New York Giants VS Indianapolis Colts Free Football Projections: I know going up against Peyton is going to bring out the best in Eli, and if last week was any indication of the Colts chances to be solid defensively this season, well, it’s going to be awfully tough for the Colts to take that AFC South title again –let’s just say that.
The Giants didn’t look good against the Panthers – if it weren’t for 3 interceptions in the red-zone, they probably would have given up 35 points and lost that game. But they did, and they didn’t. They certainly could have won by 40 if they didn’t give the Panthers a handful of turnovers of their own – fumbling and bumbling and tossing interceptions with the greatest of ease. So the Giants either looked better than they were or a lot worse, and I think it’s a combination of both, but they showed plenty of upside and promise, if they stop giving away the ball.
They are stronger in the secondary than anybody gives them credit, definitely healthy in comparison to last season, and they have talented players back there to compete with the Colts ample options.
Where they give the Colts trouble will be up front. They really do have a plethora of pass rushers and the Colts are struggling with protection right now – as Peyton was sacked as many times in Week 1 as he was all of 2009.
The keys to the game will be protecting/getting pressure on Peyton – and the Giants rushing attack/slowing that down. If the Giants can finish ahead in both categories, they not only cover but upset the elder Manning brother’s team. If they can do one, they cover. I expect at least one, if not both.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ San Diego Chargers NFL Pick & Preview: This game is really hard, and it’s because I don’t want to pick either team to beat another way over on the West Coast where Jaguars are all but extinct. Last year, the Jaguars traveled West twice, they lost to the 49ers and Seahawks (not really the league’s best in 2009) by a combined score of 3-61. And to be honest, it was worse than that. What could be better, you ask? Well, it would have looked a little better if it was the up and down 49ers that were responsible for a 40-0 shutout. But that wasn’t the case, no-no, the Seahawks were the ones slamming the door in the face of the Jaguars to the Starbucks-tune of 41-0. Yeah, gross, huh?
But then you have recent history to look at when you are deciding you better go for the Chargers. They got hamstrung in Kansas City of all places, and they looked more disorganized that a Shawn Kemp family reunion for about 3.5 quarters of that game. They couldn’t run the ball, their offensive line didn’t magically become good over the off-season (in fact, it’s worse than last years’ line because their best player is still holding out because A.J. Smith and the Chargers don’t get how NFL salaries work), and they are missing their best downfield pass catching option, Vincent Jackson.
But I’m going with the Chargers here and that’s because not only were they pretty stout defensively, but they started to figure out the offense late in Monday Night’s game. Phillip Rivers is a very good quarterback, and I still think Malcom Floyd, Gates, and Ryan Matthews are good enough targets to put touchdowns on the board. I don’t love it, but I’ll take SD.
New England Patriots @ New York Jets NFL Preview & Prediction: I’m not in the business of going against the Patriots when they are playing a team with scoring issues. Scoring issues, meet the Jets, Jets, meet the… Oh wait; you guys are already very well acquainted.
I know the Jets will be able to run the ball, I don’t question that for a minute. They struggled in that facet because they were playing a defense built to best them, and they were indeed bested. This week the Patriots come to town, and I expect some big gainers from Shonn Greene and LT, in that order. I also expect Mark Sanchez to take more than zero chances down the field. He may not have all the experience needed to be a great QB this young, but he has a nice arm and he can beat the Patriots’ secondary.
However, I don’t think any of that will tally up to be enough for the Jets to beat the Patriots, even at home. The Patriots had a lot of things go well for them last week, a couple early turnovers, short fields, defensive touchdowns, a kickoff return for a score – and that stuff won’t happen all that often, and I don’t expect it to happen this week. But Brady was on point, and that offense looks as scary as ever. With Edelman back in the fold this weekend, and Brandon Tate healthy, plus the two rookie TEs that are more than capable – shoot, this team is stacked with talent for Tom to use.
I know the Jets have a great defense, but Tom Brady and company can get into that pretty quick. Wes Welker was used early and often last time these two teams played, and maybe it’s him that Revis should try to lock down on, he’ll be much more responsible for the Patriots’ success than Randy will.
St. Louis Rams @ Oakland Raiders Free Football Pick & Preview: The Raiders are a decent bet at home to turn the page on last week and play with a little more pop defensively. They actually did some good things offensively last week, they just couldn’t handle the pressure the Titans threw at them.
Jason Campbell still looked like a guy trying hard not to make a mistake, and the Raiders just couldn’t stop the Titans rushing attack after the first quarter. At home, I think this team is a different story. And I think they give Sam Bradford some troubles through the air. There are questions as to Steven Jackson’s availability for this week’s game, and that just plays into my decision to go with the home team. Steven Jackson needs to be a workhorse for the Rams to be victorious.
Oakland will be much improved this year despite last week’s outcome. As Jason Campbell gets more comfortable with his receiving options, he’ll make more throws to Zach Miller, and that’s a good thing for the Raiders. As for this week against the Rams, expect 35-40 rushing plays from Oakland, and that will amount to a solid victory over the young Rams.
Seattle Seahawks @ Denver Broncos NFL Betting Preview: It’s easy to buy into the Hawks and their opening week dismantling of a 49er team favored to take the NFC West’s spot in the playoffs, but one week a season does not make, and I’m sticking by that. Add the Hawks blah rushing numbers and offensive line woes to this week’s trip up to Denver and the Pe-Hawks should be in for a battle.
Seattle has never been a good road team, and while hiring Pete Carroll seemed to work in slowing down Frank Gore, one old USC guy can’t stop all the old trends.
I like the Hawks defense a lot, and I think that will be a unit of strength all season long – I just think the Broncos will find enough ways to move the ball, and put points on the board. The Hawks’ numbers last week don’t excite me, as they certainly don’t show a beating like Seattle put on San Francisco. Usually, when numbers don’t show a final score like that, things are too good to believe. That’s where Seattle is right now, a 31-6 piecing of the 49ers is too good to believe. They did it, yeah, but will they be doing that normally? Probably not.
Denver’s defense is too tactical to allow a short-range passing team without a rushing attack to beat them. Now, Denver isn’t set to take advantage of the Hawks weak offensive line/pass protection – but they are good enough to gang up on the 5-15 yard pass, and limit the Hawks offensive game plan. That should give Denver a nice home victory.
Philadelphia Eagles VS Detroit Lions NFL Free Pick: Please. I love that Mike Vick is the guy set to start this game, and love that somehow the Lions have gone from sure thing losers to just 3-point underdogs at home despite missing their #1 quarterback and producing less than 2 yards per carry last week against the Chicago Bears. Those are not good things, if you’re a Lions’ fan.
Jahvid Best had a nice fantasy week in his first start in the NFL, but the Lions really struggled to run the ball. In this fantasy culture it might look like Best and the Lions were off to a good start on the ground, scoring a couple touchdowns in the first quarter. But that’s not the case, not at all. The Lions were gifted great field position by Jay Cutler and company, and that led to a couple short touchdown runs by Best. The numbers just don’t translate to future games.
Shaun Hill won’t help that situation. Unlike Stafford, Hill doesn’t have the arm strength to stretch the field or make the defense worry about everything. That will allow the Eagles to keep everything in front of them, load up on the line of scrimmage, and blitz as much as they want. Hill is more savvy than people give him credit for, but he’s a tough play against the pressure-happy Eagles.
Vick against the Lions is a nightmare match-up. Detroit won’t be able to both keep Vick contained and keep the speedy Eagles receivers in front – they’ll have to spend a lot of time preparing for what Vick brings to the table, and that won’t help them.
I’ll take the Eagles by double digits, an easy cover of 3.5 points at most online sports betting sites.
Chicago Bears VS Dallas Cowboys Free Football Prediction: While the Bears didn’t impress me offensively last week, their defense was a legit top-tier unit. They gave up some points early to the Lions, but it wasn’t from allowing many plus plays defensively. The offense and special teams put them in bad spots and the Lions capitalized. Chicago was great against the run and solid against the pass. They are loaded with great players in their front 7, and I think they give the Cowboys enough trouble to be a solid cover bet on the road.
Baltimore Ravens @ Cincinnati Bengals Football Pick & Preview: I don’t think last season was a fluke, and honestly, I think the Ravens are in a tougher spot and the Bengals are more built to succeed against their AFC North rival.
The Bengals are solid against the run, at least, though they didn’t’ prove to be solid defensively against much of anything last week in New England – but hey, never judge a season on last week, you’ll lose most every time.
The Bengals did show a nice passing attack that wasn’t there last year. Sure, it took them falling way behind to dig into the Ocho-Owens show, but it looked solid when they did. Carson Palmer looked to get more of his ore-surgery success back, as his passes had that zip and accuracy he showed before the Steelers ended his free-knee days with a low shot in the playoffs.
The Bengals didn’t run with all that much success against the Pats, and that spells trouble against Baltimore, but the Ravens’ defense will come back to earth a little this week after shutting down the Jets like they did.
The Bengals give the Ravens trouble because they can do it all, or at least make the Ravens fear it all. Now with Owens and Jermaine Gresham locked in, this offense is even more dangerous. There will be no Ed Reed to make plays up the middle, and that could give Owens and Gresham some open spaces to attack. Jordan Shipley is also there, and I expect him to find some spaces in that Ravens secondary.
Remember, the Ravens looked great when they didn’t have to worry about any passes past 10 yards last week in New York –but like I said, the Bengals are a different beast, and despite a tough start last week in New England, still a very good team on both sides of the ball. I like the home team in this divisional match-up.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers VS Carolina Panthers Prediction: I hate to take the Tampa Bay Bucs on the road, but the injuries mounting on Carolina’s roster are too much to pass up. Only one sportsbook that I use has this game, and it’s giving the Bucs points. It’ll be close, but I think the Bucs offensive line plays well and gives Cadillac some rushing lanes while whoever the Panthers put at QB won’t be ready for NFL-defenses, even if that is starter Matt Moore, and even if the Bucs are barely an NFL-defense.
It took the Bucs a while to get things going last week, but they were looking much more solid offensively in the 2nd half. Josh Freeman is a good young player, and while growing pains are certain, I don’t think he’s going to have the sophomore slump drop off so many were suggesting. Remember, this guy had some time to sit back and learn last season, and while he ended up starting much earlier than most people expected, that watch and learn technique is proven to work better than play and learn. The fact that he has one of the more athletic TEs in the league and a super talented rookie WR (Mike Williams) means he has all the tools he needs to be mildly successful. Against Carolina, the team without a defensive push, a team unable to slow the run – I think Freeman depends on Cadillac Williams a lot more this week, and I think Williams impresses.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Cleveland Browns Free Preview & Pick: I don’t see the Browns being as stupid as they were against Tampa Bay – they are going to run the ball! Jake Delhomme is a 1 pick per 20 pass guy, so if they can keep him under twenty pass attempts, they’re on to something. The Chiefs just didn’t have enough offense for me to buy them as a road winner just yet. I like their explosion, but without that ruckus crowd on their side, and with Matt Cassel throwing more balls away than passes in the direction of his receivers, I’ll have to steer clear of the Chiefs away from home. Kansas City has a great thing going at home, an advantage that I’ve ignored and paid for over the years – but out of KC, not so much.
As it turns out, Seneca Wallace is set to start for the Browns this week, and now you know they are gong to run the ball more. I don’t know why, I certainly trust Seneca to throw the ball more accurately than Jake Delhomme, but Wallace always seems to get hand-off duty.
Jerome Harrison proved late last year that if he gets the touches he can put up big time numbers. They game him less than 10 carries last week, which only makes me want to punch Eric Man-Jina more than I did before – but they can’t go down that same path again.
The Browns have a better run-defense than they get credit for, and that gives them a big advantage over a Chiefs team that wants to run at every possible chance. Those 3rd down draws, sprint handoffs, and short dumps aren’t going to get the job did like they did at Notre Dame (yeah, that’s a shot on you Charlie Weis) – and until the Chiefs figure that out, I’m staying away from them as anything less than a big dog bet.