Forget the foreplay … let’s get right down to business. Week 2 NFL picks, coming at ya!
BALTIMORE RAVENS over Pittsburgh Steelers
An interesting statistic: The Pittsburgh Steelers are undefeated in games when Antonio Brown kicks a punter in the head. I can’t imagine that this is something he can do every week.
Miami Dolphins over BUFFALO BILLS
Look, ever since I was a youngster I’ve been used to my favorite football team (the Chicago Bears) starting a quarterback who could almost single-handedly take the Bears out of a game. I mean, Rex Grossman, Kyle Orton, Caleb Hanie, Brian Griese, Craig Krenzel, Chad Hutchinson, Kordell Stewart, Chris Chandler, Jim Miller, Shane Matthews, Cade McNown … my dad and I have been in the foxhole with all of those dudes and they have made making multiple back-breaking mistakes an art form. I’ve learned to deal with the drive-killing interceptions, strip sacks, and wild overthrows. On Sunday I was definitely pissed off that Jay Cutler threw an unnecessary pick in the fourth quarter with the game tied and the Bears in field-goal range, but it’s a pain that I’m accustomed to at this point.
I can’t say that I’m used to the defense letting me down like they did against Buffalo. The Bills only scored 23 points but damn, Bears defenses don’t get embarrassed by running backs like they did on Sunday when Fred Jackson ripped off a run to the 1-yard line in overtime to set up a game-winning field goal. Bears defenses don’t typically allow below-average quarterbacks to make big plays, convert third-and-longs, or sit so calmly in the pocket and figure out which receiver he’s going to throw to. Yes, I’m bitter.
I didn’t think that day would come at home against the lowly Buffalo Bills in the opening game of the season. I sadly sit here humbled, but rather than tucking my tail between my legs and leaving the Bills and their fans alone, I’m going to continue poking and prodding.
Look, it’s what I do. I grew up 30 minutes from Buffalo. I know how Bills fans operate. Right now the bandwagon is filling up rather quickly and Bills fans are thinking to themselves “Hey, this actually might be our year!” If they get by the Miami Dolphins this week they’ll be on StubHub within eight minutes of the game ending looking for Super Bowl tickets. I’ve seen it year after year, and to be honest, I’m actually beginning to appreciate that optimism. I know wholeheartedly the Bears don’t have a shot this year and I had a pretty good idea of that going into the season. Bills fans haven’t had a reason to be truly optimistic about their team in close to 20 years, but they usually don’t start seeing this until around Week 7. Talk about glass half full.
Anyway, I like Miami to sit atop the AFC East after Week 2. The Fins defense stymied a highly capable Patriots offense during the second half of last week’s game and the offense seems to already have an identity (I think they’re going to run the ball a lot and not put too much pressure on Ryan Tannehill right away). I can’t see Buffalo having much more success than New England did scoring on or stopping Miami.
DALLAS COWBOYS over Tennessee Titans
Can we for sure call the Cowboys the home team this week? Did you see how many San Francisco 49ers fans invaded Jerry World and turned it into a de facto Niners home game? I don’t give a crap about any numbers or polls or surveys that say the Cowboys are the biggest draw or most valuable franchise in the NFL … if you try to tell me that Dallas is “America’s Team” and I can’t detect at the very least a sliver of sarcasm in your voice, then I’m calling you a jackass and we’re done talking for the day.
Still though, I’ll take the Cowboys in a pseudo home game against the 1-0 Titans who might be getting a little too much credit for defeating the Kansas City Chiefs. Remember: you, me, and every analyst had KC pegged as the regression team this year. Don’t get all worked up about one road win against a team that is going to go 5-11 this season.
Arizona Cardinals over NEW YORK GIANTS
Should Giants fans be concerned that their team is playing one of the eight best defenses in the league in their home opener? That’s a resounding “yes.” Speaking of resounding, I can see Eli Manning throwing a pick-six or two and being treated to a resounding round of boos from his home crowd just as clearly as the kid in Final Destination saw his plane crashing. Forgive me for the outdated movie reference, I caught part of Final Destination 2 on TV the other night and it was fresh in my mind.
You know what else is fresh in my mind and slightly horrifying, just like Final Destination? Carson Palmer leading the Cardinals on a 90-plus-yard drive in the fourth quarter to take the lead with under three minutes remaining against a playoff team. It’s about that time of year when temperatures start to drop. This year I won’t know if it’s because winter is coming or because hell is freezing over.
New England Patriots over MINNESOTA VIKINGS
Last week I took New England based almost solely on the fact that they hadn’t lost an opening week game since 2003. Well, I’m going with New England again based almost solely on the fact that the last time the Patriots started a season 0-2 was in 2001, when they lost to the Cincinnati Bengals and the Jets back-to-back weeks. To put that in perspective, here are some more fun facts: Week 2 of the 2001 NFL season was postponed a week because of the September 11 attacks. Drew Bledsoe started both of those games for the New England Patriots. Michael Jordan was getting ready to return for the Washington Wizards. “I’m Real” by Jennifer Lopez and Ja Rule was the No. 1 song in the United States (who else misses Ja Rule?). Barry Bonds was on the verge of breaking Mark McGwire’s single-season home run record because like McGwire, Bonds was roided out of his mind. Lance Armstrong was a few months removed from winning his third Tour de France because like Bonds and McGwire, he was roided out of his mind.
The morals of the story: don’t use steroids and don’t pick against the Patriots this week. You’re welcome for another walk down memory lane and for the health notice.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS over Washington Redskins
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS over St. Louis Rams
Houston Texans over OAKLAND RAIDERS
I have a sneaking suspicion that one of these three games is going to be Hector Diaz’s selection for the NFL SNOUT Matchup of the Week.
New Orleans Saints over CLEVELAND BROWNS
A slightly more intriguing matchup than I expected it would be last Saturday. New Orleans isn’t to be trusted outdoors—only 7-12 over the last three seasons when they aren’t playing Under the Dome—and even in the Atlanta Falcons’ dome their defense didn’t look too trustworthy. As my friend Weston put it during the game, “I just don’t think things are ever supposed to go well for the Ryan brothers.” Maybe that’s the case. As usual, the Saints offense will move the ball and put up points. But I can’t sit here and pretend that New Orleans doesn’t have an occasional hiccup on the road against a team they’re supposed to beat. I also can’t pretend that Cleveland didn’t look surprisingly frisky even after putting themselves in a 27-3 hole on the road against the Pittsburgh Steelers last week. Even though I’m going to channel my inner Lee Corso and say that I think this game will be closer than the experts think, I still think New Orleans avoids going 0-2.
CINCINNATI BENGALS over Atlanta Falcons
Detroit Lions over CAROLINA PANTHERS
The two most intriguing games of the 1:00 p.m. eastern slate double as the games that will reveal the most about the teams playing in them. As far as I’m concerned, there are a whopping nine questions to be answered in these two games:
1: Can Atlanta win outside of the Georgia Dome? They have that “better indoors” thing going on just like New Orleans.
2: Will the Falcons offense look just as good against a great defense as they did against a defense that looked like they couldn’t collectively stop a nosebleed?
3: Can we trust Andy Dalton when he’s playing against an elite quarterback? Yeah, I’m calling Matt Ryan an elite quarterback and I’m not even thinking twice about it.
4: Will Cincinnati be able to establish their running game or does Andy Dalton have to throw 38 times a game?
5: Even if it’s in a loss, will Atlanta look like the class of the NFC South?
6: Like I wonder with Atlanta, will the Lions offense look just as good against a great defense as they did against a defense that looked like they couldn’t collectively stop a nosebleed?
7: Is Carolina’s offense that much better with Cam Newton under center?
8: Has Detroit’s defense turned the corner and caught up with their offense?
9: Am I really supposed to trust Jim Caldwell or Ron Rivera?
Seattle Seahawks over SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
You can’t be quite as confident taking Seattle on the road as you can when they’re playing at CenturyLink Field, but at least they are staying out west for their game against San Diego. The Chargers plodded their way to only 17 points at Arizona on Monday night and gave up two fourth-quarter scores to Carson Palmer. Yikes! Arizona feels to me like the poor man’s Seattle, so I don’t see why:
1: San Diego would have more success offensively when Seattle’s defense can do everything that Arizona did to bother the Chargers, only better. San Diego’s receivers couldn’t get open against Arizona, and now I’m supposed to believe that they will against the best secondary in the league?
2: San Diego should be expected to slow down Seattle’s offense, especially with a healthy Percy Harvin in the picture. It feels like the Seahawks’ offensive ceiling is higher than it was last year and that’s mildly frightening.
Seattle is the alpha dog until someone knocks them off. And I’m not picking anyone to knock them off until I see it happen first.
DENVER BRONCOS over Kansas City Chiefs
If you were silly enough to remain aboard the Kansas City Chiefs bandwagon, you might want to hop off that sucker right now. The offensive game plan was baffling—only 11 touches for Jamal Charles … what the hell?—and the defense took two major hits losing Derrick Johnson and Mike DeVito to dueling Achilles tears. If Charles continues to get only 11 touches per game and the defense keeps losing two starters per week, the Chiefs are in a world of hurt; even more so than they are in this week visiting the defending AFC Champions.
By the way, did you know that after Denver curb stomps the regressing-before-our-eyes Kansas City Chiefs this week they go to Seattle next week? How the hell is this not a prime time game? Is that the best Week 3 game ever? We’re going to find out who the regular season alpha dog is after only three weeks … that’s tremendous.
GREEN BAY PACKERS over New York Jets
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS over Chicago Bears
God, Sunday is going to be a gloomy football day in the Giuliano household. The Packers are going to trounce the Jets—my mom’s favorite team—and then the Bears are going to be victimized by the 49ers in their Levi’s Stadium opener. There is nothing fun about any of that. I can only hope …
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS over Philadelphia Eagles
… that this Monday Night Football matchup can cheer me up. Two high-powered offenses and questionable defenses? I’m not a betting man, but I advise you to take the over in points and in fun. Philadelphia dug themselves out of a 17-0 hole at Jacksonville and ended up winning and covering, but a ton of red flags popped up. Most notably, Nick Foles looked human and the Chad Henne/Allen Hurns duo looked like Joe Montana and Jerry Rice during the first half. Like Philly, Indy found themselves trailing big in the first half but couldn’t come away with the win like the Eagles did. At this point, that’s just par for the course for Andrew Luck and the Colts. They fall behind, never panic, and slowly but surely work their way out of trouble and back into the game
You know who should follow Indianapolis’ lead? Steve Kubitza. Steve provides readers with a Weekly NFL Bettors Guide and last week he laid down a challenge to find out who the premier game picker is here at Baller Mind Frame. So I’ll be going forward picking the games straight-up—admittedly much easier than picking games using the spread—and Steve will be picking the games using spreads. The loser gets kicked in the head by Antonio Brown. Hey, let’s check out that video one more time.
Last Week: 11-5