In last week's prediction of the Oakland-Denver matchup, I stated that the Broncos should win, but "9.5 is a lot of points for a divisional game". I was proven correct in this instance (thank you, thank you), but then promptly went ahead and picked Cincinnati, Philadelphia, and Indianapolis, all of which were giving tons of points against divisional foes. Needless to say, those picks did not fare all too well. Of those teams, only the Colts managed to even win their game straight up last week.
After taking it to the chin in the early games, however, I recovered nicely, finishing the week dead even. Bud Selig would be proud. But I'm not here to impress Bud, who's a loyal reader by the way - or at least he could be... I'm here to show that I can beat the mighty law of averages.
The picks this week are coming a little early since I won't be around tomorrow and I apparently have nothing to do on this Friday night... So before the overwhelming sense of depression sets in, let's get through these picks. As always, all spreads are taken from Sheridan's Odds from the USA Today. You can find them here.
Indianapolis (-6) at Houston - What did I just say about divisional games? Apparently, I must have forgotten already, as I'm going with the Colts in this one. I'd feel better about the Texans if Andre Johnson wasn't on the shelf. Instead Jacoby Jones steps in as the #1, and he didn't have a single catch last week. And the Colts defense has looked surprisingly stingy against the run, which means the Texans will need somebody to catch the ball to keep this close.
San Diego (-4.5) at Green Bay - I don't care what their record is, I still can't believe that the Packers are a quality team this year. Their running game is now in the hands of somebody named DeShawn Wynn, whom I didn't even know existed until I scooped him up in my fantasy league (you know, just in case...). I would think that the Chargers' performance last week has them refocused and LDT is bound to bust loose sooner rather than later.
Kansas City (-3) vs Minnesota - The Chiefs hung with the Bears last week, although I think that was more a byproduct of Rex Grossman than anything, but they never stopped competing. Now they get to finally come home, with Larry Johnson hopefully rounding out into shape. The Vikings must travel to a hostile environment with quarterback issues, which doesn't bode well for whoever manages to stand behind center this week.
Detroit (+6.5) at Philadelphia - Donovan McNabb seems more preoccupied with what people think of his play rather than his play itself. I could understand losing to a better-than-I-expected Redskins team last week, but the Eagles didn't show me anything, other than the fact David Akers knows how to kick field goals, and that I already knew. Even if they manage to put some drives together, Detroit should be able to keep it close against this secondary.
New England (-16.5) vs Buffalo - I never thought I would pick a team giving 16.5 points, but the Patriots are on a mission right now. And as previously mentioned, Dick Jauron is still coaching the Bills... Randy Moss looks like the Randy Moss of old, and I'm personally happy that it's happening in the AFC instead of the NFC North. Patriots continue to roll. But does anybody else wonder how Randy is going to handle the eventual snow once winter shows up?
New York Jets (-3) vs Miami - The Jets have quarterback issues. The Dolphins have a washed-up Trent Green. Even. The Jets have a physically dinged-up running back. The Dolphins have a mentally dinged-up running back. Even. Wait, what's that? Thomas Jones practiced and is healthy again? Sounds good enough to me... I'll give the points.
Pittsburgh (-8.5) vs San Francisco - The 49ers sit at 2-0 with a +4 point differential against teams that are now a combined 1-3. And that only win was barely squeaked out to boot. I know it's still early in the season, so a .250 winning percentage can't be taken too seriously, but it doesn't change the fact that the 49ers are a lucky 2-0. Pittsburgh, on the other hand, has been a solid 2-0. Look for Willie Parker and Co. to control this game and win going away.
Arizona (+7.5) at Baltimore - The Ravens just beat the Jets by 7, thanks in large part to a huge drop that could have taken that game into overtime. Are the Cardinals better than the Jets? Well, Edgerrin James has been running like Edgerrin of old. Matt Leinart has straightened some things out. And Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin are still manning the receiver positions. So I say yes, they probably are better. Logic then holds that they'll keep this game closer than the 7.5.
Tampa Bay (-3.5) vs St. Louis - It's tough to say which St. Louis team has seen their fortunes fall faster... The Cardinals or the Rams. The Cardinals have essentially been eliminated due to their free fall, but unfortunately for St. Louis fans, the Rams don't appear to be too far behind. Struggling to get any consistency, they square up against a team that showed some life against the Saints last week.
Denver (-3) vs Jacksonville - The Broncos haven't exactly lit it up these first two weeks, barely edging out teams with last second field goals and timeouts. However, the Jaguars have had some issues of their own, only managing to squeak by a Falcons team that thinks so highly of their quarterback, they not only thought "uh, is that Byron Leftwich guy available?" but actually went out and signed him. That can't be a good sign.
Cincinnati (+3.5) at Seattle - Two teams that suffered devastating divisional losses last week try to heal their wounds against each other this week. It's still unknown which Bengals defense is going to show up, but I'm thinking the game against the Browns is more indicative than the one against the Ravens. Nevertheless, that Bengals offense is something to watch. They should put up the points to win.
Oakland (-3) vs Cleveland - I think the only person happier about last week's game than Romeo Crennel is the guy in my league who had both Carson Palmer and Jamal Lewis in his lineup. The Browns are riding high this week, but the Raiders are pissed at how their week ended, and are likely more focused in on this game. Add in the fact that the Raiders just have more talent than the Browns, and they should finally pick up their first win of the season.
Carolina (-4) at Atlanta - With the signing of Byron Leftwich, Joey Harrington will either rise to the occasion, proving that he is worthy of being a starting quarterback, or collapse in upon himself under the weight of pressure... So what's the max bet I can place against them? Wait, they're playing the Panthers, the one team that may be more infuriating than the Jaguars when it comes to betting? Ugh, I'll hold on to my money instead and just give the points...
Washington (-3.5) vs New York Giants - I admit, the Redskins look better than I thought they would. They're solid on offense. Solid on defense. They make the occasional big play, even if it comes after two false start penalties and a misguided timeout. But they're on track for another win against a Giants team that'll be ready to crack any week now.
Dallas (+3) at Chicago - Picking the home team game is always the toughest. Too many emotions to filter through. But looking just at the raw numbers, the Bears' offense has been atrocious. The defense may be able to hold Dallas down for a while, but until Chicago manages to score without the help of Devin Hester and a backup offensive lineman, I can't be giving the points.
New Orleans (-4.5) vs Tennessee - The Saints can't possibly start 0-3, can they? Where did all the talent on that team go? Oh, it's only on the offense? Well, that explains some things. I do like Tennessee, and I wouldn't be surprised in the least if they pulled this one out straight up, but the home opener on Monday night... The Saints have to bring it in this one, or else it's going to be a long season for New Orleans.
Last Week: 8-8