Hello MHR nation! I decided to make a post breaking down my picks for this week, including my thoughts on each team in the matchup. I came to this decision after surfing NFL.com stats, all the stuff I was saying to myself, I figured why not just post those thoughts and see what you all think as well. Who knows, maybe we'll find some Orange Gold.
This is a tough one to pick. The Falcons played a Steelers team last week that is difficult to measure. Their offensive rank could be lower than it ought to be. Meanwhile, the Cardinals played the Rams, so their offensive stats are probably inflated. Maybe all their stats. The surprising stat that tilts my favor to the Cardinals: they're ranked 7th in passing. With Anderson. On the other hand, it's in the Falcons home, which I think is a tough place to play. I'm not confident in my pick.
Pick: Arizona Cardinals
Another tough game to pick, this time because both teams could be very good. Baltimore's offensive stats are at once a bit low due to the Jets game, but at the same time their pass ranking is damn good for having gone against a strong backfield. Ravens pass defense ranking is too high after playing Leinart -- I mean Sanchez. The Bengals have inflated offensive stats, I think, thanks to an extended garbage time. If the Patriots are just that good, their poor defensive rankings might be understandable. Part of me doesn't believe the Bengals beat the Ravens 3 times in a row, but I'm still hurting from picking the Ravens twice last year. I'm going with the Bengals because it's in their home.
Pick: Cincinnati Bengals
Nothing stands out much on the Browns. They have a fair passing offense, but then how is Jake Delhomme feeling? We know from last year how a QB's play can suffer from an ankle injury. Then you look at the Chiefs. At least something stands out. They're ranked 5th in rush offense. We all know the Chargers, who the Chiefs played last week, suck against the run, but still. It's only going to take 3 big plays to beat the hopeless... uh, insert either team's name here. I choose...
Pick: Kansas City Chiefs
Turnovers vs. Penalties? Does this game look to answer the question of which is more fatal to a team? The upshot here is that no matter who loses, I'll be happy. Anyway, the Bears played the Lions last week, so I'm assuming that's why they're near the top on a bunch of offense and defense categories. They're number 2 (lol) in passing offense, but my understanding is that a lot of that came on a couple screens. Plus, consider this statement: Jay Cutler is amongst the league leaders in passing offense, but near the bottom of the league in scoring offense. Are you surprised? Technically, the Bears are 12th in scoring with 19 points. That won't last. Dallas, on the other hand... uh... Well, they racked up a lot of passing yards against a defense that's actually good. And the game is played in Dallas. So...
Pick: Dallas Cowboys
Picking this game so early in the week is a severe detriment. If Kolb starts for the Eagles, I might (maybe) pick the Lions. But I think there's a fair chance Michael Vick starts, in which case he almost single-handedly beats the Lions. Is this Chuck Norris talk? The Lions are 15th in rushing defense against Matt Forte. Matt Forte. I don't know the Lions well enough to say whether they play man, and I imagine their defensive coach is smart enough to contain Vick somewhat, but I don't believe they have the players to do so regardless of scheme. On a side note, Vick could single-handedly un-screw Reid's pig-headed pass-to-run ratio, despite Reid himself. Banking on Vick...
Pick: Philadelphia Eagles
Part of me couldn't believe that I actually looked up statistics for this game. But I can't just pick based on media hype, especially since Buffalo is generally around 8-8, which means they don't lose to everyone. The Bills are decent against the pass, and that's it. And you can't know how big a factor Chad Henne plays into that. The Packers have too many weapons to consider a Bills victory anything like a strong possibility, but a Byrd interception or two is not out of question after the way a sub-par Aaron Rogers played last week. If the game is close, it could swing either way.
Pick: Green Bay Packers
Pittsburgh Steeler vs. Tennessee Titans
Both teams have some serious strengths. Rankings-wise, the Steelers' weakness is against the pass, and the Titans' weakness is against the run. The Steelers are ranked high in run offense, but a lot of that I think came on the game-winning run in overtime. That could come down to tackling from DBs and LBs. When I thought about this game, it comes down to -- and I cringe whenever I hear MSM use this highly flawed logic -- one QB against another. On the one hand, Dixon is inexperienced and will likely make mistakes. Young is starting to get it together. Obviously, they don't play each other directly, but I think this will come down to which QB can keep their offense in the game MENTALLY. The advantage goes hugely to Young. On the other hand, an opportunistic Steelers defense has been known to win games that the team should have lost (Vikings last year).
Pick: Tennessee Titans
When you look at the rankings, they really don't tell you much about the Vikings or the Saints. I think that's because they were such well-matched opponents. On paper, the Dolphins look good on defense after playing the hapless Bills. They're still going to have a good run defense, I think, and maybe a decent to good pass defense. If this were a Dolphins home game, I'd be tempted to pick the Dolphins. However, two things make me leery of that. 1: Brett Favre. Say what you want, he is still a game changer. 2: The Vikings' dome (forget what it's called -- something about veterans). This place, while a crappy stadium by my understanding (never been there), is one of the last great homefield advantages in the NFL in terms of noise. That means that if the Dolphins get behind, a relatively inexperienced QB has to command a passing offense in the face of deafening noise. Oh, and Adrian Peterson. Might not be a good week to play him on your fantasy team, but we'll see. (I'm probably still going to play him.)
Pick: Minnesota Vikings
The only thing that stands out about either team to me is that the Buccaneers are ranked 10th in rush offense. That's after playing the Cleveland Browns, but still. In a field full of horse poop, you have to look for at least a shiny stone to blind you. I don't even know who the Buccaneers' running back is. Maybe the yards were from the QB? Both QBs are inexperienced. I don't know much about either, but my impression is Freeman has more upside. Either team could be seen as striving to be a defensive team, I think. Man, neither team is really that interesting. I don't know. There's a reason this one's not on Monday night. I pick based off, um, record, and the one decent ranking.
Pick: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Did someone watch the Seahawks game? Could someone explain how they're 27th in offensive yards and 5th in scoring offense? I looked at the game center, and I don't see it. 1 Forced fumble, 1 interception. The only thing I can think of is that the Seahawks must have been extraordinarily opportunistic as a team. "Opportunistic" is a word that could well be the antithesis of how the Broncos played last week, so that has me slightly worried. We don't want to see the Broncos face a team that is hungrier at Mile High this week, so the Broncos had better break out a huge box of MOTIVATION!!!! In terms of rankings, the Broncos match up well pass-wise offensively and defensively. This may be determined by intangibles (I thought we weren't going to be getting beat by intangibles anymore now), but I can't pick based on intangibles. In this home game, I have to go with the home team. Mmm, beer.
Pick: Denver Broncos
This is a strange game to pick. For instance, would you believe that the Rams are ranked 10th in passing offense after playing with a rookie QB against a team that in recent history has been pretty good against the pass? That surprised me. However, the Raiders are 5th against the pass. However, the Titans last week probably didn't have to pass much. I think results were skewed based on game plan, similar to the Texans - Colts game. Want to hear something stranger? The Raiders are ranked 6th in rush offense after playing 1 game in which they were BLOWN OUT!! What the hell? They should have been passing, right? And you imagine they were punting a lot, so you wonder how they had the ball long enough to rack up that many rush yards. Was it 1 or 2 big runs? Well, that might be all it takes against the Rams. The QB with more poise might win this game for his team, but I don't know. Ultimately, this game is in the Black Hole, so in a battle of overcooked spaghetti vs. mushy farina, I will go with another channel.
Pick: Oakland Raiders
I think the Patriots' defensive stats are skewed for the same reason the Bengals offensive stats are: garbage time. Speaking of garbage, how is Mark Sanchez going to win this game with checkdowns after 3 explosive Patriots touchdowns? I don't consider myself to be on the bandwagon, but you can vomit anyway if you feel you must. No doubt the Jets are meant to be built to beat the Patriots, but since Brady is healthy this year, I don't think they're going to get it done. The wildcard here could be turnovers if the superb Jets defense can turn enough of them into points to drag the putrid offense to victory. By the way, it doesn't matter which superstar receivers you hire if your QB is incapable of seeing the field. Call the Cardinals and ask them what they think.
Pick: New England Patriots
Do the Jaguars have a staff climatologist? Can they hire someone to seed the clouds over San Diego? Well, I lived in San Diego for 3 years, and I can tell you that rain there is about as rare as a Raiders victory. I wouldn't bar a similar game plan as what the Jaguars used against us: run to pass, knocking easy jumpshots into the endzone against a defense that can't seem to believe you would do anything but run at any given point. I'm not sure that San Diego will commit enough penalties to keep their score under the Jaguars, however. The Chargers' pass defense rating is as irrelevant as Matt Cassel, so it's hard to say how easy it will be for David Garrard to pass on them. The Chargers looked bad in special teams coverage last week, which is one way the Jaguars burned the Broncos in their game. This is tough to pick.
Pick: San Diego Chargers
This game is hard to pick based on rankings because both teams played in very particular games last week. For instance, the Houston Texans are 30th in pass offense with 98 yards because their game plan was to run it. You have to wonder, who was below them, and were they actually trying? Answer, Matt Cassel. He didn't necessarily need to throw, but the Chiefs didn't necessarily know that the whole game. Meanwhile, Schaub at least has 1 TD... In an unrelated question, how did Snyder buy two home games to start the season? Can we get some of that? Anyway, the Redskins aren't half bad this year. Last year, they had a good defense, and this year they have McNabb, too, which means they can't be more than 40% bad or so. Turnovers and/or penalties could flip this game. I definitely don't see it as a lock.
Pick: Houston Texans
The New York Giants posted some points last week, which makes this game a bit tougher to pick. However, Eli Manning threw 3 interceptions, and if he does anything like that against the Colts, the Giants will not come away with a win. This is a Sunday night game, a media event. I'm getting shades of the Thanksgiving day game last year, when Josh McDaniels just wanted his team to win a MF game! Is this a Giants team that wilts in the spotlight? Ugh, there go intangibles again. I know one thing for certain. By the time the game starts, 99% of the country is going to be absolutely freaking sick of the saturation media coverage which will focus on the Star Wars-like duel of master/pupil. Blech. I would love to see the Houston Texans storm the stadium and beat both of these teams at once in an unorthodox but satisfying matchup (kind of like some sort of WWE event).
Pick: Indianapolis Colts
I don't see anything about the 49ers that looks more impressive than the Vikings. Actually, the 49ers are kind of like the Vikings-lite. The Vikings have Adrian Peterson, and the 49ers have Frank Gore. Peterson is at least healthy more of the time. The Vikings have Brett Favre, and the 49ers have Alex Smith. If draft hype dictated reality, this would be a draw. The 49ers have a pretty good defense that takes on the personality of Bears-legend Mike Singletary, and the Vikings made the playoffs last year. Edge: Mike *&#$ing Singletary -- now go sit on the bench for even making a comparison! Wait, why am I talking about the Vikings? Because after the Seahawks of all teams beat the 49ers, nobody cares about the 49ers or the NFC West for that matter. Call me when the 49ers have a winning record at least halfway through the season. In fact, remind me to laugh if no team from the NFC West finishes with a winning record. Anyway, the Saints likely won't go undefeated this year. And any team could lose any game, you never really know. So I wouldn't call this a certainty. After all, the 49ers almost beat the Vikings last year. How sad is that for booster-bait?
Pick: New Orleans Saints
note to 49ers fans: I'm just having fun. I actually like the 49ers, but they don't look impressive at this point.
Well, there you go. That's my week 2 picks. If it's anything like week 1, I'll be lucky to get 6 right!