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NFL season is back


First week of regular season always tough to predict

It’s hard to believe the NFL season began on Thursday as the Super Bowl-champion Seattle Seahawks routed the Green Bay Packers 36-16.

Although it’s sad the summer is gone, the great thing is the NFL football season is here.

The NFL is a marketing machine, and it’s very exciting every year as you walk around Summerside there seems to be more and more people following football.

The NFL off-season is as busy as the season itself with free agency, draft, new hirings and the normal brush with the law for a number of players. Perhaps the biggest off-season story was the drafting of quarterback Johnny Manziel, who is also known as “Johnny Football” from his college days at Texas A&M. 

This guy reminds The Freak of Tim Tebow, but with a bad attitude. Just like when Tebow came out of college, he was overrated because the U.S. media built him up to be something he really wasn’t. However, many people were pulling for Tebow to succeed.

But besides the fans in Cleveland, people must see Manziel as an idiot, and The Freak predicts he will be out of football in four years. After Manziel saluted Washington’s bench in the pre-season, you can pretty well bet that some defensive players will take a shot at him at some point.

He definitely put a target on his back by his actions on and off the field.

Big moves

There were some big moves in free agency, especially on the defensive side of the ball, as two of the bigger names on D, Darrelle Revis and Demarcus Ware, changed teams. Revis went to the Pats and Ware joined Denver. 

There’s a good chance these two will be meeting each other in the AFC Championship game.

You wonder when some NFL players will learn that they are not above the law, and they can ruin their careers if they continue down this path of trouble. Two examples of Pro Bowl players getting in trouble were Aldon Smith, who took a gun to the airport, and Josh Gordon, who was the best receiver in football last season on a bad Browns’ team. 

Just think of the money in salaries these guys are throwing out the window, let alone hurting their teams.

Finally, the first openly gay player in the NFL, Michael Sam, was drafted by the St. Louis Rams, which made sports headlines everywhere. He was the Rams’ last cut, but was picked up by the Cowboys on Wednesday.

Sam is a talented pass rusher who will face an uphill battle to play in a regular-season game, but if one professional sports league can make it happen, it will be the NFL.

The sure thing

This is the toughest week to pick winners as everything is based on last season. We know there will be four of five teams who made the playoffs last season will not make it this year, and you can all but guarantee one of those playoffs teams will lose this week. 

The Freak is looking into the crystal ball, and he can see it will be a Green Bay and Baltimore Super Bowl.

Remember there is no sure thing in professional sports, especially in the NFL. If you look at the Week 1 schedule, the Eagles will beat the Jaguars. Philly is always hard on a road team, especially a young, inexperienced team like Jacksonville.

The Eagles’ offensive scheme will be too much for the young Jags to handle, and they don’t have an offence to come from behind. Philly flies off to an opening win.

Really don’t think it matters who plays quarterback for the Browns, Brian Hoyer, Johnny Football or Mr. Magoo, they don’t have any legitimate receivers who will scare any defence. Cleveland has a solid defence, but the Steelers won’t allow many yards and Pittsburgh will score enough to beat another bad Browns’ team.

The Bears-Bills’ game is basically the same as the Browns-Steelers’ matchup. The team with the better quarterback will win this game. 

EJ Manual doesn’t look like the long-term solution for the Bills, and Jay Cutler has a pile of weapons to score plenty of points on this day. Bears win.

Don’t mortgage the house picks

Miami always plays the Patriots tough at home, but somehow New England always seems to make one more play than the Dolphins. Miami spent a lot in the off-season to win these types of games, but until The Freak sees what the Fish are all about in the regular season. You have to take Brady and the Pats.

The Titans are a bit of an unknown commodity with a new starting running back, and the Chiefs look to build on last season. Only reason The Freak likes the Chiefs is they are at home.

Many think the Rams are toast with quarterback Sam Bradford done for the season, but let’s remember he hasn’t played much over the last two years anyway, and St. Louis has been solid. They have perhaps the best D in football, and are much underrated on that side of the ball. Minnesota lacks many offensive weapons except Adrian Pederson, which the St. Louis D will keep in check. Rams slam the Vikes.

Upset special

There’s a big rivalry game in the NFC South to start the season between the Saints and Falcons.

Atlanta went in the tank the day wide receiver Julio Jones got hurt last year, but he’s back and healthy. The Falcons are a different monster with JJ in the lineup as defences need to double-team him, which opens up the Falcons’ offence. 

There will be lots of scoring in this one, but take the home team, Atlanta, in the first upset of the year.

John Turner is a Summerside schoolteacher. His column appears every Saturday during the NFL season. Feel free to e-mail questions and comments to ssidespartansfootball@yahoo.ca.

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