Last week, I made a fanpost in which I went over my thoughts on teams in the process of making my picks for the week. It's a pretty long post, but I had a fun time writing it and rereading it, too. Even though it only got a couple comments, I figure on doing at least a few more as long as I'm enjoying it. Please feel free to comment if you have any suggestions on how to make this better, thoughts on my picks or whatnot, or just want to tell me to stop posting.
First off, one thing I didn't do last week that I maybe should have done is list my results for the previous week so you could gloat over how much smarter than me you are. (I was 6-10 week 1.) So I will begin with that. To break down the format, Pigskin Pickem fav's is the record you would have if you picked the favored team in ESPN's Pigskin Pickem. Busted Bandwagons are favored teams I picked to win that lost. Triumphant Underdogs are non-favored teams I picked to win that did win.
Week 2 results: 11-5
Pigskin Pickem fav's: 10-6
(Note: It was much more common that a favorite I picked to win lost than that an underdog I picked to win lost. 1 underdog I picked lost. I picked 3 underdogs in total. According to this spread, I am a mainliner.)
Starting with media hype vs. game results, one team was highly hyped pre-season but is now 0-2, and the other team was hyped, though us AFC West people in the know laughed at this hype, and is now 2-0. This is a difficult game to pick. Both teams show flashes of brilliance, but both have terrible weaknesses. The 49ers are very respectably ranked in yard-based defense, but are 31st in scoring defense. One suspects they are not playing complementary football, and either special teams or offensive mistakes are costing the team points. This we can confirm from a 4-turnover game against the Saints Monday night, in which the center tried out for backup kicker on the first play of the game, almost sending his snap through the uprights. The Chiefs look almost the opposite in rankings. They stink in yards offense, except rushing, but are middle of the road in points, while on defense they are even better on scoring while being good against the run. They played two offense challenged teams, to be sure, but they seem to be playing more complementary football (though by the end of the season, they will be playing complimentary football - in that their games will compliment the Bronco's chances of reaching the postseason). They are also playing at home. This could be a shocker.
Pick: Kansas City Chiefs
I don't trust the ratings on this one. The Browns have hardly played anyone, really, and the Ravens have crappy offensive stats after playing two very tough games (on the road if I'm not mistaken). I believe there's some uncertainty about which QB will start for the Browns, too. I don't think you can look at any game as 100% certain, but unless a batch of salmonella winds up in the Gatorade at the Ravens' practice this week, I don't see any reason to forecast a Browns' win. Bear in mind that I'm not saying they can't win. Only a fool or a muckraker would make that kind of statement.
Pick: Baltimore Ravens
Dallas Cowboys vs. Houston Texans
At some point, you have to expect that the Cowboys are going to wake up and score some points. Right now, their offense is a mess, looking a lot like the 49ers defense that reeks of missed opportunities and non-complimentary football. I see two reasons why a team could be playing non-complimentary football. 1. Due to bad luck, not enough units are firing on all cylinders. 2. There isn't a plan for how the units are supposed to work together. If it's your team, you hope it's the first case. We'll see. As for the Texans, they are offensive darlings in an insufficient statistical sampling that is week 2 rankings. They're mostly terrible in defensive rankings, and while playing the Colts is some excuse for that, I don't think the Redskins should score that many points on you after 2 weeks of McNabb. However, from what I've seen on highlights, this team is driven to win. Either team could go either way, but for no real reason I have a little faith in the Texans. I wonder how those in Houston would counsel me on that matter.
Pick: Houston Texans
Detroit Lions vs. Minnesota Vikings
I don't see any excuse for the Vikings to be so godawful on scoring offense. Offense in general. I'm pissed because Adrian Peterson is languishing on my fantasy roster, only being underperformed by Carson Palmer. Meanwhile, Jhavid Best is my best scorer. So the Lions seem to be cursed, and the Vikings have just about proved that our expectations regarding them are going to be separated from reality by a rift as big as the Favre-ephant in the purple room. I don't know what to do about this one. I could weight their relative strengths against their weaknesses. If you subtract the Lions' point offense ranking from their point defense ranking, it's 16, while for the Vikings defense minus offense is 22. This suggests the Lions ought win, but my mind can't really handle that concept. I need to watch some reruns of Elvis Dumerville sacking Jamarcus Russel about now...
Pick: Detroit Lions
Sidenote: My results are going to suck so bad this week...
Buffalo Bills vs. New England Patriots
How could I possibly pick this one? I mean, the Patriots have their strengths, including a 5th ranked scoring offense, and the Bills have convinced their most famous tailgater not to abandon his craft. Seriously, this guy like cooks on his hood and stuff. I saw it on the Food Network. Buffalo also has a bunch of buffalo statues to amuse tourists. I was going to embed a picture of a pink one, but I am too lazy to worry about image rights. Okay, this is a division game, so either team could always win. That might be more of a factor if this were being played in Toronto - I mean, London - I mean, Buffalo. I don't see any reason not to pick the favorite.
Pick: New England Patriots
The Saints vary from decent to mediocre in their various offensive and defensive rankings, while the Falcons look good on scoring offense and defense. However, the Falcons haven't played well against offensively against a good defense. (I'm being a hypocrite, here, because I picked the Cardinals to beat them last week.) I'm sure that whichever team wins will suddenly be vaulted upwards in a bunch of MSM sycophants' power ranking. But me? I don't really care who wins this NFC matchup. I expect these teams to split their series, so I will pick the home team.
Pick: New Orleans Saints
Tennessee Titans vs. New York Giants
This is a fairly tough one to call. Both teams have strong running offenses that will be playing against defenses weak against the run. I'm not so sure the New Meadowlands Stadium is that much of a homefield advantage, either. The seven people who can afford tickets are too busy eating their caviar and liquidating the assets of Caribbean nations to make some noise on third and long. Both teams have been on both ends of blowouts. In the end, you look at the Titans, who have a nice scoring offense and defense. Then again, the Titans played the Raiders, while the Giants played the Colts...
Pick: Tennessee Titans
Pittsburg Steelers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This one ought to be an offensive barn burner. The 2nd-ranked scoring defense against a second year QB who is still learning the ropes, and the 3rd-ranked scoring defense against the only guy on the Steelers offense who isn't injured or suspended (whoever that turns out to be). I'd rather watch Jamarcus Russell eat pancakes for 3 hours. Now there's some offense. In the end, I think the Steelers will dismay me by winning another game, but this time I'm not picking them to lose.
Pick: Pittsburg Steelers
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Carolina Panthers
The Panthers are bad enough that maybe this week Carson Palmer can actually contribute to my fantasy football game. Still, I find it hard to believe the Panthers are that bad. Unfortunately, they've put themselves in a situation where they don't have a good QB by drafting based solely on the size of Mel Kiper's hardon. Call me a phrenologist, but Clausen looks like a future 3rd string QB to me. As far as strengths go, the Panthers are okay at running offense and defense, which shouldn't be too surprising as that's their DNA. The Bengals are better on paper. Yes, on paper that particular tiger is strong.
Pick Cincinnati Bengals
Neither team seems to have a great defense. The Eagles are a preview of how bad we could be missing Brian Dawkins and Champ Bailey some day. Hopefully our young studs step up. The Jaguars are hard to talk smack about at this point because they beat us. And the only thing worse than seeing a team beat the Broncos is watching the Chargers beat the snot out of them the next week. Unless that team is the Raiders. But I digress. The Jaguars have a middle of the road offense, while the Eagles are burning barns with Michael Vick under center. Was naming him the starter the right decision? If Elway was your number 2 QB, would you start Culter?
Pick: Philadelphia Eagles
If this game is nationally televised, it won't be because of last year's combined schedule. The combined media-darling factor in this game is just slightly sickening. You're talking Michael Shanahan, Donovan McNabb, and Sam Bradford all in one event. It's not as media-friendly as Manning Bowl or Bellicheck Goes For it On 4th Down, but the temptation for over-saturation is there. I don't watch TV except for NFL games, so I wouldn't know. Anyway, nothing's certain in life except for death and Jamarcus Russell's breakfast, but from a talent and buzz standpoint this is a one-sided battle. I won't pick based on magical fairyland scenarios, so I'm going with talent (yes, it seems Snyder finally managed to buy some).
Pick: Washington Redskins
Looking at the rankings, the Broncos are like a slightly lesser version of the Colts. Good offense, though not so much on the ground. Good enough defense maybe to get the job done, particularly against the pass. It gives me a nice feeling to see how good we are on offense. I just kind of wish we could get back to the excellence of last year's defense. The pundits are going to say this is an easy win for the Colts, but the Broncos are looking like possible wild card material. That means this could be a game between two potential playoff teams, and in that case you can't write either off. In the end, all I can say is ... Mmm, doughnuts. Though if I'm wrong, I might be saying d'oh!
Pick: Denver Broncos
With Bruce Gradkowski behind center, the Raiders might manage not to beat themselves. The guy is so-so, but the team played better when he was starting than not recently. The Cardinals are mostly ineffective on offense it seems. Meanwhile, the Raiders' running game seems to be coming on. If you'd asked me before this season if I would be likely to pick the Raiders to win any games, I'd have crapped my pants laughing. But the AFC West plays the NFC West this year. Remember a few years ago when the NFC South looked like the best division in football? I'm pretty sure they were playing BOTH the AFC West and NFC West that year. You get the idea. Anyway, I see no reason to pick the team that lacks that certain je ne sais quoiterback since the departure of Kurt Warner.
Pick: Oakland Raiders
I'm hoping that there really is magic in Seattle, at least for one week. This could be a fair matchup if the Seahawks don't play like crap. They moved the ball well against the Broncos last week. Their receivers looked pretty good. Champ Bailey, Brian Dawkins, Perrish Cox... Oh, wait. Anyway, we all know the Chargers love to suck early in the season. I'm sure they're all satisfied with themselves after dominating the Jaguars at home. They were probably too busy surfing to bother preparing this week. Really, I'm just trying to make up a reason to pick the Seahawks, something to justify wishful thinking. Oh well.
Pick: San Diego Chargers
If you were to pick based off hype, you could pick the Jets to win the Superbowl now since they're an already hyped team that's fresh off a win against possibly the most hyped team in the league. The Miami Dolphins seem to have a pretty good defense, however. Right about now, mister hype insists that the Jets are synonymous with defense. But the Dolphins defense appears strong in all areas, whereas the Jets defense is somewhat weak against the pass. Both teams have underwhelming offenses that may get better as the season rolls on. Considering how early in the year, and thus hot, it is, I'm going to go with the home team in Miami.
Pick: Miami Dolphins
The Packers seem to be a more balanced offense, even though they can't claim to have the 3rd-ranked passing game like the Bears can. Meanwhile, have you seen Jamarcus Russell eat pancakes? What are we going to do without this guy in our division? Anyway, the Bears look alright, but I can't see a Bears playoff appearance through all the Cutler interceptions filling the air. I kid, I kid. Cutler was very good last week. Now if he can just be very good for a number of weeks in a row, I will be surprised.
Pick: Green Bay Packers
And that's this week's crop of picks. Thanks for reading this drivel!