After a decent start to the season, week two proved to be a bonanza, if one were to use my picks, which were here:
Want to make money? Go 12-4 against the spread, like I did. It’s a great way to pick up a little extra cash.
This week’s Ledger will feature mucho self back-patting and kudos, and very little poking fun at awful picks.
That’s the beauty of a 12-4 week.
What follows is my attempt to encapsulate the week in NFL football, game by game (my picks are in parentheses).
Atlanta 28, Carolina 20 (Falcons, -6.5)
Matt Ryan did a nice job spreading the ball around and Michael Turner went for over 100 yards. Still, as excited as Falcons fans should be, their defense was shredded on the ground by Carolina, to the tune of 5.8 yards per carry. Meanwhile, Jake Delhomme’s performance (308 yds passing, 1 TD, 1 INT) was encouraging. (1-0)
Minnesota 27, Detroit 13 (Vikings, -10)
Matt Stafford did his best Mark Sanchez impersonation early on, leading Detroit to a 10-0 lead. Then, the Lions and the rookie QB struggled, as the Vikings forced three turnovers and scored 27 unanswered points. Brett Favre was efficient, and Adrian Peterson was conserved for another day (19 touches). (2-0)
Cincinnati 31, Green Bay 24 (Bengals, +9)
It may be early, but after two sacks in the opener against a strong offensive line (Denver) and five (!) sacks against the Packers this week, Bengals DE Antwan Odom may be the breakout player in the NFL this year. Smells like a contract year for Odom. Meanwhile, Cedric Benson chewed up a lot of yards on the ground for Cincy. Is he finally realizing his potential? (3-0)
Houston 34, Tennessee 31 (Titans, -7)
I thought I smelled a blowout when I made the pick on Friday. I was way off. Matt Schaub peppered the Titans’ secondary (357 yds passing, 4 TD). His counterpart, Kerry Collins, turned the ball over twice, spoiling a huge day from Chris Johnson, who combined for 274 total yards of offense and three touchdowns. Much will be made of Tennessee being 0-2, but they are better than their record, without question. (3-1)
Oakland 13, Kansas City 10 (Raiders, +3)
JaMarcus Russell went 7 for 24 throwing the ball and the Raiders won. The Raiders gained 2.7 yards per rush on 25 attempts, but won the game.
Kansas City outgained Oakland 409-166, and held the ball for 17 more minutes than the Raiders, yet Matt Cassel’s two interceptions hurt the Chiefs. It’s hard to say Oakland is better than Kansas City, but in the win column, and against the spread, they were. (4-1)
NY Jets 16, New England 9 (Patriots, -3.5)
I hemmed and hawed over this pick more than any other when I wrote my picks column last week. My rationale for taking the Patriots boiled down to the prominent rookies, QB Mark Sanchez and coach Rex Ryan, making enough mistakes in the face of Bill Belichick’s varied looks. Instead, it was Ryan’s personnel that flummoxed the Patriots, and Sanchez who was cool as a cucumber. The Jets are the more talented team at this point, and the Patriots are lucky to be 1-1. (4-2)
New Orleans 48, Philadelphia 22 (Eagles, pick ‘em)
With the way the Saints have lit up the scoreboard in their first two games, it has become fashionable to place them in the same class as some of the best offensive teams in NFL history. That may well be the case, but it’s been just two games. I wish people were just as quick to judge the Saints’ defense (463 yds allowed, 4 scoring drives allowed vs. Eagles). They’ve faced a rookie making his pro debut, then a career backup and surrendered 49 points in two games. Trent Edwards, Lee Evans and Terrell Owens are probably licking their chops for the Saints this week in Orchard Park. (4-3)
Washington 9, St. Louis 7 (Rams, +10)
Outside of one big Stephen Jackson run, the Redskins’ defense has been solid against the run two weeks in a row. However, the offense lags far behind and is not showing many signs of improvement. (5-3)
Arizona 31, Jacksonville 17 (Cardinals, +3)
Kurt Warner set a single-game record for passing accuracy. The Jaguars didn’t sack Warner, and only hit him once the whole game. Those two things are obviously interconnected. (6-3)
Buffalo 33, Tampa Bay 20 (Buffalo, -5)
In my pick for this game, I wrote that Buffalo should be able to key on the Bucs’ running backs, and that Lee Evans was a good candidate to go deep on the Bucs at least once. Sometimes, those predictions are so easy, they write themselves. (7-3)
San Francisco 23, Seattle 10 (49ers, -1.5)
Frank Gore was the story in this game, as he shredded the Seattle defense for touchdown runs of 79 and 80 yards. If Gore can continue to put up big numbers, it eliminates any heavy lifting that QB Shaun Hill has to do. The Seahawks, meanwhile, will have to do without Matt Hasselbeck, relying on Seneca Wallace and a weak running game for the time being. (8-3)
Chicago 17, Pittsburgh 14 (Bears, +3)
As bad as Jay Cutler was in week one, the Bears still nearly won that game in spite of him. In week two, they won because of him, as their running game was neutralized and the Bears had to throw the ball to come from behind. (9-3)
Denver 27, Cleveland 6 (Broncos, -3)
The Green Bay Packers, picked by some to make it to the Super Bowl, gave up 31 points to the Bengals and lost to them at home. The Minnesota Vikings, picked by some to make it to the Super Bowl, gave up 20 points to the Browns. Denver surrendered 13 points combined to the Bengals and Browns.
Either the Packers and Vikings are overrated, or the Broncos are underrated. (10-3)
Baltimore 31, San Diego 26 (Ravens, +3)
The Chargers’ gaudy passing yardage numbers were surprising, but the Ravens’ defense was in bend-don’t-break mode, shutting the Chargers out on touchdown opportunities in the red zone (4 Nate Keading field goals of under 30 yards). It will be interesting to watch these two teams as the season unfolds. Are the Ravens slipping defensively? Is the Chargers’ passing game among the elite in the game? And what to make of San Diego’s once-vaunted defense? (11-3)
NY Giants 33, Dallas 31 (Giants, +3)
For his career, Tony Romo has done relatively well against the Giants. However, he had one of the worst games of his career in this one, overshadowing the Cowboys’ success on the ground against the Giants, as well as the emergence of Mario Manningham and Steve Smith as the Giants’ go-to receivers. I jokingly wrote that Eli Manning now has a better receiving corps than brother Peyton. Perhaps that’s no joke now. (12-3)
Indianapolis 27, Miami 23 (Dolphins, +3)
It’s a good thing Peyton Manning was so efficient against the Dolphins; the Colts had just 14 minutes and 53 seconds to score three touchdowns and kick two field goals. Luckily for them, the Dolphins allowed two big plays, including the 48-yard catch-and-carry by Pierre Garcon that gave Indianapolis the lead late in the game. Miami gashed the Colts’ defense for almost 250 yards on the ground, but have nothing to show for it. (12-4)