Friday, September 16, 2011

NFL 2011: Week 2 Picks

Looking at performances league-wide after Week 1, makes us wonder if defenses have not really caught up with the readiness of offenses. Could the short off-season be a reason for that?

I know this much for sure, my picking performance has taken a hit, because of my the reduced off-season. Still, may take a week or two before all the murkiness in the water clears away and we can identify the contenders from the pretenders.

On to the picks.....

Oakland Raiders at Buffalo Bills (-3.5)

Are the Bills for real? They just dismantled last year's AFC West winners in their house. And it was not even close. Chan Gailey and Ryan Fitzpatrick may not be a glamorous coach-QB duo, but it's worth keeping an eye on what they do the next few weeks. They may not be a contender being in the AFC East division, but they could have something brewing up in Buffalo.

The Raiders had a nice win of their own on the Road at Denver last week on Monday Night Football. Their offense was not very impressive in terms of execution, but they sure proved that they are more than willing to run the ball up your throats and at the same time are unafraid to mix it up and throw the ball in run situations. Hue Jackson has the team fired up and ready to play. Unfortunately, they are playing in the eastern time zone in the morning game on Sunday; after playing the second Monday Night game. Bad recipe for the Raiders, historically. And oh, they are not playing one of their AFC West foes.

Outright Win: Bills
v/s the Spread: Bills (-3.5)

Cleveland Browns at Indianapolis Colts (+2.5)

The Browns seemed lost on defense against the Bengals last week. They somehow always managed to keep AJ Green uncovered. I am confident they will only improve entering Week 2. And it helps that the Colts are in shambles without Peyton Manning. If the Browns think they are a team ready to make the next step, they cannot afford to lose this game.

Outright Win: Browns
v/s the Spread: Browns (-2.5)

Kansas City Chiefs at Detroit Lions (-9)

The Chiefs, first off, are not good. Cracked ribs for Matt Casell and season ending injuries to Tony Moaki and Eric Berry sets them back way behind the curve. Going to be a long season for the Chiefs. The Lions are on the opposite end of the spectrum. They had a bad start on the road against the Bucs last week. Still, they managed to keep their heads in the game and win by more than a comfortable margin. Impressive.

Outright Win: Lions
v/s the Spread: Lions (-9)

Baltimore Ravens at Tennessee Titans (+6)

Saying the Ravens laid a beat down on the Steelers last week would be the understatement of the season, yet. The Ravens seem to be in mid season form right away. Ray Rice looks real good and ready to run over opponents all year. Vonte Leach has a lot to do with that. The defense seems re-energized and are playing younger than their age. The Titans had no business staying close to the Jaguars last week, but forht that fluke unintentional fumble-pass from Matt Hasselbeck to Kenny Britt. It might take a while for the Ttians offense to settle in under their new QB. Meanwhile teams will follow the blueprint of stuffing the run and challengin the Titans to throw.

Outright Win: Ravens
v/s the Spread: Ravens (-6)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Minnesota Vikings (-3)

Tampa Bay would want to beleive last week's loss was more about the Lions being good than the Bucs taking a step back from last season. Luckily for them, all NFC South teams lost this week, so they didn't lose ground to anyone. Even though this is a road game, they are getting a chance against a team whose QB, Donovan McNaab threw for a mamoth 39 yards. No that was not a typo. McNaab didn't even throw the width of the football field the entire game!

Outright Win: Bucs
v/s the Spread: Bucs (+3)

Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Jets (-9)

The Jaguars may have started the season 1-0. But with a offense that's totally dependent on MJD at this point, can go only so far. They might able to eek out a win against a sub-par Titans team. But this weak they face some stiff competition in the Jets. The Jets are just an above average team on paper. But what pushes them up to the elite level in terms of performance is their perseverance and some good 'ol luck. Need proof? Please watch the 4th quarter of their game against the Cowboys.

Outright Win: Jets
v/s the Spread: Jets (-9)

Arizona Cardinals at Washington Redskins (-4)

Kevin Kolb didn't do much to warrant the steep price Arizona paid to get him. They managed to score just enough to beat the Panthers who were starting a rookie QB in Cam Newton. the Cardinals should be more worried about their pass defense. Still, they may have enough to compete in the NFC West. Talking about being good enough to be competetive in your devision, the Redskins might be that team in the NFC East. Rex Grossman has tendencies to surprise us with good games like he just had. Can he keep this going?

Outright Win: Redskins
v/s the Spread: Redskins (-4)

Seattle Seahawks at Pittsburgh Steelers (-14)

Hard to pick any team at his point that could be worse than the Seahawks. They get beaten by a very ordinary 49ers team and then they get to face a Steelers team that is probably waiting to wreck havoc with nothing but vengence in mind after being blown out by the Ravens last week.
Outright Win: Steelers
v/s the Spread: Steelers (-14)

Dallas Cowboys at San Francisco 49ers (+3)

Tony Romo wants redemption after blowing that game up. Sorry, there is no other way to describe that choke job on Sunday Night football. The 49ers are more than beatable, but can Romo hold his composure in another close one, on the road?

Outright Win: Cowboys
v/s the Spread: Cowboys (-3)

Cincinnati Bengals at Denver Broncos (-3.5)

The Bengals ar ewho I thought they were. They may not have anything fancy on offense. Cedric Benson and the running game will try get them the little points they can, while their Defense will try keep them in every game possible. Playoffs? I don't think so. But they could be 8-8 by the end of the season. The Broncos on the other hand will be in turmoil if they lose their first two home games. The voices calling for Tebow wll grow louder and louder. And the pressure may be too much for the team to function with Orton at QB as the losses pile on.

Outright Win: Bengals
v/s the Spread: Bengals (+3.5)

Houston Texans at Miami Dolphins (+2.5)

The Texans seem to clearly have the inside track for their first ever division title in franchise history. Can Gary Kubiak take them there? Given the state of the AFC South, it's not asking a lot. The Dolphins will test the Texans on the road this weak. We just might learn a lot about the Dolphins and strangely enough, the Patriots from this game. Are the Dolphins offense good enough to hang with the Pats for so long? Or is the Pats defense just porous, forcing their offense to be s oexplosive to win games?

Outright Win: Texans
v/s the Spread: Texans (-2.5)

San Diego Chargers at New Englans Patriots (-7)

The Chargers are an enigma. They always find ways to make things harder for themselves. Sometimes it just naturally happens to them. Special teams breakdown, kicker getting injured. You name a bizarre situation, they probably faced it in the Norv Turner era. This week they would like to exploit the Patriots defense that Chad Henne torched (for his standards). They can make this game interesting if they can somehow just manage to hold off the Pats offense a little bit and keep this thing close.

Outright Win: Patriots
v/s the Spread: Patriots (-7)

Philadelphia Eagles at Atlanta Falcons (+2.5)

The Eagles did beat the Rams by a comfortable margin. But the devil is in the details. The Rams lost Stephen Jackson after his first play. Bradford and Amendola didn't play the entire game either. In spite of people thinking Vick had a great game, he was running for his life most of the time. He did make a few good plays that helped keep drives alive. Still it was far from a great game from him. The Eagles run defense is worth keeping our eyes on.

The Falcons may just not be so good. They seem to be confused on offense now. They were a "move the chains" type of offense last year, with not a ton of big plays, especially in the passing game. Now htat they have Julio Jones, they are trying hard to establish the deep ball. They will be successful if they can get back to their 2010 style of grinding plays to keep drives alive and try winning close games. They might just be forced to do that this week because of the Eagles porous run defense and they will try keep the ball away from the Eagles CBs. The question is can the Falcons defense hold off Mike vick?

PS: I intentionally did not braoch over the whole "Vick coming back to the Atlanta Dome" story. Booooring!

Outright Win: Eagles
v/s the Spread: Eagles (-2.5)

St. Louis Rams at New York Giants (-6)

Both these teams have been plagued with injuries. And its only Week 2? I think we can safely say that the Giants are going to have a tough season. Their defense is terrible. Eli is out of sorts. The Rams did not get off to a hot start. At least, they seem to have an upside. Bradford can only get better; Stephen Jackson will hopefully be back in a week or two; their defense looked more than capable agianst the Eagles; and they play in the NFC West.

Outright Win: Rams 
v/s the Spread: Rams (+6)

Upset Special of the Week

Chicago Bears at New Orleans Saints (-6.5)

People are finally comin around to respecting the Bears. That may not be such a good thing for htem though. Part of the reason of them beinf sneaky good is just that they would sneak up on opponents because they are so far under the radar. Not anymore. No more sneaking up on people! Expect the Bears to also play with some extra intensity for Brian Urlacher; the week he lost his mother.

The Saints will have their hands full against the Bears defense. Unfortunately for hte Saints, their defense didn't look all that pretty last week. If the Saints allow the Bears to score a few, it will be hard to keep up against the Bears' tampa-2.

Outright Win: Bears
v/s the Spread: Bears (+6.5)

Homer Pick of the Week

Green Bay Packers at Carolina Panthers (+10)

Cam Newton had a historic debut in terms of statistics and fantasy football. He still lost a game. I am surprised that there are so many people already on that bandwagon. I am sorry, but I have to lay a couple of dampers here: that was the Arizona defense; they can't cover nobody. And hello, the Panthers lost the game!

The Packers love to have an easy game at this point of hteir schedule. They just lost Mike Neal, the replacement to Cullen Jenkins for a few weeks (he had a surgery this week). Tramon Williams will be doubtful. And a few other guys on defense are banged up too (Devon House, Vic So'oto etc). The Packers would love to get throug hthis week with a win and not much drama. On offense, the Packers will probably try play a lot of no huddle. They might want to also use this opportunity of playing a weaker team to spread the ball around a little to keep everyone on this offense happy. On defense, Dom Capers will have enough tricks in his bag to keep the promising rookie Cam Newton off-balance all game long. Key on defense will be for this D line to stop the Panthers running attack. The Panthers O line blocking was not all that great against the Cardinals last week. But, the Packers with their lack of depth on O line and LBs, should be concerned a tad bit.

Outright Win: Packers
v/s the Spread: Packers (-10)

My 5 STAR Picks   (* Home team in CAPS)

Bears (+6.5) over SAINTS
Texans (-2.5) over DOLPHINS
PATRIOTS (-7) over Chargers
BILLS (-3.5) over Raiders
Packers (-10) over PANTHERS

Last Week:
Outright Win Record: 8-8
v/s the Spread Record: 9-6-1

Year to Date:
Outright Win Record: 8-8
v/s the Spread Record: 9-6-1

5 STAR Picks:
Overall Record: 2-3

* Odds as per "Sportsbook" on 9/15/2011

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