NFL Week One good turn deserves another

We’re less than a week before real NFL football starts, so I figured I’d start the weekly NFL thread today. All the preseason hype (apparently Elijah Moore will surpass Justin Jefferson’s rookie year as well as walking on water) and hate (give them a few games and JaMarr Chase and Penei Sewell will be just fine) will quickly be forgotten as the reality of NFL football begins. Covid remains an issue (unvaccinated players should be ostracized by their teammates), as does the lack of minority coaches. Some changes for this year, though. We get an extra game, players get to choose their own jersey numbers, and the taunting rule is going to be more strictly enforced. And they doubled the number of female coaches in the NFL from 6 to 12. So there’s that.

With that in mind, here’s your lineup of games for Week 1

*Thursday Sept. 9th, 7:20 *

Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-7.5) (Over/Under 51.5)

Sunday, Sept 12th

Early

Arizona Cardinals at Tennessee Titans (-3) (Over/Under 52)
New York Jets at Carolina Panthers (-5) (Over/Under 44.5)
Los Angeles Chargers (-1) at Washington Football Team (Over/Under 44.5)
Philadelphia Eagles at Atlanta Falcons (-3.5) (Over/Under 48)
Seattle Seahawks (-2.5) at Indianapolis Colts (Over/Under 48.5)
Minnesota Vikings (-3) at Cincinnati Bengals (Over/Under 48)
Jacksonville Jaguars (-3) at Houston Texans (Over/Under 44.5)
Pittsburgh Steelers at Buffalo Bills (-6.5) (Over/Under 48.5)
San Francisco 49ers (-7.5) at Detroit Lions (Over/Under 45.5)

Late

Denver Broncos (-2.5) at New York Giants (Over/Under 42.5)
Cleveland Browns at Kansas City Chiefs (-6) (Over/Under 53)
Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots (-2.5) (Over/Under 44)
Green Bay Packers (-4) at New Orleans Saints (Over/Under 50)

Night

Chicago Bears at Los Angeles Rams (-7.5) (Over/Under 44.5)

Monday, Sept 13, 7:15

Baltimore Ravens (-4.5) at Las Vegas Raiders (Over/Under 51)

Lots of interesting games to watch. Of course watching the Bucs put up possibly 40+ on the Cowboys should be fun on Thursday night. Of the early games, give me the Steelers/Bills as the game to watch. Can the Steelers D keep up with the pass heaviest team in the league? Packers should be the watch of the late games, but I kinda wanna see the Browns/Chiefs. Cleveland has sneakily built one of the best rosters, both offensively and defensively, in the NFL, but the Chiefs are the Chiefs. I’ll begrudgingly watch Sunday night to see the Bears get stomped and how the Stafford/McVay marriage is working. And Monday night I’ll watch, mostly just cause it’s been awhile since football was on, but also to see if teams have solved Lamar Jackson and to see how much Jon Gruden has messed his team up.

And, since it is week 1, I have some predictions for this year in the NFL:

  1. We won’t see another debacle like Denver playing a backup WR as their starting QB (Kendall Hinton will be a trivia answer for awhile) because of Covid, but I don’t think Covid is done messing up starting lineups in the NFL.

  2. The Bucs will not repeat a Super Bowl trip, but the Chiefs will. Teams with playoff aspirations have learned the importance of healthy, and deep, offensive lines.

  3. It will be a long year for Urban Meyer and Trevor Lawrence. Trevor will be a top 10 QB in 3 or 4 years, which will be longer than Meyer’s NFL stint. God, I hate that guy.

  4. I expect huge regression from Josh Allen. He had his Carson Wentz 2017/Joe Flacco 2012 postseason run and now will still be good, but nowhere near the MVP discussion like he was last year.

  5. I will be wrong a lot of the time.

So, any predictions for the year to share? Love Josh Allen? Love Covid? I’d love to hear from you all.

The Saints can’t play in New Orleans because of the hurricane damage – they’ll be playing in Jacksonville.

Bills are legit Super Bowl contenders now. I am calling a Bills-Chiefs AFC title game rematch, but this time hosted in Buffalo.

NFC - harder to say. The field is wide open and I don’t think the Bucs will be strong again.

I’m not sure this qualifies as one good turn deserving another, but the Denver Broncos, to honor an assistant coach who died in a bicycle crash, are giving away bicycles to area youth.

Something about that seems a bit…off.

Any particular reason? Nobody thought they would be very strong last year, either.

Don’t know whether or not Josh Allen will see a huge regression. The massive uptick in his stats last year were likely at least partially the result of having Stefon Diggs to throw to. Will be interesting to see if they can keep up the same pace.

I do too. I think he’s a legitimately good QB but I think his performance was a spike.

Also see: Cam Newton in his MVP season.

Former Steeler, Tunch Ilkin died today from complications of Lou Gehrig’s. :frowning:

The Sunday and Monday night games are in stadiums that opened last year but will be having their first ganes with fans in attendance.

Seahawks are going to require proof-of-vaccination and masks at their games. Not sure how widespread this policy is - I had previously only heard of Las Vegas having similar - but the more teams that adopt this, the better.

Yeah, we were planning a trip up to Lambeau this fall, but canceled plans because the Packers are not requiring vaccination, nor masks, to attend games. I’m not taking that chance. Love the Packers, hate their Covid decisions.

The Seahawks announcement is new as of today. It’s certainly possible the Packers - and other teams - will come along as well.

That’s good because it was a free-for-all during the preseason; unmasked people sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with each other and no idea what their vaccination status was at Lumen Field. Season ticket holders were publicly expressing frustration with that. In Seattle of all places that wasn’t something I expected to see.

Over the years since moving to the US I have progressed from just watching the superbowl , to trying to catch the sunday monday and thursday night game most weeks if they are on an OTA channel, and lurking in these threads for the real skinny. As I live in Houston I root for the Texans for no other reason than that , but have a soft under dog spot for The Browns.
My predictions for the season:

  1. I will ask many stupid questions.
  2. I will likely make wildly incorrect observations
  3. The Texans will be a shambolic cluster of ineptitude, again.

But with Tyrod Taylor as their starting QB they may finally go over the top!

  1. There are no stupid questions, just stupid people asking questions.
  2. Join the club. I’m on pace for roughly 3.45 incorrect observations a week. But it’s the single correct one that keeps me around. Kinda like golf.
  3. Absolutely. I do like David Culley, though. First black QB at Vanderbilt. Grinded through the college, then pro ranks. Andy Reid disciple. High energy. Seems like a genuine, good guy. Shame he’s got to deal with yet another dumbass heir of an owner. Come join Packer Nation instead.

Quick stream of consciousness to start the season from good ole Omni.

  1. The Texans will be one of the most colossally screwed up teams in recent memory. They may not go 0-17, but there will be embarrassment dripping off of every game. If Watson plays a snap, that goes double.

  2. This was maybe the lamest edition of Hard Knocks ever. I honestly don’t know why I bother watching, there’s nothing at all interesting in it any more. The only notable scene was the drone shot flying through Jerryworld. However, I did learn that I wouldn’t trust John Fassel to manage a god damned lemonade stand. If I could short the Cowboy’s special teams I would. The rest of the team’s leadership ain’t much better. Trevon Diggs’ kid is pretty cute I guess.

  3. COVID is gonna be weird. NFL is taking a surprisingly rational, yet hardline, stance on any exposures. There will certainly be some forfeits this year. It’s encouraging.

  4. Speaking of COVID, we’re really getting a window into which players are fucking selfish pricks that still somehow come across as even more entitled than expected. Also, many didn’t learn a fucking thing in the 15 minutes they were in college. Sad. I’m sure plenty of our favorites will end up looking like pieces of shit. Probably won’t change much when the TV is on on Sundays, but maybe we’ll think twice about what jerseys we wear.

  5. Tom Brady is eternal. Until he gets whooped by someone he’s the man to beat. The Bucs aren’t the best roster in football, but that was true last year.

  6. Mahomes and the Chiefs are of course the prohibitive favorite, but as amazing as they are the league figures everyone out eventually. I think we might see a little bit of a headwind for them this year, it’s not going to come easy this time around.

  7. Some mentions upthread that the Bills and Allen will regress and that last year was an aberration. I call bullshit. Certainly the statistics might not be equivalent, but I think that team is gonna be a monster again. They’ll walk through that crappy division and will be the top seed in the AFC.

  8. The Rodgers drama in GB was a fun ride. It ended the way we knew it would, but I do think that we’re starting to see the end for him. Not just in GB, but in the league. He’s not gonna play until he’s 90 like Brady. Also, I think all the extracurriculars that he’s had this offseason will take some of the shine off. He’s a savant, so the wheels aren’t coming off, but the cracks will start to really show. They’ll lose in the wild card round this year instead of the 'chip.

  9. I’m pretty interested to see what Stafford does in LA. The Rams have been saddled with a dismal QB for their entire tenure under McVey, I was no fan of Goff in the draft and he’s turned out to be exactly who I thought he was. I’m thrilled to have him in the division. But Stafford is a bit of an enigma. He’s got all the tools, he sometimes looks unstoppable, but he always came up small in Detroit. Some people will say that’s just the Lions being the Lions, but he was the one gagging on 3rd and 7. Will McVey unlock something? Will Stafford handle the bright lights? Stafford is certainly used to not having a running game, so that will be familiar.

  10. I think Cam Newton getting cut is utterly hilarious. I’ve always thought he was a colossal shithead, and even when he had those few great year, I never bought in. Seeing him implode in New England was a delight. Some people think he was cut because of his idiotic anti-vax stance…but Belichick is a anti-vax Trumper so I’m not sure that logic holds up. Seems more likely that he was still a diva who didn’t play well enough to deserve the extra rope.

Quick Predictions:
AFC North Champs - Browns
AFC East Champs - Bills
AFC South Champs - Titans
AFC West Champs - Chargers

NFC North Champs - Packers
NFC East Champs - Football Team
NFC South Champs - Bucs
NFC West Champs - 49ers

The AFC reads kind of like bizarro world. Either that or a throwback to the early 1990s. It’s a who’s who of downtrodden franchises. An awful lot of top 3 picks in that group. Going way out on a limb picking against the Chiefs I know.

The NFC is a little more traditional, but picking a Fitzpatrick-led WFT to win the division is probably a bit off the beaten path. And I suspect few will be picking the 49ers over the Rams in the West, but I just have a hunch that the Rams will find misfortune once again. Plus it’d be funny seeing the Chargers win a title in the new stadium before the Rams.

I’m picking a Bucs-Bills Super Bowl. Unfortunately this is probably the “edgy” take that you’ll see from every hack commentator so I’ll have to live with that.

Coming back with a quick Bears rundown shortly.

one reason ive read why newton was cut was the guy who was supposed to be his backup and is now the starter had to teach Newton the playbook because he didn’t know a single play in it and it was messing up the practices and such …

Let’s talk Bears football for a minute. Hold on, lemme grab my whiskey…

It was an eventful offseason to say the least. First, the fans were disappointed to see the “braintrust” of Pace and Nagy not only retained, but apparently extended. And while I think it’s a little bit of a meatball take to say these guys are total failures, the track record is certainly spotty. Sometimes the worst thing to be in the NFL is average.

On the other hand, the fans were delighted to see the team part ways with Trubisky. Again, Trubisky isn’t the worst QB in the league, which is what the narrative sounded like, but he shouldn’t be the Bears starter. If I were a completely objective analyst I’d have been a lot happier with Trubisky & Fields for a fraction of the cost of Dalton, Foles and Fields. Of course we live in the real world and relationships and perception matter, so Trubisky had to go and take the blame with him. He’ll probably be the best backup in the league in Buffalo.

Speaking of QBs, we somehow landed Fields in the draft. I think every Bears fan would have wanted to commit ritual suicide if you told them that Pace was going to trade up in the first round AGAIN and sell off future firsts to do it. Yet, no Bears fans really thought Fields would be anywhere close to attainable. I’m not gonna analyze the trade but safe to say every Bears fan came out of the draft really happy with the outcome. It’s kind of amazing, the fanbase was about as low as they’ve been in recent memory, probably only surpassed by the Trestman nadir, up until draft day. Now it’s the highest it’s been since the Cutler trade.

While Pace and Nagy are back, there big changes with the rest of the staff. Primarily on the defensive side. Chuck Pagano’s dismal reign ended and youngster Sean Desai takes his place with veteran Mike Pettine playing consigliere. Desai is being sold as a Fangio disciple and by all accounts he was the player’s first, second and third choice for the role. I always cringe when it seems like the players picked their coach through the media, but the praise he’s getting in camp is loud. We’ll see how bad the growing pains are, he certainly has a talented and veteran group to work with…save one position group. There’s more continuity on the offensive staff, but lots of new players. There’s reason for concern there, but hey…Justin Fields!

Let’s breakdown the roster (if you’ve stopped reading, I totally understand!):

QB - Andy Dalton, Justin Fields, Nick Foles
So this is a thing. The Red Rifle is collecting a sizable paycheck to be a seat-warmer for the rookie. Time (and results) will tell how long he holds the job. The staff and the insiders are all talking like Dalton will keep the job most of the season unless he totally shits the bed. If he’s steady, Fields will sit even if the losses rack up. The fans will lose their minds if that happens, so we’ll have to wait and see. People are talking about Dalton like he’s the second coming of Vinnie Testaverde, but last I saw was him barely holding it together in Dallas. Nagy wants to replicate the Smith-Mahomes experience, but that’s a bit of foolishness, people are different. Pace is desperately hoping another team is desperate enough to take Foles off his hands. Those hopes will be dashed.

Anyways, that mostly just drama. On the field I expect the Bears to be slightly better at the QB position than they were last year. Dalton isn’t talented enough to pull off the really wild stuff Nagy dreams up while huffing bath salts, but he’ll know the playbook, he’ll get through his progressions and he won’t take a bunch of dumb sacks. At the very least we shouldn’t see half our possessions as 3 and outs. Fields will make an appearance eventually. He’ll be great one day, but I think he’ll have more than his share of rookie moments. Rookie Josh Allen might be a better comp than sophomore Mahomes. If Foles sees the field things have gone really, really badly.

RB - David Montgomery, Damien Williams, Khalil Herbert, Tarik Cohen
Fantasy wonks know the Montgomery story. Had a really great second half last season and is one of the few bell cows in the league. But he’s not a game breaker, he’s a grinder. Breaks tackles but doesn’t break away. He’ll keep the offense on schedule when used correctly but he’s not a sure bet in the red zone. I’m excited to see the rookie Herbert get some time out there. He’s got a lot in common with Monty but is more dynamic. I was excited by what I saw in the preseason. I don’t know what we’re getting with Williams, but he’s a veteran and Nagy loves to get cast offs from KC. He is the fastest RB we’ve got, so Nagy will find a way to use him on passing downs while Cohen heals up. Cohen remains on the PUP until at least week 7.

This is a better group than last year. Monty found his stride, Herbert is an upgrade over the garbage we had behind him. Williams is probably a better change of pace back than Cohen, and it’ll force Nagy to holster some of his gadgets. If Cohen comes back later in the season maybe he’ll give us a curveball to throw at them.

WR - Allen Robinson, Darnell Mooney, Marquise Goodwin, Breshad Perriman, Damiere Byrd, Nsimba Webster
Lots of new faces here. Robinson and Mooney are back as the 1-2 punch and it’s a pretty good one. Robinson remains the best bad-ball WR in the league and has remained mostly professional in spite of not getting a well deserved extension. This might be has last season in Chicago, but he’s playing for a contract. Mooney was a breakout rookie and should be even better with another year under his belt and a QB who can throw left. Goodwin adds much needed speed after being a 2020 COVID opt out. Certainly an upgrade over Anthony Miller and will allow this offense to get vertical for the first time in years.

The Bears purged pretty much everyone else on the roster over the offseason and then at final cuts. They brought in Breshad Perriman when he was cut by the Lions. Nsimba Webster was cut by the 49ers. And signed Damiere Byrd who never distinguished himself in New England. All three bring speed to the table, which clearly is a the motto this offseason. Perriman doesn’t bring much production, but I suppose he was better than Riley Ridley and Javon Wims. Webster and Byrd will return punts/kicks and should replace Cordarrelle Patterson. This squad is better at the top and probably a bit better at the bottom of the roster compared to last season, at least it’s faster. Will be on the lookout for preseason darling Rodney Adams to get promoted off the practice squad at some point.

TE - Jimmy Graham, Cole Kmet, Jesse James, JP Holtz, Jesper Horsted
This is a…weird…group. I’m more than a little surprised to see Graham back. He’s been way more productive than anyone expected when they gave him that too-big contract a couple years back, but still he’s a bit of a one-trick pony at this point. That said, it’s a pretty good trick. It would have cost the Bears almost as much to cut him as keep him so that had a lot to do with it. Cole Kmet is supposed to be the star of this group and is now listed as the TE1. He struggled when Mitch was under center, but has looked good in camp. I believe that a veteran like Dalton will use him a ton and he’s gonna be a breakout guy for fantasy owners.

James is cheap veteran depth and will be the primary inline blocker of the group. Probably a bit of a luxury item which I’m not sure the Bears can afford, but could be useful if there’s a injury. JP Holtz and Jesper Horsted are a bit of a puzzle. Holtz is the best blocker of the group and is valuable as a H-back/lead blocker and Horsted is a converted WR who had another terrific preseason. I suspect the Bears were loathe to keep 5 TEs, but I’d bet they were scared Horsted wouldn’t clear waivers. So here we are. The Bears are thin at WR, you can bet Graham, Kmet and Horsted will spend quite a bit of time on the field split wide.

OL - Germain Ifedi, Jason Peters, James Daniels, Cody Whitehair, Sam Mustipher, Alex Bars, Larry Borom, Elijah Wilkinson, Lachavious Simmons. Teven Jenkins (IR)
Yikes. If the Bears season implodes, this will be the reason. The interior is decent. Daniels, Whitehair and Mustipher can all play any of the interior positions and last season this group was largely responsible for the improved running game. Mustipher was a bit of a surprise and stabilized the Center position a ton. Bars is also a good interior swingman. So the inside of the line isn’t the problem assuming we stay healthy.

The outside however is a different story. We parted ways with both starters from last year, Leno and Massie. We drafted Teven Jenkins to play LT (which is a little bit of a surprise since he was primarily a RT in college and the shift usually goes the other direction) and he needed back surgery before playing a single down. Not great, not great at all. Larry Borom is an intriguing RT prospect but he’s a 5th rounder for a reason. One day he may lock down the right side, but he’s not ready. We grabbed Jason Peters off the scrap heap…and while he claims he wasn’t considering retirement, the Eagles definitely were. He was great once, but he’s old and broken down…maybe we can get a few starts out of him at LT but I’m prepared for this to be a disaster. Germain Ifedi will start on the right and has been sidelined with an injury all camp…which is par for his career. Wilkinson and Simmons belong on the practice squad and I’m a little shocked the Bears didn’t poach any OTs from another team’s waiver wire.

Long story short, this is a problem. And we play Aaron Donald in week 1.

Defense coming up next.

Bears defense, as told by me; aka the ramblings of a madman.

DL - Akeim Hicks, Eddie Goldman, Bilal Nichols, Khyiris Tonga, Angelo Blackson, Mario Edwards (SUSP)
I’ll take the Pepsi Challenge against anyone’s group here, we’re flat out loaded. Hicks is a monster, Goldman was a Pro Bowler in 2019 and was a COVID opt out last year. Nichols was a breakout star last year filling in for Goldman. You can go to war with that front 3. Edwards was an amazing addition last year and rotated in on passing downs. Tonga has been one of the more impressive rookies in camp and Blackson was a valuable piece in Arizona last year. If I were to play Devil’s advocate with this I’d say that Hicks is past his prime and won’t hold up to another pounding, Goldman lost his passion during the off year and Nichols could be a one year wonder. But that’s all bullshit, these guys are beasts.

LB - Khalil Mack, Robert Quinn, Roquan Smith, Alec Ogletree, Trevis Gipson, Christian Jones, Joel Iyiegbuniwe, Jeremiah Attaochu, Danny Trevathan (IR)
Some big names here. And it’s almost certainly the second best position group on the team. Yet I can’t help but feel like this group needs to step it up. Every advanced metric says Mack has continued to be one of the 5 best pass rushers in football, but he’s not making enough splash plays. I’m sure every fanbase feels this way, but the dude gets held on every play but doesn’t get the calls. He needs to get home a lot this year. Quinn has been a massive disappointment, maybe we can convince him it’s a contract year. Still, that tandem is upper tier and plenty good enough to be part of a elite defense. In the middle Roquon is one of the the best ILBs in football and got flat out screwed in the Pro Bowl voting. Trevathan is hurt, and this might actually be a blessing - he was really showing his age last season and I think we’ll be better with Ogletree on the field.

The backups are sound. Christian Jones is back for a second stint with the team and was a valuable piece before he cashed in in Detroit. Iyiegbuniwe is a core special teamer and guy who’s flashed in spots the last couple seasons when Trevathan was out. Gipson and Attaochu will be a big step down from Mack and Quinn so I don’t expect a ton of rotation from them. There’s room for growth here for sure, but this group is good enough to win because of.

S - Eddie Jackson, Tayshaun Gipson Jr, DeAndre Houston-Carson, Deon Bush, Marqui Christian
This group is in desperate need of a bounce back season. Eddie Jackson started reading his newspaper clippings and forgot how to tackle and how to cover. Dude went from a future Hall or Famer to a total liability in just a couple seasons. He has the physical ability, but I’m not sure he has the fortitude. He’s admitted his failing and says he getting back to fundamentals, we need to hope that this combined with a new coaching staff will get him back on track. Gipson was solid last year and bailed Jackson out on several occasions. Houston-Carson, Bush and Christian will be crucial on special teams and DHC was reliable when he filled in for injury last season. If Bojack plays like a star we’re fine, if he plays like a jackass…well, we’re in deep shit.

CB - Jaylon Johnson, Kindle Vildor, Artie Burns, Duke Shelley, Xavier Crawford
Holy fucking shit. I mean, god damn. Houston we have a problem. New Defensive Coordinator Desai was a DB coach last year, so maybe he knows something we do not…

Johnson was amazing as a rookie, but he was playing opposite Fuller. Now that Fuller is gone he’s moving up to cover the other team’s WR1. That’s not a trivial change and there’s always the risk of a sophomore slump. But we’ll just have to trust that the Bears know what they have in him. That’s not my #1 concern. Second year man Vildor has apparently won the CB2 spot, beating out Burns, While it would be amazing if Pace drafted 2 starting CBs in the 2020 draft it seems too good to be true. But, Pace has consistently found some mid-round gems, and Vildor looked up to the task last year when pressed into action. Even if he’s capable, there’s no doubt that this tandem really lacks in experience. And they’ve got to face Aaron Rodgers twice. That sound is my asshole puckering.

We brought in two guys with pedigree who haven’t been able to stay on the field to compete, Desmond Trufant and Burns. Trufant didn’t even make it to the 53-man after leaving the team for personal reasons early in camp, and Artie Burns looks to be the nickelback for now. Crawford and Shelley are basically just warm bodies. That Crawford beat out our 6th round pick seems notable, but let’s not expect much. Perhaps the most shocking fact is that the Bears didn’t add a single player to the position following cut down day. Either the rest of the league is as barren as we are, or the Bears feel like they have more talent here than anyone on the outside can see. Hold onto your butts.

ST - Cairo Santos, Pat O’ Donnell, Patrick Scales
Not included here, but Khalil Herbert, Nsimba Webster and Damiere Byrd are all listed as KR/PRs. I don’t think anyone needs to hear me wax poetic about the Bears long snapper, but I’ll simply say that it’s nice to not be freaked out about our kicker. Fortunately Santos has really solidified things for us. We even kept a kicker on the practice squad because he was lights out in camp.

If you stuck with this, you’re a glutton for punishment. I consider this a form of therapy so I appreciate your indulgence. 75% of what I said will probably be rendered moot (or more likely, simply foolish) by week 4.