Week Two Picks – The Noodle-Armed Sheriff Rides Again

It’s that time of the week again! You know, when you wake up on Sunday morning and you’re just kind of walking around your house looking at your fantasy lineup until football starts? It’s not so bad for us folk on the West Coast, I wake up around 8:00 and only have to wait until 10:00 for football to kick off, but you guys on the East Coast, my God. I can’t imagine 1:00 pm being the earliest available football game. If that were the case in San Diego, I might actually get things done on a Sunday! Heck, maybe my mind would even be completely focused on the message at church and not preoccupied as I checked the ESPN updates on my phone. Huh? Who said that? Let’s move on, people.

This week’s picks are sponsored by rapper Wale’s latest release The Album About Nothing, which I have been listening to since this morning (its 7:00 pm as I write this now) and my lost wallet which is preventing me from leaving my apartment for any reason. I wouldn’t necessarily call this week’s slate of games power-packed, but there are a few great match-ups that I’m all giddy about. Plus, the Thursday Night Football game (which I will blow a fuse about later) was actually GOOD! That’s like snow in July so there’s no way this Sunday will be boring. Enough chit-chat, TO THE PICKS! (Home teams on the left)

Panthers vs. Texans, 10:00 am

It’s hard to gauge Carolina’s potential this year. One on hand, they had a great defensive showing in their season opener and the offense looked generally effective even with Jerrico Cotchery on the field. On the other hand, the Panthers only scored 20 points against the Jaguars. Troubling. The Texans were dismantled by Kansas City last Sunday, but something tells me their season won’t reflect more of the same. Houston is looking for a win here to begin their “first team to be featured on Hard Knocks and not immediately implode” campaign. Our pick: Texans

Steelers vs. 49ers, 10:00 am

Pittsburgh was on an extended break after their Thursday night loss to the Patriots, so they should be rested and ready to go this Sunday. A big factor in this matchup will be whether or not San Francisco’s defense can keep up their stellar effort against the run. On Monday night they held THE Adrian Peterson to 31 yards on 3.1 yards per carry, numbers that don’t bode very well for DeAngelo Williams who will again be filling in for the suspended Le’Veon Bell. Another key here is the 49ers’ ability to keep Antonio Brown in check. Besides a late touchdown in New England when the game was already decided, he didn’t contribute a whole lot. Of course, he’s still Antonio Brown and can make defenders look like they were plucked from a wax museum at any given point during a game. Ultimately, should Pittsburgh get on an early run, I don’t think Kaepernick can keep San Fran in the game. As we learned last week, a good quarterback is everything in this league. Our pick: Steelers

Saints vs. Buccaneers, 10:00 am

BREAKING: Marcus Mariota arrested for 11 counts of murder in the third degree after publicly slaughtering Buccaneers defense. Get it?! You were worried for a second there, weren’t you? C’mon, just admit it! Well look, the point is that Tampa Bay’s defense looked absolutely helpless last week and let me tell ya, Drew Brees will be just a *little* tougher to stop than Mariota. Matching up with Tampa’s zone defense will feel like a game of backyard football for Brees after he led his receiving corps into the clutches of Arizona’s #BirdGang last weekend. Expect points and Jameis Winston angry faces. Our pick: Saints

Vikings vs. Lions, 10:00 am

Even though the Lions inexplicably disappeared in the second half against San Diego last week, I still have plenty of faith in their playoff chances this season. Detroit’s secondary shouldn’t have too much trouble dispatching Teddy Bridgewater, who overthrew so many routes last Monday I’m surprised the 49ers didn’t grab 10 interceptions. Just as they were unable to stop Carlos Hyde at all, Minnesota’s linebackers should be grabbing fistfuls of air all afternoon when Detroit hands Ameer Abdullah the ball. Harrison Smith may be the Viking’s saving grace in defending long passes and run support, but the young man can only do so much. Our pick: Lions

Bears vs. Cardinals, 10:00 am

Despite Chicago’s loss to Green Bay, which turned into yet another Jay Cutler-exercise-in-futility-against-the-Packers towards the end, I believe they have the talent to compete for the NFC North title. Unfortunately, the Bears will have a tough time getting that title contention off the ground this week with Arizona coming to town. The Cardinals’ secondary will be licking their chops as they face their second big-armed, offense-carrying quarterback in as many weeks. Chicago will need an exceptional contribution from Matt Forte to keep the pressure off of Jay Cutler as the Cards will be trying to goad him into making mistakes down the field. Our pick: Cardinals

Bills vs. Patriots, 10:00 am

After the way Buffalo dismantled the Colts last week (which I predicted, you’re welcome) there’s been a lot of hype surrounding them taking on the visiting Patriots. With Rex Ryan, Bill Belicheck’s #1 fan, now in charge of these new-look Bills, many believe that the narrative between these two teams is set to change. Before you invest anything into that stock, allow me to remind you:

  • Rex Ryan is 4-9 against the Patriots (1-7 since 2011)
  • Tom Brady is currently 23-3 against the Bills. Brady was drafted in 2000, which means he has lost to the Bills just three times in 15 years.
  • The last time Buffalo’s defense was being hyped as Brady-killers, he hug four touchdown passes on them
  • Tom Brady is nowhere near as much of an interception enthusiast as Andrew Luck

So before we jump off the Bills cliff together let’s just keep a little bit of perspective, okay? Now, I will admit that Brady’s passer rating against Rex Ryan defenses is about eight points lower than his career average, however that means he’s still sitting at 88.9 against the coach who puts the foot in football. An underlying story here is Gronk’s coming back to his hometown of Buffalo, as well as Scott Chandler returning to face the team he recently left to sign with New England. Our pick: Patriots

 

Bengals vs Chargers, 10:00 am

One of the most difficult tasks in our modern NFL is stop Philip Rivers when he’s in the zone. When Rivers is feeling it, trash talk and all, he’ll beat you any way he can. It doesn’t matter if he’s throwing to Antonio Gates or Jacoby Jones, heck, even Robert Meachem, he WILL find a way to come out on top. Last week against the Lions Rivers looked like he was in the zone right around the point that he started hitting the back-up tight end for touchdowns to erase Detroit’s lead. San Diego’s success this Sunday will depend largely on Rivers’ ability to enter that zone against a stout Cincinnati defense. Our only sample for their ability came against Matt McGloin leading the Raiders offense, but I have confidence in their ability to force QBs into short reads and deep mistakes. A little bit of history to consider here: San Diego loves losing to lesser teams after a big win, just ask any of my friends! Our pick: Chargers

Browns vs. Titans, 10:00 am

The NFL is trying to paint this game as an exciting matchup between to Heisman-winning quarterbacks who are ready to light the league on fire. I don’t buy it. First of all, Johnny Manziel threw for 182 yards last week. Granted, he didn’t play the entire game, but he there for a nice damn chunk of it and came up with a whole 182 yards. Marcus Mariota had an electrifying debut last Sunday against the Buccaneers, but it’s very likely that Tampa Bay is just going about their usual narrative of offseason hype and despondent mediocrity on the actual field. This game will give us a little more insight into what we should expect from each QB going forward, but please avoid watching this game at all costs. I’m serious; this one could be so ugly you’ll just never want to watch football again. Please fan responsibly this Sunday. Our pick: Titans

Giants vs. Falcons, 10:00 am

As I mentioned in my dissertation of Tony Romo’s masterful game-winning drive against that put away the Giants on Sunday Night Football, New York was completely unable to put forth a respectable effort in pass defense. By the way: that was AFTER Dez Bryant left the game with an injury, which means that they couldn’t muster the strength to cover Cole Beasley and Jason Witten. If that’s going to be the norm for New York’s secondary then Julio Jones should have a grand ol’ time frolicking through the deep-third of the field all by himself this Sunday. I’m sure he’s very excited about it. Truth be told, I am too since there’s a 97% chance that he’ll be in the lineup for the Draft Kings contest that my dad is having me do for him. Our pick: Falcons

Redskins vs. Rams, 10:00 am

The Rams had a pretty inauspicious start to their season last week; all they did was stun the divisional-bully Seahawks in overtime. The jury is still out on Nick Foles, but he certainly made his case and “the guy” in St. Louis. Conversely, the Redskins looked ineffective offensively in Miami and were overall not doing a good job of convincing us that this season would be any different than the past few years of classic Washington train wreck. Aaron Donald and the Rams defensive line should shine in this matchup. Our pick: Rams

Jaguars vs. Dolphins, 1:05 pm

I wish this game had more potential to be a slugfest, for the sake of the home crowd, but for all intents and purposes it’s most likely that Jacksonville will be taking lots of punches and not throwing too many of their own. Miami’s secondary probably had trouble sleeping last night because they were thinking about facing the NFL’s leader in interceptions returned for touchdowns a season ago. A silver lining for Jaguars fans is the possibility of receiving some sort of cool shirt promoting this matchup as some sort of battle for Florida, and let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a free shirt? Heck, I got a free shirt the other day and I’m pretty dang excited about it! Pocket tee, real nice fit, quality material I mean, this shirt’s got it all, folks. Our pick: Dolphins

Raiders vs. Ravens, 1:05 pm

It’s hard to be optimistic about the Raiders after the beat-down they suffered at the hands of the Bengals last Sunday, but there’s hope for the Black and Silver yet! Oakland lost Derek Carr to a finger injury during the loss to Cincinnati so having him for an entire contest should provide a boost to their offensive production because Derek Carr >>>>>>>>>>> Matt McGloin. Baltimore made the last mistake in an offensive stymie with Denver in their opener, mostly because Joe Flacco can’t tell the difference between his receivers and the fans sitting in the crowd. Until someone can step up in the passing game behind Steve Smith I expect Baltimore’s offense to be stagnant and searching for an identity. The deciding element here is the ground game. It will be up to Latavius Murray and Justin Forsett, respectively, to keep drives going for their offenses and provide a spark when plays through the air aren’t falling their way. Our pick: Raiders

Eagles vs. Cowboys, 1:25 pm

Count your blessings, kids; it’s only Week 2 and we already get our second taste of NFC East action. No matter what their records are like it’s always a good time when two teams from the NFC East get together. The Cowboys, Eagles, Redskins, and Giants all seem to have a genuine hatred towards each other which is one of my favorite things in sports. We’ve been blessed with a particularly great matchup between Dallas and Philly today and they are bringing the fireworks, people. This will be Dallas’ first full game without Dez Bryant and I’m interested to see how Jason Garrett will use Terrance Williams, their third-year wideout, in the fill-in role. It’d be foolish to claim that anyone could replace Dez, he’s just a unique and specially talented player, but Williams should still be able to keep Dallas afloat. The biggest question for Philly is whether Sam Braford can keep up with Tony Romo should he come out and put together a few good drives early in this game. Our pick: Cowboys

Packers vs. Seahawks, 5:30 pm

Thank the football gods! This rematch of last year’s NFC Championship, which saw the Seahawks stage an improbable (some would say inexcusable) comeback at Lambeau field, is sure to be everything we want and more. Jordy Nelson’s absence will be a relief to Seahawks safety Dion Bailey, filling in for Kam Chancellor as his holdout drags on, who was embarrassed as he allowed the 57-yard touchdown that allowed St. Louis to take Seattle into overtime last week. Green Bay will need a big day from Eddie Lacy. He’ll have to find space consistently on first downs to keep the defense from playing shallow and bullying Rodgers throughout the night. Randall Cobb will have to get a lot more involved than his 5-reception, 38 yard effort against the Bears. Rodgers will be seeking familiar faces downfield when the pocket breaks down he’s forced to extend plays, which we should see plenty of in this game. The pressure will be on Russell Wilson to go score-for-score with Rodgers should Seattle’s defense be unable to contain him. Our pick: Seahawks

Okay look, before we talk about Monday Night Football, I’ve got to address that Thursday night game. I don’t think I’ve ever been so invested in a game not featuring the Patriots, and certainly no Thursday matchup. Let’s be honest, folks, the Broncos had NO BUSINESS WINNING THAT GAME. Peyton was in full Ol’ Man Noodle Arm form and after an early pick-six put the Chiefs up 14-7 I was sure that the rout was on. Instead, Kansas City fumbled the ball around the 20 yard line twice, giving Denver short fields to work with when they should have been forcing them to drive the length of the field to score (which Peyton’s arm couldn’t do). Not one to be left out of the fun, Alex Smith added to bad turnovers of his own. The first was his fault: an interception thrown on a short hitch to Jeremy Maclin which they had already run four or five times and was easy for the corner to recognize. The second was plain bad luck, his arm was hit as he threw, hanging the ball up in the air for the taking. However, even that was ridiculous because Kansas City had just driven the field, made it within scoring range on a long throw to a tight end, and then for some reason called a double-reverse wide receiver pass?! I couldn’t make this stuff up! Denver got so many gifts you would have thought Santa Claus was coaching on the Chiefs sideline. Of course, Jamaal Charles’ second fumble of the night was picked up and ran back for a touchdown, sealing the win for the Broncos. Kansas City’s defense had their stellar effort completely undermined by boneheaded offensive mistakes. I have to imagine they feel a little bit of resentment towards the guys on the other side of the ball because they certainly did their part. And they certainly clocked 12 fantasy points for me, which isn’t bad for a defense, so they’ve got that going for them.

Colts vs. Jets, 5:30 pm (Monday)

Andrew Luck might go 0-4 against the AFC East this season. For the second week in a row he’ll be facing a defense that was built to take advantage of his most common mistakes. New Jersey’s defensive line will harass, bully, and disrupt Luck all day while the secondary waits for him to throw the inevitable interceptions down the field as he escapes the pocket. If T.Y. Hilton still can’t go then it’s going to be a very long day for Indy’s offense. The Jets’ ground assault should have no problem running all over the Colt’s defense just like any running back ever has in the Andrew Luck era. Our pick: Jets

Remember to set your fantasy lineups before players start locking in! I’m headed to Draft Kings to see if I can’t make a little money off of this sport so in the meantime just tell everyone you’ve ever met about us, okay? For the record, we went 9-7 with our picks last week. That’s still playoffs in some divisions, just saying. Be sure to consume some unapologetically fattening foods while you enjoy all the great football being played today!

 

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