So I didn’t have a good performance last week. Honestly, who would’ve thought that two teams in the NFC South would be 1-0, and Carolina and Tampa Bay wouldn’t be one of them? Did anyone think Seattle would fail to score a touchdown against Detroit? Denver kept St. Louis out of the end zone…and still failed to cover the 4-point spread?
If those games went the way everyone expected, I’m 10-6 and feeling pretty good. But I am what my record says I am. Right now, that’s not very good.
2006 Record: 6-10Tampa Bay at Atlanta (-5 ½) – All signs are telling me to get off the Buccaneer bandwagon, and to do so as soon as humanly possible. They were just shut out, at home, by the Baltimore Ravens, Chris “laissez-faire” Simms is the lowest-rated QB in the NFC, and the offensive line is a mess. This week they head into Atlanta, who just beat the Carolina Panthers on the road. I’m sticking with the Bucs because I don’t think Michael Vick can play turnover-free football two weeks in a row, and I can’t walk away from 5 ½ points. Pick: Buccaneers +5 ½
Oakland at Baltimore (-11) – When you lure your offensive coordinator away from running a bed & breakfast in Idaho, you've already forfeited the right to be shocked when you get shut out in Week 1. Sending the Raiders across the country to play Baltimore, after what happened on Monday, borders on cruel and unusual punishment. Art Shell telling reporters that he removed Aaron Brooks in the 4th quarter “for his safety” is cruel, especially since he’s about to face a defense with guys like Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs, who’ll provide the punishment. Pick: Ravens –11
Detroit at Chicago (-8 ½) – After failing to score a touchdown in the season opener, it probably wasn’t too smart of Lions WR Roy Williams to predict that his team would score 40 points this week against the NFL’s best defense. Whenever a player does that, it’s easy money. Pick: Bears –8 ½
Cleveland at Cincinnati (-10 ½) – Three days after losing a home game to the lowly New Orleans Saints, Sgt. Winslow decides to call out Chad Johnson. Just a hunch, but I bet that didn’t sit too well with Romeo Crennel. Pick: Bengals -10 ½New Orleans (-2) at Green Bay – Remember those days when the universal rule among gamblers and handicappers was that you never, ever, under any circumstance, bet against Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers in Lambeau Field? For old time’s sake, I’m invoking that rule this week. Pick: Packers +2
Houston at Indianapolis (-13) – Memo to Peyton Manning: You’re the highest paid player in NFL history. Therefore, it’s perfectly acceptable for you to occasionally say “no” to an endorsement opportunity. You’re everywhere, Peyton. You’re like the NFL’s version of Ben Stiller. Nobody is going to forget about you anytime soon, so there’s no reason for you to be on my TV screen every 5 minutes. Pick: Colts -13
Buffalo at Miami (-6 ½) – With Troy Vincent placed on IR this week, and Takeo Spikes questionable with a hamstring injury, Daunte Culpepper’s 1 st game in South Florida should go more smoothly than a leisurely boat cruise on Lake Minnetonka. Pick: Dolphins -6 ½
Carolina (-2 ½) at Minnesota – In my preview of the Carolina Panthers, I mentioned that if the Panthers stay healthy, they should win their division and make the playoffs. With Travelle Wharton done for the season, and Steve Smith and a wobbly Dan Morgan on the shelf, this is a much different team than the one many have predicted to represent the NFC in Super Bowl XLI. Pick: Vikings +2 ½
NY Giants at Philadelphia (-3) – The good news for Eli Manning is that duck-hunting season doesn’t begin in Philadelphia for a few more weeks. Pick: Eagles -3
St. Louis (-3) at San Francisco – While everyone else is praising the Rams defense, has anyone noticed that they gave up 161 yards on the ground and that Denver repeatedly shot themselves in the foot? Or am I the only one? Pick: 49ers +3
Arizona at Seattle (-7) – Arizona’s offense looked good in the 34-27 win that christened whatever the hell they’re calling that thing they play in. Not to rain on anyone’s parade, but as good as their offense is, the defense gave up 27 points and nearly 400 yards to Alex Smith and the 49ers. As for Seattle, don't worry about the offense, which will only get better once Deion Branch gets involved. Pick: Seahawks -7
Kansas City at Denver (-10 ½) – It’s possible that the presence of Jay Cutler will result in more erratic performances from Jake Plummer, who doesn’t have a history of responding well under pressure. Still, the Chiefs offense is in such disarray, I’m comfortable giving them more points than they could score against Cincinnati last week. Pick: Broncos -10 ½
New England (-6) at NY Jets – As if you needed more proof that most of what you see in Week 1 should be taken with a grain of salt, Chad Pennington has been named the AFC’s Offensive Player of the Week. As for New England, despite struggling at home against the Bills, and playing without many of the guys responsible for all them Lombardi trophies, their schedule and division make it impossible to write this team off. Pick: Patriots -6
Tennessee at San Diego (-11 ½) – Anyone want to bet that the number of times Kerry Collins is sacked this week will be greater than the number of pass attempts Phillip Rivers even makes? Pick: Chargers -11 ½
Washington at Dallas (-5 ½) – Who wouldn’t enjoy seeing the Cowboys enter their bye week 0-2, with a brewing QB controversy, and a likely unhappy Terrell Owens? If that shoddy offensive line play continues, it could happen. Let the rubber necking begin! Pick: Redskins +5 ½
Pittsburgh at Jacksonville (-1) – The word out of Pittsburgh is that Big Ben hopes to play on Monday night, despite having his appendix removed less than 2 weeks ago. Ok, let me see if I understand this.
1. During the summer, a helmet-less Ben Roethlisberger head-butts a Chrysler while riding the fastest motorcycle in production. Yet, he doesn’t even miss a day of training camp.
2. On the eve of the 2006 season Roethlisberger has his appendix removed, which usually sidelines normal people for 4-6 weeks, but he plans on missing just the one game.
It appears as though Roethlisberger would need to have a severed limb for him to miss any significant time.
I’ll admit that I was wrong about the Jaguars. I didn’t think they’d have the weapons to beat a good Cowboys defense, but Leftwich played with poise, distributed the ball quickly to several different receivers, and Fred Taylor put together some good runs. Pick: Jaguars -1
Brian McIntyre refers to Shaun Alexander as "Seamus McTouchdown", and writes about football from all angles. You can contact him here.