Real and spectacular Week 2 picks
Cold, Hard Football Facts for Sep 18, 2009
We promised that our Week 1 picks would be just like Teri Hatcher's breasts in the famous Seinfeld episode: they're real and they're spectacular.
We nearly delivered on the spectacular part, with a 13-3 mark straight up and 10-6 ATS. We were 10-4 ATS heading into the pair of Monday night openers, but both the Patriots and Chargers failed to cover big spreads against inferior teams. But hey, don't blame them: they won the games ... the Bills, the Raiders and the Cold, Hard Football Facts are the ones who lost Monday night.
Still, not a bad week. We'll try to build on the momentum here in Week 2.
Carolina at Atlanta (-6.5)
Jake Delhomme has made so many missteps in his past two games that it reminds us of the time at the CHFF company Christmas party when we line-danced to "Achy-Breaky Heart."
John Fox gave Delhomme the proverbial "vote of confidence" this week, but also signed A.J. Feeley as a back-up. It's hard to believe this team has fallen so far so fast in the last two games – they were 12-4 and legit Super Bowl contenders before Delhomme's colossal meltdowns. It's also hard to believe they'll win this game against rising power Atlanta.
However, the meltdowns gotta end some time soon don't they? We say it ends when Fox looks up and down his roster and realizes that there's a guy on his roster named DeAngelo Williams has averaged a stunning 5.35 YPA over his past two seasons (417 for 2,232) and decides to actually hand him the rock a few times. Williams was given just 26 attempts over the last two crushing losses – which is only slightly more than the number of turnovers Delhomme has committed in the same two games. Williams has a big day against the still unproven Falcons defensive front and makes it respectable.
Atlanta 26, Carolina 21
Minnesota (-9.5) at Detroit
Wow! A colossal battle of statistical jugger-nots!!! As noted elsewhere, we haven't been this excited since free beer night at the Pleasure Dome.
For a full report on our take on this game, including Cold, Hard Football Facts never before published anywhere else, click here.
Minnesota 31, Detroit 16
Cincinnati at Green Bay (-8.5)
The Packers are our pick to be one of our surprise teams in the NFC, the club that will reassert control of the NFC North with its strong offense and its return to defensive prowess.
The Bengals are our constant source of great ridicule. Sure, they completely blew the game last week in a manner that was embarrassing even by Bungles standards – but that's what the Bungles do.
The league's worst offense last year (12.8 PPG) is trying – in true post-Paul Brown Cincy spirit – to lower the bar again this year: they went 59 scoreless minutes last week against a struggling Denver team. They simply don't have the firepower to keep up with the crew from Mr. Rodgers neighborhood.
Green Bay 27, Cincinnati 13
Arizona at Jacksonville (-3.5)
Ken Whisenhunt's Cardinals are just 6-11 on the road since he took over in 2007, and only two of those wins have come out of the division (Cincinnati, natch, in 2007) and Carolina in last year's playoffs.
Barring a colossal Delhomme-esque meltdown by David Garrard, nothing changes this week, either, and the Doomsday Clock on Jack "Tick, Tick, Tick" Del Rio is moved back a couple minutes.
Jacksonville 23, Arizona 17
Oakland at Kansas City (-2.5)
Perhaps the toughest game of the week: two teams who showed signs of breakthrough victories, only to breakdown in the final moments like Frankie C. when he got the news that Swayze had died.
The Chiefs and Brodie Croyle – he of the 0-9-as-an-NFL-starter Croyles – had just scored late in the fourth quarter to forge a shocking 24-24 tie with the mighty Ravens. You know how it ended: KC surrendered a 31-yard TD pass with 2:14 to play, and then suffered two sacks and two incomplete passes in their two-minute-drill drive. The Ravens quickly piled on with an insurance score.
The Raiders lost in similarly disturbing late-game fashion, snatching indignity from the jaws of respectability: they pieced together a critical TD drive to take a 20-17 lead with 2:41 to play and all looked good. And then, with all the slow, ponderous inevitability of Hannibal's elephants crossing the Alps, the Chargers ripped off an 89-yard drive and scored the winning TD with 18 seconds on the clock.
So here's our prediction: for the first time in history, both teams surrender scores on the last play of regulation and we go into overtime. When it becomes apparent halfway through the extra session that neither team really wants to win, the refs call it off and the game ends in a premature tie.
Kansas City 21, Oakland 21
New England (-5.5) at N.Y. Jets
Teams that have promised to lay a brutal beating on the Patriots this decade are 0-781 in actually living up to their own misguided hype. Apparently Kerry Rhodes never got the memo – and hasn't looked at his team's record against New England at home in recent years (that'd be 0-8 for those of you keeping score in your own home).
The Patriots aren't firing on all cylinders yet, not enough to blow the Jets out of the water – while the Jets are showing signs of improvement on defense and rookie QB Mark Sanchez looked sharp in his debut.
On the other side of the ball, the Patriots defense will not make anyone forget the 2000 Ravens anytime soon, but Belichick has a long history of finding ways to confuse young quarterbacks and force them into critical mistakes.
But some trends are hard to go against, and this is one of them: the Jets have not beat the Patriots in the Meadowlands since 2000, when Drew Bledsoe was still leading the so-called offense. New England's victories include a 19-10 win last year in Matt Cassel's first NFL start, and a 44-7 shellacking of the Jets in 2002 – the year that the 9-7 Jets edged out the Patriots on tiebreakers for their last division crown.
It hasn't even been close, really: the Patriots have outscored the Jets in the Meadowlands in these eight games by a 2 to 1 margin.
It won't be that ugly this week. But the Jets should learn to win first, talk later.
New England 27, N.Y. Jets 20
New Orleans at Philadelphia (-1.5)
Real interesting match-up in the early race for supremacy in the NFC. The New Orleans offense looked awesome against the Lions last week – but as we've seen elsewhere the week, the Lions have the worst pass defense that's ever existed and it might only get worse here in 2009. Brees won't find the Eagles defense so generous.
And, keep in mind, the Saints had their own defensive problems last year and lost amid the excitement of Brees's big six-TD day in Week 1 is the fact that his team surrendered 27 points to a very bad Lions team led by a rookie quarterback.
The Eagles assert power over the Saints, with or without Donovan McNabb leading the way.
Philadelphia 26, New Orleans 23
Houston at Tennessee (-6.5)
Here's our prediction for you: the Titans get their sh*t back together when kicker Rob Bironas gets his sh*t back together. He doesn't miss a field goal in this game, and the Titans cruise at home against a Texans team that was utterly disappointing on both sides of the ball in their Week 1 loss to the Jets.
The Titans were crushed by their loss at Pittsburgh last week – but the fact remains that they battled into OT on the road against the Super Bowl champs and nearly won the game. Kerry Collins & Co. will find that the Texans defense is not nearly as stiff as the one they faced in Pittsburgh.
Tennessee 27, Houston 17
St. Louis at Washington (-9.5)
The Rams are so bad we wish they were a college girl dressed in one of those short little plaid dresses so that we could bend them over our knee and spank them.
But maybe we should keep that to ourselves.
The Redskins didn't have enough firepower to top the tough Giants on the road last week. But they'll feel like they just pushed the stick-shift into overdrive against a team that was statistically and physically humiliated in Seattle last week. Now the Rams head from the West Coast to the East Coast for a similar beating.
Washington 27, St. Louis 14
Tampa Bay at Buffalo (-4.5)
This might be the toughest game to pick on paper, with no real way to gauge either team.
Are the Bills the team that fended off the Patriots for 57 minutes, or the team that reverted to form in the final three minutes, blowing a sure victory?
Are the Bucs really that bad again on defense – much like they were over the last quarter of 2009 – or was their shredding at the hands of Dallas simply a sign that the 'Pokes are ready to fire on all cylinders this year?
We don't know at this point in the season. But we believe the Bills have enough on both sides of the ball to pull out a tough victory.
Buffalo 21, Tampa Bay 20
Seattle at San Francisco (-1.5)
The Seahawks should win the division, with the 49ers breathing down their throat late in the season and fighting for a wildcard spot. But here in the first meeting of the year, San Francisco holds serve at home and, after its Week 1 win at Arizona, makes an early statement in the NFC West: "We're back!"
San Francisco 23, Seattle 20
Pittsburgh (-2.5) at Chicago
In the realm of teams capable of routinely pulling out gutty victories, the Steelers lord of the NFL fiefdom right now, while the Bears are dirt-faced serfs reduced to working the land on behalf of their medieval masters.
But lost amid the despair over Cutler's four-pick performance is the fact that the Bears still had a chance to win on the road until the very late stages of the game against a pretty good Packers club – a near statistical miracle considering that teams that throw four picks lose almost 100 percent of the time, according to the CHFF interception ladder.
But here's the problem: Cutler is suffering a crisis of confidence, the Steelers are still a formidable defensive force even without Troy Polamalu, the Bears defense will miss a beat without Brian Urlacher, and just one of these teams and one of these quarterbacks has proven he has what it takes to gut out tough victories.
If Cutler throws zero picks, the Bears will not only cover but win outright. But that critical mistake or two will give the Steelers the win.
Pittsburgh 24, Chicago 17
Cleveland at Denver (-2.5)
Broncos fans start to feel real good about the horseshoe they have playing quarterback. Folks in Cleveland haven't felt real good since that 27-0 win over the Colts ... back in 1964.
Denver 24, Cleveland 16
Baltimore at San Diego (-3.5)
We called last week for one road-dog to win outright and they pulled it off, albeit with a miracle (Denver over Cincinnati). We expect another one to do it this week:
The Ravens are the superior team right now, whether they play along the Chesapeake or along the Pacific. Sure, they let the Chiefs hang around too long, but the Chargers did the same thing with the Raiders.Dallas 27, N.Y. Giants 21The Colts cruise despite their limited corps of wide receivers, besting the spread on the road at the city of their Super Bowl XLI title.The Dolphins, Week 1 losers, quickly start to wonder if the 2008 season was just a mirage.Indy 26, Miami 20
Baltimore 24, San Diego 21
N.Y. Giants at Dallas (-2.5)
The Giants, playing at home last week, barely held off a Redskins teams that still has serious questions about its offense. The Cowboys, meanwhile, went on the road and lit up the Bucs like the candlelight vigil Frankie C. continues to hold in honor of Swayze.
The Cowboys will be playing at home for the first time in their new stadium, in front of the largest U.S. crowd in NFL history. And it's still September, which means it's still Romo's time to shine.
Indianapolis (-2.5) at Miami