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Packers, Lions among those with games that are hard to pick

Tough matchups already

September 8, 2011
The Mining Journal

Wow, now I really know why they have four weeks of the preseason.

Did you see the matchups for this week, the first of the regular season? Some real toughies, starting with the game between the last two Super Bowl winners, the Packers hosting New Orleans.

Then I looked and saw the first two games listed on Sunday - Pittsburgh at Baltimore, my picks to make the AFC championship game, and Atlanta at Chicago, two teams trying to knock on the door in the NFC.

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I guess I was supposed to be picking preseason games to get those prognosticator muscles in shape and ready for this tough opening week slate. Instead, I kept watching to see if the Detroit Lions would mess up. No, they went 4-0, just like they did when they were 0-16 a few years ago in the regular season.

The Packers didn't need much observing. Even as a non-Packer fan, I'll readily admit that all of us know they're good.

So without further ado, here's goes my first full season in the Armchair Quarterback recliner:

Tonight, New Orleans at Green Bay - Under other circumstances, this might be a tough game for the Packers, since opponents always give a defending champion their best game week in and week out.

But this is the first game that counts for Green Bay since winning the title, and playing in Lambeau, this should be the one out-of-division game that the Packers get sky-high for this season. Take the Packers, 34-26.

Sunday, 1 p.m., Detroit at Tampa Bay - Yes, I'm going to drink the Kool-Aid, as they say, in sticking with the Lions.

Checking around on some websites to see what the feeling is about these teams, I see Tampa quarterback Josh Freeman could be susceptible to the Lions' awesome pass rush, even without injured top draft pick Nick Fairley.

Also, Tampa has some injuries and suspensions to deal with on defense, and since Detroit QB Matthew Stafford is still upright, make it Lions, 30-20.

Pittsburgh at Baltimore - Pittsburgh's best-in-the-league run defense forces Ravens QB Joe Flacco to the air, so Steelers, 19-16.

Atlanta at Chicago - The Pack exposed the Falcons' defense in the playoffs last year, and I still like the Bears' "D," so Bears, 28-24.

Cincinnati at Cleveland - The edge goes to the experienced QB, who is ... wait for it ... second-year player Colt McCoy, so take the Browns, 16-10.

Indianapolis at Houston - A shaky Colts defense and no Peyton Manning on the road. Texans, 21-17.

Tennessee at Jacksonville - Tennessee started rebuilding even before Jeff Fisher left as coach in January, while the Jaguars apparently started the same process a couple days ago when they released QB David Garrard. Titans, 17-13.

Buffalo at Kansas City - I'm glad to hear that KC QB Matt Cassel should be able to play Sunday, since someone told me I was being considered as his backup. So I'll settle on the Chiefs, 27-21.

Philadelphia at St. Louis - Many feel the Eagles will get their comeuppance after naming themselves the "chosen" team with their free-agent signings. A close game should be enough of a wake-up call, so it's Eagles, 30-28.

Sunday, 4 p.m., Carolina at Arizona - Overall first draft pick Cam Newton vs. most coveted free agent Kevin Kolb. Again, go with experience, even though Kolb only has a 2-0 edge in career NFL starts. Cardinals, 23-13.

Minnesota at San Diego - The Vikings are still putting the pieces together. Chargers, 29-19.

Seattle at San Francisco - When all the good teams play each other, what are you left with? This. 49ers, 20-19.

N.Y. Giants at Washington - The Giants are missing defensive end Osi Umenyiora - yes, I checked the spelling - and that could make the difference, so Redskins, 21-16.

Sunday night, Dallas at N.Y. Jets - These overhyped teams can both lose, for all I care. But I see New York's defense upsetting a delicate house of cards the Cowboys' offense seems to be built upon. Jets, 24-12.

Monday night, New England at Miami - The Dolphins lose their September heat-and-humidity advantage by playing at night, so Patriots, 31-20.

Oakland at Denver - Other than changing coaches, have the Broncos done anything to improve? I didn't think so. Raiders, 19-9.

Editor's note: Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246.



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