As I stated last week, picking against the spread in the first week of the season can be messy. However, I was fortunate to go 9-7. If one went with my picks, they would have come out a little bit ahead, which isn’t a bad way to begin the season.
Remember, I base my picks on flawed logic, personal opinion, age-old gambling trends, and matchups. If you’re looking for high-end analysis, look elsewhere.
Here now are the week two picks, with the home team in bold. Picks are for entertainment purposes only, of course.
Atlanta (-6.5) over Carolina
I usually don’t let one performance sway me this much, but after last week’s debacle, Carolina QB Jake Delhomme has thrown nine interceptions in his last two games. I know their running backs offer them a chance to compete in most games, but until Delhomme stops throwing the ball to the other team, I won’t pick the Panthers. It’s as simple as that.
Minnesota (-10) over Detroit
There was a part of me that wanted to pick the Lions, just because of how much I disliked the all-consuming Brett Favre National Nightmare this summer. Common sense, and my misguided need to win more than I lose, has me taking the Vikings though.
Perhaps this is the week Adrian Peterson shows us all he’s superhuman and avoids the dreaded SI Cover jinx.
Cincinnati (+9) over Green Bay
Don’t get me wrong, the Packers appear to be a quality team. I’m just not ready to grant them an easy win over the Bengals.
Cincinnati’s defense did a good job against the Denver Broncos last week, and their offense has enough talent to score, when clicking. Plus, there’s the spectre of Chad Ochocinco scoring a touchdown and performing the Lambeau Leap. That alone is motivation for me to take the Bengals to cover.
Green Bay, 24-17
Tennessee (-7) over Houston
–The Texans stunk up their home opener against the Jets
–The Titans are coming off a hard-fought, bitter loss to the defending Super Bowl champions in a game they should have won
–The “Fire Gary Kubiak” trumpets are beginning to sound in Houston
–It’s the home opener for the Titans
All signs point to a blowout.
Oakland (+3) over Kansas City
Last week, both teams played respectable football against playoff teams from a year ago. In fact, both teams could have won their games. Baltimore put up big yardage numbers on the ground against the Chiefs, though, and the Raiders have a solid running back duo in Michael Bush and Darren McFadden. So long as JaMarcus Russell doesn’t turn the ball over, the Raiders could earn the win at Arrowhead.
New England (-3.5) over NY Jets
I know the Jets throttled the Houston Texans last week. I know, between their running game and playmakers on defense, many believe they are primed to defeat the Patriots. It’s a fair assumption: the Pats barely defeated the Buffalo Bills at home and appear to be reeling defensively due to roster changes and injuries.
However, the Jets have a rookie QB and a rookie head coach. I can almost see the confusion on Mark Sanchez’s face from here.
New England 21-10
Philadelphia (pick em) over New Orleans
I know, I know. Kevin Kolb over Drew Brees? If it were that simple then yes, I’d take the Saints.
However, it’s about the entire teams. I have more faith in the Eagles defense than I do the Saints defense. After all, the Saints allowed four scoring drives to the Detroit Lions last week, something that gets forgotten in all the video game-esque numbers Brees put up.
St. Louis (+10) over Washington
Garbage time touchdown aside, the Redskins were dominated by the Giants last week, nearly as badly as the Rams were roughed up by the Seahawks. I guess I don’t believe Washington is 10 points better at this point.
Arizona (+3) over Jacksonville
Many are down on the Cardinals right now, but I don’t expect them to have much trouble.
They did a nice job stuffing 49ers RB Frank Gore last week, and the Jaguars' bread-and-butter is the running game. Plus, the Jags barely laid a hand on Peyton Manning last week, which means Cardinals QB Kurt Warner should have time to hit his receivers this week, instead of checking down to Tim Hightower another dozen times.
Buffalo (-5) over Tampa Bay
In terms of overall talent, there probably isn’t a ton that separates these teams, except for a couple of matchups that work in Buffalo’s favor. Buffalo did a nice job on New England’s underwhelming running attack last week and should be able to key on the Buccaneers’ running backs.
Tampa Bay, meanwhile, was brutalized by deep passing plays in their game against the Cowboys, and the Bills’ Lee Evans is a good candidate to go deep on the Bucs at least once.
San Francisco (-1.5) over Seattle
Many would probably pick the Seahawks after they shut out the St. Louis Rams last week. As impressive as that was, the fact that the 49ers went on the road and beat Arizona despite getting just 30 rushing yards from Frank Gore is even more impressive.
While the Seahawks have more established name players, the 49ers, I believe, are heading in the right direction. I think this game will vault them into the national spotlight a bit.
San Francisco, 24-21
Chicago (+3) over Pittsburgh
It’s not about Jay Cutler, but it is about the Bears’ pass rush. They hit Aaron Rodgers nine times last week and recorded four sacks on only 32 potential passing plays (28 pass attempts). If Chicago can apply similar pressure this week, the Steelers could be in trouble.
Ben Roethlisberger is among the best at absorbing hits while making plays, but without a running game to fall back on, it will be increasingly difficult for Big Ben to survive week-to-week.
Denver (-3) over Cleveland
If the best running back in the league can get 180 yards against the Browns, than the mere mortals the Broncos use on Sunday should do just fine. In fact, if Knowshon Moreno gets the bulk of the work, this game could mark his arrival as Denver’s Next Great Running Back.
Baltimore (+3) over San Diego
Some believe the Ravens’ defense isn’t as strong as it has been in years past, thanks to the departures of Bart Scott and defensive coordinator Rex Ryan (both to the Jets). Still, the Ravens held the Chiefs to under 200 yards of total offense last week.
Meanwhile, the Chargers withstood a furious challenge from the Raiders and LaDanian Tomlinson has a gimpy ankle to show for it. Plus, there’s always Norv Turner.
NY Giants (+3) over Dallas
As great as they were offensively against the Buccaneers, I still have some lingering questions about the Dallas Cowboys.
Last week, Tampa Bay averaged 5.6 yards per rush against the Cowboys, and Byron Leftwich, who is slower than a tortoise carrying a piano, wasn’t sacked once in 41 pass attempts. Is there a D in Dallas? We’ll all know after this game.
If Eli Manning goes untouched and the Giants get over 5 yards a carry, it could get ugly fast. The only suspense could be how often the punters hit the scoreboard in the Cowboys’ new stadium. Sweet!
NY Giants, 38-21
Miami (+3) over Indianapolis
In a stunning turn of events, Eli Manning suddenly has a better receiving corps than Big Brother Peyton. The Colts’ running game will struggle to gain traction (and yardage) against a Miami defense that stuffed Atlanta’s fine RB, Michael Turner, last week. Miami was done in by four turnovers a week ago; they won’t repeat those mistakes.