Saturday, September 13, 2014

2014 NFL Week 2 Picks

If you missed last week's post, I'm tweeting out Thursday night picks and using for the lines each week.

Week 2

If I were a betting man, I'd parlay the Buccaneers -5.5 and Titans -3.5 with the Colts -3 on Monday, although you could talk me into the Jaguars +6 in place of Indy.

Baltimore -2.5 versus Pittsburgh

I got my tweet out late on Thursday, so I'm including a screenshot to show I was definitely in on the Ravens this week. It's amazing how often a team bands together and is galvanized in the face of adversity on a short week. Of course, being the home team on TNF definitely helps.

We'll have to keep an eye out to see whether Baltimore will stay dedicated to the run after the Week 1 debacle of allow Joe Flacco to fire up 62 passes after benching Bernard Pierce for his first career fumble. The big back looked better in this one along with old Cal favorite Justin Forsett, but that may have been a result of the Steelers getting gashed by the exact same zone blocking scheme that nearly cost them their opener, as well. The good new for Pittsburgh is that Le'Veon Bell looks great in an offense that was done in by red zone miscues, punctuated by an interception that Ngat-a whole lot of d-lineman can make. *crickets* Let's move on...

Miami +1 at Buffalo

As the line indicates, this is one of the toughest picks of the week with both teams coming off huge upsets. I'm going with the more talented team even though they're on the road and out their entire linebacker core because I still don't trust E.J. Manuel to be consistent. He could get rattled by this Dolphins defensive line that was all over Tom Brady in the second half last week. With how good Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon are at defensive end, I wonder if they'll convert last year's third overall pick, Dion Jordan, back to outside linebacker once he is reinstated with the league's new drug policy.

Alfred Morris needs to be consistently fed to get a W.
Jacksonville +6 at Washington

I actually think Washington wins this game at home, but the line is way too high given the talent levels of these teams. Of course, I thought the Jaguars would cover last week's +10.5, and they blew a 17-0 lead in agonizing fashion: a fumble return for a touchdown when down 10 with 1:24 left. I think whichever team stays patient with the running game and gets their workhorse back more touches takes this one.

Tennessee -3.5 vs Dallas

I said last week that I think Jake Locker could have a big year but am in wait and see mode with the Titans defense, and I saw enough in their impressive win at Arrowhead. The Cowboys' defense actually didn't look like a total disaster considering the situations their offense put them in, but I don't think they'll put up much resistance against Justin Hunter and Kendall Wright in Nashville.

Arizona -2.5 at New York Giants

I don't like the fact that this line shifted a whopping 4.5 points after opening Giants -2, but everyone saw how these teams played on Monday Night Football. The 10 AM start time for Arizona on the road is rough, but both teams are coming off the short week, obviously. I think the Cardinals continue to air it out with Carson Palmer, and we got a taste of the talented rookie I wrote about last week, John Brown. While Brown was the MNF hero, Rueben Randle put up a dud in the early game and is now facing Patrick Peterson and Antonio Cromartie. Maybe this Giants offense will wake up when first round pick Odell Beckham Jr. finally suits up and give them another explosive weapon, but I'm not counting on it until then.

New England -6 at Minnesota

Normally I'd say this is a touch high for a decent team at home, but they're missing their best player in light of Adrian Peterson's excessive discipline of his son. Brady and Belichick tend to bounce back well after bad losses, and I think they will have better success throwing on this defense.
Gronk's healthy debut was about the only positive takeaway from last week.

Cleveland +6.5 versus New Orleans

The Saints are a different team on the road, especially outdoors, but I still think they pull this one out. That being said, the Browns showed impressive dedication to the run even after falling behind by 24 points and losing starter Ben Tate. The rookie tandem of Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell is definitely talented, with Cleveland trading up in the third round for West and Crowell ranked as a top high school recruit before being kicked out of Georgia and subsequently going undrafted. I think they'll carry over their success from last week and keep the home team in the game.

Atlanta +5.5 at Cincinnati

Both teams are coming off impressive division wins, and the Falcons' explosive passing attack makes up for their deficiencies on defense. Thus, I'm grabbing the points even though the Bengals are the better team and ultimately win at home. I was surprised at their pass heavy game plan in Week 1, but it worked against Baltimore's defense. Offensive Coordinator Hue Jackson has already promised Jeremy Hill a bigger role after Giovani Bernard monopolized the snaps last week, so I expect more of a power approach against Atlanta's suspect front.

Tampa Bay -5.5 versus St. Louis

The Buccaneers defense might have been the biggest disappointment of Week 1 with backup Derek Anderson slicing through them at home, but the Rams' inept offensive provides the perfect bounce back candidate.

San Diego +5.5 versus Seattle

I'm going with the home 'dog, but I don't feel great about it with them coming off a short week compared to the Seahawks' extra rest. The Chargers should be able to hold up OK against the run, so if they can keep contain on Russell Wilson, they should stay competitive at home.

Houston -3 at Oakland

The Jadeveon Clowney injury is a bummer, but the Texans defense should travel well as long as they have J.J. Watt leading the charge. This probably won't be the game we get to see how Derek Carr looks when he actually has time to throw, but I thought he looked solid given the circumstances. If Maurice Jones-Drew can't give it a go, Darren McFadden and Latavius Murray could be in line for big games, but Arian Foster is likely to have an even bigger game on the other side. Andre Johnson will likely have a say in putting Houston over the top on the road, as well.

Green Bay -8 versus New York Jets

I expect to see a few of these for Nelson and the Cheeseheads.
The line has moved down from -10 for a reason, but the Packers are now at home after being embarrassed a week and a half ago. Aaron Rodgers and company should have much more success against New York's shaky secondary, and I don't think Geno Smith will be able to keep it close at Lambeau. The only cause for concern with this high line is the possibility of the Jets playing ball control on the ground and keeping the game close with the Chrises, Johnson and Ivory.

Kansas City +12.5 at Denver

After Jamaal Charles was inexplicably given only 7 carries in the opener, I think Andy Reid makes amends with his best player and is able to at least keep up with the Broncos, who are still without Wes Welker due to how late the league's agreement on the new drug policy came together. There's still a great chance that Peyton Manning carves them up, but you have to grab the points with this huge line.

San Francisco -7 versus Chicago

The Niners' depth was tested early in Dallas with Tramaine Brock suffering a toe injury and Chris Culliver suffering a concussion, but Perrish Cox and fourth rounder Dontae Johnson more than held their own. With Eric Reid and Antoine Bethea covering the back end, they should be able to contain the Bears' explosive offense, especially with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery battling ankle and hamstring issues, respectively. Matt Forte will be the biggest challenge for San Francisco to stop, but Chicago's once vaunted defense is even more susceptible to being gashed for big plays. I think the Niners win this one going away in the opening of Levi's Stadium.

Indianapolis -3 versus Philadelphia

Neither of these teams can afford the same kind of first halves they had in Week 1, but if their second halves are any indication, we're in for a a great MNF game. The Colts are coming now home after facing the tougher opponent last week, and they actually played good run defense in that one. The Eagles' running scheme is a whole different kind of animal, of course, but Andrew Luck is also facing a much weaker secondary

Last week: 6-10

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