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October 22, 2014

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Manning’s neck malady gives Colts’ reins to Collins:

Race for the Nerf: Celebrity/Media NFL Picks Week 1

No Burton means a new champ is guaranteed

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John T. Wylie Jr.

Lance Burton accepts the Golden Nerf from Sal DeFilippo.

For NFL fans everywhere, the possibility of a lockout wiping out the 2011 season was a huge pain in the neck.

But for Kerry Collins, a huge pain in the neck made his 2011 season a possibility.

Offseason neck surgery for Colts quarterback Peyton Manning was cause enough for Indianapolis to sign Collins in August, a month after the 10th leading passer in NFL history had announced his retirement.

Manning, who has started the past 227 games for the Colts, was still holding out hopes of being ready for the season opener, but his neck had not healed sufficiently and this week, he had another surgery to repair the damage. Suddenly, Collins has the Colts’ reins for an indefinite period.

It’s mildly ironic that someone was lured out of retirement to cover for Manning, since his consecutive-game streak for a quarterback was second all-time to Brett Favre, who also holds the NFL record for being lured out of retirement.

If the idea of Collins starting again at age 38 doesn’t make you feel old as a fan, try this on for size: Who was the last guy other than Manning to start a game as the Colts quarterback? That would be rookie 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh (who may want to get under center himself after a few weeks of Alex Smith).

But regardless of who is under center, the important thing for a football starved nation is that someone is taking snaps, because that means the NFL season is intact and under way. Game on!

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Sure, by now you’re probably saying, “Enough about football, what about the battle for the prestigious Golden Nerf?”

Have no fear, the celebrities are back. Well, most of them. Master Magician Lance Burton, who won the Nerf the previous two seasons, announced his retirement from celebrity picks competition. I asked several Vikings coaches to make trips to his house to try to get him to come back, but to no avail.

So for the first time in the 12-year history of this celebrity competition, we are guaranteed a new winner. And since Burton made me cough up a freshly painted Golden Nerf for his repeat wins, we’ll have a new trophy, too.

We also have some new prognosticators gunning for the title, including Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman. Her strategy is simple – she’s going to pick the exact opposite of her husband, former mayor Oscar Goodman.

“She’s certain that will be a winning formula,” said Mr. Goodman about this family battle.

Also new to the competition this year are comedy hypnotist Marc Savard, who performs at V Theater at Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood; and principal dancer Tara Palsha of “Vegas – The Show,” at Saxe Theater, also in Miracle Mile Shops.

Other returning prognosticators are “Phantom – Las Vegas Spectacular” star Anthony Crivello, Luxor funnyman Carrot Top, Mirage comic ventriloquist Terry Fator, KVBC meteorologist Kevin Janison, “Mr. Las Vegas” Wayne Newton, Flamingo headliner (and a little bit rock and roll) Donny Osmond and “Fantasy” at Luxor vocalist Lorena Peril.

The rules are simple: Each media/celeb contestant picks three games against the spread. Best record wins and best of luck to everyone!

Sal’s picks: Finishing on the plus side of .500 last year surely spells doom for me this season, but let’s see how we can get out of the game. I’ll take the Browns -6½ vs. Bengals, the Buccaneers-Lions over 41 and the Cardinals -7 vs. the Panthers.

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The media/celebrity picks:

Anthony Crivello, star of "Phantom -- Las Vegas Spectacular" (0-0)

Browns -6½ vs. Bengals

Cardinals -7 vs. Panthers

Patriots -7 at Dolphins

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Carrot Top, Luxor headliner (0-0)

Lions +2 at Buccaneers

Eagles -5 at Rams

Chargers -8½ vs. Vikings

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Terry Fator, Mirage headliner (0-0)

Steelers +2 1/2 at Ravens.

Jets -4 vs. Cowboys

Redskins +3 vs. Giants

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Carolyn Goodman, Mayor of Las Vegas (0-0)

Bears +2 vs. Falcons

Bengals +6½ at Browns

Dolphins +7 vs. Patriots

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Oscar Goodman, Las Vegas ambassador (0-0)

Falcons -2 at Bears

Browns -6½ vs. Bengals

Patriots -7 at Dolphins

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Kevin Janison, KVBC meteorologist (0-0)

Falcons -2 at Bears

Cardinals -7 vs. Panthers

Browns -6½ vs. Bengals

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Wayne Newton, "Mr. Las Vegas" (0-0)

Browns -6½ vs. Bengals

Cardinals -7 vs. Panthers

Redskins +3 at Giants

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Donny Osmond, Flamingo Las Vegas headliner (0-0)

Lions +2 at Buccaneers

Chargers-Vikings over 41½

Ravens-Steelers over 36

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Lorena Peril, Vocalist, Fantasy at Luxor (0-0)

Chiefs -6 over Bills

Giants -3 over Redskins

49ers -5½ over Seahawks

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Tara Palsha, principal dancer, Vegas! The Show at V Theater (0-0)

Steelers +2½ at Ravens

Patriots -7 at Dolphins

Cardinals -7 vs. Panthers

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Marc Savard, Comedy Hypnotist, V Theater at Planet Hollywood (0-0)

Lions +2 at Buccaneers

Cardinals -7 vs. Panthers

Ravens 2 1/2 over Steelers

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