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Saturday, September 07, 2013 12:43 AM

Pigskin Picks for Web

COLLEGE:

Florida at Miami (FL); Oregon at Virginia; South Carolina at Georgia; Texas at BYU; Notre Dame at Michigan; Cincinnati at Illinois.

NFL:

Atlanta at New Orleans; Cincinnati at Chicago; N.Y. Giants at Dallas; Philadelphia at Washington; Miami at Cleveland; Green Bay at San Francisco.

JIM METCALFE

COLLEGE

FLORIDA: Gators have a snarling defense that will get into the face of the offense and challenge them. The “stuff” that has been hanging over the Hurricane program for the past few years is still there — and it is ridiculous. That gets old and has to distract the ’Canes.

OREGON: I don’t think the Quack Attack will miss Chip Kelly much, especially with still-loaded roster. The Cavaliers come off a win over BYU, so they are capable of springing the upset. However, speed kills and Quackers have tons of it.

SOUTH CAROLINA: Mr. Crowder got taken to the wood shed for being so gassed last week, though he did have a stomach virus all week that had to limit his conditioning. He takes it out on the Bulldogs and their offensive line, especially with QB Aaron Murray unable to beat a ranked team and ’Dawg ‘D’ isn’t its usual self.

TEXAS: Must-win for a Longhorn program missing from the national conversation. Cougars are not the offensive juggernaut of Lavell Edwards in ages past; they are now built on defense. UT has too much speed, talent and motivation — this is a proud program.

MICHIGAN: Irish coach Kelly’s earlier comments about this not being as big a rivalry as some others on their schedule — taking them back doesn‘t mean a hill of beans — sting in the Big House as a great rivalry comes to an end for the foreseeable future. With a very talented roster of That Team Up Northers — with something to prove — and that slight, perceived or otherwise, that is enough for Wolves to send Irish home brooding.

CINCINNATI: Illinois rebuilding, while Bearcats seem to be reloading. As I wrote in my Metcalfe’s Musings, the Big Ten is down overall, though their are some encouraging pieces in place. Just not enough in Champaign as UC goes 2-0 versus the Big Ten.

PRO:

ATLANTA: Should be a wild one. Saints defensive woes will take a toll against Falcons. Falcons aren’t the greatest defense in the NFL but they are far better than the Saints. The emotional “reuniting” of Drew Brees and Saints coach Sean Payton only carries you so far in the NFL. Falcons can score with the Saints and the defense is just a bit better.

CHICAGO: Should be an old-fashioned knockdown, drag-out war. Perfect for Da Bears in Soldier Field, even without the retired Brian Urlacher. This defense has been rebuilt around speed. Bengals also have solid defense but not sure about the consistency of the offense. I’m no fan of Jay Cutler but he has a few more weapons.

DALLAS: No excuses for Romo anymore; he’s got the big moolah — though I believe he’s way overpaid — and more weapons. Giants defense has issues and they may not be able to overwhelm the sieve-like Cowboys offensive line as in the past. Giants’ O-line also has question marks and re-tooled Dallas defense might have its way.

WASHINGTON: Interesting to see what Eagles’ break-neck offense means for their defense. Methinks they will score points and compile yards but will also have a few too many 3-and-outs, which will leave the defense out there too long. RGIII will be just fine in his return and Redskin defense has come key cogs back from injury.

CLEVELAND: Browns are due to win an opener. Not saying that Dolphins are that bad but loss of Reggie Bush and offensive tackle Long are hard to make up for. My guess is that Weeden makes a big step in year two as Browns starter under center.

SAN FRANCISCO: Kaepernick ripped apart Packers’ defense last January in his first year as a starter. Did anything change to make that outcome different? He just had an entire off-season as the starter and got Anquan Boldin in for Michael Crabtree. Besides, 49er defense will at least make things tough on Packer offensive line — there is that issue one again! — and Green Bay defense still has major questions.

DAVE BONINSEGNA

Florida: Let’s not waste anytime getting to a big rivalry; it’s been since 2001 when they last played. However, this isn’t the Miami team it used to be. Florida should roll to move to 2-0.

Oregon: The No. 2 Ducks had possession of the ball fewer than 20 minutes in their opener against Nicholls State, meaning the defense shouldered its share of the work. But is beating Nicholls State worthy of jumping OSU in the poll??? Virginia isn’t Nicholls but the outcome will be the same.

South Carolina: After a 5-0 start to 2012, Georgia was routed 35-7 at No. 6 South Carolina on Oct. 6 to end its hopes of an undefeated season. The Gamecocks aren’t thinking beyond this matchup, though, especially after a sluggish 27-10 win over North Carolina to open the season last Thursday. This should be a good contest but can the Bulldogs stop the Gamecocks running game? Hate to say it but I am saying not and the Gamecocks will come away with the win.

Texas: BYU is reeling after a 19-16 loss at Virginia in which its offense gave away the game on a late turnover, while the Longhorns didn’t score the first touchdown of a 56-7 win over New Mexico State until the end of the first half. Texas will need a faster start this week and get it as they beat BYU.

Michigan: The Irish return to the Big House for the final scheduled time and for just the second night game in the stadium’s long history and after ND coach Brian Kelly got a lot of attention on Sunday for saying he didn’t think of Michigan as one of Notre Dame’s traditional rivals, a statement he backed off a few days later. The Irish canceled its scheduled dates with Michigan from 2015-17, The Wolverines will have that in mind and send the Irish out of the Big House with a loss.

Cincinnati: The Bearcats play their second Big 10 team in a row after beating the Purdue Boilermakers last week, I think Cincy makes it 2-0 on the early season against the Big 10.

NFL

New Orleans: The defending NFC South champion Atlanta Falcons know all too well how dangerous the combination of Payton and Drew Brees have been. The Saints are at home and favored to win. Brees for sure the better of the two QBs in the game; that should be enough to give the Saints the win in week 1.

Cincinnati: There is a lot of promise for the Bengals this season with a really good chance to make the playoffs again this season. They should get off to a good start with a win over Da Bears.

N.Y. Giants: The Giants are looking to rebound from a disappointing 2012 that saw them miss the playoffs. The Cowboys are 0-4 against the Giants at the now-named AT&T Stadium and with Eli Manning at the helm, I think they make it 0-5 after Sunday.

Washington: The BIG ?? Is will RG3 start? Well, it wasn’t clear who would start the opener at quarterback for the Washington Redskins or the Philadelphia Eagles. While Michael Vick had to win the job in the preseason, Robert Griffin III wasn’t given a chance to take the field but will finally be back under center Monday night when his Redskins try to spoil Chip Kelly’s debut as Eagles coach. I am giving the edge to Washington; I think RG will just outplay Vick and the Eagles.

Cleveland: This could be the snoozer game of the week. The Miami Dolphins are looking to end their playoff drought with a breakout year from Ryan Tannehill. The Browns are hoping to do the same behind their own second-year standout, Brandon Weeden. Toss-up game of the week but I will go with the Browns just because they are at home.

San Francisco: The defending NFC Champs get Aaron Rodgers and the Packers right out of the gate; can Colin Kaepernick keep things going for the 49ers? Kaepernick passed for 263 yards and ran for an NFL quarterback-record 181 yards while accounting for four total touchdowns in the 49ers’ 45-31 divisional dismantling of Green Bay last year. As much as I hate to pick this one, I will take the 49ers to beat the Packers.

BRIAN BASSETT

Florida - Other than Duke Johnson and a quarterback who has been there forever and not really accomplished anything, Miami doesn’t have much.

Oregon - I think Virginia is a program on the rise with a top recruiting class coming in for 2014 but Oregon is good right now; they should win easy.

South Carolina - Coming after a tough loss at Clemson, Georgia should be hungrier than ever to prove they can win a big game. It won’t matter, however, because Steve Spurrier has owned Georgia ever since he was at Florida.

Texas - Texas returned like 18 starters off a 9-win team from a season ago; they are really good and should show it against BYU.

Michigan - Partly wishful thinking on my part because of my severe hate for Notre Dame but I also think you give Michigan an edge when it’s a night game at the Big House. Throw in Brian Kelly’s comments downplaying the rivalry and Michigan should be chomping at the bit.

Cincinnati - This seems like an easy pick. Cincinnati wants to show that it can compete with lower-lever Big Ten teams (see Purdue last week) and Illinois is just plain bad. Expect Cincinnati to win and for their fans to overhype that win.

NFL

New Orleans - I think the team will be have something to prove now that Sean Payton is back on the sidelines and expect the defense to be much improved under Rob Ryan.

Cincinnati - Another offseason together for Andy Dalton and A.J. Green is a bad sign for opponents, plus Cincinnati did all the right things in the offseason to take another step toward winning the division.

New York - Because the Cowboys have been an average team the last 10 seasons or so and I don’t see that changing in week one. They might lead late into the game but I expect the G-men to pull it out late.

Washington - The Redskins will be amped up to have their star quarterback healthy and starting and look for RG3 and Alfred Morris to rack up yards behind the blocking of Crestview grad Kory Lichtensteiger at left guard.

Cleveland - Although I think Miami is going to be a solid team this season, the Browns are my sleeper pick in the AFC — and my favorite team — so I’m going with them.

San Francisco - Basically a coin flip for me, so I’m going to go with the home team, especially on the west coast.

BOB WEBER

Florida – going with Florida

Oregon – going with Oregon

Georgia – going with Georgia

Texas – going with Texas

Michigan – can’t believe it but Michigan

Cincinnati – going with the Bearcats

New Orleans – going to be a great game but Drew Brees and the Saints

Cincinnati – the Bengals

Dallas – the Cowboys

Washington – the Redskins

Cleveland – the Browns

San Francisco – the 49ers

CHARLIE WARNIMONT

Florida - I saw where the Gators were upset that they weren’t favored by an ESPN analyst for the game. Should be enough motivation to beat their in-state rival.

Oregon - Not many teams can fly across the country and return home with a win. The Ducks still flying high despite the coaching change.

Georgia - Another tough game for the Bulldogs after opening with Clemson. Bulldogs win and make their fans happy after opening-game loss.

Texas - Heard Texas is looking for an improved 2013. Getting a road win against BYU would be a step in the right direction.

Cincinnati - Bearcats pounded Purdue last week. Get another win over a Big Ten opponent this week.

NFL

New Orleans - Sean Payton returns for the Saints and they take a step towards reclaiming the division crown.

Chicago - An interesting first week matchup between two teams expected to do well. Just going to go with the home team.

Dallas - Only because it’s Dallas.

Washington - RG III returns to the Redskins and gives them a big boost in week one.

Cleveland - Browns have struggled in season openers since returning to the league. Time to start a new trend.

San Francisco - 49ers were one play away from possibly winning the Super Bowl last year. Have a feeling they would like to get another shot.

 

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