Last Week: 8-8
TENNESSEE TITANS (-6.5) over Denver Broncos
I’m picking Tennessee by default here. Denver’s 23 ranked pass defense should aid Vince McCain (I refuse to believe that I’m the first to notice that Young throws like John McCain post-war). The process leading to McDaniels’ demise is under way, and the over/under for games until Tebow starts has dropped to 4.5.
It’s always sad when the careers of a head coach and quarterback are inextricably linked. And of all the people McDaniels’ could have chosen to attach himself too, he chose the most debated 1st round QB of the past 10 years. O Shanahan, Shanahan, wherefore art thou Shanahan?
PITTSBURGH STEELERS (-1.5) over Baltimore Ravens
When Pittsburgh runs the ball and the defense circa 2008 rears its ugly head, it’s time to pick them. After only 3 weeks, my Pittsburgh prognostication (6-10) has been proven wrong. Before the season, a shaky offensive line, no Big Ben and an aging defense seemed to forecast disaster.
I’m not sure what buttons Mike Tomlin has pushed, but they were the right ones. If you’re worried about Charlie Batch, fear no more. His success against Tampa Bay qualifies him for “backup momentum,” where a backup QB plays well for a streak of games no longer than 4. (That said, don’t be surprised if Michael Vick implodes and Kevin Kolb regains the starting role.)
Detroit Lions (+14.5) over GREEN BAY PACKERS
Jahvid Best has become everyone’s favorite “I told you so” fantasy player. Every league has that guy. He either picks an ESPN-labeled sleeper, a rookie, or a has been who comes back for one more season of glory. When the player miraculously succeeds, you get an ear full of his foresight that a generally agreed upon poor pick (because everyone reaches for rookies) actually turns out to be quite the value pick.
In real life, Best has become every gambler’s worst nightmare: he doesn’t need quality players around him to have 1 or 2 long TD runs. Add in the potential for 1 or 2 regular TD drives and attempting to guess the point output of the Detroit offense from week to week becomes nearly impossible. But if I had to venture a guess, Green Bay’s 18th ranked rush defense will not help the anti-Best cause.
While I do fear Green Bay’s anger after an awful loss to a division rival, they have yet to prove that they can put away teams that should enable an easy win (think week 1 vs. the Eagles).
Carolina Panthers (+13.5) over New Orleans Saints
Carolina traditionally gives the Saints a run for their money. Although the Jimmy Clausen era did not get off to a fast start, part of the blame can go towards the play calling. If you were Carolina’s offensive coordinator, what would you have done against Cincinnati, knowing that this was your rookie QB’s first ever start?
If your answer was anything but run the ball, stop watching football. So how many carries did DeAngelo Williams get? 10. Jonathan Stewart? 8. Knowing John Fox, he will immediately remedy this abomination but still allow New Orleans to cover.
ATLANTA FALCONS (-7) OVER San Francisco 49ers
The 3rd year seems to be the determining year for an NFL QB on the fence of greatness. After a quality rookie year, we either question its validity or hail him as the next Joe Montana. After the sophomore slump, rumblings of the next Ryan Leaf surface.
Through 3 games, Matt Ryan has thrown 5 TDs, 1 INT for 705 yards. What does this tell us? Well, close to nothing. He gave us a stinker against Pittsburgh, a quality performance against Arizona and a gutsy win against New Orleans (isn’t it amazing how kickers can go from hero to goat in a mere 3 games?).
Unfortunately this game feels like another Arizona game, so we will not learn anything new. But luckily for Atlanta and Matty Ice, his demeanor and numbers support the road to stardom.
Seattle Seahawks (-1.5) over SAINT LOUIS RAMS
I can’t tell if last week’s win over San Diego was a Seattle win or San Diego loss. If Saint Louis had a defense that could actually stop opposing offenses, the ’10 Rams would seem to mirror the ’08 Falcons. I only mention this because Sam Bradford reminds me of the ’08 Matt Ryan: knowing that he’s good enough to be an NFL QB but not surrounded by enough talent to make it happen (I know they made the playoffs, but realistically that was a fluke.
They had a bunch of early season wins against inferior competition). If this game were played in two season, Saint Louis would be the 14 point favorite and I would still take them. But it’s not, so I’ll ride Pete Carroll’s early season momentum until it fails me.
New York Jets (-5.5) over BUFFALO BILLS
Mark Sanchez is about to embark on one of the tests that separates good NFL QBs from great ones: performance against clearly inferior teams. When Peyton Manning or Tom Brady face the Buffalo Bills, we already know their teams will unleash the full force of their entire offensive repertoires.
The 5.5 line tells me that Vegas does not believe that Sanchez is there quiet yet. While his back-to-back 3 TD games have Jet fans foaming at the mouth, I’m not ready jump aboard the Sanchez train quiet yet. Intuition tells me that this game will be a lot closer than it should be. Although I’m taking the Jets, its not with a lot of confidence.
Indianapolis Colts (-7) over JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
It would only be right to pick the Colts here based on my analysis of Sanchez the great QB test. That and Jacksonville has been blown out in 2 straight weeks.
Houston Texans (-3) over OAKLAND RAIDERS
There’s only one way to describe Houston’s performance against the Cowboys last week: they pulled a Houston. Meaning they lead us to believe that they had broken out of their playoff bubble shell and become not only a playoff guarantee, but a Super Bowl contender. And then they crashed. And burned.
Had they been playing anyone of consequence, I would have picked against them. But they’re not, so I’m not.
Arizona Cardinals (+8.5) over SAN DEIGO CHARGERS
Despite Derek Anderson’s poor performance thus far, Arizona has compiled a 2-1 record. And any time the Jacksonville Jaguars add another one to your loss column, you know your team is in trouble. To make matters worse, L.T.’s departure had the opposite effect.
Logic would dictate that team chemistry would have improved, leading to more wins. If the Gods have chosen the opposite path, then you know San Diego is in for a truly rough season.
Washington Redskins (+5.5) over PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
Donovan McNabb believes that he will be positively received by his former fans. I like to think that he’s right. Unfortunately for the Eagles, he’ll beat them too. McNabb has proven once again that he does not need quality receivers to improve a passing game.
Despite Michael Vick’s early success, I’m still not ready to call him king. Yes, he has played well over the past few weeks, but cupcakes are no way to measure a quarterback’s worth. He’ll be tested this week, since Shanahan has made sure that Washington is relevant once again.
NEW YORK GIANTS (-3.5) over Chicago Bears
Ignore Coughlin’s perceived loss of control, the Giants’ inability to catch the ball and the numerous turnovers and penalty. Instead, focus on a rattled Jay Cutler (Green Bay handed them the game) and a raucous, drunk New York Giants crowd seeking revenge. If the Giants don’t win, one of the Bears players will probably not leave the stadium alive.
New England Patriots (-1) over MIAMI DOLPHINS
Normally I’d follow the “don’t bet against a home underdog on Monday Night rule, but two things have forced me to disobey.
1) 1 point is not a real underdog
2) Miami does not actually care about any other sport other than basketball. You know, the whole LeBron, Bosh, Wade thing.
New England is the better team, plain and simple. The Jets proved that they key to stopping Miami is putting 4 guys on Brandon Marshall and begging the rest of the team to beat them. Knowing Bill Belichick, he’ll have this plan in place in one way or another.
On another note, Karlos Dansby has to be an early defensive MVP candidate. His numbers may not be particularly gaudy, but the impact he’s had is immeausurable.► Read more articles written by Pardon The Opinion.