Hello WEEKEND WARRIORS!

You can smell it in the Air….another College Football Season is right around the corner!  While I’m not a big fan of the Opener between CAL & Hawaii taking place in Sydney, Australia, that game will get us rolling on Friday, August 26th.  The opening weekend is solid, with some of the best first week non-conference scheduled games ever.  We will find out a lot about teams like USC, LSU, Wisconsin and many other traditional Big Boys on that opening slate of games.

I expect the SEC as a whole to take a step back, but there are still six teams in the Conference I expect to be major players throughout the season.  The Big Ten could also look a bit different at the end of the season with a couple of the top tier teams needing to find new skill position stars.  The ACC is down as a whole and the PAC 12 has more parity than ever.  While the Big 12 searches for more teams to get back to at least twelve teams in Conference, this season could be a lot of fun in the state of Oklahoma if things come down to the Bedlam game in Norman at the end of the year.  The American Athletic Conference showed last season that they have some teams that can take down the Power 5 conference squads and look to be a player as well.

All in all, it should be a heck of a season in College Football 2016!

My Free play in College Football for Opening Weekend will be the Texas Longhorns +5 at home in Austin versus Notre Dame.  Young gun slinger, Shane Buechele will lead the way in his QB debut.  He will use the running game of Foreman & Warren to get acclimated to the big game atmosphere.

Former QB turned wide receiver, Jerrod Heard could be a difference maker from his new position.  This kid is as electric as I’ve seen with moves and speed that don’t come around too often.  The revenge factor will be a huge factor for Charlie Strong’s boys who are a dark horse in the Big 12 Conference.  If the Horns can hook Brian Kelly’s Irish out of the gate, the conference best take notice early.  Strong has cleaned house of a lot of problems off the field.  He now must have his team take care of business on the gridiron.

The NFL is always full of uncertainties at the beginning of the year.

The constants like New England winning the AFC East and being in the Super Bowl hunt don’t seem to change but there are lots of questions to be answered as we hit the ground running September 8th with Carolina at Denver opening up where they left off.  The Rams are back in L.A. and while I think Goff will have to wait his turn before getting the starting nod, it’s good for football to have a team back in the City of Angels.  Injuries are such a key part of every season and I hope guys like Jordy Nelson and RG III stay healthy so we can watch another season unfold at full strength.  While I think the Broncos & Panthers will both have a shot to get back to the Big Game, I am predicting the Opening Sunday Night match-up between New England and Arizona to be the Super Bowl tilt next February.  Like them or hate them, the Pats just find ways to win.  Garopollo may take some lumps in the opener in Glendale,AZ but he will mature quickly.  The running backs in Lewis & White are solid receivers who combined for 76 receptions out of the backfield last season.  LeGarrette Blount will do the dirty work between the tackles.  The acquisition of Martellus Bennett gives Belichick a second dominant tight end to pair with Gronk and if Edelman and Amendola both stay healthy the Pats will somehow play for another title.

The Cards need to keep Carson Palmer upright again and give him a chance to use his wisdom gained in the post season.  The Cards defense added Robert Nkemdiche from the draft and stud lineman Chandler Jones of the Pats should team up with veteran Calais Campbell to provide plenty of pressure on opposing QB’s.  With the Honey Badger back to full strength, this defense should be the best in the League in my book.

I feel I’m a solid scout of the game and while I enjoy Preseason predictions, many never pan out.  I use my in game analysis to prognosticate the future weeks as with football there are so many variables that continue to change throughout the season.  I don’t stick to just one set of power numbers like many do because team chemistry changes so much from year to year.  If my preseason Power Rankings are upside down and I’m stubborn on my opinions, I could get buried.  I elect to watch and see things unfold and so the first few weeks of the season there will probably be less plays per weekend than in weeks 3-4 and beyond.  Looking forward to getting things rolling with a positive start and  I promise you will get my best effort.

— Ken Thomson

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