Pats Preview: Week 1

BD_hanson.jpgSome NFL analysts study trends. Others study stats. Our man, Gonz, does neither. But each week he will break down the Patriots game anyway. His picks are for amusement purposes only, since last year he dropped a small fortune to the world’s worst bookie.

Finally. It’s back. The NFL kicked off its season last night as the Colts crushed the Saints 41-10.

But nuts to all that. Peyton Manning is a poor man’s Tom Brady if you ask me. (Think about it: how many hot female celebrities has Manning impregnated? Exactly.) Besides, that game was just the appetizer. It’s time to talk about the main course: Pats at the Jets on Sunday.

In the feverish run-up to the game, you’ve probably read a lot of nonsense reminding everyone about how Jets head coach Eric Mangini so cleverly game planned for the Pats last year when New York stole a 17-14 win at Gillette to split the regular season series. You’ve probably read gobs of garbage about Randy Moss and Asante Samuel and the other “keys” to the season. And you’ve no doubt read about how the two teams dislike each other and how it figures to be a close game. Forget all that. None of it matters. It’s nothing more than sportswriter effluvia meant to clog your brain and fill column inches.

I’m here to deliver you from the distractions and focus your attention on what truly matters come Sunday: The Pats new punter. I know, I know, under normal circumstances, punting isn’t overly important to the outcome of a football game. Ah, but these aren’t normal circumstances, and this is no ordinary punter. His name is Chris Hanson, and he’s a 30-year-old former Pro Bowler. Which isn’t what makes him special. No, it’s his ability to survive freakish, gruesome (and often hilarious) injuries that sets him apart.

Consider: When he played for the Jags and they got off to an 0-3 start one year, head coach Jack Del Rio tried to inspire his troops by creating a “Keep Chopping Wood” team rallying cry. (It’s clichéd football speak, but stay with me here.) Del Rio even went so far as to get a block of wood, and an axe, and instruct each player to literally swing the instrument into the stump. Hanson, like everyone else, took his turn. But unlike everyone else, he missed the wood and swung the axe directly into his leg. Now, it was his non-kicking leg, but, you know, ouch.

But that’s not all, and it may not be the worst of his off-field injuries. Less than two years before Paul Bunyan chopped himself down, he somehow suffered first- and second-degree burns when a small fondue party went horribly awry. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a fondue party. They’re boring and pretentious and maddening, but I’ve never been to one that required an ambulance, gauze, and industrial strength balm.

Point is, between nearly severing his own leg and scalding himself crisp, Hanson is like the Pats very own Michael Myers. Seriously, Rob Zombie should have cast him in the Halloween remake. If you were a Jets player, and you saw Hanson alive and, uh, kicking (sorry, couldn’t help myself), it would scare the crap out of you.

The Pick: Hanson and the Pats strike fear in the Jets. New England 21, New York 14.

(Take it to the bank — this is scientific shit.)