Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Sports Fans NFL Preview, In Big Bright Lights

You can only hope your life turns out the way you picture it. You never know for sure what you are going to do or where you are going to be until you are there, but I believe I received a sign a couple of weeks ago. I think at some point in everyone’s life, a big metaphorical neon sign with big bold blinking letters flashes in front of you that lets you know what your purpose is. My neon sign flashed in front of me when I was sitting in Academic Building 5 room 112 when I was killing time between my Statistics and Journalism classes.

With nothing to do for an hour and a half, I found myself in an empty lecture hall with a math notebook and a pencil. I figured, “What the heck, I have some time to kill, I might as well do some math.” So I took out my calculator, and punched in 16 times 32. 512. Perfect. Divided by 2… 256, which is how many total wins and losses there are in a NFL season. I had a number I needed to get to, now I just had to write down every NFL team and predict their record for the upcoming season and make adjustments in order to get to 256 so everything realistically worked out. I proceeded to go to work. 15 minutes later, every team had a record, I felt relatively satisfied with my picks and this is where my paper started to brighten up. I added up every win, and somehow the number came out to exactly 256. 256 wins, 256 losses. Right on the money. I predicted the right amount of wins and losses in an NFL season in just 15 minutes. In big bright lights I saw “Sonny, dude! You just did something miraculous!”

I mulled over this metaphorical neon sign for a while. I didn’t know exactly what to make of it. I wasn’t sure if my mind was playing tricks on me. After all, I had just come out of a Statistics class, so seeing NFL teams and their predicted records written down on paper looked very attractive. It could’ve been luck. In roughly 5 years of doing this I had never come close to getting 256 exactly on the first try, so maybe I was just shocked that I didn’t have 300 wins after my first attempt. Or maybe writing and analyzing sports is what I’m supposed to do with my life. I certainly hope so, because I know I’m really good at picking the right amount of wins and losses in an NFL season... Unfortunately my statistics skills aren’t so sharp.

Over the last two weeks I decided that it would be more important to work on an NFL Preview and do two podcasts rather than fine-tuning my skills in my Statistical Methods course or really any other course for that matter. Statistics isn’t for me. I’m admittedly a nerd, but not a math nerd… I’m a sports nerd. That’s why I start doing my fantasy football preparation in June. That’s why I get the NBA League Pass every year. That’s why talking to Gus Johnson in 2010 at the NCAA Tournament ranks as one of the top 5 moments of my life. That’s why every year for the aforementioned tournament I create a bracket that takes up a quarter of the wall space in my bedroom. That’s why I am writing this NFL preview. I’m a sports nerd, and I always will be. Hopefully I can get paid for that someday. I hope the neon sign was telling me I will. Until then, I’ll just keep writing because I enjoy it and because it can only look good on a resume.

After 132 long and fearful days of negotiations that seemingly went nowhere, followed by a frantic free agency period that played out like a bunch of kids scurrying around to get the best candies that fell out of a piƱata, it’s finally football season. I think everyone should breathe a collective sigh of relief because of how terribly fudged up life would be without NFL. Weekends would absolutely not feel… weekendy. Yes, that is a made up word. I don’t know what everybody else does, but my weekends completely and utterly revolve around football. I’m talking roughly 28 hours of watching pre-game/games/post-game on Saturdays and Sundays. That’s basically every hour I’m awake. And that isn’t even counting Thursday night games, Friday night games and Monday night pre-game/the game itself. Plus factor in the time I spend writing about it, adjusting my fantasy rosters and doing a weekly podcast with Paul Clark. Over 40 hours a week are devoted solely to football season. So in other words, without the NFL that time is most likely devoted to growing a huge unclean beard, napping and watching simulated Madden games to cope with the pain of not being able to watch NFL. Thank God there is football.

I’m going away from the conventional NFL preview where I break down teams; do fantasy football rankings; give in-depth predictions, etc. So many “experts” cover that sort of stuff, so anything I say can’t be taken seriously because really who the hell is Sonny Giuliano and what does he know about the NFL? Plus, me and Paul Clark did a podcast previewing the NFL season which you can find at the bottom of the page. Also, you’ll see my regular season and playoff predictions at the bottom of the page just because like I said, everybody gives predictions, so what the hell kind of writer wouldn’t give predictions? What I’m going to give you is something that I doubt any other “expert” will. In no way, shape or form do I consider myself an expert of NFL, College Football, NBA, WWE or anything for that matter. I am fan who probably cares and watches a little (or way) too much. Only a fan that cares way too much would do what I did for this preview (And it’s not the first time I’ve done this) and think that it is important that people read it. In my spare time, or time I should’ve spent doing school work depending on how you want to look at it, I went through weekly schedules for college football and NFL and picked out the best seven college games and five best NFL games each weekend the two are both playing their regular seasons. A little nuts? Yes. Helpful when you want to figure out when to take a weekend vacation where you won’t be by a television for 48 straight hours? Absolutely. Now you know which weekends you can afford to miss. For this guy, every weekend revolves around football, and the months leading up to football season revolve around football. I invite you to be just as crazy as I am and picture yourself relaxing on a comfortable couch in your living room or having some chicken wings and beer at a bar watching all of these glorious games.

September 8th-12th
College: Missouri at Arizona State (Friday), Oregon State at Wisconsin, Mississippi State at Auburn, Alabama at Penn State, South Carolina at Georgia, Utah at USC, Notre Dame at Michigan
NFL: New Orleans at Green Bay (Thursday), Atlanta at Chicago, Detroit at Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh at Baltimore, Dallas at New York Jets

September 15th-19th
College: LSU at Mississippi State (Thursday), West Virginia at Maryland, Michigan State at Notre Dame, Tennessee at Florida, Oklahoma at Florida State, Ohio State at Miami, Stanford at Arizona
NFL: Chicago at New Orleans, Cleveland at Indianapolis, San Diego at New England, Philadelphia at Atlanta, St. Louis at New York Giants (Monday)

September 22nd-26th
College: Notre Dame at Pittsburgh, Missouri at Oklahoma, LSU at West Virginia, Oregon at Arizona, Arkansas at Alabama, Florida State at Clemson, Oklahoma State at Texas A&M
NFL: New York Giants at Philadelphia, Houston at New Orleans, Atlanta at Tampa Bay, Green Bay at Chicago, Pittsburgh at Indianapolis

September 29th- October 3rd
College: South Florida at Pittsburgh (Thursday), Alabama at Florida, Nebraska at Wisconsin, Arkansas at Texas A+M, Auburn at South Carolina, Michigan State at Ohio State, Mississippi State at Georgia
NFL: Detroit at Dallas, Pittsburgh at Houston, New York Jets at Baltimore, Minnesota at Kansas City, Indianapolis at Tampa Bay (Monday)

October 6th-10th
College: Boise State at Fresno State (Friday), Oklahoma at Texas, Michigan at Northwestern, Ohio State at Nebraska, Auburn at Arkansas, Florida at LSU, Arizona State at Utah
NFL: Tennessee at Pittsburgh, New York Jets at New England, San Diego at Denver, Green Bay at Atlanta, Chicago at Detroit (Monday)

October 13th-17th
College: Baylor at Texas A&M, Florida at Auburn, Arizona State at Oregon, Michigan at Michigan State, Oklahoma State at Texas, South Carolina at Mississippi State, Utah at Pittsburgh
NFL: Houston at Baltimore, New Orleans at Tampa Bay, Dallas at New England, Minnesota at Chicago, Miami at New York Jets (Monday)

October 20th-24th
College: Oklahoma State at Missouri, Penn State at Northwestern, USC at Notre Dame, Wisconsin at Michigan State, Auburn at LSU, Maryland at Florida State, Tennessee at Alabama
NFL: Chicago at Tampa Bay, San Diego at New York Jets, Atlanta at Detroit, St. Louis at Dallas, Indianapolis at New Orleans

October 27th-31st
College: Florida at Georgia, Stanford at USC, Wisconsin at Ohio State, Baylor at Oklahoma State, Boston College at Maryland, Michigan State at Nebraska, Oregon State at Utah
NFL: New Orleans at St. Louis, Indianapolis at Tennessee, New England at Pittsburgh, Dallas at Philadelphia, San Diego at Kansas City (Monday)

November 3rd-7th
College: Florida State at Boston College (Thursday), LSU at Alabama, Michigan at Iowa, Missouri at Baylor, South Carolina at Arkansas, Stanford at Oregon State, Texas A&M at Oklahoma
NFL: Atlanta at Indianapolis, Tampa Bay at New Orleans, Green Bay at San Diego, Baltimore at Pittsburgh, Chicago at Philadelphia (Monday)

November 10th-14th
College: Maryland at Notre Dame, Alabama at Mississippi State, Auburn at Georgia, Florida at South Carolina, Miami at Florida State, Oregon at Stanford, Nebraska at Penn State
NFL: Houston at Tampa Bay, Detroit at Chicago, New Orleans at Atlanta, New England at New York, Minnesota at Green Bay (Monday)

November 17th-21st
College: SMU at Houston, USC at Oregon, Miami at South Florida, Mississippi State at Auburn, Nebraska at Michigan, Oklahoma at Baylor, Penn State at Ohio State
NFL: Tampa Bay at Green Bay, Dallas at Washington, San Diego at Chicago, Philadelphia at New York Giants, Kansas City at New England (Monday)

November 24th-28th
College: Arkansas at LSU (Friday), Pittsburgh at West Virginia (Friday), Notre Dame at Stanford, Alabama at Auburn, Ohio State at Michigan, Florida State at Florida, Oregon State at Oregon
NFL: Green Bay at Detroit (Thursday), New England at Philadelphia, Minnesota at Atlanta, Pittsburgh at Kansas City, New York Giants at New Orleans Saints (Monday)

Did you just get a fuzzy feeling in your stomach or was it just me? God, I love football season. Anyways, here are the picks straight from the paper where I saw my neon sign.

AFC East
Buffalo 4-12, Miami 5-11, New York 11-5, New England 12-4

AFC South
Houston 10-6, Indianapolis 8-8, Jacksonville 4-12, Tennessee 7-9

AFC North
Baltimore 10-6, Cincinnati 4-12, Cleveland 7-9, Pittsburgh 12-4

AFC West
Denver 5-11, Kansas City 7-9, Oakland 7-9, San Diego 11-5

NFC East
Dallas 10-6, New York 8-8, Philadelphia 11-5, Washington 6-10

NFC South
Atlanta 11-5, Carolina 4-12, New Orleans 11-5, Tampa Bay 9-7

NFC North
Chicago 8-8, Detroit 8-8, Green Bay 12-4, Minnesota 7-9

NFC West
Arizona 6-10, San Francisco 7-9, Seattle 5-11, St. Louis 9-7

Super Bowl Pick
Pittsburgh over Dallas