Going 11-5 last week in my NFL picks left a bitter taste in my mouth. Getting hit with upsets such as the Bills over the Panthers, Chargers over the Eagles, and Seattle’s blowout of the San Francisco 49ers didn’t help. Cam Newton needs to snap out of it, the Chargers are for real, and Seattle is on another level. I’ll stick to my guns in saying San Fran will make it to the Superbowl, but the Seattle Seahawks have proven to be a superior franchise. Take a look at this week’s hard-hitting matchups and who I’m taking to the bank.
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Kansas City Chiefs at Philadelphia Eagles
Ah, the return of the walrus Andy Reid in Philadelphia. Despite running 50 offensive plays in the first half of Week 1, Chip Kelly feels that his team can be even quicker to get to the line. Defenses will continue to struggle to keep up with this offense. The ‘Chip Kelly Speed Offense’ is the Read-Option of the 2013 season. Michael Vick is looking like his days in Atlanta prior to the dog-fighting incidents. One thing he hasn’t encountered yet, is a stellar secondary that tests his turnover-happy self. Brandon Flowers, Eric Berry, and the Chiefs DB’s are just the guys to riel him up. McCoy still looks spectacular in this close loss to Kansas City.
Detroit Lions at Washington Redskins
RGIII has come out and said to the media that he will become more explosive on the ground with his legs. He has struggled the first two weeks of the season, not because of his recently repaired knee, but because he has been playing far more cautiously than his rookie season. Griffin can still be cautious and dangerous at the same time, he just needs to find the balance between the two. This is his week against a Detroit defense that still needs to find its discipline. This will be the perfect test run to see if he’s still as shifty as he once was. Expect him to find Garçon plenty. Big day for a struggling Alfred Morris as well.
Green Bay Packers at Cincinnati Bengals
Aaron Rodgers looks like the Superbowl Champ and league MVP of previous seasons. Looks like the loss of WR Greg Jennings has had absolutely no impact on Rodgers—as it shouldn’t since Jennings spent most of last season injured. Randall Cobb has exploded on the scene as A-Rodge’s favorite target and having a running game with Eddie Lacy and James Starks doesn’t hurt their offense either. It gives them a chance to spread the love. Cincy has one of the best defenses in the league and some of the most dangerous offensive weapons. Andy Dalton struggled to connect with top WR AJ Green last week against rival Pittsburgh Steelers, but rookie sensation Giovanni Bernard showed what he could do out of the backfield. Look for his legs to get more work as they use a speed-and-size combo with “The Lawfirm”. Packers get the edge with their more powerful, more consistent offense.
St. Louis Rams at Dallas Cowboys
Dez Bryant looked like the clear-cut favorite target of QB Tony Romo last week. Despite being banged up, Bryant totaled for almost 150 yards receiving and was targeted a team-high 13 times. Romo continues to lean heavily on his receivers and the passing game as RB DeMarco Murray continued to struggle on the ground. They need to get the running game down before they will be a premier squad, but their offense looked pretty solid in a loss to Kansas City last week. Their defense looks to be the primary issue as they are still adjusting to the change from Rob Ryan’s 3-4 to Tampa 2. The St. Louis offense looked legitimate in a loss last week as well. Sam Bradford has taken control of their high-intensity offense and finally used rookie sensation Tavon Austin to his advantage. Looks at though these two teams are struggling more defensively than anything else. Look for this game to break the ginormous scoreboard in Dallas.
San Diego Chargers at Tennessee Titans
If there is one huge surprise at the start of this season, its San Diego Quarterback Philip Rivers and the Chargers offense. Where did this come from? He normally doesn’t wake from his coma till November swings around. Journeyman WR Eddie Royal looks like one of the clutch fantasy football free agent pickups of the season as he leads the league in receiving TDs with 5. No one expected this San Diego offense to be averaging 30 points per game. Tennessee continues to struggle with their offense as they move forward with QB Jake Locker at the helm. They need to lean more heavily on the legs of RB Chris Johnson to have any chance at snaking a few surprise wins this season.
Cleveland Browns at Minnesota Vikings
They’ve clearly given up on this season already. Trading their star, RB Trent Richardson for a first-round pick. Not only is this a steal for the Colts, but the Browns shot themselves in the foot, trading a #3 overall pick for a probable mid-round pick. Clearly the worst team in the NFL all-around. Might as well pack your bags and relocate because any loyal fan of the Browns has just given up. Trent was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Adrian Peterson sounds off for over 200 yards rushing—an easy day’s work for the best back in the league.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New England Patriots
Tom Brady has publicly displayed his displeasure with the receiving corps of Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins, and the absence of their studs in Danny Amendola and Gronk. Unfortunately, the rookie WRs have to get on the same page as their Hall of Fame Quarterback and that could take time. Tom is used to playing in shitty conditions like he did last week against the Jets, the rookies are not. Tampa Bay continues their struggles with Josh Freeman at the helm. Dude can’t even show up to team photos on time. They need to lean solely on RB Doug Martin after his awesome performance of 144 yards rushing last week in a loss to the New Orleans Saints. Let the big dog eat.
*Insert Lion King Theme Here*
Arizona Cardinals at New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees has been, well, Drew Brees. You can never count out a guy of Brees stature, regardless of his weaponry. Unfortunately, New Orleans has not been able to get going on the ground as they continue with the trio of Thomas, Ingram, and Sproles at Running Back. The Saints need to put a clear-cut starter in place and give him the keys to the running game. In the meantime, TE Jimmy Graham and WR Marques Colston have helped lighten the load for Brees and make his job a little easier. This team continues their turnaround as they remain undefeated. Carson Palmer has targets, but doesn’t have the skill and accuracy of a guy of Brees caliber. Good luck keeping up this week, especially if RB Rashad Mendenhall is out.
New York Giants at Carolina Panthers
Last week, Eli got his ass wupped by big brother Peyton. Starting the season 0-2, the New York Giants have got to turn it up a notch. Victor Cruz has been the sole reason why the Giants have stayed in these matchups thus far, but it just shows one or two guys on a team can’t get it done. Shaking things up with the signing of NYG Alum RB Brandon Jacobs, their running game looks to go a different direction. Fall back on the power running of the Superbowl glory days. Carolina has struggled thus far, primarily due to the poor play of QB Cam Newton. He’s been accurate, but extremely hesitant the past couple of weeks. Loosen the reins on Cam and let him do his thing. Newton has the size, speed, and power to make plays happen with his arm and legs. Stop checking down to your running backs, start tossing some fades and deep posts to your speedy receivers Steve Smith and Ted Ginn, Jr. And where the hell has Brandon LaFell been?!
Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens
The defending champs have not looked like the defending champs. Barely skating by the Cleveland Browns, Flacco and company continues to struggle this season. Clearly their defense has a different look without Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, but their offense still has the tools to do some damage—minus Anquan Boldin (good move management. SMH). Lean more heavily on RB Ray Rice if you’re going to have a chance in hell to make it to the postseason and beyond. Houston’s defense has not looked like the defense of last year. Led by Brian Cushing and JJ Watt, the team’s defensive intensity has to turn it up. Can’t have teams like the Titans and Chargers give you a run for your money.
Atlanta Falcons at Miami Dolphins
At 2-0, the Miami Dolphins have looked great. Led by second year QB Ryan Tannehill, the offense has made the most of it with targets Brian Hartline and Mike Wallace. After voicing his displeasure with his inclusion in the offense, Wallace had bounced back in Week 2 with a bang. Once he and Tannehill get on the same page, they could be one of the deadliest combos in the NFL. Atlanta is banged up. Studs on offense Roddy White, Julio Jones, and Stephen Jackson are all hurting and limited (to say the least). Harry Douglas will be the breakout player of this matchup, along with the crafty vet, Tony Gonzalez. Look for them to surprise Miami at home, despite being as banged up as they are.
Buffalo Bills at New York Jets
EJ Manuel was found crying on the sidelines last weekend. Cheer up, big guy. This is your week to shine. Not traveling too far from home, Buffalo looks to get a win on the road against a struggling Jets team. Geno Smith is still getting in-sync with his receivers and the offense is still attempting to develop a run game with Powell and Ivory in the backfield. Expect a HUGE game from Bills RB CJ Spiller as the Buffalo offense leans heavily on the legs of their franchise player. Geno could be the guy to turn the franchise in NY around…eventually. Just not today, Geno. Just not today.
Indianapolis Colts at San Francisco 49ers
Biggest story in football this week is the Colt’s acquisition of RB Trent Richardson. Thankfully the Browns have already thrown in the towel this season, so the Colts were there to swoop in and take their MVP…well, their only player who was worth a damn. Head Coach Chuck Pagano has said, despite just acquiring Richardson on Wednesday, Trent will not be in San Fran as a waterboy. He hopes to play him right off the bat, but probably not as much as he would any other week until he learns the offense. Goal line threat? Absolutely. I just don’t expect the Colts getting too close the red zone against this monster San Fran “D”. Looking to bounce back from last week’s loss to Seattle, San Fran has something to prove. That they’re still the team to beat in the NFC (behind Seattle). They’ll leave Andrew Luck running like a school girl. Kaepernick has a huge game in the air and on the ground.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Seattle Seahawks
In Vegas, Seattle is giving up 19.5 points to Jacksonville in this matchup of #1 vs. the worst team in the league. Take it to the bank. No chance in hell that Jacksonville will be able to ring in some points against the #1 defense and in Seattle at that. One of the biggest impacts of this season and their stellar play is the presence of the “12th Man”. Their crowd is the loudest, most obnoxiously crazy in the league—other than Oakland Raiders fans shanking patrons in the parking lot after the game. If QB Chad Henne puts up at least one touchdown pass, Blaine Gabbert probably won’t have a job when he comes back from his injury. Russell Wilson and ‘Beast Mode’ won’t have any sort of challenge from this sad Jacksonville squad. Look for them to rack up the points and bring in the second string when the fourth quarter comes around.
Chicago Bears at Pittsburgh Steelers
As if it wasn’t already obvious, last week the Steelers proved they have one of the worst offensive lines in all of football. Struggling without key members on the line, Big Ben has been running for his life. They need to give him more time to work if they are going to have any chance at winning games this season and making it to the postseason. Their defense, led by Ike Taylor, Troy Polamalu, and Lamar Woodley, looked solid against a strong Cincinnati offense. Yeah, they lost, but they shut down one of the deadliest receivers in the game, AJ Green. Turning the tables to Chicago, they’re starting the season 2-0. Past two times they started the season 2-0, they went to the Superbowl and went to the NFC Championship. Not too shabby. Forte and Martellus Bennett to have huge games as Brandon Marshall is tested by Ike Taylor.
Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos
Denver has the offense to beat. Peyton Manning hasn’t skipped a beat as they added another stellar target to his arsenal, WR Wes Welker. Wes looks as comfortable as he did with Brady in New England—almost an identical situation and role. With receivers Welker, Thomas, Decker (and now standout at Tight End Julius Thomas), Peyton has plenty to play with. He’s done more with less in Indy, he will take this squad to the promised land. With his starting Left Tackle Ryan Clady out for the season, they better stay focused on protecting him and his blindside. Oakland has been a fun team to watch with Terrelle Pryor at the helm, shaking things up with a high-speed, high-octane offense with Darren McFadden. I like what they’re trying to do out there in Cali, but it won’t be enough against a mean Denver defense.