Rocky's Football Corner Returns

(Long-time readers will note the regular football column returns with the National Football League season, however, this season both the predictions and column will be merged, and the column will appear on an irregular basis.)

by Rick Rockwell

Labor Day recedes in the rear view mirror, so that must mean pro football is dead ahead.

In case you aren’t paying attention though, the season kicks off tomorrow (Sept. 6) with the New Orleans Saints visiting the World Champion Indianapolis Colts. That's a playoff caliber matchup straight out of the gate and in an alternate universe could have been the pairing in the last Super Bowl.

This time of year is rife with expectation and prediction. So why buck tradition? If one of the top sportswriters in the country, Norman Chad, can pick a team of destiny, then why not follow suit?

Well, here’s a reason: it’s funny when Chad picks the Arizona Cardinals four years in a row. Does he really expect them to get to the Super Bowl? Oh, sure, he has reasons, but he’s really just picking for laughs and playing the odds. One of these years, the Cardinals are bound to break out. Just not this year.

But this column is just not that funny and also not that great at picking the big winners.

Remember, the 2006 Miami Dolphins? No? Well, they were the so-called Hero Team here and they imploded. They were so bad, their coach left town. Unlike Chad, no repeats here. The Dolphins will be rebuilding all year.

The team that’s going to be in the playoffs this year that was out of the hunt last year is the Carolina Panthers. Yes, this is the team officially jinxed/selected as the 2007 Hero Team of this column.

There are numerous reasons. First, let’s start with defense. Even during a mediocre season in 2006, the Panthers had one of the league’s top defenses, especially against the pass. The front seven are great pass rushers and blitzers.

On offense, quarterback Jack Delhomme is tough to rattle and he knows how to lead a comeback. But the biggest weapon is wide receiver Steve Smith, a real game changer and possibly the best receiver in the league. Smith could lead this team back into the playoffs, at the very least as a wildcard contender.

The Panthers should give the Saints trouble in the National Football Conference (NFC) South this year, unlike last year when the Panthers were hit by too many injuries.

Of course, the knock on all this is the Panthers are a favorite of Sports Illustrated too. Be wary when your predictions are too much like what's coming out of that magazine. Last year, this column and Sports Illustrated were equally bad at predicting the outcomes of the season. Maybe our luck has changed. Or instead, buckle your chinstrap because it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Week 1 Office Pool Predictions

Game of the Week: Ravens at Bengals (Bengals)
Upset Special: Titans at Jaguars (Titans)
Giants at Cowboys (Cowboys)
Buccaneers at Seahawks (Seahawks)
Chiefs at Texans (Texans)
Lions at Raiders (Raiders)
Eagles at Packers (Eagles)
Saints at Colts (Colts)
Broncos at Buffalo (Broncos)
Dolphins at Washington (Washington)
Falcons at Vikings (Falcons)
Patriots at Jets (Patriots)
Steelers at Browns (Steelers)
Cardinals at 49ers (49ers)
Bears at Chargers (Chargers)
Panthers at Rams (Panthers)

Last Season: .588

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Daniel said...

I really can't argue with any of these. Your picks certainly make more sense than mine. And we'll learn so much in the first few weeks. Personally, I'm just hoping to be at .500 after Week 3.

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