Instead of picking these games like a boss, I'm picking like I'm at a loss. Another dismal week saw an 8-8 mark straight up while going a deplorable 5-11 against the spread.
While some I just missed (Cincinnati, Detroit, and Denver who had a grandstand rally fall short), others were just misses (Kansas City, New England, Oakland).
So it's back to the drawing board. That's why it's titled One Man's Picks, folks. Because no "expert" should go 5-11 against the spread and only be .500 straight up through the first two weeks. But it happens.
Time to turn it around starting now.
N.Y. GIANTS (-1.5) AT CAROLINA- Eli Manning looked about as lost as I've been through the first half of last week's game against Tampa Bay. Then, the second half happened. Manning put out a full on aerial assault on the Buccaneers secondary, and everyone got in on the fun. The win came at a price though. Ahmad Bradshaw and Hakeem Nicks got banged up, and have been ruled out of this game. The Giants also have injury issues on the offensive line. In a world where the Giants secondary has been exposed in the early goings of the season, they need all hands on deck to keep up. Plus, their run defense has allowed opposing running backs to grind them down a bit. Carolina got some big confidence from beating a divisional foe last week, and that translates over.
CAROLINA-28 N.Y. GIANTS-27
JACKSONVILLE AT INDIANAPOLIS (-2.5)- Andrew Luck gets his first win in the NFL. Now he's after a second, and you know what? Why not here? They're at home against an offense that got completely out-classed last week, and Luck showed the poise of an NFL veteran with the way he handled the end of both halves of the win against Minnesota. The growing pains of Week 1 are expected, but there will be moments of brilliance scattered in between. I think the latter is more likely this week, and he seems comfortable with the perimeter players surrounding him.
BUFFALO (-3.5) AT CLEVELAND- C.J. Spiller has finally gotten his opportunity to be the lead guy, and he's taken off with it. He only leads the league in rushing through the first two weeks, and looks like the explosive player most expected him to be coming out of Clemson. The Browns have gone through opposite ends of the spectrum defensively. After a great game against Philadelphia, they couldn't quite keep up with Andy Dalton and the Bengals. Still, they showed resilience in bouncing back so well after both Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson were stuffed to open the year. The Browns hang around, but the road team takes it.
N.Y. JETS (-3.5) AT MIAMI- Am I missing something? Is this the same Jets team that got worn out against Pittsburgh? The same Jets team who showed their true offensive colors, and the same Jets team who already will be feeling the pressure of it being Tebow time? There's a question whether Darrelle Revis will be back in the line-up, and the only thing stopping me from taking the Fish to win out-right is their lack of a passing game. Although, the way I've been picking maybe I should take the home team.
N.Y. JETS-20 MIAMI-17
KANSAS CITY AT NEW ORLEANS (-9.5)- It's the last chance for this Saints team. Because as bad as they've looked, perhaps nobody has been worse than the Chiefs thus far. They can't stop a parked car let alone an opposing NFL offense. Still, could you really trust New Orleans' defense to hold down Kansas City enough to win by double figures? Their defense has struggled in many aspects, and although offensively they committed a bit more to the running game, it still wasn't enough. This is the last chance I'm giving the Saints and if they don't pull it off, you might as well put them at 0-5 heading to their bye week.
NEW ORLEANS-35 KANSAS CITY-23
CINCINNATI AT WASHINGTON (-3.5)- Even in a win, the Bengals defense has been absolutely poor. I expected them to be about an average defense, but they're not even that. And they go on the road against a rookie in Robert Griffin III who really has had one excellent game, and a solid follow-up though in a losing effort. However, the Redskins have lost some of their best pass rushers and that will hurt. Cincinnati wins, but their defense looks less than impressive again.
DETROIT (-3.5) AT TENNESSEE- For some reason, I feel very comfortable with this being such a small number. I smell a Lions offense that is finally going to put a performance we know they're capable of on Sunday. We haven't seen it yet, but in fairness they played a lights out San Francisco defense, and a St. Louis squad that is improved. The Titans have learned that the only bouncing back Chris Johnson is doing, is bouncing backwards trying to break tackles.
SAN FRANCISCO (-7.5) AT MINNESOTA- If I told you Christian Ponder was the 6th highest rated quarterback in the league, what would you say? I know the competition from a defensive perspective hasn't been too hot, but it's still an impressive start for Ponder. This will be the big test, and I see this one shaking out like Blaine Gabbert against Houston. Wait- I didn't see that one, apparently. What am I doing?
SAN FRANCISCO-24 MINNESOTA-14
ST. LOUIS AT CHICAGO (-7.5)- I have spent some of this piece really praising the Rams' start. The ordeal with Steven Jackson aside, St. Louis has been efficient on 3rd downs, has everybody healthy on offense, and can force mistakes by opposing quarterbacks. The Bears had a long time to think about getting hammered last Thursday night against their biggest rival, but there's one thing for certain. That offensive line is still dreadful. Against almost anybody it's going to be an adventure. Bears win, but it's a tight one.
CHICAGO-28 ST. LOUIS-27
TAMPA BAY AT DALLAS (-7.5)- It's interesting the Cowboys are favored by this much off a 20-point blow-out. Just who are these guys? The biggest problem in pegging Dallas is their wild inconsistency, and it's taken only two weeks to show up. So who shows up against Tampa Bay? We can't count anything for sure, but the Bucs have been consistent in one area. They come out guns blazing on offense in the first half, then stall out cold in the second half. Tough call against the number, but I say the Cowboys barely cover it.
DALLAS-30 TAMPA BAY-21
ATLANTA AT SAN DIEGO (-3.5)- Short week, west coast, can't run the ball. I know. I'm supposed to be scared of all that. I'll fly in the face of it (and probably get burned with my luck), but I stand by my beliefs. The Falcons offense looks more smooth unless you're named Michael Turner. The Chargers have looked solid, but against teams who really weren't able to threaten them enough by stretching their secondary.
ATLANTA-27 SAN DIEGO-24
PHILADELPHIA (-4.5) AT ARIZONA- If you find any teams this lucky to be 2-0, they're all named Philadelphia. The Eagles have given away footballs like Christmas presents, yet here they are unblemished. The Cardinals have been the same despite their woes of not being able to run the ball. Plus, despite that impressive defensive performance, they still needed a missed field goal to hold onto the win. Still, special teams is the area where the Cardinals can keep this game close. They can flip field position in an instant, and that can't be overlooked. And there's still that turnover issue.
PITTSBURGH (-4.5) AT OAKLAND- How bad are the Raiders? Well, the coaching change succeeded in one thing- driving them backwards. All of a sudden, their defense has been shredded, Darren McFadden has found nothing in the running game, and they are a mess. They do get the Steelers coming out west, but how much does it matter? Pittsburgh still has the weapons on defense, and even though he's racked up the yards, you'd be more comfortable with Carson Palmer throwing the ball countless times.
HOUSTON AT DENVER (-1.5)- It's all about first tests in some instances. For the Texans defense, it's their first real test after beating up on easier opponents. They have been strong, but it's a tough act going on the road to Denver. Peyton Manning was awful by any quarterback's standards, and he still nearly engineered a stellar comeback. How many of you were watching, wondering what could've been if the Broncos got the ball one more time last Monday? I know I was.
NEW ENGLAND AT BALTIMORE (-3.5)- The Ravens are favored despite giving away a victory after what was an impressive performance for most of the game against Philadelphia. Meanwhile, it would be foolish to think Tom Brady would play that poorly again. So we're back to putting the microscope on Joe Flacco. It's another moment for him to prove he really has completely evolved as a quarterback, and can win games like this. Because it's expected to be close, and it will be.
NEW ENGLAND-24 BALTIMORE-21
GREEN BAY (-3.5) AT SEATTLE- I'm pretty sure the Packers with their Sunday off paid attention to what Seattle did at home. They are physical on both lines, and they can pound you into submission. The Seahawks have done a nice job keeping Russell Wilson's pass attempts down, but they've had the luxury of not playing a front that can really get after their running game. Green Bay was lights out in taking out Matt Forte and subsequently Michael Bush. If they can take away the running game, I don't think Wilson can keep up with his arm if he's forced to throw more than 30 times.
GREEN BAY-23 SEATTLE-17
8-8 STRAIGHT UP
5-11 AGAINST THE SPREAD
16-16 STRAIGHT UP
13-19 AGAINST THE SPREAD
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