Thursday, September 13, 2007

NFL Week 2/College Week 3 Predictions

"This guy is a freak. All he does is work out and pick winners."

Before I get into this week's picks...a little review session shall we?

College: Ehhh...not so hot. Oklahoma is for real. Just want to give you a heads up on that in case you were not aware. Michigan got hammered at home, and Auburn lost as well. Don't worry, there's still time left for me to get better...or worse, you never know

Overall: SU: 5-2, ATS: 3-3-1, O/U: 1-0

Pro: Baltimore did everything in their collective powers to lose that game. I was watching it at work, and I was completely dumbfounded by how awful they played, and still, they were in the game until the very end. So, when Cincy did eventually win, I didn't really bat an eye, because I knew who the better team was in that game. Anytime a team turns the ball over six times, they're probably going to be on the hook for the loss. In any event, for the first week, it didn't go too, too bad.

Overall: SU: 12-4, ATS: 9-5-2

Ok, so you made a little bit of money there. A parlay here, a teaser get the picture. Ok, so here's what I'm thinking: I have to predict more college games, because I think I can pad my record a little more. Hey, that's what the big schools do. Pick on lesser teams to help their record out, and being a big school guy myself, I should definitely follow suit. Unfortunately, the USC game is off the board this week, so I have to look other places to get those "sure" wins. This week, and for future weeks, I'll do the entire NFL card, as well as 10 college games. So now that I have a format in place, let's see if I can improve this week.

West Virginia vs. Maryland: Ok I have to start with this game, because it has "revenge factor" written all over it. Last year, the Terps were "embarrassed" by WVU 45-27 at Morgantown (embarrassed in quotes because it's tough to be embarrassed when you lose to a then top-5 team). Again, there's a very small sampling size to try and compare the two, so I have to go on last year as well. WVU obviously runs the ball extremely well with their three-headed monster (Pat White, Steve Slaton, and Noel Devine), and Maryland has had some success stopping the run this year. The thing about playing the Mountaineers is that, to beat them, you need to be able to make the big plays. Right now, I don't see the big play potential coming from Maryland. With that being said, I like West Virginia (W) to take the game, but Maryland (+17) to scrap enough to make it about a 10-14 point game.

Cincinnati vs. Miami (OH): This Cincinnati team...I don't know about these guys. I'm thinking that they may catch some people off guard down the road. After dismantling Oregon St. last week at home (34-3), I think that this team shouldn't have any problems going on the road and beating up on the Red Hawks. Don't look now, but there are seven Big East teams that are 2-0. There are a bunch of sleepers that I think could make some noise in this conference. I like the Bearcats (W, -8.5)

Florida International vs. Miami: So in the midst of a QB controversy in Miami, the rehatching of one of the ugliest incidents in college football history will commence. Florida International has actually been doing recruiting, so they do have talent, even though it hasn't shown in their 0-2 start. Still, this is a lot of points, and considering what happened last year, I don't expect FIU to not go down without a fight (no helmet stomping this time please). Can they App St. them (small school beating a big school in a defining moment of glory)? Well, that could be stretching it a little. Miami wins (W), but I like FIU to cover the massive spread (+33).

Army vs. Wake Forest: I know this one is kind of out of left field, but anytime Army has a road game where they're not 'dogged by more than 30, I'm all over it. Wake barely lost to Nebraska at home last week, and now they play the Black Knights of the Hudson...kind of a drop-off in talent. I like a demolition at Winston-Salem, with the Deacons (W, -19.5) to have a resurgence this week.

UCLA vs. Utah: This caught my eye because the spread jumped three points this week, meaning that the money is being dropped on the Bruins like it's nobody's business...and don't expect me to stop that trend. The Bruins have had defensive struggles this year, but they're up against a team that has no offense, so I like my chances. I'll take UCLA (W, -14).

Duke vs. Northwestern: A great mix of running (44th in the nation) and passing (43rd), couple with the fact that it's Duke, really makes me think I could be onto something here. With a manageable spread to boot, I'll try my luck with the Wildcats (W, -16.5).

And now, games you may actually care about:

Ohio St. vs. Washington: You know, I've been rattling a few games in my head. This one is a game where I can see Washington winning the game. This would be a massive victory for the Huskies if they pull it off. I've been back and forth a hundred times with this. Ohio St. is looking to rebound, and the Huskies are coming off their first victory against a ranked team since 2003. I love U-Dub's D to fluster freshman QB Todd Boeckman, who looked out of place last week. Now, going on the road in an extremely hostile environment, I like my chances with Washington, especially after only giving up 14 to Boise St. last week. Huskies (W, +4.5) to pull off the upset...good for Tyrone!

Boston College vs. Georgia Tech: This should be a thriller in Atlanta. ACC supremacy will be on the line when the Eagles play the Jackets. Both teams are in the top 25, and both do different things exceptionally well. The Eagles have impressed so far, beating Wake and NC State (although NC State is reeling after some key injuries) at home, and GA Tech shalacked Notre Dame at South Bend by 30 in the first week, and decimated Samford last week. GA Tech has done the job through their run game, which, surprise surprise, is exactly what BC does well against. The key to the game will be how well GA Tech can handle Matt Ryan and the rest of the Eagle offense. Andre Calendar has had a big year as well, which means this team is multi-dimensional on offense, something the Jackets do not have (no passing TDs this year). Another key will be turnovers. The team that can limit the amount of fumbles, INTs, etc., will have a decisive advantage (fairly common knowledge there, almost McCarver-like words of wisdom, but when you have two opportunistic defenses, it has to be stressed even more). The Eagles are 5-3 against ranked opponents on the road since '02. If possible, try and tease this game to go over 7 in favor of BC. I think it will be close, but you always want to give yourself some breathing room. In any event, I'll take the Eagles SU (W) and ATS (+7).

Arkansas vs. Alabama: Last year, this one went to OT, with Arkansas winning by a point. This year, a lot has changed. First, Mitch Mustain, the guy with the golden arm that just won games, is in Southern California, and also, Nick Saban is coaching the Tide. There hasn't been this kind of buzz about Alabama football in quite some time (maybe the Shaun Alexander days?). Arkansas is also coming off of a layoff after playing Troy in Week 1. I really think that could factor into the equation, not so much for their freshness, but for their lack of game experience. McFadden will have a decent game, but it won't be a 200-yard breakout performance going up against an stingy Tide D. I'll take 'Bama (W, -3) to turn it around from last year's devastating loss, which they never seemed to shake the rest of the year.

Southern Cal vs. Nebraska: First of all, I have to say I love the spread in this game. Southern Cal is also coming off a week layoff after playing the Vandals from Idaho (great nickname...great stuff). Nebraska has it going on from both sides of the ball. What's fascinating is that Nebraska has yet to record a sack in two games. Everyone talks about Booty winning the Heisman...I'm really not sold on that whole notion quite yet. For Nebraska to have a chance, they are going to have to clamp down on their running defense, which gave up 235 yards rushing to Wake last week. Here's another thing: It's possible for another failed NFL experiment to hit it big in college right? Pete Carroll is the shining example of this, and from the way things have been heading in Lincoln, Bill Callahan could be next in line. If Nebraska doesn't win, it won't be because of a lack of crowd support. Last year, the Huskers hung in with Texas in one of the best games of the year (22-20 Texas), and this year, Nebraska will have goal-post tearing fever. Plus, I just don't like Southern Cal in general, so it will be easy to root for the Huskers (W, +10.5) throwing a giant road block in the way of the Trojans' national title aspirations.


San Diego vs. New England: Ok America, give us your best shot, because we probably deserve it. Actually I was kind of happy Sports Guy referenced Nixon in talking about the Pats's scandal. Kind of makes me feel good that someone accredited is on the same page as me. Let's just hope they don't get fined like McLaren did in their case. I don't even think Kraft could cover that tab. Anyway, back to the game itself. If LaDanian Tomlinson's objective was to make himself look like a cry-baby and have everyone in New England despise him, he's definitely put himself on the fast track to doing so. Again, he speaks out against the Pats, saying "if they're not cheating, they're not trying." Oh haha. That's just a barrel full of laughs. Hey, how about you tell that outside linebacker the same thing, and maybe we'll call it even. Yikes. In any event, here's how I see the game shaking down: The Pats' offense will wear out this secondary. They did it to a fairly similar crew in Jersey, so I don't see why this week will be any different. The Charger D looked good last week, but it's the's Grossman! The Colts looked like the Purple People Eaters against Grossman in the Super Bowl last year. This is TFB, this is Moss, Stallworth, Welker, Gaffney, Maroney, Watson, and whoever else you want to throw into that mix. So, the Chargers will be tested even more than they did in last year's playoff game. In terms of the Pats' D against the Chargers' O, there's definitely going to be some mismatches. Remember that Asante has a full week of practice under him now, meaning that he'll be a lot more prepared than he was last week. Gates...well you can't really cover him, but only hope to contain him. LT is not going to have anything close to the kind of numbers he normally does, and it's basically all his doing because of all the bulletin board material he provided us. Thanks buddy. Again, Phillip Rivers is good, but still can buckle under pressure, so a key will be to really get in his face. Also, let Junior Seau just run wild against his former team. You know he was itching to get out there last time, so just let him go nuts. Pats in a big win (W, -3)

And now, the rest:

San Francisco vs. St. Louis: I totally had a Charlie Brown moment when Orlando Pace went down for the year...ARRRGGHHH!!!...Damn it! I had this team going to the Divisional Playoffs! This is like losing a Final Four team in Round Two of the tournament. Seriously, the guy went to the Pro Bowl seven times...he's literally and figuratively "kind of a big deal." In any event, the Rams looked terrible last week. Steven Jackson had two fumbles, and Bulger did not spread the ball around nearly enough. He definitely needs to start relying on Jackson (I know it's tough to say a guy should be relied on after just getting through saying he fumbled twice, but that was a bit abnormal wouldn't you say?) and Randy McMichael a lot more, as he was 22/42 and averaged 4.0 yards per completion. The Niners just got done with a dogfight at Candlestick against the Cards, pulling it off after losing for the majority of the game. The Niners were terrible on third downs (3 for 12) and only had 22 rushing attempts for 92 yards, despite having one of the best rushers in the game (Frank Gore). That was basically just an ugly game all-around. I expect the Niners to open it up a little more, especially to their wideouts, as that seems to be the Rams' big weakness (the lesson once again is that's what happens when you draft guys from Clemson in the first round (Tye Hill)...I think Justin Miller's head is still turning from last week). Patrick Willis looked great, but I pretty much saw that coming (he is who I thought he would be!). Still, I like my chances against the Niners. They couldn't stop the pass rush against the Cardinals, so imagine what it will be like against Leonard Little (yes, he still gets to play football...I know, you're outraged, and if you're not, here you I kind of hope you're a little outraged) and Adam Carriker, who also looked good in his debut. I'm sticking with the Rams (W, -3).

Green Bay vs. New York (G-Men): It's tough to get worse than Eli Manning at QB if you're the Giants...luckily, they're the Giants, and have figured it out for me...Jared Lorenzen! I can't believe the words "I hope Eli comes back" are being uttered right now, but they probably should be. Hey, the guy as a few good games every now and again. I mean you need the patience of a saint to wait for them. More like waiting for an eclipse than Halley's Comet though. Also, Jacobs and Umenyiora were lost in the same game. Tom Coughlin, look at me...this is your future. I'll keep the spot in the unemployment line warm for you. Favre had a "dismal" outing last week, and yet, the Pack still won. The Giants don't have a good defense, and they definitely don't have a good offense. Unless the Pack are so loose that they fall asleep, I see no reason they can't pick up a road victory. Packers (W, +1)

Buffalo vs. Pittsburgh: This is an intriguing game. Buffalo lost on a last second Denver field goal last week at home, and Pittsburgh is coming off a rout at Cleveland. The game will be played at Heinz Field, which is definitely a factor in terms of the crowd and the bizarre way the wind blows there (seriously). However, there's a lot of points up there for the Steelers to cover. Lee Evans was completely ineffective last week, but look who was covering him (Champ Bailey). So to say he won't have a big day could be a little naive. The Bills' secondary apparently all decided to get hurt in one shot, so that is never good. I've been reading a lot about how the Steelers will be using four receiver sets against the they even have four receivers? I got Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes, and Cedrick Wilson, so I don't know how far that's going to get them. I understand that Steeler fans have to be loving life right now, but also realize the quality of the opponent you wiped the floor with last week. Here's something very telling: Pittsburgh is 4-8 since '05 after scoring 25 or more points, meaning that they seem to be spent after a blowout. They do play well as a favorite, going 11-4 over the same stretch. In Buffalo's last 15, they are 10-5 ATS. I smell a close game, meaning I like the Bills (+10). In terms of straight up, look, it's never good when a team gives up the dreaded 300/100/100 line (QB throws for 300, RB rushes for 100, and a WR receives for 100...I'm going to be using that a lot this season), which is exactly what Buffalo did last week (Cutler/Henry/Walker), and despite that, they only lost by a point. I'm going to take the Steelers (W), and I expect the stats from Pittsburgh's O to be up there, but for the outcome to not show that at all.

New Orleans vs. Tampa Bay: Ok, imagine this was last you think the Saints would only be favored by a field goal? That's just crazy talk in '06, but in 2007, it's a reality. The Saints were demoralized at Indy last Thursday, while the Bucs got dominated up in Seattle. So the Saints defense bent...I mean broke against Indy. That's not the first or the last time that will ever happen. I said New Orleans would not be as great as they were last year, and it all comes down to how well they utilize their running game in order to give Drew Brees some options. If you have Bush and McAllister in the backfield, only giving them the ball for 22 carries is inexcusable. Brees would love to target his favorite receiver, Marques Colston, this week, but unfortunately, he'll be covered by Ronde Barber, who, at last check, was still really good. So, I expect Eric Johnson, who quietly put up a pretty good game last week, to have a bit of a repeat performance this week. The reason the line is so close, in my opinion, has everything to do with the unpredictableness of Jeff Garcia to will his teams to victory. What has to be encouraging for the Bucs is the play of their linebackers last week, who combined for 34 tackles against Seattle. The bad news was that they gave up 4.1 a carry, and the running combo they're going against this week is just as tough. The Saints are 1-4 ATS since 2001 playing the Bucs as a favorite. Interesting. Despite likely going against my better judgment (which sucks anyway...I had Texas is the Final Four!), I'll take Tampa (W, +3.5).

Houston vs. Carolina: Now this one I'm particularly interested in, because a.) I'll be there (and getting paid), and b.) Houston is my "other" team this year (they wear red, white, and blue...can't argue with that). So again, I was flabber-gasted at Carolina's performance at St. Louis last week. The running attack was great, going off for 186 yards and a 4.9 average. Very impressive. Also, it's good to see DeShaun getting the majority of the workload, because right now, he is the better back. Maybe in the long run, Williams will have a better career (hopefully he stays healthy, which is probably the weakest part of Foster's game), but right now, DeShaun is the man. Houston had a great showing last week against KC, dominating them at Reliant 20-3. Schaub looked good in his Texan debut, with an efficient 16/22, 225 yard performance. Schaub quickly figure out Andre Johnson was a pretty good guy to have on your team, and hooked up with him seven times for 142 yards and a score. Also, they held Larry Johnson to under 50 yards, but considering he only had 10 carries, don't look to far into that, and in addition, it's Damon Huard people. So the Texans' D really did not get tested last week. Don't get me wrong, I am big on Houston, but I like them to really close out the year on a big run once the team gets together. I like what I've seen so far, but I think Carolina makes it happen. So I'm taking the Panthers (W, -6.5), and now you can't say I've never shown them love.

Atlanta vs. Jacksonville: I love that, despite losing at home last week, the Jags are back to being double-digit favorites. That's how bad Atlanta is. I was hearing it all last week: Tavaris Jackson this, and Tavaris Jackson that, and he can't get it done, and they have no receivers. Well, look at you now. 24-3 Vikings. Are you convinced yet? Jacksonville contained Vince Young, but it was the rest of the offense that killed them, allowing 282 yards rushing...282! Even with a good running attack with Dunn and Norwood, expect the Jags to have a bit of a bounce back performance, as they won't have to worry about a quarterback that runs around a lot, and wins all the time. In the last three years, the Jags are 6-2 against the NFC. That's a lot of points, and yet I say there's no way Jacksonville doesn't bounce back from losing their first home game. I'm gambling (figuratively of course) on the Jags (W, -10).

Cincinnati vs. Cleveland: So...Brady Quinn now, or Brady Quinn later, how do you like your losing seasons done? The Browns weren't good last week, and they won't be any good this week. Cincy miraculously got through Baltimore...I still have no clue how they won that game. So, I guess I have to give you some stats. First, I'm loving how I can get less than a TD spread for Cincy in this game. That's good stuff. You know, if the Browns throw it back in my face, I'll be more than happy to except it and be put in my place. I'm not going to bet on a guy who should be playing basketball right now starting at quarterback. The last meeting between these two didn't exactly go to well for the Brownies...30-0 Cincy. Ouch. And that was at Cleveland! Wow. Well, the difference between then and now is fairly negligible. In the last three years, Cincy is 11-4 ATS on the road. Yikes. This is just piling it on now. I will say this: Cleveland is 7-2 ATS in the last three seasons after giving up 25+ points...just a little dab of optimism there. Give me my Bungles under a TD (W, -6.5), and we will have no problems.

Indianapolis vs. Tennessee: So I have to assume this spread has gone down two points this week due to two factors: a.) Vince Young, and b.) Last season. None of this really surprises me. The fact that Indy is barely over .500 ATS in the last three years when favored (16-14) also doesn't shock me. That tends to happen when everytime you play, you're favored by two touchdowns. So, both games last year were decided by three points or less, with both teams winning their home games. So obviously, there has to be some concern for the favorites. Why keep betting against Vince Young? He can have the worst team out there and they'll still cover (unless they're playing you know who...and we'll be cheating of course!). So, I'm not even going to break this game down, because it will have me betting against Vince Young...again. Nope, can't do it again. Indy wins it straight up (W), with the Titans covering (+8).

Seattle vs. Arizona: Very interesting. Arizona did hang tough against the upstart Niners, and playing in 'Zona this time of year is no picnic. The Seahawks looked dominant in their win against Tampa. I love how in ESPN's little projection analysis, they have Seattle winning by 16, and yet all of the offensive leaders are Cardinals. Exactly what sense does that make? Seattle is 5-11 ATS on the road the last three seasons. I love the new stadium the Cards have, and I love how the fans are finally getting a team that they can cheer about. I think this will almost be like last week, in how Chicago felt completely out of place playing in San Diego. Seattle will be like that I think, plus, they did lose last year when they played the Cards on the road as the favorite. Give me the Cards (W, +3.5).

Minnesota vs. Detroit: Arguably the most evenly matched game of the week. Give Detroit credit. They went on the road and put up 36 points on a tough Oakland D. Well, you want a tougher D, you got it! Minnesota's D looked, I don't know, amazing last week, but that should be a common trend against the Falcons this year. So I'm really indecisive about who to pick here. The great defense, or the offense that has so much promise (yeah, who has Kitna backing up Brady on all four fantasy teams?...oh yeah). So, let's play it by the numbers. In the last three years, Detroit is 0-7 coming off a win (let me just slow it down to recognize that Matt Millen is probably getting right around $4 million to be the GM, and whatever other title they're giving him...I think way back, I compared him to Martin Lawrence, in that they're both so bad, people feel compelled to pay them money to keep them working so they can die slow, painful professional deaths...I believe I will stand by my decision). Another thing: Minnesota has absolutely dominated this series. This is almost reminiscent of the strangle-hold the Pats had on the Jets (because we were cheating!). I'm looking at the head-to-heads from 2001 on, and the Vikings won them all...but all were by 10 or less. Hmmm...also, Josh McCown did throw for over 300 yards last week, and they allowed a 4.0 average on the ground (by the way, if you keep that number around 3.0, somewhere in that neighborhood, that's about average...sorry, didn't want to lose the two people I haven't lost yet). Kitna and his receivers will have their chances, but still, the 'Dre Bly trade is going to haunt them all year long, especially when Kevin Jones returns to full health (two to three weeks), and him and Tatum Bell will be in a runner-by-committee system (anyone notice how Denver groomed two running backs, traded them at the pinnacle of their careers, and got back two shut-down corners?...Shanahan...he's a schemer). Minnesota is also 9-3 ATS vs. the NFC North since '04. Give me some of that Adrian Peterson action! (arguably one of the quickest inevitable turnovers ever...I knew Peterson was better than Chester Taylor, but I was figuring around Week 8 or 9, Peterson would start getting the bulk of the carries...nope, that takeover took only about 10 minutes) Vikings (W, +3).

Dallas vs. Miami: So I'm sure there's a reason why Dallas is only favored by a field goal. My theory on this is that there is faith out there for Trent Green and the Dolphins. I don't blame them. Considering they went up to RFK last weekend and almost beat the 'Skins, putting the game into OT. Not going to lie, the numbers for the Cowboys do not look too good...but the Dolphins look worse. However, with all that being said, I'm going to hope the Dolphins can pull this one out. They have good numbers against the NFC in the last three seasons (5-3 ATS). Also, they are convincingly better as a home 'dog (3-1 ATS) than Big D is as road favorite (3-6 ATS). So, I hope the 'Fins can pull this one out for me. Dolphins (W, +4)

New York (Jets) vs. Baltimore: What the numbers cannot tell you is how well an unseasoned QB will fare against the Ravens D. To me, it seems like a lot of points the Jets are getting for this game, but you do have to consider that Kellen Clemens, who is the confirmed starter on Sunday, is being thrown into the lion's den right off the bat in his first NFL start. Also, after Joey Harrington, A.J. Feeley, and Akili Smith, I don't have too much faith in Oregon QBs. In games when Baltimore has been favored by ten or more, Baltimore is 2-0, and as a home favorite since '05, they are 9-3 ATS and 11-1 SU. While it is a lot of points, I'll take my chances with Baltimore (W, -10).

Kansas City vs. Chicago: Why do I feel like this is a trap game? Remember last year when the Dolphins and Bucs both beat the Bears at Soldier Field? Chicago is bad against the AFC (3-6 SU), but Kansas City is worse as a road 'dog (2-10 SU), and when it all comes down to it, it's still Damon Huard lining up behind center for the Chiefs. To say I have no faith in that guy is an understatement. Both teams will be looking to rebound from last week's double-digit losses. The Bears will win their home opener (W), but for some reason, I can't get it out of my head that the Chiefs will find a way to cover the spread (+13).

Oakland vs. Denver: Well, just when you think the Raiders' D is going to keep this team afloat, they get killed at home. Denver has won their last two meetings against Oakland at Mile High by double-digits. Straight up since '05, Oakland is 1-13 on the road as a 'dog. It also does not bode well for the Raiders that the Broncos will be looking to make a statement against a division opponent after barely sneaking by last week. I like Denver big time here (W, -9.5).

Washington vs. Philadelphia: Man I hate the NFC East. Not because of the teams, but just the fact that these teams are so up-and-down that I can never get a read on any of them. Anyway, here's my thinking: I just can't throw all of my backing into the Redskins right now. Yes, they had a nice victory last week. If they get a win at Philly, trust me, I'll change my tune real quick. Until that day comes, I like Philly taking it on both ends (W, -6.5).

Alright, fifteen more weeks of this...I like it. Hey, I'll write eight pages for you guys as long as I get the time and the juices are flowing like they are right now. Football season is in the air, and honestly, the crystal ball isn't nearly as hazy as it's always been. I think now, I'm really taking a step back, and trying to be as open-minded as possible...except the Pats, who will go 19-0 this year on this page. Have a great weekend everyone. Sox/Yankees, the last series between the two this year...or is it? We'll find out soon enough. Take care. Peace.


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