It's great for football to finally be back. The NFL provided us with an exciting first week, with some unexpected peformances — Cam Newton and Ted Ginn — and some that were more expected — Tom Brady and Ray Rice.
While some teams disappointed (Pittsburgh) and others may have overperformed (Buffalo), it's important not to put too much stock in what happens in any given week. Random games like those happen all throughout the season, there's no reason the ones in Week 1 should mean any more than others.
Before going on to my picks for this week, here's a quick recap of how I did last week.
Week 1 record: 3-2
Last week's picks:
- Green Bay -3.5 over New Orleans (W)
- Detroit +2 over Tampa Bay (W)
- Giants -3 over Washington (L)
- San Diego -8.5 over Minnesota (L)
- New England -7 over Miami (W)
Overall, I was happy with how the week turned out. I'll admit that I was wrong on the Giants, but the Chargers should have covered that spread. They more than doubled the Vikings' yardage, and if Kaeding hadn't been injured they would have added at least one field goal.
With that being said, there's no point in dwelling on the past. Let's move on to this week's picks.
The Packers got off on the right foot in their quest to repeat as Super Bowl champions last week, defeating New Orleans 42-34. Carolina wasn't as successful in their opener, losing to Arizona 28-21, but they did get a record-setting performance from Cam Newton, so perhaps there are better days to come in the future.
Focusing on this weeks matchup, I see this as a game between one of the best teams in the league and one of the worst. When you view the game that way, it's hard not to take Green Bay, even giving the Panthers 9.5 points. Whatever home-field advantage that Carolina may have, the Packers must be at least two scores better than them, right?
The pick: Green Bay -9.5
Baltimore shocked everyone, including their own fans, with their domination of Pittsburgh in Week 1. The Ravens managed to turn Pittsburgh over seven times without giving the ball away once. The Titans weren't as happy with their season debut, as they fell to division rival Jacksonville, 16-14.
I don't like to draw too many conclusions based on the first week of action, but based on what we've seen, it appears clear that these teams are heading in two different directions. While there is a large aspect of luck involved when your team has a plus-seven turnover ratio, it's hard not to be impressed with Baltimore's 4 sacks on defense, along with Ray Rice's 100-yard day and Flacco's three passing touchdowns.
Tennessee doesn't have quite as much to be happy about. C.J. was held to just 24 yards on nine carries, failing to even break a 10-yard run. Aside from a deep bomb to Kenny Britt, the Titans didn't have much offense at all. Their defense played well, holding the Jags to 323 total yards. But it's important to remember that Jacksonville's quarterback is Luke McCown.
The pick: Baltimore -5.5
Poor Tony Romo, he just can't win. Literally. In a game that was seemingly well within their grasp, the Cowboys managed to give it away, falling to the Jets 27-24. On the other hand, the 49ers handily defeated the rival Seahawks, 33-17.
It's games like these that make it important to look past who won and who lost. The Cowboys may have lost, but they still out-gained the Jets in total yardage and on a yards-per-play basis. They also faced some bad luck; losing a fumble right outside of the end zone and getting a punt blocked aren't things that will happen to this team on a normal basis. And if you look at what the 49ers did on offense in their game against the Seahawks — not a team considered to have a good defense — you'll see why they are prone to a big letdown this week. They managed just 209 yards and went 1-12 on third down. Their last two scores were on special teams plays by Ted Ginn. They'd better hope he can give a repeat performance this week.
The pick: Dallas -3
As I mentioned earlier, the Chargers had some really tough luck last week. Their kicker missed the entire game, and they immediately were down a score after Harvin took back the opening kick for a TD. They still completely outplayed Minnesota. New England also played incredibly well, at least on offense. 622 yards! That's insane. However, they still allowed Miami to rack up nearly 500, and they didn't truly pull away until the fourth quarter.
I'm not saying that the Chargers will win this game; the Pats deserve to be favored. But I do think they can keep it within a touchdown. Their defense will be much better than what they showed New England last week, and their offense is much better as well. I'm sure Belichick will make some defensive adjustments, but not enough to keep San Diego from making this one close.
The pick: San Diego +7
However, I think the poor showings from both offenses brought this over/under down too low. Hakeem Nicks appears to be on track to play Monday, and as long as he does, I have no doubt that the Giants will put up more than the two touchdowns they managed last week. The Rams will be missing key players Steven Jackson and Danny Amendola, but they will perform much better on offense this week, while facing a Giants defense that allowed Rex Grossman to throw for over 300 yards. Some hard-hitting analysis here: Sam Bradford is better than Rex Grossman.
The pick: Over 43.5 points