Last week I went a horrible four and twelve so I’m going to do a quick check evaluation of where I went wrong so hopefully I can do better as Dan and I are now tied up at thirteen and nineteen across the season.
The first place I can start is that I probably have to trust my first instincts more, even if some of them were a based on gut instincts. I send the lines to Dan on a Tuesday night and make initial picks, and then refine them as I write the blog. I initially picked the Ravens, Patriots, Jets, and Bears; then changed my mind as I wrote the games up and lost on all of them. That’s throwing away a pretty respectable eight and eight week, plus I was always worried about the amount of points the Broncos were giving.
What I am taking away from the first two weeks is that the Jaguars are not continuing with the steps they made last season, and I yet I still want to pick them this week. The Buccaneers are injured and bad, the Panthers are much better than I thought they were going to be and I think the Saints may just be good rather that top echelon. Also the Bills have won both of their games, but I don’t trust Manuel so I just don’t know what to do with them. So let’s take a look at this week’s games, and I really don’t like the lines in a lot of them.
Oh yes, and this week I’ll remember to actually state our records!
Gee: Week 2 4-12 Overall 13-19
Dan: Week 2 5-11 Overall 13-19
Buccaneers @ Falcons (-6.5)
So the game that I get to write up in detail this week is the Buccaneers who I appear to have overestimated and a Falcons team who had a good win week one against the Saints and then got beat pretty handily by the Bengals. I think this is going to be a win for the Falcons, who looked pretty good to me in preseason, but now we’re in live games it’s not so obvious. They’re at home, where they’ve historically been strong, I’m not sure about the points they’re giving but I’m going to take them anyway. I’ll be interested to see the Buccaneers as I really thought Lovie Smith was going to have more of an impact, but it already looks like it is going to be another long season for the Bucs.
Gee’s Pick: Falcons
Dan’s Pick: Falcons
Chargers @ Bills (-2.5)
I do not have a handle on the Bills, and according to my planned schedule I don’t get to see them until week 11 so given that they’re playing the Charges, I suspect I’ll be taking a look this week. The Bills look to be running well, and Watkins is beginning to show his quality but EJ Manuel is still a question at quarterback, whilst on defence they’ve been pretty strong. The Chargers are one and one, but coming off a strong win against the Seahawks and went close against the Cardinals who are unbeaten this year. I think the Chargers are a playoff team this year, and although they benefitted from the heat against the Seahawks at home, I’m picking them to beat the Bills up in Buffalo. This does mean that I am picking against the Bills for a third week, and whilst I do believe in their results, I just think they’re going to fall short in this game. I think I’ve written that before.
Gee’s Pick: Chargers
Dan’s Pick: Chargers
Dan’s Comments: – Bills won well on Sunday, but having watched the game, I’d say that was more down to the Dolphins being poor, than the bills being especially good. Chargers on the other hand looked very good on Sunday so easy pick for me.
Titans @ Bengals (-6.5)
Who Dey! Right, now I’ve got that out of my system, the Bengals have got off to a good start in terms of winning both of their games with the defence looking very strong. I’m also impressed with the game planning that Hue Jackson has done to deal with his shifting team. Right now they’re coping with the injury bug that has really hit them, but how long that can continue I am not sure. However, maybe the early bye week is not such an issue if it means that the Bengals can get some bodies healthy. The Titans have beaten a struggling Chiefs team and then lost to a so-so Cowboys team. Jake Locker threw two interceptions last week and will have to look after the ball if they are to win. I don’t think this is likely, I’m not expecting a great season for the Titans and whilst I’m worried about the points, I backing the Bengals.
Gee’s Pick: Bengals
Dan’s Pick: Bengals
Ravens @ Browns (+1.5)
I’m impressed with both of these teams but for different reasons. The Browns have a pretty good defence, and having lost to him last season, I respect Brian Hoyer as a solid NFL starter. However, there has been so much dysfunction in the way this team has been managed and I think they are going to struggle to move the ball in this game. I was pretty impressed with the Ravens last week. You can go through the details in my recap of their game against the Steelers (see here), but I think their defence is going to be effective and their offence looked like it was coming together, so I expect a typical AFC North battle with the Ravens coming out on top.
Gee’s Pick: Ravens
Dan’s Pick: Ravens
Cowboys @ Rams (+0.5)
The Rams won out in a battle with another of the struggling teams of this season in the Bucs. There is so much talent on defence, but loosing Chris Long to IR designated to return is going to be painful and the offence is not firing at all. The Cowboys defence, much maligned in preseason, seems to be keeping them close enough to win and their offence did enough to win. If Romo can protect the ball then the Cowboys can be competitive. I don’t trust them in the long run but this week I am backing them to beat the Rams.
Gee’s Pick: Cowboys
Dan’s Pick: Cowborys
Dan’s Comments: – I got some stick for picking the Cowboys last week and as it turned out, they won! So I think I’ll stick with them this week. That being said, I’d pick almost anyone against the Rams this season!
Packers @ Lions (-1.5)
The Packers came back against the Jets and won as I expected them to, but as I thought they couldn’t cover the spread. The question remains the defence, and if it can keep them close enough for their offence to win. They did a job against the Jets, but the Lions offence is a different proposition. The Lions got beaten pretty comprehensively by the Panthers last week, and so I am not sure about them. I need to see them to get a feel for how the offence is rolling, but the Panthers have a good defence so I’m prepared to give them a little bit of credit going against the Packers this week. However, the secondary is a question and so it was a little bit strange for them to take a tight end rather than a defensive back in the first round of the draft. I fancy the Packers to win, the Lions seem to have a knack for shooting themselves in the foot, they had a golden chance to win the division last year and didn’t manage it, I fear another middling season for them.
Gee’s Pick: Packers
Dan’s Pick: Packers
Dan’s Comments: –
Colts @ Jaguars (+6.5)
Urgh. I really hate this line. I’ve been bitten by the Jaguars twice this season and I have re-evaluated my opinion on them. I’ll still be tempted by double digit lines, but until they prove something to me I have to stay away. That said, I’m still not terribly impressed by the Colts, but Andrew Luck is too good to bet against in a game like this. I’m tempted by the points, but I’ve been bitten too many times already this season.
Gee’s Pick: Colts
Dan’s Pick: Colts
Raiders @ Patriots (-14.5)
My only concern about this game is the spread. The Patriots looked like themselves again, but the real news is that despite the Raiders bringing in a number of free agents that were meant to bring them up to respectability, things are not going well. It is one thing to lose a close game to the Jets, but getting blown out by the Texans at home is very worrying. If the Texans can win by sixteen at the Raiders, I hope the Patriots can do something similar at home.
Gee’s Pick: Patriots
Dan’s Pick: Raiders
Dan’s Comments: -Pats will win this one quite easily, but not by more than two touchdowns, so I’ll pick Oakland this week.
Interlude for More Important Matters:
One of the next teams, the Vikings, seems to be suffering from the moral compass issues that a number of teams are showing right now. Having suspended Peterson over charges relating to disciplining one of his children with a tree branch for the game on Sunday, he was re-instated Monday before being suspended for the rest of the season after further discussion late Tuesday night in the States, not to mention reaction to his reinstatement. This, along with the Panthers playing Greg Hardy until the Ray Rice suspension despite a conviction for domestic violence awaiting an appeal, the 49ers still playing Ray McDonald despite him being under investigation in another domestic violence case, and whilst in the process of writing this blog Jonathan Dwyer also has been arrested for aggravated assault involved a woman and an 18-month-old child, just go to demonstrate how wrong the NFL has got it. There are issues of due process, but the league could certainly do more by enforcing a more consistent policy that took the decision out of the teams hands, but surely at some point the teams have to consider what a horrible message it sends to allow these players to continue to play in front of millions of viewers instead of being suspended until their cases have been dealt with, then applying appropriate punishments. It would help if Roger Goodell would come out of hiding and actually show some leadership, but that doesn’t seem likely at the moment. The smallest crumb of comfort is that at least the Arizona Cardinals deactivated Dwyer when the charges were brought. Still, it is a pretty tough time to be a fan of the NFL and I just hope that material change is in the works as things cannot continue like this.
Vikings @ Saints (-10.5)
The Vikings got beaten soundly with bad special teams play, an inability to stop the Patriots offence, an offence where Cassel gave the ball away too much, and Cordarrelle Patterson simply didn’t get enough touches. I hope they get this fixed and I have faith in Mike Zimmer, but he’s been dealt a tough hand in the last week with Peterson situation and the way it was handled by the team execs and the league. The Saints have had a pretty horrid start to the season, but they have been away from home for both games and this does make a difference to how they play. I think they will be better this game and I nearly second guessed myself with this pick and went with the Saints, but I’m worried about their defence and I can’t pick a team with two losses to win by eleven or more.
Gee’s Pick: Vikings
Dan’s Pick: Saints
Texans @ Giants (+2.5)
The Giants looked bad and lost, despite Eli Manning playing better than he had. However there are still a lot of problems here and I think I they will lose a lot of games this season. The Texans have been pretty solid on offence, have managed to avoid beating themselves and have one of my favourite players. Apart from his usual tackles and sacks, JJ Watt also has a blocked extra point and a touchdown reception whilst playing as a tight end this season. I know they’re away from home, but I fancy them to continue their good run this week.
Gee’s Pick: Texans
Dan’s Pick: Texans
Dan’s Comments: – think Gee’s Man Crush JJ Watt will have another good week this week and lead the Texans to a good win.
Washington @ Eagles (-6.5)
Washington are better than I thought they were going to be, and whilst the Jaguars have added some gloss to their defensive stats, the defence has been solid so far. The offence did better this week, despite losing RG3 to a dislocated ankle that he picked up without contact. I’m not sure if we’re ever going to see the dynamic player of his rookie season again, I hope that he finds his way, but even athletically talented people don’t always have the type of body that holds up to the rigours of football. It does appear that Kirk Cousins is more comfortable in the offence as a drop back passer but it will take time to see if he can be a full time starter and sadly he’s going to get it. I’m on record as being all in on Chip Kelly and so far, they have dealt with setbacks and some rotation on their offensive line to win both of their games. Whilst I think that Washington are better than I previously gave them credit for, I like the Eagles for the win and I just hope they cover as well.
Gee’s Pick: Eagles
Dan’s Pick: Eagles
49ers @ Cardinals(+2.5)
It is pretty impressive that the Cardinals were able to win without Carson Palmer last week, but I liked their defence in preseason and it seems to be holding up so far this season. There were already problems for the 49ers with injuries and suspensions, so they could ill afford for Kaepernick to throw three interceptions. I think that there’s too much talent on their roster for them to be bad, but right now their depth is getting sorely tested and I think this is one the games that’s going to get away from them.
Gee’s Pick: Cardinals
Dan’s Pick: 49ers
Broncos @ Seahawks (-4.5)
A repeat of the Super Bowl in week three and a game that everyone can look forward to. The Seahawks may have lost last week, but it was in stifling heat and their offence was moving the ball, it’s just that the Chargers did an incredible job of sustaining long drives to keep them on the sideline. For the Broncos this season has been a case of job done so far. They have not shined like last year, but they are beating the teams in front of them. I think that if this game was being played in any other venue that it would be a really close game, but with the Seahawks playing at home after a loss I think they are going to look more like the team that dismantled a good Packers team. The Broncos have a better defence, but I don’t think they have enough for this game.
Gee’s Pick: Seahawks
Dan’s Pick: Broncos
Dan’s Comments: – Replay of February’s Superbowl, but this time, the Broncos will take it.
Chiefs @ Dolphins (-4.5)
What do I do here? The Chiefs are sinking. Too many injuries and they have not looked good despite what I had seen previous. The problem is that the Dolphins have a good win against the Patriots and then lose to the Bills. I don’t know if the Bills are good, but I know that the questions surrounding Tannehill are genuine and I’m not sure how he’s going to go here. I feel fairly comfortable that the Dolphins are going to win, but that line is just high enough to make me think twice about it. However, in the end I’m going with my first instinct.
Gee’s Pick: Dolphins
Dan’s Pick: Dolphins
Dan’s Comments: -You’ll probably notice I’ve picked the Dolphins every week so far. What can I say – I’m a hopeful man!
Bonus Dan content: – I haven’t had a chance to watch the Dolphins @ Bills game so I asked Dan for his thoughts which I present here:
Watching the Dolphins this week was quite difficult to do, not least because we were so poor on the Offensive side of the ball. Ryan Tannehill looked quite panicky at times, and I really can’t blame him with the regularity of our offensive line collapses. That being said, you could argue that the Bills’ defensive unit is one of the best in the league at the minute, but having given our offensive line a complete overhaul in the off-season, I really would expect them to stand up much better than they did in Week 2.
Along with that, Tannehill was really struggling to move the ball through the air. This was especially evident during the first half when we failed to get into Bills territory (in fact, it wasn’t until nearly 3 minutes into the second half before we advanced past the 50). It was also Quarter 3 before he managed to make a completion to Brian Hartline, who was his go-to guy last year. All in all, it was a difficult game on the ground too. Having been the league’s top runner in Week One, Knowshon Moreno lasted no longer than a few minutes this week and looks like he may be out for at least a couple of games. Lamar Miller looked pretty banged up by the end of the game too. It seems to me as though unless Tannehill starts to really connect and form a good partnership with a couple of his receivers, it could be a difficult few weeks in moving the ball.
Defensively, we weren’t all that bad – I certainly don’t think their high-ish score was reflective of their performance. We weren’t helped by an extremely good kick-off return being run back for a touchdown in the third quarter. Honestly, I’m an offence guy (I used to be a Full Back) but I defy anyone to talk to Gee about American football for any period of time without getting excited about defence, and I’m actually quite impressed with how they’ve been over the first couple of games.
If we can get our O to match our D, we’ll be there or there abouts come the end of the sea
Steelers @ Panthers (-3.5)
I was wrong about the Panthers. Their re-tooled offensive line is working and their defence is holding up really well. The Steelers don’t look right to me and whilst I’m not saying that they will be bad, I don’t think they’re going to be good either. It’s always dangerous to discount them, but I think the Panthers continue their good start to the year.
Gee’s Pick: Panthers
Dan’s Pick: Panthers
Bears @ Jets (-2.5)
I have a strange amount of faith in Rex Ryan’s defence, even with the questions in the secondary and Geno Smith continues to develop as a quarterback. The Jets are 2-0 against the spread, ever if I didn’t pick them both weeks. The concern here is that they were facing a bad Raiders team in week 1 and had the points in the Packers. The Bears did well to win last week, but they are struggling in run defence, had gimpy receivers and are shuffling offensive lineman. This is another line that I’m really hesitant on so I’m sticking with my gut and picking the Jets to run on the Bears, find a way to get stops on defence and win the game. I’m not exactly confident on this one.
Gee’s Pick: Jets
Dan’s Pick: Bears
Dan’s Comments: – Sorry Jets fans, I think it’s 0-3 for you! (Editor’s note, I will be impressed if this happens given that the Jets are currently 1-1, I don’t think they’re going to lose so badly to the Bears that the league are going to deduct a win)