Beat The Man - Week One

"Turn the key and slowly unlock the door...As a man breathes into a saxophone...And through the walls you hear the city groan." Outside is America, and the NFL's opening week. This ain't no Velvet Elvis, kiddies...no dogs playing poker. This is when Scott Jones wrestles the Man, and the Man is overcome...

And they’re off…

Last year's record:
41-41-1 (the definition of mediocrity)
This Year’s record:
0-0 (Ah yes, I love opportunity)

Did you secure that offshore account? Call up Sal the bookie to check on this week’s wagers? Sniff the fresh press of the printout for the Office Pool? Accidentally not buy your wife that thing you promised her… until next week, when you’ll have bankrolled enough for a years worth of ‘get out of jail free’ cards? Purchase that ticket to Vegas to pay your respects to Hunter S. Thompson and the right to go ‘Gonzo’ in the land of Fear and Loathing? As Bono once sang, “He’s peeeeeelin’ off those dollar bills, slappin’ em down… One hundred! Two hundred!”

Are you ready for some… wagers?!!

Early lines for the week had me excited about a few more games than I am today. However, we still have two of which I’m virtually certain (ignore that, there’s no such thing) and a couple more that are certainly worth a wager.

CIN –4 @ CLE
Last week, in my ‘Fearless Forecast’, I urged everyone to relax a bit about the Bengals. We’re all a little too excited, as their Defense still has enormous concerns. However, I also detailed that the Brown-outs belong in the ‘Suck’ pile. Which only included 3 teams. Hence, we’re giving 4pts to a team that no one wants to follow into the public restroom – cuz they stink. Exccccellent!

While Cincinnati has a porous Defense – Cleveland can’t score. Trent Dilfer might reconsider a place on the bench, cuz I seriously question their ability to get the ball downfield (and that’s not really a knock on Trent). All that Cleveland has is a Running game. Lee Suggs, their most dynamic Back, is out for this game, which means we’ll find out if Reuben Droughns can beat the curse of Denver departures that no longer run behind a Denver line. But that won’t last long, because what the Bengals DO have – is a very potent Offense. And you can’t run the ball for long when you’re immediately down by double digits.

Did I say immediately? Yup, I sure did. The Browns have a horrendous Defense. If Romeo ‘where are’t thou’ is able to produce a competitive Defense with the players he’s got to work with there? Then he might be more masterful than Bill Belichick himself. I expect the Bengals to whup up on that Defense like a starved tiger with unusually glowing orange skin. And if they don’t? Then we’re all going to wonder about QB “Johnny” Carson Palmer for the rest of the year.

Lay 4 on Cincy and start the season off smart with your largest bet.


DET –3 vs GB
Here’s another situation where we have a team I’d like to be a bit more hesitant to wager with than general public perception – facing a team I put in the ‘Suck’ pile. Lots of people are in love with Detroit this year. They’re the most public secret in the NFL. And that makes me nervous. However, we’re getting a situation here where the odds-maker had to credit public perception of the Packers as well, and therefore gave me a line I can appreciate (aka – advantage).

Again, we have a very potent Offense facing a Defense that can’t catch suds off a beer mug. Let’s stick with that analogy and do it one more – Detroit’s dynamic Offense should be able to blow through the Packer D like you knock the head off a fresh serving (mmmmm… Football and Beer… yummmmm). The absence of a capable pass rush ought to allow Joey Harrington plenty off time to ease concerns about his make-or-break year. He’ll buy himself a week and pick apart perhaps the worst Secondary in Football. And once they’ve built a sizable lead they’ll keep Brett Favre on the sidelines (who we all know has trouble in domes), gashing some Kevin ‘too slow to play in the NFL’ Jones at them the rest of the day. I think you’ll witness an apology from Detroit for their Monday Night pre-season game.

It’s a good thing they BREW beer in Wisconsin, they’re gonna need ‘hair of the dog’ after the Lions are done giving ‘em a hangover. (Mmmmm… hangover… Doh!)


MIN –6 vs. TB
Ah yes, now we get to jump on board the train of legitimacy. I expect to ride the Vikings all year long. Cuz the Super Bowl Champion almost always covers their games throughout the year. And the Vikings are this year’s champeeeeeen. Yup.

This week we’ve got them giving 6 (bouncing the line up a point from earlier in the week. Always get in early if you’re confident) to a bit of a mystery in Tampa Bay. I very much like the selection of ‘Cadillac’ Williams in Tampa. However, he’s running behind a VERY shaky Offensive Line. The Bucs also have a nice mix at Receiver with Galloway, Clayton, and Ike Hilliard – matched with a now steady Brian Griese (haven’t been any tripping reports as of late). But they are ALSO behind a very shaky OL… The Vikings D-Line is going to rip them apart. There should be some growing pains with our Defense but this is the right team to face under those circumstances. Offensively, the Vikings are going to explode against a now average Bucs D. I am quite sure Dante Frankenstein and the rest of his T-E-A-M-mates are chomping at the bit to be rid of Randy Moss and prove themselves quite capable without him (and throwing Koren in there doesn’t hurt, folks. The punk may have just backed himself right into a Super Bowl. If only it happened that way for the rest of us, eh?).

Minnesota covers at home and starts off with respect.


CHI +5.5 @ DC
Now THIS pick might raise some eyebrows. I said in the Forecast that I like the Bears to squeak a few out or stay close, in games where the oppositions Passing game would not put the Bears out of their option to run the ball well and play solid Defense. This is precisely such a game. It is EXACTLY that type of game.

The Skins exampled a very uncomfortable Offense last year. QB Patrick Ramsey has done nothing to shake that stigma this pre-season (though Mark Brunell showed he might actually have a little left). Chicago, meanwhile, has a very capable Defensive Line that can ensure Ramsey doesn’t get comfortable back there, and an under-rated Secondary that will look to take advantage of any number of mistakes he’s been prone to make. Folks, the Chicago Bears held teams to very respectable scores last season with an Offense that hardly ever maintained the football. They did in fact improve that Offense this Off-season (though I won’t claim substantially). Yes, our side is starting a rookie in Kyle Orton. No, I’m am not stamping Rudyburger II on his chest. But – he can handle a game where he doesn’t have to be the focal point. He IS the type of player that will avoid dangerous decisions unless they’re absolutely necessary. I have more confidence in HIM, than I do the guy on the other team.

I’d like to be getting a TD here, as you still have to respect the DC Defense. But I expect this one to stay close, and I like the Bears’ chance to close it out rather than the Home team. Besides, ya gotta love a guy named Lovie…

I want to take the Bills. They started off at –4 vs Houston. But now it’s 5 and a half. I really like the Bills, but I’m not secure with Lossman giving that many to a Houston team that is very hard to determine week to week. Therefore, I’m going to beg off that game while keeping a sharp eye on the results.

So while it appeared I might have as many as 7 games for you this week, the professionals put their money in and corrected the odds-makers, thereby shrinking my opportunities (even Chicago lost a point). Just 4 picks for you in Opening Week, brothers and sisters (uh, do we have any sisters in the house? Cuz I do it all for the nookie!)


This week’s picks:
CIN –4
DET –3
MIN –6
CHI +5.5

Beat The Man… because the Seahawks need you to set an example.

G. Scott Jones is a freelance writer who contributes regularly to Seahawks.NET. Reaction of any sort is always encouraged at schleprockhawk@sbcglobal.net .


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