Here are my picks for the NFL's Week Two:
Sunday, September 16th, 2007
Indianapolis (1-0) @ Tennessee (1-0) – 1:00 PM [Sheridan's Line – Colts by 7]
Indy dismantled the Saints last week with a combination of predictably awesome offense and surprisingly stellar defense. This week they travel to Nashville to face the Titans. Tennessee also won last week, though in a much closer game. RB Chris Brown ran wild, gaining 175 yards on 19 carries against the Jaguars defense. However, QB Vince Young performed poorly. Indy's front seven needs to focus on containing Tennessee's running game, which would force Young into trying to win it by himself. The Colts should put a lot of points on the board, as usual.
RJ's Pick – Colts by 9
Green Bay (1-0) @ NY Giants (0-1) – 1:00 PM [Sheridan's Line – Pick ‘em]
The Packers beat the Eagles last week with a last-second field goal. But they were lucky to win, since their offense didn't score a single touchdown. The Giants lost a shootout in Dallas Sunday night. WR Plaxico Burress excelled with 144 receiving yards and three TDs in a losing effort. And as if getting beat by a division rival to start the season wasn't bad enough, the Giants also lost several players to injury, including QB Eli Manning who may not be able to play this week. But even without Eli Manning, the Giants have a better offense than the Packers. The Packers, however, appear to have the superior defense. This one could really go either way, so the home team is the safer bet.
RJ's Pick – Giants by 1
Cincinnati (1-0) @ Cleveland (0-1) – 1:00 PM [Sheridan's Line – Bengals by 6]
The Bengals beat division rival Baltimore on Monday night thanks to a solid performance by QB Carson Palmer and his two top receivers, Chad Johnson and T. J. Houshmandzadeh. DE Robert Geathers was outstanding with an INT, a sack, and a forced fumble. The Browns were crushed last week by Pittsburgh, in another matchup of AFC North rivals. Starting QB Charlie Frye was so obviously clueless that he was benched at the end of the first quarter. (He was then traded on Tuesday to the Seahawks for a sixth-round draft pick. Ouch!) Backup QB Derek Anderson came in to replace him, but didn't have much more success. There is some speculation that rookie QB Brady Quinn might start against Cincinnati. Regardless of who starts under center for the Browns, this intrastate showdown is not difficult to pick.
RJ's Pick – Bengals by 10
Houston (1-0) @ Carolina (1-0) – 1:00 PM [Sheridan's Line – Panthers by 6½]
Houston smothered the Chiefs last week by a score of 20-3. WR Andre Johnson caught seven passes for 142 yards and a TD. QB Matt Schaub played fairly well, and was only sacked twice. DE Mario Williams was huge with two sacks and a fumble return for a TD. Carolina won on the road against the Rams in Week One. QB Jake Delhomme was solid with 3 TDs and no INTs. WR Steve Smith caught seven passes for 118 yards and a TD, and RB DeShaun Foster rushed for nearly 100 yards. But the Rams defense is among the worst in the NFL. It will be interesting to see if the Panthers offense is anywhere as successful against the Texans.
RJ's Pick – Carolina by 4
New Orleans (0-1) @ Tampa Bay (0-1) – 1:00 PM [Sheridan's Line – Saints by 3]
New Orleans got pounded by the Colts in the season opener. QB Drew Brees was picked off twice, and threw for less than 200 yards on 41 attempts. RB Reggie Bush averaged just over three yards per carry. The defense gave up 41 points. It was ugly. Tampa Bay lost to Seattle in Week One. QB Jeff Garcia looked okay, but he couldn't get his team into the endzone the entire game. RB Cadillac Williams performed well until he was forced to leave the game with a rub injury. It is uncertain if he will play this week. I feel that the Saints will be able to bounce back from a disappointing loss last week better than the Bucs can.
RJ's Pick – Saints by 5
Buffalo (0-1) @ Pittsburgh (1-0) – 1:00 PM [Sheridan's Line – Steelers by 9½]
The Bills lost at home to Denver last week on a last-second field goal. But the worst news on the day was when TE Kevin Everett went down with a severe neck injury. Currently paralyzed, he is expected to slowly regain the ability to walk with long-term physical rehabilitation. Pittsburgh stomped all over the Browns last week. QB Ben Roethlisberger was outstanding with four TD passes and no INTs. The defense recorded six sacks, two INTs, and three forced fumbles. The Steelers also gained over 200 yards on the ground. I have to go with Pittsburgh at home, but I don't think it will be a blowout.
RJ's Pick – Steelers by 7
Atlanta (0-1) @ Jacksonville (0-1) – 1:00 PM [Sheridan's Line – Jaguars by 10]
The Falcons scored a whopping three points in losing to the Vikings last week. And that's what happens when Joey Harrington is your QB. But this team's problems extend far beyond the quarterback position. They couldn't manage to gain 100 yards on the ground. Their defense couldn't stop the run, allowing over 100 yards to a rookie running back after Minnesota's starting RB left with an injury. Their defense recorded zero sacks, while their offensive line allowed six. It's gonna be a lo-o-o-ong season in Atlanta. The Jaguars managed to lose at home last week to the Titans. Their running game was anemic, and their defense gave up 282 rushing yards. Meanwhile, QB David Garrard was actually competent. Last Sunday must have been "opposite day" in Jacksonville. I think things will turn around (in all departments… ) this week.
RJ's Pick – Jacksonville by 13
San Francisco (1-0) @ Saint Louis (0-1) – 1:00 PM [Sheridan's Line – Rams by 3]
San Fran beat the Cardinals on Monday night. QB Alex Smith struggled, completing less than 50% of his passes, with zero TDs. RB Frank Gore scored a TD, but gained only 55 yards on the ground in 18 attempts, which is just barely over three yards per carry. The Rams lost at home to Carolina last week. Their battered offensive line suffered yet another blow when tackle Orlando Pace went down with a season-ending arm injury. (Guard Todd Steussie is also out for the year due to an injury suffered in the pre-season.) We already knew the Rams were basically a team without a defense, but now they don't have an offensive line either. That's going to make it much more difficult for QB Marc Bulger and RB Steven Jackson to put up big numbers. I'm going with the underdog here.
RJ's Pick – San Fran by 2
Minnesota (1-0) @ Detroit (1-0) – 4:05 PM [Sheridan's Line – Lions by 3½]
Minnesota completely dominated Atlanta last week, winning 24-3. RB Chester Taylor was injured in the first quarter of that game, and may not be able to play this week against the Lions. But it might not matter, if rookie RB Adrian Peterson continues to play like he did against the Falcons, where he rushed for 103 yards on 19 carries. The Vikings defense put up great numbers on Sunday, but they were playing against an awful offense. This week they face Detroit, whose offense looked terrific in a win against the Raiders in Week One. QB Jon Kitna completed 75% of his passes, and threw for nearly 300 yards and three TDs (although he did throw two INTs). New addition RB Tatum Bell rushed for almost 100 yards and a TD. Rookie WR Calvin Johnson has made an immediate impact by catching four passes for 70 yards and a TD in his NFL debut. If Detroit's offensive line can buy enough time for Kitna in the pocket, the Lions shouldn't have too much trouble finding the endzone.
RJ's Pick – Lions by 2
Seattle (1-0) @ Arizona (0-1) – 4:05 PM [Sheridan's Line – Seahawks by 3]
Seattle beat the Bucs in Week One. QB Matt Hasselbeck looked sharp, completing 17 of 24 passes for 222 yards and a TD. RB Shaun Alexander added a TD on the ground, and the defense (five sacks and three forced fumbles) did all the rest. Arizona lost to the 49ers on Monday night. QB Matt Leinart looked pretty bad, completing only 50% of his passes for just over 100 yards, and throwing two picks. The bright spot for the Cardinals was RB Edgerrin James, who ran for 92 yards and a TD. The defense performed fairly well, especially LB Karlos Dansby and DT Darnell Dockett. This should be a relatively low-scoring game.
RJ's Pick – Seattle by 6
Dallas (1-0) @ Miami (0-1) – 4:05 PM [Sheridan's Line – Cowboys by 3½]
The Cowboys put up an impressive 45 points in their victory over the Giants on Sunday night. QB Tony Romo threw for 345 yards and four TDs, and ran for another. But their defense kept letting the Giants get back in the game. And NT Jason Ferguson might be out for the rest of the year due to an elbow injury he suffered in the first quarter. The Dolphins lost to the Redskins 16-13 in OT last week. QB Trent Green played well, completing 24 of 38 passes for 219 yards and one TD. LB Zach Thomas was a wild man with 13 tackles and a sack. Unfortunately, their running game was nonexistent, and they lost the coin-toss to start overtime (and hence, the game). Miami needs to run the ball early and with some success in order to open up the passing game against a porous Cowboys secondary. Romo is not going to be superhuman every week, and Miami's defense has a good chance of forcing him into some (*cough*) mental errors. I'm thinking upset here.
RJ's Pick – Miami by 3
Kansas City (0-1) @ Chicago (0-1) – 4:15 PM [Sheridan's Line – Bears by 12]
Kansas City looked horrible in their Week One loss to the Texans. QB Damon Huard threw no TDs and two INTs. They could only manage 72 yards on the ground. They turned the ball over four times. Things will not get any easier for the Chiefs offense this week, as they must face the Bears formidable defense. Chicago lost their opener to San Diego, 14-3. They got absolutely murdered in the time-of-possession, controlling the ball for less than 23 minutes. QB Rex Grossman was inept, as usual. I predict a very low-scoring game, with Kansas City heading into Week Three without having scored an offensive TD.
RJ's Pick – Bears by 8
NY Jets (0-1) @ Baltimore (0-1) – 4:15 PM [Sheridan's Line – No Line]
The Jets lost badly last week to the Patriots, who apparently cheated. QB Chad Pennington played well until he left the game due to an ankle injury in the third quarter. (His status for this Sunday's game remains up in the air.) The Jets defense, however, got eaten alive, especially by the Tom Brady-Randy Moss combination. And the offensive line allowed five sacks, including the one that led to Pennington's injury. This team needs some work, and I don't mean just some new signals. The Ravens lost a tough one to the Bengals Monday night. They also lost a few players. Return-specialist B. J. Sams is out for the season, tackle Jonathan Ogden may also be out for the season, LB Ray Lewis injured his triceps, and QB Steve McNair is unlikely to start this week due to an injured groin. (The inevitable McNair injury was fully expected, of course.) This week's matchup could very well see Kyle Boller starting at QB for the Ravens, and Kellen Clemens under center for the Jets. If that's the case, the smart money is on Baltimore.
RJ's Pick – Ravens by 4
Oakland (0-1) @ Denver (1-0) – 4:15 PM [Sheridan's Line – Broncos by 9½]
The Raiders lost at home to the Lions last Sunday. QB Josh McCown played quite well, throwing for over 300 yards, and completing 30 of 40 passes, but with two INTs. WR Ronald Curry caught 10 passes for 133 yards and a TD. But penalties and turnovers hurt them, and their defense couldn't get the stops they needed to win. The Broncos squeaked by with a 15-14 win in Buffalo last week. QB Jay Cutler threw for more than 300 yards, and RB Travis Henry ran for another 139. The Broncos had more than double the Bills total yardage, but still had to rely on a last-second field goal to win. Denver is definitely going to have to improve on their red-zone performance as the season progresses. Anyway, with Denver playing at home, the outcome of this game is a no-brainer.
RJ's Pick – Denver by 11
San Diego (1-0) @ New England (1-0) – 8:15 PM [Sheridan's Line – Patriots by 4]
San Diego beat the Bears last week in what could very well be a preview of Super Bowl XLII. The Chargers defense was superb, holding the Bears to three points, and recording three sacks, one INT, and three forced fumbles. QB Philip Rivers turned in a mediocre performance, but that's acceptable when facing a top-notch defense in Week One. The Patriots humiliated the Jets in East Rutherford last week (although the joke might turn out to be on them). QB Tom Brady completed 22 out of 28 passes for almost 300 yards and three TDs. WR Randy Moss caught nine passes for 183 yards and a TD. LB Mike Vrabel had seven tackles and two-and-a-half sacks. This matchup between the Chargers and the Patriots is, without question, the game of the week. It would be difficult to imagine either of these teams not making the playoffs this season. In a close call, I gotta go with the home team on Sunday night.
RJ's Pick – Patriots by 1
Monday, September 17th, 2007
Washington (1-0) @ Philadelphia (0-1) – 8:30 PM [Sheridan's Line – Eagles by 7]
The Redskins beat Miami in overtime last Sunday. Just about the whole team effort looked solid: 400 yards in total offense, a strong game from RB Clinton Portis, an outstanding performance by WR Antwaan Randle El, perfection in the clutch from kicker Shaun Suisham, and a superior effort by LB Rocky McIntosh. The only serious problem was QB Jason Campbell, who threw two INTs and zero TDs. The Eagles looked almost as uniformly bad last Sunday as the Redskins looked good. Philly lost to Green Bay because of eight penalties, three turnovers, and poor accuracy from QB Donovan McNabb. However, it's worth noting that the Eagles defensive unit sacked Brett Favre four times and intercepted him once. On Monday night, don't expect either team to play the way they did last week.
RJ's Pick – Eagles by 3
2007 Weekly Results
Week One – 11-5