With two weeks down in the 2012-13 NFL season, we are finally starting to see what some teams are made of. The Saints, amidst their never-ending bounty fiasco, have lost two straight giving up almost 38 points per game in the process. The 49ers have shown that last year’s defensive prowess was no fluke, and they are poised to make it just as far if not farther this season.
An astounding 20 teams have begun the year 1-1 and they each will look to stay above .500 with a Week 3 victory.
The inferior ability of the replacement officials to make calls and manage the game has also been made apparent, so much so that it’s hard to imagine the league office will allow this nonsense to go on much longer.
Speaking of nonsense, I must painfully admit that my results this season have been extremely poor and I seriously need to pick it up if I really expect any of you to keep reading! Following a few major surprises in Week 2 paired with an abysmal Week 1 I find myself wallowing in pick’em mediocrity with the following numbers:
Straight: 18-14 (56 percent)
Spread: 11-21 (34 percent)
Over/Under: 18-14 (56 percent)
Losses by New England, Dallas, Washington, New Orleans and a few other favorites provide not so much an excuse, but a little bit of reasoning as to why these numbers are so lackluster. With that being said, I am thoroughly ashamed of the turnout so far and really need to pick it up this week to get back in the hunt for my third straight league title. I wouldn’t be surprised if a few NFL teams are feeling the same way heading into this crucial early week.
New York Giants (-1.5) at Carolina Panthers (O/U =52)
Following a monster statement game on the road against New Orleans, the Panthers will invite the defending Super Bowl champs into their den on Thursday night. Second year stud Cam Newton looked superb in the win, rushing for a career-high 71 yards to go with 253 in the air as Carolina toughed out a huge divisional game in Week 2.
The Giants were able to hang in for a win against the Bucs, riding Eli Manning’s 510 yard passing performance to victory. They head into their second straight road game against an NFC South opponent with a lot of momentum from that comeback victory, and hope to keep their title defense on the right track.
If last week’s outcomes were any indication we can expect some fireworks to start this week off, and I think this one could come down to the wire with the more experienced Manning sneaking out the win despite a valiant effort by Newton.
Straight: New York
Spread: New York
St. Louis Rams (+7.5) at Chicago Bears (O/U =44.5)
The Rams have opened a lot of eyes to begin their 2012 campaign after following a narrow loss to Detroit in Week 1 with a win against RGIII and the ‘Skins last week. Even with Steven Jackson sidelined with what was proclaimed to be a groin injury (we all know Jeff Fisher sat him for reacting like a little baby), the Rams pulled out the win against another tough opponent, and will have to come in with the same sort of enthusiasm if they hope to fend off the Bears.
Chicago got walloped by division rival Green Bay on Thursday night and Jay Cutler made it quite clear that he was not satisfied with his offensive line's performance after being sacked seven times in the game. Fortunately for Cutler, the Rams have only managed two sacks this far into the season. With a little fire under their butt from their emotional signal caller, it is likely the O-Line will provide a bit more protection than they could against the likes of Clay Matthews.
I respect the Rams for their solid start, but I think an angry Bears team rolls at home.
Buffalo Bills (-3) at Cleveland Browns (O/U =44)
After a year of inexplicable ups and downs the Bills appear to be at it again in 2012. They followed a blowout loss in Week 1 with a convincing W over the Chiefs in Week 2 and again have us wondering which team will show up this week. C.J. Spiller took advantage of the starting job falling into his lap with two TDs and looks to build on that against a Browns team which has given up over 110 yards per game on the ground so far this year.
Rookies Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson both followed a lackluster pro debut with a solid second game as they brought Cleveland to within a TD of the Bengals in Week 2’s battle for Ohio. Unfortunately for them, nobody will remember their solid statistical outputs at season’s end. All they will see is a loss against a division opponent.
I think the Browns got a taste of what could be last week, and make some more magic happen against the Bills in a narrow victory in front of the home crowd.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+7) at Dallas Cowboys (O/U =46.5)
Both the Bucs and Cowboys lost their Week 2 matchups and will look to rebound with a win in this one. Tampa got off to a great start against the Giants, only to be throttled by Eli in the second half as they slowly let it slip away. After receiving a lot of praise for a valiant defensive effort in Week 1, they will hope to come out strong against another tough NFC East opponent in Dallas.
The Cowboys took a pretty surprising "L" at the hands of Russell Wilson and the Seahawks in Week 2 as they only mustered a single touchdown on a Miles Austin reception. As always the ‘Boys have high expectations this year, and must win this game to reclaim some dignity and remain in striking distance of the top of the division.
Romo will come out firing in this one and lead his team to a win at home after disappointing the Cowboy faithful a week ago.
Detroit Lions (-3) at Tennessee Titans (O/U =47.5)
The Lions were overwhelmed by a stifling San Fran defense on Sunday Night and will stay on the road for this clash against the Titans. Calvin Johnson has yet to notch a TD this season following a superb 2011 campaign and there is no doubt that QB Matt Stafford will be looking to get the Madden cover man some points against a middle-of-the-road Tennessee squad.
Running back Chris Johnson has started his season with a miserable 21 yards on 19 carries and voiced his displeasure with his team’s support following a dismantling by the Chargers last week. The star back will need to pick his game up in order to create some balance on offense if the Titans hope to fend off the Lions at home in this matchup.
The boys from Motown will find the Tennessee defense a bit roomier than that of the Niners and pull out a win on the road behind an air assault.
Jacksonville Jaguars (+3) at Indianapolis Colts (O/U =42.5)
Rookie QB Andrew Luck put together another solid outing in his first professional victory as Indy snuck out of Minnesota with a three-point win in Week 2. Jacksonville’s pass defense has been less than stellar to start the year, and I look for Luck to continue that trend at home.
The Jags have lost their first two contests of the 2012 season and it appears that MJD’s offseason holdout has gotten the star back off to a bit of a slow start. In a game that could remain close throughout I expect the stud ball carrier to break out of his mini-slump and put up 100-plus, but the Jacksonville offense as a whole will need to avoid mistakes to take their first win on the road.
I think Luck and company will have just enough to sneak out a close win here.
New York Jets (-3) at Miami Dolphins (O/U =40)
The Jets followed a peculiar offensive outburst in Week 1 with a more predictable ten-point performance against the Steelers D in Week 2 to fall to 1-1 on the year. Media phenomenon Tim Tebow has yet to attempt a pass in the regular season and it still remains to be seen if Rex Ryan’s team intends to use him in the passing game whatsoever.
Miami got thumped in Week 1 against a tough Texan squad, but did some thumping of their own against the Raiders in Week 2 to move themselves to .500 on the year. Reggie Bush had a standout performance in the victory notching 172 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns as rookie QB Ryan Tannehill avoided costly mistakes committing zero turnovers.
The Jets D is a tough matchup for a young offense led by a rookie QB, and although they looked impressive last week it will take more than the ‘Phins have in the tank to pull out a victory against the stalwart group in green.
Straight: New York
Spread: New York
San Francisco 49ers (-7) at Minnesota Vikings (O/U =43.5)
The 49ers defense has clearly established themselves as the league’s best on their way to a 2-0 start against the tough offenses of Detroit and Green Bay. To go along with the other-worldy performance on the defensive side of the ball, QB Alex Smith has quietly put himself in the number two spot for QB rating across the NFL. If this team can stay this solid in all areas, they will be tough to beat in 2012.
The Vikings will offer a challenge nowhere near SF’s previous competitors. Unfortunately for Minnesota, it is hard to see anybody, even Adrian Peterson, putting up solid numbers on the ground against the Niners, and the Viking pass attack lacks the star power needed to pick up the slack.
San Fran continues to roll on the road as Minnesota will be lucky to tally double digits here.
Straight: San Francisco
Spread: San Francisco
Kansas City Chiefs (+9) at New Orleans Saints (O/U =54)
The Saints came into the season under the microscope, but ironically there hasn’t been much to see thus far. Following a home loss to division opponent Carolina the Saints will undoubtedly welcome the spotty Chiefs offense with open arms. New Orleans has given up more total yards than any other team in the NFL two weeks into the year, and if they continue in this way, Drew Brees may have to fund his own bounty program to entice his defensive teammates.
The only other team that has given up as many points as the Saints this year? You guessed it, Kansas City. The Chiefs have also started out the season winless through two. RB Jamaal Charles has yet to instill any fear in defenses coming off a knee injury that ended his 2011 season.
The Saints should have no problem blowing out the Chiefs in NO, but if they somehow fail to take care of business defensively you can expect a frustrated Brees to speak his mind in the postgame.
Straight: New Orleans
Spread: New Orleans
Cincinnati Bengals (+3.5) at Washington Redskins (O/U =48.5)
In a game that may sneak in as one of the week’s most exciting matchups, RGIII and the Redskins host Andy Dalton and the Bengals. Griffin followed an immaculate professional debut with a worthy second performance and had it not been for one of the most boneheaded plays of all time by WR Josh Morgan late in the game, the rookie QB could be sitting at 2-0.
Dalton found his number one target, A.J. Green, for the tandem’s first TD of the year in Week 2 against Cleveland and the two will need to continue to produce if they hope to make another run at the playoffs in their second season. BenJarvus Green-Ellis has been decently effective since joining the squad, and should allow more freedom in the air attack as he becomes more and more comfortable in the Cinci system.
I like this to be one of the thrillers of the week, but this time Griffin III isn’t robbed of the win by his own teammate’s foolishness.
Philadelphia Eagles (-4) at Arizona Cardinals (O/U =44)
A rare and somewhat surprising 2-0 vs. 2-0 matchup will go down in Arizona when the Eagles meet the Cards in Week 2. Philadelphia has squeaked its way in among the ranks of the unbeaten with two one-point victories at the season’s launch, but last week’s triumph against a rugged Baltimore squad holds a bit more water than the Week 1 escape against Cleveland.
The Cardinals may have entered the year with more question marks than any other team, yet they find themselves atop the NFC West tied with the 49ers. Kevin Kolb backed his way into the starting role and has answered many critics with a 95.7 QB rating and zero interceptions.
Despite their early success the Cards still find themselves at the bottom of the league in most offensive stats, and those numbers will be exposed against a dangerous Philly squad.
Atlanta Falcons (+3) at San Diego Chargers (O/U =47.5)
This week’s late games promise to deliver as we find another matchup between undefeated squads here. The Falcons took care of business on Monday night in Week 2, thrashing the Denver offense for four turnovers including three early picks by Peyton Manning. Although Peyton was able to get it under control following the early mishaps, two late TDs by Willis McGahee were still not enough to overcome the Falcons as they won in front of the Atlanta fans.
The Chargers stymied the Titans in a 38-10 blowout as QB Philip Rivers tallied three TDs and nearly 300 yards in the air. Rivers has picked up the slack without starting RB Ryan Matthews and the talented ball carrier will likely be back for this big Week 3 clash.
While both squads enter undefeated, only one can leave without a loss. From what I have seen the Falcons are the more complete team of the two. I take Atlanta in a high scoring affair.
Pittsburgh Steelers (-4.5) at Oakland Raiders (O/U =44)
The Steelers shut down the Jets offense in Week 2 holding them to just ten in a 17 point victory. Safety Ryan Clark made up for missing Week 1 in Denver by tallying eight tackles, including one for a loss, in the win and picked up the slack for the injured James Harrison and Troy Polamalu.
The Raiders have yet to look sound offensively, and have scored more points than just one other team in the league to this point. Many expected that in his first full year with the club QB Carson Palmer would come out on a positive note, but even the presence of stud back Darren McFadden has not been enough to achieve a successful balance on that side of the football. I don’t care what your defense does, in this day and age if you can’t score points you can’t win in the NFL, period.
With that being said I think the Raiders get excited for this old rivalry game at home and keep it close, but some late game heroics by Big Ben carry Pitt to the victory.
Houston Texans (+1) at Denver Broncos (O/U =46.5)
In just his second week back after missing all of 2011, Peyton Manning looked woefully human against Atlanta on Monday night with three early INTs that effectively took his team out the game. He looks to bounce back from that performance against a tough Texans squad in week 2 as another questionable performance could lead to some serious speculation on the Hall of Famers future.
Houston has won two straight by a combined 57-17 margin and look to be one of the league’s premier teams as we get things kicked off this year. The balance between pass and run has been spectacularly executed and with the talent this team has, they could be looking to make a serious run at the playoffs, and maybe even a Conference Championship.
While I don’t think Peyton will look as poor as he did against the Falcons I believe the Texans will have what it takes to walk away from this one with a win.
New England Patriots (+3) at Baltimore Ravens (O/U =49)
In the biggest shocker of Week 2, the Patriots fell to a Cardinals squad over whom they were two-touchdown favorites after failing to convert a last second game winning field goal. After losing TE Aaron Hernandez for a few weeks, the team added free agent Kellen Winslow to maintain their highly touted two-TE setup, but it is hard to picture Winslow providing the mismatches that Hernandez is able to.
Baltimore lost in a close one to Philadelphia to drop to 1-1 on the year and things don’t get much easier here against one of the league’s best teams in NE. The Ravens will look to rekindle the offensive muscle the flexed in Week 1 to hang in against the Pats. A steady dose of Ray Rice is usually the medicine they need to do just that.
This is arguably the Game of the Week and while losing to the Cards it looked like the Patriots were already looking ahead to this matchup. This is a big game for Belichick’s bunch, and I expect them to come out focused to steal the victory on the road.
Straight: New England
Spread: New England
Green Bay Packers (-3.5) at Seattle Seahawks (O/U =47)
Monday night’s matchup features a Green Bay squad with a couple extra days rest against an upstart Seahawks squad who pulled out a big win against Dallas in Week 2. While Aaron Rodgers has failed to produce the kinds of numbers many fantasy owners have grown accustomed to, he has still been able to lead his team to a .500 start following a tough loss to the deadly SF defense in Week 1.
Seattle is slowly becoming one of this year’s fan-favorite squads due in large part to the surprising start of rookie QB Russell Wilson. The former Badger signal caller solidified his starting role in last week’s win, but it will be hard to avoid a blip in the radar against one of the league’s top pass-rushing defenders in Clay Matthews.
This one may garner more interest than expected due to the rookie QB’s impressive start, but Green Bay should be able to manage a comfortable victory on the road.
Straight: Green Bay
Spread: Green Bay