Usually there are a number of surprising results in Week 1 which creates false favorites and underdogs in Week 2 of the NFL season.
Well, not so much this year. Actually, only two upsets straight up and the more astute among us (modesty forbids me) were on the money ` at least against the spread ` with the Jets and 49ers. And those two look capable of more such efforts in the future.
Lots of close matchups this week, if you believe Vegas. Wish I had better news, but it’s a long season. Press on regardless.
Back to the conventional full schedule of Sunday games and one on Monday night. Last week 8-8 vs. spread, 11-5 straight up. Home teams in all caps.
Sunday, Sept. 20
KANSAS CITY 3 over Oakland: Road team has won last five in the series. Both played well last week as big underdogs and KC QB Brodie Croyle looked surprisingly competent against usually tough Ravens’ D. He might have to go again in place of Cassel. Raiders’ rushing attack with McFadden and Bush could make difference here. Oakland 16–13.
TENNESSEE 7 over Houston: The Titans were impressive with an improved passing game and the customary strong defense against the defending Super Bowl champs Monday night, and still lost in OT to the Steelers. Meanwhile, the Texans’ alleged high-powered attack was throttled by the suddenly rugged Jets’ defense. Not a good spot for Houston to get well. Tennessee 31-14.
New England 5 1/2 over the NEW YORK JETS: Despite a road victory over Pats last year, Jets have not come close to beating them at Meadowlands in recent years. New England’s good fortune on Monday night obscured some troubling defensive lapses. Short week plus improved Jets keep this one close. New England 24-21.
GREEN BAY 9 over Cincinnati: Pity the poor Bengals. Even a perennial incompetent franchise doesn’t deserve to lose on such a bizarre deflected pass. Now they encounter a team that appears stronger on both sides of the ball, even though it took a big Aaron Rodgers play to beat the Bears. And Bengals will need way more than seven points to get the cover here. Green Bay 27-13.
Minnesota 10 over DETROIT: Vikings overcame sluggish first half to pound out victory over Browns. Lions’ defense in mid-season form, torched by Drew Brees’ six TD passes. Rookie QB Matt Stafford running for his life. But lost of road points to give here, even against toothless Lions, who battled Vikings close twice last year. Minnesota 23-17.
PHILADELPHIA off vs. New Orleans: No line because of Eagles’ QB situation. Will McNabb play with broken ribs? Will Jeff Garcia return to site of his triumphs a few years back? Perhaps Kevin Kolb (ugh)? Oh what to do? Go with more stable situation. New Orleans 23-20.
ATLANTA 6 1/2 over Carolina: Mixed results with these two division rivals recently. But what to make of Jake Delhomme, whose first game this year was just as bad as playoff game against Arizona? Unless, or until he figures that out, not backing Panthers. Atlanta 28-17.
WASHINGTON 10 over St. Louis: Rams won two games a year ago, one of them at Washington as 11 1/2-point dog. Skins not the kind of team to like as big favorite anyway, but Rams showed no signs a week ago of being ready to win. Washington 20-14.
JACKSONVILLE 3 1/2 over Arizona: Something amiss in the desert. Whispers of possible Kurt Warner ailments limiting his throwing. And then there is that whole Super Bowl loser jinx the following year. And Cards struggled on the road anyway last year. Jags play smash mouth and cover. Jacksonville 24-17.
SAN FRANCISCO 1 1/2 over Seattle: You have my permission to avoid this one, because that’s what I am doing. 49ers coming off big upset of Cards, Seahawks dominated pathetic Rams. Trends favor Seattle, if you are into that sort of thing. Seattle 21-20.
BUFFALO 4 1/2 over Tampa Bay: Tough for Bills to recover from Monday loss to Patriots, a game they appeared they have salted away. This is no Dallas offense that Bucs have to prepare for. And their running style keeps it close. Buffalo 20-17.
DENVER 3 over Cleveland: And the nominees for lucky win of the year are…forgetting it, nominations closed. After just one week, even. Brandon Stokley’s last-second, 87-yard deflected TD reception for a 12-7 victory over the Bengals cannot be matched. And no doubt the Karma gods have some nasty repayment in store. But probably not this week. Browns still appear short on firepower. Denver 17-10.
SAN DIEGO 3 over Baltimore: Both teams needed some late heroics last week. Tomlinson apparently banged up but Sproles is dynamic for Chargers. I never like teams making that cross-country trip, though Ravens are tough-minded enough to handle it. Sometimes. San Diego 20-13.
Pittsburgh 3 over CHICAGO: Cutler flustered into four picks against the Pack, but still almost pulled his team through. Now without Urlacher, Bears lose their identity. Steelers will make it ugly, and win like they normally do. Big Ben makes just enough plays. Pittsburgh 23-14.
DALLAS 3 over New York Giants: Bad blood game of the week. Home team won both matchups a year ago. Romo looked better without T.O., as the pundits have all told us this week, but wouldn’t read a lot into that. Giants would have had cover vs. Skins if not for late TD. Cowboys by margin of deflected punt off the giant scoreboard. Dallas 24-20.
Monday, Sept. 21
Indianapolis 3 over MIAMI: First game in three seasons between these two. No more easy sked for Dolphins, facing two of last year’s playoff teams out of the gate. Even last year, Miami basically winning squeakers at home. Not here against the resourceful Manning. Indianapolis 27-14.