By Jonathan Comey
Cold, Hard Football Facts face hider
To put it mildly, the Cold, Hard Football Facts were all f'ed up in Week 1.
That's what happens when you try and judge a 2007 team by its 2006 numbers – after all, if 2007 was still 2006, then Luciano Pavarotti would be singing in the shower and Bill Belichick would be $500,000 richer.
Not only did we go a shocking 1-6 against the spread in Week 1, we were also 1-6 straight up and 3-4 on the over/under.
It was the single worst week in the slow, overweight, unathletic and self-immolating history of this otherwise humble and phenomenally successful little experiment called the Cold, Hard Football Facts.
The biggest kick in the gridiron gonads came from our very own Bonzo the Idiot Monkey, who went a phenomenal 11-5 against the spread in Week 1 – an embarrassment the likes of which we hadn't experienced since taking our mom to the prom wearing a duct-tape tuxedo back in '86.
But we did save a bunch of money on car insurance by having mom drive the AMC Pacer.
With actual data to go by for Week 2, we expect better results from this edition of the Friday Beer Run
... after all, how could it be worse?
INDIANAPOLIS at TENNESSEE
One Cold, Hard Football Fact that we know is this: Vince Young and Peyton Manning both win games. Young is now 9-5 as a starter in the NFL (64.3 percent), while Manning is 101-57 including playoffs (63.9 percent).
Tennessee will likely try to control the clock to keep the game close – and they appear to have the Hogs to do it with a No. 4-ranked offensive line going against the Colts' middling defensive front.
But the Colts should be able to pass at will against the Titans, while Tennessee (3.2 YPA in Week 1) can't say the same. Bottom line: Indy's a better team.
The score: Indianapolis 24, Tennessee 15
In the big matchup of the week, much of the pregame analysis will focus on the unquantifiable: who's pissed at who, who wants it more, that type of garbage.
But based on one week, these teams will be pitting strength vs. strength and (relative) weakness vs. weakness. The Patriots boast the No. 2 Offensive Hogs after their Week 1 dismantling of the Jets defense; the Chargers the No. 1 Defensive Hogs after embarrassing the Bears offense. The Pats had the No. 2 passing offense, the Chargers the No. 6 passing defense.
Meanwhile, the Chargers did mount much in the passing game (No. 19 in YPA) ... but the Patriots where shredded by Fragile Chad (No. 25 in Defensive Passer Rating).
So, what will give? And who will have a bigger chip on their shoulder, LaDainian Tomlinson or Bill Belichick?
New England won the last meeting between the two, and it seems they've improved dramatically since that playoff victory in San Diego. The only move the Chargers made was to bring in one of the worst head coaches in football. Advantage: New England. Plus, the Patriots will have a friendly crowd as they transition to the inevitable vitriol that will meet the team on the road the rest of the season.
The score: New England 23, San Diego 20
MINNESOTA at DETROIT
This matchup of 1-0 teams is so even that it gets the official Vegas stamp of equality: a three-point nod to Detroit that reflects the standard home-field advantage.
The Vikings allowed just three points in a home win over Atlanta, largely on the strength of their remarkable Bendability (No. 1 in the NFL through one week). Meanwhile, the Lions were No. 5 in Scoreability and put up 36 points in Oakland.
How will that sort itself out? Consider that the Vikings built their stats against the pathetic Falcon offense at home, while the Lions built theirs at an Oakland defense that was supposed to be pretty good.
At this point in the season, the Cold, Hard Football Facts are sketchy. But the Lions offense appears to be ahead of the Minnesota defense, and with the home-field advantage this should be Detroit's day.
The score: Detroit 27, Minnesota 23
SAN FRANCISCO at ST. LOUIS
The St. Louis Rams must surely be better than their numbers from Week 1. They were subpar in all the Quality Stats, and at home no less.
Either it was a fluke, the opposing Panthers were much better than expected, or the Rams are a bad football team.
The 49ers, on the other hand, had an excellent defensive effort against a putrid Arizona team and made the most of their limited success offensively (No. 2 in Scoreability).
Both teams were mostly neutral in the Big Play Index, so it doesn't look like the Rams will get much help there.
All in all, the Cold, Hard Football Facts point to one outcome: a 2-0 juggernaut in San Francisco, and an 0-2 mess in St. Louis. But considering the quality of the respective Week 1 opposition (Arizona sucks, Carolina is decent), the Quality Stat differential at this point in the season does not add up to too much.
The score: St. Louis 21, San Francisco 20
NEW YORK JETS at BALTIMORE
Assuming that signal-stealing won't be a factor in this game, the spread of 11 points seems a bit excessive between playoff teams from a year ago. Then again, the Cold, Hard Football Facts suggested the same thing in Week 1, and the Jets proved conclusively that they were more than deserving touchdown underdogs at home vs. New England.
The Jets will start second-year man Kellen Clemens against a Raven defense that played well up front (7th in the Defensive Hog Index) but poorly in the back (100.3 Defensive Passer Rating). Meanwhile, Kyle Boller could go for the Ravens against a Jet D ranked 32nd in Defensive Passer Rating. Of course, that dismal defensive performance by the Jets came at the hands of Tom Brady and Randy Moss. Kyle Boller could have Gen. Patton's 4th Armored at his side and he wouldn't pose the same kind of threat in the passing game.
Baltimore had an uncharacteristic performance in terms of allowing points in Week 1 – they are 32nd in Bendability after finishing No. 1 in that category last year. We hate to refer to 2006, but that one performance has to be considered a blip on the radar. Plus, the Ravens coughed up the ball six times last week and still lost by a TD in a game that went down to the final seconds. We'll go out on a limb here and say the Ravens won't turn it over six times again this week.
With better numbers, home-field advantage and experience throughout the roster, Baltimore is a clear favorite to win.
The score: Baltimore 22, New York 13
DALLAS at MIAMI
Vegas usually comes up with one major curveball on the spread each week, and this is it for Week 2. Miami (0-1) is favored by 3.5 points against 1-0 Dallas, which means that the smart money says Miami is the better team.
This discrepancy comes despite a higher profile for Dallas and a general acceptance that the Cowboys are the superior team. Plus, the Cowboys racked up 45 points while QB Tony Romo was phenomenal (5 TDs) in their Week 1 win over the Giants. The Dolphins showed multi-hued pastel shades of offensive nothing in a 16-13 loss to Washington.
Ah, but it's AFC vs. NFC, and the AFC's dominance is well-documented.
The numbers suggest this one will be more shootout than slugfest, Both teams were in the bottom 10 in Defensive Hog Index. Miami's so-so offense was better than Dallas' rock-bottom defense a week ago just as Dallas' phenomenal offense was more impressive than Miami's pretty good defense.
Still, the Dolphins didn't do much against a 5-11 team from 2006, while the Cowboys won by 10 against a 2006 playoff team. That tips the scales – after all, the NFC has to win a few of these interconference affairs. They won two of four last week ... and the Dolphins were a victim in one, to a Washington team we don't expect to be as good as Dallas.
Dallas 30, Miami 26