Here we are at Week Two, with the second installment of NFL game picks from the occasionally warped perspective of some otherwise rational New England Patriots fans. Last week, intrepid compatriots Glenn Card and TR each went a straight up 12-4. This week, our fellow fan Steve Frith weighs in with his selections.
Now, for your enjoyment, we present our Week Two picks. Be assured, any agreement among us is entirely coincidental. Well, almost.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
GC: There is no doubt now that Falcons QB Matt Ryan is picking up right where he left off last season. You would like to think that the Panthers will fix some of the turnover problems that they experienced in their last game. Even if they do fix their giveaway bug, they will be hard pressed to beat the Falcons at home. In this game, the Falcons will be dominant by making a statement and nearly keep the Panthers from scoring at all.
TR: The Falcons didn’t have much trouble with Miami last week and Ryan indeed showed that he belongs in the NFL. The Panthers, meanwhile, were about as embarrassed by the Eagles last week as they were by the Cardinals in the playoffs last year, and as a native Charlottean, it pains me to say that. Delhomme can throw the ball all right, but not always to the right player. He will have a better time of it this outing, but the Panthers signed A.J. Feeley midweek, so if Jake starts out badly, who knows? Any way you look at it, Atlanta should have no trouble putting this one away at home.
SF: I've got Carolina winning this one, if anything because no team in the NFL wants to lose its first two games. Delhomme had better pull his head out from his backside if he wants to keep his starting job.
New Orleans @ Philadelphia
GC: The Saints and Drew Brees were hitting on all cylinders in their last game, but this is an entirely different defense they will see from the Eagles. The injury to Donavan McNabb severely affects the Eagles offense whether he is able to play or not. We’ve seen Kevin Kolb before and he is a suitable place holder, but I don’t think he can keep up with the Saints' production. I’m picking the Saints for a win in this matchup.
TR: As much as I respect the Eagles' defense, the Saints Ain't going to be intimidated. They just have too many ways to hurt you. McNabb’s injury puts Philadelphia behind the eight ball, so I’m going with New Orleans even if they are on the road.
SF: This should be a good game. While Brees and the Saints have a top-notch passing game, the Eagles' defense is no slouch either. Last week, Brees had outstanding numbers. On the flip side, the Eagles' defense had a terrific game stopping the pass. Unless McNabb comes back from his fractured rib (as of Wednesday, he's listed as "did not participate in practice"), I don't see the Eagles taking the win.
GC: The Jets have found a starting quarterback with Mark Sanchez and he had a great first outing. Good for them. Despite the Patriots' loss of veteran players on defense, the schemes that the Patriots will put together are going to sorely test the rookie QB. The Jets' defense looked to be a huge upgrade from last year, but the Patriots' offense just passed a big test that found Tom Brady and the rest of the boys having a hard time in the red zone. New England will fix its scoring problems and will hand the Jets their first loss of the season.
TR: With a game under his belt, Tom Brady will come out with great confidence in this one. Yes, the defense was soft against Buffalo, but this is the re-tooled defense we have been looking for; it will come out with confidence too, a Bill Belichick work-in-progress. The Patriots’ biggest problem will be the absence of injured linebacker and freshly appointed defensive leader Jerod Mayo. Sanchez made a good show against Houston, but that was…Houston. Even at home, I believe the Jets will struggle as the Patriots will not be playing catch-up. Best of all, nobody will be wearing funny-looking uniforms.
SF: This is yet another divisional game for the Pats and they don't want a repeat of last season (win or lose the division decided by a tie breaker). Look for the Pats to improve every week and for Brady to become more and more comfortable and start tossing long bombs with three and four WRs spreading the offense. The Jets' rookie QB Sanchez looks good, but I'm still waiting for a defense to stomp him. I don't think that it'll be the Pats' defense knocking him on his tail repeatedly, although it'd be nice!
GC: The Chiefs get to show off their new starting QB, Matt Cassel, in this home opener. Oakland showed me that it has hugely improved both on offense and defense. They will go into Arrowhead stadium and steal a win from the Chiefs. The Raiders win this by running their touchdowns and outscore the Chiefs by 10 points.
TR: Can Cassel succeed anywhere outside New England? Does he have the tools he needs to win? Can the Chiefs' defense stop anybody? A lot of questions in KC, but the big question for Oakland was answered last week. The Raiders showed that they are a much improved team from last year, giving San Diego almost more than they could handle. I see a close one here with the Raiders coming out just slightly ahead.
SF: Last week, the Raiders surprised everyone and punched the Chargers right in the mouth. They dominated most of the game, losing in the fourth quarter when they gave up an 80+ yard run. Seymour stepped up on the defense and made an immediate impact assuming a leadership role, which I believe was part of why they were as dominating as they were. The Chiefs still have a ways to go with the season, especially with the run defense. They'll stand a better chance if Cassel plays, but his status is still up in the air.
Arizona @ Jacksonville
GC: The Cardinals got a wake up call last week; you can’t keep acting like Super Bowl contenders unless you win games. On the other hand, the Jaguars will be playing a softer defense this week than they did last and the Cardinals are notorious for not playing well on the road. This will be the set up for an upset; Jaguars beat the Cardinals at home even if no one is watching.
TR: Good teams wake up after games like the one the Cards played last week. Of course, great teams don't have games like that one. Arizona isn't great, but good enough to wake up on the road in this one as Jacksonville takes a snooze.
SF: I can't see the Jaguars stopping Kurt Warner and the Cards. Of course, Anquan Boldin's hamstring plays a big role. If he's back to 100 percent, then it's an easy win. If he plays, but is somewhat ineffective like last week, then it'll be closer, but the Cards still come out on top.
GC: The Packers’ Aaron Rodgers spent a lot of time on the ground last week and his receivers dropped a lot of balls. I predict that he will be standing tall and throwing strikes in this game. He won’t have to put on any game-winning heroics this time as they will have the win wrapped up early; Packers by 10.
TR: The Bengals make a game of this one as Cedric Benson chews it up on the ground and Carson Palmer rebounds from a bad game last week. I see a close one to the end with Green Bay coming out ahead.
SF: I can see Aaron Rodgers and the Packers winning this one; not by much, but I have them pulling it out in the second half. Look for the Packers to improve little by little. There are whispers of Green Bay being the sleepers of the NFC. The Bengals' defense should help to keep this close.
St. Louis @ Washington
GC: The Rams make a road trip to the east coast just to have their heads handed to them again. The Redskins get a win in their home opener, winning by 14 points.
TR: The Redskins couldn’t handle the G-Men in Week One, and St. Louis was simply pathetic on the road. Can both teams lose? Guess not, so I say Washington picks up a home win.
SF: Honestly, I could care less. I'll pick the 'Skins to win, just because.
GC: By having Favre taking the snaps, Adrian Peterson doesn’t have to face eight men in the box each and every play. Every defense has to respect the pass, which gives Adrian running room. Detroit won’t have an answer for the Vikings' offensive attack. The Lions lose by 10–14 points.
TR: Minnesota did not disappoint last week against the Browns, although the defense gave up more points than I expected. In their loss to New Orleans, the Lions did manage to put some points up. They’re going to lose this one anyway because the Vikings will have the answer for whatever they do.
SF: Brett and the Vikings will take this one easily. Most of the Vikings' workload will be handled by Adrian Peterson. I don't see the Lions stopping his runs. I know it's early, but the Lions are already showing signs of weakness in the run; they're ranked 30th already!
Houston @ Tennessee
GC: Despite the score of last week's game, the Texans showed me that they are a better team this year. Unfortunately, they are going up against the Titans' defense that almost held the defending champions back from a win last week. The Texans don’t have enough firepower to make this an upset. The Titans will win this home game by a touchdown.
TR: Houston let me down last week and I am already beginning to wonder about them again. Schaub simply has never shown that he can excel at this level and he will struggle here miserably. Houston, we have a problem.
SF: I don't see the Texans rolling over the Titans in this one. The Titans are just more powerful overall on both offense and defense. Titans take this one easily, which really sucks for me because Matt Schaub is my starting QB in my fantasy league. Yes, I'm in last place.
Tampa Bay @ Buffalo
GC: The Buccaneers seem to have a promising offense, but even that might not be enough if the defense is giving up points as fast as the offense can score them. The Bills have Trent Edwards running a no-huddle offense that gave the Patriots fits and I think they fine tune the system against the Bucs and get some shots down the field to TO. Plus, they are playing at home. The Bills will win their home opener by 14 points or more.
TR: Buffalo played a good game Monday night and almost won in Foxborough—almost. Tampa Bay at home gave Dallas a game, scoring 14 points in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, they also gave up 14 fourth quarter points. I don’t believe the Bucs can stop the much-improved Bills at Buffalo; there might be a lot of points on the board at the end of the game and most of them will belong to Buffalo.
SF: This one could go either way. If the Bills start off strong and then start to fade in the fourth quarter, it may be a sign of things to come for the rest of the season for them. It's a home game for Buffalo, so that might just give them the edge. The Bucs' defense will need to shut down T.O. if they're to remain in this game. Some would say that the Bucs' defense failed to show up last week.
GC: The Niners pulled an upset win last week that few would have given them credit for. I know I didn't. The same goes for the Seahawks; I didn’t give them credit for revamping their offense and last week, they exploded offensively and shut down their opponent defensively. I’ll call this the game of the week to watch as San Francisco wins two in a row and gives their fanbase reason to celebrate at home.
TR: San Francisco stumped me, too and the Seahawks did show a lot of offense last week, albeit against St. Louis. This game will almost certainly tell us which of these teams is the real thing, if either. I think it’s the Seahawks. I also think we need a rule for contributors to this series that we each get one "I just don't care" per week.
SF: I'm going to give this one to the Seahawks. They had a great game defensively last week and I don't think that the 49ers can overcome the great defense and Matt Hasselbeck and RB Edgerrin James. However, Hasselbeck is known to take chances and make stupid throws resulting in INTs, so if the 49ers can get a few picks at opportune times, they might just pull it out.
Baltimore @ San Diego
GC: The Ravens really looked good last week and their second-year QB, Joe Flacco, looked a whole lot more comfortable. I don't think the Chargers have it in them to hold the Ravens back. I’m picking the Ravens to win by three points.
TR: San Diego could barely hold off the Raiders, an improved team that the Bolts nevertheless should have handled more effectively. The Ravens are a team to watch this season and this is my game of the week as Baltimore wins going away.
SF: This one could go either way. I'm going to give the edge to the Chargers, only because I think that their offense can wear down the opposing defense. Expect a lot of running in this game from both teams.
Cleveland @ Denver
GC: The Broncos had a heart attack win last week in a really tough game. The Browns defense is softer, so the Broncos should build their confidence on this home field win.
TR: This game is interesting if only because it is a battle of former Belichick employees. McDaniels' Broncos made a mediocre showing while winning last week and I think that this is another team to watch as new acquisitions get their legs under them. The Mangini-coached Browns managed to put up 20 against Minnesota and the Denver defense might give up more. Nevertheless, Denver will play a better game offensively and win another one.
SF: I'm hoping that the Broncos and coach Josh McDaniels will win this matchup. He's looking to establish himself this year as a legitimate head coach and collecting "W's" is a sure fire way to gain recognition. I've got nothing against the Browns...aside from the fact that Mangini is their new head coach.
GC: The Steelers started out right with a tough win at home last week. The Bears and Cutler have to regroup. I'm putting the blame for last week's loss on the WRs. If these guys catch half the balls they dropped last week, the Bears could pull off a win. I just don't think the Steelers' defense is going to let that happen this time and the Bears have to absorb another loss before they get the offense repaired for the rest of the season. Steelers win this by 10.
TR: I never have been a big Cutler fan and I think it’s just a matter of time before fans of "Da Bears" become disillusioned with him if they haven't already. The Steelers' defense, even without Polamalu, will eat him and his receivers for lunch and take home a doggy bag.
SF: The Steelers are without their precious Troy Polamalu, who is an outstanding player with his ball hawking skills...but I don't like him. Or the Steelers. I hope the Steelers lose. Badly. I doubt they'll lose because the Bears are without Urlacher, who is out for the season with a dislocated wrist and is a playmaker and field presence for the Bears. I just can't see them overpowering the Steelers. One could always hope, though.
NY Giants @ Dallas
GC: Damn, the Giants looked good; damn, the Cowboys looked good. Damn, this should be another good game. It will be the Cowboys showing off their new digs and scrape by with a three-point win in this first game in their new stadium.
TR: I love these historic rivalries when both sides actually have good teams. This will be a fun game to watch, especially for Dallas fans, who will be celebrating after the game. Did they fix that scoreboard, by the way?
SF: I don't like the Cowboys. I like the Giants even less. I might even like the Giants less than the Steelers. I do like Romo, though. If the Giants win this one, it'll be because of their running game. If the Cowboys win, it'll be because of the Cowboys' defense making plays when it's most needed. If I were a betting man, I'd bet on the Cowboys.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Indianapolis @ Miami
GC: The Dolphins need to get a handle on ball control and quickly. The Colts are the Colts and are always the popular pick. This is my upset of the week as the Dolphins figure a way to stay in Manning’s face and their offense won’t be as tricky as it will be true. This will be a big five point win for the Fins.
TR: If this game were being played in Indianapolis, I would be expecting the Colts to blow the Fish away. In less friendly Miami, however, Manning will have to work harder to find his receivers, especially since he will be missing the injured Gonzalez. Indy’s running game will need to step up as well and I think it will. Colts in a tight one.
SF: I'm easily giving this one to the Colts. I don't believe that the Dolphins can stop Peyton Manning. I'll say it—the Dolphins got lucky last year with their 11-5 record. I'd be surprised if they won 10 games this season. Look for Peyton to hand the Dolphins their second loss this Monday.