Let's get ready to rock and roll
The season is yet to begin but you can already put the Shenanigans date in your diary
Hard to believe that today is the beginning of my 7th NFL season and it's great to be back. Let's get ready to rock and roll for another five months!
Now, the MLB play-offs (Go Cubbies) are on the horizon, the NHL and NBA are back at it soon - but taking centre stage this week "Are You Ready for Some Football?"
I certainly am but what a bizarre and wacky off-season. It was like the second coming of the Bad News Bears. There were suspensions, arrests, drug charges, lawsuits, court appearances, robberies and beatings.
Former QB Michael Vick filed for bankruptcy while still behind bars, DB Adam Jones has been reinstated and is now a Cowboy, WR Steve Smith of the Panthers punched out a team-mate in training camp and then there was the Brett Favre saga.
All the above took place amidst the more mundane events like the annual college draft, owner's meetings, minor changes by the Rules Committee, the usual difficulty of signing multi-million dollar contracts to unproven rookies, a myriad of injuries during August (real or imagined) and the month long exhibition season that concluded yesterday morning.
Hopefully, all the chaos and politics will have cleared by the time the Washington Redskins emerge out of the tunnel at Giant Stadium on Thursday night (Friday morning Bangkok time) in the now traditional early week opener, featuring the Super Bowl champions from seven months ago. The regular season kicks off for real next weekend.
Speaking of the Big Dance, our early morning party at Shenanigans in Pattaya is again booked for February, 2009. Make your plans now.
(Under 40) at
New York Giants (-3)
The Giants had a pretty decent pre-season and despite the loss of All-Pro DE Osi Umenyiora who required knee surgery should come out fired up for the initial defense of their title.
The Redskins still have an unproven quarterback, a new system and a rookie head coach, all of which requires a certain period of adjustment.
I'll stick with New York (-3) to win in a contest that goes UNDER 40 in total points because most of the starters on both teams played sparingly during the pre-season. Mistakes will be made.
Despite their collapse in an attempt to reach the pinnacle of a 'perfect year' the New England Patriots are again favoured to win the 2009 Super Bowl at the current odds of 5/2.
Surprisingly, the champion Giants are listed at a pricy 12/1, with the Cowboys, Jaguars, Colts and Chargers somewhere in-between. The trick is to find a few sleepers.
I like the Carolina Panthers and Buffalo Bills at 60/1 and for those West Coast enthusiasts, the 49ers are available at 125/1. Got a Hunch - Bet a Bunch!
After a tearful farewell to the game last March, Favre decided he wanted to play again which caused havoc in Green Bay. In my opinion, both sides were wrong.
As a former pro athlete, I never wanted to retire. It only became a necessity when my body gave out at age 36. Favre should have never officially called it quits. The Packers were delinquent for not giving him his immediate outright release. Thus No 4 is now a New York Jet.
History often repeats itself, and several star QBs have gone to another team and not made any sort of impact on a championship run.
Will Brett be the exception and take the Jets all the way? Who knows? Regardless, a straw poll by one of the networks already predicted (70%) that the Packers don't make the play-offs.
It may have come and gone. The Redskins teed it up against Indianapolis in the Hall of Fame game on August 4th. Three key members of the Skins had been inducted into the Hall of Fame the day before, DB Darrell Green, former coach Emmit Thomas and WR Art Monk.
The line was -4 and Washington crushed the Colts without QB Peyton Manning and 12 other starters, 30-16. Money in the bank!
Of the four brand new mentors who will take their charges onto the field for the first time next weekend, the toughest assignment goes to Falcons HC Mike Smith who must build a completely new sub-culture around unproven first year QB Matt Ryan.
Fortunately, HC John Harbaugh of the Baltimore Ravens, who brought a new set of tough rules and regulations to his organisation, has been embraced by the players, especially the veterans.
Jim Zorn already has the Skins on a smoother track but the jury is still out on Tony Sparano of the 1-15 Dolphins from a year ago. No team can be that horrible two years running.
The NFC East looks to be a toss up will three teams fighting for a playoff spot. The Cowboys have the 'Stars', the Giants have the 'Rings' and the Eagles have 'Hope'. In the NFC North, every team has a chance to finish LAST but just maybe the Detroit Lions finish best? I like the Saints in the NFC South and on the coast, beware of the 49ers behind new QB J.T. O'Sullivan and OC Mike Martz.
The AFC South seems tighter than usual as the Colts are somewhat questionable at several key positions and the Steelers should quickly wrap up the North. Watch out for the Browns, Jags, and Texans however, to provide some upset specials. The Patriots might again dominate the AFC East if QB Tom Brady stays healthy but Buffalo and the Jets could rattle some cages. The Chargers will run away with the AFC West title though my good buddy, Ron Hyer sayswatch out for the Raider Nation. Stranger things have happened!
Coach Dick Thornton is a regional marketing specialist currently working on a long term Coca-Cola Bottler project in the Philippines. He can easily be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org