A hurricane is bearing down on Florida, and yet the most disastrous thing to happen to the Sunshine State will likely be the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Welcome, friends, to week one of Aaron It Out.
First, an apology: we had previously advertised a series of team previews to run over the course of the summer. Ideas were exchanged, excitement was had between myself and Gavin, and then… my wife gave birth unexpectedly early to a beautiful little baby girl. As I spent the next few weeks playing catch-up on life in general and work in particular, the logistics of doing the previews didn’t work with the reality and ultimately, I ran out of time to do them. I apologize. Hopefully, next year. As we open the NFL regular season, I remember that I haven’t even been doing these a full year (I came onboard a few weeks after the season started) and so we are still in the midst of some growing pains.
The major stories that I can perceive right now in the NFL are whether any teams have improved enough in the AFC to beat the Patriots and make it to the Super Bowl, whether Jay Cutler can save the Dolphins’ season, and the ridiculous amount of trades that have occurred this offseason. I mean, it was just stupid crazy. It seems like teams traded players almost as much as they changed clothes in some cases, and there were lots of player-for-player trades that occurred as well (usually, it’s player for a draft pick). What a crazy offseason for trades.
When Tannehill went down with his ACL (which, instead of being surgically repaired, was for some reason held together by duct tape and bailing wire), I thought it was time for Matt Moore to lead the team. But instead, Dolphins coach Adam Gase called on his buddy, suddenly retired Bears unhappy person Jay Cutler, to come back and be a part of the Dolphins. It seems like it will… work out? So far, so good, and it helps that he has a good amount of weapons available. However, we now have to wait until week 2 to see how things will shake out in games that matter, since Irma is causing the postponement of the Bucs-Fins game.
Finally, the Jaguars look awful. They look the same as they did last year and they have brought back Coughlin, which is awesome, and they drafted Fournette, which is great as long as he stays healthy, but the excitement with the fanbase does not seem to be there, and that all boils down to the fact that the team did absolutely nothing at quarterback this offseason. Even with a fake, stupid QB “competition” we are still saddles with Blake Bortles. He of the foot interception in multiple games. He of the garbage time stats. Yes, he of the fifth-year option, picked up for seemingly no reason other than to say, “We believe in Blake?” As if the team is less sure about its uniform combinations than it is the quarterback. It’s great in theory to be able to run the ball, play clock control offense, and rely on the defense to get stops, but you can’t count on anything going well when Blake Bortles is your quarterback.
(Hence the new photograph to accompany this column.)
Let’s get into game picks:
CHIEFS at PATRIOTS – I mean, okay? I guess this was the best the Patriots could do for their home opponent? I’d have gone straight for the Falcons-Pats rematch, myself. The Chiefs? They will probably get hamstrung by halftime, Alex Smith doinking and dinking his way to 16 points while the defense tries and fails to make Tom Brady mess up (they aren’t allowed to do that yet). Then again, the last time the Chiefs and Pats played in week 1, Brady got hurt – but we don’t wanna see that. First, I don’t like to see any player get injured, even Brady; second, every single NFL writer on the face of this planet would put an asterisk on the season because ol’ Tommy was hurt and couldn’t help the team reach their true potential or something. Anyway, Patriots win, because the Chiefs are the Chiefs.
JETS at BILLS – The Tank Begins. The Jets are almost certainly setting themselves up for the future and I am not sure how they are going to justify it to their fans, who expect a winner. Expect a one or two win season from this team, in my opinion. The Bills aren’t tanking, just dysfunctional. They fired their GM AFTER the draft, they traded away one of their best offensive weapons… supposedly to right the ship, but it just kind of looks like they are going to throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks. Even with a rookie QB potentially starting, the Bills can whip the Jets.
JAGUARS at TEXANS – I think I’ve said what I need to say about the Jaguars above this section of the column. I will believe they can be good when they show me they have the potential. Houston has Watt back and is looking healthy; unless Bouye provides some sort of mystical insight, plus this being a “rally the city” type of game potentially, I think Houston may have this one.
STEELERS at BROWNS – I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the Browns are starting to look like a competent organization. Ugh, did I really type that? How far we’ve come, ladies and gentlemen. The Browns have made smart, even savvy, moves regarding their roster. They are trying to set themselves up for future success by not spending crazy and building through the draft, and what a build it will be with their draft picks in the double digits for next year’s draft. Plus, have they finally, finally, finally, final final finally, found the answer at QB in Deshone Kizer? It would admittedly be amazing if true. Hue Jackson, for all the criticism levied at him, does a great job of developing QBs and maybe this is “it” for Cleveland. Meanwhile, the Steelers are… the Steelers. Here we go. They will finish at our near the top of the AFC North again, as long as their star players stay healthy. They have amazing talent and are impeccably coached. I look for them to be very successful this year. While the Browns will fight hard, the Steelers will win this game.
CARDINALS at LIONS – Man, I am torn about this game because I like both teams. David Johnson was my first fantasy draft pick and he is going to ball out this year in my estimation. Matthew Stafford got PAID and is one of the most underrated QBs in the league (put him on any team that has an obvious QB hole and he makes them better, instantly). I still love that fake clock spike at the end of the Cowboys-Lions game in 2013 that he just went up and over his center to score the game-winning TD. Where I think this will come down to is defense – Arizona experienced some losses on D this offseason, and Detroit was able to shore up some holes that caused them to waver down the stretch last year. With the home field advantage, I’m going to call this for the Lions.
FALCONS at BEARS – The Falcons want to prove themselves after a touch Super Bowl loss, and the Bears are starting Mike Glennon at quarterback. Who do you think is going to win here? I mean, come on – it’s just too obvious. While I think the Falcons have a pretty decent shot in making a Super Bowl comeback, they should hope that new defensive additions Takk McGinley and Duke Riley can make an immediate impact. The Falcons for the win.
RAIDERS at TITANS – The Titans are definitely on the rise in the AFC South (as long as they can keep their quarterback healthy) but the Raiders are going to be playing with that our-story-didn’t-end-the-way-we-wanted-it-to chip on their shoulders this year. Plus, as a Jaguars fan, it is impossible to objectively think that the Titans will be successful in any shape, form, or fashion. Therefore, I will call this game for the Raiders.
RAVENS at BENGALS – I do kind of enjoy the week 1 divisional matchups, just to kind of see what will happen down the road. These two teams, however, are some of the least appealing in the NFL, in my opinion. The Bengals play dirty defense (well, maybe not until Burfict comes back from his suspension) to somehow stumble into the postseason occasionally, and the Ravens look like a decent team for a random quarter per game, and then do something like a facemask penalty causing an untimed down so the Jaguars can win or hire Marc Trestman to run their offense (just a couple of random examples). That being said, Flacco hasn’t played all offseason, so I would imagine the Bengals will win this one.
EAGLES at REDSKINS – The Eagles seemed to make some decent moves in the offseason and continue to quietly sit right around the number two spot in the NFC East with the Giants and Cowboys (one of the three usually being #1). The Redskins made a few questionable decisions this offseason, most notable being to still not pay their franchise quarterback and call him by the wrong name. Well, you know, you make your bed and you have to sleep in it, I guess – and Cousins will be playing lights-out this year to make sure he has the stats to go out and be the best free agent quarterback on the market next year. All that being said, this is usually an interesting matchup, but in my opinion, the Eagles will win this game.
COLTS at RAMS – The Colts are a very different team without Andrew Luck leading the offense. Take away Luck, and they are vulnerable. Success, as in many other cities with NFL teams, hinges on the quarterback. The Rams are coming into a new season with a new head coach and a quarterback that has many question marks to his name. Is Goff good? Can he replicate the success in McVay’s system that Kirk Cousins had? Because Luck is not starting, and because they are at home, I will give this one to the Rams.
PANTHERS at 49ERS – So far, surprisingly enough, John Lynch has been surprisingly Not Bad at his new job as the Niners’ GM. Now, though, comes the true test – how San Francisco performs in the regular season. However, they face the Panthers this week and what looks like a return-to-form Cam Newton, with new offensive weapon Christian McCaffrey. San Francisco’s defense may be able to keep them in this game, but I will go ahead and say that the Panthers will win this week.
SEAHAWKS at PACKERS – I’ll say it: the Seahawks are on the downhill slope. I think they are headed into a period of roster turnover and analysis as their once-dominant defense gets a little older and their offensive line fails to get any more talented to protect Russell Wilson. I mean, their best running back retired and then left for another team and they barely flinched. Meanwhile, the Packers didn’t make much noise this season other than signing a potentially big-time tight end to help Rodgers out of sticky situations when their receivers are running routes with limps and broken ribs and stuff. Still, first game of the season and at Lambeau, you have to figure the Packers will win.
GIANTS at COWBOYS – We have a doozy of a Sunday night game on tap, which is awesome. The Cowboys will be out to prove that last year was not a fluke or a flash in the pan for their young players. The Giants will be ready to ride their quarterback to victories, having not made significant moves at running back yet again. This matchup always gives us a good game, though, and I foresee that happening again. I have a feeling that the Giants will come out with the victory.
SAINTS at VIKINGS – The story here is whether the Saints made enough moves to justify keeping Drew Brees around, and of course the unfortunate overriding story will be Adrian Peterson’s desire to run rampant over his old team. With Sam Bradford once again in at QB and Dalvin Cook trying to prove he’s just as good as Peterson only without the child-beating, the Vikings should be able to defeat the Saints and bring in a week one victory.
CHARGERS at BRONCOS – The Chargers are another team you can’t trust to be consistently good. I do not know outside of the times they have kicked the Jaguars’ butts whether they are any good week-to-week, and they have a new head coach on hand this year. Meanwhile, the Broncos have the same, although it seems as if there is more consistency from old to new. The Broncos have the more stout defense and offensive weaponry that makes other teams salivate. The Chargers have an aging franchise quarterback. I will go ahead and call this one for the Broncos at Mile High.
Okay, that’s it for this week. Enjoy football, and for those affected by the hurricane, please be careful. See you back here next Wednesday or Thursday, weather permitting.