The 3 Things I’ve Already Learned about the 2011 NFL Season

That’s right: week 1 isn’t even over yet and I’ve learned 3 things about this year’s NFL. I’m just that efficient of a learning machine, I guess.

For those of you who are into the whole brevity thing, I’ll get right to it:

1. Nobody knows anything.

Here are all the things I knew for sure before week 1 started: Cam Newton and the Panthers are horrendous. The Bills aren’t any good either. The Bears will regress. Atlanta will take the next step. The Rams will win the NFC West and could very well upset the over-hyped Eagles in week 1. The Chargers will not only win the AFC  West, but probably the entire AFC since special teams are no longer a factor. And if you’re in a suicide pool, Cleveland over Andy Dalton and the absolutely horrible Bengals was your week 1 lock.

Wait, what’s that? Cam Newton threw for over 400 yards in a near-win? The Bills put up 41? The Bears made Atlanta look silly? The Rams were clearly overmatched by an Eagles team that was inefficient on offense? The Chargers snuck past a bad Vikings team, in part because Percy Harvin brought the first Chargers kickoff of 2011 back for a touchdown?

Huh. That’s weird. Cause that’s not what every sports talking head in the universe has been saying.

The thing is, nobody knows anything before the games are played. Not you. Not me. Not the analysts and experts.

We should all know this by now. We’ve all seen enough predictive whiffs to know better.  It’s a testament to human stupidity that we keep listening anyway. Think about it: the best talent evaluators in the world are general managers, coaches, and scouts, right? These are the guys who make their money on being right about this sort of thing. Their whole job is to figure out which guys are going to be good, then to get them on the field in their team’s uniform.

So how do Ryan Leaf and JaMarcus Russell happen? How does Alex Smith get taken before Aaron Rodgers? How does Tom Brady fall to the 6th round of a draft, thereby getting passed over by every NFL franchise 4, 5, and 6 times? How do lopsided trades and bad free agent signings happen? How do coaches make horrendous on-field personnel decisions?

Aren’t they the professionals?

So when radio show hosts (who get hired because they can talk well), columnists (who get hired because they can write well), and t.v. show hosts (who get hired because they can talk well and because they look good) tell you who is good, who isn’t, and which coach will get fired by week 4, distrust them. Their primary job is to get you to listen, read, and watch. Not to be right.

But hey, at least they nailed that Browns over Bengals suicide pool pick…

2. Special teams is the part of the game most affected by the lockout.

Is this just me, or has this been a crazy special teams week? Somebody has to have a stat about when there was last this much scoring on special teams in one week (I sure don’t know- since, well, I’m one of the ones who doesn’t know anything).

In any case, Randall Cobb, Percy Harvin, Ted Ginn Jr., and Patrick Peterson (et. al.) made opponents look silly, and the only thing I can figure is that in the scramble to get teams together offensively and defensively in the shortened off-season, coaches ignored special teams, perhaps assuming that the new kickoff rule would take care of that.

Well, if that happened, it turned out they were wrong. This is obviously a lot of guesswork, but it’s something to keep an eye on in future weeks.

3. Aaron Rodgers is really, really good.

No, seriously, he really is. Good call on that one, 49ers.

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