Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Pick'em 2012 Begins!

After a few weeks off, it's back to it for me. Once again, the NFL season is upon us and you know what that means: It's time for Steelers N At Pick'em, where each week Keller and I bring you our take on the upcoming slate of games for your office pools and any other uses to which you might wish to apply our wealth of knowledge and wisdom. While the friendly wager stays the same, there will be a few changes to the format this year.

For one thing, we'd like to welcome Leonard "Forty" Hayhurst. Last year, he seemed to think that he knew better than the two of us and, let's be honest, some weeks a dart-throwing monkey would have. I think that he brings some valuable qualities to our group, namely, the fact that he's from Ohio and went to Pitt, giving him a cultural upbringing in football, and the fact that he has a beard like the rest of us. Also, he's a Patriots fan, so we have something to look down on him for, and when we wear a hoodie, ours have sleeves.

So, welcome, Forty. We look forward to taking your money.

Next, instead of breaking down each and every game, we're going to streamline it into a combination of straight picks, one "lock" game each week, and some brief highlights to watch for. Picks are a straight 1 point for each correct, and our weekly locks are worth 2 points for the pick (Points and spread not included.) End of the season, winner takes all. We hope this works out just as well for everyone. If you want more input on a given game, feel free to leave comments below.

So, on to the picks.

Week 1 is difficult to get crazy on, and the picks bear this out. A lot of teams are big question marks going into the season, and you're never sure what to expect. As you will see, the picks pretty much break down along the lines of those nice, unbiased and objective folks in Nevada. When in doubt, this is generally a "safe" bet, so we will go with it.

What to watch for
Well, out of the gate, I can see that the best I can do is tie one of these other two yahoos. When I got crazy, it was the same kind of crazy as one or the other of them. That's fine, I've got a long season. Also of note is the fact that the Pats fan is the only one who took the Steelers in their opener. Steelers N At applauds his optimism, but I think this will turn out to be folly. Minus our top three draft picks already, we don't get to have Ryan Clark when we play in Denver. Furthermore, we have an untested offensive plan and we're playing a mile in the damn air.

Keller's Lock of the Week: New York Football Giants over Them Cowboys (take them to cover at 3.5 point favorites, but probably take the under). Score: 24-17. The defending Super Bowl champion has won their first game of the season since, like, 1846, or at least since the NFL decided that the season opener would be the defending champ at home in front of a fired up crowd that just saw a trophy ceremony. Also, Tony Romo in a high pressure game. If it’s close in the fourth quarter, he’ll find a way to fumble/intercept the 'Boys out of the game and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Bet your children’s children’s unborn children on this one. And take it to the bank. Or spend it on blow and strippers. Whichever.

Weidman's Lock of the Week: Eagles over the Browns (With points and the under.) Score: 24-14
I know - it's like picking gravity to win over a dropped rock, but a lock's a lock. I think the Eagles are going to win without trouble, but I don't think they're going to blow them out as it's just the Browns, and there's no need to make a statement against them.

Since I'm still in a period of adjustment, I'm going to give an Arena anecdote: Both teams had a high-profile AFL player trying out for them this season, and neither made the cut - and I think both cases say something different about the team. The Eagles had Tiger Jones, a phenomenal player from the Soul, but the fact is, he excelled in a weak division with a superstar QB, and the Eagles already have a winning system with depth at WR. Passing on him was a smart call, because they don't need him. On the other hand, the Brownies are perpetual jokes who need to change things up and try something new. Rod Windsor had 156 catches for 1,830 yards and 36 touchdowns last season, along with First Team All-Arena offense and a shiny new ring in a tough division. Passing on him is just the first dumb choice on the road to the Browns not accomplishing anything this season.

Forty's Lock of the Week, Chicago over Indianapolis (with the points, Chicago favored by 9.5) Score: 32-13
No luck for Andrew Luck in his regular season debut as he goes against one of the consistently best defenses in the NFL. Samson Satele replaces future hall of famer Jeff Saturday at center along with Mike McGlynn and Winston Justice being new to the offensive line. Brian Urlacher, even with a bad knee, and Lance Briggs should be able to walk through that line like an open door whenever they feel like. Luck should be able to throw a couple nice passes to his talented receivers, but he's too green to operate as fast as he needs to against the Bears D with the running game not being strong enough to take some pressure off him.

The Bears offense also showed signs of being solid last year before injuries to Matt Forte and Jay Cutler. Add in Brandon Marshall and you have what could be one of the most underrated offenses this year in the NFL. Look for them to establish that early here.

Meet the "Experts":

Brad "QBERT" Keller is the inventor and sole proprietor of the QBERT (Quantitative BERT jones is awesome) system for rating quarterbacks. Using this innovative approach and working tirelessly part time breaking down film and finding angles inside the angles, he has mastered the art of picking and handicapping NFL games. With an expanded playing field this season, he's anxious to defend his title against a formidable group of experts that... hey, you know what? He can beat these two jokers, right? No problem. Because he has a foolproof system.

"Arena" Weidman's prime qualification for this contest is that he's spent more than a decade watching Steelers games with Keller while drinking. Because of this, most of his picks might seem like they were done while drunk, but that's just a facet of how he gets into "recall mode." A devoted follower of the Arena Football League, Weidman's NFL world view is colored through this lens. Because of this, he possesses strong opinions on why more people should go to Power games and how the the Cardinals should really be using the Rattlers as a farm team. Mainly, he just has trouble with the field being way too big.

Leonard "Forty" Hayhurst earned his nickname for his ability to grow the facial hair of a 40-year-old man at the age of 16, not his ability to pound 40s of King Cobra, but there's that too. He owns the largest collection of Drew Bledsoe memorabilia in the world (five items would be the largest, right?). He feels for Cleveland Browns fans because when he started rooting for a 2-14 club in the New England Patriots, they eventually won three Super Bowls. Then Steelers fans brag about how they have six Super Bowl wins, to which Leonard says they would have had eight if the Patriots hadn't beaten them twice in the AFC Championship game. They then mumble something about Franco Harris and walk away.


  1. Looks good guys! Good luck to you in your picks this season, but as far as on the field I hope you lose every game. Nothing personal. Welcome aboard Leonard! It was tough seeing what the Steeler faithful were writing and now a Pat fan? Sorry I'm still holding on to the bitterness that Cundiff and Lee Evans has caused all of us here in Bmore to carry.

  2. How does that cliche go? - you can pick your friends, you can pick your nose, but you can't keep your friends from rooting for Pretty-Boy Brady.