Thursday, September 13, 2012

Week One Wrap Up & Two Picks

The bad news?  My week one picks sucked.   I was dead wrong about almost everything. (Well, actually I ended up 8-8 ATS and 11-5 straight-up, which was a whole lot better than Andy who went 5-11 ATS ... but the picks certainly felt as if they sucked.)

The other bad news -  I lost in the "A" league to my idiot brother ... the same guy who drafted Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, and Donald Driver because apparently he thinks it's 2004.  I may have the worst team of anybody after week one. This is deja vu from last season; my running backs are atrocious.

The good news?  The Lions have a better record than the Packers. And, a better record than the Steelers.  Also,  I went 9-1 in my other 10 fantasy leagues, three of which I care about somewhat.  I have some really kick ass teams.  Unfortunately, none of them are in the league that involves money.

Here are the game recaps:

Bears 41, Colts 21  
At one point, Cutler was 1 for 10 with a pick.  I felt pretty good about the Colts covering the 9 points and about the Lions going to the playoffs.  Then, the Bears karate chopped the Colts in the neck.  Andrew Luck was pretty solid, but the Bears D was better. The Indy D is still a complete wreck, even with Vontae Davis.   Apparently Brandon Marshall is going to win me $375 imaginary dollars from my over/under picks for most receiving yards.

Lions 27, Rams 23 
Just thinking about this game is making my entire body feel like it's on fire, so I'm going to just say this - we escaped with a lucky ass win.

Eagles 17, Browns 16 
Pretty sure you have to be able to beat the worst team in the league before you call yourself a dynasty.  Just saying.

Patriots 34, Titans 13
On the way to 19-0, the Pats' offense looked unstoppable and the Pats' D looked respectable.  They held Chris Johnson to something like 4 yards on 12 carries.  Crazy.  Also, to the millions of fantasy junkies around the world who are excited about Steven Ridley (21 carries for 125 and a TD), I feel bad for you.  I'd be willing to bet that Ridley doesn't receive 20 carries again for the rest of his Patriot career.

Falcons 40, Chiefs 24 
I called this game almost exactly. Julio Jones is going to be a force to be reckoned with this year, especially in fantasy ... too bad I wasn't able to draft him in any relevant leagues.  Chiefs D was without a couple key players; they'll be better as the year goes on. Matt Cassel looked bad, but Charles looks fully recovered.

Vikings 26, Jags 23 (OT) 
I had the over on Vikes by 4, and I should have got this one right if Gabbert hadn't somehow led a last-minute TD drive.  Blaine wasn't nearly as bad as he was last year, with a QB rating of 96.1.  Last year, in 15 starts, he never had a QB rating above 92, and on the road he never had a QB rating above 70.  So, big improvements from him. He also set career highs in completions (23) and yards (260).  So in other words, the strategy of taking fantasy DSTs that go against Gabbert may not be foolproof.

Adrian Peterson is back.  Oh crap.

Redskins 40, Saints 32
I watched about 12 plays of this game, and that was all I needed to conclude: RG3 is legit.  I was wrong about him.  I'm just going to jump off the 'Hate RG3' wagon now before I say more stupid things.  That dude can freaking throw, and his confidence in the pocket was astounding.  I'm going to reverse my previous statements completely and say that not only will RG3 win ROY, but the Skins will win 8+ games and they'll be a Super Bowl contender by 2015.

Jets 48, Bills 28
Who saw that coming? After scoring a whopping zero touchdowns in the preseason, the Jets' offense scored 6 in this game.  After the game, Mario Williams lamely complained about the replacement refs not calling enough holding penalties (honestly, who does that?). Also, Fred Jackson is hurt for about 4 games.  And Ryan Fitzpatrick looked a mess. Bad times coming for Buffalo.  As for the Jets ... let's wait and see.

Texans 30, Dolphins 10
Ryan Tannehill was predictably awful, with a QB rating of 39.  I seem to remember writing something in April about how Tannehill's A&M team was only 7-6 against a mediocre college schedule, including 1-5 against ranked teams.  If he couldn't beat Kansas State, how the heck can he beat NFL teams?

I'm not officially doing the "Survivor" challenge thing (where you pick one team to win straight up every week, and can't take the same team twice), but if I was, Houston would have been my week one pick.

49ers 30, Packers 22
The crazy thing is, the game wasn't as close as the score makes it look.  Rodgers was constantly under pressure, the Niners D looked like men against boys, and Navarro Bowman looked like he may actually be better than Patrick Willis, making them possibly the two best linebackers in the league, on the same freaking time.  Jim Harbaugh also looked like a guy with serious rage issues throughout the entire contest, from start to finish.  He's probably going to die before the age of 50 from exploding blood vessels.

Cardinals 20, Seahawks 16
So much for Bill Simmons's prediction about the Seahawks going to the Super Bowl.  Russell Wilson might be benched for Matt Flynn within a week or two.  Both of these teams are awful.

Bucs 16, Panthers 10 
With Jonathan Stewart out, I was expecting a nice game for DeAngelo Williams ... 6 carries for -1 yards ... not so much.  Could this be the beginning of a Cam Newton Sophomore Slump? Does this mean Tampa should be considered a real contender for the wildcard?  I am guessing "no" for both questions.

Two stats worth noting - 1) Cam had more than twice as many passing yards as Freeman, and 2) rookie Doug Martin had 28 touches compared to LeGarrette Blount's 4.  So if you drafted Martin, congratulations.

Broncos 31, Steelers 19 
Peyton Manning is a No Huddle Robot.  Simply unbelievable.  He's back.

Ravens 44, Bengals 13 
Joe Flacco for MVP?

Chargers 22, Raiders 14 
Oakland was the better team, moving the ball more effectively all night.  The Bolts' D doesn't look to be very competitive at all.  But Oakland managed to screw up THREE punts, two of which were the fault of the long snapper.  That was the difference.  By the way, did you notice McFadden had 13 receptions? And 18 targets?  That's very un-Carson Palmer like ... but it suddenly makes McFadden seem like a top 3 fantasy back ... you know, if he stays healthy of course.

So without further ado ... the Week Two Picks (slightly rushed because I have the flu)

Bears (1-0) @ Packers (0-1) 
Predicted Line: GB by 5.5
Actual Line: GB by 5 

I'd love to see the Pack fall to 0-2, but I'd rather see the Bears lose.  Either way is good for the Lions.  Best case scenario is that a key player from either team gets seriously hurt.  Not like paralyzed or anything, but I'd gladly take a shattered fibula.  Yeah, I just said that.

With Jennings doubtful, it's tempting to take the Bears and the points.  But something tells me Rodgers will be too much for the Bears D.  I'll say Packers 27-17.

Lions (1-0) @ 49ers (1-0)
Predicted Line: SF by 6
Actual Line: SF by 7 

If the Lions try to establish the run, they're screwed.  You just can't run on Justin Smith & Patrick Willis & Navarro Bowman.  Especially not with Kevin Smith.  It's not worth trying.  They need to come out passing on 1st downs.  And 2nd downs.  And every down.  They need to target Megatron at least 15 times ... and use their biggest asset (the double/triple teams on Calvin) to move the ball using Titus, Nate and Broyles.  Hopefully Titus can make it through the first half without a temper tantrum, so Schwartz doesn't have to bench him again.  San Fran has a deadly pass rush, so we're probably going to need to keep Pettigrew on the line often, and maybe Will Heller as well.  Give Backus some help in this game, and Gosder too.

The problem is that San Fran can rush the passer using only 4 or 5 guys (or sometimes 3), so we're not going to find much open space in the secondary.  That's why Calvin's double teams are so valuable.  Also, Stafford needs to heavily utilize the slot guy and screen passes and all that jazz.  To beat a defense like this, you need to keep them guessing.  Running Kevin Smith up the middle for 1 yard is just not going to work.  

The way to stop the San Fran offense is simple - stuff the run on early downs.  Force Alex Smith to throw on 3rd and 8, 3rd and 10, etc.  Force him to throw into coverage, and he will make mistakes. Fortunately, we've got Houston and Delmas coming back.  I can't watch anymore 5th string rookies trying to play man coverage.

Our run D looked great last week, slowing down the beastly Steven Jackson.   Gore is a little quicker and more agile than Jackson, but less physically imposing.  The outside linebackers (Durant and Levy) need to step up, and the DEs need to control the line.  This could be a huge game for Suh.

I actually like Detroit.  Any time you can get 7 points with the superior QB, it's a decent bet.  Lions 23-19.

Chiefs (0-1) @ Bills (0-1)
Predicted Line: KC by 1.5
Actual Line: BUF by 3

I know I liked the Bills as my sleeper back in May, but I'm jumping off ship and overreacting to week one.  Especially with Fred Jackson out.  The Chiefs D is back at full strength and should be dominant.  I'm assuming Matt Cassel will make enough mistakes to keep the game close, but I think the Chiefs come out on top, 23-22.

Browns (0-1) @ Bengals (0-1)
Predicted Line: CIN by 7.5
Actual Line: CIN by 7

I don't think I've ever seen a QB rating in the single digits before.  But Brandon Weeden's 12 for 35 for 118 yards and 4 picks landed him a 5.1 QB rating.  Wow.  And amazingly, the Browns almost won that game.

The lesson: if a QB wasn't that great in college, he's not going to be that great in the pros.  I like Cincy big.  With Joe Haden's suspension beginning this week, AJ Green could go off.  How about Bengals 33-6.

Vikings (1-0) @ Colts (0-1)
Predicted Line: IND by 3
Actual Line: MIN by 1.5

It's actually quite possible that Minnesota is leading the NFC North after two weeks.  Crazy.  But I'm not betting against Andrew Luck in his first home game.  Indy 26-23.

Raiders (0-1) @ Dolphins (0-1)
Predicted Line: OAK by 1
Actual Line: OAK by 3

You're never supposed to take a West Coast team in a 1pm game.  But against Miami, and Ryan Tannehill? I'm torn.  Guess I'll go with the points.  Raiders 21-20.

Cardinals (1-0) @ Patriots (1-0)
Predicted Line: NE by 16.5
Actual Line: NE by 14 

I'm calling it now: 6 TDs for Brady.  By halftime.  Patriots 54-17.  Lock of the week and Survivor pick. Why can't the oddsmakers go out on a limb and make the spread NE by 35.  That would at least be interesting.

Bucs (1-0) @ Giants (0-1)
Predicted Line: NYG by 6.5
Actual Line: NYG by 7.5 

Eli plays with very little urgency, so I could see this game staying close until the end.  There's not a lot to like about the Giants' defense, as they were shredded by some guy named Ogeltree.  But, there is Jason Pierre-Paul ... I don't know, I guess I'll take the Giants by 6.

Ravens (1-0) @ Eagles (1-0)
Predicted Line: BAL by 1.5
Actual Line: PHI by 3

This game should feature one of the league's best left tackles against one of the best pass rushers. However, both Jason Peters and Terrell Suggs are out with offseason injuries. Jeremy Maclin is also out.  Ladarius Webb should be able to contain DeSean Jackson, and even without Suggs, the Ravens D should be able to corral Vick (who looked abysmal against Cleveland).  I love getting points with the better team.  Ravens 20-16. Might as well make it the Upset of the week.

Saints (0-1) @ Panthers (0-1)
Predicted Line: NO by 1.5
Actual Line: NO by 3 

Both teams really sucked last week.  I don't know which way to lean. Drew Brees seems like the safer bet.  Saints by 6.

Texans (1-0) @ Jaguars (0-1)
Predicted Line: HOU by 6.5
Actual Line: HOU by 7.5

I don't like giving more than a TD on the road.  Plus, Blaine Gabbert looked somewhat functional last week. I'll take the Texans 23-19.

Redskins (1-0) @ Rams (0-1)
Predicted Line: WAS by 4
Actual Line: WAS by 3 

I'm all in on RG3.  And the Rams really suck.  Skins by 4.

Cowboys (1-0) @ Seahawks (0-1)
Predicted Line: DAL by 3
Actual Line: DAL by 3

This should be a low-scoring affair.  Seattle's D is very decent against both the run and the pass.  On the other side, the trio of Carr, Claiborne and Ware makes the Cowboys a nightmare to try to throw against.  It's going to come down to whether or not Marshawn Lynch can carry the load against a mediocre Cowboys rush defense.  And since I am clearly not a believer in Marshawn Lynch, I'll take Dallas, 17-13.

Jets (1-0) @ Steelers (0-1)
Predicted Line: PIT by 4.5
Actual Line: PIT by 6 

Steelers, 34-17. I'd bet on at least 1 defensive TD and 1 special teams TD for Pittsburgh.  They always make those kinds of plays at home.

Titans (0-1) @ Chargers (1-0)
Predicted Line: SD by 3
Actual Line: SD by 6 

Locker is doubtful, and Chris Johnson gained only 4 yards last week.  But, Kenny Britt returns from suspension, and Matt Hasslebeck doesn't make many mistakes.  So the Titans should score some points. Can Rivers keep up?  Will Ryan Matthews actually play or is he going to do the "gametime decision" thing for 10 weeks like Antonio Gates did last year? I don't know, but I feel better taking the 6 points. I'll say Bolts by 3.

Broncos (1-0) @ Falcons (1-0)
Predicted Line: ATL by 3

Actual Line: ATL by 3 

Having watched Peyton last weekend, I'll take the points.  Broncos 32-31.

Go Lions.

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