The Return of the Fearless Forecast
Another season brings a new slate to be wiped clean. 0-0 is how all predictors stand right now whether it be myself, Lee Bromfield or the king of the Buc pundits, the most reverened Pastor Darin Shaw in New Hampshire. But this year is going to be different.
Oh the terrible gags and 80s music references will continue but a better-than-60% clip level is my goal for the year ahead. So without further ado (remember when that was Mick Luckhurst's catchphrase on Channel 4?), here goes with Week 1.
Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Defending Champions
One of the NFL's best-ever ideas was to have a unique kickoff game for the previous champions to celebrate their title. Although remember when the Bucs went in to Philly's new stadium on Monday Night in 2003 and started that off with a Tampa win too? Pick: Steelers.
Miami Wildcats at Atlanta Falcons
The Dolphins got found out in the post-season last year and still don't have a real quarterback. And every NFL defensive co-ordinator will now have a plan to stop the wildcat offense so Ricky Williams will be left smoking his wheels in frustration. Wouldn’t it worry you that your offensive nickname is something out of High School Musical though? Pick: Falcons.
Denver Broncos at Cincinnati Bungles
Let's just check Josh McDaniel's resume - upset his QB - tick. traded his QB - tick. upset his star WR - tick. suspended said receiver - tick. This is even making the Cincinnati front office look somewhat sane (note, I did add the somewhat). Denver is a disaster waiting to happen in the AFC (more on the NFC's version later). Pick: Bengals.
Minnesota Ex-Packers at Cleveland Browns
Don't know about you but I've had about enough of Brett Favre these days. In time he may regain his lustre on his way to the Hall of Fame but right now, he's a joke. A 40-year-old washed up joke. But even he can beat the Mangenius (has ever a nickname been more tongue-in-cheek?). Pick: Vikings.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts
Endorsement of the year for Luke McCown - "if David Garrard gets hurt then we're in really deep trouble" - Jack Del Rio. The Colts will be good but I can see them dropping off big-time without the steadying influence of Tony Dungy around to help them. You heard it here first. Pick: Colts.
Detroit Yazz at New Orleans Saints
I've been waiting eight months to use that line as for the Lions, the only way is up. I'm going to miss waynefontes.com and their in-game rants of "Fire Marinelli", "Fire Barry" and "Fire Quan". They'll win more than last year (cheap gag but hey, you get what you pay for). Pick: Saints.
Philadelphia Eagles at Carolina Panthers
Apparently Donovan McNabb will play most of the games at quarterback and Michael Vick will only get in if the Eagles are losing. I mean, look what happened last time he had a lead. Pick: Eagles.
Kansas City Chiefs at Baltimore Ravens
And there are rumours that the Chiefs won't sell out their home games this year for the first time since Hank Stram first wore a wig on the sideline in Arrowhead. All they have to do is offer 10 tickets to each of the crap quarterbacks they've had since Len Dawson. Not that Joe Flacco is much better. This is the year he gets found out. Pick: Ravens.
New York J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets at Houston Texans
Houston are everyone's favourite sleeper team. The Colts are going backwards and the Titans won't keep pulling a rabbit out of the hat every season. So this is the first step on the way to a division title. Pick: Texans.
Dallas Cowboys at your very own Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I hate the Cowboys for ruining my 1990 vacation when Troy Aikman hit Michael Irvin inside the final minute for a 17-13 decision over Ray Perkins' team. That was the turning point for Jimmy Johnson's squad on their way to early 1990s dominance. Could this be the same turning point for the 2011-2013 champion Buccaneers? Err I really wish it was but know it won't be. But I can't root against the Bucs in this column. Pick: (with the heart not the head) Buccaneers.
Washington Redskins at Exit 16W off the Jersey Turnpike Giants
Over/under on Albert Haynesworth first being told he's not worth the money (in-season please, I already had April 2nd) - second quarter in the Meadowlands. Until I see Eli pass successfully without Plaxico, I'mnot annointing the Giants as NFC title favourites just yet. Upset pick: Redskins.
San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals
Michael Crabtree watch - our reluctant draft pick now wants to go back into the 2010 draft. Wouldn't you just love the Niners to pick him again out of spite? Earth to Michael (I've heard that phrase before in music somewhere), you've screwed up big-time. The Cardinals fall over big-time this year but not this week although I really nearly went surprise pick here. Pick: Cardinals.
St. Louis Rams at Seattle Seahawks
Being on the Northwest coast, no-one takes a lot of notice of the Seahawks in the Florida area. They'll win the NFC West almost by default this year. The Rams can start re-building in earnest now. They no longer have to worry about the late Georgia Frontiere snogging the head coach on the field after a big win. Pick: Seahawks.
Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers
Jay meet Jay. Cutler and Mariotti that is. Bigger question is who has the bigger ego. Cutler has a great arm but no receivers. Mariotti has a great pen but no paper to work for. Both travel to Lambeau this weekend, home of the new star quarterback in the NFC, Aaron "stuck in the green room" Rodgers. Pick: Packers.
Buffalo Bills at New England VideoCheats
That nickname's not going away anytime soon. Although most British Buc fans could do with a couple of not-too-serious (but please be out in Week 7) injuries to the likes of Tom Brady, Randy Moss and Wes Welker. As for TO, a very long-time injury to his gob would suffice for most. Pick: Patriots.
San Diego Superchargers at Oakland Raydurs
If the Chargers score first, coach Vince Cable has threatened to punch his defensive co-ordinator. Then he can punch his ticket out of town. Over/under how long he lasts in Oakland is about the same as the Haynesworth spread earlier in the column. I would pick San Diego to win it all but they’re still coached by Norv Turner. Pick: Chargers.
Paul Stewart, September 2009