Friday, September 12, 2014

The Hail Mary - Week 2

Sunday, September 14

Miami (1-0) at Buffalo (1-0), Miami favored by 1

The Dolphins got off to an excellent start for the 2014 season, thoroughly dominating the Patriots in the second half and cruising to victory. Now before Dolphins fans go printing playoff tickets, they should remember that Miami started last season 3-0, and ended up missing the playoffs. They didn't have much of a run game last season, but if Knowshon Moreno can play even at 75% the level he did last weekend, the Dolphins should be all set at running back this year. Buffalo is coming off an impressive victory of their own, winning at Chicago. The defense gave up a ton of yards but also forced three turnovers and the offense was surprisingly effective, after a lot of negative talk surrounding that unit in the preseason. EJ Manuel is likely going to be asked to just be a game manager at this point, while the Bills focus on running the ball with Fred Jackson, C.J. Spiller, and Anthony Dixon. I think the Dolphins defense will present more of a challenge for Buffalo then Chicago did, and I like Miami to build off their Week 1 momentum.

Prediction: Miami 20, Buffalo 17

New England (0-1) at Minnesota (1-0), New England favored by 3

Two weeks ago if you had said one of these teams would be winless going into this game, almost no one would have predicted that team would be the Patriots. New England played one of the worst halves of football they have played in a long time last weekend in the second half against Miami. The offense could do nothing and their defense couldn't get pressure on Miami or slow them down. After an average performance, some are beginning to wonder if Tom Brady simply is just a good quarterback at this point, and won't ever regain his elite status. The Vikings Matt Cassel will face his former team for the first time in his career. He was mostly a game manager in Minnesota's win, as the defense and Cordarrelle Patterson did most of the heavy lifting. After the big game Moreno had against New England last week, Adrian Peterson has to be excited about what he might be capable of doing. This is the Vikings first home game at the University of Minnesota, and they will be playing outdoors, although weather shouldn't really be a factor in this one. Hard to imagine the Patriots starting off 0-2 for the first time in 13 years, so somehow and someway I think they take this one.

Prediction: New England 27, Minnesota 20

Jacksonville (0-1) at Washington (0-1), Washington favored by 6

The Redskins overall looked dreadful in their Week 1 loss at Houston. The offense struggled most of the game and when they were able to move the ball, they killed themselves with turnovers. Special teams was still a mess as they had an extra point blocked and a punt blocked that turned into a Houston touchdown. The defense did well enough, only allowing 7 points but wasn't able to get a stop at the end of the game when they needed to. The Skins were running the ball effectively with Alfred Morris but went away from that for some reason, calling stupid gimmick plays for DeSean Jackson. The Jaguars jumped out to a 17-0 lead on the road at Philly but then remembered they are the shitty Jags in the second half and allowed 34 straight points, losing 34-17. Allan Hurns became the biggest pickup in fantasy football with 2 first half touchdowns and playing the Redskins poor secondary he could in for a second big game. Toby Gerhart was dreadful in his first start with Jacksonville and is now dealing with an ankle injury. This will likely be just as ugly as Redskins/Texans was and I am happy that I will be watching football on Sunday at a place with Red Zone so I am not subjected to this entire game. If the Skins lose at home to Jacksonville to fall to 0-2 they may just not win a game this season.

Prediction: Washington 21, Jacksonville 17

Dallas (0-1) at Tennessee (1-0), Tennessee favored by 3 1/2

Not surprisingly, the Cowboys season got off to an ugly start against the 49ers. What did surprise some people, was that it was Tony Romo's fault more than it was the defense's. Romo threw three awful interceptions and put the Cowboys in a position where they had no chance of winning. The Titans surprised everyone by lambasting the Chiefs at Arrowhead. Jake Locker played superbly, but Titans fans have seen this story before and will continue to hold their breaths about his health. The Cowboys want to keep this game close so they have a chance to get DeMarco Murray more involved. It would also be nice for Romo to attempt to throw it to Dez Bryant instead of the other team. I think Dallas will turn in a better performance this week, but it won't be enough to win.

Prediction: Tennessee 31, Dallas 28

Arizona (1-0) at New York Giants (0-1), Arizona favored by 2

These teams had vastly different Monday Night Football experiences. Despite my faith in them, the Giants were completely destroyed by the Lions. The Cardinals overcame a 17-6 deficit in the 4th quarter to beat the Chargers, despite Larry Fitzgerald having just one catch. The Giants offense looked completely out of sync and Manning seemed to have no chemistry with any of his receivers, despite many of them being guys he's played with for years. I would expect both Victor Cruz and Larry Fitzgerald to have much better games for their respective teams than they did to open the season. I am sticking with the Giants for another week, but if they drop this one, I will be convinced that they suck.

Prediction: New York Giants 24, Arizona 20

New Orleans (0-1) at Cleveland (0-1), New Orleans favored by 8 1/2

Both the Browns and Saints lost heartbreakers on last second field goals. The Saints blew a double-digit lead, while the Browns almost came back from a double-digit deficit. The Browns had to have been pleased with their offensive showing in Week 1. Terrance West had 100 yards rushing in place of the injured Ben Tate, and Isaiah Crowell had a touchdown. TE Jordan Cameron is questionable, but Andrew Hawkins picked up the slack from him when he went down last week and could be Hoyer's favorite target. The Saints had to have been happy with the performance of Mark Ingram in Week 1, as he had two touchdowns and rookie WR Brandin Cooks made his presence felt right away. What the Saints were not happy about was their defense reverting to their terrible 2012 form. The Falcons gashed the Saints, making everyone wonder what the hell happened to the improved unit we saw last season. This game will show whether or not that was a one week aberration or a sign of trouble for the Saints this season.

Prediction: New Orleans 34, Cleveland 27

Atlanta (1-0) at Cincinnati (1-0), Cincinnati favored by 5

The Falcons took a major step towards erasing the stink of the 2013 season by defeating the Saints in Week 1. The offense looked fantastic and Matt Ryan looked like himself with his full complement of receivers available to him. The Bengals erased some demons by going to Baltimore and winning and both their offensive and defensive units seemed to be okay despite the change in coordinators. Each team would like to see a little more out of their run games this week but with the amount of talent on the field at receiver, expect the passing games to shine in this one. Julio Jones and A.J. Green will be facing each other for the first time since their SEC days at Alabama and Georgia respectively. The Bengals have been tough to beat at home in recent years, and I expect them to win pretty easily in this one. I don't think Ryan will perform as well with the pressure the Bengals will apply and that will force him into turnovers.

Prediction: Cincinnati 33, Atlanta 21

Detroit (1-0) at Carolina (1-0), Carolina favored by 2 1/2

The Panthers got an impressive road win at Tampa with Cam Newton not playing due to injury and Derek Anderson having to take the reigns. I admit I laughed to myself when #1 Panthers fan Matt Pinto said he had faith in Anderson, but he was proven right. The Panthers defense looked like the dominant unit people expect them to be. The Lions looked great on Monday night, but it remains to be seen if they actually are that good, or the Giants were simply that bad. Playing at Carolina should be a sufficient test, at least to see how good the Lions are offensively. The Panthers will have their hands full with Megatron, who dominated the Giants and dominates just about everyone. I'm still not sold on the Panthers, especially offensively, so going with the Lions.

Prediction: Detroit 20, Carolina 16

St. Louis (0-1) at Tampa Bay (0-1), Tampa Bay favored by 5 1/2

The Rams laid the biggest turd in the NFL in Week 1, losing by 31 points at home to Minnesota. Shaun Hill and Jeff Fisher couldn't seem to agree on whether Hill was benched or hurt. If Hill was benched I think that was an absurd decision by Fisher. You can't give a guy a half to acclimate himself after not starting for 6 years and expect him to be lights out. The Rams defense also looked terrible and now will be without Chris Long for an extended period of time. Tampa Bay seemed to take about a half to wake up and realize the season had started. Josh McCown looked very shaky and Doug Martin got hurt once again. Martin is expected back for this game and I think the porous Rams should cure some of the Bucs ills.

Prediction: Tampa Bay 28, St. Louis 13

Seattle (1-0) at San Diego (0-1), Seattle favored by 6

If Week 1's domination is a sign of things to come, then sadly the Seahawks look to be the favorites to repeat as Super Bowl champions. With the added dimension of Percy Harvin to the offense, and Marshawn Lynch running like a beast, the Seahawks offense looked unstoppable. Their defense looked just as dominant, and the Packers didn't even attempt to throw at Dick Sherman's side of the field. The Chargers had their game in hand but then the bad Chargers from the Norv Turner years reared their ugly head and they blew the lead late. The Chargers didn't do enough to get the ground game going and even if they try to do that Sunday, it may not happen against the stout Seahawks. I think that Seattle will make another statement on Sunday and earn a second straight rout.

Prediction: Seattle 37, San Diego 20

Houston (1-0) at Oakland (0-1), Houston favored by 3

The Texans already have half the wins they had last season, although unfortunately for them they started 2-0 last season before losing 14 in a row. They have a shot to start 2-0 for the second straight year with a game against the putrid Raiders. Derek Carr will be facing the Texans, the team that drafted his older brother with their first ever draft pick. Things didn't work out for David and you know Derek wouldn't mind exacting a little revenge against the franchise. Houston has already lost their number one pick from this past year's draft, Jadaveon Clowney, who will miss 6-8 weeks. Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Texans offense didn't move the ball very well against a poor Redskins defense, and they could fare worse on the road this weekend. The Raiders sometimes seem to pull wins out of their butts in the black hole, and I expect strong showings from Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden to be the difference in this game. Each player had less than 10 carries in last week's loss to the Jets, so that gameplan needs to definitely change in this game.

Prediction: Oakland 19, Houston 16

New York Jets (1-0) at Green Bay (0-1), Green Bay favored by 8

The Packers received a scare when Eddie Lacy had to leave last week's loss to Seattle with a concussion. Despite it being his second concussion in two seasons, all signs are pointing to him playing this weekend against the Jets. Lacy will have his work cut out for him against the Jets front, but Aaron Rodgers should be able to exploit the Jets weak secondary. The Jets might lean on the run, with Chris Johnson and Chris Ivory after seeing how the Seahawks rushing attack manhandled Green Bay last week. Homefield advantage will make a huge difference for Green Bay but I expect the Jets to keep this game close.

Prediction: Green Bay 24, New York Jets 17

Kansas City (0-1) at Denver (1-0), Denver favored by 13 1/2

The Chiefs 2014 season already turned into a nightmare after one week. They were blown out at home by the Titans and lost two defensive starters for the season in Derrick Johnson and Mike DeVito, as both players ruptured their achilles. Fresh off his new contract Alex Smith looked terrible. He was his usual dink and dunk self but he did the one things that he usually never does and that was turn the ball over. Trailing most of the game, Jamaal Charles only had 7 carries, and if Charles isn't doing anything offensively, the Chiefs are going to be hard pressed to score points. They will be helped by the return of WR Dwayne Bowe,w ho is coming off a one game suspension stemming from an arrest in Denver last season. Hard pressed to score points is never a sentence you will read about Peyton Manning and the Broncos. The offense didn't seem to miss Knowshon Moreno or Eric Decker at all with Montee Ball and Emmanuel Sanders comfortably stepping in to take their places. Even the absence of Wes Welker didn't seem to matter much. Tempted to take Denver to cover the huge 13 1/2 point spread but not bold enough.

Prediction: Denver 35, Kansas City 23

Chicago (0-1) at San Francisco (1-0), San Francisco favored by 7

I had most of my fears relieved last Sunday when the 49ers dominated the Cowboys. It wasn't so much that I was surprised San Francisco won or even that it was relatively easy that made me feel better. It was the fact that the offense looked sharp, especially new addition Carlos Hyde, and the defense still looked strong despite all the changes. Now the level of competition wasn't exactly high and I would expect the Bears to be a little tougher, even with the 49ers and their fans being jacked up for the debut of Levi Stadium. However, it doesn't appear the 49ers will be getting a Bears team at full strength. Both Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall have missed practice time this week and are questionable. The Bears are also banged up on the offensive line with Roberto Garza and Matt Slauson fighting injuries. The Bears are coming in as the desperate team after a surprising opening week loss to Buffalo at home. Jay Cutler made some poor throws last weekend that cost Chicago and he could be in trouble with this 49ers secondary, that is coming off a 3 interception game. The 49ers defense will focus much of its game plan around Matt Forte, the Bears dual rushing and receiving threat. Much like the Cowboys porous defense, the Bears aren't much better so there will be plenty of chances for plays to be made by Colin Kaepernick and his plethora of receivers. After this game, I expect things to start getting quite panicky in Chicago come Monday.

Prediction: San Francisco 28, Chicago 20

Monday, September 15

Philadelphia (1-0) at Indianapolis (0-1), Indianapolis favored by 3

Both the Colts and Eagles are dealing with injuries early on in the season. The Colts were already without Robert Mathis for four games due to a suspension and now will be without him for 16 games due to an Achilles tear. The Eagles were already hurting on their offensive line with the suspension of Lane Johnson and now will be without Evan Mathis until at least November. The problems on the line seemed to effect Nick Foles, who was a turnover machine in the first half against Jacksonville last weekend. Andrew Luck seemed to revert back to his 2012 form and threw two interceptions and was too careless with the ball. The Colts once again nearly overcame a huge deficit but it has to be somewhat concerning to their fans that they keep finding themselves in these holes. Trent Richardson continued to look useless but Reggie Wayne had almost 10 catches and remains Luck's favorite passing target. The Colts also did a nice job of using Ahmad Bradshaw out of the backfield as a receiving threat. LeSean McCoy didn't have a rushing day up to his standards but the Eagles had to be encouraged by the breakaway play new acquisition Darren Sproles made. These teams both have good offenses and questionable defenses, so I am expecting a high scoring and entertaining game on Monday night. I give the edge to Indy because of the game being at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Prediction: Indianapolis 34, Philadelphia 27

Last Week Against the Spread: 4-12
Overall Against the Spread: 4-12

Last Week Straight Up: 8-8
Overall Straight Up: 8-8

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