking up the Cardinal defense for my fantasy team, because Peterson is such a force. What a debut!

Bucs (+3) over VIKINGS – Donovan McNabb confirmed last week’s suspicions he hasn’t been in shape since circa 2004. It’s not confirmed, but we think that’s an issue if you’re a professional athlete. We’re checking with Vin Baker and Shaq as we speak. And?? Yup, they have confirmed their productivity DID deteriorate when they were out of shape! So, yes, IT IS a problem. I deduce we COULD attribute this to his 39 passing yard output last week.

Browns (-2.5) over COLTS – Excited to read how the lockout retarded Colt McCoy’s growth in pivotal year two of his career.

By the way, I’m not at all sorry Colts fans. You knew Curtis Painter sucked. You knew it like the people who built the Titanic knew there weren’t enough boats for the passengers in case they hit an effing iceberg. Yet, management never tried to get adequate back up for that position. No biggie, oversight! We kept finding out he sucks every Week 17 since he’s been their backup. It’s the Curtis Painter game. As far as I’m concerned it’s a yearly tradition like the NHL’s “Winter Classic.”

Cowboys (-3) over 49ERS – Braylon Edwards is suing a restaurant for slander because the establishment pinned him as being there during a scruff — which apparently — Edwards feels cost him a $14 million signing bonus. This is same Edwards who infamously fought with LeBron’s entourage in Cleveland, and last year got a DUI. I’m pretty sure there were question-marks about your personality before this incident, Braylon.

Texans (-3) over DOLPHINS – What drives a guy like Jason Taylor to go back to the Dolphins for a third tenure? Does he look at Chad Henne and think, “Super Bowl or bust!”

PATRIOTS (-7) over Chargers – Tom Brady is like The Rock in Faster, except if Faster was enjoyable to watch. Can’t you see the preview: He’s coming back for all those who did him wrong…

(*Note – I haven’t seen it, but I can’t see Faster’s ceiling being higher than anything from the Fast & Furious franchise. Frankly, that’d be a win. Either way, I will let you know when FX plays it 627 times on a random weekend next year.).

Bengals (+3.5) over BRONCOS – Denver fans: Keep booing Kyle Orton because you want to see Tim Tebow. I really think that’s what will get the team going. Way to give 150 percent.

Eagles (-2.5) over FALCONS – Vick goes back to Atlanta and wins big. The Karma gods will shake their collective heads. This is definitely the lowest I’ve felt about gambling on something. Right up there with the time I put down $50 that my buddy Dan could out-run the old lady he mugged in 8th grade. That never happened, but it feels like it is here.

GIANTS (-6) over Rams – The only thing more perplexing than the look on Tom Coughlin face 60 percent of the time on Sundays, is that he always wins the game following the disastrous performance.

Last Week: 10-3-1

Season: 10-3-1

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About Ryan Hadfield

Ryan Hadfield is the author of the weekly Sports Media Musings column at Sports Of Boston. Hadfield is known as one of the top sports media critics in Boston. He also contributes to Boston Sports Media Watch. In November 2011, Hadfield helped launch the new SoB Point Taken blog featuring his podcasts & musings on sports, media and culture. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

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