BY PETER HOUSTON – FAN FUEL BLOGGER
A quick refresher on some numbers from last week before the picks:
* 12 of 16 favourites won.
* Seven of 16 spreads were covered by favourites.
* Nine of 16 home teams won.
* Three of six road teams that won weren’t the favourite.
* Eight of 16 games were unders.
And, without further ado…
San Diego Chargers (+7.5) at Philadelphia Eagles, O/U 53
Chip Kelly said his offense was slow last week. Huh? Whatever pace they play at this week, it’s definitely entertaining to watch. LeSean McCoy looks to be back in business now, and man oh man can he make defenders miss badly when he’s at his best. So much for the old strategy of running the ball to slow things down and eat up the clock to keep opposing offenses off the field, eh?
Pick: Eagles (-7.5)
Washington, D.C. (+8) at Green Bay Packers, O/U 49.5
Washington certainly didn’t look good against the Eagles, and it wasn’t just their defense against Chip Kelly’s sonic speed offense. Robert Griffin III looked tentative and wasn’t stepping into a lot of his throws. He got better as the game went on but that wasn’t the same RG3 from last year, although no one’s blaming him considering his injury and how quickly he’s come back from it. Bacarri Rambo looks like a great addition at safety (and has one of the coolest names in the NFL), but I still think Aaron Rodgers carves up 2012’s third worst pass defense at Lambeau.
Pick: Packers (-8)
Cleveland Browns (+7) at Baltimore Ravens, O/U 43.5
This matchup is about as lopsided over the past few years as any divisional match up in football. John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco are a perfect 10-0 against the Browns since Flacco was drafted. The margin of victory in those games has been an average of 12.9 points. The Browns have scored more than 17 points just once during the streak. The Ravens did lose a lot of players from last year’s team, but I’m still surprised Vegas isn’t giving them more respect.
Pick: Ravens (-7)
Minnesota Vikings (+6.5) at Chicago Bears, O/U 41
I don’t think Minnesota’s very good at all, but I don’t trust the Bears either. The Bears did beat the Bengals, which was pretty impressive, but I’m not convinced they’re an elite team yet. I don’t think they’ll have much trouble stopping Christian Ponder because, well, nobody does, and they won’t let Adrian Peterson run wild. Minnesota did win the last match up between these two teams and I think they’ll at least keep it close because that’s what division rivals always seem to do. I think the Bears win, but by less than a touchdown.
Pick: Vikings (+6.5)
St. Louis Rams (+7) at Atlanta Falcons, O/U 47
The Falcons are the kings of bouncing back. They are 20-3 following a loss since 2008 and haven’t had back-to-back losses since the 2009 season. I don’t think they’ll roll over the Rams though, considering St. Louis put up 27 against a sneakily good Arizona D and the Rams front 7 looks like it’s going to have a huge year. Matt Ryan should be able to take care of business through the air, but I’m not sure how well Atlanta’s ground game will do with a mediocre O-line. Steven Jackson had an Adrian Peterson-esque boom or bust game in week 1, with 1 carry for 50 yards and the other 10 for 27. I don’t think the Falcons win by more than a touchdown.
Pick: Rams (+7)
Dallas Cowboys (+3) at Kansas City Chiefs, O/U 46.5
-Call me crazy, but I’m not completely sold on a team that went 2-14 last year, added Alex Smith and blew out debatably the worst team in football. I know they have a lot of other pieces, a new coach and all, but I’m not ready to hop on the bandwagon just yet. Jamaal Charles also had to leave last week’s game and hasn’t been practicing. He’s expected to play but won’t be at 100 percent.
Pick: Cowboys (+3)
Tennessee Titans (+10) at Houston Texans, O/U 44
This line opened up at Titans +8.5 but has since moved to make the Texans even bigger favourites. Tennessee did put up an impressive win against Pittsburgh Week 1 and the Texans almost lost to the Chargers, but Vegas isn’t letting one week sway the preseason prognostications for these teams. Also, the Titans only put up 229 yards of offense last week. Oh ya, in his past eight starts vs. Tennessee, Matt Schaub has a 6-2 record with 17 TDs vs. one INT & 105.6 passer rating.
Pick: Texans (-10)
Miami Dolphins (+3) at Indianapolis Colts, O/U 42.5
The battle of two teams with very uninspiring Week 1 wins. A lot of people have been calling for a big Colts regression this season, and I agree to an extent, but I don’t think they lose to the Dolphins at home. I like Andrew Luck in Lucas Oil where he went 7-1 last year.
Pick: Colts (-3)
Carolina Panthers (-3) at Buffalo Bills, O/U 44.5
Although the Bills had a good showing against the Patriots, I don’t see it happening again. Carolina’s front seven is quite good and completely shut down Marshawn Lynch last week. It also just feels like Cam Newton is ready to go off at any minute.
Pick: Panthers (-3)
New Orleans Saints (-3) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, O/U 47
The two worst pass defenses of 2012 go head to head this week. I realize the Saints brought in Rob Ryan and added Kenny Vaccaro and the Bucs got Darrelle Revis, but still, an over/under of 47? Please. Saints take it in a shootout.
Pick: Saints (-3)
Detroit Lions (-1) at Arizona Cardinals, O/U 47.5
This is a matchup between two units that are going to be very good this year: Detroit’s offense and Arizona’s defense. With Reggie Bush, the Lions have added an element to their offense that they didn’t have last year. But so have the Cardinals with Carson Palmer, who looked like he had a good connection with Larry Fitzgerald last week. I say the Cardinals squeak by in a high scoring affair.
Pick: Cardinals (+1)
Jacksonville Jaguars (+6) at Oakland Raiders, O/U 39.5
Oakland might not be a bad pick in your survivor pools considering this is the only chance all year you’ll feel semi-confident about picking them and you don’t have to burn a good team early. I also thought Oakland might be a good pick to cover the spread since they’re at home, but some quick research showed that over the last five years they’ve gone 15-25 in Oakland and 15-25 on the road. Huh. Don’t necessarily expect the Jags to win, but can’t really see Oakland blowing them out.
Pick: Jaguars (+6)
Denver Broncos (-4.5) at New York Giants, O/U 55
Luckily (for Eli) the Manning Bowl is in New York, or this one would be pegged for a total blowout. Even still, -4.5 seems a little low for a team that destroyed Baltimore in Week 1 against a team that turned the ball over 6 times in week 1. I don’t see this one being close.
Pick: Denver (-5)
San Francisco 49ers (+3) at Seattle Seahawks, O/U 44.5
Both of these teams rely on their ground games but couldn’t get anything from them in Week 1. Both of these teams rely on their quarterback’s legs, but they were mostly pocket passers in Week 1. I expect to see a little something different from both sides, but give the edge to Seattle because of Century Link (8-0 there last year). One last quick note: the best player on the field in last week’s 49ers-Packers game not named Anquan Boldin? Eric Reid. He is going to be a stud.
Pick: Seahawks (-3)
Pittsburgh Steelers (+7) at Cincinnati, O/U 40.5
-The times, they are a changin’ in the AFC north. The Bengals seven point favourites over the Steelers? Fair enough considering what Pittsburgh did Week 1. I also like Cincy’s defense against a depleted Steelers offense.
Pick: Bengals (-7)