Grab your smelling salts and brace for a forearm shiver to the head, the NFL is back and ready for a grand, concussive olde time.
The Rams are back from Missouri, the Raiders are back from the abyss, the 49ers are already taking a knee, and the Chargers still don’t count.
Still, four professional football teams means California is the new population center of the Sunday catch. Time we all lose our shirts predicting how they will go to rack and ruin.
And remember, if you don’t see your favorite team picked to win the Super Bowl, that’s what you get for being lousy at picking favorite teams.
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▪ Location: Oakland, by way of Alameda, straight out of Los Angeles, also known as El Segundo, possibly off to Las Vegas, with San Antonio as a fallback position.
▪ Motto: Pride and Poised to Not Win the Super Bowl for the 31st Straight Year
▪ Last year: 7-9
▪ Player to watch: Derek Carr, QB. Because, if we don’t pick Fresno State’s living, breathing statue, you will stop taking the paper.
▪ Why they make the Super Bowl: Carr’s right arm will outscore the other team 10 out of 16 times, and thrice in January. With this defensive secondary, he better be good for 28 a week.
▪ Why they miss the Super Bowl: All the relocation maneuvering causes players to report to wrong cities for home games. In unrelated news, UNLV wins eight straight using 26-year-old walk-ons who show up on game day.
▪ Seriously, though: 9-7, and they’ll be happy doing it. Denver won the West without a functioning quarterback last year, and the Broncos will do it again this season. Their defense alone will keep Oakland’s January calendar open for the 14th straight winter.
▪ Location: Deep South of San Francisco, better known as Santa Clara, aka Great America parking lot, though the apparent Center of Sun on game day.
▪ Motto: Who’s Got It Better Than Us? Seattle, U of Michigan, and At Least 20 Other NFL Teams, That’s Who
▪ Last year: 5-11
▪ Player to watch: Blaine Gabbert, QB. Because that’s all you need to know about general manager Trent Baalke’s best swing at an NFL roster. If Gabbert is your team’s must-see player, there’s just not much to their band.
▪ Why they make the Super Bowl: The players’ union calls a midseason strike after the NFL refuses to penalize teams for beating Cam Newton with pinata sicks. Forced to go on with replacement players, the 49ers realize most their players are replacement players already, so the board is tilted in their favor.
▪ Why they miss the Super Bowl: Colin Kaepernick takes back the starting quarterback job. With the season on the line in a road playoff game, the other team strikes up the national anthem just before Kap takes the goal-line snap – and America’s social conscience takes a knee in protest.
▪ Seriously, though: 4-12, and owner Jed York will fire anybody not named Jed York doing it.
▪ Location: Los Angeles, ergo West St. Louis, or Crashing It in USC’s Mother-in-Law Basement, soon to be Inglewood.
▪ Motto: Greatest Show on Turf, If You’re Really Into 7-9 Seasons
▪ Last year: 7-9
▪ Player to watch: Todd Gurley, RB. Meet the new Steven Jackson, a battering Ram of a back who is going to make two more 49ers linebackers retire prematurely by year’s end.
▪ Why they make the Super Bowl: Jared Goff, QB. Ben Roethlisberger went 13-0 as a starter, Andrew Luck and Matt Ryan were each 11-5. This year’s No. 1 overall draft pick has enough of a staff in place to get the same bright idea, if he can get off the sideline.
▪ Why they miss the Super Bowl: Because they’re the Rams, that’s why. All these guys are new to L.A. They’ll spend half their Sunday mornings stuck in traffic on the 10. Rams coach Jeff Fischer will get so caught up in his USC nostalgia, he’ll be imagining throwing that football over them there mountains when he should be calling a blitz.
▪ Seriously, though: 6-10, their way of helping St. Louis get over losing them in the first place.
▪ Location: Doesn’t matter. In California, they just don’t count.
- One week later, our take on Fresno State’s 43-10 loss at Nebraska: same old results, not the same old story. The Bulldogs still will struggle to win five games all year – but, man, we haven’t seen fight like that in years.
- Two runs in three innings. Clearly, Cy Young pitcher Clayton Kershaw coming back from his bad back is holding back the first-place Dodgers back ...
- Want change to the NFL concussion culture? Every time Carolina quarterback Cam Newton gets hit in the head without a flag, someone gets to hit commissioner Roger Goodell in like manner.