* Looks like Peyton Manning still has it. Or the Baltimore Ravens defense doesn’t still have it. Or some of both. And yes, Manning and his seven touchdowns are my opponent in fantasy football this week. You had to ask? Manning scored 67 points in our league.
* My NFL division winners in the AFC are: New England (East); Houston (South); Cincinnati (North) and Denver (West).
* The NFC division winners: Washington (East); Atlanta (South); Green Bay (North); San Francisco (West).
* AFC wild cards: Indianapolis, Pittsburgh.
* NFC wild cards: Seattle, New Orleans.
* I can tell you want me to forecast the playoffs now. OK, what the heck.
* AFC wild-card round: New England over Pittsburgh; Indianapolis over Cincinnati.
* NFC wild-card round: New Orleans over Green Bay; Seattle over Atlanta.
* AFC divisional round: Denver over Indianapolis; Houston over New England.
* NFC division round: San Francisco over New Orleans; Washington over Seattle.
* AFC championship: Denver over Houston.
* NFC championship: Washington over San Francisco.
* Super Bowl: Washington over Denver.
* That’s a lot riding on Washington and RG III, isn’t it? I had no idea I was going to pick the Redskins to go all the way when I started this exercise today. It just happened.
* Why the Redskins? You know, I’m not really sure. Obviously, Robert Griffin III is susceptible to an injury that could stop his season on a dime. And the NFC is loaded with quality teams so it’s not like Washington was the only team out there to pick. In the AFC, Denver is one of the few teams that it makes sense to pick to reach the Super Bowl. The AFC looks really light to be.
* The Chiefs? Let’s go 8-8, although I think Kansas City could easily finish 4-12. I’m just not sold on the Chiefs’ receiving corps. And that means it’s at least possible that new quarterback Alex Smith will have a so-so season, which would probably get him into trouble with an impatient fan base. That would be a shame and I hope it doesn’t happen. I like Smith, but a quarterback needs weapons. Denver brought in Wes Welker this season to give Manning, whose arm strength isn’t what it used to be, an option in the underneath passing game. It’s only been a game, but that looks to have been a solid idea.
* I’m encouraged by the St. Louis Rams, who are as close to “my team” in the NFL as any other. I like the way the Rams have gone young and this is a team that will grow together. St. Louis won’t contend in the NFC West this season because it’s the toughest division out there. But the Rams will be exciting and in a year or two, watch out.
* I’m looking forward to seeing Kansas’ opener against South Dakota on Saturday night in Lawrence. Count me among those who is not convinced Charlie Weis has what it takes to turn around the Jayhawks. But this will still be an interesting team to watch because of all the junior college players Weis has brought aboard for 2013. He really had no choice; an infusion of players was necessary. We’ll soon find out whether or not these players have the talent it will take to get KU into Big 12 contention.
* Kansas State, the smart money says, will right the ship after its tough loss to North Dakota State last week. I understand that thinking. But the Wildcats have some real areas of concern on both the offensive and defensive fronts. And those are a couple of areas that aren’t always easy to fix. I expect K-State to waltz through Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday in Manhattan and to do the same against Massachusetts next week. But then come road games at Texas and Oklahoma State to start the Big 12 season. Based on what I’ve seen, hard to think the Cats will be anything other than 2-3 after the first five.
* Pardon me for a St. Louis Cardinals take here, but it has to be said. I hope I never have to watch Lance Lynn, as currently mis-constructed (is that even a word?) emotionally, start another game. Lynn is a basket case when he pitches and, thus, he makes me a basket case when I watch him pitch. He has no mound presence. Nothing about him indicates confidence, which a pitcher is lost without. Even a bad pitcher often times exudes confidence. Anyway, get yourself together, Lynn, before you get back on the mound.
* I know the PGA Tour wants to keep golf fans engaged after the PGA Tour, the final major of the season. But the FedExCup just isn’t working, at least for fans like me. And I like to think I’m golf guy at times. Even so, I’m lost in a world of NFL, college football and MLB pennant races.
* I’m headed down to my old stomping ground tonight to watch Derby play Salina South. Looking forward to it, but gonna be at least a couple of hours early. Writing about the atmosphere for a Derby home football game for the paper.
* I saw “Blue Jasmine” last weekend with my lovely, Jasmine-y wife, Debbie. What a great movie. There’s nothing like a Woody Allen movie, is there? He doesn’t always hits home runs, but he doesn’t often foul out to the catcher, either. And Cate Blanchett was great. It’ll take somebody and something special to keep her from winning an Oscar.
* Give me a good character study in a movie any day and keep your summer blockbusters and action flicks. I’m high brow that way. Or I like to think I am. Don’t you just hate “high-brow” guy? Yeah, me too.
* I have an offer to play golf Sunday afternoon but I pay a gazillion dollars for the NFL Sunday Ticket on DirecTV. And it’s Week One. What will I do?
* Through my involvement in League 42, a baseball league for underprivileged kids in Wichita (ask me about it sometime), I’m getting to meet a bunch of new people. And I consider that a blessing. Not that I don’t thoroughly enjoy the people I already know, mind you. They’re great, too. In case there was any misunderstanding.
* Have a great weekend. And remember, this is the Redskins’ year. Take it to the bank.