Saturday, September 13, 2008
NFL Picks: Week 2
Week one of the NFL was a good showing for my picks, starting off 2-1. The Jets (-3) and the Bills (-1) were winners, but Cincinatti (-1.5) was a horror show.
What we learned in week one:
*The Patriots struggled at home to defeat the Kansas City Chiefs, a team who probably won't win more than six games this year. Matt Cassell (13-18, 152, 1 TD, 0 INT) played pretty well, but can he handle a hostile road crowd? Damon Huard represents a much better betting option than Brodie Croyle.
*Are the Eagles that good or is St. Louis that bad? Probably a mixture of both. St. Louis looked absolutely horrible, with Philadelphia's backup receivers and the rest of the passing game racking up 414 yards. St. Louis's offensive line? Same old, same old.
*The Giants can run the ball down team's throats. Washington looked bad. Will Jason Campbell, Santana Moss, Chris Cooley, and Antwaan Randle-El be able to have a passing game?
*The Titans are a tough team to figure out, but as long as Albert Haynesworth is healthy, they'll be tough to beat. Vince Young isn't that good, but is Kerry Collins any better? Chris Johnson looked very good last week. Jacksonville could not run the ball last week, gaining just 33 yards. Their offensive line needs to play better for them to have a chance (7 sacks allowed).
*Seattle is not a good football team. Matt Hasselbeck is a solid quarterback, but he has absolutely no help around him. Buffalo will welcome back Jason Peters to left tackle, which should help out Marshawn Lynch and the Bills, who should continue to be a good sleeper pick.
*Michael Turner and the Falcons looked very good, and could be overvalued after 34-21 win against the Lions. This could set up a nice fade on Atlanta and give Detroit some value. Tampa Bay should dominate the rookie quarterback, while Detroit is a much, much better team at home.
*New Orleans and Tampa Bay played a hard-fought game that confirmed the two as NFC powers.
*Pittsburgh destroyed a lot of people's favorite sleeper pick, Houston. I thought the Steelers were overvalued, and I still think they are, but that was impressive. Houston isn't that bad, but until a runningback steps up, they'll be extremely inconsistent.
*The Jets new offense and defense held Miami at bay before almost allowing a late Chad Pennington touchdown that could have won it. New York will only get better each week, while Miami looks like a competent football team. They still will struggle, but against a big spread, they could surprise.
*Carson Palmer and the Bengals looked horrible against Baltimore, whose defense looked like the Ravens of old. They still can't score, so their totals should be very low. Cincinatti's defense looked better, but that could be attributed to Baltimore's inept offense. Cincy's offense won't be nearly as bad the rest of the year.
*Dallas played like everyone expected. Cleveland was a major disappointment, but they should be much better with Derek Anderson and Braylon Edwards working on their chemistry.
*Carolina's dramatic road win against San Diego was especially impressive because they played the game without Steve Smith. With their number one receiver back in the lineup next week, they could be an NFC contender. San Diego continues to frustrate. All the talent is there, but the loss of Merriman hurts their defense a lot. It's not an absurd statement to say Denver might be the best team in that division.
*San Francisco looked like a competent football team, despite falling to Arizona 23-13. Their four fumbles cost them a chance to win that game, while Arizona looked very methodical. Both these teams could be undervalued.
*The Bears 29-13 road destruction of Indianapolis featured rookie back Matt Forte breaking a 50-yard touchdown run. I'm still not a believer, but their defense was fearsome. Indianapolis should bounce back, though injuries to Joseph Addai and Dallas Clark might not bode well.
*Minnesota looked dangerous against Green Bay, but Tarvaris Jackson's (16-35, 178, 1 TD, 1 INT) passing struggles cost them this game. If he can play competently, they should be one of the top teams in the NFC. If not, they'll struggle against good teams. Green Bay didn't miss a beat with a very efficient Aaron Rodgers (18-22, 178, 1 TD, 0 INT).
*Eddie Royal, Jay Cutler, and the Broncos looked simply dominant against an overmatched Oakland Raiders team. With Brandon Marshall back in the lineup, it will be interesting to see what roles he and Royal will play with the emerging Jay Cutler at quarterback. Oakland can still run the ball, but they have no weapons around JaMarcus Russell at receiver.
Now, my picks...
Tampa Bay -7 over Atlanta
Give me the Bucs defense against a rookie quarterback making his first roarany day of the week. Michael Turner looked phenomenal against Detroit, but Tampa Bay won't let him run wild. Expect a heavy dose of Earnest Graham and Warrick Dunn, with Atlanta struggling to score many points. Brian Griese instead of Jeff Garcia is an interesting twist, but I trust Jon Gruden in this situation. Griese can run the offense well.
Prediction: 24-10 Tampa Bay.
Kansas City -3.5 over Oakland.
Oakland was awful on Monday Night Football at home. Kansas City is a middling team, but Larry Johnson, Dwayne Bowe, and Tony Gonzalez are weapons. Expect a big game from Tony Gonzalez exploiting the weak defense. Damon Huard is an upgrade at quarterback over Brodie Croyle. I'll take the Arrowhead Stadium homefield advantage and the Chiefs' experience over the young Raiders.
Prediction: 21-13 Kansas City.
Denver -1 over San Diego
I don't understand this line. Denver looked that good without Brandon Marshall, he comes back, Shawne Merriman is out, and I can get Denver giving less than a field goal? LT and Cromartie are both banged up as well. Denver in their home opener coming off a huge win should be able to carry the momentum. San Diego will be angry after their last second loss, but I'll take Mike Shanahan over Norv Turner.
Prediction: 31-24 Denver.
Other picks I like: Tennessee +1, Washington +1, Buffalo/Jacksonville under 37, Buffalo +5