Week 2 NFL Picks Counting on a Tony Romo Turnaround, Tom Brady Encore


September 18, 2011

Week 2 NFL Picks Counting on a Tony Romo Turnaround, Tom Brady Encore How many things really went as expected in Week 1 of the NFL season?

Sure, you could have seen Tom Brady and the Patriots' offense performing well, and you could've seen the stinker by Kerry Collins and Co. coming a mile away, and I suppose, yes, a Tony Romo fourth-quarter meltdown was in order.

But for the most part, you had Cam Newton as the best quarterback on Sunday, a playoff team completely collapsing against the Bills, a left-for-dead Jaguars team winning a football game and the defending AFC champions losing by 28 points in a matchup that generally ends with a three-point victory for one team or the other. Oh, and the Redskins won a game.

Yes, indeed, the unpredictable NFL is back and as good as ever.

I got completely slammed in Week 1, going 4-11-1 with my picks. I looked back to last year for some inspiration, but I went 6-10. The year before, I went 8-8. Clearly, Week 1 is not my thing, but I seem to be getting worse. Maybe next year I'll get the elusive 0-for-16 I've always dreamed of.

Don't get scared off, though. If you know this picks column, you know that I'll be back at mediocrity in no time.

You also know that I won't be short on any Ridiculous Quotes From Last Week's Picks (RQFLWP), either.

(Home team in caps.)

NEW YORK JETS (-9.5) over Jacksonville
The Jets just find new ways to bug me. I, like many others, had them at -4.5 last week. They were down by about 50 points in the second half so I just chalked that up as a loss. I wasn't too upset because hey, at least the Jets were losing, and who doesn't like to watch the Jets lose? It's just fun, and that's a fact.

Then, as it became clear that the Cowboys didn't want to win at all, I figured I'd least I'd get my pick right. Nope. Jets win by three. Thanks for nothing.

As for this game, I don't see the Jaguars stringing together wins too often this year, especially when facing a quality opponent.

RQFLWP: "I'm picking Jacksonville, just because. That reasoning, in this instance, is as good as any. You'll see."

Note: This turned out to be correct, which only makes it more ridiculous.

Chicago (+7) over NEW ORLEANS
You know, as thrilled as I was for the first NFL Sunday of the year, I was incredibly disappointed to see the Bears on my TV at 1 p.m. Granted, that national anthem was enough to bring on several cases of the chills, but there's just something about watching the Bears play at home that turns me off.

That said, having to watch the Bears, I came away impressed. It turns out they're a decent team when Caleb Hanie and Todd Collins aren't involved. I obviously think highly of the Saints' offense, but their defense was pitiful in that Thursday night game that everyone seemed to think was a perfect picture of NFL beauty. Call me crazy, but I like the occasional interception to interrupt the scoring from time to time.

Anyway, we'll find out a lot about both of these teams this week, but I don't think you're crazy if you have this one tabbed as the upset of the week.

Oakland (+3.5) over BUFFALO
OK, so last week, I wrote some disparaging comments about the Buffalo Bills. I may or may not have said I won't bother to write more than 50 words about the Bills unless they were double-digit underdogs. This didn't go over well, naturally, with some Bills fans, so consider this a formal apology: I am sorry for writing off your Buffalo Bills.

That felt weird.

Moving on, the Bills were out of control on Sunday, and I was convinced that someone at CBS headquarters was drunk when punching in the scores on the bottom of my screen. It turned out to be true, and Ryan Fitzpatrick is hereby on the "potentially dangerous quarterbacks on any given Sunday" list.

However, I've seen this from the Bills before. They pretty much beat the Patriots in the season opener in 2009 (you'll remember Tom Brady/Ben Watson's miracle comeback), and they finished the season 7-9. They played the Dolphins tight in Week 1 last year, and they got shellacked 34-7 the following week. They finished the year 4-12.

So, hopefully without offending too many Bills fans, I'll remain skeptical of their ability to string it together.

RQFLWP: "They are not a very good football team, so to blabber on about the Bills is just not worth … (word limit!)"

Note: Yeah, yeah. Egg on my face and all of that.

WASHINGTON (-4) over Arizona
This contest wins the weekly "Game I Don't Want to Watch" award. Did you know that Rex Grossman has only thrown for 300 yards four times in 35 starts? More importantly, do the Giants know that? Cam Newton exposed a flaw or two in that 'Zona defense that makes me think Rex might pull off two in a row for the first time since college.

RQFLWP: "If Washington's only giving three points, I'm not going to waste your time by writing anything."

Baltimore (-6) over TENNESSEE
The Ravens played better than anyone last week. The Titans lost to the Jaguars. What am I missing here?

Seattle (+15) over PITTSBURGH
Is it bad that I really want to take the Steelers here? It's pretty bad for Seattle, I know that.

I do think the Steelers are going to come out flying after getting completely embarrassed last week, but at the same time, any spread that's more than two touchdowns makes me nervous. Yes, even if Tarvaris Jackson is involved. The fact is, even though the Seahawks lost by 16 last week, it was two plays that absolutely killed them. I'm willing to give them another week before deeming them so bad that they can't keep within 15 points of a team that lost by 28 the week before. You followed that, right?

RQFLWP: "I have a feeling Pittsburgh's going to be ready for this season opener."

Note: This was false.

Green Bay (-10) over CAROLINA
The Packers are going to score a lot of points this year. They may have more touchdowns than punts. They already do.

But I'm intrigued by Mr. Newton here. Clay Matthews and Co. are no doubt picking out each one of his flaws in film as you're reading this, so it'll be hard for him to put forth a worthy encore performance. However, 422 yards in your debut is almost too much for me to go against you when you're a 10-point underdog seven days later.

I was going to take the Panthers with the points here, but Newton will quickly realize that he's not in Arizona anymore. These are the Super Bowl champs.

RQFLWP: "I'll just say that I foresee a Jimmy Clausen sighting Sunday afternoon."

Note: Not only did Newton's performance make Clausen's presence meaningless, but Clausen didn't even get to wear a uniform on Sunday. Not bad for a 48th-overall pick.

MINNESOTA (-3) over Tampa Bay
Josh Freeman may be good and all, but if he's only going to get 28 combined rushing yards from his two running backs, as he did on Sunday, he's not going to get the chance to prove it. How many running backs gained 28 yards on one play last week? Yikes.

Well, the Vikings played some decent run defense last week (80 yards combined between Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert), so here's betting that continues.

As a side note, can I just say that I miss Brett Favre? I know it's wrong, but at the very least he made the Vikings' games more humorous. Donovan McNabb's 39-yard performances just aren't as hilarious. Come back, Brett!

Cleveland (-2) over INDIANAPOLIS
Imagine if you saw this line in July. You wouldn't believe it. But here we are, in Kerry Collins' world, where the Colts can't do anything right.

I don't usually keep track of where the action goes for most of the games, but if one soul picks Indy, I will be stunned. The funny part is that when you look at Collins' stats, they don't jump out as horrific, and Reggie Wayne even put together a stat line that had plenty of fantasy geeks jumping for joy (seven catches, 106 yards, touchdown). But golly gee, that team is a mess without its quarterback/offensive coordinator/assistant head coach/marketing chief.

RQFLWP: "But can the Texans cover a nine-digit spread, even against a Manning-less Colts team?"

Note: This was only a question if you added "in the first 15 minutes of the game" to end of it. Even then, the answer was, "Yes, absolutely."

DETROIT (-8.5) over Kansas City
I forgot last week how much I didn't believe in Todd Haley. That's on me.

Now, a week after getting embarrassed on their home field, I fully expect the Chiefs to want to prove it was an aberration. And I fully expect Haley to botch it.

Somewhere in Florida, Charlie Weis giggles.

Dallas (-3) over SAN FRANCISCO
It's good to know that Jerry Jones thinks Tony Romo played lights out. That's great. Good for the Cowboys.

As much as I want to go against the Cowboys, I can't shake the fact that San Francisco never won on consecutive weeks last year. The Niners did win consecutive games, but there was a bye week in between. I know it's the Jim Harbaugh era, but he's going to need to show me this is a different Niners team.

So show me, Jim.

MIAMI (+3) over Houston
As obvious as this one seems, it's tearing me up inside. On the one hand, the Patriots ripped apart the Miami defense while the Texans made the Colts look like a JV high school team. On the other, Chad Henne was tough as nails, Brandon Marshall was flat-out superhuman, and the Colts pretty much were a JV high school team.

This is Miami's one chance to save the season. It's early, yes, but this year started in such a negative place with Tony Sparano's awkward summer and the fans booing Henne that if the team starts 0-2 at home, then they might as well pack up and prepare for the draft. I did see at least a little fight and a little fire on Monday night from the Fins, so I'm thinking they postpone the inevitable.

This does, however, qualify as my "Pick I Will Almost Assuredly Regret by the End of the First Quarter." So you can tell I'm pretty confident.

Random stat that may or may not have an effect on this game: Covers.com tells me that Miami is 17-46-1 against the spread in its last 64 home games. Did I mention I plan on regretting this one?

NEW ENGLAND (-7.5) over San Diego
If you want to read up on the Chargers this week, this is the first thing you'll see:

Like a Canadian Mounty, Vaughn Martin is riding to the rescue.

Well he's from Canada anyway and how many NFL defensive linemen can say that?

Martin is going to be pressed into a starting role Sunday, hoping to help the Chargers stem the explosive Patriots offense.

If that's not the greatest piece of writing I've ever seen, then I don't know what is. Martin, though, is there to replace Luis Castillo, which is a pretty heavy loss for Week 1 of the season.

I'm not entirely confident that the Patriots roll quite as easily as they did last week, but I'm pretty sure it's against the law to go against the guy who just passed for 517 yards. I'll check, but for now, I'll go with New England.

DENVER (-4.5) over Cincinnati
Get it away! Get this game away! Please!

FALCONS (+2) over Philadelphia
The Falcons are too consistent to put back-to-back stinkers. They haven't lost in consecutive weeks since Weeks 12 and 13 in 2009.

NEW YORK GIANTS (-6) over St. Louis
In the "Who Had a More Disappointing Week 1?" Bowl, I'll take the Giants, only because, by my count, the Rams suffered 39 injuries.

Last week: 4-11-1

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