The first week of the 2012 NFL season has come and gone, and with it a pretty decent first week for us here as far as our NFL picks. There were a couple of near upsets, but when it was all said and done we wound up in the plus column both straight-up and against the number. Just like in the National Football League, however, it's one thing to get off to a fast start. . .it's another thing to keep it going. Hopefully we'll be able to do just that this week with another slate of intriguing match-ups in front of us.
Let's get to it, shall we?
Game of the Week - Detroit Lions at San Francisco 49ers (-7)
The Lions had one of those close calls in the season's first week, narrowly squeaking past the Rams after a few ugly Matthew Stafford turnovers in the early going. The Niners, on the other hand, walked into Lambeau Field and punched Green Bay in the mouth en route to an impressive victory. You'll have to wait all day to see this one on Sunday night, but it will be well worth the wait. The Niners are my pick to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl, and I think they'll win this one, but I don't see it being much more than a field goal game.
Straight-Up: 49ers, ATS: Lions
Lock of the Week - Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals (-8)
Yes, I understand that the Bengals got spanked on Monday Night Football by Baltimore. That's somewhat understandable, since Baltimore is one of the NFL's best team. But man, that performance by Cleveland in Week 1. . .yes, they had a chance to win despite Brandon Weeden getting intercepted four times, but I don't think Andy Dalton is going to be throwing four interceptions to help the Browns out this week. Cincinnati is definitely the better team here, and I think they take out some of their Monday night frustrations on the early leaders in the clubhouse for the #1 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Straight-Up: Bengals, ATS: Bengals
Upset of the Week - Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers (-5.5)
Yes, I picked the Packers to be my upset victims last week, and it worked out pretty well. They look to be a pretty good target this week as well. Their defense looked completely out of sync last week against San Francisco, and it's looking like they won't have wide receiver Greg Jennings this evening, as he's been listed as "doubtful" with a groin injury. The Bears caught the Indianapolis Colts in the first game of the Andrew Luck era, and though they'll have a significantly tougher task this week in facing Aaron Rodgers, the Bears have had good success against him in the past. Throw in that Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall are already clicking, and everything is right for the Bears to get off to a 2-0 start.
Straight-Up: Bears, ATS: Bears
The Rest of the Week
New Orleans Saints (-2.5) at Carolina Panthers
The Saints got a huge dose of RGIII over the weekend, getting thumped by Washington in a game that wasn't as close as the final score indicated. Carolina, on the other hand, forgot that they're primarily a running team, as they generated just ten yards rushing in a loss to Tampa Bay. The Saints are a good enough team to be able to bounce back from their loss this weekend.
Straight-Up: Saints, ATS: Saints
Baltimore Ravens at Philadelphia Eagles (-1)
The Ravens put on one of the most impressive performances of the season's first week, crushing their division rivals from Cincinnati on Monday Night Football. The Eagles, as previously mentioned, backed into a victory over Cleveland. Philadelphia can't win if Michael Vick continues to turn the ball over at such an alarming rate. He might get better at it as the season progresses, but Ed Reed and company will likely get him a couple of times, and that will make the difference in this one.
Straight-Up: Ravens, ATS: Ravens
Kansas City Chiefs at Buffalo Bills (-3)
Going off of the spread, these two teams are evenly matched, since the home team usually gets three points. I just don't know how anyone can like the Buffalo Bills right now. They got throttled by a New York team that scored one touchdown all pre-season, and Ryan Fitzpatrick continued to look horrible since getting his fat contract extension last season. On top of that, they've lost running back Fred Jackson. The Chiefs gave up a ton of points to Atlanta in Week 1, but they should have both Tamba Hali and Brandon Flowers back this week, so that should help them out significantly.
Straight-Up: Chiefs, ATS: Chiefs
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New York Giants (-9)
The Giants became the first team to lose their home opener since the "defending champion opens the season at home" format came into play. Tampa Bay managed a hard-fought victory over Carolina, with the defense looking fairly impressive after the way they ended the 2011 season. The Giants are still a very good team, but these are the Giants. . .they need to put themselves in peril early. It's just what they do. That said, I think they can still handle the Bucs, but it will be closer than the spread indicated.
Straight-Up: Giants, ATS: Buccaneers
Arizona Cardinals at New England Patriots (-15)
The only double-digit spread of Week 2, and after the way the Patriots looked in dismantling Tennessee last week, it's justifiable. The Patriots actually had a decent rushing game, courtesy of Stevan Ridley, and their defense looked impressive as well. The Cardinals will probably be starting Kevin Kolb this week after John Skelton went down with an ankle injury. Kolb led the Cardinals on the game-winning drive against Seattle last week. This still doesn't mean that Kolb is any good. . .he's not. This week's task will be significantly tougher. The last time the Cardinals made the trip to Foxboro, they found themselves on the wrong end of a 47-7 thumping. This game shouldn't be that bad, but my AFC pick for the Super Bowl should still win convincingly. If you're in a Survivor pool, this is a pretty good place to look.
Straight-Up: Patriots, ATS: Patriots
Oakland Raiders (-1.5) at Miami Dolphins
Two teams that found a way to lose ugly in Week 1 meet up in South Beach. The Raiders lost their long snapper on Monday night against San Diego, and wound up losing the game as a result. For Miami, rookie Ryan Tannehill threw interceptions on three consecutive drives against Houston, and that sunk the Dolphins en route to a 20-point loss. I think the Raiders are the better team, and though taking a team from the West Coast that's traveling across three time zones generally isn't a smart idea. . .well, the Dolphins are just that bad.
Straight-Up: Raiders, ATS: Raiders
Houston Texans (-8.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars
The Texans were a chic pick for the Super Bowl going into the season, and they showed why in Week 1 with a 30-10 win over Miami. The Jaguars played in the lone overtime game of Week 1, losing 26-23 in Minnesota after taking the lead with 20 seconds left. If the Jaguars can get a little healthier on defense, and Blaine Gabbert can build on what he did at the Metrodome on Sunday, the Jaguars are going to be a tougher out than a lot of folks want to admit. In this one, however, too much Arian Foster and too much Andre Johnson are going to make things hard for Jacksonville.
Straight-Up: Texans, ATS: Jaguars
Washington Redskins (-3) at St. Louis Rams
The Rams were thisclose to pulling off a huge upset in Week 1, but they couldn't hang on against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Robert Griffin III and company play their second straight game on the road, having blasted the Saints in the season opener. Sam Bradford and company will likely find the sledding much tougher against the Redskins than they did against Detroit, and Washington has a very good chance to get off to a surprising 2-0 start.
Straight-Up: Redskins, ATS: Redskins
Dallas Cowboys (-3) at Seattle Seahawks
The Cowboys looked very impressive after going into
The Meadowlands MetLife Stadium and taking the season opener from the New York Giants. For Seattle, the Russell Wilson era got off to a bit of a rough start. . .despite the team getting an extra time out in the final minutes. . .as they fell to the Cardinals in the desert. The raucous home crowd in Seattle will make things difficult for Tony Romo and company, but in the end, the Cowboys are the better team, and they should be able to win and cover in this one.
Straight-Up: Cowboys, ATS: Cowboys
Tennessee Titans at San Diego Chargers (-7)
The Titans looked bad against the Patriots in Week 1. Granted, the Patriots make a lot of teams look bad, but the Titans were awful. Chris Johnson continues to be the NFL's most overpaid player after another disappointing performance, and Jake Locker wound up with a shoulder separation in last week's game. Apparently he's going to play through it, however. The Chargers got a big assist from Oakland's back-up long snapper in their opening week victory. They might not get that this week, but the odds are very good that they're not going to need it. Their new-look defense should be able to pretty easily contain the Tennessee attack.
Straight-Up: Chargers, ATS: Chargers
New York Jets at Pittsburgh Steelers (-5)
What the heck happened to the Flying Tebows in Week 1? After scoring one touchdown all pre-season, Rex Ryan's club exploded for Week 1's highest point total against the Bills. The Steelers, on the other hand, got dropped by Peyton Manning on Sunday night. Ryan Clark and James Harrison should be back in this one for the Steelers, and they're both big difference makers for the Pittsburgh defense. This one is likely going to turn into a defensive slugfest, and the Steelers should be able to bounce back by a field goal to get themselves back to .500.
Straight-Up: Steelers, ATS: Jets
Denver Broncos at Atlanta Falcons (-3)
The week will conclude with a very interesting match-up at the Georgia Dome. Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and Roddy White led an impressive Atlanta attack against Kansas City in Week 1, while Peyton Manning looked like he hadn't missed a beat in leading the Broncos past the Steelers on Sunday night. The potential is there for a lot of offense in this one, and as much as I like the Falcons, I think that the Broncos defense is just a little bit better, particularly with the Falcons having to shelve cornerback Brent Grimes for the rest of the year with an Achilles injury. Look for the Broncos to take advantage of that, and for them to move to 2-0.
Straight-Up: Broncos, ATS: Broncos
Record Straight-Up: 10-5
Record Against the Spread: 8-7
Lock of the Week: 1-0 straight-up, 0-1 against the spread
Upset of the Week: 1-0 straight-up, 1-0 against the spread