Monday, September 29, 2014

Monday Download (Week 4)

First bye week for the NFL season made for some interesting games. Some teams look like they are coming out of the cellar, while others are going to be right down there pretty quickly.

On Thursday we learned that the Giants too can score and that Kirk Cousins is capable (like any QB) of making far too many mistakes. Particular credit must go out to Eli Manning and his TE's for really striking a rhythm.

Steve Smith reminded the Panthers that regardless of age, he probably would still be their best wide receiver. Ravens have rejuvenated him. Meanwhile, things do not look good for Cam Newton in Carolina as they have now dropped two straight.

This is the Aaron Rodgers we expect to see (300+ yards, 4 TD's). He came alive against the Bears, displaying all the characteristics that make him a top QB. This division is wide open and will likely come down to whomever can build a winning streak the latest in the season.

Again, J.J. Watt saves the day for the Texans with an 80 yard interception return for a TD. The Bills are now right about where we expected them to be. They will likely just be a pestering force when it comes to knocking other teams out of playoff contention.

Andrew Luck has found his stride for the Colts (393 yards, 4 TD's). The Titans have found a stride of sorts as well; too bad it is the losing kind.

The Lions are doing what they need to do, namely winning games against lesser opponents. Geno Smith continues to turn the ball over and Jets fans do not have much more patience for it. It won't be long before we see Michael Vick get a chance for them.

The Raiders stink. The Dolphins are better. Not much more to be said on that.

Tampa Bay finally made it into the "W" column. The Steelers blew the lead to let the Bucs in for the win. Tampa Bay has got to have a bit of hope after this one, while Pittsburgh needs to be reeling from this one.

No surprise in San Diego. The Chargers can score and the Jags can't do enough to stop most teams.

Teddy Bridgewater led the Vikings to a huge win over the Falcons. Bridgewater took care of the ball (no turnovers), threw for almost 300 yards and rushed for another 25+ (including a TD), before leaving with an ankle injury. Matt Asiata also added 3 rushing TD's of his own. The Falcons continue to be inconsistent with their play, particularly on the defensive end.

The 49ers defense came up large against the Eagles. Frank Gore was huge for them as well. Meanwhile, Nick Foles did not have his best game and LeSean McCoy was kept in check (yet again). Only the first loss of the year for Philly, so no need to panic just yet.

New Orleans has a big problem. They used to have a bad defense, but could outscore anyone. Now, they can;t defend and can;t score as well. Enter the Cowboys who are reminiscent of those Saints teams; they can't defend all that well, but can now score in bunches. Tony Romo and DeMarco Murray led the Cowboys to the victory over the Saints. Things are looking up in Dallas, while in New Orleans, they may want to get some voodoo magic involved in the play calling.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Teddy Time in Minnesota

JAC @ SD (-13)

Maybe the Jags defense can wake up a bit today. First start for Bortles gives them all some new hope. Not enough to win though. Take the points, but the Chargers for the win.

Spread: JAC
Straight Up: SD
Score: 27-17 

ATL @ MIN (+2.5)

Teddy, Teddy, Teddy! It’s Bridgewater time in Minnesota. Too bad he gets his first start against Atlanta, which seems to be hitting its stride, at least on the offensive end. I don’t like the Vikings chances here. Falcons are the pick.

Spread: ATL
Straight Up: ATL
Score: 35-14 

PHI @ SF (-6)

49ers have been really disappointing this year. Meanwhile, the Eagles keep finding a way to win. I’ll take them to continue that streak today.

Spread: PHI
Straight Up: PHI
Score: 27-20

NO @ DAL (+3)

Drew Brees should pick apart this Dallas defense. Meanwhile, the Cowboys may be able to run all over the Saints defense as well. Ultimately, the stronger offense wins out in this one. Take the Saints to cover.

Spread: NO
Straight Up: NO
Score: 33-24

NE @ KC (+3.5)

Can the Chiefs build a winning streak? I don’t think so. I think the Patriots learn a bit from last week and figure out how to put a team away early and stick with the lead.

Spread: NE
Straight Up: NE

Score: 21-10

Friday, September 26, 2014

Week 4 - Early Games

So maybe Atlanta really is pretty good and perhaps Jacksonville really is just that bad. Some other teams came alive at least for a game and others are already looking ahead to the #1 pick in next year’s draft.

Spread: 7-9
Straight Up: 8-8

Let’s get right to the games:

CAR @ BAL (-3)

So week 2, Baltimore beats Pittsburgh by 20. Then last week, Pittsburgh beats Carolina by 18. Logic then would say that the Ravens then should have an easy win against the Panthers. Last week the Steelers ran all over the Panthers defense. Enter “where did he come from” RB Lorenzo Taliaferro, who ran wild for the Ravens last week (91 yards, 1 TD). Whether or not he remains in the lineup, he showed that the Ravens can still run. Oh right – then there is that little element of the Panthers coming to Baltimore to face former star WR, Steve Smith. Smith, coincidentally, would be leading the Panthers in receiving yards if he were still playing for them. Then again, he might have even more if Cam Newton were still throwing to him. I think this game will be close throughout, but I can see Smith making a great catch at the end to put the Ravens in field goal range for the game winner. I’ll take the points, but Baltimore for the win.

Spread: CAR
Straight Up: BAL
Score: 20-18 

GB @ CHI (-1) 

All cheese heads have got to be disappointed thus far with their Packers. Aside from a come from behind win against the Jets, Green Bay has looked flat all year. Meanwhile, Chicago has done enough to set out to a 2-1 record. Both teams have lacked the impact usually seen from their RB’s and neither team has been overwhelmingly good on defense. Can the Packers offensive line give Aaron Rodgers enough time to make some big plays? Will Jay Cutler stay out of his own way long enough to keep turnovers to a minimum? The latter has so far this year (8 TD’s, 2 INT’s). Unfortunately for the Packers, I see more problems currently than solutions, which Rodgers’ will to win won’t be enough to overcome. I’ll take the Bears.

Spread: CHI
Straight Up: CHI
Score: 24-17 

BUF @ HOU (-3)

This week the first place Bills square off against the first place Texans. You read that correctly. Both teams are coming off of their first loss of the season. For Buffalo, there may be cause for concern if E.J. Manuel fails to gain any fluidity on offense. At times Buffalo finds its drives stalling simply because they cannot move the ball. Houston has far less reason for concern. True, they do turn the ball over at times, but their defense seems to be built to withstand such occurrences. I think this is the week where Andre Johnson finally feels good about ending his holdout. If Ryan Fitzpatrick can find him the ball, I expect some huge numbers. Either way I like Houston returning home covering and for the win.

Spread: HOU
Straight Up: HOU
Score: 28-10 

TEN @ IND (-8)

Week 1, Tennessee scored 26 points in a win. Indianapolis, meanwhile, scored 24 points in a loss. Since then, the Titans have only scored 17 points total in two games, while the Colts have put up 71. The point is in the points.  Tennessee can’t score and Indianapolis can. Even if the Titans are able to stop Andrew Luck (who hasn’t even had to throw a TD yet to WR’s Reggie Wayne or T.Y. Hilton), is there anyone who can step up for the Titans and score? I don’t think so. Jake Locker has not had much help this year and I don’t see that changing. This game may even give the Colts a chance to really develop their running game a bit more. If the Titans score more than 10 points, I’ll be surprised. I think Indianapolis covers and wins big.

Spread: IND
Straight Up: IND
Score: 35-10 

DET @ NYJ (+1)

Lions look to be hitting their stride.  Too bad for the Jets who can’t seem to keep a lead.  Can Geno Smith keep the turnovers to a minimum? I don’t think so. I think this game will be ugly, which plays to Detroit’s strengths. I’ll take the Lions.

Spread: DET
Straight Up: DET
Score: 21-13 

MIA @ OAK (+4.5)
Oakland can’t win, but they seem to cover nicely. Miami looked good week 1, but really hasn’t showed much since.  I think the Dolphins get back on track here in a close game. I’ll take the points, but like Miami for the win.

Spread: OAK
Straight Up: MIA
Score: 24-21 

TB @ PIT (-7)

The Bucs were embarrassed last week. Meanwhile, the Steelers went out and dominated the Panthers. I don’t see Tampa Bay winning much just yet, but for whatever reason I think they give Pittsburgh a run for their money. I’ll take the points, but Pittsburgh for the win.

Spread: TB
Straight Up: PIT

Score: 26-21  

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Thursday Night Football (Week 4)

Can the Giants make it two in a row? If Kirk Cousins keeps playing this way, will anyone even want RGIII back as a starter? It's Thursday of week 4 and also the first day {2nd night} of Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year). I think the Giants take this as an opportunity to start anew, but then again, same could be true for Washington. Who wants to be 500% coming out of the first quarter of the 2014 season? I guess we'll see.

Spread: 7-9
Straight Up: 8-8

Thursday Night Game:

NYG @ WAS (-3.5)

The Giants finally came alive last week, playing well on all fronts. Meanwhile, Kirk Cousins put up some really great numbers for Washington last week in an offensive battle against the Eagles. I still think that Philly has the best shot at winning this division outright; however, the winner of this game can carry some momentum at least aiming for 2nd place in the division. 

If New York can continue to get their TE’s some touches, I think Eli and the Giants can eek out a win on the road. Either way, in these division games, I’d take the points, but I’m also taking the Giants in this one.

Spread: NYG
Straight Up: NYG
Score: 24-21  

Monday, September 22, 2014

Monday Download (Week 3)

This week we saw two first round QB's make their debut, some teams proved their 2-0 records might be flukes, while others, their 0-2 records are probably indicative of things to come. Oh yeah and the Super Bowl rematch proved to be a better game than the actual Super Bowl; same result (Seahawks win), but way more action on both sides.

Thursday we found out that the Falcons can truly score in bunches and the Bucs can't defend at all. Good news for Atlanta, they scored 56 without Roddy White; bad news for TB, where do we start?

Who says San Diego can't win when flying cross-country? Chargers are pretty good and the Bills might not be as good as their 2-1 record. Buffalo may have some trouble scoring in their division against pretty good Jets & Patriots defenses.

Can Sanu to Dalton be the new Dalton to Green connection for the Bengals? Sure, if Cincinnati doesn't end up trading Sanu to any number of teams that could really use a QB. After a strong week 1, the Titans look to be at the cellar of a very poor division.

Steve Smith has been rejuvenated in Baltimore. He helped the Ravens storm down the field before Justin Tucker kicked the game wining FG over the Browns. For Cleveland, they just need to get used to having a lead and keeping it.

The Packers are really disappointing, particularly on offense. Any team with Rodgers, Lacy, Cobb & Nelson should be able to put points on the board - 7 won't cut it. On defense, the Lions played well, they just need to learn celebrate after the game.

We finally got to see Blake Bortles for the Jags. Much to Chad Henne's dismay, we'll probably see a lot more of him. The Colts finally played the way we expect them to, with Andrew Luck having a career day. If they play like that, they should be able to take the division.

On Sunday, Stephen Gostkowski + Tom Brady just barely beat Sebastain Janikowski. Oh, Patriots actually played the Raiders? Well New England won in less than overwhelming fashion while Oakland lost again. I think both teams are likely to screw up someone's suicide pool in the coming weeks.

Is it bad that holding the Saints to 20 points feels like a win to me? The Vikings probably don't see it that way, but do have some cause for optimism as Teddy Bridgewater played pretty well in his debut, filling in for the injured Matt Cassel. Give him a full week of first team reps and I like their chances. New Orleans just needs to remain consistent on defense to win games.

The Giants finally looked good in a game and the Texans did not. Probably my favorite part was watching Tom Couglin look so animated after the Antrel Rolle interception. Houston looked a bit flat, particularly on offense, but it could have just been the New York defense finally stepping it up a notch.

DeSean Jackson's return to Philadelphia was filled with lots of scoring and punches thrown. It was ugly. The Eagles pulled out the win over Washington, but more and more, Kirk Cousins is looking like the QB of the future for them.

Dallas is 2-1 thanks to their offense and a fairly weak schedule thus far. St. Louis can't beat anyone, so they decided to beat each other up instead.

The 49ers answered my question. Their defense has been less than stellar all year and their usually well-balanced offense is nowhere to be found. Meanwhile, the Cardinals have quietly gone to 3-0, mostly without starter Carson Palmer. Things are looking good in Arizona.

The Dolphins couldn't muster much of an offense against a Chiefs team with significant injuries on Kansas City had some great contributions from RB's Knile Davis & Joe McKnight, serving more as a receiving back.
the defensive end.

The Broncos took the Seahawks to the limit, losing on a final TD by Marshawn Lynch in OT. Seattle learned that regardless of the crowd, giving Peyton Manning enough time to run the "2:00 Minute Drill" will almost always come back to haunt you. In this instance, Seattle's stamina outlasted Denver. I wouldn't be surprised to seem them playing again soon though.

The Steelers and Panthers both went old-school Sunday night; the former playing smash-mouth running football while the latter looked like an expansion team. The "Cheech & Chong" duo of Le'Veon Bell & LeGarrette Blount combined for nearly 300 hundred yards rushing for Pittsburgh, while Carolina's defense may need to think about making some changes, now that they will likely be without Greg Hardy for the foreseeable future.

Friday, September 19, 2014

49ers Stink or do They? (Week 3 Late Games)

Some good late games this week, including a rematch of last year's Super Bowl:

Too Many TO's from Kap
SF @ ARI (+2.5)

The Cardinals have been fairly unremarkable in their two wins. First barely getting by the Chargers and last week hardly having to show up against the Giants. Meanwhile, the 49ers did everything possible to give up a huge lead to the Bears, exposing many of the team's flaws (QB turnovers and a weak secondary). Lucky for the 49ers that Drew Stanton really didn't show much last week against the Giants. I think the 49ers come back strong here getting the win on the road and barely covering.

Spread: SF
Straight Up: SF
Score: 24-20 

KC @ MIA (-4.5)

Bad news for the Chiefs, where it appears they may be without star RB Jamaal Charles, who has a high ankle sprain. The questions is, even if he played, can the Chiefs even win a game? The Dolphins had a great opener at home, then laid an egg last week in Buffalo. I'll chalk it up more to the Bills being better than everything first thought. I think this game will be close throughout, with the Dolphins getting the win. I'll take the points though.

Spread: KC
Straight Up: MIA
Score: 17-14

DEN @ SEA (-4.5)

We all know what happened the last time these teams met. This year, despite both teams showing they can still score, it is their defenses that have been a bit suspect. For all his talk about individual accolades, the Sherminator (I don't really think he calls himself this) is useful if the entire team plays well. Also, when challenged last week by the Chargers, he wasn't all that impressive. Maybe change the name - thoughts Parkman?

Thoughts Richard?

As for the Broncos, they too have not been overly impressive on the defensive end and have yet to get the ball moving well via the running game. Seahawks never lose at home and the Broncos can score in bunches. I like Seattle to win, but I'll take the points here.

Spread: DEN
Straight Up: SEA
Score: 31-28

PIT @ CAR (-3)

Panthers are 2-0 and the Steelers appears to be inconsistent. They can't score consistently and they can't defend at all. Carolina appears to be able to do both. I'll take the Panthers on all fronts.

Spread: CAR
Straight Up: CAR
Score: 24-10

Folk for the Win?
CHI @ NYJ (-2) 

The Jets looked pretty good last week, then came out and pulled a "Jags" in the 2nd half. Meanwhile, the Bears looked like the comeback kids, walking all over the 49ers in the 4th quarter. What do we glean from these games? Nothing really. Inconsistency is the new normal in the NFL. I see this as a game of turnovers, with the team getting the last one connecting on a FG. I'll take the home team for the win on MNF, but I'm taking the points.

Spread: CHI
Straight Up: NYJ
Score: 24-23

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Week 3 Games

Some real crazy games last week. The Super Bowl champs looked vulnerable, some forgotten teams had big wins (Browns & Bills, in particular), some star players may not be heard from again this year (RGIII, Adrian Peterson, Greg Hardy) and we have almost entire season left to play.

Spread: 3-13
Straight Up: 4-12

Let’s get right to the games:

TB @ ATL (-6.5)

Coming back home after a poor showing against the Bengals, I expect the Falcons to put on an offensive show. Too bad for the Bucs who probably will lose in anything resembling a shootout. I think Matt Ryan puts up Madden like numbers again and the Falcons take an easy victory.

Spread: ATL
Straight Up: ATL
Score: 30-17

OAK @ NE (-14.5)

Patriots finally get to play a game at home and Oakland has to fly East again only to lose. For the Pats, my only concern is that their defense has been a lot stronger than their offense. I think the Raiders can pester enough to stick around to see a couple of those Brady pouts of frustration. Pats with the win, but I’ll take the points.

Spread: OAK
Straight Up: NE
Score: 24-14

SD @ BUF (-2.5)

Could the Bills be getting less love? They start the season 2-0 only to have the Chargers fly cross-country to be favored (if you believe that home teams automatically get +3 points). True, Philips Rivers lead them to a nice victory against the defending champs, but a 1 PM kickoff means the Chargers will still be sleeping for at least the first half. I like the Bills to do enough, to win, even if it means conceding a TD or three to Antonio Gates. Taking the Bills and the points.

Spread: BUF
Straight Up: BUF
Score: 28-26

BAL @ CLE (+1)

Can Cleveland finally put together a winning streak? Can Mike Pettine channel the great Lou Brown? I am all for bad teams having a rebirth and Cleveland winning gives me hope for the future of the Giants and also keeps Johnny Football off the field. I hope Hoyer throws for 400+ yards and 4 TD’s. The Ravens looked good this past week, but need to remain consistent, particularly within their division. I like the Browns in this one. 

Spread: CLE
Straight Up: CLE
Score: 28-23

TEN @ CIN (-6.5)
Did you know that the Titans won the first week and lost the second by the same exact score (26-10)? Logic might dictate then that they should beat the Bengals then by that same score. However, the NFL (letting the criminal offenders continue to play) is anything but logical. If they can’t get their running game going, I can’t see the Titans mustering much of a fight. I like the Bengals for the win and to cover.

Spread: CIN
Straight Up: CIN
Score: 27-13

IND @ JAC (+6.5)

This one involves simple math; the Jags always seem to lose by double digits. They finally get to play a home game, only to have to face Luck and the Colts, a team that put up 24 against the Super Bowl runner ups on the road. They also put up 10 more points than the Jags did against the Eagles. The Colts are also 0-2 meaning they desperately need a win. My intuition says that IND should win by 10, but for some reason I think Henne rallies the Jags to make it closer. I’ll take the points, but the Colts for the win.

Spread: JAC
Straight Up: IND
Score: 21-17

HOU @ NYG (+2.5)

At this point, I like anyone to beat the Giants. With a spread less than 7, I like them to cover as well. Houston hasn’t done a single thing yet to prove they should be exempt from this belief. For the Giants, I wonder how much long Larry Donnell (137 yards, 1 TD on the season) continues to lead the team in receiving. Victor, your thoughts? I like the Texans to cover.

Spread: HOU
Straight Up: HOU
Score: 21-10

DAL @ STL (+1.5)

Despite Austin Davis looking pretty good for them, the Ram can’t score. For the Cowboys, scoring is pretty much the only thing they can do. I don’t think highly at all of the Cowboys defense, but so far for the Rams, all they do is kick FG’s. Between Murray and Bryant, I expect the Cowboys to get in the end zone a few times to offset any Zuerlein kicks. Cowboys to cover.

Spread: DAL
Straight Up: DAL
Score: 30-20

WAS @ PHI (-7)

You know I still got it
I think this game will 60+ points scored between the two teams. As I have said since the beginning, I think Kirk Cousins is a better fit for Washington at QB. He certainly hit a rhythm last week. Sproles, McCoy, bring back Brian Mitchell; who cares? It seems any RB can thrive on this Eagles offense. I like the Eagles at home to do enough to win, but in a division game, I’ll take the points, with Washington keeping it close the whole way. 

Spread: WAS
Straight Up: PHI
Score: 35-31

GB @ DET (-1.5)

Unlike the game above (featuring a balance of passing and rushing attack), I expect 95% passing in this one.  Stafford has the best option in Johnson, but Rodgers has a few good ones as well. I particularly like Davante Adams to get more into the mix of things when Nelson and Cobb find themselves in tougher coverage. The Lions didn't do much last week offensively and the Packers did enough to close.  I expect much of the same here. I’ll take the points and the Pack.  

Spread: GB
Straight Up: GB
Score: 27-21

MIN @ NO (-9.5)

Who starts a season 0-2 and is rewarded as nearly 10 point favorite? The Saints. I get it, Minnesota had like 1,000 turnovers last week and will be without Adrian Peterson (forever perhaps if the NFL & Vikings do the right thing), but the Saints have not yet proved they can win a game, let alone by 9+ points. MIN couldn't score last week (how long before we see Teddy Bridgewater?), but the Saints gave up a lot of points to a Browns team that is not all that talented offensively. I think NO gets their first win, but I’ll take the points in this one.

Spread: MIN
Straight Up: NO
Score: 24-17

Better get ready Teddy

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Monday Download (Week 2)

Your thoughts Tom?
A lot of upsets this week and a lot of teams lost star players, be it due to their own extra curricular activities or in-game injuries. So far, it seems like a lot of parity among the teams, excluding the Giants, who look to be one of the poorer teams in the NFL.

On Thursday we discovered that Steelers can't score, the Ravens don't seem too phased by off the field distractions (you can thank Ray Lewis for that).

The Bills are 2-0 and Sammy Watkins looks like a great pickup. If Moreno is out long term, Miami may need to generate some offense in other ways.

$770K not to play - crazy, I know
Carolina's defense shut the Lions out in the first half and Cam Newton did enough to lead them to the easy victory. Stafford looked stifled as the Panthers played without their Pro Bowler DE Greg Hardy, who was a very late surprise scratch after his domestic violence conviction. The conviction was no surprise to the Panthers, so I'm still not sure why the scratch was such a surprise.

Andy Dalton and the Bengals were too much for the Falcons. I hope Matt Ryan didn't use up all his offense last week. 10 points just won't get it done. Only problem for Cincy might be how long A.J. Green is out with his toe injury.

The Browns winning a game a fluke? Maybe. The Saints starting 0-2? Nope. Their defense stinks and their offense isn't as good as expected. At least not good enough to outscore their opponents.

An emotional week for the Vikings. Way too many turnovers. New England will always make you pay.

The Giants seem to invent new ways to lose games. They are truly innovators at their craft. How long before people start clamoring to bench Eli? Things may get so bad that he asks to go to the bench himself. Arizona, while not overwhelming on any front did enough to win. They'll need a healthy Carson Palmer back to really do anything.

Cowboys come back from a terrible week 1 to show they can at least score in bunches. If they give the ball to Murray 75% or more of the time, they should be just fine. Tennessee just needs to regroup. We'll give them another week before passing judgment.

Washington loses RGIII, but gets a better QB? I think so. Jacksonville may have used up all their mojo in the first half of last week's game against the Eagles.

Phillip Rivers does not fear Richard Sherman. The Super Bowl champs looked extremely vulnerable as San Diego outplayed them on all fronts.

When your leading scorer is your kicker and you win the game is that good or bad? Somehow the Rams managed to eek our a win against the Bucs. Or did the Bucs manage to give away the game in the fourth quarter? Either way, Rams win and Bucs go to 0-2.

Broncos win, but not by as much as expected. Is everyone catching up to them or are the Broncos just starting relatively slow compared to last year? I think the latter. KC is in for a long season.

Jets give up a nice lead on the road and Rodgers to Nelson connection is just too much in the end as the Packers win their first game of the year. Much has been said about the timeout called by the Jets, which negated a TD. In this day in age with all available technology, why can't the head coach just have a little electronic button signaling a timeout? Seems simple enough right?

The Texans look pretty good. J.J. Watt makes a strong case for playing iron man football (both sides of the ball). Raiders look like they are settling in nicely to their expected role as a bye week for the teams they are facing.

The 49ers blew a huge lead to the Bears; a team that had two WR's with a 75% of NOT playing actually play. One of them, Brandon Marshall also happened to have two fourth quarter TD's including the game winner. Kaepernick looked terrible and a usually strong defense looked beatable. This closed out a day of games where most teams proved that either there is nearly total parity in the NFL or it takes 4-5 games, before teams really gel together.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Week 2 Late Games

Looking forward to another great weekend of football. Let's get right to the late games:

SEA @ SD (+6)

Seattle looked great against the Packers in week 1. Meanwhile, the Chargers answered the question “can you ever just be ‘whelmed’?” on offense. While not an under-whelming performance, they truly looked uninspired in their loss to the Cardinals. I can’t see them scoring more points on a much better Seahawks defense, even playing at home. Six points are a lot for a visiting team, but I like the Seahawks to cover.

Spread: SEA
Straight Up: SEA
Score: 31-17

STL @ TB (-4.5)

I just checked the TV listings and this game is being blocked out in both the St. Louis and Tampa local markets. I think everyone would rather watch Shawshank Redemption another time, than be subjected to this. Much like the Giants, until the Rams prove that they can score, I pretty much like any team playing them. Lovie Smith’s Bucs couldn’t pull out the victory last week against a Camless Panthers team. This week, no one really knows who will be starting at QB for the Rams, but really, does it matter? Since I don’t think either team is likely to score that much, I’ll take the Rams to cover (moral victory anyone?), but I like TB to win. 

Spread: STL
Straight Up: TB
Score: 13-10

KC @ DEN (-13)

These two teams are heading quickly in two very different directions. The Chiefs lost two of their anchors on defense last week for the season (Mike DeVito and Derrick Johnson). This would be bad enough if they also can't seem to figure out a way to score. Enter Peyton Manning and the Broncos and this will always make for a double digit spread. Look for Manning, who is so adept and exposing other team's weaknesses, to do just that on Sunday. I don't see this game being very close, my only question is if the Broncos ease up on the gas enough to let the Chiefs hang around. This week, I think they learn their lesson and put the game far out of reach.

Spread: DEN
Straight Up: DEN
Score: 38-13

NYJ @ GB (-8.5)

Green Bay had a tough go having to start their season in Seattle. Although the Jets are certainly a lesser opponent than the Seahawks, the Packers may have to try to win without Eddie Lacy. If that is the case, expect a heavy dose of Rodgers to any number of his WR's (particularly Cobb & Nelson). I think the Jets will stick around most of the game, but in the end, Rodgers will always have one last TD in his back pocket. Jets to cover, but Packers for the win. 

Spread: NYJ
Straight Up: GB
Score: 27-20 

HOU @ OAK (+3)

I feel for Derek Carr. He makes his first career start against a pretty good Jets defense only to go make his home debut against the Texans and J.J. Watt. Oh yeah - he also plays for the Raiders. Neither of these teams looked overly impressive on offense, so I think this game will be close the whole way. I think the Texans are better and the Raiders haven't figured out just yet how to win close games. Texans to win, but I'll take the points with the home Raiders.   

Spread: OAK
Straight Up: HOU
Score: 19-17 

CHI @ SF (-7)

The Bears and 49ers started their seasons in almost polar opposite fashion; the former by a FG in OT, the latter taking the lead on their team's first defensive possession and never looking back. Despite the off the field troubles for the 49ers, they seem to be one of the better balanced teams in the NFL this year. Meanwhile, we know Chicago has made a marked change towards the offensive end. Last week, the 49ers pretty much scored at will - I expect much of the same against the Bears. The only question is how many points their defense will let up. In the end, I think they do enough to cover.  

Spread: SF
Straight Up: SF
Score: 31-21 

PHI @ IND (-3)

The Eagles got a scare last week from the Jags, proving that they are a team will vulnerabilities. That's the good news (for all non Eagles fans). The bad, they also proved that they could score 34 unanswered points in one half. The Colts, meanwhile, went on the road and nearly came back on the Broncos, proving that they too can score in bulk (17 points in the second half). I don't see either defense being too effective in this game, so I think it will come down to clock management. I like Andrew Luck's ability to do so, particularly at home and think the Colts do enough win and cover.

Spread: IND
Straight Up: IND
Score: 36-31 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Back to the Games (Week 2)

Thinking about football really does help pass the time. Before you know it, you forget about the brutal Monday night loss, only to be reminded that you are only a few days away from your team’s next crushing defeat. Not a great start to the season on the prediction front, but much like my Giants (I hope), I’m a closer.

Spread: 7-9
Straight Up: 9-7

Let’s get right to the games:

PIT @ BAL (-3)

After the week they’ve had, the Ravens could really use a good win. I just don’t see it happening. Both Joe Flacco and Ben Roethlisgerger through for about 350 yards and 1 TD last week, the former though doing it on 62 pass attempts.  Flacco’s arm, like a major league pitcher, cannot withstand this all season. I like the Steelers to continue the balanced attack (led by Le’Veon “can’t suspend me now” Bell) and pull out the victory against their conference rival. 

Spread: PIT
Straight Up: PIT
Score: 24-17

MIA @ BUF (-0.5)

After last week’s games, this may actually prove to be one of the better week 2 matchups. Buffalo comes off of a nice OT win on the road in Chicago and also learned that this week that they would be sold to a group led by the current Buffalo Sabres owner, rather than fall into the hands of Jon Bon Jovi’s group. Well Buffalo, you’re halfway there, but far from getting back to Super Bowl territory. Miami comes off of a fairly dominant performance at home, beating the Patriots by 13. I think the difference in this game comes down to the RB’s. Whichever team has more trouble stopping the run will lose out. I think the duo of Moreno & Miller (Miami’s M&Ms?) will be too much for the Bills defense. Dolphins start the season 2-0. 

Spread: MIA
Straight Up: MIA
Score: 30-24

DET @ CAR (-2.5)

The Panthers pulled out a surprising victory last week without Cam Newton. Regardless of whether Newton plays or not this week, the Panthers secondary will have their hands full with Calvin Johnson. Even if they choose to double cover him with a roaming safety, that will leave plenty of options for Mathew Stafford on his check downs (any choice of three huge TE’s, RB Reggie Bush as well as WR Golden Tate). The Lions Achilles heel, as mentioned last week, is their lack of discipline on defense.  I expect them to continue to take unnecessary penalties, which will certainly hurt them in close games during this season. I just expect their proficient offense to offset most of these mistakes. I like the Lions by a lot.

Spread: DET
Straight Up: DET
Score: 35-20

ATL @ CIN (-5.5)

Matt Ryan looked like he was playing the Madden version of himself last weekend, putting up console worthy stats. Although the Bengals might have a better defense than the Saints, if Ryan is in the zone again, watch out. Cincinnati will also need more out of their offense aside from A.J. Green. Look for them to try and get Giovani Bernard a bit more involved. Either way, if this becomes a shootout, I like the Falcons by a TD.

Spread: ATL
Straight Up: ATL
Score: 31-24

NO @ CLE (+6)

Both these teams lost last week at the last possible second on game ending FG’s. The Browns, for the record, has a nice comeback turn up just short, while the Saints let the game slip out of their hands against the Falcons. Cleveland really is getting no respect at home getting six points and until further notice probably won’t. I expect safety Donte Whitner (12 tackles last week), to be extremely busy as Drew Brees attempt to pick apart the Browns secondary. In the end, I think the Saints learn to not squander a lead; putting the points on early and often and putting the game out of reach for the comeback Browns.

Spread: NO
Straight Up: NO
Score: 38-17

NE @ MIN (+3)

The Patriots had a disappointing loss on the road in Miami. Meanwhile, the Vikings went on the road and beat up an already decimated Rams group, knocking out 8th string QB Shaun Hill in the process. The Vikings looked good on offense and their defense is still waiting to play against a first string offense. I’m not yet confident that the Patriots are that team. Vikings, coming off a 28 point win, getting points at home? I’ll take it. It also is fun to think of the Patriots starting 0-2.

Spread: MIN
Straight Up: MIN
Score: 27-24

ARI @ NYG (-2)

I hate this game for so many reasons, the least of which means that I think the Giants will start the season with their 2nd loss. If anyone has been reading for the last week or so (I hope you’re out there), you’ll know I love the Giants, but don’t have high hopes for them at all. If they play again like they did in Detroit, they may have the #1 draft pick locked up before week 10. The Cardinals, on the other hand, played well enough to win, particularly in the fourth quarter of Monday night’s game. Carson Palmer looked reminiscent of a college QB, spreading the ball across multiple receivers and even scrambling for yardage on several plays. Until the Giants prove they can score at all, I like the odds of any team playing them. Cardinals by a FG.

Spread: ARI
Straight Up: ARI
Score: 13-10

DAL @ TEN (-3.5)

Jake Locker and the Titans went into KC and just dominated them in every facet of the game. Meanwhile, the Cowboys couldn’t have looked worse, unless they had gone up against the Giants. Tony Romo looked like his old self, making poor throws and incurring way too many turnovers. When you have a defense that can hold its own, sometimes you can survive, but when you have one of the worst professional defense’s I have ever seen, then you won’t win too many games. I like the Titans to dominate on offense, until the Cowboys prove they can stop anyone at all.  

Spread: TEN
Straight Up: TEN
Score: 27-17

JAC @ WAS (-6)

If I’m Gus Bradley, I am getting the mind erase thing from Men in Black, using it and telling them that they are about to start the second half up 17-0. The Jaguars hit the Eagles head on during the first half of last week’s game, only to see their lead, and ultimately, the game, disappear from their clenches. Good news for the Jags; they play a Washington team which struggled to score against a very good Texans defense. They need more out of every one of their offensive weapons, particularly RGIII, who as mentioned previously, I’m not sold on as being the future of their team. The Jags forced a lot of fumbles last week and Washington is susceptible to TO’s. I like the game to be close, with the Jags pulling out a win in the end, marking Coach Bradley’s first win for his new team.

Spread: JAC
Straight Up: JAC
Score: 24-21

Shut Up & Play Ball

What other place but in professional sports can you not do your job, blame someone else for your failure and still are able to make millions? Maybe Wall Street...

The New York Giants looked truly terrible on Monday night. Offensively, they couldn't have been less efficient.  WR Victor Cruz has a solution - get him the ball. I personally hate when players do this for several reasons:

  • First, it makes you the center of attention when we really the team winning games needs to be the focus. 
  • Secondly, it is not how often you get the ball, but what you do with it when you actually get the opportunity. 
  • Third, I can't imagine outwardly requesting more opportunities endears yourself to your QB or coaches.
On Monday, Cruz had two catches for 24 yards. He also was targeted 6 times with multiple dropped passes. A true leader makes the most of all opportunities (I'm talking to you Larry Fitzgerald, who had to wait for the last possible minute in Monday's game to garner a reception, but kept the game winning drive alive as a result).

As a Giants fan, I want more Fitzgeralds and less Cruz-types. I have no idea what goes on in the locker room and in practice, but when you squander 4 targets, then that is on everyone. If you want more targets Victor, then do more with the opportunities you have. Otherwise, just shut up and play ball.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Tuesdays Are Annoying...

especially for Giants fans today. Many football teams get the next day off after a win. I expect the Giants to have very few days off until the end of the season. Terrible does not begin to describe how they looked last night. Despite his two interceptions, Eli Manning (and new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo) cannot take all the blame here. The Giants receivers looked terrible. Dropped passes, pour rout running and not reading Manning's hand signals were a huge factor in the game their offensive inefficiency.

Nothing should be taken away from the Lions. Matt Stafford picked apart the Giants secondary all night and Calvin Johnson showed why he is probably the best WR in the league. Their defense took way too many bad penalties, but in this case, the Giants really failed to capitalize.

In the late game, Arizona managed to pull out the win, coming from behind in the fourth quarter. Carson Palmer did enough to lead the Cardinals to a win, despite targeting Larry Fitzgerald (1 catch, 22 yards) on only several plays. Fitzgerald and Richard Sherman can likely take a nap on the field together when they face each other later this year.

The Chargers looked surprisingly flat on offense. Perhaps it was the Cardinals secondary, but the Chargers WR's just looked like they were playing for the Giants. Maybe Rivers and Manning might like to swap teams again?