2009 NFL Football Week Two Preview and Picks
Who Will Win Each Game, and More Importantly, Who Will Cover the Spread
Last week I did pretty well picking who would win the games, but not quite so well against the point spread. Picking heads up without a line, I ended up with a 13-2 record after both of my Monday night picks staged miraculous last minute comebacks to win their games. Unfortunately, the sportbooks weren't quite so generous to me and I ended up with a 7-8 record against the spread, in large part because both of the Monday night favorites had to stage miraculous last minute comebacks just to win their games. The math whizzes among you may have noticed that my records only add up to fifteen games while there actually were sixteen games played last week. The answer to that discrepancy is that I didn't post my picks until after the Thursday game between Pittsburgh and Tennessee. For the (unofficial) record I did pick the Steelers to win the game, but the Titans to cover the spread (you'd have to be crazy not to take six points in a game between those two). However since you would have to take my word for it, I'm not including that in my official picks.
Just a brief explanation of the format, since this is only week two and week one was an overall NFL preview. I'm splitting it into several different sections. The first section consists of things I saw that I liked during the previous week and how I think they apply to future games. The second section consists of things I didn't like during the previous week and how I think they apply to future games. The third section consists of "Things I learned" during the previous week, I.E. something that surprised me or that I had analyzed wrong and am now reevaluating. The fourth section consists of "Things I Already Knew," I.E. where I brag about something I predicted or observed during a previous week that was born out in the most recent week's games. The final section is where I make my picks. Finally, the comments section is where you tell me how right or wrong you think my picks are and why.
Adrian Peterson Highlights
Have Your Say
What did you like most about week one?
What I liked in Week One
- Brett Favre Handing Off to Andre Peterson - I admit it, I've become a huge Brett Favre hater. Partly because of the selfishness, partly because of all the interceptions, and partly because he retires and un-retires so often that you can't tell if he's coming or going, and partly because of all the grandstanding and histrionics involved. Also, because the last three issues are all just symptoms of the first one. However, even I can admit that if the Vikings keep feeding the ball to Adrian Peterson like they did in week one (180 yards rushing), they will be a force to reckon with. I still have doubts i that will happen or if Favre will last the season, regardless but you have to analyze what's there until the situation changes.
- The Eagles' Defense and Special Teams - I noted in my season preview last week that one of my concerns last week was whether the Eagles' D had adjusted to the change from the late great Jim Johnson to new coordinator Sean McDermott. It was only week one (this will be a common theme this week) and it's hard to know how much is due to one team being bad, as opposed to one team being good, in an opening game. However, the D didn't suffer from a lack of aggression and forcing the opposing QB into five turnovers (4 int's) is always a good sign. So is Desean Jackson picking up where he left off last season by returning a punt for a TD.
- Aaron Rodgers - Rodgers played pretty well last season. Well enough to win most weeks if the Green Bay had had a decent defense, which they didn't. The one thing that he was most criticized for was how many times that the Packers lost after leading late in game, although you could make a pretty good argument that it had a lot more to do with the defense than it did with Aaron Rodgers. The potential for that complaint to rear its ugly head again was there in week one with them trailing 15-13. This time it couldn't be pinned on the defense either, because they had played solid all day. One spectacular 50 yard play action TD pass later, all is well in Mr Rodgers neighborhood (I apologize).
- Mike Singletary's 49ers - This could almost go into the I told you so category, because I did say that the Niners would have a chance to compete this year. However, I was surprised at just how fast they have become a tough, defensive, run oriented team. The shocker wasn't so much that they beat the defending NFC Conference champion Cardinals, but more so how they did it. There is a saying that teams tend to mirror their coaches, so maybe I shouldn't have been surprised by their hard nosed, gutsy play in week one. I still tend to think they are a year and solid QB (maybe they can sign Favre once he comes out of retirement prior to the 2010 season) away from really putting it together. With the division they are in though, they just might make a run for the playoffs this year.
Have Your Say
What did you like the least about week one?
What I Didn't Like in Week One
- The Patriots Offensive Line and Defense - I predicted that New England might have some issues with the line keeping opposing defenders out of Tm Brady's face, so that was no huge surprise. Just how much of their offensive troubles were do to that and how much were just Brady being rusty after missing last season remains to be seen. The bigger issue is the defense, which badly missed Richard Seymour and Tedy Bruschi. Even worse, their already thin linebacking unit is going to be without starter Jared Mayo for up to six weeks after injuing his knee against the Bills. The near miss in Buffalo had more to do with the Patriots playing badly than it did with the Bills being a good team, but they just might have their hnds full against the Jets in week two.
- Brian Urlacher Gone for the Season - Yet another injury for Brian Urlacher and this might be a back breaker for a defense that was already beginning to slide. This defense was built around their previously formidable middle linebacker. However, this latest injury leaves a big hole in the heart of that defense (both figuratively an literally). I thought they were borderline contenders in the NFC North with Urlacher, I think they drop to a distant third now. The eventual question is if this signals the end for Urlacher in Chicago after missing significant portions of all three of the last seasons with major injuries.
- Donovan Mcnabb's Rib Injury - The one huge low point in Philadelphia's giant 38-10 win over Carolina was Mcnabb getting hit and cracking a rib. He's out at least two weeks and Kevin Kolb did not look impressive after taking over. Michael Vick can't play until after the week two game against New Orleans. As a result they signed Jeff Garcia as a backup. I love Jeff Garcia, but this sets a whole host of negative dominoes that could play out this season. If Kolb plays badly and Vick isn't ready, Garcia could start week three. If Garcia does play well like he did a couple years back, then Eagles fans will be clamring for him to replace Mcnabb once he's healthy. The other negative would be Mcnabb rushing back from the injury to avoid such a situation. The good scenario would be Kolb or Vick coming in and playing well enough to set themselves up as the heir apparent once Mcnabb retires. Of course, Vick could also create a QB controversy by playing well, but I still don't think Vick has the skills to be a QB in the NFL.
- Troy Polamalu's Injury and the Pittsburgh O-Line - Troy Polamalu is a big loss to the Steelers defense. In the midst of having a monster game he ended up with a sprained MCL, which will keep him out three to six weeks. Worse yet, MCL injuries tend to affect a players ability to change directions when running, which is the strength of Polamalu's sideline-to-sideline style of play. So, even when he does return, he could be severally limited by the after effects of the injury. The other elephant in the room is that Ben Roethlisberger is once again getting beaten within an inch of his life by opposing defenders. If the offensive line can't keep them off him again this year, it's gonna be another game of Russian-roulette and eventually that cylinder with a major injury is likely to come up.
Have Your Say
What is the most significant thing you learned in week one?
What I Learned in Week One
- Richard Seymour Might Have Been Worth a No. 1 Pick - The jokes about taking advantage of a senile old man were just too easy after the Raiders traded next year's first round pick to New England for an over the hill lineman in the final season of his contract. It got even easier when he took his time getting to Oakland and reports claimed he was unhappy about the trade an might not show up at all. By Monday evening, things had shaped up a bit differently though. After the aforementioned defensive struggles by the Patriots and the surprisingly solid effort by the Raiders defense, it wasn't looking like such a one-sided deal. Even though he didn't make it into town until Saturday, Seymour had an instant impact on the Raiders D-line. Truth be told, the game was more a case of San Diego playing badly than the Raiders playing great, but much like the 49ers on the other side of the bay, the lack of competition in the AFC West works in their favor. The big question is if Oakland can sign Seymour to a long term deal.
- Ladainian Tomlinson isn't Even the Best RB on his Own Team - In the run up to week one Tomlinson created a bit of controversy by disputing Jim Brown's pick of Adrian Peterson as the top player in the NFL. On Sunday AP made his case with 180 yards rushing. Things weren't so decisive in Oakland as LT gained only 55 yards and was on the bench watching as Darren Sproles won the game in crunch time. What's more, he is injured again and won't even play in week two. Maybe the Chargers management new what they were doing when they considered letting him move on during the offseason.
- Albert Haynesworth Might not be the Answer in Washington - In spite of the Redskins long and storied history of paying way too much for a free agent only to watch them disappear into mediocrity, I thought Haynesworth would pay off for them. After all, he isn't the typical wash up former star cashing in on his outdated resume. With the disclaimer that it was just week one and they may eventually jell, one would have to say that Albert Haynesworth hasn't created much of a presence on the Redskins defense. Their biggest defensive weakness, a toothless pass rush, is looking pretty much the same as it was last year. Things will really unravel fast if Haynesworth falls into his habit of collecting injury scars.
- Charles Grant and Will Smith Will not be Suspended - NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced this week that Saints defensive ends Grant and Smith will not be suspended until the case against Pat and Kevin Williams (they aren't related) of the Vikings reaches a final decision. All four players and Deuce McCallister (also of the Saints) face suspensions for taking banned supplements. The dispute involves unlisted ingredients in a supplement ("Starcaps") used to lose weight, that is also used to mask steroid use. The dispute also involves the fact that the NFL knew the banned substance was in the supplement, but failed to inform players. The ban was blocked in regards to the Williamses, because of Minnesota labor laws and no suspensions are likely this year, if at all, as a result. Losing both Grant and Smith, as well as McCallister, for four weeks would be a huge blow to New Orleans, so this is a great development for them.
Have Your Say
What is the thing you were least surprised by in week one?
What I already Knew
- Jay Cutler is Incredibly Overrated - I said it before and I'll say it again Jay Cutler is a product of a strong arm and a great group of receivers. His win/loss record in Denver is no fluke. He just doesn't have the mental skills to be a top QB in the NFL. To be fair the Bears' receivers were as responsible as Cutler was for some of those four interceptions he served up to Green Bay, but he easily could have thrown six if the Packers defense had made the play when they had the chance. He was never the savior that he was painted to be in the first place and the receivers might just be worse than expected. Especially in light of the defensive problems created by Urlacher's injury, the Bears could be in for a long year.
- Jake Delhomme is Washed Up - Truth be told Jake Delhomme was never that great of a QB in the first place. He was a gutsy player who could convince the rest of the team to believe in him as a leader. Between the six turnovers (5 INT's) in last years playoff loss to the Cardinals and the five turnovers (4 INT's) that Delhomme personally committed in the Panther's opening week loss to the Eagles, Carolina fans are ready to lynch him and reports are that even Steve Smith has turned on him. I think he'll snap back and have a decent game in week two, but things can't bode well for Jake if he has another turnover heavy performance anytime soon.
- Drew Brees is Going to Chase Marino Again - The New Orleans offense didn't skip a beat in week one. Drew Brees and co. were right back on the pace that brought him within 15 yards of breaking Marinos single season yardage record last year. The offense collected 515 total yads including 358 passing yards by Brees enroute to putting 45 points on the board. Granted it was the less than imposing Lions, but still that's an impressive start. Their defense needs to tighten up a bit, but they are built to win shootouts if it should come to that.
- The Jets Might Have a Shot - The Jets are my dark horse pick in the AFC. Alot of that has to do with their new coach and his last name. Granted it's only one week into the season and it was against Houston (who can't win consistently until after they are eliminated from the playoffs), but it was an impressive win as much for how they won as by how much. As expected the defense created havoc on the Texans offense and QB Matt Schaub. In addition Mark Sanchez played incredibly well for a rookie starting his first game. It wasn't a perfect outing. A badly underthrown pass resulted in an interception that was returned for a TD and he got lucky on a couple other throws that could have been picked off, too. However, it was definitely something to build on. Sanchez displayed the kind of leadership and confidence that could go a long way toward making the Jets legitimate contenders against the Patriots. Especially if their defense keeps the opponents from scoring and he isn't under pressure to match them.
My Picks for the 2009 Week Two NFL Games
So without further ado, here are my picks for the week two games both straight up (SU) and more importantly, against the spread (ATS):
Kansas City -3 vs. Oakland SU: Kansas City ATS: Oakland
Tennessee -7 vs. Houston SU: Tennessee ATS: Tennessee
New England -3.5 @ NY Jets SU: NY Jets ATS: NY Jets
Green Bay -9 vs. Cincinnati SU: Green Bay ATS: Green Bay
Minnesota -10 @ Detroit SU: Minnesota ATS: Minnesota
New Orleans -1 @ Philadelphia SU: Philadelphia ATS: Philadelphia
Atlanta -6 vs. Carolina SU: Atlanta ATS: Carolina
Washington -9.5 vs. St. Louis SU: Washington ATS: St, Louis
Jacksonville -3 vs. Arizona SU: Arizona ATS: Arizona
San Francisco -1 vs. Seattle SU: San Francisco ATS: San Francisco
Buffalo -4.5 vs. Tampa Bay SU: Buffalo ATS: Buffalo
Denver -3 vs. Cleveland SU: Denver ATS: Denver
San Diego -3 vs. Baltimore SU: Baltimore ATS: Baltimore
Pittsburgh -3 @ Chicago SU: Pittsburgh ATS: Pittsburgh
Dallas -3 vs. New York Giants SU: New York Giants/ ATS: New York Giants
Indianapolis -3 @ Miami SU: Miami ATS: Miami
And so, once again, you know who will win every game in the second week of the 2009 NFL season. More importantly you also know who will cover the point spread in each game. What more could you ask for?
All in all, I didn't do badly in week two. I didn't quite set the world on fire either. With my straight up picks I ended up a respectable 10-6, while against the spread I once again split it right down the middle with an 8-8 record. This leaves me with official season records of 23-8 straight up and 15-16 against the spread. Green Bay and Pittsburgh threw me a bit this week and Miami couldn't finish the deal on Monday. Check out my Week Three picks.
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