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Week Two Picks

September 14th, 2007

Giant spreads. Road teams giving points all over the place. Yeah, that’s not a recipe for a prognostication disaster. The following, then, is offered for entertainment purposes only. And most of the entertainment will come by way of looking at how wrong I was after the fact.

Houston (+6.5) at Carolina
This is a tougher game to pick than the line lets on. Why? Well, even though the team Houston beat up on last week was quite possibly the worst in the league, I believe the Titans are a pretty good squad. And, yeah, the Panthers are, too, as their own week one results make abundantly clear. That said, Carolina didn’t really get going at St. Louis until after the Rams had lost Orlando Pace for the game (and, as it turns out, the season), and that’s no small matter. I think the Texans O line promises to pose much more of a challenge to the Panthers’ defensive front than the Rams line did, enough of a challenge potentially to make this one of the week’s more exciting games. I do think the Panthers will come out on top, but probably not by more than a field goal.

Cincinnati (-6.5) at Cleveland
Which offense looks like more of a powerhouse to you, this one or this one? OK, now try this: Which quarterback to you consider more solid, this one or this one? And which defense do you believe is better, this or this? So if the Steelers put up 34 points against the Browns while the Bengals put up 27 against the Ravens, what do you figure the Bengals offense is going to do to the Browns D? And if the Bengals D beat up on Steve McNair, taking the ball away from him four times, what chance do you suppose Derek Anderson has of succeeding? My thoughts exactly. Bengals in a rout.

Atlanta (+10) at Jacksonville
Virtually every week on the NFL schedule includes at least one game that has ugly written all over it. This is one of three of them this week. Jags 14-6.

Green Bay (pick ’em) at NY Giants
I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t terribly impressed with the way Eli Manning was playing before the shoulder injury. And however serious that injury may or may not be, it can only make Eli worse. And worse than bad ain’t good. (Indeed, the only thing worse for the Giants than having to start an injured Eli Manning would be having to start a healthy Jared Lorenzen.) Add the loss of key players on both sides of the ball. And factor in the unavoidable conclusion that any team that can beat the Eagles ought to be able to beat the Giants, and you really can’t do anything but anticipate win by the visitors here.

Buffalo (+9.5) at Pittsburgh
So Kevin Everett is alive and very well might walk again. That’s great news. It’s also about the only good news the banged-up Bills are likely to get this week, or for some time to come. Emotion may help Buffalo keep this close, but it won’t be enough to lift them to a win. Steelers by a touchdown.

San Francisco (+3) at St. Louis
If you were to look only at the first half of last week’s Carolina-St. Louis and Arizona-San Francisco games, you’d think picking this game was a breeze. But you can’t do that. You certainly can’t ignore the way the Rams offense essentially ceased functioning after Orlando Pace left the game. And you have to at least consider the fact that Alex Smith started to look like an NFL quarterback toward the end of his team’s struggle with the Cardinals. So when all is said and done, this game starts to look a lot like a coin flip to me. But the Rams are at home. And the Niners are coming off a tough Monday nighter. So I’m taking St. Louis to win this one and expecting a push vs. the spread.

New Orleans (-3) at Tampa Bay
This is where we learn the real truth about the Saints. Because, look, it’s one thing to get your asses kicked by the Colts in Indy on the
first night of the season. But, second straight road game or not, you can’t lose to the Bucs. Not this season. Saints by six.

Indianapolis (-7) at Tennessee
Don’t expect the Colts to have as easy a time of it in this game as they had with the Saints in the season opener. The Titans appear to be about playing smashmouth football on offense this season, and that’s just the kind of thing that I believe can wear the Colts small, fast defense down. I’m gonna be very interested to see what happens when Jeff Fisher and Norm Chow send Chris Brown and big ol’ LenDale White barreling between the tackles on down after down. Something tells me that may lead to Vince Young having a very productive second half. On the other side of the ball, I’m gonna be very interested to see how Indy’s rookie left tackle Tony Ugoh fares against Kyle Vanden Bosch. I’m gonna go ahead and guess it won’t be as well as he did against Will Smith a week ago. So what does it all mean? It means I expect the Titans to stay in this game and play the Colts tough. And I won’t be at all surprised if Tennessee manages to pull off the upset. But I’m not picking it that way. In the end, I think Indy comes out ahead, but maybe only by three.

Seattle (-3) at Arizona
Pretty much everything I thought I knew about the Cardinals was confirmed on Monday night. They’re getting better, finally starting to make good use of all that talent they have on offense. But they’re not quite there yet. And they won’t quite be able to beat the Seahawks, though I’m guessing it comes down to the last play. I’m taking Seattle and expecting them to best the spread by a point.

Minnesota (+3) at Detroit
I don’t know what to make of this game, because I still don’t know what the hell to make of either of these teams. Both of them looked good last week, but both were playing weak opponents. I guess I’m expecting the home team’s possibly blossoming offense to prevail against the visitors’ potentially stout D. That’s not a hell of an endorsement of either squad, I know. But it’s what I’ve got. Lions win, Vikings just cover.

Dallas (-3.5) at Miami
Don’t expect the Cowboys to put up as many points against the Dolphins’ tough D as they did a week ago against the unit the Giants are trying to pass off as an NFL defense. But you can probably expect the Dallas D to accomplish something fairly similar to what we saw Washington pull off against the Miami offense, which is to say, hold the Fins to very few points even if they’re able to move the ball some. All in all, I’m thinking Cowboys 24, Dolphins 10.

NY Jets (+7.5) at Baltimore
You know what? I don’t care who plays quarterback for which team, because the Jets don’t have what it takes to stop Willis McGahee and the Ravens have everything they need to stop whatever New York throws at them. Baltimore puts a pounding on the Jets that will have Eric Mangini desperately scanning the Ravens sideline in hopes of spotting a video camera, microwave emitter, voodoo doll … anything on which he can try to hang responsibility for his and his team’s ineptitude. Ravens by 17.

Kansas City (+12) at Chicago
It may be a bit early in the season to be asking a question like this, but does anyone else have the feeling the Chiefs may be headed for 0-16? The Bears win this one by twice the enormous spread.

Oakland (+9.5) at Denver
There’s not a lot to say here. If you can’t beat Detroit at home, you can’t even hope to compete with Denver on the road. And that’s just a fact. Broncos by 10.

San Diego (+4) at New England
You might have forgotten this, what with all the hubbub and everything, but the Patriots will, in fact, be playing a game this Sunday night. A football game. Against a tough opponent. And since it’s a prime time game, there are gonna be lots of cameras on the sidelines. Lots. Some of them will sometimes be pointing at the coaching staffs for both teams. But most of them will mostly be pointing at the field. That’s where they’ll record New England, with no illicit technological assistance (real or imagined), dismantling San Diego. Pats by two touchdowns.

Washington (+7) at Philadelphia
It’s ultimately just a guess, but I’m thinking we saw the real Redskins but not the real Eagles a week ago. I’m looking for a correction in the latter here, which should mean Philly wins by three.

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