There are some big games on the NFL schedule this week with the Niners/Seahawks and Broncos/Giants as the two biggest highlights. Before we get to the predictions, a few thoughts on the Thursday night game.
New England 13 - NY Jets 10: The less said about this game the better. They combined for 20 punts! Twenty! That's way too many. The second half of the game was played with a heavy amount of rain falling so it wasn't a great atmosphere to say the least. I think Tom Brady was as frustrated as anybody because his WRs let him down a lot by running the wrong route or just dropping balls. Their efficiency on third downs and in the end zone isn't close to being as good as last year. Geno Smith had some decent plays, but three INTs cost his team the win. When you win the turnover battle 4-0 like the Patriots did you're usually going to win. I'm still disappointed in Stevan Ridley, who I thought would have a big year running the ball for the Pats. He was ineffective again. The Pats move to 2-0 even though they're not as good as last year and the Jets go to 1-1.
Last week straight up: 9-7 - Not great. Hopefully I can improve on it.
All game times are in the Eastern time zone.
St. Louis (1-0) at Atlanta (0-1) 1:00 pm
It pains me to go against my favorite team in the Rams, but this is such a tough game. The Falcons were my Super Bowl pick out of the NFC. They lost a close game on the road against the Saints last week while the Rams won late against the Cardinals. I think the Rams have a chance to keep it close because the Falcons offensive line had issues last week and the Rams have arguably the best pass rush in the league (3 sacks for Robert Quinn last week). With Roddy White hobbled by an ankle injury (may not play every snap) and Julio Jones dealing with a knee injury (should be fine), their passing game won't be at their best. I'm hoping the Rams passing game looks as impressive as last week because if it does then they can match the Falcons in a shootout type of game.
The other big story about this one is that longtime Rams RB Steven Jackson is playing against his former team for the first time. I think the Rams are vulnerable against big RBs, so if the Falcons can get Jackson going that will open up their passing attack. I'm going with the Falcons by a field goal, which means the Rams cover the 7 point spread. I would love to be wrong about this one. Trust me on that. Falcons 27-24
San Diego (0-1) at Philadelphia (1-0) 1:00pm
The Chargers loss on Monday was brutal. They blew a 28-7 lead and lost at home to the Texans 31-28. Good teams don't blow leads like that. Bad teams do. Will they be able to recover from it? I doubt it. I expect the Eagles to play at a fast pace just like they did on Monday against the Redskins except they will be even more effective this time. The Chargers run defense isn't that bad, so I think the Eagles will air it out a bit more this time. I like the over too. Eagles 37-20
Dallas (1-0) at Kansas City (1-0) 1:00 pm
I'm going with the Chiefs. They didn't have a tough challenge in week one against the Jaguars obviously. The Cowboys present some challenges in the sense that they can throw the ball down the field and aren't shy about doing it. That Chiefs defense has some great players on it, though. I like them at home this week in a tight game between two teams that may be better than most of us think. Chiefs 23-20
Miami (1-0) at Indianapolis (1-0) 1:00 pm
The Dolphins jump out at me as a team that will be improved from last year. They have a physical defense led by pass rushing LB Cameron Wake, who I think will have a lot of success in getting pressure on Andrew Luck all day long. I'm not sure about that Colts defense, which barely held on to beat the hapless Raiders last week. When they played last year the Colts won 23-20. I think the Dolphins are better now, so they're my pick to win. Dolphins 24-21
Tennessee (1-0) at Houston (1-0) 1:00 pm
I think this will be a major ass kicking. Tough game for the Titans against a Texans team that is superior in so many ways. I was impressed by the Texans comeback last week against the Chargers. Their passing offense looked awesome at least in the second half. With arguably the best run game in football, they are one of the most complete teams in the league. I also expect a big game from that Texans defense too. Texans 31-7
Washington (0-1) at Green Bay (0-1) 1:00 pm
I'm sure that the Packers are pissed off after getting thumped by the Niners again. They will take out their frustrations at home against a Redskins defense that is probably still tired from chasing the Eagles offense around the field on Monday night. I think it will be a huge game for Packers QB Aaron Rodgers with four or five TDs. I just get that feeling. It also looked like Robert Griffin III has lost some accuracy and isn't throwing it deep while he comes back from his knee injury. It may take the Skins offense a few weeks to get going. I like the Packers to win it comfortably. Packers 37-20
Cleveland (0-1) at Baltimore (0-1) 1:00 pm
The Super Bowl Champs don't want to start the season at 0-2. Luckily for the Ravens, they've had about ten days to get ready for this game and they don't have to play Peyton Manning again either. Brandon Weeden and that Browns offense is nothing like the Broncos. They can't throw the ball well, so I expect the Ravens to fill the box, stop Trent Richardson and control the game. The Browns defense isn't that bad, which makes me think it will be a low scoring game. Ravens 20-10
Carolina (0-1) at Buffalo (0-1) 1:00 pm
They both lost close games against superior teams last week. I think the Panthers are the better team, though. The Panthers should be able to run the ball, which will open up the passing game and I think QB Cam Newton has a big game here. It will be tough for the Bills to open up 0-2 after two home games, but I just don't think they're good enough yet. Panthers 23-17
Minnesota (0-1) at Chicago (1-0) 1:00 pm
I believed in the Vikings last week and they let me down. I didn't believe in the Bears last week and they proved me wrong. Now what? The Bears get the benefit of opening two games in a row at home while the Vikings are on the road for the second week in a row. I like the Bears here. I don't really trust Christian Ponder on the road against a good defense. For the Vikings to win they need a 150 yard, 3 TD type of day from Adrian Peterson where they control the ball for most of the game. Problem is the Bears know that and will do everything they can to make Ponder beat them with the pass. I don't think he's good enough to do that. Bears 27-17
New Orleans (1-0) at Tampa Bay (0-1) 4:05 pm
The Bucs were awful as road favorites against the Jets last week while the Saints took care of business at home to the Falcons. I get the feeling that the Bucs will bounce back this week thanks to Doug Martin and the run game. The Saints are a much better team inside their dome at home. When they get on the road sometimes it's a different story. Close game. Buccaneers 27-24
Detroit (1-0) at Arizona (0-1) 4:05 pm
This has shootout potential with the possibility of QBs Carson Palmer and Matthew Stafford each throwing for over 400 yards. The Lions won despite a big game from Calvin Johnson last week. It will be interesting to see if he can get more involved this week while he goes up against the Cardinals excellent young corner Patrick Peterson. I think great players find ways to make plays and the Lions will need to get Johnson involved somehow. With that said, I was impressed by the Cardinals last week against my Rams and I think they'll take care of business at home. Cardinals 34-31
Jacksonville (0-1) at Oakland (0-1) 4:25 pm
Awful game. I feel sorry for anybody forced to watch it. I'm going with the Raiders because their offense appears to be more competent. With a healthy Darren McFadden in the backfield plus a mobile QB in Terrelle Pyror they should be able to run all day. Raiders 24-13
Denver (1-0) at N.Y. Giants (0-1) 4:25 pm
If you look at the ads for this game it seems like all they are promoting is Peyton Manning vs. Eli Manning as if they are the only ones on the field for their teams. I get that it's a big deal and they only play once every four years, but the media overdoes it. It's a huge game especially for the Giants because if they start 0-2 in a competitive NFC East it's a tough hole to climb out of. I like the Broncos too much to go against them. Their passing offense is incredible with Peyton Manning looking as accurate as ever last week with his 7 TD passes against the Ravens. If the Giants don't turn the ball over they can win, but with Eli known to throw picks and David Wilson fumbling, can they be trusted to hold onto the ball? I'm not so sure. Going with the Broncos in a high scoring game because their defense will give up plenty of yards too. Broncos 34-27
San Francisco (1-0) at Seattle (1-0) 8:30 pm
Huge game. I hate that I'll be out of town and miss it. I worry that the Seahawks may lose focus so they can focus on next week's huge home game against the Jaguars. That's a joke. Relax. You know what the score was when they played in week 16 last year in Seattle when both teams were fighting for playoff position? 42-13 Seahawks. It was an ass kicking. While I don't think the Niners will get beat that badly again, I like the Seahawks to win at home.
I don't see Anquan Boldin getting open as much against the Seahawks defense the way he did last week against the Packers soft defense. Colin Kaepernick did look amazing, so the Seahawks should be worried a bit about what he might do in the passing game. Still, I think the Seahawks have the best home field advantage in the NFL (8-0 last year) and I'm so impressed by Russell Wilson, who plays with so much poise for a second year QB without a lot of great weapons in the passing game. Seahawks 24-17
Pittsburgh (0-1) at Cincinnati (0-1) 8:40 pm
As you saw in the Browns/Ravens game earlier, all four teams in the AFC North lost their first game. Starting 0-2 is not something you want to do. Unfortunately, that's something that I think will happen to the Steelers. The Bengals are a top defensive team that is well aware of the Steelers problems in the run game and with their offensive line. I expect the Bengals pass rush to be ferocious, force some turnovers and the offense will do enough to get the win at home. If you don't know how great that Bengals defense is, watch this game. They will show you. Bengals 23-10
Five Favorite Bets of the Week
Last week: 0-5 - Wow. I'm sorry. If you choose to ignore me or here or completely bet against me I absolutely understand. On the positive side, I can't do any worse going forward! Week one is always the most difficult in picking games. The lines come from SportsBook.com.
@ Houston -9.5 over Tennessee
@ Green Bay -7.5 over Washington
@ Tampa Bay +4 over New Orleans
@ Arizona +2.5 over Detroit
Cleveland @ Baltimore UNDER 42.5
That's all for me this week. Enjoy the games and good luck to you.