Week Two Picks:
It is only Tuesday and perhaps a little too early to begin picking the games this weekend, but I have time to kill and thoughts to spare. I’ve already given my Lions prediction (Vikings win 27-20). There are fifteen other games to call. We begin with the 1:00’s.
Houston @ Tennessee
A week ago I would have picked Houston in a heartbeat, but both teams surprised me in their openers. Houston couldn’t move the ball against a stout Jets defense, and they don’t get much of a break here. The Titans meanwhile played surprisingly impressive offense and stuffed the Steelers running game. Tennessee was very susceptible to downfield passing, however, and with Andre Johnson against them it could be brutal. Both teams need a win to avoid 0-2. Houston wants it more, but Tennessee is at home and has a great coach. I’ll give this game to the Titans, 24-18.
New Orleans @ Philly
This might be the game of the week. Both teams are coming off dominating performances. McNabb is unlikely to play and the Eagles signed Jeff Garcia who should start. I still love Philly with or without Donovan and have no reason to change them as my Super Bowl pick from the NFC. Eagles win this one 35-24; big game by Westbrook.
Arizona @ JacksonvilleA couple of 0-1 teams that just barely lost. It’s going to be funny seeing the Super Bowl Losers winless after two games. Funny, but not surprising. Fitzgerald doesn’t have an easy matchup against Rashard Mathis. Jags take this game 30-16.
Oakland @ Kansas City
Yet another game between 0-1 rivals. The Raiders looked mighty feisty against San Diego on Monday night but the facts are that KC has them outmatched at nearly every position and usually plays very well at Arrowhead. Kansas City wins big 36-15.
Cincinnati @ Green Bay
I don’t want the Bengals to fall to 0-2 since I thought Palmer would be having a renaissance year, but they aren’t winning in Lambeau. No way. How is a terrible defense supposed to stop a great offense? Rodgers will be wanting to improve upon his somewhat-disappointing game against the Bears. The Packers 3-4 defense looked very Steelers-esque and the Bengals aren’t going to like that. GB wins 38-10.
Minnesota @ Detroit
It looks like I might be attending this game in person. That would be sweet. Even sweeter if the Lions win. But I already said Vikes 27-20.
St. Louis @ Washington
Two teams that I had high hopes for who both did crappy. Spagnuolo is going to have to wait at least another week for his first coaching victory. Redskins clobber them 28-9.
New England @ New York Jets
Don’t get in Tom Brady’s way when he’s mad. Patriots win 38-17.
Carolina @ Atlanta
Huge division showdown. Last year’s champs against this year’s favorites. Delhomme had NEGATIVE EIGHT fantasy points on Sunday. That’s unheard of. He won’t be that bad again, but he won’t be as good as Matt Ryan, who is playing his first home game of the year. Falcons will start the year 2-0 and win 27-16.
Tampa Bay @ Buffalo
When it’s two of the worst teams in the league, I usually like the home team. TO better get in the end zone or he’s going to start to unravel. That shouldn’t be a problem against perhaps the worst defense in the NFL. This also could be the game where Byron Leftwich sucks it up and Josh Freeman sees the field. Bills 17, Bucs 3.
Seattle @ San Francisco
One of these NFC West ‘losers’ is about to be 2-0. I think Seattle is a better team so I’m going to pick them. Also because I haven’t picked a road time yet except the Vikings and Pats. Seahawks win 22-19.
Baltimore @ San Diego
I could see this going either way; in fact I could see either team winning in blowout fashion. Neither of these teams make much sense to me. I just think the Ravens defense is not the same without Ryan and Scott and I don’t trust Flacco yet. Plus I have the Chargers winning 13 games this year so they have to start 2-0. SD 17, BAL 14.
Pittsburgh @ Chicago
Take back what I said about the Saints-Eagles. This is the game of the week, at least from a media standpoint. There’s so much to discuss: the high hopes of Chicago; devastating injuries to Urlacher and Polamalu; Roethlisberger and Cutler, the two least likeable quarterbacks in the NFL; and most of all, the Bears potential to start 0-2 and fall in a big hole. Now, this game is not going to be easy to predict. On the surface it looks like a Steelers victory, but you can’t downplay the injury to Troy Polamalu. As soon as he left the field against Tennessee, the Titans offense suddenly became dynamic and moved up and down the field with ease. I think far too often we overestimate the impact of injuries to key offensive players, and under-value the impact of losing star defensive players. Look at last year: Brady’s injury was the most ubiquitous story in the NFL, but the Chargers losing Shawn Merriman was almost just as detrimental to their team. San Diego went from the most feared defense in the league to one of the worst. The same could happen to Pittsburgh. Really. Troy Polamalu isn’t just a good safety; he’s not just the best safety in the NFL; he’s very likely the best, most dominant, most game-changing defensive player in all the NFL. Yeah, there are lots of other contenders: Patrick Willis, Ware and Tuck and Allen and Mario Williams, Reed and Sanders, Haynesworth, and plenty of others. But to me, it’s a two-man battle between Polamalu and Nnamdi Asomugha, and Troy is a little bit better. Not “better” persay, but more dominant. No one throws the ball near Asomugha, and when they do, they pay. But you can’t avoid Troy. He is everywhere and makes the Steelers almost impossible to run against or throw against. No other player is like that.
So what happens with him out? The Steelers suddenly aren’t as ferocious against the run or the pass and all their blitz-happiness could cause them to be burned without Troy back there reading the play and reacting with lightning speed. Cutler could actually have a big game here. Here’s why: Jay Cutler is the most egomaniacal non-WR in the NFL. He’s an absolute asshole who loves himself and only cares about himself. He wants stats, not wins, and made a real fool of himself on Sunday night. Everyone’s going to be counting him out against the Steelers, and he’ll take it personally. He’s not looking to win this game – he’s looking for a ton of yards and touchdowns so if they lose he can pin the blame on someone else. I think that’s exactly what’s going to happen. Steelers win a high-scoring affair, 37-31.
Cleveland @ Denver
Can I just say it’s a 0-0 tie? Does someone really have to win this game? I guess I’ll pick Denver even though I hate the idea of Josh McDaniels starting out 2-0. It’ll just make it all the more sweeter when the Broncos lose like crazy once they start playing some non-Ohio teams who don’t suck. Denver 10-7.
New York Giants @ Dallas
Sunday night, undefeated rivals, the new Cowboys stadium, what more could you ask for? How about Eli Manning getting waxed and throwing four INTs. I freaking hate Eli Manning. I can’t wait for him to start sucking again. I wish the Giants would trade him to the Bills and so he could be exposed for the joke that he is. Dallas wins 24-17.
Indianapolis @ Miami
Manning against Pennington. Hmm … Colts win 28-10.