I did better than I thought I would in Week One, going 10-6 with my picks. Now with a regular season game officially in the books, I have some actual data to look at and analyze. My accuracy should only get better from here on out (the occasional "fluke week" excepted, of course).
With that said, here are my Week Two NFL picks:
Sunday, September 17th
Buffalo (0-1) at Miami (0-1) – 1:00 p.m.
Buffalo lost a close one in New England last week. That should be seen as semi-encouraging news for the Bills. But Buffalo QB Losman will have to play better against Miami if the Bills are to avoid starting the season 0-2. As for the Dolphins, their entire offense looked out-of-sync last week against Pittsburgh. If Culpepper doesn't improve on his accuracy, we could be seeing Joey-freaking-Harrington starting under center before the season is out. And no one wants to see that. (The city of Miami doesn't need another street riot, thank you very much.) Miami by 3.
Carolina (0-1) at Minnesota (1-0) – 1:00 p.m.
Carolina QB Jake Delhomme was harassed into a disappointing start last week by Atlanta's defense. For their part, the Panthers D was as weak as a Carolina cheerleader's sense of self-control, giving up over 250 yards on the ground. Minnesota, on the other hand, looked impressive all-around in their win against Washington. Their defense didn't put a lot of pressure on Redskins QB Mark Brunell, but they didn't make many mistakes either. I'm starting to think Carolina could struggle this season. Vikings by 9.
Cleveland (0-1) at Cincinnati (1-0) – 1:00 p.m.
Cleveland lost to lowly New Orleans in Week One. At home. Cincinnati, meanwhile, handily beat Kansas City on the road. The Bengals defense was outstanding, recording seven sacks, causing four fumbles, and snagging an interception. This one will be ugly. Bengals by 18.
Detroit (0-1) at Chicago (1-0) – 1:00 p.m.
Before I make my pick for this game, I would like to make an announcement of sorts, about a particular idiosyncrasy of my weekly NFL Picks:
• The First Rule of RJ's NFL Picks: RJ always picks the Lions to win — as long as they are still in playoff contention.
• The Second Rule of RJ's NFL Picks: RJ always picks the Lions to win — as long as they are still in playoff contention.
• The Third Rule of RJ's NFL Picks: RJ will still rarely pick against the Lions, even when they are statistically and mathematically *** eliminated from playoff contention
• The Fourth Rule of RJ's NFL Picks: RJ is kind of a stubborn idiot that way
So, with that out of the way…
The Bears handed Packers QB Brett Favre the first shutout loss of his career last week. They did this in front of approximately 71,000 rabid, wild-eyed members of the notorious Cheesehead cult, whose messiah is none other than … Brett Favre. As for Detroit, the Lions failed to score a single touchdown last week, playing at Ford Field. Add these two facts together, and a reasonable person, one who can be swayed by actual facts and logic, would naturally assume that the Bears will absolutely bury Detroit in Week Two, which is at Chicago. That being said, I pick the … Lions by 1.
Houston (0-1) at Indianapolis (1-0) – 1:00 p.m.
Uh, yeah. This is a real tough one… Colts by 20.
New Orleans (1-0) at Green Bay (0-1) – 1:00 p.m.
Reggie Bush looked damn good in his first game as a pro, rushing for 61 yards on 14 attempts (about 4.4 yards/attempt) and catching eight passes for 58 yards. He's still a rookie, though, so expect a fumble or two in Green Bay. And Favre simply has to have a better game than he did in Week One. Packers by 2.
N.Y. Giants (0-1) at Philadelphia (1-0) – 1:00 p.m.
If there can be such a thing as a "must-win" game this early in the season, this is an example of one for the Giants. Falling behind two games in the ultra-competitive NFC East so soon could come back to haunt them in December, especially when they are struggling to capture a playoff spot. Philly looked great in Week One, but they were playing against Houston, so I'm not sure how relevant that performance is. This one could go either way, but I choose the … Giants by 3.
Oakland (0-1) at Baltimore (1-0) – 1:00 p.m.
The Raiders haven't scored a point yet. In fact, they haven't passed for 100 yards or rushed for 100 yards, either. On defense, they haven't recorded a single sack, an interception, or recovered a fumble. Basically, they suck, which can only be karmic justice for having Randy Moss on their roster. Baltimore hasn't allowed a single point yet. They've picked off three passes, and garnered three sacks. Their offense is pretty mediocre, however. Still, the Ravens shouldn't have too much trouble going 2-0 at home. Baltimore by 8.
Tampa Bay (0-1) at Atlanta (1-0) – 1:00 p.m.
If Vick can improve on his accuracy, Atlanta should be able to put a few points on the board. And since Tampa Bay's offense is horrible, "a few points" should be good enough for the W. Falcons by 6.
Arizona (1-0) at Seattle (1-0) – 4:05 p.m.
Seattle didn't look so great in Week One, but they played good enough to get the win. Arizona won a shoot-out last week against San Fran, with Kurt Warner throwing for over 300 yards and three TDs. I don't expect Warner to have quite as much success this week playing against a better defense. Seattle by 7.
St. Louis (1-0) at San Francisco (0-1) – 4:05 p.m.
The Rams beat Denver last week only because Jake Plummer committed four turnovers. He pretty much handed the game to St. Louis (literally). I think the 49ers will win their home opener in a high-scoring affair. San Fran by 9.
Kansas City (0-1) at Denver (0-1) – 4:15 p.m.
Both teams are facing some problems at quarterback. KC's Trent Green was injured with a concussion last weekend, and he could be out for a few weeks. He is likely to be replaced with Damon Huard, who hasn't started a game since 2000. As for Denver, watching them play the Rams last week, one almost had to wonder if the guy wearing the #16 jersey was recovering from a frontal lobotomy. I mean, Plummer hadn't played that stupid since he was a Cardinal. So, this matchup is likely to be decided by the running game. And I'll place my trust in Bell & Bell & Associates over Larry Johnson. Broncos by 3.
New England (1-0) at N.Y. Jets (1-0) – 4:15 p.m.
The good news for the Jets: Chad Pennington passed for 319 yards with two TDs and no interceptions last week. The bad news: It was against the Tennessee Titans. New England's D will not be as generous. Pats by 5.
Tennessee (0-1) at San Diego (1-0) – 4:15 p.m.
Tennessee's starting QB Kerry Collins looked bad last week. Tennessee's rookie backup QB Vince Young also looked bad. San Diego, on the other hand, looked like an All-Pro team Monday night. This could be a slaughter. Chargers by 17.
Washington (0-1) at Dallas (0-1) – 8:15 p.m.
As much as I'd like to see it happen, Dallas ain't gonna lose every week. And Drew Bledsoe will only rarely play as poorly as he did in Week One. Washington lost their chance to gain some early-season momentum when they saw Minnesota go ahead for good in the final minute of last Monday night's early game. Cowboys by 3.
Monday, September 18th
Pittsburgh (1-0) at Jacksonville (1-0) – 8:30 p.m.
The Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers vs. perennial also-ran Jacksonville. Not a difficult pick to make. Steelers by 10.
***For instance, suppose the Lions are 0-15. It's still technically possible for airplanes carrying the entire Bears team and the entire Vikings team to collide in mid-air, with the fiery remains falling on Lambeau Field during an all-team mandatory Packers practice…hey, we've got a division winner!