Week 2 real and spectacular picks
Cold, Hard Football Facts for Sep 17, 2010
The Cold, Hard Football Facts real and spectacular picks generated mixed results in Week 1. We were an awful 8-7 straight up (we did not pick the Thursday night Vikings-Saints game). That's one of our worst performances straight up in ages. Maybe it was opening-day jitters.
You know how nervous a Troll gets around sunlight or a woman.
However, we did nail our Game of the Week pick at Sports Illustrated, accurately predicting Houston's upset win over Indianapolis. (This we tackle Pittsburgh-Tennessee, giving the edge to the Titans.)
We also went just 7-6 against the spread (two pushes). So those numbers are humble. But on the very bright side, it was another in an incredible streak of winning weeks ATS since the start of the 2009 season. We've now delivered 15 winning weeks ATS in 18 opportunities.
In other words, Uncle CHFF has been very good to you ... opening day jitters and all. So stuff that in your face and motorboat it, you old sailor, you.
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Buffalo at Green Bay (-14)
The Packers were one of the great statistical powers of 2009, and they indicated that they will be one again in Week 1 of 2010. Green Bay marched into Philly last week and took a commanding 27-10 lead in the third quarter before holding on for a 27-20 win.
The Bills don't have near the firepower of Philly and will struggle to compete on the road, let alone actually win, in the wake of their typically frustrating 15-10 home loss to the Dolphins last week.
Defensively, the 2009 Bills might have had a fighting chance: the team finished No. 2 in Defensive Passer Rating, thanks largely to rookie Jairus Byrd's league-leading nine INT. But the injured Byrd (groin) did not play last week, and the defense failed to impress as a result (he's not on the injury report this week).
The incredibly efficient Aaron Rodgers should rebound from his two-pick effort against the Eagles and have a field day against the Bills. We're rolling big on the Packers, a shocking-by-NFL-standards two-TD favorite.
Green Bay 30, Buffalo 13
Miami at Minnesota (-6)
Brett Favre, Adrian Peterson and the high-powered-on-paper Vikings offense struggled to find a groove on the road last week at New Orleans, but that losing effort came against the Super Bowl champs and one of the league's toughest pass defenses of 2009 (No. 3 in Defensive Passer Rating).
The Dolphins pose few statistical challenges or personnel advantages that should frighten the Vikings. Perhaps more compellingly, the Vikings haven't lost a home game since December 2008. The Dolphins, meanwhile, boast just three Quality Wins on the road since 2006.
Minnesota 27, Miami 20
Kansas City at Cleveland (-2)
Have the Chiefs turned a corner? They've won their last two games against seemingly superior teams – a 44-24 beat down of the Broncos in Denver in the 2009 finale, and last week's surprising 21-14 home win against perennial AFC West power San Diego.
However, Kansas City was dominated statistically by the Chargers (389 yards to 197), and needed a 94-yard punt return by Dexter McCluster to eke out the win. You can't expect to pull rabbits out of your hat each week like that.
The Browns, meanwhile, had the appearance of a team that had in fact turned a corner: they ripped off four straight wins to close out the 2009 season after a 1-11 start. But then they laid an egg last week at Tampa, losing 17-14 to a team that went 3-13 in 2009. There's no way to paint a pretty face on that pig.
Browns QB Jake Delhomme looked much like the mistake master we had seen in recent years in Carolina: 6.1 YPA, 2 INT, 59.2 passer rating. He's injured right now and doubtful for Sunday, which means Seneca Wallace will likely get the nod. Normally, putting the ball in the hands of your No. 2 is a problem. Except when Delhomme is your No. 1.
Kansas City QB Matt Cassel did not impress in his first game (68 yards), but he threw no picks on a day when one would have killed his team, and we won against a superior opponent. More importantly, Kansas City found a way to stifle San Diego's high-powered offense.
Can't believe we're saying this ... but we like the Chiefs to win on the road. Two-and-oh! Two-and-oh!!!
Kansas City 19, Cleveland 16
Chicago at Dallas (-9)
The NFL has disrespected its fans and the sport itself with this perfect pigskin primer in how not to play football. (You might remember that CHFF Father of the Year Luis Deloureiro banned his kids from watching football after last week's Dallas game.) The Bears and Cowboys fielded two of the least efficient offenses in football last year. Week 1 of the 2010 season delivered more of the same, as we discussed in great detail this week.
The Bears racked up a league-high 463 yards of offense in the opener, but scored just 19 points in a narrow win over the pathetic Lions. The Cowboys ripped off a highly respectable 380 yards on the road against Washington, but turned all those yards into just seven points.
The year-old trends add up to an ugly game. It's hard to see one team playing well enough to run away with the victory.
Dallas 23, Chicago 20
Arizona at Atlanta (-7)
Few teams show such a great disparity between their performances at home and on the road than the Falcons: they're 13-3 at home, and 7-10 on the road, in the Matt Ryan Era.
Atlanta actually put up a fight last week on the road, taking perennial power Pittsburgh into overtime before losing 15-9. The Cardinals showed very little fight last week on the road against the terrible Rams and a quarterback making his first NFL start. Arizona hung on for a 17-13 win.
The Cardinals are struggling, in other words, and the Falcons love that home cooking. And so do we. Hey, Georgia Giril Paula Deen's Southern-fried chicken for everybody!
Atlanta 27, Arizona 17
Tampa Bay at Carolina (-3.5)
We have a habit of overrating the Panthers, as do many pigskin "pundits" for some reason. It's something about the combination of tough ground game, hard-nosed defense and old-school coach that seems so attractive – a sort of Pittsburgh Lite.
Coupled with what we pegged as an up-and-coming quarterback in Matt Moore, it made for a great combination.
Of course, that combination fell flatter than our 7th-grade girlfriend in a 31-18 loss at the Giants. Carolina was outplayed in every aspect of the game, lowlighted by five turnovers.
Tampa, meanwhile is coming off a rare win – but a 17-14 home victory against the semi-pro team from Cleveland is hardly cause for celebration.
At the risk of overrating the Panthers once again, we like them to limit the turnovers and cruise at home against a team they've outscored by an average of 10.7 PPG in their last three meetings.
Carolina 26, Tampa Bay 16
Philadelphia (-4.5) at Detroit
You don't go four seasons with a total of 12 wins without finding new and creative ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. The Lions proved they're at the vanguard of the creative defeat bandwagon last week, when they watched a last-second game-winning touchdown against Chicago in Week 1 get overturned by the "continuation rule" – which riled up the Trolls last week.
With that said, the Lions were practically run off the field by an average Bears team last week – they were outgained 463 yards to 168 – and survived to almost win thanks only to Chicago's own incompetence in situational football.
Whether Kevin Kolb or Michael Vick is at quarterback, the Eagles will roll like a beer barrel at Oktoberfest this week. Perfect timing, too: Oktoberfest kicked off Saturday! The Chief Troll will be reporting from the beer tents of Munich next week, much like he did last year.
Philadelphia 31, Detroit 17
Baltimore (-1.5) at Cincinnati
Sure, the Bengals are at home, yet they don't have a shot. The strength of the team last year was defense. But the Patriots in Week 1 took all of five plays to puncture a hole in that unit. In fact, they made minced meat of Cincy's decent Defensive Hogs: the Bengals enter Week 2 of 2010 with the last-ranked D-Hogs in the biz: they failed to stop the run, they failed to put pressure on Tom Brady (zero Negative Pass Plays) and they failed to get off the field on third down.
The Ravens aren't as good on offense as New England, but they certainly should be better on offense than we saw last year and last week. And they will be better on defense than Cincy. Look for the Baltimore offense to have success on the ground (about 5.5 YPA) and force four Negative Pass Plays.
Baltimore 23, Cincinnati 17
Pittsburgh at Tennessee (-5.5)
This is our Sports Illustrated Game of the Week. Click here for our fact-filled look at the contest.
Tennessee 24, Pittsburgh 20
Seattle at Denver (-3.5)
'Hawks-Broncs might be the toughest game on the board this week. Seattle impressed in Week 1, but at home against the flawed 49ers. The Broncos disappointed on the road against an unknown quantity in Jacksonville.
It's hard to have confidence in either team.
But we do have confidence in our Quality Stats. And they tell us that the Broncos and the competition of the AFC is a lot tougher than what the Seahawks face year after year in the pathetic NFC West. Last season, for example, the Broncos boasted four Quality Wins – the same number of victories over winning teams claimed by the entire NFC West in 2009.
In other words, the Broncos and Seahawks are not great teams, but at least Denver is not a great team against much tougher competition. Remember, too, that the Seahawks were a dreadful 1-7 away from Seattle last year and were dominated by an average score of 17.9 PPG on the road. The lone win came at St. Louis.
Denver 23, Seattle 16
St. Louis at Oakland (-4)
Some say the Gridiron Gods have no sense of humor. We disagree. Consider Exhibit A: the Rams at Raiders in Week 2 of the 2010 season. That's some funny sh*t.
This game truly has nothing to offer even the most die-hard football fan.
Exciting offenses? No way. The Raiders and Rams ranked No. 31 and 32, respectively, last year in points scored.
Great management? Between Raiders owner Al Davis and the late Rams owner Georgia Frontiere, the executives in both camps were softer than the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man and more clueless than the Jacques Clousseau.
The regional fervor of a traditional rival? Uh-uh. Sure, the Raiders and former L.A. Rams played in the same state for decades, but they were separated by 400 miles, two different conferences and a cultural divide deeper than California's budget deficit. They even shared the same hometown of Los Angeles for more than a decade (1982-94). Yet this is just the 12th meeting between Rams-Raiders in 51 seasons, one of the least played pro football match-ups of the past half century.
Recent success? Both franchises enjoyed their share of historic success – until crushing Super Bowl defeats brought a pigskin pox upon both organizations. The downfall of the Rams came at the end of the 2001 season, the Raiders at the end of the 2002 season. Nearly a decade later, and neither franchise has recovered. The Raiders are 29-84 (.257) with no winning seasons since their watershed loss; the Rams are 47-82 (.364) with one winning season since their watershed loss.
Believe it or not, with all that said, the Chief Troll might roll the dice with the Raiders this week in his death pool. Oakland was at least semi-competitive last year, while St. Louis was one of the worst teams in history.
Oakland 27, St. Louis 17
Houston (-3) at Washington
The Redskins had everything go their way in Week 1, namely in the form of a horrifyingly bad performance by the Dallas offense. The Houston passing game, meanwhile, failed to impress against Indy. But a star was born in Arian Foster, who ripped Indy's lousy D-Hogs for 231 yards.
We don't see the Houston ground game having that kind of success against a Washington defense that fielded a respectable run defense last year (4.02 YPA, 10th) and that bottled up Dallas's Marion Barber and Felix Jones last week.
But we don't see Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson being contained in Week 2 like they were in Week 1 – a tough passing day that still yielded 34 points and a win against one of the league's stiffest defenses of 2009.
Houston 27, Washington 21
New England (-1.5) at N.Y. Jets
Will the duly chastened Jets heed the lessons of their Week 1 comeuppance, and play better than they talk in Week 2? Or will the Patriots make a clear statement that, after a decade of dominance, they're still the team to beat in the AFC East?
It's hard to put faith in the former. The Jets defense won't wilt, but nor will the far more accomplished and battle-tested New England offense wilt under Tom Brady, who last week easily tore apart one of the league's top defenses of 2009.
On the other side of the ball, the Jets have huge concerns. The team struggled to score points last year – one part by design and one part by the fact that rookie QB Mark Sanchez, like all rookie QBs, struggled to find his groove. But we got no evidence last week that 2010 will be any better, as New York put forth one of the worst offensive efforts in franchise history.
New England 21, N.Y. Jets 16
Jacksonville at San Diego (-8)
Very interesting take: an 0-1 team is essentially a two-score favorite against a 1-0 team.
But we understand: While San Diego has a tradition of starting slow under Norv Turner, quarterback Phillip Rivers boasts the second best passer rating in NFL history, and he'll get his numbers and points for a Chargers team that will win its fair share of game.
The Jaguars represent a plump target, too. Yes, they beat the Broncos 24-17 last week. But Denver quarterback Kyle Orton completed 64 percent of his passes for 295 yards against a Jacksonville team that ranked 30th last year in Defensive Passer Rating (95.9). It's a bad match-up for the Jags.
Don't forget, too, that teams making those long coast-to-coast trips almost always struggle.
San Diego 30, Jacksonville 20
N.Y. Giants at Indianapolis (-5.5)
We got some big news here, folks: the G-Men are led by a quarterback named Eli Manning. The C-Men are led by his brother, a quarterback named Peyton Manning.
No, sh*t. We can't make this stuff up. And here's the part nobody knows: they're dad, Archie, was a big star college quarterback at Ole Miss who went on to become a lovable loser quarterback in the early days of the hard-luck Saints.
Tru dat, homeslice. You won't get that kind of analysis over at ESPN, folks.
Indy fans have to be more than a little concerned with the way the Texans just crushed the Colts defense in the trenches last week, with an average of 6.12 yards per rush. Now come the Giants with the formidable 1-2 punch of Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs.
The Indy front seven will get steamrolled for much of the day. But we're not ready to write off the Colts just yet. They've won too many games with too good a quarterback to go into any kind of tailspin. And lest we forget, the Colts did reach the Super Bowl last year with the NFL's 30th-ranked Defensive Hogs. So they've ridden this rodeo before.
Hell, the Colts won a game against the Dolphins last year despite surrendering 239 yards on the ground and being out-possessed an almost unbelievable 45:07 to 14:53.
So we expect, at the end of the night, that the G-Men will be splattered by the C-Men. Ba-dump-bump. We're here all week, folks. Try the veal.
Indianapolis 24, N.Y. Giants 23
New Orleans (-6) at San Francisco
The 49ers lost last week by 25 points to a Seattle team we expect to be mediocre at best. Yes, they'll have the comforts of home this week (love those San Fran garlic fries!). But do you have any comfort that they'll keep within a touchdown of the champ Saints?
Alex Smith will find it virtually impossible to pass the ball, while Drew Brees will complete more than 80 percent of his passes against a team that surrendered a 108.3 passer rating to Matt Hasselbeck last week.
New Orleans 28, San Francisco 17
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