Friday, September 18, 2015

NFL Week 2 Primer (With Picks): Are You Not Entertained?

Are Tyrod Taylor and the Bills for real?

 By Jeremy Conlin (@jeremy_conlin) and Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

Jeremy said he was out for blood, and he wasn't kidding. He opened up the season with a 13-2-1 record against the spread, and he only lost the second game because, like a damn fool, he switched picks from Atlanta (who was getting three) to Philadelphia (who was giving three) at the last minute (out of embarrassment and shame, he deleted all Tweets that confirmed this, but Joe still has a screen shot of the text message and threatened to use it if Jeremy tried to weasel his way out).

Historically, Week 2 has been a bad week for us. We come into the season with certain expectations, but Week 1 often turns those expectations upside down. So Week 2 has a lot of uncertainty - do we stick to our guns, or do we change our mind based on what we saw Week 1? Luckily for Jeremy, he burned the house down in Week 1, so he doesn't really have much to correct (unless he just got inexplicably lucky with every pick, which, now that we think about it, is probably much closer to the truth). In any case, Jeremy rides into Week 2 with a 5-1 edge against Joe on disagreements, the biggest single-week victory that either side has had in the history of these picks (which is only two years and one week, but still).

Game(s) of The Week

New England @ Buffalo (1:00 p.m. Sunday, CBS)

It's last year's Super Bowl champion going up against the team that might have had the best start-to-finish performance of any team in the league last year (adjusted for opponent, at least - Kansas City or Cincinnati might have been better, but the teams they played are definitely not as good as Indianapolis). Brady lit up a porous Pittsburgh back seven, but Buffalo's staunch defensive line could make life difficult for Touchdown Tom. 

Dallas @ Philadelphia (4:25 p.m. Sunday, FOX)

Dallas won an exceedingly loseable game, but lost Dez Bryant in the process. Philadelphia lost an exceedingly winnable game and has a ton of question marks all over the field. These two teams entered the season as the prohibitive favorites in the NFC East, but neither one really looked like postseason material in Week 1. We'll have to keep an eye on them.

Seattle @ Green Bay (8:30 p.m. Sunday, NBC)

A rematch of last year's NFC Championship game, and it seems to be a budding cross-division rivalry. This is the fourth time they've met since Russell Wilson has entered the league, and those three games have been 2012's Fail Mary, the opening night game of the 2014 season, and obviously, this past January's NFC Championship game. Seattle has won all three, but they've all been very high-profile games, and they'll keep meeting each other for as long as they stay atop their divisions.

Here Are The Picks We Agree On (Home Teams In CAPS)

KANSAS CITY (-3) over Denver

Jeremy was wrong, but he was right, too. Joe was just wrong. 

Houston (+3) over CAROLINA

JC: If my hunch is correct, Houston is better than we think they are because Kansas City is better than we think they are (the last two minutes of Thursday night notwithstanding), and so losing to Kansas City won't seem so bad a few weeks from now. Also, I was wildly unimpressed with Carolina's Week 1 performance, so I'll roll with the points.

JP: I don't believe in Carolina one bit. No weapons on offense, and Luke Kuechly out on defense. Plus, I don't think Houston has anywhere to go but up at quarterback, where Ryan Mallett steps in this week.

Tampa Bay (+10) over NEW ORLEANS

JC: There is literally nothing I've seen over the last calendar year that suggests New Orleans should be favored by double-digits against any NFL team, home or away, Tampa Bay Buccaneers or not. This line is at least three points too high.

JP: This line seems like a huge overreaction to Tampa Bay's Week 1 slopfest against Tennessee. While I don't think the Bucs are going to be great, I also think New Orleans has a pretty awful defense and Brees is slowing down.

San Francisco (+6) over PITTSBURGH

JC: So, maybe San Francisco doesn't suck? At the very least, we know they can rush the passer and they can still run the ball, which is a good recipe for keeping games close and covering spreads.

JP: With Pittsburgh's defense looking as out of sorts as it did last Thursday, I'm not trusting them to cover a touchdown against anybody yet.

Detroit (+2.5) over MINNESOTA

JC: I watched a ton of football last weekend, and Minnesota might have been the worst team I saw. I think spreads for them are going to change very quickly so I'm going to take full advantage for as long as they're favored against decent-or-better teams.

JP: I mean, Detroit looked really good for three quarters last week, while Minnesota looked awful the whole game. How are the Lions getting points?

New England (-1.5) over BUFFALO

JC: We all know that New England is the real deal, but the jury is still out on Buffalo. Tyrod Taylor is an enigma, but I'm comfortable saying that he'll prove why he's never been given a starting job before sooner rather than later, especially as more and more tape is dissected. The Patriots had trouble stopping the run against Pittsburgh, which is troubling, but Pittsburgh also has a much better offensive line than Buffalo does. I'm confident that Buffalo will have a strong season, but I think this week they fall at least a quarter of the way back to Earth.

JP: I have to believe this line should be bigger, but Vegas must have been very impressed with Buffalo's Week 1 demolition of Indianapolis. Still, this ain't Indianapolis.

Arizona (-1.5) over CHICAGO

JC: Carson Palmer looked like it was 2005 again, they ran the ball effectively for the first time since 1977, thumped New Orleans' running game, and other than two long pass plays (59 yards to Mark Ingram, 63 yards to Willie Snead), held the Saints' passing attack to just 5.1 yards per attempt (would have been dead last - like, DEAD last - last season). I'm going to roll with Arizona until I see a reason not to.

JP: I know Chicago played Green Bay close, but with a line this small, you pretty much have to think they're going to win the game. I do not.

Tennessee (-1.5) over CLEVELAND

JC: Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee offense that showed up last week vs. a Cleveland defense that allowed the Jets to run for 154 yards would be *ahem* a mis-match.

JP: Dang it, I'm trying to disagree with you to make up some ground, but I just can't. Mariota>Johnny Football.

St. Louis (-4) over WASHINGTON

JC: The Rams! They beat the Seahawks! MY BABY'S ALL GROWNS UP!

JP: And they're playing Washington...

Baltimore (-6.5) over OAKLAND

JC: Denver's defense is pretty legit (making Baltimore's Week 1 semi-defensible), and Oakland was an absolute train wreck. Baltimore will be looking to put themselves on the map after a slow start.

JP: Dammit Oakland, I thought you might be decent this year! The Raiders still might be, but nothing they did Week 1 shows me they can stay within a score of anybody with a pulse.

Miami (-6.5) over JACKSONVILLE

JC: I wasn't exactly impressed with Miami's Week 1 performance, but they could just be The Good Bad Team that covers against The Bad Bad Teams, is even with The Bad Good Teams and loses handily to The Good Good Teams. Jacksonville looked horrific on offense and half-decent on defense against Carolina, but it remains to be seen whether that says more about Jacksonville or Carolina. For now I'll just assume it's Jacksonville, because that's their M.O.

JP: I have no idea what you're talking about, but the Jaguars still suck.

Dallas (+5.5) over PHILADELPHIA

JC: When it comes to unimpressive Week 1 teams colliding in Week 2, I'll just take the points. Atlanta was able to run effectively against Philadelphia, so I expect Joseph Randle and Darren McFadden should be able to replicate that.

JP: I know it's on the road, but hard not to take Dallas getting this many points. Dez or no Dez.
Seattle (+4) over GREEN BAY

JC: Like, I get that Green Bay is at home, and I get that Green Bay won and Seattle lost, but Green Bay is banged up at receiver and doesn't really have the personnel to take advantage of an absent Kam Chancellor (it's not like the Packers spend the entire game sending their tight end down the seam like New England does). In past years, Seattle has had Green Bay's number, and four points just seems too generous.

JP: I know the sky is falling for Seattle to everybody, but did we all forget that the Rams always play them tough, and may have the best defensive line in football? I think the Seahawks match up much better with Green Bay, and should feel a sense of urgency staring 0-2 in the face. 

Here Are The Picks We Don't (Home Team Still in CAPS)

JC: CINCINNATI (-3.5) over San Diego

Cincinnati blew out a bad team on the road, San Diego made an impressive comeback to beat a decent team at home. If this were 1990, San Diego would have the edge there. But statistically speaking, Cincinnati's win was more impressive. They passed Week 1's Put Up or Shut Up test fairly convincingly, so I'm at least starting to walk towards the corner where the bandwagon usually picks up a few people.

JP: San Diego (+3.5) over CINCINATTI

If you're gonna give me more than a field goal against the Bengals, I'm gonna take it if the team doesn't suck. Oakland did (but I picked them anyways, out thinking myself), but San Diego does not.

JC: INDIANAPOLIS (-7) over New York Jets

I'll admit, there's a better-than-average chance that the Jets can do exactly what the Bills did to the Colts. They can run the ball with power, not take too many chances down the field (but take advantage of the ones they do with very good receivers), blitz the hell out of Andrew Luck and use a dominant defensive line to their advantage. With T.Y. Hilton questionable, the odds swing even further. But I just don't see the Colts being embarrassed two weeks in a row against non-contenders, especially not at home.

JP: New York Jets (+7) over INDIANAPOLIS

I think we're of one mind this week, because I'm pretty much picking the Jets (and Chargers) just for the sake of disagreeing with you. That being said, I was impressed with New York's defense (after Johnny Football's first two throws) last week, and they look like they might actually be able to run the ball. If Ryan Fitzpatrick just doesn't give the game away, they should be able to stay with striking distance of a Colts team that looked awful on defense and soft on offense last week.

JC: Atlanta (+2) over NEW YORK GIANTS

I don't exactly have a lot of confidence in either of these teams. New York fell apart down the stretch, Atlanta did also but still managed to win the game. That, plus the two points has me leaning towards Atlanta.

JP: NEW YORK GIANTS (-2) over Atlanta

I don't know man, but I have to make up some ground with these picks. Why not?

Jeremy's Record:
Last Week: 13-2-1
Season: 13-2-1
Last Week's Disagreements: 5-1
Season's Disagreements: 5-1

Joe's Record:
Last Week: 9-6-1
Season: 9-6-1
Last Week's Disagreements: 1-5
Season's Disagreements: 1-5

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