John Canton: It's week three of the NFL season. As always I'm joined by my friends Bret Clev and Mike Maloney to go over every game this week.
I think the biggest stat to take away from last week is that home teams went 14-2. In today's NFL where we think anybody can win any game anywhere (especially in the playoffs) it's rare to see such dominance at home.
Last night on Thursday Night Football, the New York Giants destroyed the Carolina Panthers 36-7. It wasn't an outcome I expected. I figured the Panthers would play with a lot more intensity on offense and slow down the Giants more than they did. Credit the Giants backup RB Andre Brown (wouldn't be shocked if he surpasses Ahmad Bradshaw soon) and WR Ramses Barden for having the best games of their careers when their team needed them the most.
Standings Straight Up After Week 2:
John 21-11 (Last week 12-4)
Mike 19-13 (9-7)
Bret 18-14 (10-6)
We all picked the Panthers on Thursday, so we go into these picks with a loss.
All game times are Eastern.
Cincinnati (1-1) at Washington (1-1) - 1:00 PM
Bret: Tough game to call. Cincinnati have looked horrible defensively, but I think they have more talent than that – I’m going to still trust that they can play better than they’ve shown the first two weeks. Washington is really going to miss Orakpo and Carriker defensively. They were really dependent on the pass rush to keep teams passing games contained.
Still, I think this year’s home field advantage via the refs is enough to win a close game for Washington. Washington 20 Cincinnati 17
Mike: I’m surprised by Cincinnati’s struggles on defense this year. They weren’t by any means an amazing defense last year, middle of the road in DVOA, but I didn’t really expect them to take a step back this season, but so far they’re bottom five in yards allowed through the first two games. That might be such a big deal except one of those games was against the Browns, who have a QB that put a rating of FIVE in his first NFL start. I don’t know how this game will play out, which is why a WAS -3 line is probably pretty fair, but I still think Cincy has the better defense while I think both offenses are of similar quality although their QBs are quite different. Cincinnati 27 Washington 24
John: This is the home opener for the Redskins, which means that stadium will be rocking for the home debut (preseason doesn't count) of QB Robert Griffin III, who has been very impressive in his first two starts. This week they're home to a Bengals team that has slipped a lot on the defensive end, especially against running teams. I thought the Bengals were on their way to being a good defensive team yet they gave up 44 points to the Ravens and then 27 points at home to the lowly Browns. That scares me in this game. I think they'll have their hands full with RG3.
I also think the Bengals will score because the Redskins will miss star OLB Brian Orakpo, who is out for the year. Orakpo is an elite pass rusher. It's not easy to replace guys like that. Still, I'm going with the Redskins on the home field. I think they'll control the game by running the ball and they will connect on their chances down the field when the time is right. You know Griffin wants to put on a show in his home debut. And I think he will. Redskins 34-27
N.Y. Jets (1-1) at Miami (1-1) - 1:00 PM
Bret: I watched Ryan Tannehill especially close last week – I was expecting some good humor out of it – but I was surprised to see him throwing really well. His numbers weren’t reflective of it, but he was nailing outside shoulder curl throws all day – and that’s not an easy throw. I’d like to be the first on board the "Tannehill isn’t that bad" bandwagon.
Tannehill's not good enough to beat the Jets defense, and he’ll have another ‘LOL Tannehill’ day he doesn’t deserve. Not that the Jets will fair much better offensively this game. 6-3 first half. Scoring comes in the 2nd after the teams tire out. New York 24 Miami 13
Mike: I’m sorry. I even recognized the West Coast team traveling to the East Coast for an early game conundrum and I went with the Raiders anyways. My bad. Regardless, I don’t think the Dolphins are as good as they looked last week (Although I enjoy seeing Reggie Bush go beast mode like that), and I don’t think the Jets are as bad as they looked last week. My guess is that the Dolphins are still the worst team in the division, and the Jets and Bills will be fighting it out for that #2 spot. The Jets defense I think is probably at the point where they might be a little underrated, and I expect everyone to remember how good they can be against a team led by Ryan Tannehill with Brian Hartline as their top receiver so far this year. But I’m also not expecting the Week 1 Jets offense to necessarily show up either. Should make for a nice ugly game. New York 17 Miami 6
John: This won't be an exciting game to watch. I think both QBs will have below average games, but the Dolphins offense will do more because RB Reggie Bush is proving he can be an elite back. I think he'll lead them to victory. Dolphins 17-14
Buffalo (1-1) at Cleveland (0-2) - 1:00 PM
Bret: On the other hand, everyone else seemed enamored with Weeden and the Brown’s production last week. I saw most of it coming after the Bengals had the game in hand, and the decision making to be generally poor. Much like what Buffalo has going for it as well. This will be a wide open, 5 or 6 INT game. Buffalo 34 Cleveland 16
Mike: Has anyone told Fred Jackson yet that his services are no longer required? I mean, really, what else is Buffalo supposed to do when he gets back? Spiller is averaging 10 yards per carry through his first two games. And those are just his rushing numbers! And on the other side, Trent Richardson looked a lot more like the Trent Richardson people are expecting to see in his NFL career against the Bengals last week, which shockingly made Brandon Weeden look much better in his second NFL start. I’d expect Buffalo to win this game pretty easily, but really I’m just excited to see two of the better young backs in the NFL running all over the place. Buffalo 35 Cleveland 21
John: It's the battle of the Great Lakes. The Browns lost to the Eagles 17-16 in week one. It was a game they could have won. They showed a lot of heart and played good defense against an offense that most of us think is pretty good. In week two they got down to the Bengals, but they came back to lose 34-27. I think they're a plucky team that can knock off a Bills team that destroyed the hapless Chiefs last week. Look for rookie RB Trent Richardson to lead the Browns to victory. As long as rookie QB Brandon Weeden can limit his turnovers they should be fine. Yes I know the Bills have CJ Spiller playing very well at RB, but I'm not sure if their passing offense will do enough for them. Go Brownies here. Browns 23-17
Kansas City (0-2) at New Orleans (0-2) - 1:00 PM
Bret: Exactly what New Orleans needs – a crummy defense! I have no idea what’s wrong with Kansas City. I’ve watched coaches tapes of both their games, and their defense is just plain soft right now. They’re not pushing anyone around. They’re not getting off blocks. They’re not doing anything. New Orleans is going to use the chance to right the ship and if Kansas City gets embarrassed along the way, so be it. New Orleans 31 Kansas City 21
Mike: It’s the Desperation Bowl! Two teams that people thought could possibly win their divisions or at the very least contend for a playoff spot are now 0-2 and fighting to not completely ruin their season after only three weeks! Kansas City is probably in a worse spot, as their defense might be really, really awful. People kept talking about Brandon Flowers after they were beat down by Atlanta in Week 1, but he played against Buffalo in Week 2 (Granted he might not have been 100% and I’m not even sure how many snaps he saw), and I’m just not sure a healthy Flowers is going to be enough. Now, New Orleans' defense has been pretty terrible as well. And their offense is struggling somewhat with not much depth at WR after Colston and Moore after years of having a seemingly endless supply of receivers for Brees to throw to. However, their offense has been putting up pretty good numbers (Just not typical Saints numbers), whereas Kansas City is dependent on Matt Cassel and a still-probably-not-totally-back Jamaal Charles. I don’t know that either of these teams makes the playoffs, but if I had to pick one, I’d still go with New Orleans. New Orleans 31 Kansas City 27
John: I think my worst preseason prediction was picking the Chiefs to win the AFC West with a 9-7 record. I did not see this happening for them. As for the Saints, I had them missing the playoffs in the more difficult NFC. They are the better team, though. I think the Saints are very angry with how they've started the year off and they will take out that anger on a bad Chiefs team in a very dominant fashion. Drew Brees will remind us just how great he is. A huge day for that Saints offense. Saints 41-20
Jacksonville (0-2) at Indianapolis (1-1) - 1:00 PM
Bret: Indianapolis is secretly a dynamic offensive team already – throwing the 3rd most deep balls in the league so far this year. I don’t think Jacksonville’s defense slows that down.
I don’t know what’s going on with Jacksonville’s offense. I still maintain they have the weapons to be successful, but boy did they look bad last week. I still have no idea. Indianapolis 20 Jacksonville 13
Mike: While there is a great slate of interesting games this week…this is not one of them. I’m just not very interested in this game at all. Jacksonville was completely and thoroughly dominated by the Texans last week, and Indy almost blew it against the Vikings at home. So…yeah. If I get stuck with this game on my TV because Indianapolis is close to Chicago I will not be happy. Indianapolis 20 Jacksonville 17
John: These teams are pretty even in that they'll probably finish between 4-6 wins on the year. I'm leaning towards the Jags. I'm a believer in 0-2 teams playing really hard and getting wins when they play an opponent of similar talent.
I like Andrew Luck a lot and the Colts are playing hard for new coach Chuck Pagano, but I think the Jags are right there with them. One of these weeks Maurice Jones-Drew is going to have a big game. His first two games were like preseason for him. I expect him to have a much bigger day here and that will lead his team to victory. Jaguars 23-20
Detroit (1-1) at Tennessee (0-2) - 1:00 PM
Bret: Just like New Orleans, Detroit uses a game against a slumping opponent to get themselves right. Detroit strikes me as the type of team that will need to blow out Tennessee to make themselves feel better for last week.
Unless whoever kidnapped Chris Johnson’s talent gets their ransom money, Tennessee has nothing to answer. This game’s over quick, but Detroit doesn’t stop. Detroit 45 Tennessee 10
Mike: How bad is Tennessee? How bad is Mike Munchak? Why didn’t Chris Johnson actually bother to work out during his holdout/contract dispute? This was a team that went 8-8 last year and looked to have an underrated defense. Granted they’ve had two tough opponents so far, but their offense doesn’t even remotely look like it has a pulse, and their defense has given up 70+ points. I had these guys penciled in for the #2 spot in the AFC South and a dark horse for a playoff spot, but wow, after these first two weeks, they might be one of the five worst teams in the league. I thought Detroit actually fought pretty well with the Niners last week, I find it a little odd that the line on this is only TEN +3.5. Detroit 38 Tennessee 17
John: The Titans may be the worst team in football. They've given up 72 points while only scoring 24. Those are not numbers that make me want to pick them against a team like the Lions that has a productive offense. I think the Lions will score on the Titans very easily with Matt Stafford connecting with Calvin Johnson on TD passes and their defensive line should put plenty of pressure on shaky Titans QB Jake Locker. I think Tennessee has a chance if Chris Johnson remembers how to be an elite running back again, but I don't see him turning the corner. Home field advantage doesn't apply when your team is this bad. Lions 33-14
Tampa Bay (1-1) at Dallas (1-1) - 1:00 PM
Bret: This is probably the best game of the early slate. Vegas loves Dallas, but I just don’t see it. Having watched both of Tampa’s games closely, I think they do a lot well, and without a Manning being a Manning last week, they’re 2-0.
Dallas is what Dallas is every year. Good games and bad games. They’re going to have to avoid turnovers in this game if they want to win this game. At home, I’ll give Dallas the benefit of the doubt in this one, but barely. Dallas 27 Tampa Bay 24
Mike: Now here’s a game I can get excited about. Dallas was understandably disappointing last week in Seattle, but it’s Seattle on the road, you never know how things might work up there. Tampa had a tough loss to the Giants last week, but all in all they played a pretty solid game and the Giants needed 25 fourth quarter points to pull out the win. If Tampa can avoid giving up 500 yards through the air on a consistent basis I expect this to be a team fighting for a wildcard spot. And the Cowboys are in the East where it appears anything can and will happen, so I too expect them to be a playoff contender. It seems to me that this game will be an opportunity for Tampa’s defense to bounce back, and also an opportunity for the Cowboys offense to show that they have more in common with their Week 1 performance than their Week 2 performance. I like Dallas here, but I think Tampa covers the 9 point spread. Dallas 31 Tampa 27
John: It was a tough game for Dallas last week. Playing in Seattle is one of the most difficult environments in today's NFL. They should bounce back at home. The Bucs are likely fuming after last week's blown lead against the Giants and then they acted childish by jumping the line during a kneel down late in the game. The Cowboys are a much better team at home. I think they'll establish the run early on with DeMarco Murray and that'll open things up for Tony Romo to hit his WR's with deep strikes to Dez Bryant and Miles Austin. This one may not be close. Cowboys 34-14
San Francisco (2-0) at Minnesota (1-1) - 1:00 PM
Bret: I can’t see how Minnesota can win this game – which means this is probably the upset special of the week. Still, everything goes San Francisco’s way in this game. Minnesota’s offense has no deep threat, and is one dimensional in the sense that everything is going to stay within 10 yards. That’s right up San Francisco’s fast front 7’s alley.
Harbaugh’s smart enough to know he doesn’t need 40 points to win this one. Expect a heavy dose of Gore, and Kendall Hunter, and Mario Manningham, and LaMichael James, and Brandon Jacobs, and anyone else who wants to run the ball. Our first shutout! San Francisco 26 Minnesota 0
Mike: I expect this game to get real ugly, real fast. Peterson has been okay so far this season, but there is no way he’s running on the Niners. And that means Christian Ponder is going to have to get it done through the air, and…I mean, c’mon. The Vikings so far have beaten a mediocre at best Jags team by 3 in overtime and lost to a bad Colts team. And yet the 0-2 Saints are more heavily favored than the Niners. I don’t get it. San Francisco 33 Minnesota 3
John: I agree with anybody that says the Niners are the best team in the NFL right now. Tough game for the Vikings. The Niners are rolling and I don't think the Vikings have the personnel to shut them down. I almost feel like sitting Adrian Peterson in a fantasy football league because of how good the Niners defense is, but I really don't have anybody else that's better.
There's a lot of talk about the Niners defense, which is deserved, but the Niners offense is solid. While Alex Smith may not be a top ten QB stats wise, he has become a very good QB in the Jim Harbaugh system. They run the ball, they convert third downs and they find Vernon Davis when they need a TD pass. It works. And it will work against a Vikings team that is rebuilding. 49ers 24-10
St. Louis (1-1) at Chicago (1-1) - 1:00 PM
Bret: When killing Chicago, people seem to forget that the Bears were playing in Green Bay against a very good pass rush. It really wasn’t that surprising.
Oppositely, people have bought too much into a home win by St. Louis at home. I like St. Louis as the "Best Bad Team" – which is the bad team that you can rely on to beat the other bad teams…unfortunately for St. Louis, Chicago isn’t a bad team. Chicago 27 St. Louis 17
Mike: I don’t know if it’s just me trying to reverse jinx the Bears, or if I just can’t transition my mind into “The Rams are actually decent now” mode, but I just can’t help but think the Bears are going to blow out St. Louis. I think the Bears will be able to move the ball better than they did against the Packers (How could they not?), and I don’t trust the Rams’ ground game when it comes down to it. Forte is probably going to be out and I don’t even think it matters because Michael Bush is a perfectly competent replacement. I just think the Bears win comfortably here. Chicago 35 St. Louis 17
John: I believe in my Rams. Maybe it's crazy of me to do that, but I watch their games and I see how coach Jeff Fisher has instilled a lot of confidence in this group that won just two games a year ago. When you bring in over 32 new players, though, it's not the same group. Last year doesn't matter. The DBs are very good, especially CB Cortland Finnegan, who has two picks in two games and he's playing against a QB in Jay Cutler that tends to throw interceptions. The front four is above average in terms of pressuring the QB. The Bears OLine is very questionable. I'm not saying the Rams defense will shut them down. I think that just like they did against the Lions and Skins they can create turnovers and capitalize on them.
On the other side of the ball, the Rams offense is a balanced unit. Sam Bradford has been able to spread the ball around to his WR group although Danny Amendola is his favorite weapon. There's a good run balance there even if RB Steven Jackson misses the game. There are concerns along the offensive line, but what team doesn't have offensive line issues? Very few of them! The Bears should be able to run Michael Bush quite a bit, but I'm not sure if their passing game will be that great. What the Packers did worked and the Rams can run a lot of similar defensive schemes. If the Bears win it's because they should at home, but it won't be a blowout. I'll pick the Rams to win. I believe. Rams 28-24
Atlanta (2-0) at San Diego (2-0) - 4:05 PM
Bret: I still have yet to see anything from San Diego to impress me. Yes, they’re 2-0, but it’s most definitely the weakest 2-0 this year. They’ve got nothing in the running game, an untested and unimpressive defense, and Antonio Gates with yet another injury.
I like what Atlanta is doing defensively right now. Mike Nolan seems to be on to something with this fluid defensive front, and it’ll be enough to confuse Rivers. Flat out, Atlanta has the better overall team. Atlanta 24 San Diego 14
Mike: After taking a break last season and just being bad from the get go, San Diego is back to teasing us again with good looking wins in September, only to inevitably screw things up later on in the season/in the playoffs. I will give Atlanta some credit, their defense, in particular their defensive line looked feistier than I thought they would. Antonio Gates is back to being hurt all the time after making us all believe he might finally be healthy this year, but hey, fantasy juggernaut Dante Rosario is there to make things all better. Speaking of feisty defense, so far it appears that San Diego’s has regained the step or two it lost last season when they just looked bad. I guess this game is best summed up by being between two undefeated teams that I don’t totally trust yet. Both teams have very shaky run games and defenses that were less than impressive last season, so a win by either one will add some legitimacy in my eyes. I’m a little bit more of a believer in the Falcons, so I’ll take them in a close game. Atlanta 24 San Diego 21
John: I'm not sure I believe in the Chargers. They've beaten the Raiders in one of the worst games of the year and they crushed the Titans, who are awful. While they do get RB Ryan Mathews back, I'm not sure if he'll be up to full speed right away after missing over a month with a broken collarbone. I like the Falcons offense a lot. I don't think being on the road is going to hurt them too much. Playing in a sunny stadium in the afternoon isn't exactly a tough environment. Close game, but I like Matt Ryan getting the ball to Julio Jones, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez enough to get the Falcons the victory in a very close game. Falcons 24-23
Philadelphia (2-0) at Arizona (2-0) - 4:05 PM
Bret: Another strange match up of 2-0 teams. I never trust Philadelphia on a long road trip – I’m reminded of their hiccups against Arizona and Seattle last year – but Arizona has yet to impress me. Both their wins were against teams who were beating themselves. Their victory last week was especially weak. I didn’t see the offense doing anything, and their defense took advantage of poor timing by the Patriots offense. If I could, I’d pick a tie – but that’d mess everything up, so I’ll take the more talented. Philadelphia 17 Arizona 15
Mike: Speaking of undefeated teams I don’t believe in, it’s the Kevin Kolb Bowl! Philadelphia has turned the ball over nine times (Said in my best Principal Rooney impression) in the first two games. That is the only statistic that I care about. The fact that they are 2-0 despite those turnover numbers are mind-boggling to me. They either need to start taking better care of the ball, or they are going to start losing games real quick. Now, Arizona on the other hand, they look to have a pretty solid defense going for them, they just have a completely crap offense. (All the Larry Fitzgerald fantasy owners out there are nodding their heads sadly) But I think that’s Arizona’s identity. They at least know who they are. Philly, I’m still not so sure about. They almost lost to a bad Cleveland team and seemed set to lose to the Ravens before Baltimore just went away from their game plan and threw themselves out of a win. I think they’ll be in better shape if they make sure Vick doesn’t throw 56 times a game (LESEAN MCCOY IS ON YOUR TEAM), but the team just seems a little lost right now. I’m surprising myself here, but I’m taking the Cardinals in an upset here. Arizona 20 Philadelphia 16
John: The Cardinals are 3.5 point underdogs at home because they're not supposed to be this good while the Eagles are supposed to be this good…or so we think. The Eagles are a turnover prone offense with banged up WRs in DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, who has been ruled out. Is Jackson as effective as he normally would be? I'm not sure. The Cardinals defense is legit and they will make life very difficult for Mike Vicke and LeSean McCoey. I think the Cards will force turnovers and capitalize on them. I don't love the Cardinals offense, but they can score enough to win this game. Cardinals 19-17
Pittsburgh (1-1) at Oakland (0-2) - 4:25 PM
Bret: Like Philadelphia at Arizona, this game reeks of heavy favorite not showing up on the road. This time I think it does catch up with the travelling team. Oakland hasn’t looked great, but they haven’t looked particularly bad either. I think that’s their identity again this year. Mediocre team with the occasional pop to surprise a heavily favored time.
Pittsburgh’s still dealing with injuries and age on their lines. Oakland takes advantage of a couple of turnovers and wins a close game. Oakland 18 Pittsburgh 14
Mike: The last of our uninteresting games for the week. The Raiders are just one of those teams that I feel like I know so little about. They’re a team I usually avoid in fantasy football if I can help it, they play in a division I just don’t care about, they’re in the AFC, and they just haven’t done much in the last decade that would make me take much interest in them. I’m a little surprised they lost their first two games, and they were definitive losses (The San Diego game was not as close as the score might indicate). But who knows, maybe they’re just bad. I certainly don’t believe this idea that Carson Palmer is an above average QB any longer. As for the Steelers, I was down on them going into the season, their offensive line is still bad, and their run game is a complete mess. Troy Polamalu seems hurt more than he’s not these days, and James Harrison still hasn’t played this season. I don’t know what kind of team this is, and I don’t think we’re close to finding out. I’m going with them for the win this week, but no result would surprise me. Pittsburgh 27 Oakland 20
John: How often do you think the Raiders regret that trade for Carson Palmer? He's not that good and they gave up too many picks to get him. While the Steelers defense isn't what it was due to injuries as well as age, they're still the better team. If the Raiders are going to win games they need to get Darren McFadden going. Perhaps this will be the game where that happens, but I'm leaning towards the Steelers to get the job done on the strength of their offense. Steelers 27-17
Houston (2-0) at Denver (1-1) - 4:25 PM
Bret: Hardest game of the week to call. I was impressed by Denver last week – even in a loss. Manning having a rough quarter in his first road game in 2 years, and with a new team at that – and Denver still has a chance to win it in the end, that’s a small victory. Unfortunately for Denver, their offense may not matter in this game. Their defensive tackles have played well the last two weeks – against rather average running games – but I’m not sure Mitch Unreign and Kevin Vickerson will be able to keep up with Houston’s Best-In-The-League running game.
If Houston can hold on to the ball for over 40 minutes again this week, Manning won’t matter.
But, if Denver can get the Houston offense off the field I think their no-huddle may gain some traction against the Houston defense. Houston’s weakness, if they have one, might be depth on their defense, and the Broncos’ offense may be able to keep the tempo up and wear down the defense.
I keep coming back to Denver’s weakness against the run and I don’t see how they can win this one, even at home. Houston 27 Denver 24
Mike: Tough couple weeks for Denver, playing at Atlanta on Monday night, then coming home to face Houston, who might be the best team in the AFC. Houston quietly dominated their first two games against lesser opponents, Denver has much more publicly come up with a big win against the Steelers and a tough loss to a very good Falcons team. I’m pretty excited for this one, it’s Houston’s real first test of the season to see what they’re made of, and it’s another challenge for the Broncos and Peyton Manning to get an idea of how good they are and where we can expect to see them at the end of the season. I still like Houston here because of their great running game, but Peyton at home, in Denver, I could see the upset coming. Houston 20 Denver 17
John: Tough game. I'm high on the Texans and I understand why they are favored in this game. They're the better team, but that doesn't mean they will win. The Broncos are a different team at home. Last week's loss against the Falcons happened because they made so many mistakes early on. I know it's a short week for them coming off a Monday nighter, but this is a Peyton Manning led team that will correct those mistakes.
The Texans have the best running game in the league and one of the few offensive lines that don't have major concerns. Their defense is very sound. I don't think this is an easy game, though. The Broncos are a much more difficult offense to slow down as compared to the Dolphins and Jaguars that the Texans suffocated in the first two weeks. This is probably going to be the game of the week. And I'm going with the home team because I think Peyton Manning will make enough plays with his arm to get the job done while I question whether the Texans can throw the ball well enough in a tight game. Their lack of depth at receiver is a concern to me. It won't be easy, but I'm going Broncos. Broncos 24-21
New England (1-1) at Baltimore (1-1) - 8:20 PM
Bret: Great Sunday nighter. This is going to be a smashmouth, back and forth, fun game of football. Like most of these games between these two teams.
Ultimately, I think home field matters in this one. It’s going to be a rough game with a lot of chippiness, and I see a lot of flags being thrown. After two weeks, away teams are getting penalized 23% more than the home team. (It’s usually about even.) I think the ref’s matter in this one, and are influenced by the fans. (Not to mention the line judge with Ray Rice on his team.) and that swings the game the Raven’s way. Baltimore 30 New England 21
Mike: Both teams had disappointing losses last week resulting in a game that maybe doesn’t have quite as much luster as it would have otherwise, but it’s still a big game. Both teams have questions that need to be answered. With Baltimore, it’s more of the same old same old, is their offense destined to continue to stumble a bit when put to the test against a good defense. And with New England, how is their offense going to perform when facing a strong defense? How can they cope with the loss of Aaron Hernandez? Is Wes Welker continued to get shunned for lesser players because of his contract situation? New England actually has a physical defense to throw back at Baltimore this year, but I think Baltimore’s D is just going to be too tough and I do have some questions about how good New England’s offense can be with their current structure. Baltimore 24 New England 21
John: First of all, on behalf of my fellow gamblers that took part in a Survivor/Eliminator I want to say screw you to the New England Patriots for losing at home to the Cardinals last week. Two weeks! I only lasted two weeks in my pools. Damn.
It's weird to think that after this week one of these teams is going to be 1-2 right? I am picking Baltimore in this game. It's not just because Pats lost me that Survivor challenge. It's because I think the Ravens are the better team. They can run the ball more consistently with Ray Rice, they have some weapons that Joe Flacco can throw to like Torrey Smith, Anquan Boldin & Dennis Pitta and defensively they're consistent all across the board.
There's no doubt the Pats will miss injured TE Aaron Hernandez, but at least this week Tom Brady and company have a week to prepare without him in the lineup. I think the issue with the Pats is they fail to throw the ball downfield enough, so a team like the Cardinals last week simply kept everything in front of them, made their tackles and didn't allow for big plays. The Ravens are built the same way. I expect a lot of efficiency on offense, not a lot of turnovers and the Ravens to come out on top. Ravens 31-24
Green Bay (1-1) at Seattle (1-1) - 8:30 PM MON
Bret: Dallas fell victim to the 12th man last weekend, and they did it in quick fashion with special teams turnovers. I don’t see Green Bay being that susceptible to those kinds of mistakes. The home field advantage still matters, and keeps this game about 2 TDs closer than it would be in Lambeau. But Green Bay is just too talented to get beaten by Seattle. Green Bay 27 Seattle 20
Mike: I said earlier during the Dallas matchup that all manner of things can happen in Seattle. This could be a tough game for the Packers, but at the same time, I could easily see their D dominating the Seahawks’ offense and winning by double digits. If I’m the Packers I’m concerned that Greg Jennings might not play, despite their many options on offense he’s still a huge part of it and his absence was noticed last week. If I’m Seattle, I need my offensive line to do everything it can to keep the Packers’ pass rush at bay, because that’s the only chance they’re going to have to win this game. I do think Green Bay ends up winning, but if Seattle can be efficient on offense and play well on the o-line like San Francisco did, it is possible for them to pull this one out. Green Bay 28 Seattle 17
John: I'm on Seattle here. I love the home dogs this week. It's nothing against the Packers. They're still an elite team, but this is a tough matchup for them because the Seahawks at home are much better than they are on the road. They run the ball very effectively with RB Marshawn Lynch and QB Russell Wilson also making plays with his legs. The key will be can the Packers force them into turnovers? I'm not sure if they can. I think the Seahawks will play a very smart and conservative game where they rely on their defense. They can play man to man defense on the Packers receivers thanks to their above average secondary and make things difficult on Aaron Rodgers and company.
It's weird predicting that the Packers will lose to go 1-2 considering I picked them to make the Super Bowl, but that's the NFC for you. It's likely that they will go on a winning streak at some point in the season and end up with double digit wins. I just think this is a tough spot for them. I goofed last week when I picked the Seahawks to lose at home. I'm not going to do that again. Seahawks 24-21
The Degenerates Dungeon
This is where we give you some picks for our best bets of the week. Note that lines moves from the time we write this (Friday AM) to the time the games kickoff. We keep track of the odds and we'll use that to write down our records too.
Records so far:
John 6-4 (Last Week 2-3)
Mike 5-5 (2-3)
Bret 2-8 (1-4)
1. Tampa Bay +9 - I’m not entirely sure Dallas wins this game outright.
2. San Francisco -6.5
3. Detroit -3.5
My picks should explain why.
4. Cincinnati +4.5
5. Oakland +3.5
San Francisco -6.5 @ Minnesota – Yeah, I know the Patriots game was a lock last week, but I just don’t see any possible way for Minnesota to lose this game by less than a touchdown.
Buffalo -3 @ Cleveland – Cleveland’s not good. Buffalo might not be all that good either, but I certainly like their offense enough to be able to win by 3 points against the Browns.
Cincinnati @ Washington Over 49 – The number on this one is a little high, but both defenses have been pretty disappointing so far, makes sense for these guys to get to at least 50.
Detroit -3.5 @ Tennessee – I still don’t understand this line. Maybe like last week’s Philly/Baltimore line that means I should stay away, but I can’t.
Tampa Bay +9 @ Dallas – Am I just totally off base on Tampa or is this just a little too high of a spread considering how bad Dallas looked last week?
I'm only going with point spread and over/under for this section.
Lions -3.5 @ Titans - I don't see the Titans stopping the Lions very much.
@ Saints -9 vs. Chiefs - Give me the Drew Brees led offense over the Matt Cassel one. In a blowout.
Redskins/Bengals over 48.5 - This has shootout potential.
49ers -6.5 @ Vikings - I don't think the Vikings can keep it under 7. Niners are too good for them.
@ Cardinals +3.5 vs. Eagles - I like the Cards here, but even if Philly wins I think it will be by less than three.
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