After posting a second straight 7-9 week, Greg Kaplan is honestly not a happy camper. The only good news? Vinny Ginardi, also a member of the same massive NFL Pick ‘Em Challenge pool, went 5-11. So there’s that.
Hours spent disecting each and every match-up this week, Greenberg feels primed for a break-out. And if he doesn’t, someone will have to fly down to Savannah to double check and make sure he’s still breathing.
Last Week: 7-9
O.K. Alright. Not the best performance I’ve ever had. But, not the worst either.
Last week was a strange week. We saw a team for the second straight week pull off one of the worst back-door covers I’ve ever seen (down 10, the Browns kicked a field goal to make it a 7-point game with less than a minute left against the Bengals to cover. Yes, I know in theory it was the right play at the time, but that doesn’t make me less angry). We saw some serious upsets (what’s up, Arizona).
At the same time, we saw exactly what we thought we would from some teams (like the Cowboys totally dropping the ball in Seattle after having 10 days to prep for it). That’s enough of the flowery talk. Let’s get right into this bad boy for Week 3, which will (hopefully, knock on wood, get the horseshoe) be a big week.
New York Giants (-1.5) @ Carolina Panthers
I watched, in utter disappointment, the entire Giants/Bucs game last week. First thing I want to say about that game is I TOLD YOU SO! In my lifetime, I really don’t think I’ve picked a game involving the Bucs correctly. If I have, I don’t remember it. It’s the most painful thing in the world. But, we’ll get to that in a minute.
For all those Giants fans (including the one that bombed my booth at the bar on Sunday), I don’t want to hear that Eli Manning had a historic performance. I don’t care about the 510 yards, the three touchdowns or the numbers Cruz and Nicks put up together. You know what I do care about? The three picks. Including the one pick six. That puts a wet blanket on just about everything. That, and the Giants inability to win by more than that touchdown. Cost me a game. Wasn’t happy.
Bias aside, I have to take the Panthers here who have the luxury of playing at home on a short week. Ahmad Bradshaw will not play in this game, so it will be up to Manning again to carry the load offensively. Furthermore, the Giants D just surrendered what felt like 1,153 points to the Cowboys and Bucs in their first two games. I don’t think you can convince me that they’ll be able to pull it together and slow down Cam Newton.
The Pick: Panthers
St. Louis Rams @ Chicago Bears (-7.5)
Full disclosure, I thought long and hard about taking the Rams in this one. St. Louis is quietly a very good team. They nearly took down the Lions Week 1 and fought hard to come back against RGIII and the Redskins, even without Steven Jackson in the game at running back.
Fact is, the Bears defense is better than the Redskins, who lost two huge defensive players in the middle of their game against the Rams that may have shifted the course of the night. As bad as Jay Cutler looked Thursday against the Packers defense, I don’t doubt his ability to rebound fully against a much weaker Rams unit. Cutler is predictably due for two or three absolutely atrocious games a year, so he was merely getting one out of the way early. The Bears will cover this spread, and it will be mostly because of their defense shutting out St. Louis.
The Pick: Bears
Buffalo Bills (-2.5) @ Cleveland Browns
Worst. Back-door cover. Ever. There I was, minding my own business, drowning my sorrows about the other 1p.m. games gone wrong. When, out of nowhere, across my bottom line, a score alert pops up. With less than a minute left and down 10, the Browns had kicked a field goal. The covered the 7.5 spread against the Bengals, and I lost another game. I think that was the closest I’ve ever come to throwing my drink at a television. And I’m a Mets fan. I’ve sat through frustrating losses before.
Back to this upcoming game, C.J. Spiller is making a serious case for taking over as the full-time back in Buffalo. Did you know that Spiller is the most valuable running back through the first two weeks of the season? While the Browns defense looked great against Michael Vick and the Eagles, they couldn’t do anything against Andy Dalton and the Bengals. That leaves me to believe the Bills, who had their way against the Chiefs, will do just fine running the ball.
The Pick: Bills
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Dallas Cowboys (-7.5)
….I hate the Bucs. So much. For the life of me, I can’t get a game right in which they play in.
Well, let’s try this again. Here’s why I expect the Bucs at the very least to cover against the Cowboys. They’ve proven they can win defensive contests against Carolina. They’ve proven they can stay in a shootout with the Giants. The Cowboys, I feel, are one of those teams that when they get ahead by 10, they start to coast a little and may allow a late score to keep it within a touchdown. That, and the additions of David Wilson and Vincent Jackson have actually improved the play of Josh Freeman to respectable levels. Tampa Bay is a sneaky good team.
With that said, you should all pick the Cowboys. I’m getting this game wrong. That’s a fact.
The Pick: Bucs
New York Jets (-2.5) @ Miami Dolphins
As good as the Jets offense looked Week 1, that’s as bad as they looked Week 2. However, while the defense did give up 27 to the Steelers, a lot of what Pittsburgh did well was thanks to Ben Roethlisberger creating miracles with his feet and not taking sacks when other quarterbacks would. That, and this game was played without the secondary expertise of Darrelle Revis.
The Dolphins, on the other hand, looked FINtastic (you’re welcome, Vinny Ginardi) against the Raiders. Sadly, the Jets defense is far and away a better unit, with or without Revis, than Oakland. Reggis Bush is not going to have the same kind of room against the Jets to make the game-altering plays he did a week ago, and Ryan Tannehill is not going to have the same kind of comfort in the pocket. While I don’t expect the Jets to blow out the Dolphins by any means, I totally see them winning this one by some score like 17-13. That’s all they have to do to cover this spread.
The Pick: Jets
San Francisco 49ers (-6.5) @ Minnesota Vikings
This is one of those games I’m surprised the spread is this low. I don’t think, at this point in the season, that truly believes the Vikings are only a touchdown worse than the 49ers. I think the gap between these two teams is much greater than this margin, especially considering Adrian Peterson reminded us last week that he may not be fully recovered just yet from his knee injury. As good as Christian Ponder looked against the Colts, San Francisco is going to pressure him like he’s never been pressured before, and that’s going to force some mistakes. Everything is clicking right now for the Niners, and I totally expect them to cover yet again.
The Pick: 49ers
Kansas City Chiefs @ New Orleans Saints (-8.5)
By far, no other 0-2 team will get a spread as big as the Saints have been given this week. It’s not because the Vegas odds makers are feeling a sudden turnaround from New Orleans. Instead, they see what we’ve all seen through two weeks.
The Chiefs defense is terrible. No team has allowed as many points through the first two games of the season as Kansas City, and now they have to go up against Drew Brees. Even while playing one of his worst games in the last couple of years, Brees still managed to keep the Saints in the game late and make some plays with both his arm and his feet. I don’t see the Chiefs getting the same kind of pressure on him like the Panthers did. I also don’t see New Orleans starting 0-3, with two of those games being at home.
I’m a little worried about this game, but you have to believe in the Saints offense much more than the Chiefs defense. Plain and simple.
The Pick: Saints
Cincinnati Bengals @ Washington Redskins (-4.5)
One of the more interesting match-ups of the week. It’s not going to command the headlines the Pats/Ravens game will, or even the Texans/Broncos. But, this game is going to be hotly contested. Each team has shown flashes of their potential to be one of the Wild Card teams coming from each conference. Of the two, however, the Redskins have looked better. But, that was with the services of Brian Orakpo and Adam Carricker. Neither will be in the line-up for this game, or for the rest of the season.
Had Josh Morgan not lost his cool in St. Louis last week, the Redskins easily could be 2-0. They played well enough to walk away winners in that game, even though they blew the lead in the second half. And anyone who thought Robert Griffin III wasn’t going to be able to back up his splendid first game, well, they were wrong, too. The Redskins are going to hang around the NFC East all season, and they’ll flirt with a potential playoff berth. As for the Bengals, they allowed Brandon Weeden to look like a competent quarterback, and Trent Richardson made some spectacular plays. While Alfred Morris is certainly not at the same level as Richardson, RGIII is. He’ll be the difference in this game, and that’s why I have confidence in the Redskins covering at home.
The Pick: Redskins
Detroit Lions (-2.5) @ Tennessee Titans
The Titans are lucky that the Jacksonville Jaguars play in the NFL, and their division for that matter. Otherwise, Tennessee would be making a strong case for the worst team in the league right now. And while the Titans may not be the worst team, Chris Johnson is certainly the worst starting running back the league has to offer, and by an enormous margin. CJ2k can talk all he wants about being faster than Usain Bolt, but he can’t even outscore the likes of Curtis Brinkley right now in fantasy. Yeah.
The Lions are clearly the better team, but have admittedly underperformed against both the Rams and the 49ers to start their season. Still, if you’re not picking the Lions to win this match-up, you’re over-analyzing their early season struggles. This is one of the games I feel most confident about going into Week 3.
The Pick: Lions
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Indianapolis Colts (-3.5)
The Jaguars are really bad. Andrew Luck looks like a really good quarterback in the making. He already has more chemistry with Reggie Wayne and Donnie Avery than anyone on the Jags has with, well, anyone on the Jags.
Oh, and did I mention Chad Henne might be getting the start in this game for Jacksonville?
Yeah. Colts got this.
The Pick: Colts
Philadelphia Eagles (-4.5) @ Arizona Cardinals
Before the season started, if I told you the Arizona Cardinals would be 2-0 and hosting the Philadelphia Eagles with a real shot to improve to 3-0, how quickly would you have walked away from me laughing saying I knew nothing about football? And you know what’s even crazier?
I’m totally taking the Cardinals in this game.
WAIT! LET ME EXPLAIN!
The Eagles have committed nine turnovers in their first two games. Michael Vick has thrown six interceptions in his first three games. What is the Cardinals best asset? Easily, it’s their defense. They’ve won two rather low scoring games against one team with an above average offense (Seahawks) and one team with a devastating offense (Patriots, on the road no less). Patrick Peterson looks to be on the verge of becoming one of those cornerbacks you just can’t throw the ball in his direction. Their box eight have done more than enough to show they can compete with the best in this league.
This is one of those games where I’m not prepared to say the Cardinals will flat out win. But, they’re ‘dogs at home. They have a great defense. And the Eagles have done nothing to prove they can put away teams late. This game will be close, and when a game is going to be close, you go with the points.
Speaking of the Eagles, it makes no sense, but there are a ton of Philly fans down here in Savannah. And they always sit in the same section I sit in to watch the games at the bar. They are a rowdy bunch who, well, I don’t understand them. All I want to say is it doesn’t make sense that they’re down here. Being an unabashed New York sports fan, I fully expect myself to do/say something very stupid one of these Sundays that’ll force me to find another bar.
The Pick: Cardinals
Atlanta Falcons @ San Diego Chargers (-3.5)
Another battle of two 2-0 teams, I’ll cut right to the chase and say I’m taking the Falcons. Atlanta looked amazing for one half of football against the Broncos on Monday night, then nearly coughed it up late.
Yes, this is a short week for the Falcons. However, the difference between a West Coast team traveling East on a short week between what they’re doing is night and day. Kick-off for Atlanta’s players will still be in the 1p.m. mindset, unlike the Raiders who kicked off at 10a.m. Oakland time on a short week. I’m not at all concerned about the travel.
The Pick: Falcons
Houston Texans @ Denver Broncos (-0.5)
It’s a straight pick ‘em, according to the books. Yes, Peyton Manning looked sluggish out of the gates in Atlanta. However, he did rebound and nearly rallied the troops to victory in a notoriously tough place to play.
I’m going with the Broncos to pull out the win because while the Texans are 2-0, they are the softest 2-0 imaginable. They played a meh Dolphins team that looked good using and abusing the Raiders, but awful previously. Then, they just beat the crap out of the Jaguars, who may not get over two wins this season. The Broncos handled the Steelers and were in there against the Falcons. They have the home advantage, the more experienced quarterback and arguably the better defense. Going Broncos.
The Pick: Broncos
Pittsburgh Steelers (-4.5) @ Oakland Raiders
The Raiders looked awful against the Miami Dolphins. How do you think they’ll look against a playoff-caliber team? I’m guessing not well.
The Pick: Steelers
New England Patriots @ Baltimore Ravens (-2.5)
Easily this will be the game of the week. Both teams are coming off rather deflating losses heading into this match-up, none more baffling than the Pats losing at home to the Cardinals.
There are two reasons I’m going with the Patriots on the road. The first, I honestly can’t remember the last time New England has had any sort of losing streak while under the guidance of The Hoodie. He knows how to bounce back from a flat performance, and I don’t see this game as any different.
The second, Joe Flacco really struggled against the Eagles in the second half last week. Was it just a flat half of play? Or is it more indicative of things to come? If he was looking for a rebound game, he found the wrong opponent. I’m not worried about the Ravens long-term goals this season if they fall to 1-2. I just think the Patriots will be better prepared for this game, that simple.
The Pick: Patriots
Green Bay Packers (-3.5) @ Seattle Seahawks
I predicted correctly that the Cowboys would struggle traveling to Seattle. I don’t see the Packers having the same problems. They handled the Bears last week despite a so-so game from Aaron Rodgers. I’m a fan of what the Seahawks have shown thus far in the season, but the Packers are an elite squad. I don’t see them having the same lucky, despite the cozy home field confines, against Green Bay.
The Pick: Packers