PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Gather round football fans of all beliefs and allegiances, this is for everyone. Eagles fans, Seattle bandwagoners, Foles believers, Foles doubters, Cowboys fans who have never been to Dallas, Cheeseheads, Who Dat-ers, fantasy gurus, gamblers, college football loyalists, people okay with the Washington team’s name, Le’Veon Bell’s newly hired chauffeurs, the guys blowing smoke in Josh Gordon’s face and anyone else I may have missed.
The 94WIP Suicide Pool is back and does not discriminate, so sign up here and let’s get this thing going. I’ll wait. Sign up. There’s still time. It’s free to join and the winner gets a custom championship ring, as well as lifetime recognition as the man (or woman!) that rose from the ashes to stand alone atop a mountain of excellence. It’s the easiest game that’s impossible to win.
I did the Watch last season and somehow made it to week 10. Only 400 of over 26,000 made it to week 11. I got past the roadblock game, but my other pick, the Titans, fumbled the game away to the Jaguars and that, as they say, was that. So be careful where you put your eggs because just when you think they’re safe Ryan Fitzpatrick will show up with a sledgehammer to smash them into a million pieces. You’ve been warned.
Another warning, be mindful that this season there is a Thursday night game every week. As we swim deeper in the pool, you don’t want to miss the chance to capitalize on nice Thursday matchup because it’s on the same night as “Scandal.”
I’ll be making three picks each week. The first will be my contest entry, so once I choose a team I can’t use them again, and the second will be the week’s best bet to advance. The third is a wildcard, or underdog that could slip you through the Grim Reaper’s fingers. In other words, it’s one you will never take.
My Selection – Bears vs. Bills
Chicago was the Bizarro Bears last season. Only Sheriff Peyton and his arsenal scored more points than the Bears. It was their defense that was one of the worst in the 177-year history of the city.
Losing Earl Bennett shouldn’t put much of a dent in the offensive success Marc Trestman and a healthy Jay Cutler are capable of. Since we last saw their defense, they let Julius Peppers go and replaced him with another veteran, Jared Allen. They added more depth on the D-line by bringing in Lamarr Houston and Willie Young to try to stop the run and address an inability to get to the quarterback in 2013.
The Bills offseason was a little more puzzling. They lost safety Jairus Byrd to the Saints’ deep pockets, which is understandable, but never actually replaced him. Instead, they traded for wide receiver Mike Williams and gave up their first-round pick next year in order to draft Sammy Watkins, who is also a wide receiver. Neither has any experience playing safety. They signed Brandon Spikes and Keith Rivers to clean up what was a bottom-half run defense, but expect coverage to be a problem especially against what the Bears are running out there.
Give me Cutler at home to outscore EJ Manuel.
Best Bet For Survival – Eagles vs. Jaguars
The Birds are the only double-digit favorite in week 1. Take the home team and start looking ahead. If the future Mr. Lindsey Duke was getting the start I’d say be careful, but it appears Jacksonville wants to see what the kid Chad Henne can do. His 18 wins in 50 starts and 25 interceptions to 24 touchdowns in two seasons with the Jags isn’t a big enough sample size.
The Eagles will hang 40 on them, and in the immediate future Lindsey Duke will become the future Mrs. Chip Kelly. Innovation.
Cheating Death – Chargers at Cardinals
Picking a week 1 upset reminds me of the first weekend of college football, where preseason rankings are meaningless. No one knows which teams will step up or step back, and there is always early season lines that look silly in retrospect.
The Cardinals went 6-2 down the stretch last season to finish an improbable 10-6 due in large part to their defense. That defense is down four starters from a year ago. Karlos Dansby signed with Cleveland, Daryl Washington is suspended, Darnell Dockett tore his ACL and Yeremiah Bell retired. New pieces take time; also Carson Palmer.
The Chargers, like the Eagles, are entering year two of their system and added Donald Brown to the running rotation. Philip Rivers is fired up, yelling trash talk into a mirror somewhere. So I’ll shut up.
Justin Boylan is a producer at 94WIP and graduate of Temple University. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @justintboylan.
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