Hopefully, giving myself a little more time this week in order to get these picks written down and taken care of can help me do a little bit better than I did last week. Week One turned out to just be okay for my picks, as I managed to go 8-6 straight-up, as well as 7-6-1 against the spread. . .again, I'm not picking the Vikings' games every week, and I didn't get the picks in early enough to get last Thursday's opener. The one push came from the game between the Carolina Panthers and the Arizona Cardinals, where we had Arizona as a 7-point favorite and they went on to win 28-21.
So, with that, let's move on to the picks for Week Two of NFL action. Remember, we do not necessarily encourage gambling here, and these picks are for entertainment purposes only. With that, here we go!
Michael Vick makes his return to Atlanta on Sunday Night Football, and these two teams could not have looked more different in their opening week match-ups. After a rough first quarter, the Eagles asserted their dominance against the St. Louis Rams, while the Falcons looked atrocious in getting thumped from pillar to post by the Chicago Bears. You know that Vick is going to be eager to light things up at the Georgia Dome, and I'm not sure how much the Falcons are going to be able to do to stop him.
The Falcons are in danger of falling to 0-2 to start the season, which would ordinarily be bad. . .however, there's a very good chance that the NFC South, which was hyped incredibly to start the season, could feature four 0-2 teams by the time this week is finished.
Straight-Up - Eagles, ATS - Eagles
The Seahawks are not a very good team. The Steelers are a much better team than they showed in getting blasted by the Ravens in Week One. Now, the Seahawks have to fly cross-country for an early start in one of the most hostile environments in the National Football League.
Usually picking a team to cover a 14.5-point spread is a bad idea, but the Steelers are going to get real healthy, real fast at Seattle's expense in this one.
Straight-Up - Steelers, ATS - Steelers
Upset Watch - Chicago Bears at New Orleans Saints (-7)
Usually the Bears have trouble stringing together back-to-back good seasons, but if Sunday's opener was any indication, the defending NFC North champions aren't going to be lying down for anyone this season. They quite simply whipped the Falcons all over the field in Week One, and now they move on to take on New Orleans in the Saints' home opener. The Saints showed a lot of firepower on Thursday night against the Green Bay Packers, but came up just short on one of the worst play calls I've ever seen at the end of the game.
How will Bears' linebacker Brian Urlacher look in this one after having to deal with the sudden death of his mother earlier this week? Have the Saints regained enough of their focus after a very tough opener to be able to bounce back? I think that when the dust settles on Sunday afternoon, there will be a lot of people asking, "Who dat dere just beat dem Saints?"
Straight-Up - Bears, ATS - Bears
The Rest of the Week
Man, when were the Detroit Lions last an 8.5-point favorite against anybody? The Lions looked pretty good in their opening week defeat of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, while the Chiefs got absolutely destroyed. . .at home. . .against the Buffalo Bills. The Chiefs were a chic pick to take a leap forward this season, but if they can't get a better performance against quarterback Matt Cassel, their fans might be the ones looking to take a leap.
I think that Detroit's defense is better than Buffalo's defense. . .and if the Chiefs couldn't get anything done against the Bills, they're not going to have much of a shot against the Lions, either.
Straight-Up - Lions, ATS - Lions
The Jets are clearly a better team than the Jaguars are, in my opinion. That having been said, the Jets needed one of the biggest meltdowns in Dallas Cowboys history to escape Week One with a victory, and should probably be looking at an 0-1 record right now. After the mess the Jaguars went through to start their season at quarterback, they managed to fight their way to a victory against a not-so-good Tennessee Titans team.
The Jets should win this game, but if I'm a gambler, there's no way I trust that spread at this point in time.
Straight-Up - Jets, ATS - Jaguars
Oakland Raiders at Buffalo Bills (-3.5)
The Bills might have been the NFL's most impressive team in Week One, all things considered. A team that won just four games in 2010, they went into Arrowhead Stadium and laid a Level Five beatdown on the Chiefs in a result that nobody outside of upstate New York could have seen coming. The Raiders, on the other hand, battled their way to a rather ugly win over the Denver Broncos in the late half of Monday's doubleheader. Again, we see another West Coast team on their way out east for an early start, and the Raiders are coming off of a short week on top of that.
This will be a close game, but the surprising Bills should be able to take advantage of the home field and the Raiders' travels to move to 2-0 on the young season.
Straight-Up - Bills, ATS - Bills
Arizona Cardinals at Washington Redskins (-4)
Lost in the shuffle of Cam Newton's ridiculous debut in Week One is the small fact that the Cardinals. . .you know. . .won the football game, in no small part because of an outstanding performance by Kevin Kolb. The Redskins shocked the Giants in their season opener, and showed a surprisingly good defense.
How long can this last for the Redskins? Well, let's go for one more week, at least. . .but it's going to be a close one.
Straight-Up - Redskins, ATS - Cardinals
Baltimore Ravens (-6.5) at Tennessee Titans
The Titans got beaten by the Luke McCown-led Jaguars in Week One, while the Ravens destroyed their biggest rivals by four touchdowns. The only reason that this game isn't the lock of the week is that I fear a little bit of a letdown from the Ravens after such an emotional victory, but they should still be plenty good enough to get the job done against Tennessee.
Straight-Up - Ravens, ATS - Ravens
Green Bay Packers (-10) at Carolina Panthers
The Packers looked impressive on Thursday night. . .on offense, at least. Defensively, they really didn't do much to slow down the Saints' offense, but some of that certainly has to do with the talent New Orleans has on that side of the ball. Speaking of talent, Cam Newton set a rookie record for passing yardage in his NFL debut, but some of that certainly has to do with the fact that the Arizona Cardinals' defense is pretty awful.
The Packers aren't known for their success against mobile quarterbacks, and while I think that Newton and company can certainly put a scare into them, the Panthers will likely come up just short.
Straight-Up - Packers, ATS - Panthers
Two of the more disappointing teams from Week One lock horns at Lucas Oil Stadium this week. The Browns lost to their cross-state rivals from Cincinnati, while the Colts got thumped in every imaginable way by the Houston Texans. Both of these teams are in disarray right now, but I think the Colts are in significantly more disarray because, to steal a line from Rick Pitino, Peyton Manning isn't walking through that door.
The Colts take a step closer to the right to being able to draft Andrew Luck as the successor to Peyton Manning and, as a result, causing the heads of every non-Indianapolis football fan in America to simultaneously explode.
Straight-Up - Browns, ATS - Browns
Dallas Cowboys (-3) at San Francisco 49ers
The Cowboys really gave one away on Sunday night against the New York Jets, as Tony Romo put together one of the more inexcusable fourth-quarter performances in recent memory to squander a 14-point fourth-quarter lead. The Niners looked good against Seattle, but again, Seattle is one of the worst teams in football, and Romo, despite his shortcomings, is a whole lot better than Tarvaris Jackson.
The Niners are a solid team, but I have the feeling that Dallas can walk into Candlestick. . .yes, I'm still referring to it as Candlestick. . .and walk out with a win.
Straight-Up - Cowboys, ATS - Cowboys
Houston Texans (-3) at Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins found themselves on the wrong end of a huge performance from Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady on Monday night, allowing 517 yards in a two-touchdown loss. The Texans took advantage of a Manning-less Colts team to race out to a 34-0 lead at halftime and "hold on" to win 34-7.
At last check, the Houston offense is still pretty darn good, with or without Arian Foster, and if the Dolphins haven't made significant changes since last Monday night, they could be in for another long afternoon against Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson and company.
Straight-Up - Texans, ATS - Texans
Another candidate for the best game of the week, this one features what should be two high-powered offenses. The Chargers were pretty well held in check by the Vikings' defense in the opener, until the Minnesota defense just couldn't get off the field, while Tom Brady might still be throwing touchdown passes down in Miami for all we know.
Yes, this is another case of a West Coast team flying east, but with the late start in Foxboro, it shouldn't affect the Chargers all that much. This should be an outstanding contest, but if Monday night is any indication, the Patriots are seriously angry about how their 2010 season ended, and intend to do something about it.
Straight-Up - Patriots, ATS - Chargers
Cincinnati Bengals at Denver Broncos (-3.5)
Rookie quarterback Andy Dalton is being listed by the Bengals' website as "questionable at best" for this one after leading Cincinnati to a mild upset of the Cleveland Browns in Week One. The Broncos lost a close one to their division rivals from Oakland in their opener.
Really, I don't have a heck of a lot else to say about this one, other than if I was a gambler I wouldn't touch this game with a ten-foot pole.
Straight-Up - Broncos, ATS - Broncos
St. Louis Rams at New York Giants (no line)
There's no line on this one due to the status of Rams' quarterback Sam Bradford, who suffered an arm injury in St. Louis' Week One loss to Philadelphia. The Giants' defense looked pretty bad against the Rex Grossman-led Redskins in their opener, and if Bradford plays, I'm just not sure that the Giants have enough defensively to stop St. Louis.
If there does get to be a line on this game, I can't see it being any more than about three points in the Giants favor. Regardless, the Rams are the pick here.
Straight-Up - Rams, ATS - Rams
Straight-Up This Season: 8-6
Against the Spread This Season: 7-6-1