What started out as a great weekend for my picks (at one point I was 8-3) turned to shit once the Sunday and Monday night primetime games were in the books. Considering
all three Packers-Bears was a miracle last-second non-cover (not to mention Washington's late touchdown to beat the spread), I'm not going to beat myself up over them.
Lock of the Week (New England): 0-1
As always, the home teams are in CAPS, the lines are Danny Sheridan's, and the picks are 100% correct. Work out the ways you're going to spend your winnings between now and Sunday.
Oakland (+3) over KANSAS CITY
I can't believe the Chiefs are favored in this game. I guess Vegas thinks it's 1995 and Arrowhead still means something. The Raiders aren't as terrible as we all thought, and the Chiefs are nowhere near as good as Peter King thinks they are. On a positive note for KC, Matt Cassel should be making his first start for the Chiefs in this game.*
TENNESSEE (-6.5) over Houston
After making their home opener the Mark Sanchez coming out party, the Texans face the prospect of hosting Jacksonville in a must-win game in week 3 if things hold serve and Houston sucks on the road and the Titans dominate at home.
New England (-3.5) over NEW YORK JETS
Everybody's very excited about the Jets and their new defense and their handsome young quarterback, but shouldn't people be wondering if, as mentioned above, the Texans are any good? This will probably be a great game, but if you're thinking of taking the Jets, you have to be a little worried that Tom Brady got his mojo back at the end of that Bills game, and that he may just be ready to unleash hell in the Meadowlands.
Cincinnati (+9) over GREEN BAY
I love Green Bay, but this line is too high. The Packers needed a 50-yard TD bomb with 1:11 left in the game to beat a Bears team that saw its new quarterback throw four interceptions. The game shouldn't have been that close, and if Jay Cutler didn't get so pick-happy, it wouldn't have been. Chicago would have blown the Packers out. The Bears outgained the Pack 352-226; they had the first down advantage 18-12; they controlled the ball for 33 minutes (to the Packers 26); they had half as many penalties for twenty less yards. If it wasn't for Jay Cutler trying to outdo Jake Delhomme (and the Bears' 0-3 touchdown performance in the red zone), everybody would be freaking out about how much the Packers suck. Add in the fact that Cincy's defense looks decent (except when defending the tipped-ball-sprint-to-the-end-zone play, long Marvin Lewis defenses' Achilles heel), and you get a much more competitive game than people might think.
Minnesota (-9.5) over DETROIT
Looking at last week's games, Detroit's 27 points may tempt you into thinking they can hang with the Vikings, who--despite their own 34 points against the Browns--don't seem capable of scoring 37. Remember that New Orleans' defense is Kendra Wilkinson's vagina (even Hank Baskett can score!) while Minnesota's defense is Nick Jonas's asshole (you're not getting in no matter how many Shirley Temples you buy him) and resist that temptation.
PHILADELPHIA (pick) over New Orleans
It's too bad Donovan McNabb is hurt; this had the makings of a classic shootout. I see Philly's defense bothering Drew Brees into only 3 touchdowns, while Jeff Garcia or Kevin Kolb prove Andy Reid's offense is good enough to allow just about anyone to score 31 points in it.*
*It's also too bad Hank Baskett isn't on the Eagles anymore. If he had scored a touchdown this week, my previous joke about the Saints defense would have not only been pure gold, but prophecy, as well.
Carolina (+6) over ATLANTA
Can Jake Delhomme be that bad three weeks in a row? I say he doesn't even get the chance, as DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, and the state of Ohio's all-time leading rusher Tyrell Sutton combine for 67 carries and the Carolina D rebounds from last week's debacle vs. Philly.
St. Louis (+9.5) over WASHINGTON
St. Louis looked pretty bad last week, but I'm giving Steve Spagnuolo a chance to fire his charges up and get the Rams playing with pride for the first time since 2006. Washington, on the other hand, has the defense to shut the Rams down on offense (who doesn't?) but will struggle to score the necessary ten points needed to cover.
JACKSONVILLE (-3) over Arizona
The Cardinals travelling east for a 1:00 game (or for them, 10:00) against a Jags team that is fuming after letting one get away in Indy? I just stepped in something, and while it could be Jaguar shit, it smells more like my LOCK OF THE WEEK.
Seattle (+1.5) over SAN FRANCISCO
Before everybody gets all Stevie Janowski to the 49ers' Kenny Powers, people should take a step back and remember that until Larry Fitzgerald became the greatest postseason wide receiver ever, the Cardinals were considered by many to be the worst team to ever make the playoffs*. A win over the Cardinals in 2009 is the same as a win over the Cardinals in 2007, except now their quarterback may be too old to be good. Seattle, on the other hand, looks like a legitimate NFL playoff contender. Give me the Seahawks in a rout.
*Five worse playoff teams in the past ten years: 2006 NY Giants, 2006 NY Jets, 2002 Cleveland Browns, 1999 Detroit Lions, 2001 NY Jets.
Tampa Bay (+5) over BUFFALO
If this game were in November, I'd be all over the Bills. Since it's in September, though, give me the Bucs team who's biggest weakness last week--the long pass--can't be exploited by Trent Edwards's weak arm and his offensive line's inability to hold defenders at bay for longer than a three-step drop.
DENVER (-3) over Cleveland
When's the last time the Browns beat the Broncos in Denver (or anywhere)? October 8, 1990. My heart wants to say Brownies all the way, but my head says I wish I didn't have to watch this game.
SAN DIEGO (-3) over Baltimore
Due to Norv Turner, Baltimore could easily win this one. Seeing as how the Ravens gave up 24 points to the Chiefs, though, I think San Diego can put up 28 and hold off Joe Flacco and the powerhouse Ravens offense.
CHICAGO (+3) over Pittsburgh
As mentioned in the Packers-Bengals pick, the Bears should have won last week. Pittsburgh will probably win this one after trailing for 85 percent of the game, but doesn't 3 points seem like a lot to get for a team picked by some to make the Super Bowl in their home opener?
New York Giants (+2.5) over DALLAS
Vegas must really be counting on the Cowboys being fired up for their new stadium, since I have no other explanation for how they're favored over the Giants. The Cowboys defense gave up 174 yards rushing to Tampa Bay's version of Thunder & Lightning, Cadillac Williams and Derrick Ward; how much are they going to give up to Earth and Fire, Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw? And if Tony Romo thinks he's going to have time to find his receivers 40 yards downfield again, he better reconsider and lower his expectations (as I'm sure Jessica Simpson made him do every time she opened her mouth).
MIAMI (+3) over Indianapolis
In his career, Peyton Manning is 4-7 with a 76.3 passer rating vs. the Dolphins. The passer rating is Manning's lowest vs. any opponent except the Rams (weird), and his .364 winning percentage is his lowest win percentage against a single opponent. If any team could be called Manning's nemesis, it is the Miami Dolphins.*
*The Dolphins aren't going to win this game, of course. I would just expect another 14-12-type affair like last week, especially since the Colts are signing guys off of the E! Network to play wide receiver for them.