The 2012 season is underway and while Sportsmasher finished the week two games over .500 with a 9-7 record overall, he was disappointing on his Best Bets picks, going 1-2. Meanwhile, his arch rival Rex Rated had a much better week picking his Best Bets, by predicting a flawless 3-0 record. Full standings are available at the bottom of this post. Week two kicks off tonight with an important rivalry game, as the Chicago Bears take on the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Lots of road favorites this week, always makes picking more difficult. Time for the picks:
Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers (-6) – The Bears finally gave quarterback Jay Cutler some weapons in the passing game (Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery) and they paid off in a week one rout of the rebuilding Colts, Chicago is a much improved team if Cutler can stay upright and avoid pressure. The Packers are coming off a much different result, a home loss to the 49ers, who really were just too physical for Green Bay and pushed them around. In their week two showdown, I expect the Bears to play some smashmouth football early with Matt Fotre, which will open up the passing game for Cutler. The Bears are the more physical team, and the Packers have proven that they struggle against more physical teams, such as the 49ers, Giants or Bears. Take the points.
The Pick – Bears (+6) FINAL SCORE: Bears 27 Packers 24
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New York Giants (-7) – The Giants are coming off of a disappointing loss in the kickoff classic to their divisional rival Dallas Cowboys, while the Bucs are coming off of an impressive opening season win against Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. I cannot believe how high this line is, Tampa’s new coach Greg Schinao has his young team fired up, and while I think the Giants still win this game the Bucs will keep it close.
The Pick – Buccaneers (+7) FINAL SCORE: Giants 24 Buccaneers 20
Arizona Cardinals @ New England Patriots (-14) – The Cardinals surprised many NFL fans in week one, they beat the Seattle Seahawks at home, lead by their tough defense. Although the offense is still incompetent, especially at quarterback and along the offensive line, the Cardinals actually have one of the better young defenses in the league. The Patriots are one of the league’s best offenses, Arizona will make mistakes offensively and the Patriots will capitalize and score a lot of points, the Cardinals defense will only be able to hold them off for so long.
The Pick – Patriots (-14) FINAL SCORE: Patriots 41 Cardinals 20
***Sportsmasher Best Bet*** Patriots (-14)
Minnesota Vikings (-1.5) @ Indianapolis Colts – Who starts off with an easier schedule than the Vikings? They edged Jacksonville last weekend and now travel to Indianapolis to take on the rebuilding Colts. I do not think that the Vikings are a good team by any means, but they do have some talented players, while to Colts are clearly in rebuilding mode and lack organizational talent and depth. Vikings defensive end Jared Allen will have a monster day and will dominate a poor Colts offensive line.
The Pick – Vikings (-1.5) FINAL SCORE: Vikings 20 Colts 13
New Orleans Saints (-3) @ Carolina Panthers – The Saints were shredded by Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III last weekend, while the Panthers lost a tight one to the Buccaneers, so one of these teams will fall to 0-2 on Sunday. I really think the “Bountygate” cloud looming over the Saints, and the lack of experienced coaches on the staff is going to hang over the Saints all season long. Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was a phenomenon rookie quarterback last season and should enjoy similar success to that of RGIII last week against the Saints defense.
The Pick – Panthers (+3) FINAL SCORE: Panthers 30 Saints 27
Kansas City Chiefs @ Buffalo Bills (-3) – Each of these teams was regarded as an sleeper entering week one, and they both ended up suffering embarrassing losses, the Bills getting blown out by the Jets and the Chiefs getting crushed by the Falcons at home. I think that Kansas City is the more fatally flawed team, their secondary is garbage other than Eric Berry, and the pass happy Bills should be able to throw on them. If this game was at Arrowhead I might go the other way, but I think the Bills get big performances from C.J. Spiller and Stevie Johnson and cover.
The Pick – Bills (-3) FINAL SCORE: Bills 20 Chiefs 14
Baltimore Ravens @ Philadelphia Eagles (-3) – The Ravens might have been the most impressive team in week one, quarterback Joe Flacco threw the ball all over the Cincinnati Bengals, and the much hyped vertical offense finally showed itself. The Eagles may have been the least impressive winning team in week one, quarterback Michael Vick threw four interceptions, and should have thrown a fifth that would have ended the game, but it was dropped by a Browns linebacker. The heavily favored Eagles scored on the next play and they snuck by the lowly Browns. I love the Ravens in this game, worst case scenario, you take the points and push.
The Pick: Ravens (+3) FINAL SCORE: Ravens 28 Eagles 17
***Sportsmasher Best Bet*** Ravens (+3)
Oakland Raiders (-3) @ Miami Dolphins – The Dolphins are probably the worst team in football, but I do not expect this to be officially decided until they visit the Indianapolis Colts on November 4th, which may be the battle for the first pick of the 2013 draft. The Raiders would have had an opportunity to beat the Chargers on Monday Night Football if not for their backup long snapper rolling the ball to their punter. The Raiders are actually okay on defense, but Carson Palmer needs to throw the ball to someone other than Darren McFadden.
The Pick: Raiders (-3) FINAL SCORE: Raiders 24 Dolphins 10
Cincinnati Bengals (-7) @ Cleveland Browns – The Bengals have talent and looked decent in stretches against the Ravens on Monday night, and were down just seven points to start the second half, but a pick-six by Ravens safety Ed Reed sealed their fate. The Browns looked absolutely horrible offensively, and I will continue to insult them for drafting a 28 year old quarterback (he’s 6 months older than 49ers QB Alex Smith, who was drafted in 2005) who proved me right by throwing four interceptions in a game they should have won against the Eagles. Oh and their best player, cornerback Joe Haden, is suspended.
The Pick: Bengals (-7) FINAL SCORE: Bengals 28 Browns 13
Houston Texans (-7.5) @ Jacksonville Jaguars – The Jags should have won in Minnesota last weekend, quarterback Blaine Gabbert has vastly improved, and is now almost half competent. The Houston Texans are a buzz saw and their schedule is incredibly easy, their defense and running game carry them in this one, I expect an easy victory. I would be shocked if the Texans lost a divisional game this season.
The Pick: Texans (-7.5) FINAL SCORE: Texans 38 Jaguars 17
***Sportsmasher Best Bet*** Texans (-7.5)
Dallas Cowboys (-3) @ Seattle Seahawks – Everyone loves the Cowboys in this game, they beat the defending Super Bowl champion Giants on the road last week, while the Seahawks lost in Arizona to a quarterback-less Cardinals team. Not me. Seattle has the best home field advantage in the NFL on their side, and were 7-1 at home last season, they should never be getting points at home. You may say that I am a Cowboys hater, but they had better show up, this is not an easy game. My gut instinct is to pick a push, but that is for the weak.
The Pick: Seahawks (+3) FINAL SCORE: Seahawks 21 Cowboys 20
***RexRated Best Bet*** Cowboys (-3)
Washington Redskins (-3) @ St Louis Rams – The Redskins shocked everyone when rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III shredded the New Orleans Saints at the Super Dome last weekend, and the Redskins started the RGII era 1-0. The Rams are close to turning it around, but they have some glaring weaknesses on offense (wide receivers, offensive line) that they need to address before they can take the next step. The Redskins proved last weekend that they like playing in domes and on turf, I do not see the Rams being a problem this weekend, and RGIII should dazzle again.
The Pick: Redskins (-3) FINAL SCORE: Redskins 27 Rams 20
***RexRated Best Bet*** Redskins (-3)
New York Jets @ Pittsburgh Steelers (-6) – The Jets wowed everyone opening weekend, as a dormant offense in the preseason exploded, and they crushed the Buffalo Bills. This weekend they travel to Pittsburgh, where they take on an angry Steelers team who lost a heartbreaker to the Broncos in Denver last weekend, in what should be a battle of a game. I’m still surprised by this line, this is going to be a tight one, that will be decided by a field goal. I give the nod to the Jets due to the Steelers issues with their offensive line and in the run game (though Mendenhall may play). Take the points.
The Pick: Jets (+6) FINAL SCORE: Jets 23 Steelers 20
***RexRated Best Bet*** Jets (+6)
Tennessee Titans @ San Diego Chargers (-6) – I am very down on this Tennessee Titans team, I think they are headed in the right direction, but are not there yet. I am also not a fan of the Chargers this year, quarterback Phillip Rivers is still missing receivers up high, and their offensive line has major issues. Each of these teams are middle of the road non-contenders, I think this game will be closer than the spread indicates, take the points again.
The Pick: Titans (+6) FINAL SCORE: Chargers 17 Titans 13
Detroit Lions @ San Francisco 49ers (-7) – There is something special going on in San Fran, the 49ers look like the best team in football, they are an intimidating bunch that nobody looks forward to playing. The Lions, on the other hand, are a good team that is still dealing with several major issues (secondary, running game) that makes their odds of winning in San Fran this weekend slim. I think the 49ers hit the Lions early and often and by the middle of the second quarter the Lions are just looking forward to getting back on the plane and heading home.
The Pick: 49ers (-7) FINAL SCORE: 49ers 31 Lions 20
Denver Broncos @ Atlanta Falcons (-3) – A great matchup on Monday Night Football, Peyton Manning leads his new look Broncos into the Georgia Dome to take on a much improved Falcons team, highlighted by their explosive passing game. Never bet against Peyton Manning in a dome, he loves playing indoors as he did for so many years with the Colts, and excels inside. The one thing that troubles me about the Falcons is their lack of a steady pass rush, I do not think this team will make the leap and be a legitimate Super Bowl contender until they get a legitimate pass rushing threat, Manning will have all day to sit in the pocket pick them apart. Tight game, lots of offense, I like Manning indoors facing a weak pass rush.
The Pick: Broncos (+3) Final Score: Broncos 27 Falcons 24
2012 Season (9-7)
RexRated’s Best Bets (3-0)
Sportsmasher’s Best Bets (1-2)