Sunday, September 18, 2011

Week 2: The Cheese Will Squeeze

Matthews and his Pack look to roll over the tame Panthers.
I apologize for this getting out so late, but it has been a busy weekend for us two SOBs.

We will also get out the point totals from Week 1 as soon as we can, but I (Austen) crushed Stally in Week 1. Neither one of us had a great week picking teams, each going only 8-8 with our picks, but I drafted much better than him. Behold the power of the draft!

On to Week 2. Another week and another chance for teams to prove Stally and I wrong about whether they are for real or a one week wonder. Lots of teams looked a lot better than expected (I am looking at you Buffalo, Cincinnati and Jacksonville) and lots of teams failed to meet expectations (Pittsburgh, Kansas City and Tampa Bay are all playoff contenders who lost in an embarrassing fashion). What will be the surprising performances this week? You will just have to watch. Check out who we drafted to win their weekly matchups and why.

Stally goes first since Austen went first last week.

Stally (Eight Point Pick) - Green Bay over @Carolina

Stally: This was easy!  The defending Super Bowl champs take on the defending futility champs.  The only advantage Carolina has is the home field and that's probably just enough to push the spread from above two touchdowns to under.  We're not in Vegas.  Next in line, please!

Austen: Clearly I completely agree with Stally on this one. The Panthers' only chance in this game is if they can run the ball and they can cause Aaron Rodgers to make a few critical mistakes. Good luck with that one.

Austen (Eight-Point Pick) - @Pittsburgh over Seattle

Austen: This one is simple, the Steelers are pissed off about getting blown out last week and Seattle is one of the worst teams in the league. Seattle is a horrible road team and a 2,500 mile trip across the country does not help their cause.

Stally: The Steelers showed they were vulnerable last week, but it will take a lot more than a Seahawk to crack the steel this week.  I said after Pittsburgh's loss to the Ravens not to worry.  If they lose this one, I'll be hitting every alarm I can find.

Stally (Seven-Point Pick) - @New York-G over St. Louis

Stally: I was excited about the Rams last week.  That was short lived.  Steven Jackson and Danny Amendola got hurt, Sam Bradford got dinged and newly acquired WR Mike Sims-Walker caught for all of five yards.  The Giants are worse than expected, but there's no way I can see St. Louis recovering from the Week 1 injury rash this quickly.

Austen: The Giants were awful last week, so I could definitely see a few scenarios in which the Giants screw this one up. Eli Manning always plays worse at home than on the road and this defense is still so banged up that anything is possible. 

Austen (Seven-Point Pick) - Houston over @Miami

Austen: The Texans showed they are the real deal by absolutely destroying the Colts, who have bullied them for their entire existence as a team. Miami is bafflingly bad at home and I don't see them rebounding from a Week 1 beat down by the Pats. The Dolphins couldn't cover any of the Pats' receivers and it definitely won't get easier with Andre Johnson coming to town.

Stally: I agree Houston is the clear favorite.  I agree their the real deal, but they're not an elite team and I don't see them earning a first round bye or anything.  They beat up a Colts team that played without Peyton Manning for the first time in over a decade and hasn't yet had time to adapt.  Houston fans should hold off on buying Super Bowl tickets for now. 

Austen: They don't need to be Super Bowl bound to beat the lowly Dolphins!

Stally (Six-Point Pick) - Baltimore over @Tennessee

Stally: Wow, the Ravens looked good beating up Pittsburgh.  Goodness, the Titans looked bad stumbling to Jacksonville.  Baltimore is clicking on all cylinders already and Tennessee looks like it's still trying to get Chris Johnson up to speed after his lengthy hold out.  Not to mention, the Ravens are much better in general anyway.

Austen: Last week I really thought the Titans would steamroll the Jags, but instead they showed how bad they really can be. Chris Johnson has to have a big game for this one to close considering he is significantly better than everyone else on this team.

Austen (Six-Point Pick) - @New York-J over Jacksonville

Austen: Seeing all of the Jets' injuries (David Harris, Santonio Holmes, Eric Smith) makes me a little more cautious about this game, but the Jags have no offensive weapons outside of MJD and might have the worst starting quarterback in the NFL. The Jags defense is improved, mostly due to picking up the Jets' castaways (Dwight Lowery and Drew Coleman). However, the Jets' should be able to easily take this game, even without those three starters.

Stally: The Jets were one Tony Romo away from losing by two touchdowns at home on one of the more emotional games in history.  It was disappointing to watch, unless you're a Patriots fan like myself, that it was just the last 10 minutes that were disappointing as the Cowboys peed the game away.   That said, they should win this weekend.

Stally (Five-Point Pick) - Dallas over @San Francisco

Stally: I've been high on Dallas in the early going.  This game here will define their season after the collapse in New York last week.  Last year, they were never able to turn it around when things started going south.  This is a game they should win and one they must win to be a legitimate contender.

Austen: I still believe that the 49ers are one of the most untalented teams in the NFL. Tony Romo will have to play like he did in the 4th quarter against the Jets throughout this game for them to lose. 

Austen (Five-Point Pick) - Cleveland over @Indianapolis

Austen: There is officially a first time for everything, and the Browns being a favorite over the Colts probably hasn't happened since the last time the Colts were without Peyton Manning. The Colts looked worse than any other team in the NFL in Week 1. The Browns did not look much better, but with Peyton Hillis running through the Colts defense that has really struggled to stop the run the last few years, I cannot see them losing this game.

Stally: This was a dumb pick.  You just took a team that lost to Cincinnati last week to go on the road and take out a team that hasn't missed the playoffs in about a decade.  I understand Peyton is missing.  I understand the Browns might win.  I don't understand how you'd use five-points on a coin flip like this. 

Austen: The team with their healthy Peyton will win this game. Simple enough.

Stally (Four-Point Pick) - @Detroit over Kansas City

Stally: I was very embarrassed to have taken Kansas City last week.  They looked disgusting against a sub-par Buffalo team, and at home no less.  I agree with Austen's Goal Line Stand that Detroit isn't sliced bread, but they're respectable enough to take care of a home game like this one.

Austen: After last week, KC has to at least keep this close or else their fans are going to start hitting the panic button. They looked the worst out of all of the playoff teams in Week 1, and that includes a horrible performance by the Steelers. KC has to rebound quickly if they plan on keeping up with the Chargers, or even the Raiders.

Austen (Four-Point Pick) - @New England over San Diego

Austen: I hate taking the Pats two weeks in a row, but I had to do it. They have absolutely owned the Chargers in recent history and they always seem unbeatable at home. As I mentioned before, a trip across the country for a road team usually leads to a subpar performance and it will take the Chargers' top game to even keep this close.

Stally: As a New England fan, I don't have the same confidence.  I think they'll win of course.  In season's when they don't go 16-0, I look back at almost every single loss and remember the one or two plays that cost them the game.  That said, the Chargers are a dangerous team with a lot of weapons that present a tough defensive matchup for New England.  The cross country trip is also somewhat neutralized by the 4:15 kick off, which is the same global time at which San Diego played last week.

Stally (Three-Point Pick) - @Washington over Arizona

Stally: Am I really climbing on the Rex Grossman bandwagon?  I guess...maybe.  I think it's more so that I realize the Redskins aren't that bad and I really just don't like Arizona, period.  They're back to being the Cardinals of old for all I can surmount.

Austen: The Cards looked as bad as any team who won a game last week. Allowing Cam Newton to throw for over 400 yards is inexcusable. Kevin Kolb looked good, not great, against a terrible Panthers defense. Until Kolb proves he can play well against top competition, Arizona will be the underdog in most games.

Austen (Three-Point Pick) - Tampa Bay over @Minnesota

Austen: The Bucs had a really rough start to the year almost losing Josh Freeman and falling to the up-and-coming Detroit Lions. It is a shame they had to play the Lions in the beginning of the season and not later in the season once all of their starters are hurt. Either way, the Vikings offense looked terrible last week, with Donovan McNabb passing for under 40 yards (no, that's not a misprint). 40 yards! It does not matter how good AP is, you will not win a game passing for 40 yards. The Bucs will rebound from a tough Week 1 and they should easily defeat the Vikings.

Stally: You and Bill Simmons should rent out the smallest room you can find at a Motel 6 and have a Jaash Freeman party where you talk about how he's the greatest player to ever strap on a pair of knee pads.  You wouldn't have to worry about overflow, as it'll just be the two of you in attendance.

Stally (Two-Point Pick) - @New Orleans over Chicago

Stally: Chicago had an impressive game against Atlanta, but that was in the Windy City.  Was it really that impressive that New Orleans at home should be taken this late?  I don't think so.  I think Austen and I are just gun-shy because we really don't know what to make of Chicago.

Austen: The Bears continue to surprise me with the way they win football games. They are well coached and they tend to bring their A-game consistently, which is rare in the NFL. The Saints are down a lot of weapons, so the Bears' defense could limit what the Saints can do on offense. The Saints defense, on the other hand, allowed Aaron Rodgers to complete seemingly every pass he threw, so Cutler could have a good game. 

Austen (Two-Point Pick) - @Buffalo over Oakland

Austen: Both of these teams surprised Stally by winning their Week 1 matchups. Stally told me that he was going to take the Raiders over the Bills in this one anyway, but I still like this pick. The Bills' offense is really taking off. If their defense can become even mediocre, they could end up winning seven-eight games this year. While Darren McFadden and the defensive front seven played very well for the Raiders, there was not too many other positives for the Raiders in that game. Jason Campbell and the passing attack was completely ineffective, despite the Broncos putting eight guys in the box all day long. With Jacoby Ford and Darrius Heyward-Bey likely to miss this game, I don't see the Raiders having a chance. Also, once again, the cross country trip will hurt them.

Stally: Nice!  This worked out for me as I wanted Oakland anyway.  The Raiders are a team that went 8-8 last year, that seems to be getting lost somewhere along the line.  Saying that you don't see them having a chance against the Bills is outlandish, as it's the Bills!  News flash: Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas and Bruce Smith retired about 15 years ago.  Buffalo isn't good anymore.  Welcome to the next millennium!

Austen: It is you that is looking to the past, not me. Ryan Fitzpatrick is the real deal and their defense is making strides. This is not the Bills of the early 2000s. I am not saying the Bills will be great, but they will beat a team that continues to make dumb errors and commit 15 penalties a game.

Stally (One-Point Pick) - @Denver over Cincinnati

Stally: I really don't care who wins this game and it's just one point here or there.  I figure Denver at home is a better choice than Cincinnati on the road.  I'd like to take Atlanta over Philadelphia, but I'm banking on Austen taking Philly so the Falcons will fall to me anyway.  Spoiler alert: it's not going to pan out.

Austen: I really don't think anyone cares who wins this game, especially Broncos fans that are clamoring for Tim Tebow to start over Kyle Orton. If they cared about their team winning, they wouldn't put unnecessary pressure on their starting quarterback and their third string quarterback, which is exactly what Tebow should be. The Bengals were impressive in Week 1 and with all of the injuries already mounting in Denver, this game is a toss up. In a game with two of the worst teams in the league, it is anyone's guess who will emerge victorious. 

Austen (One-Point Pick) - @Atlanta over Philadelphia

Austen: Stally admitted that he let this one fall to me because he expected me to take the Eagles. I was not falling for that one. Matt Ryan has lost something like four home games in his entire career so I am going to side with him in this one. The Eagles' defense struggles against strong running teams and I see Michael Turner having a huge game for the Falcons. It will be Turner, not either of the star quarterbacks, who will be the difference in this game.

Stally: In what amounted to the final game chosen last week, you tossed out some stat about how Joe Flacco had never beaten Ben Roethlisberger.  Yeah, that changed!  This Matt Ryan stat seems like something that's merely just a meaningless statistic.  Keep in mind that it's pretty easy to win a bunch of games at home when you're guaranteed to have Carolina and Tampa Bay coming in for a quarter of the games each season!


Oakland @ Buffalo - Sun, 1 p.m.
Austen: Buffalo
Stally: Oakland

Green Bay @ Carolina - Sun, 1 p.m.
Austen: Green Bay
Stally: Green Bay

Kansas City @ Detroit - Sun, 1 p.m.
Austen: Detroit
Stally: Detroit

Cleveland @ Indianapolis - Sun, 1 p.m.
Austen: Cleveland
Stally: Indianapolis

Tampa Bay @ Minnesota - Sun, 1 p.m.
Austen: Tampa Bay
Stally: Tampa Bay

Chicago @ New Orleans - Sun, 1 p.m.
Austen: New Orleans
Stally: New Orleans

Jacksonville @ New York-J - Sun, 1 p.m.
Austen: New York-J
Stally: New York-J

Seattle @ Pittsburgh - Sun, 1 p.m.
Austen: Pittsburgh
Stally: Pittsburgh

Baltimore @Tennessee - Sun, 1 p.m.
Austen: Baltimore
Stally: Baltimore

Arizona @ Washington - Sun, 1 p.m.
Austen: Washington
Stally: Washington

Dallas @ San Francisco - Sun, 4:05 p.m.
Austen: Dallas
Stally: Dallas

Cincinnati @ Denver - Sun, 4:15 p.m.
Austen: Denver
Stally: Denver

Houston @ Miami - Sun, 4:15 p.m.
Austen: Houston
Stally: Houston

San Diego @ New England - Sun, 4:15 p.m.
Austen: New England
Stally: New England

Philadelphia @ Atlanta - Sun, 8:20 p.m.
Austen: Atlanta
Stally: Atlanta

St. Louis @ New York-G - Mon, 8:30 p.m.
Austen: New York-G
Stally: New York-G

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