Your humble crystal ball reader has survived the first two weeks of yet another crazy NFL season against the Vegas line. Week 1 is always full of surprises, but this year Week 2 broke all the rules. A double digit underdog in Arizona, went on the road across country for an early start and won. The Patriots hadn’t lost a home opener since before Paul Revere helped defend the Northeast from those traveling 3000+ miles. Then again New England wasn’t employing Stephen “Snausuges” Gostkowski at the time. The Eagles can’t hold on to the ball, but for some reason that hasn’t stopped them from winning. However, the unpredictability of the first two weeks is what is predictable about the NFL. (In truth had the refs not worried if Vick had fumbled or thrown an incomplete pass at the end of the game, they would have thrown a penalty for intentional grounding and the Ravens probably would have won. But I’m not bitter about how horrible the replacement refs performed. Nor did I laugh when after every 5th play they huddled up to read from “How to Ref Your First NFL Game.”)
But now as I cruise the 800 channels cable has these days, Survivor replaces it’s tamer version Big Brother, new episodes of Modern Family and Sons of Anarchy are back, and the Republicans and Democrats with their attack ads are reminding me why I love my DVR. (Honestly, except for sports, I watch live TV exactly 0% of the time.) Yes, it’s back to normalcy. We don’t have to over react after only one week of games; we are now getting to know more about what these teams are really about. (The pick is in bold. Green is a winner. Red is a loser. Black is a tie or not played yet.)
Cincinnati at Washington (Give 3) – Cincinnati escaped from Cleveland (how many of their residents wish they could say that?) with a victory. They have given up over 400 yards a game against two offenses that aren’t really known for their firepower. Washington is coming in banged up on defense, but there again Cincinnati hasn’t exactly set the world on fire with their offense. Look for Captain Morgan and Pierre Garcon to bounce back from missed games (mentally for one of them).
NY Jets (Give 2.5) at Miami – Rule #2, go with a veteran team over a team that shows promise… Especially if that team’s promise is based on a game where they beat the Raiders at home. Yes, the Jets offense looked shaky last week against the Steelers, but Rex is getting pressured to have Tim Tebow be deployed more often in the Wildcat’s birthplace. Rex Ryan’s defense will confuse a rookie Tennahill, and I don’t like the odds of a unilateral attack by Reggie Bush against the Gang Green.
NY Giants (Take 2.5) at Carolina – For a city that brags about how tough the people there are, complaining about an opposing defense playing all 60 mins makes me wonder if this team is soft. Remembering Coughlin is the head coach erases those doubts. E. Manning hasn’t had neck surgery, so I’m chalking up his pour performance in the first half of last week as an aberration. Carolina needs its running game to help open up the passing game, and I sense the Giants defense is going to play the full 60 mins this week on full tilt.
Buffalo at Cleveland (Take 3) – If you haven’t been watching this team, and judging by their popularity, you haven’t, Cleveland has lost both games by only one possession and Richardson looks like the real deal. The bigger question is: Can Fitzpatrick play on the road? At home both of his TD’s came when the Chiefs decided dropping coverage on receivers would make playing defense more of a challenge. So until the Bills’ quarterback can prove he can play against a team with 11 on the field, I will take home dogs against him all year.
Kansas City (Take 8.5) at New Orleans – If you can’t stop a team from scoring, how do you win by two possessions? So far neither of these teams have figured out that not only do you have to score, but you have to keep the other team from scoring. In other words, if you have a girlfriend who you want to introduce to the NFL, and they are in love with Sex in the City, this is the game you should have them watch. Both teams may rank in the top 5 in offense, but only the Chiefs have a defense with the talent to wake up and start playing.
Jacksonville at Indianapolis (Give 3) – Jacksonville is on the road and Blaine Gilbert can’t practice this week. There is no way that can possibly improve the league’s 32nd ranked defense. At this point MJD is probably questioning why he ended his holdout. As I mentioned earlier this year, hold outs tend to get injured, and MJD might be looking for a way off the field soon. This whole thing is looking like Peyton Hillis in Cleveland all over again.
Tampa Bay (Take 7) at Dallas – I swear I just picked this game last week. Except Romo isn’t as good as Eli Manning, the Cowboys don’t have the pass rush the Giants do, and I don’t see the Buccaneers squad led by Greg “60 Minutes” Schiano letting up this week. I have yet to hear a good argument as to why he shouldn’t have told his defense to try to win the game at the end last week. This isn’t golf where you give your pal a gimmie on a two foot put. Tea is served at many places on Sunday afternoons if this game is too rough for you.
St. Louis (Take 7.5) at Chicago – If the Rams defense could cause Captain Morgan to lose his cool last week, at what point do you think “Cool Hand” Cutler will throw a ball at his own offensive lineman? It’s a known fact: As soon as you get in his head, Cutler throws INT’s. Just ask Charles Woodson. The Rams secondary is just as good as the one Jay faced last week, and now Forte is likely to be missing from the game with a high ankle sprain. Chicago may win, but don’t ask me to give up two scores in this game.
San Francisco (Give 7) at Minnesota – Are the lines made in Minnesota somewhere? This team couldn’t beat the Colts, and now they will play the 49ers close? You are probably expecting me to talk about how wonderful the SF defense is, but the 49ers have an offense that can put up points. By adding Manningham and Moss, the field has been spread, and Alex Smith just does not turnover the ball. The 49ers will need those points to cover the spreads they will face the rest of this year.
Detroit (Give 3.5) at Tennessee – Tennessee had a tough time covering the receivers of the Patriots and San Diego. Now enters Calvin Johnson who is still looking for a breakout game this year. This is the week the Lions get healthy. On the other side of the ball Chris Johnson is competing with Jay Cutler for Teammate of the Year. Side bets in Vegas are starting to take action on which offensive line will quit on their star first.
Atlanta (Give 3) at San Diego – The Chargers have beaten up on the Titans and Raiders. Atlanta has scored more points than both of these teams combined! Atlanta’s passing game will travel just fine near where Tony G. grew up. Atlanta’s defense has forced quarterbacks to turn over the ball six times, and Phillip Rivers has a tendency to do just that. At some point you know a Norv Turner team will go through a slump. No time like the present now that they face a team that can score.
Philadelphia at Arizona (Take 3.5) – The offense is just plain offensive, but Arizona forces turnovers and doesn’t give up many points. I refuse to give points to an opposing team when I know the Eagles (read Micheal Vick) will turn the ball over multiple times and then hope at the end of the game they can be bailed out by the opposing team failing to win the game. It’s like the Eagles took Zane’s Survivor “strategy” and have applied it to football. Eventually, teams won’t beat themselves and will capitalize on the Vick’s mistakes.
Pittsburgh (Give 4) at Oakland – The Pirate (Roethlisberger) comes to the Pirate Ship (or whatever they are calling the Oakland “Prison” Colosseum this year). The Raiders average 13.5 points per game. 13.5+4 = 17.5. Ya, I think the Pirate can generate that many points against Oakland’s new secondary starters. I would say Ben could do this even with the wideouts of Miami, but that has already been proven this year when Tannehill looked like a seasoned pro.
Houston at Denver (Take 2) – These two teams really mirror each other. Tie goes to the home team that will run a no huddle offense in the thin air of the Mile High city. If you take away one quarter of play, Manning has looked really good this year. Houston is another one of those teams that hasn’t faced a professional team yet this year, so it could take them a quarter or two to get used to playing a team that is decent. Give me Manning proving he hasn’t lost it and the home dog.
New England at Baltimore (Take 1) – Baltimore’s defense, like New England’s Welker needs a game to prove that they haven’t lost a step. Like I said in week 1, Baltimore is currently one of the toughest places to play in the NFL. It’s almost as if the field shrinks when their defense is playing in prime time games. Secretly, New England currently has the second ranked defense (albeit against K. Kolb and C. Johnson “lead” offenses.) I like the home team, the defenses, and the under (49).
Green Bay (Give 3) at Seattle – Questions continue to surround why Rodgers still isn’t performing at the level he did last year. It’s been two weeks. Relax. Greg Jennings has a better than not chance of playing on Monday, and Rodgers lives to prove his doubters wrong and increase his ego size. Seattle played well against the Cardinals, but they benefited from special team errors by the Cowboys to jump out to a quick lead. Last Thursday we saw the Packers have a well coached special teams.
Last week: 8-8-1; Overall: 17-16-1. Like what you see? Give Riggo’s Rag a “like” on facebook, become a follower on twitter, or grab our RSS feed. Follow @FanSidedNFL on twitter for great content from around the league.