ENCROTCHMENT WITH EDDIE GOBBO: PREGAME

New drinking game I invented during the offseason:

1)   Watch interview of 20-something English celebrity and/or musician.

2)   Drink every time they use the word “Literally."

Back, Like a Vertebrae

Hello. My name is Eddie Gobbo. You may remember me from such columns as Encrotchment, a football column that drops every Thursday during the NFL season via Decibel Magazine’s DECIBLOG. If you are reading this, you are reading Encrotchment, a football column that drops every Thursday during the NFL season via Decibel Magazine’s DECIBLOG.

Ah yes, Decibel Magazine. The Michael Jordan of Baseball of Metal Magazines. Just kidding. Actually, they’re more like the Peyton Manning of Metal Magazines: Legendary. Precise. Smart. Probably the best ever, and recently had neck surgery (from headbanging too much). Not to mention the staff collectively drive their Buick Enclaves to Papa John’s Pizza every day for lunch (the South Philly location).

I’m here writing this column for one reason and one reason only: So I can attend Decibel’s Christmas party each year.

These days everyone is fake. Everyone is on a reality show. Everyone thinks they’re the Irish UFC guy. Sports writers are no exception. I’m not fake. I’m the Sworn Enemy of sports writing; As Real As It Gets.

This is the football column Peter King does not want you to read. He knows that I know he is the kingpin (no pun intended) behind King 810. I don’t trust him, and you shouldn’t either.

You can trust me (rubs hands together). 

Each week, you will get a hard-hitting NFL analysis from me and some special guests of mine from the heavy metal world. You’ll get a healthy dose of stats, stories, and sarcasm that would make Cara Delevinge wet.

This is a column where everyone gets a voice, so I implore you to comment below in the comments section. Use swears. Troll. I don’t care. Just realize, I will kill you in real life if you annoy me.

Gambling: You’ll get a pick every week from me.

Fantasy: For the most part, I’ll ignore you losers. But every now and again you’ll get love from me.

We kick in to full gear NEXT WEEK on Thursday. However, this week I’ll feed you my pre-kickoff analysis, and my picks to click this year.

As the Yankees says, “Let’s light this candle.”

NFC EAST: Egomanical and Fingerless

“Fuck it.” – Chip Kelly, before pulling the plug on his coma-induced grandmother.

The Philadelphia Eagles are the most intriguing team in football. They lost a top-five running back in LeSean McCoy, finally whipping the Andy Reid-era offense from the face of the earth. They picked up DeMarco Murray to form a three-headed monster from hell featuring Darren Sproles and Ryan Mathews. They have a new QB in Sam Bradford, which I think will work out well for them. Bradford needed a change of scenery. He was rotting on the sidelines of that St. Louis dome like a pumpkin at Menard's. That’s where the Halloween people send all the ghetto pumpkins. He’s got a few great targets to throw to, especially Jordan Matthews, who I’m certain is due for a breakout year. However, tandems take time to develop. The Eagles have a horrible defense, which doesn’t help their case. They’ll give up 20+ a game easy.

So you’re assuming I’m going to pick the Cowboys in the division? Well, I’m going to go out on a far limb and pick the New York Football Giants to take this division. If Victor Cruz comes back healthy (yeah, right), he and David Beckham, Jr. will have a field day this year. Their schedule isn’t easy, but whose really is in what I feel is the most even-planed year in the past decade.

The Dallas Cowboys will realize that their badass offensive line was only part of their run game’s success last year. The other half was DeMarco Murray taking advantage of said line. Darren McFadden, though a decent replacement for Murray, is not DeMarco Murray, even though they have the initials.

All that said, it wouldn’t surprise me if three teams from this division make the playoffs. Or they pummel the hell out of each other and 9 wins takes the division.

Winner: Giants. Age Before Beauty.

NFC SOUTH: South of Sanity

Last year, the NFC South was the worst division in football. This year, they’re the worst division in sports.  But as we know, one team has to defeat common sense and a guy in the wheelchair and make the playoffs.

The Saints lost their best player, Jimmy Graham. How many great seasons has Drew Brees had without having a beast tight end to throw to? Ben Watson, JG’s replacement, will have a fraction of the production of his predecessor.

The Panthers defense is legit, but they don’t have a decent wideout for the life of them (Ted Ginn, Jr is their number two, for god's sake).

The only team that’s improved this year is the Bucs, who actually got significantly better this offseason. Look at their team: they have a legit back, proven wideouts, a new QB who could, in theory, make an Andrew Luck impact upon his debut. They have a defensive-minded player’s coach in Lovie Smith who knows how to manage games. I know it’s going to be hard, but remember the name Austin Seferian-Jenkins, the second-year tight end out of Washington. He will be Jameis Winston’s favorite target and hopefully his Antonio Gates for years to come. Lets just call him ASJ. That’s what I did many years ago with Sarah Jessica Parker, or as I call her, SJP.

Winner: Carolina. Just barely. What else is new?

NFC NORTH: My Girlfriend Is an X-Man

Who would you rather bone? Olivia Munn or Olivia Wilde? Well, I’m sure at this point Aaron Rodgers would pick Olivia Wilde, because he’s dating Olivia Munn. Don’t worry, Aaron. I’m sure Jason Sudeikis would rather bone your girlfriend at this point, too.

This offseason, we got to laugh at the fact that the Packers blew a 21-point lead with one minute left in last year's NFC Championship game. We also got to laugh at these lovebird Instagram skits from America’s Sweethearts.

UGH.

Aaron Rodgers will miss his injured number-one receiver, Jordy Nelson.. There are two people essential to the Packers success this year: WR Davante Adams and RB Eddie Lacy. I see Lacy having a really good season equating to him being a top 5 back, but Adams ultimately being underwhelming.

That said, the Pack still has the ability to cruise in this division, and this is coming from a Bears fan.  

Back to Lacy: Props to the Pack for making him the cowbell back of their squad. This is a very Minnesota Vikings/AP ethic. You’ll see, this year more than ever, that running backs by committee will be all the rage in the NFL going forward. The aforementioned Philadelphia Eagles RB situation is a prime example. When you have a Bell Cow Back like DeMarco Murray and are only projecting him to get 65% of your carries, you know something is up.

I’m extremely interested to see Teddy Bridgewater sling it this year. He reminds me of what Ryan Tannehill has become: a dude who a struggling team put their trust in, built around, and most importantly WON’T ask him to move mountains and sling 300+ yards a game. Shout-out to Minnesota for building what I feel will be a great team three years from now.

 And yes, I like the Bears to get the second most wins in their division, you assholes.

Winner: Packers. Unfortunately.

The NFC WEST, and The Mascots Who Love Them

This is a two-team race between the Hawks and the Rams. If Nick Foles rises to the occasion, the Rams will be a wild card team minimally and a division contender at best. Their front seven is the best in the NFL and their run game is going to be great this year. The Arizona Cardinals will take a step back this year. Great coaching will only get you so far in this league. I envision the Cardinals picking up their QB of the future next year, and parting ways with Larry Fitzgerald.

As for the team with the most annoying coach in sports, don’t be surprised if their defense levels off this year. Safety Kam Chancellor is holding out for money reasons and probably will not play a snap. Honestly, I think he’s the best player on that defense. This will hurt them. However, their offense with new TE Jimmy Graham will surge this year, and make up for any defensive shortcomings.

Doug Baldwin, big year. Jimmy Graham, huge year. The Seahawks cement themselves as the best regular season team in football, only to find out their mascot, Blitz, is actually Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh in a bird suit. He’ll spy on them, return as the Niners coach next year with inside information, a score to settle, and a martial divorce looming.

Winner: Hawks, not of the Patrick Kane variety.

AFC WEST: Co-dependent

This is an easy one.

The Denver Broncos are going to crush in the regular season this year all the way to the Super Bowl. I think their hardest test in the first two months is week one against the Baltimore Ravens. From there, they may go undefeated. I really like their D. They are not the most talented defense, nore do they have the youngest legs in the league, but they are for sure one of the smartest. Oh my god, John Elway needs to email newly released Reggie Wayne and sign him. The Broncos number three is WR Cody Latimer. Wayne is beyond an upgrade and would surely be productive with Manning under center, just like the olden days.

I’ve got the Raiders winning seven games this year. Jack Del Rio is the legit head coach the Raiders haven’t had in years. There’s no QB controversy there. RB Latavius Murray is going to have a breakout year. They have veteran leadership on defense. They have a legit number one receiver in rookie Amari Cooper, who talent-wise is probably going to be the best receiver in the AFC West. Michael Crabtree, a notorious underachiever, may actually OVERachieve in Oakland. The pressure is off him to be the number one. When I look at teams like Kansas City continuing to roll the dice with Alex Smith, I can’t help but think their bubble is going to burst this year. Honestly, if Philip Rivers ever made his way over to Kansas City, they’d have one HELL of a team. Massive shakeups for KC and SD this offseason are on the way.

Winner: Broncos, who continue to have horseshoes up their asses.

AFC NORTH: Do you Trest this man?

Oh, I LOVE the Ravens this year. They have a bunch of cupcakes in their schedule. They have some difficult games, too, but the key is that they are all spread out amongst the cupcakes. New offensive coordinator Mark Trestman will probably up the Ravens' overall scoring five points a game, which means they’ll be winning a lot of close games they’d normally be losing.

The Stillers and the Bengals are going to be carbon copies of each other this year: middle of the road, injury-prone weirdos. I see the Ben/Brown tandem taking a step back from their amazing 2014 season. I also see the Andy/AJ connection in Cinci taking it up a notch this year, thus canceling each other out.

Time to throw shade at Johnny Manziel, who couldn’t beat out Josh Fricken McCown for the starting job this year. The Browns are going to be the worst team in football this year. Manziel is the Antichrist’s answer to Tim Tebow. 

Winner: Ravens, quote me on that.

AFC SOUTH: Indiana Worley

I’ll preface this and say the Colts WERE my Super Bowl pick as soon as the offseason began, with Andrew Luck being my league MVP pick. Simply put, they are the best team in the AFC and in the worst division.

The Houston Texans should be ashamed of themselves for rolling with Brian Hoyer as their starting quarterback on such a talented team. No HBO Hard Knock on Hoyer, but Ryan Mallett has way more upside. He will more than likely be the starter by week four of the season. Can he put together a run from there? I don’t think so. It’s a shame because Houston’s D is coming back healthy and pissed this year. 20 is the magic number for a defense like the Texans. If the Texans give up more than 20 points a game, they will lose the game. They cannot win a shootout. I will always try to compare teams to the Chicago Bears, but this team reminds me of the 2006 Super Bowl Bears, minus a big playmaker like Devin Hester: A punky offense with a ferocious defense. But fuck 'em.

Breakout season statistically for Blake Bortles. The wins won’t materialize, but stats will. He’ll get Andrew Luck’s goat this year once for an early statement win in his career. Jacksonville has their defensive leader of the future in Florida’s Dante Fowler, Jr. He has a torn ACL, and is done for the year. Thanks, Preseason Football.

Speaking of injuries, I’m certain Marcus Mariota will get injured this year. Overly mobile QBs on lackluster teams in their rookie season get injured about 187% of the time.

Winner: Colts carve who they want, and ride the rest to a first-round bye. Dum DumDumDum DumDumDum Dum Dum.

AFC EAST: First in Hell

Women,

Q: How can you find out if a man’s cheating on you?

A: Feel his balls to see if they’re emptier than usual.

The Creepiest Division in the NFL is back for another season of Hateball.

Remember when Geno Smith got jacked by Linebacker IK Enemkpali, only to get signed to the Buffalo Bills practice squad by ex-Jets coach Rex Ryan? Or when Richie Incognito, the ex-Miami Dolphin, hazed teammate Jonathan Martin out of the NFL? He’ll be starting for Rex Ryan’s Bills this year.  

Harvard University, a school prejudiced against dumb people, actually predicted that the Miami Dolphins would win the AFC Championship this year. Well, this was before Tom Brady was cleared of his four-game suspension to start the season.

I like Miami this year in the wild card discussion. Their D-Line behind Cameron Wake and Ndamukong Suh will be sick. But ultimately I think New England takes it. The Pats currently have no healthy receivers, but still are the men to beat. If you combine Tyrod Taylor, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Ryan Tannehill, they don’t equal Brady’s talent, or his impressive IPhone number collection, which includes Paul Walhberg (RIP).

Winner: The Satanic Army

When Fantasy Becomes Reality TV

And finally this week,

Have you seen this boy?

Pick of the Week

Jacksonville +4 over Carolina

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