New Orleans certainly owns this show, so it shouldn’t matter that they are worse than ever, right? I don’t know, needless to say I’m conflicted on many levels in this match-up.
I know the Saints have looked better of late, even played the 49ers solid, plus they won three straight prior to that loss to the 49ers, and 5 out of 6 coming into that game. They even got at Atlanta and handed them their first loss a few weeks ago. So that has me going Saints.
But then I think about the Saints and how they give up a ton of points to everyone, how they really can’t stop the pass or the run defensively, and how they are one loss away from ending their playoff hopes with 5 games to go. Yikes. So I have to take Atlanta, right?
The better team is Atlanta, but what it comes down to is what you’ve done for me lately, and everyone knows that my biggest betting rule is that you ALWAYS go against the team that should have lost last week and won. It was a tight one, but down 6 with under 10 to go, the Falcons snuck one out against Tampa Bay. The Bucs blew an opportunity to get in better field goal position, settling for a 55 yarder that missed. Then, one of the better run defenses in the league couldn’t stop the Falcons from garnering late first downs. All in all, I have to go with my rules, and the three and a half points are nice if the game stays tight.
Listen, I fully understand that taking the Seahawks when giving 9 whole points is next to madness – they are by no means an explosive football team – though Marshawn Lynch has done his best impersonation of Adrian Peterson over the last handful of weeks. They don’t throw the ball very well as Tarvaris Jackson has plenty of his own question marks when he’s health – fighting through a torn pectoral muscle takes a little bit more wind out of his sails. But I don’t need to compare the Hawks to the Packers here – they aren’t going against one of the best teams in football. I need to believe they can beat the hapless Rams by double digits on Monday Night Football in front of their home-town Seattle fanbase. Yes, I’m believing.
It’s not so much the Hawks as much as it’s the Rams. St. Louis is 2-10 heading into Monday Night, and they’ll be down to a first time quarterback, their #3, Tom Brandstater, or a hobbled Sam Bradford (who hasn’t played very well this season in the first place). The thing they do best, run the football, should be held in check by one of the better young defenses in the league.
The Hawks have a better team, a much better team. They are playing at home where they have one of, if not the best home record in football since they built their new stadium. It’s Monday Night Football and the excitement in the stands and on the field will be at an all time high for a Hawks team that rarely sees prime time football. Add in the fact that the Hawks got an extra three days rest this week (they played Thursday in Week 13) and what you see is a recipe to cover that nine-spot. Good luck!!
Detroit Lions @ New Orleans Saints Sunday Night Football Free Pick: The Lions without Suh don’t turn into a pile of mush, they still have Jenkins and Fairley – but listen, they were bad against the run in the first place, and despite decent numbers, they make a lot of mistakes in the secondary as well. The Saints will pick you apart with whatever you want to give them. I think this line is pretty fair, actually, and the Lions could pull it off, it’s just that Drew Brees is playing so well right now that it’s flat out hard to bet against him.
It’s not like New Orleans can come in and take a night off, either. They are just a game over the Falcons in the NFC South, and Atlanta hasn’t even played good football yet this season. Drew and company need to find some consistency in their rushing attack to be elite, and this game gives them a great chance to do so. Even with Suh, the Lions are in the bottom 3rd of the league in rushing defense. New Orleans might commit more to the run in this one, and the extra time of possession could help them put the Lions away.
It’s a Sunday Night game and everyone knows how jacked up the Lions get when everyone is watching them. They go stomping on fools when they get the chance. The Lions have lost 4 of their last 6 games after starting the season 5-0. Until they show me that they are actually a consistent football team, going against them on the road against a team like New Orleans makes too much sense.
New York Giants @ New England Patriots Free Football Pick: The New England Patriots are one heck of a team. They can get whooped defensively and still trash opposing teams because their offense is that efficient behind the Tom Brady. Yes, if Ohio State gets to be THE Ohio State, then Brady certainly can be THE Tom Brady. The guy throws missiles on a dime all over the field, and it’s possible that he could throw the ball all over the Giants’ week secondary.
But it’s also possible that New York puts a little pressure on the pretty-boy quarterback and keeps the Pats off the field by running the ball early and often. I am betting on that being the plan of action. If New York will just commit to running the ball and not put this game in Eli’s hands, I am pretty confident that I walk out of this week with a sure-win in this game. The Giants are too good a team to get 10 points, especially against a Patriots’ defense that hasn’t stopped anybody all year.
Betting against Brady sucks, but it’s a must in this one. Even with Bradshaw out, I’d think that Brandon Jacobs leads the Giants’ rushing attack to a couple touchdowns. New England hasn’t been as explosive lately as they were early, and the Giants D might be getting just healthy enough to make me a winner here.
The Falcons have had an interesting run thus far, and Carolina, despite having just one win to their names, have played everybody tough. Cam Newton has shown that he’s the real deal, and now that he has a QB that can put the ball down the field, Steve Smith is pretty much dominating any secondary in his path. The Panthers might be able to run the football a little better against an Atlanta team that hasn’t done much to stop it all season. That being said, I still think the Falcons are a touchdown better than Carolina – at least in Atlanta. I’ll take Matt Ryan to play efficient football in this one. I’ll take Michael Turner to run and run and run against a defense that can’t stop a good run game. Falcons by a touchdown.
Oklahoma Sooners @ Texas Longhorns: Red River Rivalry Free Pick: What a great one this has become – and with all the talk of conference splits, it’s nice to know that these two teams are basically linked at the him, here to compete for our viewing pleasure for years to come – let’s hope it stays that way forever. This game has been quite the treat for college football fans over the years, and despite early season wins, not to mention both teams being highly ranked, I don’t expect this one to be a back and forth game.
The Longhorns have a McCoy in their quarterback rotation, but everyone knows a quarterback rotation is rarely a strength – especially one with as much youthful exuberance as the duo in Texas. Brother of Colt, Case McCoy and David Ash form a pretty talented combo of young quarterbacks getting minutes for Texas, and in their time at the helm this season they’ve helped the Longhorns rebound from a bad 2010. The Longhorns are undefeated through 4 games and things are looking good for the future.
But… They haven’t played a team as talented as Oklahoma yet (if that’s possible) and I believe they’re going to be way overmatched by the Sooners. Landry Jones is a legit top pick prospect, and all over the field the Sooners have star potential. Expect them to put up many a point on the Longhorn defense while making life a little more difficult than usual for the young QBs.
Oklahoma Sooners (-9) @ Texas Longhorns
New York Jets VS Baltimore Ravens Sunday Night Football Pick: I haven’t been that impressed with the Jets thus far. That young and talented offensive line has gotten a little soft, and Mark Sanchez continues to be up and down, just like many thought when he was coming out of USC. He’s still young, but that’s just another reason to wonder how he’ll do against the Ravens. Baltimore might not have it like they once had it defensively, but they are still a tough team to score touchdowns on, and they are opportunistic defensively.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Ravens are hucking it around a little bit, and that’s making defenses pay more attention to the throw. That opens up room for Ray Rice who is one of the game’s best dual threat options out of the backfield. The Jets have had a tough time stopping the run this season, just ask Darren McFadden. If Ray can control the clock, I see Flacco getting some big plays down the field – even with those super star corners out there for the Jets. Ed Dickson could have a day for the Ravens!
The Jets have a way of stepping up in this high profile games, and NBC’s Sunday Night Football is definitely a big stage – but I just see the Ravens playing better football. The Jets aren’t throwing it or running it real well, and Revis island isn’t as scary a place as it used to be.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish @ Pittsburgh Panthers Free Football Pick: The Irish clobbered Michigan State as their team speed finally showed up on the scoreboard. Despite being a little red-faced son of a (gun), Brian Kelly is a very good coach that has always gotten his kids to play at a very high level. They really have looked the part of a good team in each of their first three games, at least for much of each game. They are very talented at key positions, they can run the football, and they have game-breakers in the passing game Defensively, I think they play too fast for Pittsburgh – thought the Panthers have come together well to start the season.
I just think Notre Dame is the much more talented team.
The one thing giving me jitters is how Tulsa came in and beat Notre Dame last season in South Bend. How is that relevant, you ask? Well, new Pitt coach Todd Graham is in his first year with the Panthers, after coaching Tulsa last season. Graham surely has better personnel at Pitt than he did at Tulsa, but are the Panthers ready to take full advantage of his schemes? We’ll see. I like Notre Dame to win one similar to last week’s win over Michigan State – after the first two weeks (0-2) I said that they looked like a team that could pull it together and have a good season – they are starting to prove me right.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (-6.5) @ Pittsburgh Panthers
The Bungles surprised me a little bit in Week 1, not because they beat the Browns – shoot, this is the NFL, anything can happen – and not because Andy Dalton played pretty well – he was decent, but out a good chunk of the game, even then it wasn’t surprising to see a good solid smart leader perform well out of the gates. What surprised me most was the speed at which the defense played – they have good corners and a solid defensive front, and that combo is going to give the offense-challenged Broncos some fits. Another thing that was on point was their rushing attack – and the Broncos aren’t better than the Browns at stopping the run – so Cinci should be run-heavy again in Week 2, and that works in their favor. The Broncos were unimpressive most of the game, and that brings me to them – I’ve never been a big John Fox fan, and I don’t think he’s had a good influence on them offensively – he’s slowed down their offense and that’s not good for the Broncos – also, his tough style hasn’t improved their defense yet – the Broncos are going to have a long year.
The Tennessee Titans looked pretty horrible for much of their game against Jacksonville, then Kenny Britt went all nutso on the Jags pathetic secondary and made it close. Still, the offensive line is, at the very best, a work in progress – and Chris Johnson awe represents that. No wonder the small speedster wanted to assure a boost in pay – with defenses not worried about plays down the field in the passing game, and disregarding any type of threat Matt Hasselbeck’s legs bring to the equation, Chris is going to see a lot of action real close to the line of scrimmage. One of the teams that impressed me most in Week 1 was Baltimore, and I see no reason why that is going to change. They really have their rushing attack dialed in, and because of that the field opens up a lot for Joe Flacco and his receiving threats. Boldin looks good and Lee Evans is opening up the field. Ray Rice is one of the best all around backs in football and with Vonta Leach blocking for him, I believe this offense is downright dangerous! I like Baltimore to win by double digits in Tennessee.