by Ryan Meehan
Now that week one is in the books, we have had the opportunity to see for the most part what all thirty-two teams are made of. Obviously the big story this past week was Ray Rice getting suspended indefinitely by the NFL after having his contract terminated by the Ravens. Not that this would come as a shock to anybody, but Roger Goddell really screwed this one up. Basically what he was telling everyone by doing this is that you can essentially beat your wife, and as long as there’s no video you’ll get a light punishment. But the second that video comes out, you’re history. I want to hear the explanation as to why the video from inside of the elevator wasn’t released when the first tape came out, and why it all of a sudden became available Monday morning.
But since I’d rather not dwell on that story (you’ve heard plenty on it by this point anyway, I’m sure…) I’ve chosen to really focus on the football that’s going on. It’s not fair to those of us who didn’t kick the shit out of our significant others to have to hear about it, so after the preview for the Thursday Night game you’re probably not going to read any more on that topic here unless something else transpires in that mess. We’ve got some good games on deck, and this is what I expect to go down in week two of the 2014 NFL season.
Thursday Night Football: Pittsburgh Steelers +2.5 at Baltimore Ravens (44)
Obviously the elephant in the room here is going to be: How the fuck did we not see the Ray Rice footage from inside of the elevator when the initial tape was released? It won’t matter to the Ravens, because now they have a huge hole in their backfield. All it took for a team that is only a year and a half removed from being Super Bowl Champions to go to what’s probably going to be a 6-10 season was a TMZ clip. I don’t even know where to start when you consider how poorly this was handled, but from a football standpoint the Ravens are in serious trouble. Bernard Pierce rushed for 14 yards last week on six carries. He’s now the number one running back on their depth chart. Want to put your money on that? Didn’t think so.
Steelers 25, Ravens 15
Atlanta Falcons +5.5 at Cincinnati Bengals (48)
This one is going to be interesting because both of these QBs did a hell of a job last week, and it will be cool to see how Matt Ryan fares against a tough Bengals defense. Either way, I’m still not buying Cincinnati. Maybe the Falcons are headed in the right direction again…stranger things have happened, and they looked pretty damn good in the air last Sunday. Don’t gamble on this one, but for the record I like Atlanta here. To say Andy Dalton isn’t going to have a career game this week is a bit of an understatement.
Falcons 24, Bengals 22
New Orleans Saints -7 at Cleveland Browns (47.5)
Cleveland is in a tough spot here because although they are at home, New Orleans is super pissed off and knows that they can’t start 0-2. That’s why they are a road favorite by a touchdown, and also why I expect them to beat the Browns to dust. Cleveland almost pulled it out against the Steelers last week, but will soon find that Drew Brees is the real deal. You know the Saints are going to put up thirty-plus points here, the only question is how their defense will fare after giving up over 440 yards passing to Matt Ryan last week. I believe that they will be able to contain Brian Hoyer to prove they can hang with the rest of the conference. This is a pride game for the Saints, and I like them to cover and cover easily.
Saints 31, Browns 16
Houston Texans -2.5 at Oakland Raiders (39)
Here’s a perfect example of how busy free agency is these days: Matt Schaub won’t even be playing in the Matt Schaub Bowl. A year removed from being picked by a lot of analysts to be the Super Bowl MVP, he now finds himself behind this Carr kid who I am starting to like. He’s going to make a lot of rookie mistakes no doubt, but at the same time it’s nice to see some energy out of somebody at that position. My friend Eric is a Raiders fan, and his son Conner is a Texans fan. And believe it or not, that household is stable and nobody there is depressed. But I have to side with the younger Brown in this one: Although this Carr kid’s got fire and I am digging on it, JJ Watt is trying to have an MVP type season. He can’t turn Ryan Fitzpatrick into a playoff quarterback, but he can stop an Oakland rushing “attack” that couldn’t run the football if the other ten players on his team pull a Gary Kubiak and collapse right there on the field. Texans cover in a not so tough road game. Avoid the point total bet.
Texans 27, Raiders 17
Jacksonville Jaguars +7 at Washington Redskins (43)
Hey, did you hear that Joan Rivers died?
Redskins 10, Jaguars 9
Miami Dolphins EVEN at Buffalo Bills (43)
These are two teams that both won in week two, but against very different teams. The Dolphins beat New England who is a perennial playoff contender, while the Bills beat the Bears who shoot themselves in the foot so much you’d swear they wear loaded pistols for ankle weights. That’s why I guess I’m a little surprised at the line being EVEN here, regardless of the game being played in Buffalo. The Dolphins are much better than people are giving them credit for, and could make a real playoff push if we continue to see what we saw out of the Patriots in the second half of last week’s game. I’m taking Miami here, and if I may I’d like to suggest the over on the point total as well.
Dolphins 26, Bills 21
New England Patriots at Minnesota Vikings
There are two things I am certain about here: There’s no way that the New England Patriots are starting the season 0-2, and definitely no way that the Vikings are starting the year 2-0. That’s some alternate universe shit I simply can’t wrap my brain around. But the Vikings defense will quickly discover that Tom Brady is not Shaun Hill, and when they do it’s going to hurt. Brady’s already pissed after a tough week one loss to Miami, and he knows losing this game would put him further behind the eight ball. I like New England to cover, and I promise you that even though this game is on the road they will win. Put your bets up, this one’s a lock.
Patriots 30, Vikings 20
New York Jets +9.5 at Green Bay Packers (45.5)
Am I supposed to take the Jets seriously after beating a sorry Oakland team that couldn’t run the ball if they were all in tanks? Well, tough shit because I’m not going to. Geno Smith is the new Robert Griffin, and I don’t like the Packers to blow their home opener against a team I can guarantee you won’t finish above .500. It’s got to be pretty bad when you win your season opener and Vegas still has you floating around being a double digit underdog. That’s because the Jets are shit, and Green Bay should easily cover here.
Packers 29, Jets 13
Kansas City Chiefs +14 at Denver Broncos (51)
Speaking of teams that Vegas can’t trust, it looks like they’ve finally came around on the Kansas City Chiefs. Andy Reid & Company may head to the bottom of the AFC West just like they were when he got there. Denver looked great in the first half last week, but their offense ran out of firepower once the second half started. They seem to run a lot of plays early, and then leave their defense to do the grunt work in the second half. I don’t know if this has anything to do with keeping Peyton off the field late in games, but it’s certainly something to consider now that he’s getting older. Broncos cover easily regardless.
Broncos 34, Chiefs 16
Seattle Seahawks -5 at San Diego Chargers (44.5)
The Seattle Seahawks put on quite a show opening night, dismantling the Packers 36-16. San Diego choked away a sure victory against the Cards on a night where they looked brilliant at times, but such is the life of the Chargers fan. It’s funny, because remember the time when Seattle was the team who was always 9-7 and just slinking their way into the postseason? That’s who the Chargers have now become, and Seattle might be on their way to a 14-2 or 15-1 season. But that said, this game might be closer than you may expect because this time they won’t have the crowd in their favor. They’ll still squeeze it out, but stay away from any money changing hands unless they’re prop bets.
Seahawks 23, Chargers 20
Dallas Cowboys +3 at Tennessee Titans (49)
Not only do I get to pick the Titans to win this week as well, but I also get to do it at the expense of the Dallas Cowboys? Sometimes I love this job… But seriously, I liked the what the Titans did last week for two reasons: First off, they showed everybody that the Chiefs are a bunch of frauds who just happen to have a good coach. Second, they did it after sticking their neck out trading Ryan Fitzpatrick to another team in their division and trusting the whole nacho to one Jake Locker. He threw for only two TDs, but the INT number is slowly becoming the most important stat in the NFL and he didn’t throw any of those. It’s a shame these two teams won’t play again this year, I’d love to see the Titans as a double digit favorite in a game like this.
Titans 27, Cowboys 12
Detroit Lions +2.5 at Carolina Panthers (43.5)
Even though the Giants played an awful game last Monday, I did like what I saw out of Detroit. They moved the ball well and had no defensive penalties in the second half, which is almost unheard of when you consider how unbelievably undisciplined they are. One of these teams is going to be 2-0 when it’s all over, and that’s fitting because it’s doubtful the other will make the postseason. I want to see Detroit beat a legitimate team, and even though Carolina doesn’t fit that description the Lions could make a statement by crushing the Panthers by three touchdowns. I can’t see that happening, but they will win although it will be by a hair.
Lions 30, Panthers 24
St. Louis Rams +7 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (37)
Hey, Did you hear Joan Rivers died? Oh, I used that joke already. Who likes field goals? If three pointers are your thing, you’re gonna love this match-up. Your co-MVPs will be Patrick Murray and Greg Zuerlein. Bucs cover but please tell me you’re not gambling on this game. That would just be depressing.
Bucs 23, Rams 12
Arizona Cardinals EVEN at New York Giants (44)
This is a tale of two teams that played very different games on the Monday Night Doubleheader in week one. The Giants played terrible almost the entire game, but at least they were consistently poor. The Cardinals were sub-average in the first half, but played two very good quarters and stole their game at home against the Chargers. The Cardinals at least have spurts of genius, and a guy who can actually throw for 300 yards without an epic struggle to hit those numbers. While Arizona’s issues can be fixed during the week, the problems that the Giants are currently having are going to take a lot longer than that and may be irreparable under Coughlin. Which won’t matter, because he’ll be gone at the end of the season anyway. Don’t be surprised if you see me in a Carson Palmer jersey at some point this year, and don’t be surprised if you see the Cardinals in the postseason should San Francisco hit a tough patch midway through the season.
Cardinals 26, Giants 12
Sunday Night Football: Chicago Bears +7.5 at San Francisco 49ers (48.5)
I cannot wait for this game to get out of hand. I can’t wait for the moment where I realize the 49ers have just scored again and there’s no reason to watch the game. And I can’t wait for the moment when I come out of my computer room where I’m doing my wrap-up to grab a bowl of cereal, and the 49ers have just intercepted Jay Cutler again for a pick six. 7.5? I don’t see why the spread on this one is any less than ten points, and I’m not just saying that to piss off the locals. Why should I feel differently? I don’t see what the big deal is about the Bears. And it’s not just the fine folks at Comcast Chicago who are under the impression that when the Bears are 5-7 that they can still finish the season 10-6. It’s ESPN as well. “Watch out for the Bears in that division..” What for? Is there a sleeping contest in the third quarter? Are they going to release actual Bears from the Lincoln Park Zoo that are going to corner Colin Kaepernick and ask him where that giant turtle of his is hiding? This one won’t be close.
49ers 42, Bears 17
Monday Night Football: Philadelphia Eagles +2.5 at Indianapolis Colts (53.5)
This one should be interesting, at least in the second half. Both of these teams played like shit in the first two quarters of their week one games, and I’m not willing to buy into the Colts just yet. The Eagles won’t make that mistake again, I think their early showing against Jacksonville scared the daylights out of them at least long enough to carry through this one. But the Colts are starting to turn into a pretty formidable home team, and I know that because the mark of a good home team is how they can play on the road when the situation calls for it. It didn’t show at the beginning of the Denver game, but once they hit their stride Luck looked every bit as good as the man whose job he stole. Too little too late, but it won’t happen this week. I like the Colts to cover, but stay away from the point total – too close to call.
Colts 29, Eagles 22
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