New Orleans at Tampa Bay
I’ll be looking to play against Tampa Bay all season. Nothing personal against the players, fans, or organization but they simply don’t have the talent to compete this year.
The events of Week 1 have done nothing to change my mind. Tampa Bay lost RB Cadillac Williams (bruised ribs) last week and may not get him back this week. With Williams on the sidelines, what was a weak Tampa Bay offense just got that much worse. RB Pittman is a serviceable back, but like most of his teammates, isn’t enough of a threat to keep opposing defenses honest. Expect QB Jeff Garcia to get 30 plus passing attempts per game as long as the Buc’s offense is one dimensional…and his body remains in one piece. Tampa Bay’s offensive line gave up five sacks last week and may give up another five this week. If they do, the Saints will win by double digits.
The Saints are off an embarrassing 41-10 season-opening loss to Indianapolis. The nation was expecting a high-scoring shootout, but New Orleans’ offense failed to get the job done, sputtering throughout the ugly second half. RB Reggie Bush was all but invisible, showing little or no interest in running hard between the tackles. Guess what the Saints have worked on the past 10 days? Had New Orleans racked up the points, this game would have been a field goal higher. Look upon laying the 3.5 as a gift because you may never get a chance to play the Saints this cheap the rest of the season.
Don’t be fooled by what you saw last week: the Saints’ offense is the best offense in the NFC. New Orleans won’t want to go home 0-2, so expect a better effort this week. Give me New Orleans 27-13.
Kansas City at Chicago
These two teams combined for six points last week. That will change this week.
If you look back at the Bears 2006 season, one trend jumps off the paper…Chicago, and QB Rex Grossman, were awesome at Soldier Field. The Bears just crushed weak teams on their home field last season. Well, wouldn’t you know it…this is Chicago’s home opener so it’s time to jump back on the Over at home bandwagon.
Off a three-point game, the pressure’s squarely on the Bears offense to show improvement. With Chicago’s fans and media gunning for QB Rex Grossman (122 passing yards last game), so he’s got to have a good game this week. One touchdown pass and 17 total points aren’t going to keep the boo-birds away. The Bears will open up the offense this week if for no other reason than just to get the monkeys off their backs.
Kansas City will go home with a 0-2 record. They don’t, however, want to go home after getting shutout of the end zone in their opening two games. Even if the Chiefs lose this game by 28 points, they are going to try and make something happen here. This organization has to score, if for no other reason than to give their team and fans something positive to build on for the rest of the season. The Chiefs aren’t good, but they are better than they showed last week.
I’m not loving laying the big chalk (12.5 points) with Chicago, even though I think they are more likely than not to cover this number. I will be on the Over, however. Chicago wins 27-14.
Atlanta at Jacksonville
This game plays out exactly like the previous two games. You have what everyone thought was going to be a playoff team lose their opening game with the offense being disappointing. Like the Saints and the Bears, I expect a much better effort from the Jaguars this week.
Everyone was expecting Jacksonville to change their offense. Under new offensive coordinator Dirk Cutter I was expecting the Jaguars to get away from the dink-and-dunk offense, spread the defense out, run the ball, and throw it down the field. That didn’t happen and the Jaguars lost last week. This team will be under pressure this week to produce on offense, so it’s back to the grinding running game.
Atlanta did nothing on offense but throw two ugly picks for touchdowns. That can’t sit well with ownership, the team, and the Falcons coaching staff…a management team who were brought in to move the football. The pressure will be squarely of the Black Bird’s offense to score this week. Like the Chiefs, Bears, and Saints two bad offensive outings by the Falcons to open the season would be a tough pill to swallow while an entertaining high-scoring loss may go down easier.
Both teams should be able to move against the opposing defense. The Jag’s looked awful last week, and they’re better than the Falcons. The 34.5 total looks cheap to me. Jacksonville wins the game 28-14 putting me on the Over.
Houston at Carolina
Carolina is one of the easiest teams to figure out. Under HC Fox the Panthers have been bet on teams as underdogs and a team to fade as a favorite. Off an impressive victory over the Rams last week, Carolina goes into this game as a six and a half point favorite.
Houston may be the surprise team this season. OC Mike Sherman may have been a terrible General Manager and Head Coach for the Packers, but he knows how to pry open a defense. The Texans have quietly spent a lot of money to upgrade their offensive line and it shows. In their last five games the Texans have averaged 120 yards on the ground.
The Texans have enough firepower on offense to stay in this game. Carolina wins, but does not cover. Carolina 24-20.
Baltimore at N.Y. Jets
Wow! Have injuries ripped into the ranks of the NFL after just one week. There’s no better example of the devastation than this game. Both rosters have been ripped to shreds. Baltimore will be without LT Jonathan Ogden, the best left tackle in the league, indefinitely, MLB Ray Lewis has been upgraded to questionable with a triceps injury that would have sidelined most player for two or three weeks, B.J. Sams, one of the best kick returners in the league is out, and QB Steve McNair will miss this game with a groin pull. New York is in no better condition with QB Chad Pennington out, RB Thomas Jones is probable, but limited, and two starting cornerbacks dinged up.
Two back-up quarterbacks will be starting this game. The Ravens will go to Kyle Boller and Kelly Clemens will get the call for the Jets. This Ogden out, Boller is a sitting duck in the pocket and Clemens will get his first start against one of the NFL’s nastiest, blitzing defenses. This game may come down to which quarterback takes care of the football.
If this game comes down to defense and running the ball, it will be a low-scoring contest. That puts me on the Under in this game. Ravens 17-14.
Upset(s) of the Week
Minnesota at Detroit
I think the earth would fall off its axis if the Lions won and covered two games in a row. Fearing the end of life as we know it, I’m looking for the Vikings to restore the natural order of things.
Recent history in this series strongly favors the Vikings. Minnesota has beaten the Lions and covered ten straight games, but somehow are a three point dog in this game. They will hang another loss on the Lions this week as the Vikings have a huge edge on defense and running the football. RB Adrian Peterson has a brilliant opening week, taking a swing pass for a long touchdown while the Vikings’ defense had two touchdowns of their own against Atlanta. The Vikings called an ultra-conservative game last week which leads me to believe they have something planned for this game.
Detroit, for all their offense, nearly blew at 17 point second half lead on the road in Oakland. The Raiders completed 30 of 40 passes against the porous Detroit secondary. If the Lions play another sloppy game this week, the Vikings will bury them.
Both teams are better this year, but the rule is that a good running game and defense trumps a better passing team. Vikings win 21-17.
San Diego at New England
Let’s be frank, these teams do not like each other. The Chargers players had lots to say after the Patriots went to the west coast last year and beat the heavily favored Chargers. This week, the Chargers’ players have come right out and called the Patriots cheaters in the press.
After watching the Chargers last week, I think they were clearly looking ahead to this game. The Chargers didn’t have to show a lot on offense against the Bears, and didn’t.
The Patriots just pounded the beaten-up Jets which is probably why they are favored by 3.5 in this game. Three and a half is way too many points to lay against a live dog, especially with all the controversy surround the Patriots this week. San Diego wins 24-21.