I've been a member of a head-to-head pick 'em league for the NFL for several years running now. The way it works is you and your opponent pick every game and whoever gets more right wins. The scheduling is easy because there are as many players as there are teams in the league, and everybody represents a team. I happen to be the Falcon.
Pretty simple stuff except for the fact that I stink at NFL prognostication. So a few years back I started writing a semi-regular column for the league called the "Falcon's Faulty Pick of the Week". The way it works is I pick one game that seems like it should be a lock, and then watch with dismay as somehow the pick goes sour. My inaccuracy has been almost uncanny in the past.
Here's this week's column, the first of the season for me. The reason I haven't written the previous 4 weeks is I didn't get to make any picks due to the fact I lost a wager regarding the Colts in the Super Bowl, the penalty being that the loser had to let the winner make their picks for them for the first four weeks.
Yeah, I picked against the Colts. Like I said, I am very bad at this.
For all of the criticism that baseball receives for being imbalanced between the "haves" and the "have-nots", people seem to forget that when it comes down to crowning a champion, the NFL has not been the bastion of parity that it makes itself out to be.
The consensus has pretty much been that the AFC is far and away better than the NFC and has been for the past 6 years or so. If you were forced to pick the 2 best teams in football the past few years, the Colts and the Patriots would be the obvious choice.
Take a look at the list of the last 6 Super Bowl Winners starting with the most recent:
Dungy's Colts - Steelers - Patriots - Patriots - Dungy's Stolen Bucs - Patriots
That's 4 out of 6 for the teams everybody agrees every year are the best in the NFL... 4.5 if you give just half the credit for the Bucs to Dungy, who built that team in the first place.
How exactly is this the model of parity? Everybody points at the Yankees and Red Sox and says they make the game unbalanced, but take a look at the list of the last 6 World Series Champions starting with the most recent:
Cardinals - White Sox - Red Sox - Marlins - Angels - Diamondbacks
That would be 1 out of 6, including a win for the Marlins who had a payroll of about $14.83 that year.
I don't point this out to trash the NFL. I point this out to explain that after the top tier of teams in the NFL, it is just one big mess which provides the ILLUSION of parity the league so desperately wants to sell. I tell you this so that you won't be fooled when you think about picking AGAINST the Colts or the Patriots on any given week.
So, now that I've said all that, my first FALCON FAULTY PICK OF THE WEEK:
PATRIOTS OVER BROWNS
Last I checked the Patriots were favored by about 52.5 points, and with good reason. Most agree this team could go undefeated. I don't know about that, but I know that Randy Moss has been a stud because he is on the fantasy football team I share with my Wednesday night drinking buddies. And since fantasy football is an absolutely accurate barometer of how good someone is (Ronnie Brown is obviously the best player in football right now, the stats say so), there will be no stopping the Pats.
And usually it is bold, uninformed claims like that which put me in all kinds of trouble.
So, in case you have forgotten how this works:
FALCON PICKS PATRIOTS
YOU PICK BROWNS*
After all, the Browns have Braylon Edwards who is almost as good as Moss according to some fantasy football depth charts.**
This year I will not be using a computer to make my picks after how badly that went last year. Instead I will be taking the cheap route and picking the favorites every week (sorry Texans). Fellow nerds will be pleased to know, however, that I used a computer algorithm with last year's stats to produce my fantasy depth charts and draft orders in my triumphant return to the fantasy football arena. I also promise this will be the last time I mention fantasy football.***
*You probably shouldn't pick the Browns.
**Edwards probably not as good.
***Probably won't be the last time.