Thursday, September 11, 2008
NFL 2008 - Week 2
Well, I said you can't really know anything until about Week 5, didn't I?
Week 1: 6-10
The Smartest Thing I Said Last Week:
I don't trust the Chargers; never really do.
The Dumbest Thing I Said Last Week:
I'm picking the Raiders.
TITANS @ Bengals -1
I had to quadruple-check this line to make sure it was right. What exactly did the Bengals do last week in their 17-10 loss to the Ravens that makes anyone think they can beat a tough team like Tennessee? Or is it all this weirdness with Vince Young? Whatever it is, I don't buy it.
No truth to the rumor, by the way, that the Bengals wide receiver Chad Ocho Cinco -- formerly Chad Johnson -- is planning to legally change his name to Chad Dos Dos, after the 22 receiving yards he had in Week 1.
Bills @ JAGUARS -5.5
The five-and-a-half point spread is, I think, Vegas's way of saying, "We have no idea." The Bills were supposed to be bad and the Jaguars were supposed to be good, yet Buffalo throttled the Seahawks last week while Jacksonville was losing to the Titans.
But then, Jacksonville always has trouble with the Titans. And the Seahawks, though they've won five straight division titles, have been decimated by injury.
So who knows? I'll take the Jaguars.
Raiders @ CHIEFS -3.5
COLTS @ Vikings +2
What in the world to make of this game, huh? The Vikings came within a last-minute interception of possibly beating last year's NFC title game favorite on the road, while the Colts lost at home to one of last year's NFC also-rans. But can the Colts be all that bad? Can the Vikings be all that good?
Having watched both the Colts and the Vikings play last week, I say "no" to both. Minnesota is clearly just a quarterback away from contending, but one can perceive a sinking feeling throughout Viking Nation, a creeping dread that it's never going to come together for Tarvaris Jackson. It might be a good idea to pick against the Vikings until they give you a reason to do otherwise.
As for the Colts, unless further evidence comes to light, I'm going to assume that last week's game against the Bears was just a weird hiccup, and they'll be fine.
Bears @ PANTHERS -3
The last time Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme played a full season, Carolina went 11-5 and reached the NFC title game. I'm not saying Jake Delhomme is the be all and the end all, but he's a fine quarterback and the Panthers looked sharp last week against a good (if untrustworthy) Chargers team. I don't know what got into the Bears last week in Indy; I wouldn't look for lightning to strike twice.
PACKERS @ Lions +3
It's like they're giving away money this week, isn't it? The Lions defense got carved up by a rookie QB and a career backup running back last week; do you really think the mighty Packers will have any trouble with them? I know the Packers offense didn't look incredibly good against the Vikings, but, the Lions defense is not the Vikings defense (I'm sure NFL bylaws would prevent such a thing).
GIANTS @ Rams -8.5
On the one hand, you wonder if any line could ever be too high when you're talking about the 2008 Rams. On the other hand, you know that the Giants aren't really an explosive, high-scoring team.
You know what? I took a few fliers last week; I ended up looking over the 10 games I lost and, for the most part, thinking to myself, "well, that was a dumb pick... I should have seen that coming... I don't know what I was thinking on that one..." This week I'll try to stick to picks where, even if I'm wrong, I can look back and say, "Well, sure, I missed that one, but it's not like I was going to pick the Rams." This week, I'm focusing on making mistakes I can live with.
As opposed to, like, picking the Raiders.
SAINTS @ Redskins pk
Will this game mirror the 2005 hurricane season, with Washington being completely unprepared for New Orleans? Or will it mirror the 2008 hurricane season, with Washington over-preparing for a New Orleans onslaught that fails to materialize? Is that a distasteful analogy? Probably, but, it's tough to think of something different to say for each one of these games.
It was only one game, but, the way the Redskins looked last week, a person could believe that the Redskins might be hopeless. And the way the Saints looked last week, a person could believe that the Saints might be back to their division-winning 2006 form.
Falcons @ BUCCANEERS -7
This line might be a little bit higher than one would expect, since the Falcons creamed the Lions last week and the Bucs lost in New Orleans. Even so, Atlanta's Matt Ryan is a rookie quarterback going up against a playoff-caliber team in his second-ever NFL game. Plus, can Atlanta count on running back Michael Turner to repeat his 220 yard, 2 TD performance against a stout (if aging) Tampa Bay defense? I submit that they cannot.
49ers @ SEAHAWKS -7
The 49ers stink, probably, but injuries have so depleted the Seahawks at wide receiver that, out of desperation, they just went and signed a couple of those guys who catch the fish that they throw at Pike Place Market.
I think those fish guys will get the job done.
PATRIOTS @ Jets -1.5
I think the Patriots could start current USC backup quarterback Aaron Corp and still beat the Jets on Sunday, so the fact that they're starting former USC backup quarterback Matt Cassel doesn't give me cause for concern.
I realize that there was much hype regarding the Jets' Week 1 victory over a Miami team that went 1-15 least season and, if anything, has gotten worse since then; it was almost a surprise that Sports Illustrated didn't superimpose Michael Phelps's eight gold medals around Brett Favre's neck on this week's cover. I also realize that the Patriots almost lost to the awful Chiefs last week. I realize that Tom Brady's injury was a devastating blow to New England (though I would reassure all of this site's female readers -- if there were any -- that since Brady's injury was to his knee, doctors say the risk is minimal that he will emerge from this ordeal any less handsome).
But riddle me this, Batman: in the 21st century, what is the Patriots' winning percentage in games in which they've been able to convince themselves that they're being counted out and/or disrespected?
(hint: if it were possible to have a winning percentage higher than 1.000, that's what it would be)
Chargers @ BRONCOS +1.5
If I were only to go by last week's games, I'd assume that the Broncos were better than the Chargers. So let's do that.
(for what it's worth, I had remembered -- incorrectly, it turns out -- that the Broncos were bad last year. They got blown out really badly a couple of times, but, in fact, they were 7-9 with two overtime losses. So they weren't that bad)
Dolphins @ CARDINALS -6.5
Is this the year the Cardinals finally get over the hump and make the playoffs? Normally, that notion would make me laugh so hard that anyone who saw me might be forgiven for thinking that I was watching a particularly good episode of "Everybody Loves Raymond." But not this year; if the Seahawks turn out to be bad -- and with their lame duck coach and an even lamer receiving corps, that's a distinct possibility -- then the NFC West is the Cardinals' for the taking, because the 49ers and Rams have about as much chance of winning that division as I do.
Ravens @ TEXANS -4.5
The Ravens beat a bad team last week, while the Texans lost to a really good one. How should I know what's going to happen on Sunday? What am I, writing an NFL picks column?
When in doubt, go against the rookie QB on the road, I suppose.
STEELERS @ Browns +6
If their demoralizing Week 1 blowout loss at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys is any indication of things to come, it looks like head coach Romeo Crennel will not be taking the Browns to the Super Bowl. Which is a shame, because "taking the Browns to the Super Bowl" means "pooping," and the closer Cleveland gets to contention, the more we get to hear about "the Browns" going to the "Super Bowl" from people who don't realize what they're saying.
What with the injury to Tom Brady and the lackluster play of the Colts, we could easily see coach Mike Tomlin take the Steelers to the Super Bowl, but even the most imaginative mind would have difficulty coming up with a way to make a poop joke out of that.
Eagles @ COWBOYS -7
The game of the week, to be sure, and on "Monday Night Football" to boot. Both teams were supposed to be good going into the season, and both teams looked really good last week. The only way I can pick this game is to live up to my decree of earlier in this column and take the pick that I'd be able to justify even if I lost. And I can easily see myself saying, on Tuesday morning, "hey, how could I not pick the Cowboys, as good as they've been?"
That doesn't mean I'd touch this one with a ten-foot pole if the whole point of this column wasn't to pick every game, though.