Ahhhhhhh, welcome back football.
First off, we’re not experts (we just play them on the Internet) and our advice should be taken no more seriously than Romeo Crennel takes his starting QB competition.
The challenge was created when I (Mazzone) moved from East coast to West coast and with the help of a friend back east (Durden) learned of the brilliance that is In-N-Out Burger. The person who wins this year long competition will receive an In-N-Out burger for each game they win by, paid for by the loser.
Don’t kill us too much for not picking your favorite team to win and cover the spread every week.
Enjoy the commentary, enjoy the games, and keep coming back for more.
(right click on the hyperlinks and open in a new window for additional entertainment throughout this blog)
New Orleans Saints @ Indianapolis Colts (-5.5)
Mazzone: Heck of a way to open the season. There’s really no explanation for picking against the defending Super Bowl champs at home when they have one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game. So I’ll just say – I like watching Reggie Bush. Pick: Saints +5.5
Durden: Will Archie Manning attend with a paper bag over his head? More importantly, will this be the beginning of what I think should be a down year for the Colts? I'd feel even more confident about that if their division wasn't a joke, but in the meantime, look for the Saints to prevail in a shootout. Pick: Saints +5.5
Kansas City Chiefs @ Houston Texans (-3)
Mazzone: Last year the Texans were the “money” team for a coworker of mine (Teddy Ballgame). Ballgame’s either a little slow, or way ahead of his time - depending on who you ask. I think he was a year early on the Texans. I like Ahman Green to have a real nice year, Schaub to be more than serviceable with just enough weapons to make the Texans dangerous. .500 or better isn’t out of the question. Pick: Texans -3
Durden: This week's Gus Johnson Special! I expect both of these teams to be equally woeful on offense and defense this year, so unless Jac. Jones takes a kickoff to the house, I don't want to see a second of this game on Sunday. I'll give the edge to the Chiefs in an ugly one, but here's to Our Buddy Gus calling some better games this year. Pick: Chiefs +3
Denver Broncos @ Buffalo Bills (+3.5)
Mazzone: I think Champ Bailey is going to make it tough for the Bills to complete their signature play of Losman chucking it deep and hoping Lee Evans outruns everyone and catches it. Travis Henry always feels like he has something to prove, even moreso against the Bills. Expect him to celebrate a Broncos win by fathering his 10th child from 10 different women.
Pick: Broncos -3.5
Durden: The Bills lost Clements, McGahee, Spikes and Fletcher, while overspending on a new Offensive Line. I'm typically inclined to ignore the Bills, but it's nice of them to make it easy on me. Only thing that could do the Broncos in is Cutler coming out impatient, but I think the Mastermind will have him prepared. Pick: Broncos -3.5
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cleveland Browns (+4.5)
Mazzone: The Browns and their fans have high hopes for the future with Brady Quinn, Joe Thomas, Kamerion Wimbley, Braylon Edwards and the Soldier. The Steelers and their fans have high hopes for this game, because they’re playing the Browns. “Fast” Willie Parker and “Smiling” Hines Ward in a romp.
Pick: Steelers -4.5
Durden: There aren't two teams I hate more in the NFL. Unfortunately, I think Tomlin was the right hire for the McBeams and he should have them ready to come out flying on both sides of the ball. Crennel, on the other hand, resorts to coin tosses to determine his starting QB. Yes, really. 'Nuff said. Pick: Steelers -4.5
Tennessee Titans @ Jacksonville Jaguars (-6.5)
Mazzone: Committing to David Garrard is nice, but it’s not like he hasn’t had ample opportunity to run away with the job prior to now. That being said, I’m not exactly sold on the Titans being relevant either. Even though 6.5 seems like a lot of points and I’m told Vince Young just wins football games, I’m leaning the other way. The Jags were 6-2 at home last season, and all of their eight wins were by more than six points (surprised me too)… Pick: Jags -6.5
Durden: V Diddy's good, but I don't think it was necessary to turn up his degree of difficulty, which is exactly what the Titans did. The Jags will miss Brad Meester, but the Schedule Gods did them a favor in softening the blow, beginning with a nice win vs. the Titans. That VY's not gonna help them on Sunday, this one's going to hurt. Pick: Jags -6.5
Carolina Panthers @ St. Louis Rams (-1)
Mazzone: I know it’s only preseason, but Delhomme looked REAAAAAAAL bad (maybe the Rams D is the cure?). More importantly though, in 2005 a friend of ours (Dave) lost our survivor pool in week 1 when the Rams were upset by the 49ers. In 2006, Dave lasted until week 2…when the Rams were upset by the Niners. Who’s the Rams week 2 opponent in 2007 you ask?… the Niners. So, I like the Rams here and obviously the Niners next week. If Dave throws a curveball and takes the Rams this week in survivor, all bets are off. Pick: Rams -1
Durden: Tough game, but the Rams will go as Torry Holt will – giving himself up at three quarters strength. The Panthers should run wild and do just enough to keep S-Jax from taking over. Pick: Panthers +1
Philadelphia Eagles @ Green Bay Packers (+3)
Mazzone: Packers are probably the least likely of all the home underdogs to cover this week as all signs point to an Eagles route unless you’re concerned about McNabb’s health (I’m not. He’s on both my fantasy teams). That being said, opening week always has some odd results and this game gives me an inexplicable eerie feeling. I didn’t go with the other home dogs and it’s early in the season so I can afford to play a nonsensical hunch. Pick: Packers +3
Durden: Guess who's back?! Donovan at less than full strength is still better than the majority of the QBs in the league and we'll get to see just why the Eagles took Sidney Rice with their 1st pick in the draft. Oh, wait. Well, Andy Reid and Kevin Kolb will look good together on the sidelines enjoying this one, as Green Bay's QB begins to ruin another Packer season. Pick: Eagles -3
Atlanta Falcons @ Minnesota Vikings (-3)
Mazzone: Part of me is wondering if Bobby Petrino is devising ways to throw the season so he can land Brian Brohm. Another part of me is wondering if he even has to. Adrian Peterson was capable of playing in the NFL three years ago. I feel like, after the injuries in subsequent years, no one remembers that. He and Chester Taylor give Tarvaris Jackson a chance to be successful. Pick: Vikings -3 (Peterson for rookie of the year)
Durden: The league's best run defense will force Yoey into doing Yoey things, and Tarvaris Jackson will kinda show us why he's almost for-real. If not, that Adrian Peterson kid is pretty good too. Dog days ahead for the ATL. Pick: Vikings -3
Miami Dolphins @ Washington Redskins (-3)
Mazzone: I have no idea who’s going to cover Santana Moss and I have no idea who’s going to get open against the loaded secondary of the Redskins. But I believe in Ronnie Brown, I believe in the Dolphins defensive front 7 and I’m ready to believe in Cam Cam and The Ginn Family. Pick: Dolphins +3
Durden: Ronnie Brown taking kicks to the house, Ginn catching 6 balls for 100 yards, Chambers setting downfield blocks for Chatman while he runs for 150, and Joey Porter picking off Campbell... twice. It's all going to be on display folks, and it's all by Cam Cam's design. Don't you dare suggest that I'm just saying that because Mazz is giving me some space on TPS. Pick: Dolphins +3
New England Patriots @ New York Jets (+6.5)
Mazzone: Being a Dolphin fan, I loathe this game. I always root for 0-0 tie where the teams just kick the crap out of each other for the whole game. That, and I root for Chad Pennington’s arm to come flying off while still holding the ball on a pass attempt. Romeo Crennel told me to just flip a coin… Pick: Patriots -6.5
Durden: This should be the beginning of a long season for the rest of the league. Mangina may have been able to think outside the box last year and screw the Pats, but they'll be overmatched and overwhelmed by New England this season. Pick: Patriots -6.5
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Seattle Seahawks (-6)
Mazzone: They say when you have 4 QB’s, you don’t have any. That couldn’t be more true in Gruden’s case, the Bucs are just hoping to get lucky with one of them at some point this season. Shaun Alexander’s primed for a huge season that should start here. The only thing in his way is “The Curse of Keith”. Every fantasy league has that one guy that just kills the season of whomever he drafts. My brother, Keith, has been that guy for awhile now and he’s got Shaun… good luck (more on the curse of Keith in future blogs). Pick: Seahawks -6
Durden: The Seahawks may have underachieved last year, but at least they had expectations. The Bucs are another team that inexplicably didn't do anything to truly improve themselves. Garcia's going to be running for his life all game as the Seahawks defense should actually be a strength this year with the addition of Kerney and Mora coaching the secondary. Pick: Seahawks -6
Chicago Bears @ San Diego Chargers (-6)
Mazzone: I live near Qualcomm Stadium and have 4 Bears fans staying in my apartment this weekend. I’ll toss on a Gates Jersey to taunt them a bit, but I think the Sex Cannon might have one of his games where people think “hmmm, he could still be good.” Pick: Da Bears +6
Durden: While the Bears will struggle on offense, the Chargers shouldn't have a problem setting up the pass by establishing the run early. San Diego simply has too many studs on both sides of the ball and Grossman obviously won't be able to save them as Benson struggles in his debut as the focus of their run game. Pick: Chargers -6
Detroit Lions @ Oakland Raiders (-2)
Mazzone: Roy Williams told me the Lions we’re “a good 3-13” last year and came close to scoring 40 pts several times despite what the scoreboard says. He also said “the score means nothing.” I disagree. Pick: Oakland -2
Durden: I feel good believing in Jon Kitna because he believes in God more than anyone not named Brenda Warner. Sure, the Raiders defense is good but Calvin's got a job now, and it's about to tear the Raiders apart. On a more unrelated note, I heard Lane Kiffin was in the hospital. Is he still old enough to qualify for Make a Wish? Pick: Lions +2
New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys (-6)
Mazzone: I struggled picking this one. On one hand, I feel like Romo should have a field day with the Giants secondary. On the other hand, as long as Coughlin doesn’t force anyone else into retirement before kickoff I think the Giants should make a game of it as they usually do. Week one, divisional matchup…I’ll take the points in this one. Pick: Giants +6
Durden: I found it laughable when Tiki tried to address us all as a member of the media, but unfortunately for Eli, the G-Men won't be able to say they're fine without Tiki just yet. There are too many question marks for the Giants right now, and a healthy Burress is a must to beat the Cowboys. Carrie Underwood will be going home happy. Pick: Cowboys -6
Baltimore Ravens @ Cincinnati Bengals (-3)
Mazzone: Last year, the teams split. The Ravens won the high scoring battle at home and the Bengals won the low scoring game in Cincy, go figure. Shayne Graham is banged up, which isn’t good considering the Ravens allowed less than 13 points a game last season. Nonetheless, “he’s just a kicker” and Durden is a Baltimore fan so that solves this toss-up. I’ll give the points and take the Bengals at home. Pick: Bengals -3
Durden: In spite of multiple injury concerns that don't seem to be getting much press for some reason, I'm taking the good guys on my birthday. If they can at least contain The Chad and get ANYTHING out of the offense, it'll be a good Dos-Cinco for me. Pick: Ravens +3
Arizona Cardinals @ San Francisco 49ers (-3)
Mazzone: Remember that time the trendy pick went on to surprisingly disappoint the experts? This year’s trendy pick is San Francisco (a year too early). Pick: Cardinals +3
Durden: Gotta give props to the 49ers for showing other teams how to take care of biz in the offseason. Whisenhunt was another good hire this offseason, but the Cardinals still aren't ready to make the leap and I'm sure the Offensive Line's Grimm predicament isn't quite what he had in mind. The 49ers will come out strong and make a statement on MNF, leaving Whisenpants frustrated with his leaking team. Pick: 49ers -3
Double Double: In this segment Durden and I will each pick a two team parlay – usually including the spread. Occasionally we may go Animal Style and pick a couple of underdogs to win outright. Durden likes the heavy favorites this week. And, though I like the ‘hawks too, I’d be ridiculed if I didn’t go with the Texans after hyping them up during the preseason.
Durden: Seahawks (-6), Chargers (-6)
Mazzone: Houston (-3), Vikings (-3)
Bet safely, and always believe in football