Naw, forget all that. I'm not even going to attempt one.
It won't make a difference.
I could tell people that picking these games is simply a part of my job. I could tell them it's probably the toughest part of my job because it automatically villainizes me one way or the other.
But this is a labor of love. It doesn't have many tough parts.
I could tell them I have no vested interest in who wins and in light of such information, they should take my words with less than a grain of salt.
I could also tell people in light of such information not to set any (read: illegal) lines based on the picks of myself and my co-workers.
But they'd pay my words no never mind like the surgeon general's warning stamped on a pack of cigarettes.
In my mind, I'm neutral like Switzerland. But in the collective hearts of our readers — I've come to realize — I might as well be picking sides ... regardless of how asinine such an assertion is.
Nonetheless, I have to get this money. The rent doesn't pay itself.
Let's get it on.
• ALEXANDRIA AT ANNISTON: It's the first pick of the season and likely the most difficult of the week. Alexandria won a low-scoring affair 9-0 a year ago at Lou Scales Stadium. I think it'll be another hard-fought battle with the home team winning a close one again this year. That is unless I'm absolutely wrong. … Anniston 13, Alexandria 7.
• DONOHO AT WHITE PLAINS: The Wildcats are John Dietrich's favorite squad and Christa Turner's alma mater. That has absolutely nothing to do with anything, but I thought I'd mention it. I've got White Plains winning. …White Plains 30, Donoho 13.
• PLEASANT VALLEY AT OHATCHEE: This is a matchup that pits two of the more promising teams in the county against each other. Pleasant Valley is coming off consecutive playoff appearances. Ohatchee showed promise during the latter portion of 2008 under coach Chad Cochran. Look out for the Tribe, but I'll side with the Raiders in this one. …Pleasant Valley 21, Ohatchee 12.
• BENJAMIN RUSSELL AT OXFORD: Just seeing the names of the two programs side-by-side produces visions of a battle royale on the gridiron. Throw the name of former Clay County coach Danny Horn, who is now at Ben Russell, in the mix, and it's cause to get downright giddy. However, I think it may take a year or at least a few games before Horn can reproduce the success he had in Ashland. I also wouldn't want to be caught in Oxford's crosshairs in Week 1. …Oxford 35, Benjamin Russell 21.
• SAKS AT WELLBORN: This will no doubt be an emotional moment for Wellborn coach Jeff Smith, who bolted a comfortable gig at Class 6A Hueytown to go back home. Wellborn looks to improve on the pair of 1-9 finishes it's posted the past two seasons. The Panthers have already seen increased numbers. However, Saks, which features quarterback R.J. Sturkie and lineman Andre Richardson, will likely prevail. … Saks 28, Wellborn 14.
• CLEBURNE COUNTY AT LINEVILLE: Each of these traditional powers suffered lackluster seasons by their lofty standards in 2008. Lineville's got do-it-all athlete Jonathan Glenn. He should impress, but I'd say Heflin wins the old fashioned way. …Cleburne County 14, Lineville 13.
• GADSDEN CITY AT TUSCALOOSA COUNTY: Even though Gadsden City isn't ranked, anyone who hasn't lived in a hole during the past few seasons knows what kind of athletes the school produces. I'm still going to be a chump and go with conventional wisdom and pick County High based on nothing more than their 11-1 record last year and No. 7 ranking. … Tuscaloosa County 24, Gadsden City 20.
• PIEDMONT AT CHEROKEE COUNTY: As for the granddaddy of them all this week, I say it's going to be high-scoring and down to the wire. … Cherokee County 42, Piedmont 34.
• CLAY COUNTY AT MUNFORD: I've spoken in this space before about Munford's treacherous first-half schedule that also includes Handley, Cleburne County, Saks and T.C. Central. I think I've made the mistake of picking against Clay County in the regular season once. It shan't happen again. … Clay County 35, Munford 14.
And the rest of them: Jacksonville 16, Weaver 7; JCA 19, ASD 14; Cedar Bluff 42, Sand Rock 32; Glencoe 22, West End 7; Handley 40, Bullock 20; Lincoln 38, Etowah 20; Shelby County 28, Pell City 24; Spring Garden 25, Appalachian 12; Wadley 20, Horseshoe Bend 13; TCC 27, Ranburne 22; Randolph County 18, Winterboro 16.