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Kibbles and Picks 2019 - Week 1

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As the NFL prepares to kick off its 100th season, another less lengthy (but no less noble) tradition is also being observed.

That’s right, folks – it’s time for Kibbles and Picks.

This marks the seventh year of the internet’s preeminent man-versus-beast football prognostication feature, wherein I spend the season attempting to pick more NFL winners than my dog, the adorable and astute Stella. Of those seven years, Stella has triumphed in six, including the last four in the row. What was once a cutesy experiment has become a stubborn and fruitless attempt for me to hold onto whatever tiny shreds of my dignity still remain.

Seriously – I’m ostensibly supposed to know things about football. It’s part of my job. And yet, I get repeatedly trounced by a dog. Call me a glutton for punishment, I suppose.

Anyway – we’re back. Does anyone out there actually think I have a shot of preventing Stella from taking her fifth crown in a row? Probably not, but I hope you’re rooting for me.

We’re coming in hot in 2019; Stella and I are at odds regarding seven contests in the season’s first week, so there’s a chance that an imposing lead is built right off the bat … although if it is, I think we all know who will have built it.

It starts with the very first game, the Thursday night kickoff between the Packers and the Bears. I’m going with Chicago at home; while the offense doesn’t look super strong, Mitchell Trubisky should be able to do enough to get it done. He won’t need to score much - it’s tough to argue against the quality of that defense. Stella likes the road team here; she thinks Aaron Rodgers and company are going to hit the ground running and expects a big game from running back Aaron Jones. And she thinks that the Green Bay receiving corps might be one of the NFC’s best. She respects the Bears D but believes Rodgers can handle it.

Next up, in another divisional match-up, we’re looking at the Falcons against the Vikings. I’m going with the Falcons in this one; their offense remains one of the more potentially impressive in the league. Expect a huge year from Julio Jones to start with this game. They just need to stop the run and they’ll win easily. Stella is cautiously optimistic about this Vikings team; she thinks they might make some noise this year. She loves the Adam Thielen/Stefon Diggs wide receiver tandem, even if it is Kirk Cousins throwing the ball. And Dalvin Cooks looks to be healthy and ready to be explosive at running back. This one will be won by one or two defensive stops.

I’ve got the Jets winning at home against the Buffalo Bills, but I can’t say I’m particularly excited about it. Yes, Le’Veon Bell is in the backfield, but who knows if he lost a step during last year’s lost season. Is Sam Darnold legit? Can the Jets stop anyone? Lots of questions, so I’m rolling the dice. Stella feels similar about the Bills, although she expects that Josh Allen might wind up having a sneaky good season. She likes young Devin Singletary out of the backfield as well. Neither of these teams is going to be great, but we’re falling on either side of the divide as to who’s better right now.

The Rams will be coming into 2019 trying to prove that their disastrous Super Bowl performance was a fluke and that they’re still the class of the NFC. With that chip on their shoulder, they should be able to handle the Panthers in Carolina. We’ll have to see if QB Jared Goff can continue to develop; he’s got a great set of pass-catchers out there. The Rams will be managing Todd Gurley’s arthritic knee, but he’s still a dynamic playmaker. Stella like Carolina as a possible playoff contender. She likes Cam Newton at QB and LOVES Christian McCaffery at RB. She’s also of the mind that the Panthers D is solid enough to keep them in this game; she expects a couple of big plays in Carolina’s favor.

In a game that even in Week One, few people will care about, we have Detroit going to Arizona to play the Cardinals. I’m taking the home team here, mostly because I’m excited to see rookie QB Kyler Murray do his thing in the NFL. Will new coach Kliff Kingsbury’s Air Raid offense work at this level? I hope so, and so this pick. Stella also likes Murray, but she thinks there will be an adjustment period. She doubts that Arizona will be able to keep Matthew Stafford from throwing the ball all over the stadium, and the Cardinals are just too young to be able to keep up in a shootout situation. She’s betting the Lions have an easy time.

Oh look! Another not-great matchup. I’m picking the 49ers to go into Tampa Bay and beat the Buccaneers, but again, I’m far from confident. We’re getting another chance to see Jimmy Garoppolo under center; we’ll see if he can elevate the relatively uninspiring skill position talent (though tight end George Kittle is a legitimate stud). Stella’s going with the Bucs at home; she’s calling for an aerial showcase for Jameis Winston, including a huge game from wide receiver Mike Evans. Ultimately, though, neither one of us is all that confident with our choice.

And finally, in the week’s very last game – Denver-Oakland – I’m going with the Broncos and Stella’s taking the Raiders at home. Neither of these teams is great, but I think that Denver has a shot at a good start – they’ve got a really good defense and an offense being led by veteran newcomer Joe Flacco at QB. They should be fine against Oakland. Stella readily concedes that the Raiders aren’t very good (and likely to get worse as the Antonio Brown situation escalates), but she likes them to potentially come out hot before inevitably fading to the bottom of the division. She thinks rookie RB Josh Jacobs will get 25-plus touches; if he can step up in his first game, Oakland’s got a shot.

And there it is – Kibbles and Picks 2019 is off and running. Tune in throughout the season to see if I can break the streak and, in the process, recapture some modicum of self-respect. I’m looking to take down that sweet-faced little pooch and prove to her that I know about football, damn it.

Stella, as you can probably imagine, remains unconcerned.

(winners in caps)

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ALLEN’S PICKS

Thursday, Sept. 5

Green Bay at CHICAGO

Sunday, Sept. 8

Tennessee at CLEVELAND

BALTIMORE at Miami

ATLANTA at Minnesota

Buffalo at NY JETS

Washington at PHILADELPHIA

LA RAMS at Carolina

KANSAS CITY at Jacksonville

Indianapolis at LA CHARGERS

Cincinnati at SEATTLE

NY Giants at DALLAS

Detroit at ARIZONA

SAN FRANCISCO at Tampa Bay

Pittsburgh at NEW ENGLAND

Monday, Sept. 9

Houston at NEW ORLEANS

DENVER at Oakland

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STELLA’S PICKS

Thursday, Sept. 5

GREEN BAY at Chicago

Sunday, Sept. 8

Tennessee at CLEVELAND

BALTIMORE at Miami

Atlanta at MINNESOTA

BUFFALO at NY Jets

Washington at PHILADELPHIA

LA Rams at CAROLINA

KANSAS CITY at Jacksonville

Indianapolis at LA CHARGERS

Cincinnati at SEATTLE

NY Giants at DALLAS

DETROIT at Arizona

San Francisco at TAMPA BAY

Pittsburgh at NEW ENGLAND

Monday, Sept. 9

Houston at NEW ORLEANS

Denver at OAKLAND

Last modified on Thursday, 05 September 2019 12:52

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