Organized Sports is a recurring sports column named for a seminal DC avant-hardcore song by the equally stupid and brilliant (to me, “equally stupid and brilliant” pretty much just means “brilliant”) band Void. Take from that what you will.
Well, this has been quite the hiatus for Organized Sports as a column and for Fully Reconditioned as a whole. But never fear, my (two to three) loyal readers, I’m back like Terrell Owens’ rap song, just in time to revive the feature formerly known as Travis’ (or Travis’s, depending upon the week) NFL Picks, now rebranded under the Organized Sports banner.
And thank science that the football season has returned. There have been plenty of goings on in the sports world since I last wrote something (Olympics yay! Midseason baseball shoulder shrug! Performance enhancing drug scandals yawn! ESPN Tebow coverage seppuku!) but nothing pleases me more than to make moderately educated NFL picks and using that as an excuse to tell some jokes and make some Z-grade puns. So now that the housekeeping is taken care of, let’s get us to the punnery!
(Note: All point spreads listed here are the lines at the time bets were made. Be sure to consult your very legitimate and legal sports book [cough] before making a bet of your own; lines move constantly due to the action on particular games. Also, gambling is illegal in many states. And watch out for those offshore betting sites, lest you end up like an online poker professional. Okay? Okay. Onward and upward.)
My Record So Far: 0-0
Wednesday Night NFL Opener (9/5 8:30PM ET)
Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants (-4)
Tonight’s season opener comes courtesy of these NFC East rivals, with the Giants coming off a second hilarious defeat of the Patriots and the Cowboys coming off yet another season-ending bloodfart. Of note from the Cowboys’ offseason: Jerry Jones made a horrible rap parody video that proves there’s someone out there who can’t get enough of the humor provided by an old white man rapping (that someone is not me), and Dez Bryant now has to have dudes follow him around all the time to make sure he doesn’t drink or go to strip clubs. If I had some sort of God-given athletic talent, I hope I would also need such “bodyguards.” I pretty much do, anyway. The Giants lost Mario Manningham, who made the greatest Super Bowl catch since the helmet catch in the previous Giants win, but they still have Victor Cruz, who will provide the opportunity for NBC to play salsa music at least once during an endzone celebration. As far as which of these teams is better right now, I’m going to have to go with the Giants, though with each season’s beginning some teams fall off, and others do not. Buyer beware: this pick, and many of the others, are a total crapshoot until we’ve seen what these teams can actually do.
My Pick: Giants (-4)
Sunday Early Games (9/11 1PM ET)
Indianapolis Colts at Chicago Bears (-9.5)
It seems the Indianapolis Colts have quite the stroke of Luck, yuk-yuk. The Stanford-bred quarterback with the neckbeard seems as good as advertised, but the Colts themselves are still a team that last year went 2-14 and sucked enough to get the number one overall pick, being even worse than my hometown St. Louis Rams. The Bears, on the other hand, were on fire before Kristin Cavallari’s babydaddy and Matt “25 or 6 to” Forte (see, it’s a Chicago reference!) got hurt and the Bears found out Hanie’s not a gun. Since this one is played in Chicago, I’ll take the home team and hope that Cutler can piss everyone off by being good while not seeming to give a shit again.
My Pick: Bears (-9.5)
Philadelphia Eagles (-8) at Cleveland Browns
Apparently this season Michael Vick learned to slide feet first, or so he says. If he does so in the regular season like he did not in the preseason, which he missed most of due to injury, things could go well for the Eagles, who with DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and LeSean McCoy have the most formidable set of weapons in the NFL, as long as there is someone there to deploy them. The Browns, on the other hand, are terrible, and no amount of new middle-aged rookie quarterback and kneeless Trent Richardson is going to change that.
My Pick: Eagles (-8)
Buffalo Bills at New York Jets (-3)
I’m going to reveal a little secret for you all: Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick went to Harvard. I’m going to reveal another well-kept secret: this summer, the Jets acquired Timothy Richard Tebow, who I’m told has faith in the Lord and is a virgin. Keep all of this on the down-low as you make your picks concerning these teams, as no one else who hasn’t read this here picks column will know. Beyond that, the Jets will likely have a good defense and a terrible offense, the Bills will now have a much better defense but will still disappoint on offense, it will be cold in Buffalo later on this year, people will eat chicken wings there, and people in New York will react too strongly to whatever happens with the Jets. I can’t believe this limb I’ve gone out on hasn’t cracked under my weight. As for my pick, I have the Bills at least covering in some sort of 9-7 barnburner.
My Pick: Bills (+3)
Washington Redskins at New Orleans Saints (-9.5)
In my humble opinion, the Saints got screwed in this Bountygate scandal for doing the same things every other team has done, but they were stupid enough to get caught once, then keep flaunting and get caught again and again, so there should have been some punishment. Not a whole season ban for their head coach or anything, but something at the very least. That said, they’ll probably not be as good as last year, but they still have more than one Drew Bree, and any team would be happy with just one. The Redskins have RGIII, who I maintain will have a better career than Andrew Luck, but hey, I’m often wrong, especially when I’m trying to prove a point (that being that people think RGIII is a glory boy and Andrew Luck is a hard-working pocket passer with attention to detail, each stereotype due to race). Also, RGIII looks like Andre 3000, and I like Andre 3000. The Saints will still murder the Redskins at home, though.
My Pick: Saints (-9.5)
New England Patriots (-6.5) at Tennessee Titans
Now that the Patriots haven’t won in a while, I find it hard to keep them in my heart as my most-hated team in all of sports, even though Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are still there. They have one of the most entertaining meathead bros to come along in a long time in Rob Gronkowski (who is not ungood at football, mind you), they play absolutely no defense while playing video game offense, and with how much Tom Brady trolls the Boston fanbase with effeminate photo shoots and Ugg sponsorships, I can’t even hate him that much anymore. The Titans, on the other hand, may have the least personality of any football team in existence, especially now that the one defining characteristic of their franchise, Jeff Fisher’s moustache, has moved to the sidelines in St. Louis.
My Pick: Patriots (-6.5)
Jacksonville Jaguars at Minnesota Vikings (-4.5)
Following up the Titans with the Jaguars is like following up hummus with dried up, even more flavorless hummus. This Jags-Vikings matchup may be the least-watched football game of the week, as both teams start uninspiring second-year passers, have their skill positions in question due to injury and holdout, and play in front of unexcited fan bases wondering whether or not their teams will move to sunny Los Angeles, to be ignored by an even larger populace. Blaine Gabbert’s had a surprisingly decent preseason, so I’ll unenthusiastically pick the Jags in an upset.
My Pick: Jaguars (+4.5)
Miami Dolphins at Houston Texans (-10)
Things I learned from HBO’s Hard Knocks covering the Dolphins: Joe Philbin is the most uninspiring head coach in the history of football, Ryan Tannehill’s wife is hot, Jake Long’s wife is hotter (controversial statement alert!), the offensive line coach is funny and has a New England accent, and the team is terrible. Things I learned about the Houston Texans this offseason: they are a lot better than the Dolphins because they are good at defense, have Arian Foster and Ben Tate as a backfield tandem, have Andre Johnson at wide receiver, and do not have a rookie quarterback. This game will be a bloodbath.
My Pick: Texans (-10)
St. Louis Rams at Detroit Lions (-9)
As someone who is from, and once again resides in St. Louis, I am happy that the Rams got Jeff Fisher to come in and be the head coach. He never won the Super Bowl, but he was consistent as hell with the Titans, he has a sweet womb broom, and apparently he’s nice, according to my mom who would see him at University of Montana games when his son played there. I am NOT happy, on the other hand, that we decided to stick with a quarterback who is made of glass and always has been instead of taking Robert Griffin III with the second pick. Bradford’s fine if healthy, but that’s a big if, and I don’t see the Rams winning more than five games, and if they do it will be due to consistency and discipline rather than anything flashy. The Lions, on the other hand, have to be flashy to win: Matthew Stafford has to throw for 400 yards, 200 of them via jump balls caught by Calvin Johnson. Ndamukong Suh must obtain many fines for destroying the spines and necks of opposing players. Whether Sam Bradford can remain healthy throughout the season is not a reasonable question; of course he can’t. Can he remain healthy through one game against Suh? I see him going down by Suh-plex in the 3rd.
My Pick: Lions (-9)
Atlanta Falcons (-1.5) at Kansas City Chiefs
Ah, another matchup no one really cares about! The Falcons are decent in the regular season but collapse in the playoffs! The Chiefs are thoroughly mediocre! Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk for a moment about how awesome it was that the Chiefs quit on asshole Todd Haley, then turned it on at the end of the season so the thoroughly lovable Romeo Crennel could keep the job as head coach. Coach Romeo is one of many football personalities I wish were my friend. Go Chiefs, because of Coach Romeo. But they’ll still lose this game.
My Pick: Falcons (-1.5)
Sunday Late Games (9/9 4:15PM ET)
San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers (-5.5)
When I saw this line I was somewhat surprised, since the 49ers made the title game last year and the Packers were defeated by the Giants on their way to the Super Bowl, but then I remembered that the 49ers completely overachieved and at 15-1, the Packers might have underachieved. Aaron Rodgers may be the best quarterback in the league. Alex Smith is definitely not that. With the Packers playing at Lambeau, I think they’ll win this one by at least a touchdown, and then on SportsCenter someone will make a discount double check joke.
My Pick: Packers (-5.5)
Carolina Panthers (-2.5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
At the beginning of last year, the Buccaneers were coming off a pretty decent season and Josh Freeman seemed poised to make “the leap,” which is a thing sportswriters like Bill Simmons talk about in order to drum up enthusiasm for overlong columns allowing them to talk a lot about a player they inexplicably like, and the Panthers were coming off being the worst team in the league. Well, being the worst team in the league got them Cam Newton, who seems like he really is ready to make said leap. Also, the Buccaneers are now coached by a guy most famous for coaching noted football non-powerhouse Rutgers, a school I mostly know about as the place where Jackie Junior and his cronies robbed the box office at an on campus Jewel concert in an episode of The Sopranos.
My Pick: Panthers (-2.5)
Seattle Seahawks (-2.5) at Arizona Cardinals
These teams both exist, and my enthusiasm in finding anything to say about either one of them is only slightly higher than my enthusiasm to ever set foot in the area of the world where the Cardinals now play. I like the city of Seattle, however, because it involves a lot of overcast weather and sweater wear. Football insight: I don’t really have it in the case of these two average NFC West teams, who are neither as good as the 49ers nor as bad as the Rams.
My Pick: Cardinals (+2.5)
Sunday Night Game (9/11 8:25PM ET)
Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos (-1)
Remember when the Broncos inexplicably won a playoff overtime game against the Steelers due to a pass thrown by Tim Tebow? I’m guessing the Steelers do, and I’m guessing they won’t be happy about it. Now, though, they have to contend with Peyton Manning, who has looked basically like Peyton Manning with a bit more wounded duck in his passes. He may not have the arm he used to, but I’m still picking the Broncos to take that division due to Manning. I am not, however, picking them to take this game: the Steelers will win outright.
My Pick: Steelers (+1)
Bronco Manningface via Dave’s Art Locker (linked here because I am ignorant as to how to do so in a caption).
Monday Night Football Early Game (9/10 7PM ET)
Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens (-6)
The Ravens were a dropped touchdown pass away from the Super Bowl, and a shanked chip shot field goal away from playing in overtime for the chance to go to the Super Bowl. The Bengals had a surprisingly successful season, making the playoffs when no one expected them to. The Ravens’ vaunted D is yet one more year older, and they’re without Terrell Suggs due to an offseason pickup basketball game injury. The Bengals are now a year more experienced, with their second-year QB-WR tag team promising to be even better than in their respective rookie campaigns. I don’t know if the Bengals will win this game, but I think they’ll keep it close enough to cover, and I think they’ll keep the division race close enough to be a threat to both the Ravens and the Stillers in 2012.
My Pick: Bengals (+6)
Monday Night Football Late Game (9/10 10:15PM ET)
San Diego Chargers (-1.5) at Oakland Raiders
The Chargers were not as bad as their record last year, and Philip Rivers was not as bad as his stats. The Raiders were pretty good for a while last year, and then they were terrible, but they were always at least entertaining to watch. This should be a good game to close out week one, and because the Chargers always seem to start out slowly, I’m gonna take the Raiders, whose offense could potentially be pretty lethal if everyone is healthy and on the same page.
My Pick: Raiders (+1.5)
Here we have reached the conclusion of my first NFL picks column for the 2012 season. Are you ready for some football? I am indeed. Indeed. In. Deed.
Sorry. I’m done now.