Week 2 NFL Picks

Week 1 Record: 8-8

I will take a .500 week for week 1. I felt very strongly about Kansas City, but perhaps I underestimated that Falcons offense and the significance of KC’s injuries. Philadelphia and New Orleans were wildly disappointing. I probably got a bit too carried away with my Jets hate and their slow preseason, and perhaps forgot that Ryan Fitzpatrick kind of totally stinks.

It seems like a common trend to overreact a bit after week 1 games, so I’ll try my hardest not to do that. Thursday night’s game is the first test…

All lines from 5dimes as of Tuesday afternoon.

Thursday September 13

Chicago @ Green Bay (-7)

The Cutler to Marshall connection is back

The notion that Chicago could compete with Green Bay in the NFC North was something that most laughed at the beginning of the season. Maybe I’m just being a prisoner of the moment here but I’m much more convinced now that it could happen than I was weeks ago. I look at Chicago and I see a team with a better defense, a rejuvenated pass attack with the addition of Brandon Marshall and a much better rush attack. The Bears offensive line looked solid, especially in the run game, and Cutler seemingly had more time to throw the ball on Sunday than he did most of last year. Conversely, Green Bay’s offensive line looked suspect, the run game did absolutely nothing and the defense was picked apart by Alex Smith. Even more importantly, San Francisco ran for 186 yards on them. Granted, the level of competition varied tremendously between these two team’s week one opponents. I think Green Bay will win – I can’t see how they lose back to back games at home – but I’m still taking those 5 points.

Chicago 27 Green Bay 31

Sunday September 16

Arizona @ New England (-14)

I was very impressed with how my Patriots played in week 1. The defense absolutely shut down the Titan’s run game. Chris Johnson got a lot of criticism after the game, but there wasn’t a time where a single hole was created for him. It was a brilliant effort from a seemingly much improved front 7. The Pats place 650 pounds of man right in the middle, flank them with two solid pass rushers, put behind them three great young run-stopping line backers in the form of Mayo, Spikes and the rookie Hightower and you suddenly have a much improved front 7. The secondary was a bit more suspect, but Jake Locker wasn’t ever going to torch them, especially without the run game doing anything to keep them honest. Arizona pulled out a solid home win, but the quarterback play looked very shoddy. There’s no reason to think that New England won’t shut down Arizona’s sub-par rush attack, and that they can’t come up with enough ways to prevent Skelten/Kolb from finding their talented WRs. I hate spreads that are this big, but this should be a very similar outcome as New England’s week 1 game. It will be interesting to see what becomes of Wes Welker’s touches. He was targeted only 5 times, which is uncharacteristically low.

Arizona 16 New England 31

Oakland (-1.5) @ Miami
Over/ Under 37.5

There was a lot of talk about how this Oakland team is a brand new team and they’re ushering in a brand new era. I saw a lot of the same old same old last night. There was also a lot of hype about Darren McFadden, and he couldn’t do anything on the ground last night (though he did catch the ball 13 times). I’d imagine they’ll continue to focus on getting him touches, but Miami’s run defense should be just as stout as San Diego’s was. Ryan Tannehill looked awful on Sunday, and Reggie Bush was held in check. Carson Palmer led some nice drives, but didn’t really have much to show for it. All signs point to a low scoring game, and even though the total is a tiny 37.5, I’m still taking my chances.

Minnesota @ Indianapolis (Pick)

I wouldn’t say that Minnesota looked particularly good, but Christian Ponder had a good day passing the ball, Adrian Peterson looked like he was relatively close to 100% and the defense got a lot of pressure on Blaine Gabbert. Indy was significantly outmatched against the Bears, and there weren’t really any positives to take away from the game. Luck struggled, the run game was ineffective and the defense was gashed both on the ground and through the air. The disparity between opponents was pretty significant, but a lot more looked to be going right for Minnesota than for Indianapolis. Lucas Oil Stadium should be buzzing, and maybe the team feeds off of it for a while, but in the end I think Adrian Peterson and a decent Minnesota pass rush prove to be the difference.

Minnesota 23 Indianapolis 20

Houston (-9) @ Jacksonville

I’m not going to get too carried away with how good Gabbert looked on Sunday. Houston toyed with Ryan Tannehill, who is less experienced than Gabbert, but not tremendously. Jacksonville’s pass rush seems non-existent, and that won’t fair well. They gave up 5 yards a carry to Adrian Peterson, I can’t see how they do any better against Foster. I think 9 points is doable.

Houston 27 Jacksonville 17

Cleveland @ Cincinnati (-8)
Over/Under 38.5

The Cleveland/Philly game was such a joke of a game. I can’t really draw any conclusions from it. Philly ran 88 offensive plays against Cleveland, racked up 456 total yards and 25 first downs and still barely won. It’s really remarkable. I also have no idea what to expect from Cleveland in their second time out there, but I don’t think their defense is nearly as good as “17 points allowed to the Eagles” suggests. Cincinnati is just as perplexing. I can’t pick a team here. Joe Haden will start his 4 game suspension on Sunday, and that will hurt them. Haden is already a top 5 CB in my estimation, and without him the Bengals offense should be fine against this Browns defense. They did struggle on Monday, but they were playing Baltimore…so yeah. I can’t see how a trio of Sheldon Brown, Dimitri Patterson and Buster Skrine can slow AJ Green, Brandon Tate and Andrew Hawkins. I also expect something a bit better from Trent Richardson, and there is no possible way Brandon Weeden has as bad of a game. It’s a low total, and I think both teams can improve upon their week 1 offensive output.

Kansas City @ Buffalo (-3)

The potential return of Brandon Flowers should provide a boost for KC’s defense

Kansas City’s defense got torched by Atlanta in week one, but they were without 3 defensive starters, including cornerback Brandon Flowers and safety Kendrick Lewis. Matt Cassel was a bit inconsistent, but much of that could be attributed to the fact that he was playing from behind all game long. Buffalo had a disaster of a Week 1 against the Jets, where Ryan Fitzpatrick was picked off 3 separate times and they allowed Mark Sanchez to actually look like an elite quarterback. I was very praiseworthy towards Kansas City at the beginning of the season, and I still have some faith in them. I think they’ll bounce back nicely.

Kansas City 27 Buffalo 23

Baltimore @ Philadelphia (-1)

I’m going to get carried away here, and that’s fine. Baltimore absolutely man-handled a team that many felt was playoff-bound this year, and Philadelphia barely got by one of the 3-4 worst teams in the league. Joe Flacco shredded a decent defense, and Michael Vick did everything he could to allow a bad one to keep them in the game. Baltimore looked amazing, and that’s fresh in my mind. Sure, they’re on the road, but I can’t not take them as underdogs. This almost seems too obvious to me. Usually when that’s the case, I’m wrong. But whatever…

Baltimore 29 Philadelphia 23

New Orleans (-2.5) @ Carolina 

Cam Newton was frustrated by a surprisingly stingy Tampa Bay defense, and never really got it going, especially with his feet. The Saints were torched by Robert Griffin III, who had perhaps the best individual QB effort of the week. Both teams will need to bounce back ASAP in this game. I’d expect both QBs to have huge games. Ultimately though, if it comes down to Newton verse Brees, I’m taking Brees all day. Newton put up huge numbers last year, but often failed to get it done late in games. I also love the over, even though the total is currently at 51.

New Orleans 31 Carolina 27

Tampa Bay @ New York Giants (-9)

I was fully prepared to pick the Giants, but something tells me their slow season start will continue. I can’t see them losing again, as an 0-2 start with their schedule would be really bad news, but I don’t think they’ll throttle this Tampa team, even at home. I’m a little worried because Josh Freeman didn’t really have a great day passing the ball against an average Carolina defense, but still, I think the 9 points is safe.

Tampa Bay 23 New York 28

Dallas (-3) @ Seattle

I really don’t think I’m getting carried away with just one victory, but as I explained last week, I think Dallas is a really good team. My biggest concern was Dallas’ offensive line, and it help brilliantly against the Giants. The defense looked great, and should continue to play great with the improvements made in the secondary. Offensively they showed great balance, and as long as Murray is healthy they’ll be tough to stop. 3 points is too small of a spread here.

Dallas 27 Seattle 17

Washington (-3) @ St. Louis

RG3 was sensational in his debut, but can the team repeat its efforts in Week 2?

Washington I’m sure will be the very trendy pick here, and I thought at first that they seemed like the obvious safe play. However, I just can’t take the Redskins laying points on the road right now. I think I could be overreacting a bit too much in general to week 1, but I won’t do it here. Let’s not forget, St. Louis did pretty well against a pretty solid team as well. It’s hard to say what New Orleans’ expectations were for RG3 in Week 1, but I’m certain that St. Louis will be game planning for him. They’ll be ready.

Washington 23 St. Louis 27

Tennessee @ San Diego (-7)

I was not impressed with the Titans in week one. Jake Locker is banged up, but is expected to play. They’ll need to find a way to get Chris Johnson going if they want to improve upon their game 1 efforts, but San Diego did a great job bottling up perhaps the even more explosive Darren McFadden. Rivers had a nice passing day, but I think he’ll look to unleash just a little bit more.

Tennessee 23 San Diego 31

New York Jets @ Pittsburgh (-7)
Over/Under 41.5

I don’t know what to think of this line. I do think Pittsburgh is the better team, and they are at home, but still…I’m a bit hesitant. You would figure a low total for this game, and it is one of the week’s very lowest. I do think it gets toppled though. This is a showdown of two great defenses, but the Steelers do have the offensive talent to score against anyone, but I’m not so certain the Jets can get much going themselves. As for the score, I have no idea. The Steelers should win by around a TD, but I’m unsure of how my biases are at play here. These are, after all, two of my three least favorite teams in the league.

Detroit @ San Francisco (-7)

I like San Francisco a lot here. Stafford made a lot of mistakes against a lesser defense, and I can’t imagine how Detroit establishes any sort of rush attack early on. The front 7 will have their ears pinned and be gunning for Stafford all game long. Alex Smith will be able to do plenty against that Detroit defense.

Detroit 21 San Francisco 31

Monday September 17

Denver @ Atlanta (-3)
Over/Under 51

I’m going to be worrying about the total for this one too. I can see either team winning, and the more I think about it the more unsure I get. 51 is a high total, I’m going to take the under.

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