Alabama v. Texas A&M
Saturday, September 14th
3:30pm et, CBS
College Station, Texas
Johnny Football and the Saban of Fire. In case the ridiculous decision at CBS to provide a ‘Johnny Cam’ wasn’t hint enough, this game is pretty big. [I wonder if he drinks Gatorade via osmosis, bet he does. Tune in and find out!] I want to like Johnny Manziel but he makes it really, really hard. An enemy of my enemy is generally my friend but, in this case, I almost want the reality check only a stern defense mixed with revenge can provide. Almost. See, I just can’t root for Nick Saban. He’s a troll that predates the Internet. The Godfather of Trolls, if you will (even, if you won’t). I respect his accomplishments immensely, I just despise the journey he took to get them. That’s why I want to, want to watch Manziel torch the Alabama defense again but I’m terrified of what would follow. Not sure I want to see Manziel hop around and point at the scoreboard like a frat bro who just won back-to-back intramural championships. Look, his name is Johnny Football, which means even to the most uninformed they’d have to assume he’s pretty good at the sport. Trying to show up Rice players is beyond foolish simply because, via figurative nickname comparison, they’re all more so variations of Billy Account Executive.
Prediction: 41-24 Alabama
Chelsea v. Everton
Saturday, September 14th
12:30pm et, NBC
Goodison Park, England
This match should see the unveiling of Samuel Eto’o on the pitch for Chelsea. No doubt he’s a tremendous player but I’m still unsure if he’s the correctly shaped piece to complete the puzzle José Mourinho is constructing. Might not be Eto’o’s fault, the puzzle seems an unnecessarily complex one. The no-striker experiment at Old Trafford was somewhat appalling as the midfield routinely lost the ball due to no real aim at the top. It would seem Lukaku could grow into the powerful target man midfielders love to feed and run off of but he’ll be watching the match in the opposing shade of blue thanks to yet another loan deal. Chelsea should still be stalwart defensively, enough to guarantee at least a draw, but I venture to say that’s the sort of philosophy which drove a wedge between Abramovich and Mourinho the first go-around. However, if the addition of Eto’o truly does complete the picture then Chelsea should boss the game in the midfield and Eto’o should make up for his anti-Chelsea remarks of yester(many)years with a brace. Though I’m not terribly convinced of this outcome.
This is Roberto Martinez’s first match since losing his do-everything man Marouane Fellaini to Manchester United, causing him to find a way to possess the ball against a team that takes great exception to that sort of thing. A win is that Leighton Baines is still in an Everton shirt as well as an increasingly impressive and eager Ross Barkley. Precision is going to be of utmost importance in this match as Chelsea are one of the quickest and best teams on the counter. Carelessness with the ball around the likes of Hazard, Oscar, De Bruyne, Schürrle, Willian or Lampard is asking to be out of it by halftime. I think Martinez will know this and should adjust his tactics accordingly. If Everton play inspired this will be a tough match for Chelsea to secure the 3 points. Despite the loss of Fellaini, Everton still have a potent attack through Arouna Koné and a decent enough midfield with which to link play. A hidden gem (not very well hidden given he’s on loan from Barcelona and starred in the U-20 World Cup two months ago) is Gerard Deulofeu, keep an eye on this kid. He’s very comfortable on the ball and tends to pop up in dangerous places with the quality to deliver an even more dangerous ball.
Prediction: 2-2 Draw (late Lampard penalty)
Redskins v. Packers
Sunday, September 15th
1:00pm et, FOX
Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisconsin
Both teams took unfortunate losses last week; one team can blame the referees, the other the second coming of Steve Spurrier’s fun n’ gun offense but on a Red Bull and jet fuel smoothie. Green Bay decided to turn the game against the 49ers into a personal grudge match against Colin Kaepernick’s feet and forgot to cover Anquan Boldin in the process. I doubt they’ll be thinking similarly with regards to a not yet 100% Robert Griffin III. Hopefully Clay Matthews can control his frustrations from battles with Skeletor in midweek and stop hitting people out of bounds. Aaron Rodgers shouldn’t have any problem carving an unsettled Washington secondary. Especially since rookie safety Bacarri Rambo (great name) will be busy burning incense and praising every known deity for not having to try and tackle LeSean McCoy this week.
I admire RG3’s grit, determination, and effort but still…he’s not quite right. I heard Jaws on ESPN proclaim it’s a number of very correctable “mechanical issues” that Griffin III simply needs to clean up. I think it’s a tad more dire. Chad Johnson alluded to it in a tweet as I was thinking it.
— Chad Johnson (@ochocinco) September 10, 2013
His knee is either physically not ready, or he’s mentally not ready. Either way, nothing short of an alien abduction or (God forbid) another injury will see Kirk Cousins enter a meaningful game. Catching a tennis ball atop a bosu ball is one type of “ready” but a live-action NFL game is quite another. This game is potentially very dangerous for Robert Griffin and the Redskins. It’s in Lambeau, it’s the Packers home opener, Green Bay is angry, and RG3 isn’t 100% physically and/pr mentally healthy. Getting out of this game with a win seems a far cry to me. Gameplan: keep RG3 in one-piece, don’t get blown out, and look to get to .500 with the Lions and Raiders up next. Readyyyyyyyy, break.
Prediction: 31-17 Packers
49ers v. Seahawks
Sunday, September 15th
8:30pm et, NBC
CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Washington
The Eyebrow Bowl! God I hope they weren’t just joking. I have no idea how long it takes for an eyebrow to grow back but I’m certain I won’t be done laughing by then.
Colin Kaepernick was ridiculously impressive against the Green Bay Packers. He showed he has the maturity to not just flaunt and rely on his strengths, but to develop his weaknesses and become an all-around QB. That’s frightening. The guy ran his way to a Super Bowl last year but has already shown he’s willing to pass his way into one this year. Yes, I know, it was one game and I’m already talking Super Bowl. Pardon my Skip Bayless-ness. However, I’m looking at is the bigger picture. We know he can run, and by “we” i mean defensive coordinators included. Now we know he can pas, and by “we” I again mean defensive coordinators included. The question ‘How do you stop #7?’ becomes exponentially more difficult if his arm is as deadly as his legs. The next step for Kaepernick and his coaches is figuring out how and when to utilize both skill-sets. I envy your problems, Jim Harbaugh.
Seattle went into Carolina and eeked out a hideous 12-7 win over the Cam Newton All-Stars. Familiar cliches arose afterward, “I’d rather win ugly than lose pretty.”, “A win is a win.”, “Nobody remembers how you won, just if you won.” Yeah but, I remember. Russell Wilson passed for over 300yds with no interceptions and the Seahawks defense held Newton to 125yds. That’s a massive contrast of stat lines for a 12-7 game. The Panthers were pretty inept on offense but if it weren’t for a(nother) late DeAngelo Williams fumble they’d likely be 1-0. Williams did manage to average over 5yds per carry against a defense we thought was pretty good. Although, to be fair, the Seahawks hate being away from their nest and they certainly don’t like going all the way to the east coast. This will be their home-opener and their fans will be as rabid as every local Starbucks using cocaine as a new sugar substitute. I expect a more complete performance from the Seahawks this game. Marshawn Lynch has to do better than 2.5yds per carry and he’s almost guaranteed to do so as he averaged 4.9yds per carry at home last year. That balance will make this game one of the most competitive early season matchups we’ve seen.
Prediction: No clue. Like, none. At all.