Damn, Week 3 already and the Guru bounced back and feels ultra-confident heading into it. After a disasterous Week 1, the results in Week 2 were much better to say the least, let's get it
started for Week 3 --
Last Week -- 13-3 Straight
Last Week -- 10-6 Spread
Overall -- 20-12 Straight
Jacksonville +8 1/2 @ Indianapolis -- You saw it here first. I liked the Jags against the Steelers. Picked them to win, and they did, shutting out the defending Champs. For some reason the Jags have always had great success against the Steelers. The same can not be said for their history versus the Colts. This game has huge implications already, with the winner gaining early control in the AFC South. It may mean more to the Jags, who have been clammoring for respect the couple of seasons. Well, Jacksonville, respect is earned not given. Sure, you went 12-4 last season, but you got beat twice by the division winner, then got smoked in the playoffs. This season has started good enough with home wins over the Cowboys and Steelers. Now let's see it on the road. The Colts, on the other hand, are still adjusting to life without Edgerrin James. Joseph Addai has started to settle in and should be the starter this week or next. He has the skills to fit in perfectly in that offense, and Peyton Manning has been, well, Peyton Manning against the Giants and Texans. This defense will probably be the toughest he faces all season, but the Jags offense has struggled to score against the Colt defense, especially in the dome. The spread is way too high, so I will gladly take the points, but the Jags just aren't ready for prime-time yet and the Colts continue their dominance of Jacksonville.
Chicago @ Minnesota +3 1/2 -- There is an unwritten point spread rule that odds-makers give the home team 3 points just for playing at home. If that is the case, then the "experts" think this is a pick'em game. And when you look at it, who has looked more impressive so far? Minnesota won in Washington, then beat a tough Carolina team. The Bears? The Lions and Packers. Hmmm. I will say that Rex Grossman has looked solid so far and the Bears defense is one of the best in the league. This game is going to be Grossman's first real test of the season, and I expect him to struggle a bit. The Bears' running game has yet to get started, and if the Bears are going to win they are going to need to run the ball. Brad Childress proved with the fake field gaol last week that he isn't afraid to pull out all the stops and expect more wrinkles this week to try and slow that defense down. Chester Taylor has shown the ability and durability to be the featured back and Brad Johnson just doens't make mistakes. A mild upset, perhaps, but I like the Vikings in this one for the outright win.
Washington @ Houston +3 1/2 -- I was close, very close in fact, to picking Houston in this one. Then Clinton Portis came out and said he'll be full throttle in Houston. That's enough to change my mind. It's been same 'ole, same 'ole for the Texans so far. Soft defense, no pass rush and absolutely no chance for David Carr with that offensie line. For Washington, this becomes a must-win or risk being out of it already. Mark Brunell has been brutal, and the team in general has shown no fire, and no real sense of urgency. With Portis back, I look for that to change, at least for one week, and I think the Redskins will eek out a win. I'll take the points, but give the 'Skins there first win of 2006.
NY Jets @ Buffalo -5 1/2 -- The biggest surprise of 2006 so far, to me, has been the Buffalo Bills. They nearly beat the Patriots in Foxboro Week 1, then smoked the Dolphins in Miami last weekend. Now they return to Ralph Wilson Stadium for the home opener to face another pleasant surprise in the NY Jets. The Jets were dominated by the Pariots last Sunday, but used some big plays and some Pats' apathy to actually make the game interesting. I can always tell the way things are going for a new coach by how hard the team plays, and the Jets are playing hard. Chad Pennington has done his usual, high completion percentage, low yards per catch, and few mistakes. For Buffalo, J.P. Losman has been efficient, and to this point has avoided the big mistake that has plagued him in the past. Late this week, reports surface that Jets' receiver Laverneous Coles has a mysterious leg injury and is questionable for the game. Coles in the only real deep threat for the Jets and need him if they are going to be successful. I liked the Bills to win before the news, and I like them even more after. Even if Coles plays he won't be 100%. Give the points, the Bills impressive start continues.
Tennessee +10 1/2 @ Miami -- Once again I need some help from the Elias Sports Bureau. When one was the last time two teams were winless, yet there was a double digit spread? Sure, this sorta thing happens in college all the time, but in the NFL? Any double digit spread is large, but this one is rediculus. The Titan have been bad, worse than that, they have been horrible. The Dolphins haven't been much better. Daunte Culpepper is not nearly at 100% and Nick Saban has to wonder if it might be a good idea to get Joey Harrington in there until Culpepper is ready. Miami was embarrassed last weekend at home and will be looking for someone to take it out on. The Titans won;t put up much of a fight, but I just don't think the current state of the Dolphins is 11 points better than the current state of the Titans. Look for the Dolphins to get into the win column, but take the points all the way to the bank.
Carolina -3 1/2 @ Tampa Bay -- If the Jets and Bills are pleasant surprises, then the Panthers and Bucs must be the biggest disappointments. Both 0-2 heading into the match-up on Sunday, the loser of this game can probably write the 2006 season off. Each team has gotten to this point different ways. The Panthers have been without their best player and play-maker Steve SMith who looks to return this weekend. When Smith is out of the lineup Jake Delhomme looks lost. A botched trick play on a punt return probably cost the Panthers the game in Minnesota and I looks for Fox's bunch to play big in Tampa. THe Bucs have simply been horrendous. Chris Simms was everyone's next big thing in training camp, but so far has been a big bust. Not all the blame can be placed on his shoulders, however, since anytime you drop back 56 times during a game as an offense you are showing how unbalanced you are. Only bad things can happen. The defense is starting to show it's age and looked bad surrendering over 250 yards rushing last week to Atlanta. The whispers about Jon Gruden's job status should start to creep into the Bay as the Buccaneers suffer another bad home loss.
Cincinnati +2 1/2 @ Pittsburgh -- Remember when I said earlier bookies give 3 points for being the home team? Well, by the looks of this spread the bookies really like the Bengals. Another pick 'em game, the Bengals have looked super in their first two games, and have pleasant memories of their last trip to Pittsburgh. Not so positive are Carson Palmer's last memories of the Steelers defense. Make no mistake, the Bengals feel that Palmer's injury wsa the result of a dirty play and they are looking for payback. Sure, I'd watch my legs if I were Ben Roethlisberger, but more likely the Bengals would like nothing more than to put the Steelers in a 2 game hole in the division this early in the season. The Steelers did not look good at all on Monday night and even appeared to tire as the night went on after the 13 day layoff. Pittsburgh tries to use intimidation against their opponents, but the Bengals are not afraid of the Steelers. I will gladly take the points in this game, and pick the Bengals to win it outright.
Green Bay +6 1/2 @ Detroit -- Another battle of winless teams and the good thing about it is that one of these teams has to win, right? Well, there could be a tie, and the way these two clubs have played, and as much media attention each has received this season, neither deserves to win and a tie would only be fair. Brett Favre, to his credit, has tried to run the game plan. It hasn't worked. The Pack fell behind early to the Bears, and Brett went Brett and starting throwing picks all over the field, Against the Saints, again at home, the Pack jumped out to a 13-0 lead after three straight turnovers, but ended up letting the Saints go on a 34-7 run, before losing 34-27. The defense is horrible, and the offense has very little spark. Favre has to seriously be considering exactly what the hell he is doing, along with packer fans. Detroit got another guaruntee from the latest idiot wide reciver, Roy Williams. Maybe Willimas wants to be like T.O. or Chad Johnson. Hey, Roy, those guys are also pretty good on the field as well. So before you run your mouth, make some plays, other than when your team is down 30-0. If I have to pick a wiiner, though, I'll take Detroit in a shootout, since neither defense is worth a crap.
Baltimore @ Cleveland +6 1/5 -- Kellen Winslow took a lot of heat this week for calling out Brown's coaches and the playcalling/lack of playing time. That's the problem in Cleveland. No one can speak up, everyone must stay in line. I love what Winslow did. Say whatever you want about the guy, and his lack of common sense at times. He has been a winner and he has been productive. The Browns have been losers and been unproductive. Maurice Carthon had no credentials when he was hired as Offensive Coordinator of the Browns. Romeo Crennel, being a defensive guy, needed to hire a strong offensive assistant to handle the offense. Instead Crennel repaid a faovr, or brought over a friend, with disasterous results. Carthon has no idea how to create a game-plan, and the Browns continue to try and shoe-horn players into a style that doesn't fit what they do. And, let's face it, having Steve Heiden running routes on 3rd down instead of Winslow should be a crime. Like him or not, he is a playmaker, and at least he doesn't drop the ball. Oh, and the Ravens are really, really good. The defense seems to be back at it's Super Bowl level, though their opponents in weeks 1 and 2 aren't much to celebrate. You can only play the schedule you are given, and the Ravens have been impressive. It's always a battle when the new Browns face the old Browns, and I think it will be close. Take the points, but Cleveland drops to 0-3 and Brown's fans can wait 'til next year.....again.
NY Giants +3 1/2 @ Seattle -- What a win for the Giants last Sunday. Dead in the water with 10 minutes to go, down 24-7 in Philadelphia, the Giants rallied and got a huge win in OT. Good thing, since they follow up that trip with a voyage cross country to face the defending NFC Champs. Seattle has had it's own issues dealing with the loss of Steve Hutchenson, and Shaun Alexander's numbers have proven it. Alexander has yet to rush for 100 yards and the Seahawk offense has scored 30 points total in 2 games. Their defense has played up to par, though, and has allowed only 16 points, leading Seattle to a 2-0 record. Rewind to last year, the Giants haad the Seahwaks beat, but A.J. Feely missed 3 FG's, and the 'Hawks survived. They won't get as lucky this time around. The Giants just seem to match up well with Seattle, and they grew up a little last week. You can only hang on the edge so long before you fall off, and the Seahawks take one on the chin this weekend. Take the points and the win.
Philadelphia @ San Francisco +6 1/2 -- Ok, we know two things for sure. Philly isn't as good as most people think, and San Fran isn't as bad. Alex Smith has come a long way and he might actually become a player, while Frank Gore has showed the greatness everyone thought he was going to show in college. Gore was the starter over Clinton Portis, Willis McGahee and others before knee injuries ended 3 different seasons for Gore. For Philly, losing to a division opponent, at home, blowing a 17 point lead in the 4th quarter, is totally unacceptable. The Eagles have holes, and the loss of Jevon Kearse doesn't help matters. The Eagles are mad, but the 49'ers are going to play everyone tough all season. Take the points, but I think the
Eagles pull on out in the end.
St. Louis +4 1/2 @ Arizona -- The Cardinals have a beautiful new stadium, but it is still the same old Cardinals. After beating San Fran in week one, the Cards reverted to their old ways against Seattle. The offense just could not get going in Seattle, and when that happens the Cards are going to lose. Edgerrin James will probably get 1200 yards this season, but he may not be able to stand up during the off-season. The Cards need to get better offensive line play to have any chance at making the playoffs. The defense did a decent job after falling behind 14-0, and should improve as the season goes on. For St. Louis, all the positive mojo they gained by beating Denver Week 1 was lost in the loss to San Francisco. The Rams definitely look faster on turf than grass, and with game on grass, in Arizona, I like the Cards in a close one. Again, the spread seems too big for my taste, but tke the Cards to win.
Denver + 6 1/2 @ New England -- They say history repeats itself. In the case of the Denver Broncos, that is all too true. In 2005, the Broncos started 1-1, losing bad on the road, before winning a close divisional game at home. Denver was propelled early by it's defense until Jake Plummer caught fire and the rest was history. Could the same thing happen this year? As bad as it has been offensively for the Broncos so far, their offensive numbers are actually better than last year. And the defense is better. There were reasons at the end of the Chiefs game to think there is light at the end of tunnel, with Plummer showing more decisiveness and confidence in his throws, and Jake seemed to create some rhythem with Javon Walker. Tatum Bell also seems to be settling into the feature-back role, handling the rock in late in the 4th quarter and OT. Defensively, the Broncos have yet to give up a TD, even though they have faced more red zone opportunites than any other team.The Pats thouroughly dominated the Jets, jumping out to a 24-0 lead before forgetting how to tackle and actually had to hold the Jets back late in the game. Tom Brady is still the best in the biz, and even after giving away all the momentum to the Jets on the road converted 5 straight 3rd down opportunites in the final Pats drive of the game. Brady has a little revenge on his mind as well, after the Broncos ended the Pats' Super Bowl run. The Broncos have also made Brady look pretty bad, beating him 4/5 times in his career. In a game as even as this one seems to be I always look at the playmakers and I think the Broncos have more than the Pats. Denver will be aggressive and Jake will play big in a big moment. Take the points, Broncos win outright.
Atlanta @ New Orleans +3 1/2 -- What a story. Football returns to New Orleans for the first time since Katrina, on Monday Night no less. When I looked at this game before the season I thought there was no chance the Saints would lose. To much emotion, too much....eveything. Now, you add to that a 2-0 record for the Saints for the first time EVER and you really have something. I still don't think the Saints are going to be a playoff team this season, but even with a suspect defense the Saints have shown the worth of a steady hand at Quarteback and a playmaker on offense. Sure, Reggie Bush has yet to have that amazing run, but it's coming and he is everything the Saints expected and more. Deuce McAllistar is getting it going now and the Saints offense is going to give alot of teams trouble. The Falcons runnning game has looked college-like so far racking up close to 600 yards in 2 games. Jim Mora is letting Michael Vick do what he does best and the wins are following. More impressive might be the defense, which has been dominant after 2 games giving up a total of 9 points. What a night it is going to me, and as much as my head is telling me I am crazy I am going to stick with my pre-season prediction, no way the Saints lose this game, not with all the emotion, all the, well, everything. Take the points and the win.