Thursday, September 27, 2012

NFL 2012: Week 4 Picks

Cleveland Browns (0-3)  @  Baltimore Ravens (2-1)  (Ravens -12)

The only think that would make me pick the Browns to cover (picking them to win is just ludicrous) is that the spread is really high and the Ravens had a really emotional, physical game on Sunday Night and this is a quick turnaround. However, the Ravens now how to beat the Browns in their sleep. Flacco and Harbaugh have never lost to them, and they haven't lost in that stadium since December 2010 (and before that since November 2009). Not happening here.

Browns 10  Ravens 27  (BAL -12)

New England Patriots (1-2)  @  Buffalo Bills  (Patriots -4.5)

I'm surprised this line is low. The Patriots have lost two close games to good teams and while the Bills are at home and have the better record, they've beaten two bad teams (KC, CLE) and will be without their best offensive player through three weeks. Now, Fred Jackson coming back should negate some of that. In the end, I think this game will be close (I think the Bills are good) but this seems to be really good value for New England.

Patriots 31  Bills 24  (NE -4.5)

Minnesota Vikings (2-1)  @  Detroit Lions (1-2)  (Lions -5)

What exactly have the Lions done to be favored by this much. Matthew Stafford is coming off an injury and hasn't looked that good even before the injury. They barely beat a bad Rams team, then lost to the 49ers easily, then lost to a bad Titans game in an admittedly flukey game. The Vikings have an offense led by a capable player who has so far been extremely accurate. They have enough ability to keep it close, and I could see their defense swarming the pocket of Stafford. I don't know if they win, but that five points is really an insult to one of the better surprises of 2012.

Vikings 23  Lions 27  (MIN +5)

Carolina Panthers (1-2)  @  Atlanta Falcons (3-0)  (Falcons -7)

I'm torn about this game. I can see the Panthers, in a divisional game with 10 days of rest, coming out and playing well, but the Falcons are just on a roll right now. Surprisingly, their worst performance was at home against Denver, but Denver is better than Carolina. Matt Ryan should have a ton of time to throw against a flaccid pass-rush. If Ramses Barden could go off on them, imagine what the Falcons can do. This is a high line, but the Falcons are that good for the time being.

Panthers 23  Falcons 31  (ATL -7)

San Francisco 49ers (2-1)  @  New York Jets (2-1)  (49ers -5)

This is an interesting matchup, with the 49ers having to play a 1PM game on the East Coast, while the Jets have to start Week 1 of the post-Revis 2012 season. Thankfully for them, the loss of Revis won't kill them here because the 49ers don't have any receiver that needs a Revis to take him out of the game. I can see the Jets defense having a good amount of success against the 49ers offense. The real story is the other side. The Jets offense has looked very much like the Jets offense we've come to know and love (unlike that absolute fluke from Week 1). The 49ers defense should hound Mark Sanchez. I don't like that matchup at all for the Jets.

49ers 23  Jets 13  (SF -5)

San Diego Chargers (2-1)  @  Kansas City Chiefs (1-2)  (Chiefs -1)

Why is this line low? I realize there is a concern of the Chargers having to play a 1PM game, but I think this is a wild overreaction to one bad game by the Chargers. Yes, the Chiefs played well against the Saints in the 2nd half, but the Redskins and Panthers did as well and that hasn't translated into more wins in those cases. The Chargers offense should excel against a mediocre Chiefs secondary. On the other side, the Chargers defense has been better than expected, which should do wonders against a less than mediocre Chiefs offense.

Chargers 27  Chiefs 20  (SD +1)

Tennessee Titans (1-2)  @  Houston Texans (3-0)  (Texans -12)

I can't believe that I am about to pick two 12 point favorites to win and cover without really thinking much of it. There is a pretty good likelihood that one of these two don't cover, but I can't see the Texans needing much effort to beat a bad Tennessee team. The Texans are just a lot better right now. Their defense should swarm Locker, not allowing him to scramble the way he has. I can't see CJ0K getting off the ground here either. Their offense is good enough to do what they always do. The Texans have a formula, and until the defenses they face improve or injuries set in, it will work and work well.

Titans 13  Texans 31  (HOU -12)

Seattle Seahawks (2-1)  @  St. Louis Rams (1-2)  (Seahawks -2.5)

I like the Rams here. I don't think the Seahawks are that good, especially on offense. They basically had three plays in that game (the two TDs to Tate and the pass to Rice right before the Hail Mary) on offense. The Rams defense is quite good (at least as good as the Packers) and they are at home. I can see them shutting down the Seahawks offense. As for the Rams, their offense is not very good, but they've played better at home. They can play well enough to score enough points against a bad, overrated offense.

Seahawks 17  Rams 20  (STL +3)  (UPSET OF THE WEEK)

Miami Dolphins (1-2)  @  Arizona Cardinals (3-0)  (Cardinals -6.5)

Why is this line so low? The Dolphins played well last week, but the Cardinals are better than the Jets, and Arizona has been quietly one of the toughest places to play since that new building was opened in 2006, and great there since Whisenhunt took over in 2007. In '07, they went 6-2, in '08, they went 6-2, in '09, they went 4-4 but one of those was a rest-a-thon, in '10, they went 4-4 (the team went 5-11), and in '11, they went 6-2. So, in the Whiz era, they've gone 26-13 in real games, and 3-0 in the playoffs. That is a great home-field now. This seems too easy.

Dolphins 13  Cardinals 27  (ARZ -6.5)

Oakland Raiders (1-2)  @  Denver Broncos (1-2)  (Broncos -6.5)

The Broncos should win this game. Reggie McKenzie has scorched earth-ed the Raiders defense and they are now pretty awful. They cannot stop the pass at all, and Manning should have a great game. I can't see the Raiders D holding Denver to less than 27 or 30. Yet, I am terrified, mostly because a Denver loss here confirms my worst fear that the Manning era in Denver will not go too well, at least in 2012. I don't think this will happen, but I do fear it.

Raiders 17  Broncos 31  (DEN -6.5)

Cincinnati Bengals (2-1)  @  Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2)  (Bengals -2.5)

Another line I can't understand. The Jaguars were one minute, and a fluke 80-yard TD, away from 0-3. The Bengals were outclassed in Baltimore, but since have been the best offense in the NFL in Weeks 2-3. Their defense should finally show up now that they get the Jaguars offense to play against. I guess I can see a world where MoJo goes off, but even then I don't know if it will be enough. This isn't a great matchup for the Bengals, but that just means that they'll win by less than 10.

Bengals 24  Jaguars 20  (CIN -2.5)  (LOCK OF THE WEEK)

New Orleans Saints (0-3)  @  Green Bay Packers (1-2)  (Packers -7.5)

By far the most interesting game between an 0-3 and a 1-2 team ever. If the Saints can pull this off, the Packers and Saints will both be 1-3. If the Packers win, they Saints will be 0-4, and on an 0-5 streak going back to last season. As for the game, here we have two teams that combined for about 1100 points last season, and so far one team is scoring 27.5 PPG, and the other is scoring at 19.0 PPG!!! Overall, I think the Saints actually give the Packers a good game. The Packers offense has been hampered by facing very good defenses, but their defense has feasted on bad offenses. The Saints might turn it over a lot, but they still can put up yards with the best of them. I think the Packers get key turnovers, and their offense shows some signs of life (4 TDs in 3 games so far) and win a close game.

Saints 24  Packers 28  (NO +7.5)

Washington Redskins (1-2)  @  Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-2)  (Buccaneers -3)

I have nothing to say about this game. It bores me to death. I feel for the regions of the country that get this game and not Saints @ Packers. The Buccaneers seemed like they wanted to end their fan's lives last week in Dallas. The Redskins defense is about as bad as I thought. I have no feel for this game, and honestly, I don't care to develop any.

Redskins 23  Buccaneers 17  (WAS +3)

New York Giants (2-1)  @  Philadelphia Eagles (2-1)  (Eagles -1.5)

The Eagles are the worst 2-1 team in the league. Now, they aren't the worst going forward (that would probably be Seattle or the Jets or Minnesota), but the worst through three games. 12 turnovers. Two one-point wins that were enabled by some fortunate plays followed by a harrowing loss in Arizona. The Giants pass-rush rediscovered themselves on Thursday, and they get 10 days to prepare for Vick, who looked about as clueless in terms of pocket-awareness as he ever last against Arizona. I think this line is a weird symbol of some respect for an Eagles team playing a divisional rival at home, but I don't see the Eagles getting too much going in this game. 

Giants 27  Eagles 20  (NYG +1.5)

Chicago Bears (2-1)  @  Dallas Cowboys (2-1)  (Cowboys -3.5)

I really, really want to pick the Bears. Their defense is playing at a level I haven't seen from them since 2006. Their front is so deep and aggresive right now. Their secondary is playing well. Urlarcher and Briggs are still doing what they do. That said, they can't block. Neither can Dallas, but Romo is better under pressure than Cutler. These are, in a way, two pretty similar teams, but I think Dallas, at home, will do enough to get by the Bears defense. However, the one thing that can easily swing this game, and for all I know will, is that little Devin Hester housing one. I'm not betting on Special Teams, but that is really what scares me.

Bears 17  Cowboys 24  (DAL -3.5)

Enjoy the Games

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

NFL 2012: Week 4 Power Rankings & The Rest

Looking Back at Last Week's Bad, Bad Picks

Panthers -2.5 over Giants  (WRONG  =  0-1)
Bears -7 over Rams  (CORRECT  =  1-1)
Buccaneers +8 over Cowboys  (CORRECT  =  2-1)
49ers -6.5 over Vikings  (WRONG  =  2-2)
Lions -3.5 over Titans  (WRONG  =  2-3)  (LOCK OF THE WEEK)
Bengals +3 over Redskins  (CORRECT  =  3-3)  (UPSET OF THE WEEK)
Jets -2.5 over Dolphins  (CORRECT  =  4-3)  
Bills -3 over Browns  (CORRECT = 5-3)
Chiefs +8.5 over Saints  (CORRECT  =  6-3)
Colts -3 over Jaguars  (WRONG  =  6-4)
Cardinals +3.5 over Eagles  (CORRECT  =  7-4)
Atlanta +3 over Chargers  (CORRECT  =  8-4)
Broncos +3 over Texans  (WRONG  =  8-5)
Steelers -4 over Raiders  (WRONG  =  8-6)
Ravens -2.5 over Patriots  (WRONG  =  8-7)
Packers -3 over Seahawks  (WRONG  =  8-8)

Week 3: 8-8 (Lock: 0-1;  Upset: 1-0)

Year-to-Date: 27-20-1 (2-1;  3-0)

Best Picks: Nothing too accurate this week. The closest was I picked the Bears to beat the Rams 23-13 (they won 23-6) and the Bills to beat the Browns 23-16 (they won 24-14).

Power Rankings

32.) Cleveland Browns (0-3  =  57-75)

Hey, welcome back, boys. The Browns really should have won their Week 1 game and were very competitive against the Bengals in Week 2, but they looked desolate and slow in Week 3 against the Bills. Weeden has been decent after an awful Week 1, but this team might be in position to go out and draft Matt Barkley anyway.

31.) Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2  =  52-70)

Hey, nice win on a fluke 80-yard TD. That was a fun way to win. The Jaguars are now 3-2 all time in the Luke. One win we can right off since it was last year, but the other two were both ridiculous. Scobee hit a 56 yard field goal at the gun to win in 2008, and then there was Cecil Shorts. Really? Cecil Shorts??

30.) St. Louis Rams (1-2  =  60-78)

That was as predictable a game as I've seen. The Bears defense is so good, and this offense so inconsistent that it was like watching a movie that you know the ending of. The Rams are too bad to beat good teams, but they'll be competitive against any bad to mediocre team they face. Sadly, though, their division no longer really contains any of those outside of maybe Seattle.

29.) Kansas City Chiefs (1-2  =  68-99)

Congrats for the great comeback over the Saints, but that game says more about the Saints in total disarray (yet, I still have them ranked higher than I should) than it doesa bout the Chiefs. Good to see Jamaal Charles running well again. That is nice. Matt Cassel still looks extremely skittish. The defense really played well especially Justin Houston. I don't think the Chiefs are that good, but that was one nice shining moment.

28.) Tennessee Titans (1-2  =  67-113)

Last week I called them the worst team in the league. Well, they went out and won a game in the most unrepeatable way ever. Sure, they were unlucky to have the Lions catch a hail mary, but they also returned a kick-off for a TD, pulled off the Music City Miracle again, and then got a long fumble return TD. Add that to Schwartz and Shaun Hill botching the OT. My God, that was exciting, but totally, unbelievably, unrepeatable.

27.) Indianapolis Colts (1-2  =  61-83)

Cecil Shorts........... This is not a good Colts team. They might win 5 games. They might still be the second best team in a bad, bad AFC South. But that loss really, really hurt. We basically pulled off what the Jets did to us in the Wild Card game in 2010 (win 17-16), but we left 40 seconds on the clock. Why did we not just put 10 guys in teh box and force Blaine Gabbert to complete more than 10 passes? Really, really frustrating.

26.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-2  =  60-67)

Josh Freeman had, what, 60 yards passing until that final backdoor-cover field goal drive (thanks for that, Bucs)? That offense is so up and down. The defensive pass rush has improved a ton, though. I'm really happy that Gerald McCoy is finally healthy and really producing. He's always going to be in the shadow of Ndamukong Suh, but he's making his own mark right now.

25.) Carolina Panthers (1-2  =  52-79)

Wow, was that just an awful performance. Ron Rivera is a good defensive coach. I've seen this. But really, how many times does Ramses Barden have to run the same deep in before you figure out a way to stop it. The Panthers offense was bad too, but I think they went away from the run a little too quickly. Cam was bad, but let's remember that he is still a 2nd year player. There was no way he was going to live up to what he was as a rookie. It is more important to see how he responds to that type of game.

24.) Miami Dolphins (1-2  =   65-66)

That was just an ugly, ugly game in every sense. Plus, I'm really angry that it went on so long that I missed the first quarter of the Broncos/Texans game (not that it would've been that fun to watch anyway). Ryan Tannehill is just not good enough right now as a rookie to beat a good defense. It will be interesting to see him next week in Arizona, and by interesting, I mean in a disaster-viewing sense.

23.) New Orleans Saints (0-3  =  83-102)

Again, I have no idea why I'm only dropping the Saints one spot after they blew a 24-6 second half lead at home to a bad team. What is wrong with Drew Brees? This really puts Brees's ridiculous numbers into perspective. The three years (including this one, so far) that he's had a mediocre to bad run game he's thrown 47 interceptions in the 35 games he played. I don't think there is another great QB who is so dependent on having a good run game. We've seen both Mannings, Brady, Rodgers, Rivers and Roethlisberger have fantastic years with bad run games (other than Brady, every QB mentioned has reached had a 12+ win season with one of the worst run games in the NFL). Brees hasn't and maybe can't.

22.) Oakland Raiders (1-2  =  61-88)

That was a wild win, but for Peyton Manning's sake, can that pass defense show up next week. The Raiders two seasons ago had one of the best d-lines in the NFL, but this idea of moving LaMarr Houston outside and getting rid of Trever Scott has really hurt that part. The corners are a mess (I have no idea why McKenzie cut Chekwa and Van Dyke, who both had decent rookie seasons last year). It was nice to see the return of McFadden.

21.) Detroit Lions (1-2  =  87-94) 

I think Shaun Hill's competence in Stafford's place says two things: 1.) Calvin Johnson is really good at making QBs look good, and 2.) Shaun Hill is one of the better backups in the NFL. I don't know how much that dropoff is, but it isn't good. The OT situation was totally screwed up, but it was a sort of poetic justice as they didn't deserve to go to OT in the first place, unlike the last deflected hail mary by the Jags in 2009 that eventually cost the Texans a wild-card berth.

20.) Washington Redskins (1-2  =  99-101)  

Through three games RGIII has a QB Rating over 100, and the Redskins are the highest scoring team in the NFL. That said, without Carriker and Orakpo, that defense is just not good at all. They'll lose a lot of high scoring games, but seeing RGIII fight through adversity with that awful defense will be fun to watch.

19.) Minnesota Vikings (2-1  =  70-59)

That was a really impressive performance, and I'm starting to come around on Christian Ponder, but I don't buy the Vikings long-term. Peterson is still not at full gear and probably won't be until 2013. They need more receivers outside of Harvin. Their defense has really improved from 2011 though, and a lot of that has to do with change and upgrades in the secondary.

18.) New York Jets (2-1  =  81-75)

Man, if Revis didn't go down this could have been a playoff team. I guess they still could be in a wild AFC, but replacing him is just so hard to do. Cromartie is a really good #2 corner, but as a #1 he's just average in that capacity. It is time for Kyle Wilson to really step up after a disappointing two seasons. Also, Sanchez has pretty much shown the world that his Week 1 performance was a fluke. Two straight sub-50% completion percentage days is not exactly what a franchise QB does.

17.) Buffalo Bills (2-1  =  87-79)

Another good performance in beating a worse team. The Bills have an easy enough schedule where that could get them a playoff spot in a weak AFC. Losing Spiller hurts, but if that is replaced by getting Fred Jackson back they should be fine. The Bills defensive line is still underperforming considering the hype and talent they have at that area. It would be great if they breakout next week against the Patriots, because they would need it to beat them.

16.) Philadelphia Eagles (2-1  =  47-66)

My God, did the Eagles look woefully unprepared for that game. Kevin Kolb, however, looked really prepared for that Eagles defense. Michael Vick's pocket awareness is just awful right now. What was also surprising is that the Eagles defense could not generate much of a pass rush against a medoicre o-line. That is not an easy place to play, but the Eagles really didn't even show up. Just a bad performance from a talented team that is really lucky to even be 2-1.

15.) Cincinnati Bengals (2-1  =  85-102)

This Bengals offense is really interesting to watch. Andy Dalton has really improved since last season. He's got weapons outside of just AJ Green in Hawkins and that Binns guy, but Dalton just seems more imposing and calm in the pocket this year. That said, what is up with the Bengals defense right now. That defense was so consistent last season but is just falling apart right now. I have to think sooner or later they will right the ship.

14.) Dallas Cowboys (2-1  =  47-54)

Their defense is really good. I didn't buy into Rob Ryan, and I still don't know if I do, but so far he has that defense playing extremely well. Brandon Carr has been a really good addition so far. That said, the offense is almost perfecting my theory about the Cowboys inability to turn yards into points. That really shouldn't have been a game, but they couldn't put the Bucs away.

13.) San Diego Chargers (2-1  =  63-51)

Man, what happened there? I'm not surprised the Chargers couldn't really stop the Falcons offense, but what was up with Philip Rivers? His receivers couldn't get open, he didn't have any rhythm to his game at all. Just a bizarre performance all around. The Chargers should still be a competitor for the division or a Wild Card spot, but that was the Chargers many thought they were.

12.) Seattle Seahawks (2-1  =  57-39)

Lost in the madness of last night was an incredible performance by the Seahawks defense. Sure, they didn't get a sack in the second half but a lot of that was due to the Packers going to more max-protect than anything else. Their defense is just dominant in that building. The NFC West will be really, really interesting. The offense though has major problems. I just don't think Russell Wilson is all that good, but it may not matter for the Seahawks to win 8-9 games.

11.) Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2  =  77-75)

They really need Polamalu and Harrison back. The Steelers defense was a mess when Polamalu missed time in 2009 and is no different now. It's sad because Ben Roethlisberger was absolutely awesome on Sunday. Yes, the Raiders defense right now is porous, but he just scorched them. The Steelers won't go away, especially if Troy and Harrison come back soon, but they are really seemingly an offense-first team right now.

10.) Green Bay Packers (1-2  =  57-54)

What is wrong with the Packers offense. It's like the team has done a literal 180 from last season. The offense is now average while the defense is good. Anyway, back to that offense. Here are their last four games: 20 points against the Giants, including two TDs on drives that should have ended, 22 points against the 49ers with seven off a punt-TD, 23 against the Bears with seven off of a fake-field goal TD, and then 12 in Seattle. Defenses have figured something out, forcing Rodgers to throw short time and time again. They have to figure out a way to counter this new defensive plan.

9.) Denver Broncos (1-2  =  77-77)

Why am I dropping them lower? Again, it's partly because I'm an open and obvious Manning homer. But also because their two losses were six points losses to two teams that happen to be the most impressive teams in the NFL through three weeks. The only team to give the Falcons or Texans games were the Broncos. Yes, they've been down by 20 in both games, but the problems, especially against the Falcons, are fixable (like Manning throwing three picks). If they can get to the bye at 3-3, they should be fine long term.

8.) New England Patriots (1-2  =   82-64)  

It is just weird to see the Patriots at a sub-.500 record. I heard something on the radio that this is the first time Vince Wilfork or Logan Mankins have ever been below .500 in their NFL career. That is just stunning. Anyway, I think it is time to stop anointing the Patriots defense as the great improved unit of the year, and maybe, just maybe, Chandler Jones is not the next Lawrence Taylor. The Patriots offense is fine, but their inability to close out four-minute drives is a problem going forward.

7.) Chicago Bears (2-1  =  74-50)

The longer the season goes, I think we will look back at that TNF game as a fluke. Cutler wasn't great against the Bears, but what wasn't is that incredible defense. Urlacher and Briggs are ageless. That pass rush is better than it has been since about 2006. Stephen Paea and Henry Melton are a really underrated duo of tackles. That is still a really fun defense to watch.

6.) New York Giants (2-1  =  94-65)

You just now the Giants will win this Sunday in Philly and then drop the game the next week. I think at this point that is just what they are. The Giants on last Thursday was the dominant unit that won a Super Bowl. Eli Manning is in that zone that Peyton was where it doesn't matter who the weapons or what the o-line is like. Good to see the pass rush getting back to prime form as well.

5.) San Francisco 49ers (2-1  =  70-65)

That was a stunning loss. Really for the first time since their Week 2 OT loss to Dallas last year were the 49ers just outplayed. They weren't in a game in the 4th quarter for the first time in the Harbaugh era. Personally, I think it is just a fluke, but we'll see going forward. They still have a pretty tough schedule, made tougher with the division being better.

4.) Arizona Cardinals (3-0  =  67-40)

You know who the Cardinals remind me of... The 2011 49ers. Underrated, forgotten QB. Great coach. Great defense with loads of talent in the front-7. Great home-field advantage. They still haven't reached 300 yards in offense in any single game, but you can see Kolb getting more comfortable last week. Their schedule can make it very easy for this team to get to 10 wins, which should be around a magic number.

3.) Baltimore Ravens (2-1  =  98-67)

Can the Ravens just be over .500 on the road? They don't lose home games, but they better do better on the road if they want only home games in the playoffs. Great performance by the offense. Sure, there were a lot of penalty yardage on the New England defense, but the Ravens offense put up 500 yards of their own. Ray Rice was used more, and the real surprise to me is how good Jacoby Jones has been in his role as the 3rd receiver. They one complaint I have is that their defense really needs Terrell Suggs back. That pass rush isn't good enough right now.

2.) Atlanta Falcons (3-0  =  94-48)

They are a really good team, and the most impressive part of the Falcons other than their offense scoring points despite a lack of a running game is the fact that they've played two road games and won by a combined score of 67-27. They've always been good at home in the Ryan/Smith era, but so far the Falcons are actually better on the road in 2011. That is a scary, scary fact for the rest of the NFC.

1.) Houston Texans (3-0  =  88-42)

The Falcons might've gotten a bit lucky in their win over the Broncos, but the Texans deserved every bit of that 20 point lead they held. They are just so complete right now. I still feel scared about the chance that Andre Johnson gets hurt, or if they lose Jonathan Joseph but they have to be the most complete team in the NFL. JJ Watt is an absolute monster, like a younger, more athletic Haloti Ngata. This is a special team right now.

Ranking Next Week's Games

This first game is just bad. I don't know why, but games in St. Louis just seem dull, even if the games are good, like their game against the Redskins.

15.) Seattle Seahawks (2-1)  @  St. Louis Rams (1-2)  (1:00 - FOX)

These next three are all games that feature bad teams (in the case of Miami and Tennessee two of the lesser '1-2' teams) against my top three teams in the stadiums of the top three teams. That is a recipe for a blowout. Of course, one of these games will probably end up being a lot closer than what I think, but I have no idea which one. They all seem pretty clear-cut.

14.) Cleveland Browns (0-3)  @  Baltimore Ravens (2-1)  (TNF)
13.) Miami Dolphins (1-2)  @  Arizona Cardinals (3-0)  (4:05 - CBS)
12.) Tennessee Titans (1-2)  @  Houston Texans (3-0)  (1:00 - CBS)

These next three are games that are being played in the Southeast part of the country, and those games also seem quite dull. Panthers @ Falcons has a chance to be exciting, but I just don't like what I see from the Panthers right now. As for the others, the Bengals and Redskins are two of the more exciting teams, but the teams they are playing want to suck the life out of their fans.

11.) Cincinnati Bengals (2-1)  @  Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2)  (4:05 - CBS)
10.) Carolina Panthers (1-2)  @  Atlanta Falcons (3-0)  (1:00 - FOX)
9.) Washington Redskins (1-2)  @  Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-2)  (4:25 - FOX)

These next three are division games, and in the case of the latter two, are far more interesting than what they looked to be. San Diego has lost two close, classic night games in the past two seasons in KC. The Patriots Bills game figured to be a good game coming in, but this is different. The Patriots try to avoid a three game losing streak, and the Bills could really hurt New England with a win. The Vikings could also put the Lions in deep trouble early in the season.

8.) San Diego Chargers (2-1)  @  Kansas City Chiefs (1-2)  (1:00 - CBS)
7.) New England Patriots (1-2)  @  Buffalo Bills (2-1)  (1:00 - CBS)
6.) Minnesota Vikings (2-1)  @  Detroit Lions (1-2)  (1:00 - FOX)

I don't know what makes me like this particular game, but the 49ers will be angry. The Jets will have to adjust to life without Darrelle. It will be an interesting game and a great opportunity to for both teams to make a statement. The 49ers can tell the world that last week was just a bad Sunday, while the Jets can tell the world that Darrelle Revis's injury isn't crippling to their chances.

5.) San Francisco 49ers (2-1)  @  New York Jets (2-1)  (4:05 - CBS)

This is a massive early season game. Personally, I think Denver is a lot better and had the bad luck of playing the two best teams in the league right now over a six-day span, but there is definitely some concern. The Raiders are on a high after that crazy win.

4.) Oakland Raiders (1-2)  @  Denver (1-2)  (4:05 - CBS)

This is probably the worst SNF game so far this year, and that is saying something about the quality of the slate. The Eagles really need to bounce-back, but they might have the same problems with pass protection here. This can be a major statement if the Eagles can win it.

3.) New York Giants (2-1)  @  Philadelphia (2-1)  (SNF)

It seems odd placing a game with two teams that have combined for a 1-5 record at the #2 spot, but it is hard not to be enticed by this game. Both these teams are desperate. The Saints are maybe one loss away from a total collapse. The Packers are fuming off that ending last night. Last year they met in the season opener and it was a classic. Because of the dire circumstances for both, that could repeat itself.

2.) New Orleans Saints (0-3)  @  Green Bay Packers (1-2)  (4:25 - FOX)

This could go like the Bears @ Packers game where Cutler just gets pressured into mistakes, but the Cowboys have a very spotty record at home in prime-time in Jerry World. Overall, they are 3-5, with one of the wins being their Wild-Card rout of Philly in 2009. It will be interesting to see if either of these offenses can get on track after both had miserable Week 2's and mediocre Week 3's.

1.) Chicago Bears (2-1)  @  Dallas Cowboys (2-1)  (MNF)

Picks later in the Week.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

NFL 2012: Week 3 Picks

Just the TNF game for now in three sentences.

New York Giants (1-1)  @  Carolina Panthers (1-1)  (CAR -2.5)

Nicks and Bradshaw are both out, and road teams rarely win the TNF game when the home team is anywhere near decent. Plus, getting just 2.5 is good value. It's almost close to picking straight up here.

Giants 20  Panthers 30  (CAR -2.5)

The rest to come

And now the rest have come...

St. Louis Rams (1-1)  @  Chicago Bears (1-1)  (Bears -7)

In a way, I'm surprised this line is lot lower, as I've heard many people refer to this as a trendy upset pick. I think people are overrating the Rams close home win against the Redskins and overrating the Bears loss on the road on a Thursday to their biggest rival. The Bears are just a much better team, and I expect them to hold down the Rams pretty easily. Their defense is playing at a really high level. On the other side, the Rams have a good pass rush, but not enough to really stop the Bears.

Rams 13  Bears 23  (CHI -7)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1)  @  Dallas Cowboys (1-1)  (Cowboys -8)

I don't think the Buccaneers are a very good team. I don't think Greg Schiano is a very good coach. Still, I think this is good value for a Buccaneers team that hasn't turned on their ridiculous coach (it will happen when they start 3-7). They can give the Cowboys a good game for now. The Buccaneers are healthy, have the size at receiver to bother the Cowboys secondary, and, again, are right now not a touchdown worse than the Cowboys.

Buccaneers 20  Cowboys 24  (TB +8)

San Francisco 49ers (2-0)  @  Minnesota Vikings (1-1)  (49ers -6.5)

I feel like this is stealing in a way. The 49ers beat two better, and in the case of the Packers substantially, teams from the NFC North by eight. Yet, they are only a touchdown favorite against a Vikings team that needed OT to beat the Jaguars and had to come back from 20-6 down to the Colts. That doesn't make much sense. The 49ers will swallow up Peterson, and they will not really let Harvin really get going. I just don't see this as a good matchup at all for the Vikings.

49ers 30  Vikings 13  (SF -6.5)

Detroit Lions (1-1)  @  Tennessee Titans (0-2)  (Lions -3.5)

This is another odd spread. The Titans, through two games, have the worst scoring differential in the NFL. Other than a pass rush against San Diego, have not shown any ability to stop anyone on defense, and have Chris Johnson running for barely a yard a carry. Yet, this line is only 3.5. I probably shouldn't be thinking this way so much, since Vegas generally knows what they are doing, but I think the Lions are good enough to win this game. Calvin Johnson should also dominate the lesser talents in the Titans secondary.

Lions 27  Titans 17  (DET -3.5)  (LOCK OF THE WEEK)

Cincinnati Bengals (1-1)  @  Washington Redskins (1-1)  (Redskins -3)

The Redskins looked human in Week 2, and worse, they were human, falling to one of the worst injury days I have seen, losing their best young talents Adam Carriker and Brian Orakpo for the year. They might overcome this later, but I really don't see how they will get around it in this game. This is RGIII's home opener, but I'm not sure that means much. It is scary how bad the Bengals defense has been so far, but I think they turn it around here.

Bengals 27  Redskins 24  (CIN +3)  (UPSET OF THE WEEK)

New York Jets (1-1)  @  Miami Dolphins (1-1)  (Jets -2.5)

Jets 21  Dolphins 14  (NYJ -2.5)

Kansas City Chiefs (0-2)  @  New Orleans Saints (0-2)  (Saints -8.5)

I have no confidence in this pick. I can see Tamba Hali just dominating Jermon Bushrod. I can see the Chiefs going point-for-point the way the Redskins did in Week 1, but I really can't see the Saints dropping to 0-3, and more importantly 0-2 at home. I don't but the Chiefs offense in this type of game. Cassel is awful against good pass rushes, so he probably will have a decent game, and that offense will keep it close, but not close enough.

Chiefs 24  Saints 31  (KC +8.5)

Buffalo Bills (1-1)  @  Cleveland (0-2)  (Bills -3)

I have no read in this game. I know the Bills are better, but their biggest strength on defense is their pass rush. Unfortunately, the Browns have a good offensive line. The last time these two teams met, the Bills won 13-6. The time before that, in 2009, the Browns won 6-3, and Derek Anderson went 2-17 in a winning effort. So, I think this game will be slightly better, but still involve a '3' and a '6'. I have nothing more to really say about this decrepit game.

Bills 23  Browns 16  (BUF -3)

Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2)  @  Indianapolis Colts (1-1)  (Colts -3)

This is good value for the Colts. Luck played well at home, and the Jaguars offense is so bad that they might actually make the Colts defense look good. If the Colts ever had a chance to hold a team to under 20 points this is it. The Colts probably won't get much in the running game, and might not score too many points, but I think the Jaguars are just nowhere right now.

Jaguars 17  Colts 24  (IND -3)

Philadelphia Eagles (2-0)  @  Arizona Cardinals (2-0)  (Eagles -3.5)

By far the most surprising big game in the NFL so far, the Eagles and Cardinals meet in Glendale for the first time since the 2008 NFC Championship. The teams are a little different now, but the game should still be close. The Eagles just cannot turn the ball over as much as they have the last two weeks, as the Cardinals defense is too good to allow the Eagles to put up 450 yards. On the other side, I can see the Cardinals trying to force DRC to cover Fitz, and do what they always do and somehow score enough points.

Eagles 17  Cardinals 20  (ARZ +3.5)

Atlanta Falcons (2-0)  @  San Diego Chargers (2-0)  (Chargers -3)

Hey, it is upset city in the 4:00 hour. The other game featuring two 2-0 teams is also surprising, moreso with the Chargers. Through the Chargers two games their rush defense has been incredible, which makes it pretty certain that Michael Turner won't have a big game. As for the other side, I can see the Falcons secondary posing just enough challenges to Rivers that they hold the Chargers in the 20s. The key is if Matt Ryan can get time and get his receivers open. I say he does, against a Chargers pass rush that is a little inconsistent right now.

Falcons 30  Chargers 24  (ATL +3)

Houston Texans (2-0)  @  Denver Broncos (1-1)  (Texans -2)

Man, after overrating the Broncos after their Week 1 win, people are now underrating them after a Week 2 loss. I think the Broncos at home under Manning is a pretty good bet, especially with that wicked no-huddle in the thin Denver air. By the second half, the Steelers were totally gassed on defense. Manning knows the Texans, and the Broncos rush defense has been really good so far. If they play close to that defensively against the Texans run game, they should be able to pull this one out.

Texans 24  Broncos 27  (DEN +3)

Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1)  @  Oakland Raiders (0-2)  (Steelers -4)

This is an awful position for the Raiders, playing a good defense and a good passing offense without both of their opening day corners playing. I heavily doubt Darren McFadden gets it going in this game (he will soon, though). I can see the Steelers defense harassing Palmer. I think it will be closer than many, but that line seems way too low. The Steelers are a better team than a wounded Oakland group.

Steelers 27  Raiders 17  (PIT -4)

New England Patriots (1-1)  @  Baltimore Ravens (1-1)  (Ravens -2.5)

Oh man will this game be fun (a lot more fun if the Colts and Broncos do win earlier in the day). Both teams have so much to play for, the most of all is avoiding a 1-2 start. The Pats need to show the world that they can get by without Aaron Hernandez, as try to get past this Welker mess. I wouldn't be shocked if he has a massive game (or at least gets targeted a lot). The Ravens want revenge for the AFC Title Game, and to answer the questions that their defense is just merely good after a fluke loss last week. The Ravens have made Tom Brady mortal when he's had all his weapons in 2010 and last year's game, and I think they do it just enough here as well.

Patriots 20  Ravens 27  (BAL -2.5)

Green Bay Packers (1-1)  @  Seattle Seahawks (1-1)  (Packers -3)

The Seahawks are a good team, but I don't think they are at this level yet. That stadium should be loud and pumping on MNF, but the Packers should be ready with 10 days to prepare. Rodgers gets Jennings back, and although the Seahawks have a secondary that can compete, I don't know if that is really enough in this case. I don't think the Seahawks offense can score enough points to really keep up.

Packers 27  Seahawks 20  (GB -3)

Enjoy the Games!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

NFL 2012: Week 3 Power Rankings

God, I hate the Patriots. Forget the fact that I hate them because they've personally been the team that beat my teams more often than not, but I just hate picking their games ATS. I know that ever since the Patriots became an uber-Public team late in 2007 the Patriots have been really, really bad at covering spreads over 10. Yet, I fell for it, knowing and saying full well that the Cardinals front could give the Patriots problems. I also hate them because they almost pulled the win out of their be-hind anyway. I mean, come on. Arizona deserved that game. The Patriots deserved to lose. They better shore up that o-line and hope that Hernandez's injury isn't all too serious, especially with little communication right now between Brady and Lloyd and Welker being marginalized. Anyway, I also regret not picking the Steelers to cover, but it was a pretty good week, going 10-5-1. Hard to say a 19-12-1 start to the season is all that bad.

Looking Back at Last Week's Picks

Packers -5  (CORRECT = 1-0)
Giants -7.5  (WRONG = 1-1)
Patriots  -13.5  (WRONG = 1-2)
Colts  +1.5  (CORRECT = 2-2)
Panthers  +2.5  (CORRECT = 3-2)
Bills  -3  (CORRECT = 4-2)
Ravens  +2.5  (CORRECT = 5-2)
Raiders  -2.5  (WRONG = 5-3)
Bengals  -7  (PUSH = 5-3-1)
Texans  -7  (CORRECT = 6-3-1)
Seahawks  +3  (CORRECT = 7-3-1)  (UPSET OF THE WEEK)
Rams  +3  (CORRECT = 8-3-1)
Jets  +5.5  (WRONG = 8-4-1)
Chargers  -6  (CORRECT = 9-4-1)  (LOCK OF THE WEEK)
49ers  -6.5  (CORRECT = 10-4-1)
Broncos +2.5  (WRONG = 10-5-1)

Week 2: 10-5-1 (Lock: 1-0; Upset: 1-0)

Year-to-Date: 19-12-1 (2-0; 2-0)

Best Picks: Obviously my wrong picks were wrong, but my correct picks were generally close to being right. I accurately predicted the Colts to beat the Vikings 23-20, and picked the 49ers to beat the Lions 27-17 (instead of 27-19) and the Panthers to beat the Saints 31-27 (instead of 34-27).

Power Rankings

32.) Tennessee Titans (0-2  =  23-72)

Man, that was a predictable beat-down in San Diego. What is wrong with their run-blocking. Sure, some of this is Chris Johnson, but that o-line is just awful at creating running lanes (or the Chargers are really, really good at run defense). The defense got a lot of pressure this week but couldn't cover Dante Rosario for their life. Just a putrid first two weeks, admittedly against two good teams.

31.) Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2  =  30-53)

For years people used to claim that the AFC South was a weak division. They were wrong. They are now absolutely right. The Jaguars had -2 yards passing in the first half. Blaine Gabbert looking like a competent player didn't last all that long. Even their one TD was on a broken play that probably could have been intercepted. That defense provided some resistance, but it isn't like the Texans really needed to flex too much.

30.) Kansas City Chiefs (0-2  =  41-75)

I am ecstatic that so far I am absolutely right about the Chiefs under the Romeo Crennel regime. Matt Cassel puts up nice stats, but once again showed absolutely no pocket presence or awareness of defenders, something that was evident even in his 2008 season in New England. The defense looks completely lost, and this time Tamba Hali was back.

29.) Minnesota Vikings (1-1  =  46-46)

I'll give the Vikings credit for a nice comeback in the 4th quarter (even if it was aided by the Colts going soft) and for Christian Ponder having another nice game (even if it was aided by a bunch of short, underneath throws). Adrian Peterson had a pretty bad game and looked more like a running back coming off of ACL surgery. Also, where was Jared Allen against an awful o-line.

28.) Cleveland Browns (1-1  =  43-51)

The Browns could have easily won thier first game ugly, and here they lost their second game prettily. Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden both had good road debuts. That was the offense that Mike Holmgren was envisioning when he and the Browns selected those two players. This team is still frisky but I don't think they have what it takes to make most of those wins.

27.) Oakland Raiders (0-2  =  27-57)

The first week they lose because of a long-snapper. The second week they lose as they play a 1PM game on the East Coast in 95 degree weather wearing black. I hate this.

26.) Indianapolis Colts (1-1  =  44-61)

The legend begins in Week 2, I guess. Andrew Luck played really good, but more importantly, the o-line didn't look like the worst individual unit in the NFL this time around. The Colts version of the 3-4 was a lot more effective in this game as well. Granted, the Vikings aren't a great challenge, but the Colts have winnable home games (they have one coming up this week). They have to lock those down.

25.) Miami Dolphins (1-1 =  45-43)

Forget Ryan Tannehill, the real star was Reggie Bush. He's quietly actually had a nice career overall, but ever since he came to Miami he actually has been that pure #1 complete back that he never really was in New Orleans. That was a dominant effort by the Dolphins who took advantage of every Raider mistake to win that game.

24.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1  =  47-51)

I'll say this, through two weeks I was wrong about the Buccaneers. Their defense still is not that good (as the season goes on that Week 1 run-defense performance will probably look more and more like a fluke) and they were absolutely torched in the secondary. Freeman played average, but made good use of Vincent Jackson, who had a vintage Chargers day (5-124). They blew that game, and the more it happens, the less Schiano's hard-ass line will work.

23.) St. Louis Rams (1-1  =  54-55)

This is a really frisky team. Jeff Fisher teams always play hard, and when they play the upper echelon teams (Packers, 49ers, Bears) they might get beat badly, but the Rams won't get blown out against an average team. Fisher teams just don't. Sam Bradford looked really comfortable. Of course, some part of that has to do with the Redskins two best pass-rushers leaving the game due to injury. Also, Danny Amendola is a really, really good player in his role.

22.) New Orleans Saints (0-2  =  59-76)

The Saints are just not that good right now. Their defense just does not have the personnel to play Spagnuolo's scheme at all. They don't have close to the pass rush talent that his teams in St. Louis and New York did. The offense looks really out-of-synch, and the receivers are not getting open at all for Brees, who has to rely on Graham and Sproles even more. Add it all up, and this is just not a good team right now.

21.) Washington Redskins (1-1  =  68-63)

They blew that game, and it really isn't their fault (other than Josh Morgan and his 15-yard penalty), but the loss of their two best pass rushers, which resulted in Bradford having way too much time and finding Amendola open over and over again. Griffin had another good game and this time without Pierre Garcon, and he showed his running ability more in this game. It was a tough loss, but another sign that the Redskins are going to be a fun, fun team.

20.) Cincinnati Bengals (1-1  =  47-71)

Talk about a fun team. That was a really unexpected shootout in Cincinnati, and Andy Dalton and his top three targets were really up for the task. The Bengals defense, though, looks so much worse than what it was a year ago, and that is a problem going forward, but I think they will correct that side. The offense is set, and should be competitive against most teams.

19.) Buffalo Bills (1-1  =  63-65)

Well, those were the Bills that so many expected to contend for a Wild-Card spot coming into the season. That was the Bills D-Line that they have been building over the past two years. That was the Ryan Fitzpatrick that comes close to earning that ridiculous paycheck. However at the end of the day, those were the real Bills in Week 1 as well. I think the Week 2 Bills are closer to the real Bills, but that Week 1 version could show itself in any game.

18.) Detroit Lions (1-1  =  46-50)

I didn't like that last garbage-time TD drive by the Lions for one reason: I wanted Stafford to end the game with under 150 yards passing. That would've been a great lesson to all those who think that Stafford (and Brady, Brees and Rodgers) would all have seasons that are among the top 10-15 of all time for QBs. The D-Line needs to get more pressure, but the 49ers are a really good team, and they didn't look much worse than the Packers did against them.

17.) Carolina Panthers (1-1  =  44-40)

I can't overrate the Panthers after beating what could end up being a very mediocre Saints team, but it was good to see the Panthers offense in full force. The option runs by Newton. The great split of carries between DeAngelo and Stewart (but screw Tolbert for vulturing a TD). And of course to cap off the formula is a vintage Steve Smith day. All in all, a perfectly good day on offense for the Panthers.

16.) Dallas Cowboys (1-1  =  31-44)

I predicted a Cowboys loss, but even I couldn't imagine such a desolate performance. In the first half they were a little unlucky (bad interception, two major special teams mistakes) but in the 2nd half they seemed completly uninterested in attempting to come back on Seattle

15.) Seattle Seahawks (1-1  =  43-27)

I don't like the Seahawks road uniforms, but their home uniforms look great, and the team played great in them. I don't know if defense is making as much of a comeback as I expected, but the better defenses are really playing well early, and the Seahawks are one of them. Their secondary blanketed Romo's targets, and their pass rush got Romo to make bad throws. On offense, Russell Wilson wasn't great, but Marshawn Lynch was. Great defense and Marshawn is the recipe that works the best for the Seahawks.

14.) New York Jets (1-1  =  58-55)

Never overrate a team after a big win (see: 48-28 over Buffalo) and never underrate a team after a big loss (see: 10-27 against Pittsburgh). That was not an easy environment for the Jets to go to play a game, but I was surprised that the real story was the complete inability of the Jets offense to get anything going against a team missing Harrison and Polamalu. Mark Sanchez started good but finished the game dreadfully. The real test for the Jets starts in two weeks, when they welcome the 49ers and Texans to New York.

13.) Arizona Cardinals (2-0  =  40-34)

I knew that defensive front was good, but that was eye-opening. They are almost like the 49ers, but just slightly worse at most positions. Darnell Dockett was good as always, but Calais Campbell was dominant against the Patriots. Add to that Patrick Peterson playing incredibly well, and the Cardinals shut down the Patriots in a way that I have seen few teams do. Their offense did little, but they had a great drive to extend it to 20-9, the drive that locked down the game.

12.) Philadelphia Eagles (2-0  =  41-39)

Sure, they are 2-0, but both were one point wins under slightly questionable circumstances. Against Cleveland, it was a dropped interception by the Browns right before the game-winning TD pass, and here it was a really soft OPI against Jacoby Jones on what could've been the game-clinching TD for Baltimore. The Eagles offense is humming (950 yards in the first two games) but really needs to limit turnovers going forward.

11.) Chicago Bears (1-1  =  51-44)

It was only one game on the road on a short week, but it looked like Mike Martz never even left Chicago on Thursday Night. Cutler is getting hammered for yelling at his lineman, and that is fine since Cutler played bad himself, but if there was ever a time to yell at your lineman, that was it. I still think long term the Bears are fine. That is most likely the worst their offense will play all season long, and their defense still held a desperate Packers team to 16 true offensive points.

10.) New York Giants (1-1  =  58-58)

Huge, huge win by the Giants. Eli Manning stared an 0-2 start (with both losses at home, to NFC teams) in teh face and responded from his miserable first half (that late pick-6 reminded me a lot of Matt Ryan's in the 2010 Divisional loss to Green Bay) with an incredible second half. That was the Giants offense working at its best, and it took advantage of a defense working at its worst. What a game. What a set of two receivers. But, was it just that the Buccaneers cannot play defense?

9.) Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1  =  46-41)

Ranking the top-12 was pretty tough, especially since there are so few 2-0 teams this year. The Steelers looked really impressive defensively against a hot Jets team even when missing two of their best players on that side of the ball. Roethlisbeger had a really good game against a Jets pass rush that constantly got in his face. It was about as dominant an effort the Steelers will put in this season. The scary part is, again, they did it without Troy Polamalu or James Harrison.

8.) New England Patriots (1-1  =  52-33)

I had a pretty long debate about how far to drop the Patriots, but I think this is a fair drop. They just looked bad in that game. Sure, if Stephen Gostkowski just hits a kick they win the game, but they were only in that position because of a fluke fumble by Ryan Williams. They didn't deserve that game. I think their offense has quite a few problems. Mainly their o-line is not adapting well to losing Light, Koppen and Waters. I think they will adjust, but they have some tough defenses coming up.

7.) Denver Broncos (1-1 = 52-46)

So why am I still high on Denver? Mostly blind love of Peyton Manning, but also because they spotted the Falcons four turnovers and the games first 20 points, but still forced the Falcons to convert a clutch third down just to ice the game. Manning is the best QB ever at coming back and I think that much is still true. I actually don't think those interceptions were about his, but more lack of communication and one bad throw (the 2nd pick). His arm looked fine on a laser-post late to Eric Decker that wasn't caught because it was a little too far in front of Decker. The defense played great given the circumstances, adn that is a good sign. These next two home games are huge, though.

6.) Green Bay Packers (1-1  =  45-40)

I don't think the Packers defense ever plays that well again, but for one night it was like watching the Packers from 2010. They didn't have a lot of success against the Bears defense, but that was irrelevant since they owned the Bears offense. Rodgers is really having trouble beating 2-deep man defenses, as he is not the best QB at taking underneath options, and teams are really limiting the explosiveness of the Packers offense. That said, they played two of maybe the five or six best defenses these first two weeks. When the defenses get easier, Rodgers should get better.

5.) San Diego Chargers (2-0  =  60-24)

I'll admit, they have been really impressive this season. I have had a nasty habit of picking teams to do really well the year before they actually do well. For instance, I picked the Giants to make the Super Bowl before the 2010 season, and the White Sox to win the World Series in 2011. The Giants won in 2011, and teh White Sox will likely win the division in 2012. Last year I picked the Chargers to win the Super Bowl, and despite losing Vincent Jackson, the Chargers have been great through two weeks. They will have an interesting test this weekend with Atlanta, a good way to judge their real ability.

4.) Atlanta Falcons (2-0 = 67-45)

Yeah, I really wasn't that impressed by either team Monday Night (or in a way, impressed by both). Where was the high-flying Falcons offense. The Broncos spotted them 4 field goals on their first five drives and the Falcons still had to convert a huge third down just to ice the game. Matt Ryan played mistake-free (which was a lot better than his MNF counterpart) but that didn't make his performance all that great. They have a big test against maybe the other surprising but possibly legitimate 2-0 team coming up.

3.) Baltimore Ravens (1-1  =  67-37)

It is amazing that either the Ravens or Patriots, the two teams that played in the AFC Championship Game last season, will be 1-2 after this game. The Ravens could have easily won that game, but there are problems with that defense. It might just be the Eagles offense is better than any other team at racking up yards, but the Ravens defense played the definition of bend-but-don't-break. They need to cut that out against New England. Also, can Ray Rice get the ball more? He's been on fire in his limited rushes so far.

2.) San Francisco 49ers  (2-0  =  57-41)

Right now, the 49ers are a cut above the rest of the NFC. They are playing a game that worked extremely well in 1981 and 1984 for them (of course, Montana was better than Smith) and doing it in a completely different NFL. Beating their defense seems to be something of a herculean task right now. Running on them is nearly impossible, and because Willis and Bowman are so good in pass coverage they don't need to sub to face flex teams like the Patriots. As for that offense, it is the most exact small-ball offense I've seen in some time. I love watching them play, and I can't believe that they might actually be better than they were one year ago.

1.) Houston Texans (2-0  =  57-17) 

The Texans were statistically the best team in the NFL when Matt Schaub got hurt in 2011. The Packers, Ravens and 49ers had better records, but the Texans were the most complete team. Nothing has changed. Their offense still isn't running in 5th gear, but they haven't had to through two games. The run game just dominated the Jaguars, but that domination paled in comparison to what they did to the Jaguars offense. JJ Watt continues to play like a monster week after week, and the rest of that defense is as young and talented as any outside of San Francisco. It is amazing how the Texans rebounded from a truly disappointing 2010 (6-10 record after a 4-2 start) by hiring Wade Phillips, drafting JJ Watt, Connor Barwin and Ben Tate, and became the most complete team in the NFL in the process.

Ranking the Week 3 Games

These first three feature five bad teams and one average team. They have bad crowds, bad QBs, bad coaches. Just bad football.

16.) Buffalo Bills (1-1)  @  Cleveland Browns (0-2)  (1:00 - CBS)
15.) Detroit Lions (1-1)  @  Tennessee Titans (1-1)  (1:00 - FOX)
14.) Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2)  @  Indianapolis Colts (1-1)  (1:00 - CBS)

These next three have decent teams against average teams, and include some exciting offenses. They at least could be higher scoring than that mess above.

13.) St. Louis Rams (1-1)  @  Chicago Bears (1-1)  (1:00 - FOX)
12.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1)  @  Dallas Cowboys (1-1)  (1:00 - FOX)
11.) Cincinnati Bengals (1-1)  @  Washington Redskins (1-1)  (1:00 - CBS)

These next three feature three great defenses against three bad teams, but the bad teams are on the road. I probably don't have the guts to go through with this come time for picks, but I think one of these three road favorites will go down.

10.) Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1)  @  Oakland Raiders (0-2)  (4:25 - CBS)
9.) San Francisco 49ers (2-0)  @  Minnesota Vikings (1-1)  (1:00 - FOX)
8.) New York Jets (1-1)  @  Miami Dolphins (1-1)  (1:00 - CBS)

Loser easily becomes the winner of the "Most Surprising 0-3/Disappointing team in teh NFL." If the Saints can't beat a bad defense in their dome, then turn out the lights on the 2012 Saints.

7.) Kansas City Chiefs (0-2)  @  New Orleans Saints (0-2)  (1:00 - CBS)

These next two games are kind of similar prime-time games. Both have a preseason NFC favorite that hasn't looked exactly great through two games at home playing a primetime game on the road against a blue-clad team led by a young QB that can run. Of course the Giants/Panthers tilt will probably come close to doubling the point total of the Packers and Seahawks. In that vein, Aaron Rodgers gets his third straight game against a really good defense. I feel bad for all fantasy owners that have Aaron Rodgers (including me).

6.) New York Giants (1-1)  @  Carolina Panthers (1-1)  (TNF)
5.) Green Bay Packers (1-1)  @  Seattle Seahawks (1-1)  (MNF)

 These next two are two really good simultaneous games on FOX. The Eagles and Cardinals pits the league's two most surprising 2-0 teams, both of whom one both of their games in dramatic fashion. The Cardinals defense at home probably will allow a lot fewer than 475 yards (the Eagles average through two games). As for the other, the AFC's most surprising 2-0 team gets a real good opponent in the Falcons...

4.) Philadelphia Eagles (2-0)  @  Arizona Cardinals (2-0)  (4:05 - FOX)
3.) Atlanta Falcons (2-0)  @  San Diego Chargers (2-0)  (4:05 - FOX)

These last two not only feature four really good (and in some cases great) teams playing two late afternoon games against each other, but are two games that could have serious playoff implications come January. They are also the four defending AFC Division champions, and other than San Diego and Pittsburgh potentially winning the West or North, there is a chance all four repeat. These two games, the two in Week 14 and Week 15 (Texans @ Pats, Broncos @ Ravens) also will go a long way in deciding what teams get byes come January. Yet the other part is how desperate three of these teams are. We know the loser of the night game will be 1-2, but the Broncos could be as well, and that is bad given their schedule coming up.

2.) Houston Texans (2-0)  @  Denver Broncos (1-1)  (4:25)
1.) New England Patriots (1-1)  @  Baltimore Ravens (1-1)  (SNF)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

NFL 2012: Week 2 Picks

Because of the new Thursday Night Football schedule throughout the year, I'll make my quick TNF prediction before that game is played before making the rest on Friday.

Bears (1-0)  @ Packers (0-1)  (Packers -5)

That line seems high, but probably is due to desperation the Packers should be showing. As I mentioned in my power rankings/week in review post, the Packers have so much to lose here, as an 0-2 start with two home losses against two teams that figure to be in the playoff mix all season long is about as bad a start as a team can have. I don't expect the Packers defense to play all that well. Their coverage seemed even worse than it did last year. The Bears protect Cutler better now, and he should have time to score near 27. The key is the Packers offense, and if it is without Greg Jennings, they might really struggle. Jennings missed their only regular season loss in 2011 against the Chiefs, and without him the offense wasn't explosive enough to beat a good defense in KC. The Bears are a better defense, and usually play the Packers tough anyway, excluding that horror show last Christmas Night (Cutler and Forte both hurt by then). Just like last week with the 49ers, this is a statement game for the Bears, but I'll take desperation over statements between two teams that are pretty evenly matched.

Bears 20  Packers 27 (GB - 5)


Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0)  @  New York Giants (0-1)  (NYG -7.5)

The Giants better win this game, because if they don't they face the prospect or being 0-2 before heading the Carolina for a Thursday Night tilt. That's generally not a good position to be in. I think the Bucs dominant rush defense was a fluke, but either way, the Giants don't need a good running game to win this one. Josh Freeman wasn't great on Sunday, and the Giants defense should give him and that suspect line a lot of problems. Add in the desperation the Giants now face, and this one is pretty easy.

Buccaneers 13  Giants 30  (NYG -7.5 = MY LOCK OF THE WEEK)

Arizona Cardinals (1-0)  @  New England Patriots (1-0)  (NE -13.5)

This is a large line against a team that rarely gets blown out (Arizona) but I can see the point. I find it weird, though, that Vegas has immediately jumped on the Patriots after making them just 5.5 point favorites in Tennessee last week. Anyway, the Cardinals will provide a much larger test for the Patriots revamped o-line than the Titans proved. The Cards bring in a lot better beef up front with Dockett, Campbell, Branch and Washington behind them. I trust them more with Kolb than Skelton, but I just can't go against the Patriots, despite me thinking this line is about a field goal too high.

Cardinals 17  Patriots 31  (NE -13.5)

Minnesota Vikings (1-0)  @  Indianapolis Colts (0-1)  (MIN -1.5)

The Vikings really showed enough in their weird win over the Jaguars that they should be favored on the road? Well, since the Colts showed nothing either, I guess so. The Vikings did make Blaine Gabbert look competent, so I'm expecting a pretty good game from Luck. Other than Jared Allen, that Vikings defense is pretty bare in the pass-rush department, so I'm expecting Luck to get more time as well. The only matchup on the other side I don't like is Peterson. Still, I can't see the Vikings at 2-0, and I think Luck plays well in the first home game of his career.

Vikings 20  Colts 23  (IND +1.5)

New Orleans Saints (0-1)  @  Carolina Panthers (0-1)  (NO -2.5)

The Saints, who went 13-3 last year, have a realistic chance of going 0-2. The Packers and Saints, who went a combined 28-4 last regular season have a realistic chance of starting 2012 at 0-4. Payton's loss was felt. That offense looked totally off. The Panthers aren't as good defensively, but I can see them draining the clock with a running game that is way better than that performance against Tampa. Overall, I do think the Panthers pull this out. That Saints loss to me was more a sign of a team in disarray than a team just playing bad in Week 1.

Saints 27  Panthers 31  (CAR +2.5)

Kansas City Chiefs (0-1)  @  Buffalo Bills (0-1)  (BUF -3)

I'm surprised the Chiefs, who were a trendy preseason pick to win the AFC West, to be underdogs by three against a team that similarly lost badly in Week 1. One of these two 'sleepers' entering 2012 is starting 0-2. I think it will be the Chiefs. Cassel is one of the worst QBs against pressure, and the Chiefs don't have the o-line that the Jets had to combat the Bills pass rush. Tamba Hali is back, but the Bills have enough on offense to get by anyway. I don't think Fitzpatrick will be that bad again, and CJ Spiller will be unleashed in full this season with Fred Jackson out. It may just be that I never bought into teh Chiefs hype, but I think the Bills send them to 0-2, again.
Chiefs 17  Bills 27  (BUF -3)

Baltimore Ravens (1-0)  @  Philadelphia Eagles (1-0)  (PHI -2.5)

The last time these two teams met, Donovan McNabb was benched and Ed Reed ran back a pick for 108 yards. I can envision a scenario where history repeats itself with Vick getting benched. After looking bad against Cleveland, it doesn't get any easier. The Eagles o-line needs to play better. If Vick throws even close to 50 times there is no way the Eagles win this game. They need a run game. In fact, I think that is also mostly true for the Ravens. The Eagles pass defense was phenomenal in Week 1. The Ravens can counter with running, and moving Boldin into the slot, where Nnamdi and DRC struggle. Anyway, I think the Ravens have less work to do to change up to win this battle of defense.

Ravens 24  Eagles 17  (BAL +2.5)

Oakland Raiders (0-1)  @  Miami Dolphins (0-1)  (OAK -2.5)

I'm kind of stunned the Raiders are favored here on the road in a 1 pm game on the East Coast, but it makes sense. Apart from that epic performance by Travis Goethal, the Raiders didn't play all that badly. Denarius Moore should be back, which will help Palmer, who did OK with limited weapons against a decent defense last week. The Raiders defense should do pretty well against a suspect line and a rookie QB, and it isn't like the Dolphins have much of a home-field crowd. The Raiders lost a crucial game in Miami last year big, but since then the Dolphins have become much, much worse, and that is more than enough to push it the other way.

Raiders 24  Dolphins 13  (OAK -2.5)

Cleveland Browns (0-1)  @  Cincinnati Bengals (0-1)  (CIN -7)

Honestly, who cares. It is bad against mediocre. The Bengals are better and at home. Brandon Weeden looked awful in Cleveland, and while the Eagles defense is better than Cincinnati's, he has to go on the road for the first time. I think the Browns defense is mostly for real, and keeps it kind of close, but turnovers by the Browns let the Bengals cover anyway.

Browns 13  Bengals 24  (CIN -7)

Houston Texans (1-0)  @  Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1)  (HOU -7)

I'm riding this Houston thing. That defense was great against Miami, and should punish Blaine Gabbert and swallow up MJD. The Texans are the most complete team in the NFL, and I can't see them dropping games to inferior teams like this, even a divisional game on the road. I don't think we'll see the best from Houston's offense once again because the Jags defense is decent, but they could give a 'C' effort and still win comfortably. I was about to choose this as my lock, but that seems like a cop-out, picking one of the best teams in the league to beat one of the worst by 7 or more.

Texans 24  Jaguars 10  (HOU -7)

Dallas Cowboys (1-0)  @  Seattle Seahawks (0-1)  (DAL -3)

The last time Tony Romo went to Seattle to play a game... well... it became pretty memorable. You might have heard. He couldn't handle a snap. It was basically a whole NFL Generation ago when this happened. Bill Parcells was a coach, as was Mike Holmgren. The Seahawks were defending NFC Champs. Anyway, six years later and the Cowboys are still very much like what they were then, with Romo capable of playing great or poor, and I think we get one of the poor Romo outings. Seattle is not an easy place to play, and the Seahawks defense is good enough to hold down the Cowboys offense a bit. I don't know if they can get pressure, but they'll cover Kevin Ogletree. The Seahawks offense should do a little better at home. Overall, I don't know why, but I like this game for Seattle.

Cowboys 23  Seahawks 24  (SEA +3 = MY UPSET OF THE WEEK)

Washington Redskins (1-0)  @  St. Louis Rams (0-1)  (WAS -3)

Let's just skip the long justification. There is a big chance this is wrong, but the Rams can cover the Redskins wideouts, pressure Griffin far more effectively than teh Saints did, and I think, score on that defense at home. Rams get a close win.

Redskins 20  Rams  23  (STL +3)

New York Jets (1-0)  @  Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1)  (PIT -5.5)

That line is too high. I was impressed by the Jets in Week 1 on offense. I don't think it is a total fluke. I do think the Steelers are better, but to have that much confidence in them is odd. The Steelers can't afford to lose another game to a potential Wild Card competitor like the Jets. They'll be angry after that loss, and with James Harrison and Ryan Clark back should be better, but I still don't think they are that much better than the Jets. For the Jets, the key will be to keep that pass protection excellence going another week. Mark Sanchez can be good with time against that secondary. I think the Jets keep it close, but the Steelers do pull it out. I hate to pick favorites under 7 to win and not cover, but I feel that is the smart play.

Jets 16  Steelers 20  (NYJ +5.5)

Tennessee Titans (0-1)  @  San Diego Chargers (1-0)  (SD -6)

I feel like I am stealing. What is it with the Titans being overvalued? First, they were only 5.5 underdogs against the Pats, and now just six on the road in San Diego? This seems really strange. The Titans looked awful on Sunday, and I know New England was a good opponent, but still. The Chargers are the better team, with a QB that could cut them up. The Titans are maybe starting Locker, maybe starting Hasselbeck, and both probably won't have much time. That Chargers pass rush, especially the awoken Shaun Phillips, looked great on Monday Night. Again, I'm a little too confident, if anything, about the Chargers chances here.

Titans 14  Chargers 31  (SD -6)

Detroit Lions (1-0)  @  San Francisco 49ers (1-0)  (SF -6.5)

I'm surprised this line is so low as well. The 49ers are playing a night game (historically a benefit for the home team, especially if the two teams are somewhat equal) after beating the preseason Super Bowl favorite on the road against a team that struggled at home to beat the Rams. Add that up and this line should be higher. The 49ers have to block the Lions, but if they do, the should find just as many holes in the secondary as they did against the Packers. The Lions looked sloppy on offense against the Rams, but now face one of the toughest defenses in the NFL. I can't see them putting up enough points. The last time hte 49ers played a prime-time game, they destroyed Pittsburgh 23-3. I doubt the Lions score just three, but I wouldn't want to ever play the 49ers in prime-time.

Lions 17  49ers 27  (SF -6.5)

Denver Broncos (1-0)  @  Atlanta Falcons (1-0)  (ATL -3)

If Brent Grimes was still around, I might have picked the Falcons here. Mike Nolan loves to play base nickel, and without Grimes that becomes harder. I see Manning just avoiding Asante (who's always played him well - just like Ty Law), and focus on the slot receiver. I could see the TEs or Stokley having a big day. I don't think the Falcons have enough of a pass rush to really affect Manning. On the other side, the Falcons line is good, and their team is overall, but I can't pick them. Manning has been money ever since 2005 in primetime. He is 25-4 as a starting QB in primetime since then. Two of those losses were to SD (in 2007 - the 6 pick game - and in 2010) and the other two were early in 2008 when he was noticeably off after knee surgery. He's also great as an underdog (happens really rarely). Combine those two and I see another statement made by the Broncos.

Broncos 30  Falcons 24  (DEN +3)

Enjoy the Games!!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

NFL 2012: Week 2 Power Rankings

Here are the first power rankings of the year. Of course, this is not only subjective in terms of my opinions of each team that won or lost in their quality over the Weekend, but also about my perceived quality of that team coming into the season.

I'm using this as kind of a week-in-review type piece unless I have enough time to write a separate one. I've added two sections at the bottom where I quickly just review how my picks went, including the lock and upset picks, and then rank the next weeks games in terms of their attractiveness.

32.) Miami Dolphins (0-1 = PF-PA: 10-30)

Thank God they got that special teams TD, because that was just a sad, sad performance. They didn't even play good enough to force the Texans to really try at all that second half. This was a tough spot for the Dolphins, to go into one of the best teams in the NFL, and Ryan Tannehill looked it. He seemed completely flustered, as did much of that team. I honestly think it is going to get worse, much worse. 

31.) Cleveland Browns (0-1 = 16-17)

Even if the Browns held off that Eagles comeback, they would be in the bottom five. The defense looked good, but they mostly capitalized on an awful day by Mike Vick. Brandon Weeden barely had more yards per attempt than Trent Richardson had yards per rush, and that is even worse since Richardson barely had 2.0 yards per rush. That offense is a mess, which is sad since their o-line is actually pretty good.

30.) Tennessee Titans (0-1 = 13-34)

There are this low for two reasons: 1.) Jake Locker is hurt again and Matt Hasselbeck is now in the building, and 2.) Chris Johnson looks like Chris Johnson from the first half of last season, which is not any good at all. Nate Washington also got hurt. That was about as bad a result as the Titans could have gotten. I feel dirty for even picking them to cover. I now this team isn't all that good, and I went against my own prediction.

29.) Indianapolis Colts (0-1 = 21-41)

It started out so well, but.. poof, it was gone. Andrew Luck looked really skittish, and I blame that mostly on an o-line that is just pathetic. Other than LT Anthony Costanzo, they can barely stop anyone. Their guards will get whipped all year long. Their defense just crashed after Freeney went out. This is a team that will get better, and had a tough assignment, but that was an absolute failure.

28.) St. Louis Rams (0-1 = 23-27)

Sam Bradford had a nice game against heavy pressure, but that was about the only good news for the Rams. They played really hard, and they always will for Fisher, but that doesn't make them a good team. Steven Jackson looked slow. Their defense looked slow against the run (I mean, Kevin Smith should not be rushing for nearly 5 yards per carry). Cortland Finnegan does seem to be a nice pickup.

27.) Minnesota Vikings (1-0 = 26-23)

That was a very good game between two teams bad enough to make each other look competent. Adrian Peterson is just a monster. It is stunning how well he has come back from that ACL injury. Christian Ponder looked nice, and that o-line looked pretty good. But at the end of the day, they were at home against the worst starting QB in the NFL and made him look pretty competent.

26.) Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1 = 23-26)

That was a very good game between two teams bad enough to make each other look competent. Maurice Jones-Drew is just a monster. It is stunning how well he has come back from that holdout. Blaine Gabbert looked nice, and that o-line looked pretty good. But at the end of the day, they were at home against one of the five worst starting QBs in the NFL and made him look pretty competent.

25.) Kansas City Chiefs (0-1 = 24-40)

The Chiefs are who I thought they were. Yes, they were missing Tamba Hali, and despite him being a Top-25 player, I don't think he means that much. I still think the Chiefs are the worst team in the AFC West. Matt Cassel looked positively liked Matt Cassel, and Peyton Hillis looked like Peyton Hillis. Their o-line played awfully. Their defense didn't have a chance in hell of stopping that Falcons unit. And all this happened at home. For the 2nd straight year, the Chiefs gave up 40+ in Week 1 in Arrowhead.

24.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0 = 16-10)

The Buccaneers won, but mainly because of a nearly impossible-to-repeat performance by their rush defense. That will not happen again. A team doesn't go from being the worst rush defense in the NFL to the best rush defense of all time in one year. When their rush defense returns to normal, their results will return to what they really should be. Nice dink-and-dunk game by Freeman too.

23.) Carolina Panthers (0-1 = 10-16)

Yeah, I'm putting them ahead of the Bucs. First, Cam is still better than Josh Freeman. Steve Smith is still a God. DeAngela will not have -1 yards on 6 carries again. That defense also looked a lot better than they did last year. That will also regress back to their true level, but if the Panthers and Buccaneers played tomorrow, I'm still picking the Panthers.

22.) Buffalo Bills (0-1 = 28-48)
I'm going to wait a couple more weeks to accurately judge Ryan Fitzpatrick. Yes, that was a terrible game, and yes he is coming off of a terrible second half, but the Jets defense has often given Fitzpatrick a world of trouble. CJ Spiller looked really, really good on Sunday, but that defense didn't do a thing. I'm not surprised that Kyle Williams and Marcel Dareus didn't do much, but that's mainly because of one Mr. Nicholas Mangold.

21.) Cincinnati Bengals (0-1 = 13-44)

The Bengals were playing really, really impressively until that successful challenge by Harbaugh to force a 4th down when the Bengals were trailing 17-13. Ever that, the game went away from them. Andy Dalton started strong, but didn't respond to well to that adversity, but it is hard to do in Baltimore in a prime-time game. BenJarvus looked really good, though.

20.) Arizona Cardinals (1-0 = 20-16)

They are ranked below the team they just beat mainly because they are back in that state of flux with their QBs, with Skelton leaving and Kolb replacing him and playing pretty well. The Cardinals defense was as advertised, but their offense really struggled. Admittedly, the Seahawks do have a good defense, but their run game was just pitiful. Beanie Wells looked lost.

19.) Oakland Raiders (0-1 = 14-22)

I'm to angry about this game to say much. Fuck Travis Goethal, and can Denarius Moore and Jacoby Ford ever be healthy?

18.) Seattle Seahawks (0-1 = 16-20)

I still like them over the course of the season more than the Cardinals mainly because I think Russell Wilson and potentially Matt Flynn would do a better job than Kolb/Skelton. What was surprising was how flaccid the Seahawks pass rush seemed. They couldn't establish much pressure for any length of time in that game against one of the worst o-lines in the NFL.

17.) Philadelphia Eagles (0-1 = 17-16)
 The Eagles were a complete mess, but at least they pulled out the game in the end. Michael Vick looked bad, but he probably won't have another four-pick game again. They also have to try more to get a run game going. The good sign was that the Eagles defense looked awesome. Nnamdi was doing his thing (blanketing), while DRC his (picking). Their d-line wasn't great, but man those linebackers were an improvement over last year.

16.) New Orleans Saints (0-1 = 32-40)

Bill Simmons made a good point in his NFL preview column. Considering he was writing about the NFL, that is quite rare, but a good point it was. He said that it is ridiculous to think the loss of Sean Payton will have little effect on the Saints chances after the media has spent the last five years saying just how good a coach Payton is. All I know is Drew Brees completed less than half of his passes, the run game sucked, and the defense looked as bad as ever.

15.) Detroit Lions (1-0 = 27-23)

That was a messy win, but a win nonetheless. Calvin Johnson looked good, but that TD record is probably safe. The Lions pass rush looked like they were playing in midseason form, as Ndamukong Suh had a monster game. Their running game also seemed alive. The only problem the Lions really had was Stafford's three interceptions, but they showed resolve getting past that.

14.) San Diego Chargers (0-1 = 22-14)

I don't know if they win that game even if Travis Goetheld didn't reinvent the position of long-snapper, but Rivers looked good, never really putting the ball in harms way like he did so often last season. The run game was awful, but their defense was really good for much of the night. That was a big win for the Chargers after the complete mess to end 2011.

13.) Washington Redskins (1-0 = 40-32)

I don't want to overreact to one single win, but man was that impressive. The only thing better than RGIII's play was Shanahan's game plan and play-calling. They made him feel totally comfortable in that offense, running easy screens and zone reads. Just great stuff from a Head Coach who looks like he's enjoying himself for the first time in Washington.

12.) Dallas Cowboys (1-0 = 24-17)

As long as Murray, Bryant and Austin stay healthy, the Cowboys will be a good team, but they did something again that I've harped on since 2009 (my first year blogging). They put up over 400 yards but only 24 points. That season, they averaged 400 yards a game (2nd in the NFL) but scored just 24 points a game (11th). It was kind of similar this weekend. Still, one year after they melted down and lost a 24-10 lead to the Jets, they closed the deal. Now they just have to figure out how to beat the Giants in Jerry World.

11.) New York Jets (1-0 = 48-28)

That was probably the zenith of offense in the Rex Ryan era. Mark Sanchez looked terrific other than that bonehead pick. Their o-line dominated their individual matchups against the Bills. Darrelle Revis was in fine form, as was the rest of the pass defense. That said, what was up with the run D? That has to get better if they want to challenge New England.

10.) New York Giants (0-1 = 17-24)

The Giants have a propensity to lay eggs at home, and many times to the Cowboys (who've won four of the last five meetings in New York when Romo's played) or Redskins. This isn't unusual, but they better turn it around soon, as after the Bucs they go to Carolina on Thursday, then travel to Philly for a SNF game. Big games are ahead.

9.) Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1 = 19-31)

That was a tough position to be in, playing without Ryan Clark and James Harrison. They get those two back this weekend, and that will come in handy against the Jets this weekend. The offense looked fine except for the running game which was understandably awful without their top two runners. I'll say it now, after he retires, I will miss Ben Roethlisberger. Never have I seen a player quite like him.

8.) Atlanta Falcons (1-0 = 40-24)

That was a great win for them. Each of the past two seasons they opened up on the road against a good but not great opponent (Chicago last year, Steelers without suspended Ben in 2010) and lost. Here they laid the smack down in the 2nd half. Matt Ryan looked great. It is hard to believe that he is still just in his 5th year in the league, but he looks comfortable. Now, though, he'll have to face a pass rush again.

7.) Green Bay Packers (0-1 = 22-30)

We'll there goes that dilemma of having to always place the Defending Champ #1 until they lose. They made it easy for me. For the second straight game, the Packers just couldn't get anything deep on offense, and Rodgers was severely limited. Just short throw after short throw, and when the defense is bad enough, that just won't do it. Their pass rush seems better, but their coverage is just as bad as it was in 2011 if not worse.

6.) Denver Broncos (1-0 = 31-19)

I'm not going to overrate them (Surprised, but they came out as the #1 team in Football Outsiders' DVOA ratings after Week 1), but I think they'll get better. That no-huddle can be lethal in Denver. The Steelers just looked gassed. I really want to know, though, is if the pass rush that dominated late can show itself more in the games. Ben is probably better at converting 3rd-and-longs like that than any other QB, but that can't keep happening.

5.) Chicago Bears (1-0 = 41-21)

What the hell happened in the beginning? Jay Cutler starts 1-10 with a pick. Ends 20-25 with two TDs. Overall, the game was about as good as it could be for the Bears. Their pass rush was great (against an admittedly awful line). They flustered Andrew Luck. Their secondary played great. Brandon Marshall and Jay Cutler seem to have not missed a beat since 2009. Everything is working. Now comes the real test. Can they beat the Packers when they are down.

4.) San Francisco 49ers (1-0 = 30-22)

I don't know why I fell for the Seahawks. I love watching the 49ers play. I love defense, and other than Baltimore and Pittsburgh, the 49ers are the most dynamic, dominant defense I have seen in some time (maybe since Tennessee in 2008, or Chicago 2005-2006). They are just so loaded. Their offense looks to be improved from last year. Undoubtedly they will turn the ball over more, but still, the acquisitions of Mario Manningham and Randy Moss have seemed to work so far. Scary Thought: Peyton Manning almost went here, rememeber.

3.) New England Patriots (1-0 = 34-13)

That was a classic 2004 Patriots win. Brady didn't go deep a lot and hit a lot underneath. He was cool and efficient. Their running game took advantage of a bad run defense. Their defense made big plays. I would like to see them do it against a better team, but that was a good start from a Patriots team that looks like it is at least trying to be more of what it was when they won Super Bowls.

2.) Houston Texans (1-0 = 30-10)

Scary part about the Texans is they didn't even play all that well in Week 1, at least on offense. JJ Watt looks like a future Hall-of-Famer so far in his one year and one game career, and the rest of that pass rush is still fearsome. Their defense just flew around that field against a bad offense. The offense needs to get better, but I trust them. Foster still had two TDs. Andre Johnson still had a TD catch and over 100 yards. Matt Schaub didn't throw a pick. they noticeably shut it down in the 2nd half. We'll see more in two weeks when they go to Denver.

1.) Baltimore Ravens (1-0 = 44-13)

I think I picked the wrong AFC North team this year to fall back. The Bengals did play with them for a half, but they had to work for each yard (and twice converted 4th downs - where did those balls come from, Marvin?). After that overturned tackle by Lewis, it was a wrap. Pick-Six by Ed (cherish him now). Sacks abound. Haloti still unblockable. I think they miss Suggs, but with that improved offense, it might not matter too much.

Postseason Projections will start after Week 3.

*New Section*

Look Back at the Previous Weeks' Picks 

Giants -4 (WRONG = 0-1)
Bears -10 (CORRECT = 1-1)
Eagles -9 (WRONG = 1-2)
Jets -3 (CORRECT = 2-2)
Saints -7.5 (WRONG = 2-3)
Titans +5 (WRONG = 2-4)
Jaguars +3.5 (CORRECT = 3-4)
Texans -12 (CORRECT = 4-4)  (LOCK OF THE WEEK)
Lions -7.5 (WRONG = 4-5)
Falcons -3 (CORRECT = 5-5)
49ers +4.5 (CORRECT = 6-5)  (UPSET OF THE WEEK)
Panthers -2.5 (WRONG = 6-6)
Cardinals +2.5 (CORRECT = 7-6)
Broncos -1.5 (CORRECT = 8-6)
Ravens -6.5 (CORRECT = 9-6)
Raiders -1 (WRONG = 9-7)

Week 1: 9-7 (Lock 1-0;  Upset 1-0)

Year-to-Date: 9-7 (1-0; 1-0)

Best Picks: I correctly predicted the Cardinals to beat the Seahawks 20-16. I also picked the Texans to beat the Dolphins 31-10 and the real score was 30-10.

*Other New Section*

Ranking the Week 2 Games

The first games are three games featuring two average to bad teams.

16.) Browns @ Bengals (1:00)
15.) Chiefs @ Bills (1:00)
14.) Vikings @ Colts (1:00)

The next group has one good team and one bad/middling team, making for what could be extremely boring football.

13.) Cardinals @ Patriots (1:00)
12.) Raiders @ Dolphins (1:00)
11.) Texans @ Jaguars (1:00)
10.) Buccaneers @ Giants (1:00)
9.) Titans @ Chargers (4:25)

These next three are in here for really entertainment purposes, with RGIII continuing against what should be a better defense (sad that playing the Rams is a tougher defensive challenge than the Saints). Also, I didn't know this until I read it, but this is the first time Tony Romo has started a game in Seattle since his infamous bobbled hold. Finally, the Saints and Panthers both look to avoid 0-2 starts, but the Saints have to do it on the road against a good offense with their putrid defense.

8.) Redskins @ Rams (4:05)
7.) Cowboys @ Seahawks (4:05)
6.) Saints @ Panthers (1:00)

These next two are good games featuring two good to great teams. The Eagles luckily got their win in Week 1, because now they aren't fighting to avoid 0-2. The last time those two teams met was in Baltimore in 2008, in a game that had two memorable moments: first with Ed Reed breaking his own NFL record with a 108-yard pick return, and the other was the benching of Donovan McNabb. Of course, the next game has another memorable moment from the last meeting. The postgame handshake here will be the most played-up since Mangini-Belichick in their 2006 playoff game. 

5.) Ravens @ Eagles (1:00)
4.) Lions @ 49ers (SNF)


The Great Games of the Week

3.) Jets @ Steelers (4:25)

The Steelers look to avoid 0-2 against, shockingly, the league's highest scoring team. This is an interesting game because it will be a real test of how far the Jets offense has really come. Mark Sanchez will get a lot tougher test this week, especially with Ryan Clark and most likely James Harrison coming back. The Steelers also get a tough test again for their offense. It should be a fun crowd in Heinz Field as well for their home opener.

2.) Broncos @ Falcons (MNF)

I came close to putting this at #1, but the real #1 had more on the line. Here, the Broncos get another chance to show that they are most certainly for real and that Peyton Manning is most certainly back. The Falcons were really impressive against the Chiefs on offense, but that was without Brandon Carr and Tamba Hali. The Broncos are fully ready. Expect a fast game with both teams playing a lot of no-huddle. Another note is that ESPN for once got close to their money's worth with this years slate of MNF games. 

1.) Bears @ Packers (TNF)

And a large reason why the MNF slate is better? Because there are 14 TNF games on the NFL network. I fully expect this package to be sold to TNT or someone in the next 5 years, but for now the NFL decided to stash the awful prime-time games (Cardinals @ Rams and Buccaneers @ Vikings will be happening soon). But that said, they gave themselves one marquee game here. There is so much on the line for the Packers. With another loss, they would not only start 0-2, but 0-2 at home with a division and conference loss against two of the teams that many think will be competing for playoff position come December. The Bears have so much to gain by inflicting all of that against the Packers and beating them in Lambeau for the first time since 2007's meaningless Week 17 win. Jay Cutler and that offense can have a real coming out party here, and go a long way to fullfilling my prediction of them winning that division. The Packers have a lot more to lose, but even when one team has little to gain, these games are usually good. Plus, it is the NFL's best rivalry getting centerstage. I wish this happened a little later in the year with a higher chance of a frozen tundra, but this looks to be a fun game.

About Me

I am a man who will go by the moniker dmstorm22, or StormyD, but not really StormyD. I'll talk about sports, mainly football, sometimes TV, sometimes other random things, sometimes even bring out some lists (a lot, lot, lot of lists). Enjoy.