Wednesday, September 12, 2012

NFL Week 2: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere

In the fourth quarter of the Eagles-Browns game, right after Philadelphia QB Mike Vick threw the TAINT that gave the Browns the upset lead, I looked up at the out of town scores. And realized that, with the hopes of an Eagles cover long gone, I was now starting down the barrel of 1-6 on the picks. Not good!

Well, like adulthood with the womenfolk, It Got Better. We were .500 in the 4pm games, undefeated under the lights, and the disaster was only a middling one. So play us out, Neil...



And with that... on to the picks!

* * * * *

CHICAGO at Green Bay (-5.5)

The general reaction is that there's no way the Packers are going to start the season 0-2 at home, and the Bears aren't as good as they looked in Sunday's win against the Colts, seeing how they trailed until DE Dwight Freeney went down. The Pack has also handled them in blowouts in recent games in the series. But, and this is a pretty big but, the Pack shouldn't have been anywhere close to the game with the Niners, and really got handled in the trenches. With the Matt Forte / Michal Bush RB tandem providing cover for QB Jay Cutler and the opportunistic Bears defense handling the Pack's sad running game, and WR Greg Jennings likely to miss the game, this is going to be close all night long. I see the Pack wining late, but not covering.

Packers 31, Bears 30

TAMPA at New York Giants (-7.5)


Bounce back game for the champs and an easy cover? Not so fast. Tampa looked like night and day compared to last year's quit patrol, and this number is too big for a Giants team that looks like a prime candidate for a Super hangover after becoming the first champion to lose their kickoff homecoming game. Give me the Bucs to hang around all day and get a cover.

Giants 27, Bucs 24

New England at ARIZONA (-14)


Just too big of a number to carry against a Cardinals team with a tolerable defense and some prime garbage time possibilities, especially with QB Kevin Kolb doing what he can to keep his job after QB John Skelton comes back from injury. Also, the Cardinals' special teams might make a play or two. Either way, this game will be interesting in the fourth quarter, but only to gamblers.

Pats 40, Cardinals 31

Minnesota at INDIANAPOLIS (+1.5)


Not a fan of Minny under QB Christian Ponder in any road game, and especially not in a loud dome of people who are going to want to bring in the Andrew Luck Era with a win. Look for the Colts to run more than you think, and for WR Reggie Wayne to continue his sneaky top 10 fantasy wideout year, as the Vikings struggle with substandard weapons, especially in the red zone.

Colts 24, Vikings 16

New Orleans at CAROLINA (+2.5)


This will be the week where we learn that the Saints defense, rather than RG3, is the more predictable aid to offense. In Carolina, on a potentially muddy track, I'm seeing a lack of perfection on offense that they usually need to compensate. One of these teams is going to be 0-2 after this game, but the bigger story is that both are eventually missing the playoffs.

Panthers 27, Saints 24

KANSAS CITY at Buffalo (-3)


Am I just bitter over the Bills stinking up the joint and making my pick against the Jets a stone cold loser? Well, sure, but the loss of RB Fred Jackson is also a big problem, and the Bills' problems in the run game last week do not bode well for a game against RB Jamal Charles. There's also the fact that QB Ryan Fitzpatrick might be secretly -- or not so secretly -- terrible, and outside of WR Stevie Johnson, there might not be a good second WR option.

Chiefs 24, Bills 20

BALTIMORE at Philadelphia (-2.5)


There are reasons to like the Eagles in this game. They are at home, have the short week after the MNF game, and can't possibly play as sloppy on offense as they did last week in Cleveland. The Ravens also had a deceptively big win against the Bengals, made much easier through a defensive score, and this has always been a much better home team than road. There's also more than a little reason for hope on the defensive side of the ball. But despite all of that, taking this mistake-ridden Eagles team against a quality defense, when they've had such issues keeping the QB upright and not turning the ball over... I just can't do it. Maybe later in the season, but not now.

Ravens 16, Eagles 13

OAKLAND at Miami (+2.5)


I kind of hate the fact that the Raiders are the favorite here, coming off the short week and flying across the country to play in the September Florida heat. And until they get back WR Denarius Moore, the WRs are totally prone to the kind of shutdown work that the Chargers threw at them in the MNF late game. But when push comes to shove, the Fish are just terrible, and RB Ryan Tannehill isn't going to be able to handle the kind of pressure that the Raider DL can bring. It will take a while, but eventually the defensive pressure will win this one.

Raiders 24 , Dolphins 10

Cleveland at CINCINNATI (-7.5)


As I was leaving the Eagles-Browns game on Sunday, I caught some of the local post-game coverage... and while the analysts were making no excuses for QB Brandon Weeden's terrible day, or RB Trent Richardson's tentative running, they were feeling good about their defense. This week, even that feeling is going away, because while the defense can defend the pass relatively well with both starting CBs, there's a very real chance that they are going to not have either in this game. Against QB Andy Dalton and WR AJ Green, on the road, that's going to be all kinds of deadly. This one is going to have a lot of garbage time.

Bengals 31, Browns 10

HOUSTON at Jacksonville (-7.5)


Love this Houston team this year, and while the Jags showed good life in Minny and could have easily won the road opener, the Texans are not the Vikings. Look for the Texans defense to give up more than most people expect, but to eventually put the clamps down after the Texans grind out a lead. And it also doesn't help the home team to be down to just RB Maurice Jones-Drew, who doesn't look like he's got the old burst to make the big second-level plays to keep this one close.

Texans 27, Jaguars 17

Dallas at SEATTLE (+3)


As good as the schedule makers can go for Dallas here, who get two straight road games to start the year, but have extra days to prepare for it. Seattle struggled in the first game of the overly hyped QB Russell Wilson Era, but the defense made plays most of the day, and if the WRs make any plays at all late, they get a road win in the desert. As for the Cowboys, I think the sledding gets a lot harder here against the Seahawks' big corners, and the Seahawk offensive run game is going to be able to salt this away late.

Seahawks 24, Cowboys 17

Washington at ST. LOUIS (+3)


How can I like the home team in the Redskins' second straight game in a road dome? Because I liked what I saw in last week's loss for the Rams, who pushed the Lions to the limit, and if WR Pierre Garcon is still out, that's really not a good indicator for the road team. I like the home team in one of the bigger upsets of the day, because RG3 just isn't ready to ascend into Football Heaven that quick.

Rams 24, Redskins 23

New York Jets at PITTSBURGH (-6)


I can't bet this game fast enough. This should be an easy home cover for a team that has plenty of winning experience against smoke and mirrors teams like this one, and enough run/pass mix to avoid big issues and negative plays. Besides, I just don't see this Jets offense being able to travel all that well.

Steelers 24, Jets 13

Tennessee at SAN DIEGO (-5)


Another short week for the favorite, but the Titans' inability to run the ball and reliance on a potentially hurt QB (Jake Locker) doesn't scream out upset to me. San Diego could have easily turned the MNF game into a blowout, and you have to think they'll be a little better in the road game here. The Titans' best chance for the upset is if ex-suspended ex-hurt WR Kenny Britt can deliver some magic.

Chargers 31, Titans 17

Detroit at SAN FRANCISCO (-6.5)


The Lions travel for SNF, a potentially nasty experience on a sloppy track against the NFC's best defense. I like the home team to slowly but surely pull away in this one, and for San Fran's exceptional secondary to keep Lions QB Matthew Stafford way down on his usual yardage. Finally, there's the fact that the Lions tend to play down to their circus nature under a national spotlight...

Niners 27, Lions 17

Denver at ATLANTA (-3)


Another game I can't bet fast enough. Denver has the feel of a Public Team now with QB Peyton Manning at the controls, aka a team that gets enough support that the line should always be 1 to 3 points ahead of what the game should be. Their home field is loud, their WRs unstoppable, and their ability to win this one fairly unquestioned.

Falcons 30, Broncos 17

Last Week: 7-9

2012: 7-9

Career: 549-533-26

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