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Week 2: Still Sorting Out The NFL
September 13, 2008 - John Whittaker
Whitless Finn Circumference Teddy SimonThe way I see it, we still have another three weeks until we know anything definitive about any of the teams in the NFL this year -- something that's especially true with the injury to Tom Brady.
That makes picking a lot of this week's games a crapshoot, as far as I'm concerned. Chicago looked good, but are they a rebound team in 2008, or did they just get lucky against Indianapolis? Is Jacksonville as bad as it looked last week, or are they still the favorite to end the Colts' reign in the AFC South? Is Denver for real, or are the Broncos Week 1 stats a result of playing Oakland?
See what I mean?
We don't know anything yet.
Before we get to today's NFL picks, a quick word about the college games.
Not that gambling is legal, but I think Las Vegas needs to make the lines higher on any out of conference Big 10 game. I don't know if giving Ohio State 10.5 points is nearly enough to make me take the Buckeyes if I were betting money. I think USC is 17 points better, if not more, and Ohio State is the best team in the Big 10.
Even though we didn't publish our college picks before Saturday's games, it always amazes me that Big 10 teams get any sort of chance against SEC/Pac-10 teams. I had a good feeling USC would make Ohio State look bad Saturday -- and the Buckeyes didn't disappoint.
How were those tuneups against Youngstown State and Ohio?
Of course, when it comes to Syracuse, the 28-point spread seems just about right against Penn State. How did it come to this? Ten years ago, Donovan McNabb led the Orangemen (let's face it, the team has sucked since the name got neutered to the Orange) into defending national champion Michigan and pulled off a win. This team beat Florida in a New Year's Day bowl game once upon a time. Now, we're 28-point dogs to Penn State.
Is it hockey season yet?
On to the NFL games. A new feature this week - the team in bold got the most votes among our distinguished and non-svelte panel. Just another way the Whitless Wonder's trying to make life easier on his loyal readers.
Chicago at Carolina -- I'm riding the Carolina train on this one. I think the Panthers' defense is solid and Jake Delhomme has another couple of weeks before he has his, "Wait a minute, I'm Jake Delhomme' Game where he throws four interceptions. I'm still not sold on Kyle Orton, and I'm not sure which Bears defense shows up Sunday -- the one that smacked Peyton Manning in the mouth and brought back the Peyton Manning Face, or the one that was putrid last year.
Sir Cumference's Take: Carolina: They outplayed San Diego for 3 quarters, and Chicago did nothing to impress me. Not that beating Indy isn't a good win, but the Colts were utter garbage in that game.
Tennessee at Cincinnati -- I was all set to take Tennesee in this game. Then, Vince Young decided to watch Monday Night Football with his agent, Vince's mother opened her mouth and Vince forgot to take his medication. Now, I'm having trouble taking the Tennessee Momma's Boys against anyone. Does anyone except for Kerry Collins' momma believe in him at this point? I don't think so. And, I see Carson Palmer having a rebound day. Maybe Chaz Cinco catches more than one ball this weekend.
Great quip from Bill Simmons on Chad Johnson Cinco De Mayo, by the way, in Friday's picks column.
"My Chad Ocho Cinco question of the week: On the CBS "live scoring' fantasy page, it lists him as "C. Cinco.' I like the way that looks. So can we just call him Chad Cinco and skip the "Ocho?' Or is it like a Brian Austin Green-type thing in which he wants us to say all three names every time? Personally, I'm ready to go a step further and call him "Chaz Cinco.' What's interesting is that I reached my saturation point with Cinco about nine months ago -- you know, where you become so tired of an athlete that you could see footage of him catching a baby that was thrown from the sixth floor of a burning building and you wouldn't care because you're so burned out on him -- but now, I feel completely re-energized by the name change, although I still think he should have gone a step further and become "World B. Ocho Cinco.' Chaz Cinco totally works for me. I could never be burned out by someone named Chaz Cinco.'
Teska's Take: Kerry Collins might be a better choice at QB anyway. After three years and a minimum of 25 starts....if you are a first round quarterback and you AREN'T eveything you were supposed to be --- you're gonna be terrible. teams need to just eat their money and find a new option. Fortunately for the Titans, Vince Young has more issues than Britney Spears, so the permanent switch would be understandable.
Green Bay at Detroit -- The Aaron Rodgers era continues against the Motor City Kittens, who shouldn't be favored in any game this year. If there is any one way to make people forget about Brett Favre, it's beating Minnesota in Week 1 and then just having the Lions on the schedule in Week 2. Let the Rodgers for President movement begin!
Teska's Take: A much closer game than some may think. Detroit has a chance here to make this an OT type of 33-30 game.
Buffalo at Jacksonville -- Buffalo put up 34 points against Seattle, but never really impressed me offensively. For some reason, it's been horrible watching this team throw the ball since Jim Kelly retired. No one stands back in the pocket like he belongs there and throws like he's got a pair. Jacksonville, meanwhile, has something to prove after losing a bad game to Tennessee and Vince's Momma. Jags win by 14 or so..
Sir Cumference's Take: Jacksonville: Just can't see this team being 0-2. They'll have a point to prove, and Buffalo will be on the wrong end of this one.
Oakland at Kansas City -- This game sucks, but Kansas City has enough to beat Oakland. At some point, don't teams just play nine guys in the box and dare Jamarcus Russell to beat them? I'd be throwing out the Madden "Renegade' blitz on Oakland every play. Sir Cumference and I disagree on this game, however.
Sir Cumference's Take: The Anti-Kournikova (pleaser of the week): Oakland -3/Atlanta +1.5
NB:A pleaser is the opposite of a teaser, where you sell the points to get better odds (this being a 2-teamer at 7:1).
I'm basically doubling down on the Falcons here, and while the Raiders were thrashed at home they should do a much better job of handling KC's "offense' and I expect (Darren) McFadden and (Justin) Fargas to be productive against a team that should be one of the worst in the league this year.
Indianapolis at Minnesota -- Minnesota won't make the Peyton Manning Face make an appearance for long in this one. I always pick the Colts on turf -- which means I don't have to pick them at home this year. That reminds me, why did Indy go to the synthetic turf for its home field? If you're going to build around speed guys, you'd think you'd want the fastest track available. Way to make Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison average receivers.
Sir Cumference's Take: No idea what to make of this game. Indy were soundly outplayed by a Chicago team that is decent at best, and I'm more worried about their defense than their offense. Green Bay kicked the Vikes all over the field -- that game was nowhere near as close as the score indicated. I guess I'll take the home team, basically by default.
N.Y. Giants at St. Louis -- Could there actually be multiple winless teams this year? I honestly don't see St. Louis being favored in any game this year. Glad to see moving away from being a speed and quickness team has worked out well. Remember, in White Men Can't Jump, the running dialogue about looking good and losing versus looking bad and winning? I liked the Rams better when they were the Sidney Dean of the NFL -- except that they looked good and won games. Now, they're like Kadeem Hardison's character, Junior. They need to shut their anorexic malnutrition tapeworm-having overdose on Dick Gregory Bahamian diet-drinking (hineys) up and go back to playing arena football.
Needless to say, I think the Giants improve to 2-0.
New Orleans at Washington -- Jason Campbell looks better in this game, and Clinton Portis probably gashes the Saints for 125 yards and a touchdown, but I have a good feeling about the Saints this year. It's close, but I think the Saints pull it out on a late touchdown by Reggie Bush, who is fast becoming the Dave Meggett of today's NFL. Maybe that's not living up to his advanced billing, but, really, wouldn't you take Dave Meggett's career?
Teska's Take On Picking The Saints: Do I think Washington will go to 0-2? No. ... Do I think the Skins will beat the Saints? No. … You see the dilemma here. I had to make a choice.
San Francisco at Seattle -- The 49ers are horrible. Seattle has no healthy wide receivers and possibly the worst running backs in the league. I pity the fools who watch this game.
Sir Cumference's Take: Seattle: Can't believe they'll drop one at home to a San Fran team that looked absolutely useless, in spite of the fact that they're missing their top 18 wide receivers (none of whom can actually catch anyhow -- I mean, did you SEE that Burleson drop right before his TD?).
Atlanta at Tampa Bay -- Matt Ryan finds out how the other half live in this game since he's not playing the Lions defense. Jeff Garcia getting hurt might be the best thing to happen to Jon Gruden and the Bucs, because I think Brian Griese is the best quarterback on the roster. In a win-ugly game, I like the Bucs.
Teska's Take: I am not on the Tampa Bay train. Jeff Garcia needs to retire and Atlanta looked nasty in the opener. I'm goin' upset here.
Sir Cumference's Take: Best in Show (dog of the week): Atlanta +340 (moneyline)
No, the Falcons aren't as good as they looked in the opener, but Tampa didn't show me much more than the ability to hang around with a good team. I think Atlanta asks Matt Ryan to do about what he did in week 1, and their very solid ground game does enough to pull it out in a close one.
Miami at Arizona -- Miami looked better last week, but not enough for me to think they're beating a team that can put points on the board. Victory party's at Matt Leinart's house -- it's not like he needs to be up for work until sometime in 2010.
San Diego at Denver -- I'm torn on this game. Denver looked great Monday, but it was against the Raiders. San Diego looked bad Sunday, and has lost the services of Shawn Merriman's good leg for the rest of the season. Oakland could run the ball a little, though, and I think LDT has one of "those' games that fantasy football players love to see.
Baltimore at Houston -- I think Houston has enough defense to make Joe Flacco nervous in the pocket. If they get any running game going at all, Matt Schaub could have a big day. What kind of step are the Texans taking, by the way. They're the Fat Guy League favorites, and pundits are actually having a serious discussion about them knocking off Baltimore. Somewhere, Trent Dilfer is smiling.
New England at N.Y. Jets -- Somewhere, you know Bill Belichick was scouring new areas in the Meadowlands to hide video cameras this week. Could anybody blame him? For my money, though, losing Brady and facing Spygate, Part Duh are enough to springboard the Pats past the J-E-T-S, Jets Jets Jets this week. Belichick is a master at playing the underdog, and I see the Jets struggling a bit with a Belichick defense that will be foaming at the mouth to knock Favre on his …… back. I see a defensive touchdown in this game being the difference, and even money says Tedy Bruschi scores it. Pats, 20-13.
Sir Cumference's Take: New England: Neither team showed me much in the opener, and the Jets are at home with Favre at QB, so why NE? Two reasons: (a) I love Belicheck in the underdog role, and (b) they didn't win 18 straight last year only because of their QB. Brady's injury hurts, but I'd be rather surprised to see them finish with fewer than 10 wins even if they got their defensive backs at Family Dollar.
Pittsburgh at Cleveland -- I wasn't sold on the Browns before last week, and now I'm selling them completely. Until Romeo Crennel fixes the defense, Cleveland and Cincinnati will battle for worst in the AFC North. Ben Roethlisberger could have a big day Sunday, and I like Willie Parker to go for another 125 yards and two touchdowns. How remarkable is it that the Patriots won three Super Bowls with Romeo and Charlie Weis as the main coordinators, by the way? I can't believe those two are as shaky as they are now that they're wearing the big boy pants.
Teska's Take: I don't see the Steelers building a two-game lead on Cleveland. Thats what it comes down to. Despite having the ugliest coach in the league, I think the Browns can use the passing game to foil the Steelers obsession with sitting on the ball. If Cleveland can jump out in front, its all over.
Philadelphia at Dallas -- Another game I'm torn on. In this case, we're going with the Syracuse corrolary -- Donovan McNabb has a big day, the Eagles dial up the blitzes again, and Tony Romo has one of those "I'm dating Jessica Simpson' games. Since the Cuse is horrible this year, I'm rooting for individual players. Speaking of which….
Teska's Take: What's Jessica Simpson supposed to say? She gets trashed for predicting a Cowboys victory, but if she said anything else people would be saying a lot more. And, if she said no comment, then more controversy would swirl. Poor Jessica, that's what I say. Yes, she's probably one of the dumber people in the world. That doesn't mean we have to exploit that by making a BIG deal about her prediction. There was a lot of validity behind it! The Cowboys will absolutely maul the Eagles. Stop giving her a hard time, Planet Earth, and realize you're just jealous -- jealous YOU can't be dating Tony Romo.
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