I've often said that my football predictions should come with one of those surgeon-general type warnings that you see on packages of cigarettes and cans of beer. WARNING: BETTING MONEY BASED ON PITONIAK'S PICKS CAN BE HAZARDOUS TO ONE'S WALLET.
Consider my take going into Monday night's Bills game. Buffalo was going to New England with what essentially amounted to an entirely new offensive line and they were attempting to beat a team they hadn't beaten in 11 straight tries on a night when one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the game was returning after missing virtually all of last season. I figured Tom Brady's bunch would win in a walk. 38-13, I believe, is the score I settled on.
So what happens? The Bills, led by a rejuvenated Trent Edwards, play their keisters off and shoulda, coulda, woulda won had Leodis McKelvin not fumbled away that damn kickoff late in the game.
I'm not big on moral victories or morale victories for that matter, but given the confused state of this organization in recent weeks - new offensive coordinator, new left tackle just before the season kicks off - you have to be impressed with a 25-24 loss to Bill Belichick's boys on opening night on national television.
A heart-breaker? To be sure, along the lines of a similar loss to the Dallas Cowboys on MNF two years ago. But there were so many encouraging signs, particularly from Edwards, who threw two touchdown passes and showed a lot of moxie in a hostile environment. It also was good to see Aaron Schobel return to form, and who would have thought that undersized linebacker Keith Ellison was capable of a 15-tackle performance.
Considering the short notice, I thought Alex Van Pelt called a pretty fair game in his debut as an NFL offensive coordinator.
Yes, a loss is a loss is a loss, and you don't get any style points in this league. But the Bills showed some fight against a team that usually doesn't have to break a sweat against them.
I hate to jinx them, but I really believe they should win their home opener against a not-so-great Tampa Bay team this Sunday. (I just ask that you don't put any money on the game based on my pick.)
What more can you say about Brady? Neither he nor his receivers looked particularly sharp for almost three quarters, but the quarterback was his usual cool, calm, collected self when the pressure was the greatest and the Patriots needed two scores in a hurry. He's this generation's Joe Montana.