Monday, July 30, 2012

initial look at 2012 nfl season


Do you realize 11 days from right now, I'll be tossing washers in the parking lot at Arrowhead, preparing to head in for the biggest rip-off in American professional sports -- preseason football? 

Training camp got underway last week for the Chiefs, and with the first preseason game a week away, and the opening of the regular season barely five weeks off, here then is my initial look at each week's slate of games.

(Note: I got the tracking email for my season ticket cards from the Chiefs today.  (zac brown band voice) life is good today!  Life is good today!!!!)

Week One:
* Chiefs: vs Falcons, noon (FOX).  Tony Gonzalez' final appearance at Arrowhead Stadium.  Here's to believing he'll leave the loser he was when he whined his way out of town four years ago.
* Jets: vs Bills, noon (CBS).  An extremely intriguing divisional opener that could (should?) have huge wildcard ramifications.

* Best Game On The Board: Steelers at broncos, 7:30pm (NBC).  The Sunday night opener, peyton's denver debut, the Steelers looking to avenge last year's humiliating playoff defeat.  I will definitely be tuned in to this one.

* Honorable Mention Best Game On The Board: 49ers at Packers, 3:25pm (FOX).  A potential NFC Title Game preview?

* Worst Game On The Board: Jaguars at Vikings, noon (FOX).  These two squads figure to make multiple appearances in the "Worst Game On The Board" category.

* Most Underrated Matchup: Patriots at Titans, noon (CBS).  New England figures to win the AFC East going away ... but while I haven't run the schedules yet, if you put a gun to my head, and made me predict who's reaching the postseason this year, I'd probably pick Tennessee to win the AFC South.

Week Two:
* Chiefs: at Bills, noon (CBS).  I have a sneaking suspicion that Eric Berry has this date circled on his calendar.
* Jets: at Steelers, 3:25pm (CBS).  These two usually stage a solid contest when they're matched against each other.

* Best Game On The Board: Ravens at Eagles, noon (CBS).  A potential Super Bowl preview?

* Honorable Mention Best Game On The Board: Lions at 49ers, 7:30pm (NBC).  A huge early season opportunity for the Lions to take the next step forward.

* Worst Game On The Board: Cardinals at Patriots, noon (FOX).  The all time record for margin of victory in a NFL game is 74.  That mark may be in jeopardy come 3:45 ET in week two.

* Most Underrated Matchup: Saints at Panthers, noon (FOX).  A huge early opportunity for the Panthers.

Week Three:
* Chiefs: at Saints, noon (CBS).  The Chiefs can absolutely win this game.  I'm glad we caught the Saints early.
* Jets: at Dolphins, noon (CBS).  The Jets better win this one, given what awaits in the next few contests.

* Best Game On The Board: Patriots at Ravens, 7:30pm (NBC).  A potential AFC Title Game preview?  Definitely a rematch of last year's epic Title Game.

* Honorable Mention Best Game On The Board: Giants at Panthers, 7:30pm Thursday (NFLN).  If the Panthers sweep this homestand, look out.

* Worst Game On The Board: Jaguars at Colts, noon (CBS).  Smells like a Criqui / Buerelein contest.

* Most Underrated Matchup: Packers at Seahawks, 7:30pm Monday (ESPN).  A golden opportunity for the Seahawks to make an early statement.

Week Four:
* Chiefs: vs Chargers, noon (CBS).  The Chiefs first divisional game, and it would behoove them to beat the Chargers for the third straight season at Arrowhead.
* Jets: vs 49ers, noon (FOX).  Should be a solid cross-conference matchup.

* Best Game On The Board: Saints at Packers, 3:25pm (FOX).  A potential NFC Title Game preview?

* Honorable Mention Best Game On The Board: Patriots at Bills, noon (CBS).  If the Bills are playing past December 30th, they need to win this game.

* Worst Game On The Board: Dolphins at Cardinals, 3:05pm (CBS).  Definitely a Criqui / Buerelein contest.

* Most Underrated Matchup: Titans at Texans, noon (CBS).  Winner becomes the early favorite to win football's worst division.

Week Five:
* Chiefs: vs Ravens, noon (CBS).  Potential divisional round preview?  Definitely a rematch of the awful wildcard game from 2010.
* Jets: vs Texans, 7:30pm Monday (ESPN).  Rock solid prime time showdown.

* Best Game On The Board: Eagles at Steelers, noon (FOX).  This might not be the last time these two squads meet in the 2012 season.

* Honorable Mention Best Game On The Board: broncos at Patriots, 3:25pm (CBS).  As a football fan, I'm very hopeful peyton manning returns to his former level of excellence.  As a Chiefs fan?  I hope he's worse than Tyler Palko.

* Worst Game On The Board: Cardinals at Rams, 7:30pm Thursday (NFLN).  I doubt Time Warner is going to be getting many "carry NFL Network already!" phone calls during this week.

* Most Underrated Matchup: Seahawks at Panthers, 3:05pm (FOX).  This could have huge wildcard ramifications.

Week Six:
* Chiefs: at Bucs, noon (CBS).  "I'll have my toes in the water, my ass in the sand, not a worry in the world, a cold drink in my hand.  Life is good today.  Life is good today!"  Look out central Florida, pasty white guy from Missouri is on his way!
* Jets: vs Colts, noon (CBS).  The Jets open with 4 of their first 6 at home.  They'd better win at least three of them.

* Best Game On The Board: Giants at 49ers, 3:25pm (FOX).  A rematch of last year's epic Title Game clash.

* Honorable Mention Best Game On The Board: Lions at Eagles, noon (FOX).  Do you realize that 17 short years ago, this was a wildcard matchup between Wayne Fontes' Lions and Ray Rhodes' Eagles?  I'm guessing if these two meet up again this January, Jim Schwartz and "Fat" Andy Reid will put on a better display of coaching than Wayne and Ray.

* Worst Game On The Board: Rams at Dolphins, noon (FOX).  Our first chance to see if FOX has finally figured out how to spell Jayice Pearson?

* Most Underrated Matchup: broncos at Chargers, 7:30pm Monday (ESPN).  peyton manning's House of Horrors.  Also, the third prime time appearance (and fourth national TV game) by denver already, and we're only six weeks in.  Gee, the networks aren't invested whatsoever in seeing peyton manning succeed ...

Week Seven:
* Chiefs: bye.  Cue the "only "Sur" William Callahan could lose to bye" jokes.
* Jets: at Patriots, 3:25pm (CBS).  If the Jets have any chance to win the AFC East, they have to win this game.  (They don't, and won't.)

* Best Game On The Board: Ravens at Texans, noon (CBS).  A rematch of last year's epic Divisional Round game.

* Honorable Mention Best Game On The Board: Lions at Bears, 7:30pm Monday (ESPN).  Winner gets a leg up in the divisional and wildcard race, and both teams are capable of reaching the playoffs by either route.

* Worst Game On The Board: Browns at Colts, noon (CBS).  My God.  I mean ... my God.  This is eight layers of horrible piled on top of nine layers of terrible.

* Most Underrated Matchup: Titans at Bills, noon (CBS).  Could have significant wildcard ramifications come late December.

Week Eight:
* Chiefs: vs raiders, 3:05pm (CBS).  Hot damn, a 3pm home game!  Hooray sleeping in!
* Jets: vs Dolphins, noon (CBS).  If they're planning to play in January, the Jets need to win this one in October.

* Best Game On The Board: Saints at broncos, 7:30pm (NBC).  For those keeping track at home, that's four prime time (and five stand alone) games for peyton's ponies, and this is their seventh game!  But clearly, there's no interest in peyton manning's return (rimshot!)

* Honorable Mention Best Game On The Board: Panthers at Bears, noon (FOX).  Really intriguing contest.

* Worst Game On The Board: Bucs at Vikings, 7:30pm Thursday (NFLN).  I do not want my NFLN, for this week at least.

* Most Underrated Matchup: Jaguars at Packers, noon (CBS).  Again, as a public service -- the NFL record for margin of victory is 74 points. 

Week Nine:
* Chiefs: at Chargers, 7:30pm Thursday (NFLN).  A gigantic statement game, for both squads.
* Jets: bye.  Since they employ "Sur" William Callahan, a loss is entirely possible here (rimshot!)

* Best Game On The Board: Steelers at Giants, 3:25pm (CBS).  A tremendous matchup that I cannot wait to watch unfold.

* Honorable Mention Best Game On The Board: Eagles at Saints, 7:30pm Monday (ESPN).  A potential NFC Title Game preview?

* Worst Game On The Board: Dolphins at Colts, noon (CBS).  In three years, this could be a great matchup.  In 2012?  Not so much.

* Most Underrated Matchup: Panthers at Redskins, noon (FOX).  In three years, this should be a great matchup.  In 2012?  It is a great matchup.  Newton!  RGIII!  Games like this?  Are why you buy season tickets.  Or at least the Sunday Ticket.

Week Ten:
* Chiefs: at Steelers, 7:30pm Monday (ESPN).  Gee, think anyone who'll be in red and white during this game have any intent or desire to stick it to the Steelers new offensive coordinator?
* Jets: at Seahawks, 3:05pm (CBS).  A fun matchup that the Jets need to have.

* Best Game On The Board: Cowboys at Eagles, 3:25pm (FOX).  Prepare for lots of Joe Buck verbally fellating the quarterbacks, and Troy Aikman responding "that's right Joe".  No announcing crew in any sport drives me more bat sh*t crazy than Joe Buck and Troy Aikman.  Well, except for Don Criqui and Steve Buerelein "King".

* Honorable Mention Best Game On The Board: broncos at Panthers, noon (CBS).  manning!  Newton!  Sign me up!!!

* Worst Game On The Board: Colts at Jaguars, 7:30pm Thursday (NFLN).  Dear Lord, did NFL Network get some clunkers.

* Most Underrated Matchup: Texans at Bears, 7:30pm (NBC).  A fun cross-conference matchup between two Super Bowl dark horses.

Week Eleven:
* Chiefs: vs Bengals, noon (CBS).  Could have gigantic wildcard and seeding ramifications.
* Jets: at Rams, noon (CBS).  If the Jets don't win this one by three touchdowns, I'll be stunned.  The Rams are atrocious.

* Best Game On The Board: Ravens at Steelers, 7:30pm (NBC).  I could watch these two play all day, every day, and twice on actual GameDay.

* Honorable Mention Best Game On The Board: Bears at 49ers, 7:30pm Monday (ESPN).  Two tremendous prime-time games this week.  (Plus the typical clunker on NFLN, Dolphins at Bills.)

* Worst Game On The Board: Colts at Patriots, noon (CBS).  One more time -- NFL record for margin of victory is 74.

* Most Underrated Matchup: Saints at raiders, 3:05pm (FOX).  Could be a tricky one for the Saints, who'll just be getting a lot of their suspended guys back.

Week Twelve:
* Chiefs: vs broncos, noon (CBS).  The English language has not yet created a word that defines just how much I despise the denver broncos.
* Jets: vs Patriots, 7:30pm Thursday (NBC).  Figures, the one decent Thursday night game on the schedule, and NBC gets it.

* Best Game On The Board: broncos at Chiefs.  Nothing else matters.

* Honorable Mention Best Game On The Board: Packers at Giants, 7:30pm (NBC).  Should have huge seeding ramifications.

* Worst Game On The Board: Rams at Cardinals, 3:25pm (FOX).  The second of their two craptacular matchups.

* Most Underrated Matchup: 49ers at Saints, 3:25pm (FOX).  A rematch of one of the greatest Divisional Round games in NFL history.

Week Thirteen:
* Chiefs: vs Panthers, noon (FOX).  I have to be honest -- other than denver, there is no game on the schedule I am more geeked to see than this.  This might be Cam Newton's only career appearance at Arrowhead.  (It will be eight years before he's scheduled to return).  Do yourself a favor and buy a ticket to see this one.  And in case you think I'm joking about the "potentially his only career appearance at Arrowhead" line?  Mike Vick has been here once, although he is scheduled to return next year if he's still with the Eagles.  Aaron Rodgers has been here once, and is not scheduled to return for seven more seasons.  Eli Manning won't be here for another five seasons.  Don't assume you'll get another chance to watch greatness at work.
* Jets: vs Cardinals, noon (FOX).  Ugh.  If this isn't a 38-3 snoozer, it's time to clean house.

* Best Game On The Board: Saints at Falcons, 7:30pm Thursday (NFLN).  Hey, finally!  A decent Thursday nighter!  (kazoo voice) !!!!!!!!!!!!!

* Honorable Mention Best Game On The Board: Steelers at Ravens, 3:25pm (CBS).  Again, I could watch these two play all day, every day, and twice on GameDay itself.  I love defensive slugfests. 

* Worst Game On The Board: Bucs at broncos, 3:05pm (FOX).  OK, for a fourth time -- the NFL record for margin of victory is 74.  I think denver has a fighting chance to smash it here.

* Most Underrated Matchup: Panthers at Chiefs.  I cannot wait to watch Cam Newton in person.

Week Fourteen:
* Chiefs: at Browns, noon (CBS).  The Chiefs absolutely have to have this one to keep pace with denver.
* Jets: at Jaguars, noon (CBS).  The Jets absolutely have to have this one to keep pace with New England.

* Best Game On The Board: Saints at Giants, 3:25pm (FOX).  Should have huge seeding and/or wildcard ramifications.

* Honorable Mention Best Game On The Board: Texans at Patriots, 7:30pm Monday (ESPN).  Could be big for seeding purposes.

* Worst Game On The Board: Rams at Bills, noon (FOX).  Honestly, there aren't any outright stinkers this week.

* Most Underrated Matchup: Cowboys at Bengals, noon (FOX).  Both teams figure to be in the thick of the wildcard chase.

Week Fifteen:
* Chiefs: at raiders, 3:25pm (CBS).  The weirdest stat in this rivalry, at least to me?  The raiders have won 5 straight at Arrowhead, the Chiefs have won 9 of 10 in oakland, with the only defeat being in overtime on a "hands of God" catch by jacoby ford in overtime two years ago. 
* Jets: at Titans, 7:30pm Monday (ESPN).  Huge, huge, huge wildcard ramifications, at a bare minimum.

* Best Game On The Board: Packers at Bears, noon (FOX).  There are a TON of great matchups this week, including

* Honorable Mention Best Game On The Board: 49ers at Patriots, 7:30pm (NBC).  A potential Super Bowl preview?  A great Sunday nighter, that's for sure.

* Worst Game On The Board: Jaguars at Dolphins, noon (CBS).  I have a feeling the Jaguars are going to be seeing a lot of Don Criqui this fall.

* Most Underrated Matchup: broncos at Ravens, noon (CBS).  The donkeys last road game of the regular season, and it might be the most important one on the schedule.  Huge playoff seeding and wildcard ramifications on the line here.

Week Sixteen:
* Chiefs: vs Colts, noon (CBS).  Andrew Luck's Arrowhead debut!  Because rookie QBs always play so well here!  (Not.)
* Jets: vs Chargers, 7:30pm (NBC).  I think the Chargers are going to stink, and I fully expect NBC to swap this out for

* Best Game On The Board: Giants at Ravens, noon (FOX).  Definitely a potential Super Bowl preview, and we have seen these two play in a Super Bowl before.  (Oh yeah.)

* Honorable Mention Best Game On The Board: Saints at Cowboys, noon (FOX).  On second thought, this one might be who NBC steals for the Sunday night slot.

* Worst Game On The Board: Browns at broncos, 3:05pm (CBS).  peyton gets an easy tune-up to prepare for what could be the biggest Chiefs / broncos matchup since (pick one) either my 21st birthday (1997 playoffs), or Russ' 61st birthday (Thanksgiving 2006).

* Most Underrated Matchup: Bengals at Steelers, noon (CBS).  Another flex candidate, but their first matchup is already slated to air on NBC in early October, so I doubt this one will get picked.  Still, should have huge divisional and wildcard ramifications.

Week Seventeen:
* Chiefs: at broncos, 3:25pm (CBS).  There's three obvious picks, at least of today, for the prime time slot to close the regular season ... and this one is your leader after 36 holes.
* Jets: at Bills, noon (CBS).  Wonderful, closing at the Ralph (aka "the Jets House of Horrors").  This is the second obvious choice to close the regular season, as this could be a "winner's in, loser's out" scenario for the last wildcard slot.

* Best Game On The Board: Chiefs at broncos.  Wouldn't shock me if this is for the division, if this is a "winner's in, loser's out" battle for the last spot in the AFC field ... or if this is a glorified scrimmage between the 3 and 5 seeds.  If I had to wager right now ... I'd bet on scrimmage.  But man, the possibilities for this game are pretty staggering to contemplate.

* Honorable Mention Best Game On The Board: Eagles at Giants, noon (FOX).  The third obvious choice to get flexed.  Could have huge NFC postseason ramifications.

* Worst Game On The Board: Dolphins at Patriots, noon (CBS).  Just about the only game on the schedule there's no way imaginable to land in the pimp slot.

* Most Underrated Matchup: Bears at Lions, noon (FOX).  Could be a huge game with massive wildcard ramifications ... or it could be two also-rans who failed to meet preseason expectations.

37 days to go until the games count!!!  And only 11 days until the following is likely to occur:

(stevo) (loses at washers 15-2)
(stevo) (sits in a chair)
(stevo) (no shoes, no shirt, no problems)
(stevo) (enjoying Gatorade and vodka)
(stevo) (gigantic smile on his face) …

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