My NFL picks this week

No time for five questions this week, but I will give you my picks for the NFL.

  • Rams at Falcons: If they can keep their new acquisitions healthy, the Rams qualify as a vastly improved team. However, they don’t match up especially well against the Falcons. The Birds are vulnerable against the inside run, and St.Louis’ interior offensive line is not particularly impressive. Moreover, Sam Bradford’s receiving options are underwhelming and Atlanta’s secondary is pretty strong. Only way the Rams win is if they keep it close by piggybacking off a monster performance from the defensive line stuffing Steven Jackson and harassing Matt Ryan (not impossible). If it’s still close in the fourth, anything can happen. Pick: Atlanta
  • Browns at Ravens: If I had to use one phrase to describe the Browns, it would be “so close, yet so far.” The Browns are not many players away from being a good-to-scary team. But they are missing players at positions where you so desperately need quality to succeed in the NFL. Case in point: What is it about the Browns offence that stops you from playing 10 guys in the box to stop Trent Richardson? The answer: Absolutely nothing. Their quarterback was going through what should have been his NFL prime in college, not that he’s all that good to begin with, and the receivers are just nothing to write home about. Too bad, because the Ravens are as defensively fragile as I can remember them. Shame the Browns don’t have the elements to scare them. Pick: Baltimore
  • Panthers at Bills: Wake me up when it’s over. Frankly, neither team is very good, but I see the Panthers putting some pressure on EJ Manuel and forcing him into making a few mistakes. Pick: Panthers
  • Vikings at Bears: The case for the Bears: Until Christian Ponder can make the Vikes’ passing game worth preparing for, their offence remains one-dimensional, plus Julius Peppers and company don’t make it easy on anyone’s pass protection. The Bears’ offensive line is at least somewhat better than it was last year, and the once destructive Minnesota D-Line doesn’t quite dominate like it did 3-4 years ago. Meanwhile, the Bears did pull off a win against a Cincinnati team that’s actually not half bad. The case for the VikingsPicking against Adrian Peterson makes me nervous. There’s always a chance he takes the team on his shoulders and singlehandedly carries them to victory. The Bears’ offensive line is better, but not by much, and the big-but-slow Bears wide receivers can’t separate, consistently leaving Jay Cutler a sitting duck in the pocket. That being said, I still think the Bears are an overall better team, and I like them at home. Pick: Bears
  • Redskins at Packers: So, Aaron Rodgers, how does it feel to know you’re going to spend another year trying to overcome your team’s defence? Seriously, look at what these guys did last week. I like Colin Kaepernick. I think he’s one of those guys who is a prototype for the “quarterback of the future” in the NFL. But, as a passer, I never confused him with Dan Marino. Not many NFL defences are bad enough to make one confuse Kap with Dan Marino. But guess whose is?????????To quote the immortal John McKay: “We can’t stop a pass or a run. Otherwise, we’re in great shape!” That how Green Bay is right now. And Robert Griffin is the wrong quarterback to be playing in this situation. Plus, Green Bay might have better running backs, but the offensive line isn’t much better than last year, and that was before they got another date with the injury bug. Now, the Skins are nothing to write home about defensively, but the Pack’s running game is so inept, that they basically have to beat a passing game. I still expect Aaron Rodgers to carve up this Redskins defence a bit, and I really hope I’m wrong, but I think the Pack lose a shootout at home to Griffin and the Skins. Pick: Redskins
  • Titans at Texans: I think the Texans are overrated and the Titans have lots of good elements, as evidenced in their game against the Steelers. However, the Texans’ offensive line is far better than that of the Steelers, which should mean that Jurell Casey won’t look like a Pro Bowler for a second consecutive week, and Pittsburgh doesn’t have an Andre Johnson playing receiver either. Moreover, the “bust alert” sign is now fully on Jake Locker’s shoulders, and unless he significantly picks up the level of his play this week, I can’t see the Titans winning this one. Oh, and did I mention JJ Watt is going to be on the field? Pick: Texans
  • Dolphins at Colts: Oh my! What shall we call this game? Wake me up when it’s over pt.2 ? The battle of the overrated? Whatever it is, I’m barely interested. You’re looking at the two teams who got the worst bang for their buck in free agency, through no one’s fault but theirs. As a result, each fanbase is looking at some serious disappointment at the end of the year. I guess it’s a good thing one of these teams is winning this one. The case for the Colts: Andrew Luck. What else? Andrew Luck or bust. The case for the Dolphins: Colts’ owner Jim Irsay, apparently looking to win the prestigious “quickest-NFL-owner-to-become-a-caricature” award, was already freaking out at his players and coaching staff on Twitter about the pass protection because the oh-so-defensively inept Raiders sacked Andrew Luck four times last week. Unless this wildly inappropriate Twitter rant somehow miraculously struck the right chord with the players, it won’t get better against a Miami front that can bring some pretty serious heat. The Phins might be overhyped after they paid way too much for their “high-profile” free agent signings, but they’re still better than the Colts. Pick: Dolphins
  • Cowboys at Chiefs: If the Cowboys are going to be anything more than a cumbersome tease, this is the kind of game you have to win. The case for the Cowboys: On paper, they’re a better-rounded team than the Chiefs. The receiving option appear to be more than the Chiefs can handle and running back DeMarco Murray adds to that. If Tony Romo plays how he can, he pick apart this Chiefs defence, which is good, but not there yet. Alex Smith is taking on Betty White in an arm-strength competition next week, and he’s not a sure bet to win. Let’s see Mr. 1st overall pick trying to block D-Ware. The case for the Chiefs: For starters, Arrowhead is a wild place to visit. Then, there is a constant risk that Tony Romo will have the kind of game that will have fans thinking back to this: Image                                                               The Chiefs defence is really quite good, and as a team, they were so supremely unlucky last year that they really are much better than they appeared. Alex Smith is going to spend all day dumping screen passes to Jamaal Charles, which will slow down Ware and the pass rush in the process. The Cowboys O-Line is not that good and Tamba Hali and company can rush the passer. I have so little faith in the Cowboys that I’m picking the Chiefs to solidify their status as a legitimate playoff contender in that terrible division of theirs. Pick: Chiefs
  • Chargers at Eagles: Potentially the biggest massacre of this week. The Chargers are just plain awful, especially if we get the Philip Rivers of the past two years. Meanwhile, the Eagles took the Redskins to the shed with Chip Kelly’s hyperactive offence, and the Skins never really recovered. Considering the crassness of that San Diego team, including the fact that SD’s offence is not as good as the Skins’, I can picture that poor Chargers defence not getting enough breaks and getting worn out fairly quickly. There are those secretly (or not-so-secretly) hoping that Chip Kelly is the new Steve Spurrier and that, after one strong game, his offence will fizzle out in the same way, but I can’t see it. Pick: Eagles
  • Lions at Cardinals: The battle of the teams that must be just so frustrating to their fans. On paper, I like the Lions, mainly because I like their D-Line to put serious pressure on Carson Palmer, who has to work behind an average offensive line. I’m not a fan of Rashard “Missing-three-weeks-with-a-twisted-upper-lip” Mendenhall, and so the running game is not much improved from previous years. So a one-dimensional passing game behind an average offensive line is going to keep Nick Fairley and Ndamokung Suh (provided he’s not too busy cut-blocking offensive linemen on interception returns)? I like Patrick Peterson a lot, but I don’t think he and the Cards secondary can simultaneously keep Calvin Johnson quiet and prevent Reggie Bush from being a painful mismatch in the passing game. Pick: Lions
  • Buccaneers at Saints: The Bucs have lots to prove to me after their loss to the Jets, from which I’m still slightly reeling. Unless Josh Freeman stinks out the joint (a distinct possibility), the Saints don’t have the defensive manpower to stop the Bucs from putting up some points. The problem is, the reverse is also true. Sean Payton is back, and so is the Saints’ offence. And what are the odds of Drew Brees being the second best quarterback on the field in that game? I see lots of points, bad defences, and the Saints winning. Pick: Saints
  • Broncos at Giants: Perhaps this week’s most interesting matchup. The Manning derby. The Giants do have the offensive manpower to score against Denver, especially with Von Miller still suspended. However, the Giants are so maddeningly inconsistent and the Broncos offence is so deadly that I don’t see how the Giants keep up. After week 1, somebody put an interesting idea to Bill Simmons on Grantland: “What if John Elway had uncovered an Evil Manning button?” A Manning who wants to obliterate every opponent in every game, throw for 65 touchdowns and 5,500 yards. My goodness, do I like the sound of that. Not sure about those numbers, but I do think both brothers play well, and that Peyton wins this round.
  • Jaguars at Raiders:  Oh, dear! My “Blaine-Gabbert-just-might-get-over-the-hump” theory lasted all of one game. He got injured again and now Chad Henne is taking his place. Translation: Gabbert’s Jaguars career is over. He would be one more reason for Jags’ fans to find out where Jack Del Rio and Gene Smith now live and send them dead rats for Christmas… if only they cared enough. Did I ever mention this team should move to L.A. ? Meanwhile, the Raiders looked surprisingly good on defence last week against the Colts. And by that, I mean the four sacks of Andrew Luck. And guess what, they’re facing one of two teams whose week 1 opponents got more sacks than they did. The Jags gave six to the Chiefs last week, partly because of Gabbert’s apparently innate tendency to hold the ball…FOREVER!!!! But there is also the fact that Justin Blackmon’s not there, and that in his absence, no one is there to take the double coverage off Cecil Shorts (don’t get me started on Marcedes Lewis). I had the Raiders ranked last in my power rankings because that defence is just so terrible on paper. But the Jags are so inept everywhere that they’re not walking out of the black hole with a win. Pick: Raiders
  • Niners at Seahawks: We can outsmart ourselves here, but let’s keep it simple. The 49ers are a better team. They’re better-rounded, more physical, they have better options virtually everywhere on offence AND Colin Kaepernick wasn’t forced into running the read option in week 1. I think it’s safe to assume we’ll see more of it in week 2. Plus, I like the matchup of San Fran’s front 7 versus that Seattle offensive line. And if you think Jim Harbaugh hasn’t spent the week reminding his team of how they were victimized by the Hawks in Seattle last year, you’re wrong. Plus, San Fran is a West Coast team, and it’s early in the season, which means it’s not as if a Florida team was walking in jetlagged with temperatures near the 0-degree mark. The two things Seattle has going for it: the game is in that nuthouse they call their home stadium, and there’s the chance they force Kap to turn into the inaccurate passing nightmare everyone seems to keep waiting for him to turn into. It’s not happening, folks. Pick: 49ers
  • Steelers at Bengals: This game is unfortunately not the fixture it would usually be. This Steelers team is on the brink of being flat-out bad. No running game, no pass protection, less-than-stellar receiving options and an ageing defence. And what are they facing? A team with one of the league’s better defensive lines (translation: another incoming beating for Big Ben), and an intriguing offence with Randy Moss 2.0 a.k.a AJ Green killing the opposition despite the lack of a solid wide receiver opposite him to go along with two serious receiving threats at tight end. The Bengals are just too good for the Steelers. (From a historical perspective, when was the last team you heard yourself say that?) Pick: Bengals

Last week: 13-3

Season: 13-3

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