Isn’t it great that football is back in full swing? I have to admit that I was down on a full slate of Thursday night games because I don’t want to see players having to try and come back from injuries on a short week (Greg Jennings), or the effect that it might have on the field of play, but it’s great to actually look forward to a great early season matchup during the middle of the week. All of a sudden Wednesday is no longer the awkward day in the middle of the week when we’re not sure if we should be still talking about the week that just took place or if we should be looking ahead to this week’s games.
Jay Cutler’s comments on the Packers definitely had something to do with that, but I love hearing athletes call out other teams. It has such an old school feel to it.
It does lead me to think about this: Wouldn’t he have fit in perfectly on Laguna Beach?
Onto my picks for this week:
(All stats courtesy of Yahoo! Sports)
Chicago – Green Bay 8:20 PM NFL Network
Is Jay Cutler a little too overconfident? Hell yes he is, but I personally love it. You can’t win on Sundays (and now Thursdays) without riding the magic cloud that is confidence. I dare say that the Bears have the ability to play with a free yet focused spirit in the yet to be frozen tundra of Lambeau Field on Thursday night. Cutler has all the reason to be confident, after all he and his best football friend (Brandon Marshall) proved last week that they haven’t lost a step since their untimely divorce in 2009.
To boot Cutler has a brand new shiny toy that he wants to show off in the form of a 6’ 3” 215lb WR Alshon Jeffery aka Marshall’s twin on the field. Maybe Cutler wasn’t that crazy when he said that Packers defensive backs should “look out”.
Look no game at this point is a “must-win”(cut to Eric Davis from NFLAM disagreeing with me). Even though the numbers say that they are; only 1% of teams in the history of the league have went to the Super Bowl after starting the season 0-2 and only two teams in the history of the league have made it to the playoffs after losing their first two games at home, the last team being the ’03 Eagles.
However this Packers team is much better than that Eagles team. It would be crazy to think that the Packers would miss out on the playoffs with Aaron Rodgers at QB, even if they were to lose to the dreaded Bears this week. Remember before this season started the Packers were slated to have the easiest schedule in the NFC, now obviously that changes as the season progresses, but look at this stretch from week 5-9, @IND, @HOU, @STL, JAC, ARZ. The Houston game will be a toughie, but those other four games are easily winnable for this team.
And they’ll have to win those games because with Greg Jennings most likely out, I like the Bears to upset the Pack 30-27.
Tampa Bay @ New York Giants 1 pm FOX
A sneaky early game on Sunday. I really like what I saw from Tampa Bay’s defense in week one. I recommend listening to Peter King’s podcast this week as he talked to Greg Schiano and asked him about how his defense “swarmed” the Panthers all day long. If the defensive unit plays with that type of mentality again and Gerald McCoy causes the same amount of disruption AND (a double and already!) Doug Martin has an efficient game on the ground the Giants could be in trouble.
Now we have no idea how the Bucs are going to handle covering two pro bowl receivers. They might have been able to stop everything Carolina tried on the ground and they will be able to stop whatever the hell the Giants try to do on the ground, but Steve Smith did gash the secondary for a 7/106 line last week. Either Hakeem Nicks or Victor Cruz, or both will go off on Sunday.
This is a really tough game to pick, but I’m feeling optimistic that Tampa will be able to control the ball and that Josh Freeman will be able to make the best of his red zone opportunities, that’s of course if the offensive line can survive the rath of the Giants monstrous front four. Give me the Bucs in an upset 21-17.
Oakland @ Miami 1 PM CBS
It’s already week two and there’s a matchup that should have the tagline “America’s game that no one cares about”. Why couldn’t this be the London matchup in like week 8? I’ll watch the highlights just for Darren McFadden, Raiders 24-10.
Houston @ Jacksonville 1PM CBS
They say it’s hard to win on the road in the NFL, except if you’re playing in Jacksonville and you’re the Houston Texans. I will say Blane Gabbert looked much improved in week one, but he wasn’t facing the type of defensive pressure that Houston possesses. They might have the best front seven in all of football and a potential all-pro corner in the form of Jonathan Joseph.
The Jags only hope to win on Sunday is to feed the Texans a steady diet consisting of Maurice Jones-Drew. Dating back to 2009 MJD has averaged 76.1 yards on the ground against the Texans, which is good enough for a 4.2 YPC and to boot he’s averaged 1 touchdown per contest. It’s going to take a super human effort from Jacksonville’s defense to win this game.
A point of optimism: Last year Arian Foster’s YPC against the Jags? A pedestrian 3.2.
A point of pessimism: The last time Matt Schaub was fully healthy in 2010 he averaged 284 yards with a 74.1 completion percentage and 1.5 TDs against the Jags.
Give me the Texans 35-10.
Cleveland @ Cincinnati 1PM CBS
Here’s a player that will bust out on fantasy football teams this weekend:
He goes by the nickname “The Law Firm”.
He was the lone bright spot against the Ravens on Monday night.
He averaged 5.1 YPC in a stadium that running backs don’t average 5.1 YPC.
He’s going to single handily eliminate any talk of a RBBC for the Bengals this season.
You better start Benjarvus Green-Ellis this week as he’s facing a Browns defense that’s still trying to tackle LeSean McCoy. BJGE may not have the same sexy running style as Shady, but he runs really hard and that’s all the Bengals will need him to do on Sunday. Remember Cleveland finished 30th against the run last year and 2nd against the pass. Joe Haden and that secondary is for real, but they can’t be for real with Haden suspended for four games starting this Sunday. Even if Haden was playing it doesn’t change the simple fact that the Browns D can’t tackle anyone on the ground. Give me the Bengals 24-7.
Green-Ellis stat line: 21 carries, 137 yards, 2 TDs (that’s a Yahoo! flame if I’ve ever seen one.)
Kansas City @ Buffalo
There wasn’t a more disappointing opening day performance than that of the Bills defense. When Jets OC Steve Spagnolo says that he didn’t have to open up the playbook because there was no reason to it’s a sign that your defense played a horrible game.
Even though the defense was terrible Ryan Fitzpatrick was the culprit for the Bills problems. He forced almost as many throws as Michael Vick and looked like he had suffered from the dreaded R word (regression). I did like what I saw out of CJ Spiller, but was he just a one week wonder? Or is he going to make the best of his chance now that Fred Jackson is out at least a month?
I did like what I saw out of Kansas City in the first half against Atlanta. Sure the defense couldn’t stop any thing the Falcons wanted to do, but what do you expect when two of your best defensive players (Tamba Hali and Brandon Flowers) missed the game.
I loved Matt Cassel’s enthusiasm early on. He is aware that a bad season will place him down into Kyle Orton (or Derek Anderson, whichever one you prefer) back up territory for likely the rest of his career. There’s too much fire power in the Chiefs’ offense for Buffalo to handle this week. After this week get ready to hear this from Bills fans, Is it too early to say that the Mario Williams deal was a HUGE mistake? Give me the Chiefs 24-14.
Baltimore @ Philadelphia 1PM CBS
Ahh yes, the best game of the early set on Sunday. There are so many story lines going into this game:
Which Michael Vick will show up?
How many interceptions will he throw?
Will we see Nick Foles at some point?
Will Andy and Marty run the god damn ball?
Will Joe Flacco continue to show that he’s really evolved?
Will the Eagles finally be able to stop an elite running back in Ray Rice?
Or has Juan Castillo finally got this whole defensive coordinator thing figured out?
The answers to those questions: A better Michael Vick will show up, even though he’ll be baited into a Carson Palmer like interception at some point. No Nick Foles this week, unless Haloti Ngata eats Vick in the second quarter. We’ll see a more balanced offensive attack out of the Eagles this week.
Joe Flacco will have a good game, but the Eagles speed on defense will neutralize the effect of the Ravens no huddle offense. Ray Rice will total over 100 yards because he’s the best running back in football, but he won’t find the endzone. Give me the Eagles 27-21.
New Orleans @ Carolina 1PM FOX
Now Eric Davis can provide his stats on teams that advance to the Super Bowl after starting out 0-2. Could the Saints have looked any sloppier against the Redskins in week 1? Is Patrick Robinson still trying to get off of the field? Peter King absolutely buried him this week in his MMQB column and for good reason, that’s an inexcusable mistake on a day when mistakes were the new normal for the Saints.
Have you ever had the experience of walking into a convenience store when looking for a drink and ended up starting at the coolers for five minutes while trying to decide what to get? (cut to stoners everywhere nodding in agreement) That has to be the same type of feeling Panthers OC Rob Chudzinski has when he tries to decide who’s number should be called on a running play. Do I go with Mountain Dew (DeAngelo Williams)? What about Snapple Apple (Jonathan Stewart)? Mmmm iced tea (Mike Tolbert) sounds good, or I could just go with the drink that I need, water (Cam Newton). I just don’t understand how having four viable running options is going to help a team when everyone else is strategizing against vertical attacks, which means going out and getting help on defense. Due to a swiss cheese secondary, give me the Saints 35-17.
Arizona @ New England 1PM FOX
Mark this down as the game that Steven Ridley becomes a household name in every fantasy football enthusiasts home. Bill Bellichek is serious about running the ball this season and adding another dimension to his offense. I think that the Super Bowl loss last February made the evil genius reassess what kind of identity his offense needs if he’s going to put another Lombardi trophy on his self.
I’m hoping Kevin Kolb does well because he’s been on the unfortunate end of the stick his entire career, but the Cardinals aren’t winning this game, even with “the best receiver of all time”. Give me the Pats 42-21.
Minnesota @ Indianapolis 1PM FOX
Just for the sake of hearing Packers fans say we’re two games back of the f’n Vikings give me Minnesota 17-14.
Washington @ St.Louis 4:05 PM FOX
One week in and Griffining has already become this year’s Faith Hilling. When will it stop!?!? If Tebow Griffins were the Mayans right? Isn’t it sad that that sentence actually makes sense?
I think Kyle Shanahan is going to slowly let the game plan come out each week so defensive coordinators can’t game plan for Griffin. I know it’s the week of overreactions, but with the state of the NFC East the Redskins could make some serious noise. Give me the ‘Skins 24-14.
Dallas @ Seattle 4:05 PM FOX
After this week Seattleians will be calling for Matt Flynn, what an ADD society we now live in.
I really liked what I saw out of Tony Romo in Metlife Stadium on opening night. Romo knows that if he doesn’t lead his team to the playoffs he’ll be cleaning someone’s glasses in another city come next September. The ‘Boys have too much offensive talent for the ‘Hawks to contain, but the power of Quest Field will keep this game close.
Give me the Cowboys 23-17.
New York Jets @ Pittsburgh 4:15 PM CBS
The best game of the late afternoon set. Pittsburgh desperately needs this win (again cut to Eric Davis nodding in approval. Can someone get me a gif of this?). Imagine if two power house football cities start the season 0-2, I can already see the Sportscenter segment where Merrell Hodge and Ron Jaworski argue about who has a better chance of making the playoffs, the Packers or the Jets?
I think that last week was the best that we’ll see out of Mark Sanchez this season. He and Stephen Hill caught the Bills sleeping last week, it’s safe to say that the Steelers defense will be nothing short of an awaken giant late Sunday afternoon after losing in Denver yet again.
The key in this game for the Steelers is running back Jonathan Dwyer. He provided a nice change of pace against the Broncos in week 1 which will be needed against a Jets defense that has the best cornerback duo in the league. If Dwyer rushes for more than 90 yards the Steelers will win, if not Mark Sanchez and here it comes, TIM TEBOW will do just enough to squeak out a W.
Give me the Steelers in a true toss-up 21-20.
Tennessee @ San Diego 4:15 PM CBS
I don’t know how many people on the east coast actually stayed up till the end of the Chargers-Raiders game on Monday night, but as the game dragged on Chris Berman sounded like he needed an appetizer sampler from Applebee’s to wake himself up. Also why is Alice from Workaholics a chef in that commercial? Can we get someone on this? (kudos to my friend Jeff for pointing that out.)
In the words of Monday Night Countdown: C’mon man! I need you this week Chris Johnson. If you don’t show up your ass is on the trading block.
Give me the Chargers 30-17.
Detroit @ San Francisco 8:20 PM NBC
The handshake bowl II won’t nearly be as close as the original. Remember, that game was an absolute dogfight between two up and coming teams, one being the trendy sleeper pick to make the playoffs (Lions) and the other being a team that we knew nothing about (49ers). Isn’t it interesting that now we view one team as a favorable contender to make it to the Super Bowl (49ers) and the other is a fringe playoff team (Lions).
I can’t even put into words how impressive the 49ers were last week, especially the offense. Frank Gore looked motivated by all of the talk that he was ready for a time share, now obviously we don’t know how long his body will hold up, but he looked four years younger last week.
Alex Smith looked as comfortable in his offensive system as Joe Flacco did running the no huddle. Smith has a buffet of options to throw the ball to, which means that the heads of the Lions secondary will be spinning.
It’s going to take a drastically improved effort out of Matthew Stafford for the motor city to have a shot. I was very discouraged while watching some of the decisions he made against the Rams in week 1, but then again it’s just week one, but then again (a double but!) the Lions are coming into a season with real expectations for the first time since the early Barry Sanders era.
Expectations = pressure.
Pressure = misinterpretations of pressure.
Misinterpretations of pressure = mistakes.
Mistakes = turnovers.
Turnovers = me taking the 49ers 35-21.
Denver @ Atlanta 8:30 PM ESPN
It’s rare that you’ll see a better matchup on Monday night than on Sunday night, but that’s exactly what’s going to happen this week as Peyton drives his orange and blue comeback tour bus to the Georgia Dome.
Denver head coach John Fox took a tiny bit of criticism for not unleashing a no huddle offense earlier and more often against the Steelers. They won the f’n game! Let Fox do his thing. When did a win not become enough in the NFL? There are no style points (cut to Andy Reid nodding), even if there were I thought Peyton looked fantastic for a player coming off of four neck procedures who missed an entire season.
On Monday night he’ll need to be even better if Denver is going to walk out of Atlanta with a W. That’s because Matt Ryan has been nothing short of outstanding at home since taking over the reins of the offense in 2008.
Here’s the stat of the week!
Since week one of the 2008 season Matt Ryan is 26-4 in the Georgia Dome during the regular season. The three teams that he’s lost to at home in four years are: New Orleans (twice), Green Bay, and…
I’m really curious to see how effective Tracy Porter and Champ Bailey are at shutting down the best receiving tandem in the league. If they’re able to get Matty “Keystone” Ice out of rhythm Michael Turner will have to go into burner mode and I’m not sure if he still has that gear.
Give me the Broncos 35-28.
So there you have it, I wouldn’t use this as a guide to bet because I’m awful against the spread, but if you’re in a suicide pool I hope these help. If you want to send me your picks or have any questions for me my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and my twitter is @scottdargis. Hoped you enjoyed the read.