An 8-6 record in last week’s games was pretty good, but Mattihardhead expects to win them all. Look for a bounce back week. I went out on a limb on a couple of games…and the limb was sawed off – even though I almost pegged the Lions-Vikings game. Here’s this weeks picks.
San Francisco at Atlanta – The Falcons big victory over defending Super Bowl champs and division rival New Orleans was a HUGE momentum builder. This team is built for success, and will be playing with unbridled confidence. Not so the ‘Niners. An 0-3 start against weak competition has left the team reeling. Falcons 35-14.
Baltimore at Pittsburgh – The best defense in the NFL against the team that bills itself as the best. Charlie Batch had a career day last week and the Ravens have yet to show any real offensive “oomph”. Ray Rice is a little dinged up and the Ravens gave up 140 on the ground to Cleveland’s Peyton Hillis last week. Steelers 17-14.
Arizona at San Diego – The Chargers are in their usual early season “sleep walk” and stand at 1-2. Arizona squeaked by Oakland to improve to 2-1, but are giving up huge chunks of passing yards. Ryan Mathew may miss another game and Beanie Wells is starting to roll – but the Rams still have Derek Anderson at QB – Chargers 31-24.
Cincinnati at Cleveland – The Browns are a much improved team, but are still 1-9 in their last 10 division contests. The Bengals, on the other hand, have won their last eight against division rivals. TO hasn’t helped the Bengals passing attack, but they found another weapon in RB Peyton Hillis. The Browns find themselves just short again. Bengals 24-21.
Detroit at Green Bay – The Lions are another team living on “moral victories” at the moment. They have been oh so close – with a blown call in the first week setting the tone. Matthew Stafford’s return will make them a real threat, but in the meantime they are facing a Packers team hungry and mad after last week’s loss to the Bears. Green Bay is still looking for a rushing game after losing Ryan Grant, but Aaron Rodgers usu sally lights up Detroit. Packers 34-17.
Carolina at New Orleans – The Saints are another team smarting from a loss to a divisional rival. They added 22 year veteran John Carney as insurance against the Hartley “hiccups”, but are really feeling the absence of Reggie Bush. The Panthers are trying to avoid an 0-4 start and have looked anything but impressive. Still, they are 11-4 all-time against the Saints. Out on a limb again – Panthers 28- 24.
Seattle at St. Louis – IMHO, no team has looked worse in compiling a 2-1 record than the Seahawks. Conversely, the Rams look much better than their 1-2 start. Steven Jackson is out with a groin injury, but Sam Bradford seems like the real deal. I’m not so sold on Matt Hasselback and Justin Forsett. Rams 31-27.
Denver at Tennessee – Kyle Orton is coming off a career day. The Titan defense gave up almost 500 yards last week. This one could be trouble for the Titans….not so fast. Denver will be without Knowshon Moreno, putting the rushing load on Lawrence Maroney and can’t put the ball in the end zone. The Titans will pound the ball, with Chris Johnson leading the way. Titans 24-17.
Indianapolis at Jacksonville – After a first week anomaly, the Colt ship seems to be righted. Payton Manning’s off season work with Austin Collie has boosted Collie to the top of NFL receiving stats. The offense will need plenty of points as their defense is terrible against the run and Maurice Jones-Drew is looking to break out. But the Jags still have David Garrard at QB. Colts 38-27.
Houston at Oakland – The Texans were brought back to earth at the hand of in-state rival Dallas. Oakland lost to Arizona despite out gaining the Cardinals, and are a dangerous team. A Houston win last week would have set the table for a Raiders’ upset, but I believe the Texans simply have too many weapons. Texans 34-21.
Washington at Philadelphia – All the attention this week has been on the reception Donovan McNabb will get from the world’s most obnoxious fans. They booed Santa Claus, and they will boo McNabb – ’nuff said. On the field, Mike Shanahan hasn’t quite got all the pieces in place – they were exposed in last week’s loss. The Eagles seem to have settled their QB controversy, and have a ton of offensive weapons. Eagles 38-14.
Chicago at NY Giants – Jay Cutler is doing exactly what is needed for the Bears’ success – avoiding big turnovers. He seems to be a perfect fit for the Mike Martz passing game. Eli Manning, on the other hand, is tied with Bret Favre to lead the league in picks thrown with six. That stat is an indicator of the rash of “discipline” mistakes the Giants have made. Bears 31-13.
New England at Miami – This is a great early season match-up of two of the three team “carousel” that is the AFC East division lead. The Jets exposed some Dolphin defensive weaknesses last week, and New England hasn’t really stopped anyone. I look for a lot of points, but the Pats’ ground game, led by the tandem of BenJarvis Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead has been more productive than the Ronnie Brown/Ricky Williams duo of the Dolphins. Patriots – 38-30.