Jets (1-1) at Bills (1-1). Line: Bills by 5?. Over-Under: 34?.
Sunday, 1:00 ET
Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 2 Games): Bills -3.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 2 Games): Bills -3.
The Game. Edge: Bills.
Injuries: Jets: OUT: RB Curtis Martin (PUP). DOUBTFUL: C Trey Teague. QUESTIONABLE: WR Laveranues Coles*, WR Tim Dwight, G Pete Kendall, CB David Barrett. Bills: OUT: S Troy Vincent (IR). QUESTIONABLE: LB Takeo Spikes, S Matt Bowen.
I recently wrote that watching the Jets? offense is like watching grass grow and paint dry at the same time. I take that back; watching the Jets? offense is like watching grass grow and paint dry at the same time, while someone is continuously bashing a hammer into the back of your head.
Sure, New York scored 23 at Tennessee and 17 against New England, but the former opponent is one of the league?s worst squads, while the two touchdowns scored against the Patriots were fluke plays by Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery amid a hopeless attempted comeback. The Jets cannot run the ball ? Kevan Barlow and Derrick Blaylock have combined for 2.4 yards per carry ? so their only hope to move the chains are short throws by Chad Pennington. That won?t work against Buffalo?s defense, which has permitted only 25 points and registered 10 sacks.
J.P. Losman is hapless on the road, but he usually plays pretty well at home. In fact, Losman is 2-3 at Orchard Park, losing to powerhouses like New England, Atlanta and Carolina. I can?t put New York in that category; the team has managed only three sacks this season. Think the Jets miss John Abraham?
This seems like one of those gray, cool, windy days at Orchard Park that Jets fans are all too familiar with; Buffalo has beaten New York at home the past three years by an average of about nine points. Look at the weather forecast ? it?s d?j? vu all over again.
The Trends. Edge: Bills.
- History: Home Team has won the last 7 meetings.
- Jets are 8-18-3 ATS as an underdog the previous 29 instances.
- Bills are 2-15 ATS after playing the Miami Dolphins since 1998.
- Opening Line: Bills -6.
- Opening Total: 34.
- Weather: Showers, 66 degrees. HEAVY WIND: 21 mph.
- Start Em: Lee Evans, Bills Defense.
- Sit Em: Chad Pennington, Derrick Blaylock, Kevan Barlow.
Prediction: Bills 17, Jets 9. (Bills -5?).
Incorrect: Jets 28, Bills 20.
Packers (0-2) at Lions (0-2). Line: Lions by 6?. Over-Under: 39.
Sunday, 1:00 ET
Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 2 Games): Lions -4.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 2 Games): Lions -3.
The Game. Edge: Packers.
Injuries: Packers: OUT: OT Kevin Barry (IR), S Marviel Underwood (IR). QUESTIONABLE: G Jason Spitz, CB Al Harris. Lions: OUT: WR Scottie Vines (PUP), LB Teddy Lehman (PUP), S Kenoy Kennedy, S Idrees Bashir.
Am I the only one who?s confused about this line? The Lions are favored by 6?, yet they?re averaging only 6? points per game. Are the oddsmakers trying to tell us something, or were they merely intoxicated when they put up this point spread?
It?s like Mike Martz took his offense out of St. Louis, left behind the scoring, and put it in the Motor City. The Lions aren?t running the ball; instead, they?re passing every down, which means Jon Kitna is getting sacked far too often (nine sacks thus far). Detroit neither has the offensive line nor the skilled players to run Martz?s offense. Aaron Kampman, who has four sacks this year, should be able to take down Kitna on a few occasions. Meanwhile, Roy Williams will undoubtedly celebrate a meaningless first down sometime during this contest.
The Lions have played the run well this year, but keep in mind that the two running backs they held in check struggled against the second team they played. If I?m right in considering Detroit a fraud, Ahman Green should be able to trample an overrated stop unit, setting up play-action for Brett Favre. If Rex Grossman can throw four touchdowns against the Lions, I think Favre will be OK.
Once again, I have to mention that Detroit is favored by 6?, even though the most it has scored in a game is seven. Hello, Vegas!
The Trends. Edge: None.
- History: Packers have won 9 of the last 11 meetings.
- Brett Favre is 12-30 ATS (17-25 straight up) in domes.
- Brett Favre is 14-10 ATS as an underdog since 2002.
- Opening Line: Lions -6.
- Opening Total: 37?.
- Weather: Dome.
- Start Em: Ahman Green, Donald Driver, Roy Williams, Mike Furrey.
- Sit Em: Kevin Jones.
Prediction: Packers 16, Lions 13. (Packers +6?).
Correct: Packers 31, Lions 24.
Redskins (0-2) at Texans (0-2). Line: Redskins by 4. Over-Under: 37?.
Sunday, 1:00 ET
Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 2 Games): Redskins -3?.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 2 Games): Redskins -4.
The Game. Edge: Redskins.
Injuries: Redskins: QUESTIONABLE: DT Joe Salave'a, CB Shawn Springs. PROBABLE: RB Clinton Portis*. Texans: OUT: RB Domanick Davis (IR), OT Charles Spencer (IR), LB Kailee Wong (PUP), CB DeMarcus Faggins, KR Jerome Mathis (PUP). QUESTIONABLE: C Mike Flanagan, DE Antwan Peek, CB Phillip Buchanon.
Everyone seems puzzled by Washington?s ineptness on offense. Could it be that the Redskins? struggles are a result of the absence of their best player? Nah, that seems too easy of an explanation.
Clinton Portis said he is likely to play this week, which is good news for Redskins fans, especially those who like to see any sort of offense. The Texans, ranked 21st against the run in the early going, will find it difficult to put the clamps on a determined Portis. With the running game working, Mark Brunell can mix in a few play-action passes to Santana Moss and Chris Cooley. Washington had severe problems pass blocking against Dallas, but I don?t think that?ll be much of a factor on Sunday; through two contests, Houston has accumulated three sacks. I know; that?s hard to believe with Mario ?Pass Rusher Extraordinaire? Williams at defensive end.
Like the Texans, Washington has not had much success getting to the quarterback. However, I expect that to change, given the incompetence of Houston?s offensive line, which will be without left tackle Charles Spencer. David Carr has already been sacked nine times this campaign, which is pretty ridiculous. That total can only increase, thanks to the Texans? non-existent rushing attack. If Shawn Springs is back in the lineup, Houston may not even score.
Although both squads are 0-2, this is a must-win for the Redskins, who need a victory to stay alive in a competitive NFC East. The Texans, meanwhile, are used to being winless.
The Trends. Edge: Redskins.
- Must-Win Situation: REDSKINS must win to avoid 0-3.
- Two Roads (Loss): Current head coaches are 64-44 ATS on the road following a road loss (Joe Gibbs 1-1 ATS).
- Redskins are 8-5 ATS after losing to the Cowboys since 1997.
- Texans are 18-8 ATS after two or more consecutive losses.
- Opening Line: Redskins -3?.
- Opening Total: 37?.
- Weather: Retractable Roof.
- Start Em: Clinton Portis, Santana Moss, Chris Cooley, Redskins Defense.
- Sit Em: Wali Lundy, Ron Dayne, Texans Defense.
Prediction: Redskins 23, Texans 7. (Redskins -4).
Correct: Redskins 31, Texans 15.
Jaguars (2-0) at Colts (2-0). Line: Colts by 7. Over-Under: 43.
Sunday, 1:00 ET
Walter's Game of the Week
Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 2 Games): Colts -7?.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 2 Games): Colts -7.
The Game. Edge: None.
Injuries: Jaguars: OUT: RB Greg Jones (IR), DE Reggie Hayward (IR). QUESTIONABLE: WR Matt Jones*, TE Marcedes Lewis, G Chris Naeole, DE Paul Spicer, DE Marcellus Wiley, DT Marcus Stroud, LB Mike Peterson, LB Pat Thomas, CB Rashean Mathis, S Donovin Darius, S Gerald Sensabaugh. Colts: OUT: FB James Mungro (IR). QUESTIONABLE: WR Brandon Stokley, OT Ryan Diem, G Ryan Lilja, G Jake Scott, DE Dwight Freeney, DE Josh Thomas, DT Corey Simon, DT Montae Reagor, LB Gary Brackett, LB Gilbert Gardner, CB Nick Harper, S Bob Sanders, K Adam Vinatieri. ( Note: Everyone questionable will play.)
Was it just me, or did the Monday Night Football crew take it too far when they said Jacksonville was building its history right now? Weren?t they in the AFC Championship in the mid-90s? Didn?t they make the playoffs last year? Haven?t they played the Colts close ever since joining the AFC South in 2002?
That?s right ? Jacksonville always plays Indianapolis down to the wire. As you can see below, seven of the previous eight meetings have been decided by eight or less points. The reason for that is simple; the Jaguars have the front four to get to Peyton Manning without compromising their ability to stop the run. In the past, John Henderson and Marcus Stroud put the clamps on Edgerrin James, forcing Manning to throw with pressure in his face. However, the Colts no longer have James, meaning the Jaguars, now with newly acquired cornerback Brian Williams, can concentrate more on the pass. In a Week 2 meeting last year, Jacksonville restricted the Colts to just 10 points. History should repeat itself.
That said, if Jacksonville wants to win this game, it?ll have to muster some sort of an offense. In that Week 2 meeting, the Jaguars scored only three points. While they should have problems generating a scoring attack in the first half ? for some reason, it takes them a while to get going ? I think they will be able to wear down Indianapolis? defensive front if they stick with the run. The Colts are ranked dead-last against opposing ground attacks, meaning a few key Taylor rumbles should set up play-action opportunities for Byron Leftwich. I don?t think the Colts? secondary can cover Jacksonville?s tall receivers.
The Jaguars have had this game circled on their schedule since April. This is their opportunity to take control of the AFC South. They?ll get it done.
The Trends. Edge: Jaguars.
- History: Seven of the last eight meetings decided by 8 points or less.
- Divisional Dog of Seven: Current coaches are 35-23 ATS as divisional dogs of 7+ since 2002 (Jack Del Rio 4-1).
- Two Homes (Win): Tony Dungy is 3-5 ATS at home following a home win.
- Opening Line: Colts -7.
- Opening Total: 44?.
- Weather: Dome.
- Start Em: Fred Taylor, Both Defenses.
- Sit Em: Joseph Addai, Dominic Rhodes.
Prediction: Jaguars 13, Colts 10. (Jaguars +7).
Push: Colts 21, Jaguars 14.
Titans (0-2) at Dolphins (0-2). Line: Dolphins by 11. Over-Under: 35?.
Sunday, 1:00 ET
Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 2 Games): Dolphins -8.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 2 Games): Dolphins -9.
The Game. Edge: Dolphins.
Injuries: Titans: OUT: TE Erron Kinney, DE Antwan Odom, DT Rien Long (IR). QUESTIONABLE: RB Travis Henry, OT Jacob Bell, DT Robaire Smith, CB Reynaldo Hill. Dolphins: OUT: G Seth McKinney (IR), G Bennie Anderson (IR), CB Will Poole (IR). QUESTIONABLE: WR Marty Booker*, CB Travis Daniels.
It looks like Nick Saban made a huge mistake when he signed Daunte Culpepper instead of Drew Brees. While Brees is thriving in New Orleans, Culpepper is fumbling or throwing an interception on every single drive.
Fortunately for the Dolphins, the Titans are just what the doctor ordered. Culpepper put up a total of 23 points against Pittsburgh and Buffalo, but Tennessee?s defense is one of the NFL?s worst. The Titans, who surrendered 40 points to San Diego, failed to stop both the run and the pass, as rookie Philip Rivers shredded them to pieces. With Ronnie Brown expected to rumble for at least 150 yards, Culpepper should be able to follow in Rivers? footsteps. Tennessee?s secondary just doesn?t have the talent to cover Chris Chambers, Randy McMichael and Marty Booker, especially with a non-existent pass rush (two sacks this season).
The Titans aren?t much better on offense. Let?s see ? they can?t run the ball, throw the ball or pass protect. Other than that, they?re OK. Miami?s defense will keep Tennessee to single digits.
Like the Redskins, this is a must-win situation for the Dolphins. I understand that the Titans are also 0-2, but they have no chance on the road because they?re the youngest team in the league. Most of their players don?t even belong in the league.
The Trends. Edge: Dolphins.
- Must-Win Situation: DOLPHINS must win to avoid 0-3.
- Two Roads (Loss): Current head coaches are 64-44 ATS on the road following a road loss (Jeff Fisher 4-4 ATS).
- Dolphins are 28-14 SU in September since 1994.
- Dolphins are 9-4 ATS in September home games since 2000.
- Opening Line: Dolphins -11.
- Opening Total: 36.
- Weather: Possible thunderstorms, 89 degrees. Mild wind: 12 mph.
- Start Em: Ronnie Brown, Chris Chambers, Randy McMichael, Dolphins Defense.
- Sit Em: Titans Offense and Defense.
Prediction: Dolphins 31, Titans 3. (Dolphins -11).
Survivor Pick (2-0).
Incorrect: Dolphins 13, Titans 10.
Bears (2-0) at Vikings (2-0). Line: Bears by 3?. Over-Under: 35.
Sunday, 1:00 ET
Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 2 Games): Bears -3.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 2 Games): Bears -3.
The Game. Edge: Bears.
Injuries: Bears: OUT: DT Dusty Dvoracek (IR). Vikings: OUT: DE Erasmus James (IR), LB Chad Greenway (IR), S Tank Williams (IR). QUESTIONABLE: WR Troy Williamson*, WR Marcus Robinson, G Artis Hicks.
I picked the Vikings to make the playoffs in my season previews, but I did not think they would start out 2-0. I have to give Brad Childress credit, although I still remain a bit skeptical; Minnesota beat a Redskins squad with a banged-up Clinton Portis, and a Panthers team that was missing Steve Smith and center Justin Hartwig ? yet Minnesota still needed a special-teams blunder by Carolina to win the game.
Chicago does not have any major injuries. Instead, it has an upstart quarterback who threw four touchdown passes against Detroit last week. Rex Grossman will have all the time in the world to throw the ball, considering the Vikings have registered two sacks this season, and will be without the services of Erasmus James, who is out for the year. No one in Minnesota?s secondary, including Fred ?Love Boat? Smoot, can cover Muhsin Muhammad. If the Vikings decide to pay extra attention to him, Bernard Berrian and Desmond Clark will be open all afternoon. The exposed cracks in Minnesota?s pass defense may open a few running lanes up for Thomas Jones.
The Vikings have been able to get Chester Taylor on track by stubbornly sticking with the run. That won?t happen against one of the top defenses in the NFL. The Bears, who have accumulated nine sacks this year, will be able to tee off against Brad Johnson, who will be stuck in a plethora of third-and-long situations. It?ll be a long day for Minnesota?s offense.
As I?ve mentioned, Childress has made a lot of improvements in Minnesota. But the Vikings aren?t ready to compete with a top-tier squad like the Bears just yet.
The Trends. Edge: None.
- History: Home Team has won the last 8 meetings.
- Emotional Win Alert: Teams are 49-73 ATS after an emotional win since 2001; VIKINGS kicked a game-winning field goal in overtime.
- Vikings were 7-2 ATS at home last year.
- Opening Line: Bears -3.
- Opening Total: 34.
- Weather: Dome.
- Start Em: Rex Grossman, Muhsin Muhammad, Bernard Berrian, Desmond Clark, Bears Defense.
- Sit Em: Brad Johnson, Vikings Defense.
Prediction: Bears 27, Vikings 10. (Bears -3?).
Incorrect: Bears 19, Vikings 16.
Bengals (2-0) at Steelers (1-1). Line: Steelers by 2. Over-Under: 43.
Sunday, 1:00 ET
Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 2 Games): Steelers -2?.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 2 Games): Steelers -2.
The Game. Edge: Bengals.
Injuries: Bengals: OUT: RB Chris Perry (PUP), C Rich Braham*, LB David Pollack (IR), LB Odell Thurman, CB Rashad Bauman (IR), S Dexter Jackson. QUESTIONABLE: WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh*. Steelers: QUESTIONABLE: WR Santonio Holmes, S Troy Polamalu.
This game doesn?t mean anything to the Bengals, right? All they incurred the last time they played the Steelers was a postseason loss and a career-threatening injury to their franchise quarterback. Looks like a very insignificant game.
In case you have a disease where you have trouble detecting sarcasm, I was being facetious. Revenge is the only thing on the mind of each Bengal going into this game. On the play when he suffered his knee injury, Carson Palmer threw a 66-yard bomb to Chris Henry. Luckily for Cincinnati, he seems to have regained his throwing power and precision; in two contests, Palmer has thrown for 479 yards and two touchdowns, managing a quarterback rating of 85.3. Palmer should be able to enjoy the same success Byron Leftwich had against Pittsburgh?s secondary on Monday night (260 yards). Something more concerning for the Steelers is that they surrendered 92 rushing yards to Fred Taylor. Rudi Johnson could be poised to eclipse the century mark.
Ben Roethlisberger just hasn?t looked right since his motorcycle accident. This includes his performance at Jacksonville ? he was 17-of-32 for 141 yards and two interceptions on Monday night ? and during the preseason. If Roethlisberger doesn?t improve, the Steelers will lose. Cincinnati?s defense, surprisingly ranked ninth against the run, will nullify Willie Parker, forcing the banged-up signal caller into unfavorable long-yardage situations. Pittsburgh may come close to its total of eight punts it had against the Jaguars.
With an injured quarterback on one side, and a torrent of emotion on the other, picking the winner of this contest seems a bit too easy.
The Trends. Edge: Bengals.
- History: Steelers have won 10 of the last 13 meetings.
- Revenge Situation: Steelers beat the BENGALS in the playoffs, injuring Carson Palmer in the process.
- Steelers are 4-6 ATS in September home games since 2000.
- Bill Cowher is 3-5 ATS after Monday Night Football since 1999.
- Ben Roethlisberger is 27-5 as a starter (22-10 ATS).
- Opening Line: Steelers -2?.
- Opening Total: 42.
- Weather: Thunderstorms, 69 degrees. Mild wind: 15 mph.
- Start Em: Carson Palmer, Rudi Johnson, Chad Johnson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Bengals Defense.
- Sit Em: Ben Roethlisberger, Ben Roethlisberger's motorcycle, Willie Parker, Steelers Defense.
Prediction: Bengals 20, Steelers 10. (Bengals +2).
Correct: Bengals 28, Steelers 20.
Panthers (0-2) at Buccaneers (0-2). Line: Panthers by 3. Over-Under: 34.
Sunday, 1:00 ET
Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 2 Games): Buccaneers -1.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 2 Games): Pick.
The Game. Edge: Panthers.
Injuries: Panthers: OUT: OT Travelle Wharton (IR), LB Dan Morgan*. DOUBTFUL: S Shaun Williams, C Justin Hartwig*. QUESTIONABLE: CB Ken Lucas. PROBABLE: WR Steve Smith*, Buccaneers: OUT: G Davin Joseph. QUESTIONABLE: DE Simeon Rice, DT Chris Hovan, DT Booger McFarland, LB Ryan Nece, CB Brian Kelly.
When the schedule was released, I circled this game as a potential Game-of-the-Week candidate. Just goes to show you how unpredictable the NFL can sometimes be.
Steve Smith is likely to play, while Justin Hartwig is doubtful. Although Smith's presence should open up the field for Jake Delhomme, Hartwig's absence means backup center Geoff Hangartner must start at Tampa Bay, one of the more hositle environments in the league. Carolina's prospective offense in this game is pretty tough to predict. On one hand, Hangartner's place in the lineup means the Panthers will have a few fumbled exchanges, false starts and holding calls. On the other, Delhomme will finally have his favorite target back. The running game should open up as well; Tampa Bay is ranked 30th against ground attacks.
Conversely, Tampa Bay's offense is pretty easy to predict: Incomplete-incomplete-incomplete-punt. Or: Loss of two yards-ugly pass-interception. Chris Simms is not playing well at all right now, and appears to have lost confidence in himself. I'm expecting Julius Peppers and Mike Rucker to be in Simms' face the entire afternoon, which will lead to a few turnovers. The non-existent passing game will once again cause Cadillac Williams to run for minimal yardage.
If Hartwig were playing, I would make this a Money Pick. But I think Carolina will win regardless -- I can't see this squad with an 0-3 record. Tampa Bay, on the other hand? They could be the first team to go 0-17, as long as they have Simms under center.
The Trends. Edge: Buccaneers.
- History: Panthers have won 5 of the last 6 meetings.
- Two Roads (Loss): Current head coaches are 64-44 ATS on the road following a road loss (John Fox 2-3 ATS).
- Buccaneers are 9-2 ATS as a home underdog since 1996.
- Opening Line: Panthers -3.
- Opening Total: 34?.
- Weather: Sunny, 92 degrees. Light wind.
- Start Em: Steve Smith, Keyshawn Johnson, Panthers Defense.
- Sit Em: DeShaun Foster, Chris Simms, Cadillac Williams.
Prediction: Panthers 20, Buccaneers 7. (Panthers -3).
Incorrect: Panthers 26, Buccaneers 24.
Ravens (2-0) at Browns (0-2). Line: Ravens by 6?. Over-Under: 33?.
Sunday, 4:05 ET
Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 2 Games): Ravens -6.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 2 Games): Ravens -6.
The Game. Edge: Ravens.
Injuries: Ravens: QUESTIONABLE: RB Jamal Lewis*, RB Musa Smith, OT Jonathan Ogden, DT Haloti Ngata, LB Ray Lewis, LB Adalius Thomas, CB Samari Rolle. Browns: OUT: WR Joe Jurevicius, C LeCharles Bentley (IR), C Alonzo Ephraim. DOUBTFUL: DE Orpheus Roye, CB Gary Baxter. QUESTIONABLE: RB Reuben Droughns*, LB Willie McGinest, S Brian Russell.
Lucky Baltimore: First it pummeled the Amazingly Inaccurate Chris Simms. Next, it bullied around the Oakland Raiders Comedy Tour. Now, it has a chance to demolish the Cleveland Browns, who don?t really need a nickname.
For a team that has averaged 27.5 points per game this season, the Ravens have not had much success moving the chains and getting into the end zone; they have scored just four offensive touchdowns in two contests. Playing the Browns could help, given that the 0-2 squad is ranked 26th against the run. Jamal Lewis should be able to eclipse the 125-yard plateau, permitting Steve McNair to find Derrick Mason and Todd Heap downfield. Last week, the Browns surrendered 352 passing yards. McNair?s numbers won?t be that high, but they?ll be in the 250-yard range.
Kellen Winslow Jr. said Monday that the Browns need to get more creative offensively. You think? Cleveland has scored a total of 31 points through two weeks. I just don?t know how much more imaginative they can get; Reuben Droughns is averaging 2.4 yards per carry, while Charlie Frye is throwing interceptions like there?s no tomorrow. The Browns offensive line will have severe problems blocking Baltimore?s defensive front, which will undoubtedly lead to a plethora of turnovers. That sounds pretty creative.
Although this is one of the NFL?s deepest rivalries, this game seems pretty one-sided. And by the way, I don?t expect the home trend (listed below) to continue, given that Baltimore has reemerged as a top-tier squad in this league.
The Trends. Edge: Ravens.
- History: Home Team has won the last 4 meetings.
- Ravens are 33-9 SU; 28-14 ATS vs. teams with a losing record since 2000 (20-33 SU vs. non-losing).
- Opening Line: Ravens -6.
- Opening Total: 32.
- Weather: Small chance of showers, 69 degrees. HEAVY WIND: 20 mph.
- Start Em: Steve McNair, Jamal Lewis, Derrick Mason, Todd Heap, Ravens Defense.
- Sit Em: Browns Offense and Defense.
Prediction: Ravens 25, Browns 6. (Ravens -6?).
Incorrect: Ravens 15, Browns 14.
Rams (1-1) at Cardinals (1-1). Line: Cardinals by 4?. Over-Under: 44?.
Sunday, 4:15 ET
Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 2 Games): Cardinals -3.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 2 Games): Cardinals -3.
The Game. Edge: Cardinals.
Injuries: Rams: OUT: G Claude Terrell (IR), C Andy McCollum* (IR). DOUBTFUL: OT Orlando Pace. QUESTIONABLE: LB Pisa Tinoisamoa. Cardinals: QUESTIONABLE: LB James Darling, CB Eric Green.
Neither the Rams nor the Cardinals are that good, but this is a big game in the NFC West. The winner of this contest will pull into a tie for the division lead if the Seahawks lose to the Giants.
Where has St. Louis? offense gone? I?m still having trouble believing that the Greatest Show on Turf has scored only 31 points this season, even though I?m quite aware of what its problem is. Most people underestimate centers, but it?s actually the second-most important position in football. Teams that lose centers often struggle offensively. That?s the case with the Rams, who have lost Andy McCollum for the year. His replacement is Richie Incognito, who has one career start. Until Incognito gains valuable experience, Marc Bulger will continue to throw for less than 200 yards. It seems like the only positive for St. Louis is Steven Jackson, who is rushing for 5.1 yards per carry. Jackson should have a field day against the Cardinals, who are ranked 27th against ground attacks.
Football is won in the trenches, but in this game, the battle will be one of ineptitude. The Rams have garnered just four sacks this season (two by Leonard Little), while the Cardinals have surrendered eight. The latter number hurts a lot, given Kurt Warner?s immobility and habit of fumbling. It?s simple: If the Rams can get to Warner and force a few fumbles, they will win the game. If not, they will get torched by Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald.
Toughest game on the slate. I wouldn?t touch it even if J-Lo came with it.
The Trends. Edge: Cardinals.
- History: Cardinals have won 2 of the last 3 meetings.
- Two Roads (Loss): Current head coaches are 64-44 ATS on the road following a road loss (Scott Linehan 0-0 ATS).
- Rams are 9-24 ATS in road games since 2001.
- Rams are 2-6 ATS on the road since 2005.
- Opening Line: Cardinals -5.
- Opening Total: 44.
- Weather: Dome.
- Start Em: Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt, Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald.
- Sit Em: Marc Bulger, Edgerrin James.
Prediction: Cardinals 17, Rams 10. (Cardinals -4?).
Incorrect: Rams 16, Cardinals 14.
Eagles (1-1) at 49ers (1-1). Line: Eagles by 6. Over-Under: 42.
Sunday, 4:15 ET
Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 2 Games): Eagles -7.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 2 Games): Eagles -7.
The Game. Edge: Eagles.
Injuries: Eagles: OUT: DE Jevon Kearse (IR), CB Lito Sheppard. DOUBTFUL: CB Rod Hood. QUESTIONABLE: RB Brian Westbrook*, WR Reggie Brown*, TE L.J. Smith*, LS Mike Bartrum. 49ers: OUT: G Larry Allen, C Jeremy Newberry (IR). DOUBTFUL: LB Parys Haralson. QUESTIONABLE: DT Anthony Adams.
Lost in the Giants? miraculous comeback was how well the Eagles played for three quarters on Sunday. Donovan McNabb could have been named Player of the Week, as he threw for 350 yards and two touchdowns, while Philadelphia?s defense accumulated eight sacks against Eli Manning and his stout offensive line.
If the Eagles had success blowing by the Giants? front, imagine what they?ll do to the 49ers, who could be missing two starters on the line. Alex Smith should go down at least six times, while Frank Gore will also be held in check; Philadelphia restricted Tiki Barber to only 51 yards on 21 carries last week.
Conversely, I don?t think the 49ers can stop the Eagles? offense. McNabb simply has too many targets for a thin San Francisco secondary to handle. I just don?t see how a group comprised of Tony Parrish, Walt Harris, Shawntae Spencer and Mike Adams can cover talented players like L.J. Smith, Donte? Stallworth, Brian Westbrook and Reggie Brown.
The reason why I love the Eagles so much in this game is that when they build a lead ? I see no reason why they won?t ? they won?t let up offensively. Don?t believe me? Check out this quote by Brian Dawkins:
?The team was embarrassed. We have to go back to work on Wednesday and make sure this never happens again.?
That pretty much says it all.
The Trends. Edge: 49ers.
- Revenge Situation: Eagles embarrassed the 49ERS last year, winning 42-3.
- Eagles are 16-9 ATS vs. teams with losing records since 2001.
- Opening Line: Eagles -6.
- Opening Total: 41.
- Weather: Sunny, 77 degrees. Light wind.
- Start Em: Donovan McNabb, Donte' Stallworth, L.J. Smith, Eagles Defense, Vernon Davis.
- Sit Em: Alex Smith, Frank Gore, 49ers Defense.
Prediction: Eagles 31, 49ers 6. (Eagles -6).
Double Money Pick.
Correct: Eagles 38, 49ers 24.
Giants (1-1) at Seahawks (2-0). Line: Seahawks by 3?. Over-Under: 43.
Sunday, 4:15 ET
Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 2 Games): Seahawks -3?.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 2 Games): Seahawks -3.
The Game. Edge: Giants.
Injuries: Giants: QUESTIONABLE: WR Sinorice Moss. Seahawks: OUT: TE Jerramy Stevens, G Pork Chop Womack, S Mike Green (IR). QUESTIONABLE: TE Itula Mili.
Eli Manning?s 17-point comeback against Philadelphia was incredible. He was 5-of-5 in overtime, but most importantly, he finally beat a winning team on the road ? his first such victory in his career.
I expect the Giants to carry that momentum into Seattle. The Seahawks have one of the best defenses in the NFL, but that didn?t matter last year, when Manning torched them for 344 yards and two touchdowns at Qwest Field. New York lost that game, 24-21, thanks in part to three missed field goals by Jay Feely. However, it?s important to note that the Giants dominated Seattle?s defense on the ground as well; Tiki Barber rushed for 151 yards on 26 carries. I expect similar numbers from Manning, Barber and Jeremy Shockey, who caught 10 passes for 127 yards.
Maybe the Seahawks should have re-signed guard Steve Hutchinson after all. Seattle has looked sluggish on offense in the early going, as Shaun Alexander has gained only 3.1 yards per carry. Matt Hasselbeck has also been anemic; the Pro Bowl quarterback has maintained a mediocre quarterback rating of 78.9. The Super Bowl Loser Jinx will continue to rear its ugly head; the Giants? third-ranked rush defense will take care of Alexander, while Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora will make life difficult for Hasselbeck.
With a full year of experience under his belt, Manning should be able to take care of unfinished business in Seattle.
The Trends. Edge: Giants.
- Emotional Win Alert: Teams are 49-73 ATS after an emotional win since 2001; GIANTS kicked a game-winning field goal in overtime.
- Two Roads (Win): Current head coaches are 62-43 ATS on the road following a road win (Tom Coughlin 5-3 ATS).
- Two Homes (Win): Mike Holmgren is 2-8 ATS at home following a home win.
- Seahawks are 9-2 ATS in September home games since 2000.
- Opening Line: Seahawks -4.
- Opening Total: 44.
- Weather: Sunny, 76 degrees. Light wind.
- Start Em: Eli Manning, Tiki Barber, Plaxico Burress, Amani Toomer, Jeremy Shockey, Giants Defense.
- Sit Em: Shaun Alexander, Deion Branch, Seahawks Defense.
Prediction: Giants 24, Seahawks 20. (Giants +3?).
Incorrect: Seahawks 42, Giants 30.
Broncos (1-1) at Patriots (2-0). Line: Patriots by 6?. Over-Under: 39?.
Sunday, 8:15 ET
Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 2 Games): Patriots -3.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 2 Games): Patriots -3?.
The Game. Edge: Patriots.
Injuries: Broncos: OUT: P Todd Sauerbrun. DOUBTFUL: DE Courtney Brown. QUESTIONABLE: WR Rod Smith*. Patriots: OUT: S Mel Mitchell. QUESTIONABLE: WR Chad Jackson.
Jake Plummer?s performance on Sunday was one of the worst I?ve ever seen from a veteran starting quarterback. In my latest top story, I opined that Mike Shanahan should bench Plummer in favor of Jay Cutler. Frankly, I?ll be appalled if Shanahan doesn?t make the move by Week 7.
As you can tell, I?m expecting Plummer?s struggles to continue. If he couldn?t move the chains against a beleaguered Kansas City defense, how will he score on Bill Belichick?s unit? With Tedy Bruschi back in the lineup, New England is ranked 12th versus the run, meaning they should be able to do an admirable job defending Tatum and Mike Bell. Without run support, Plummer will implode every instance he?s confronted with a long-yardage situation. It?ll be a long night for him.
Plummer?s inaccuracy isn?t the only problem the Broncos have; they can neither stop the run, nor generate any sort of pass rush. Without Trent Green, the Chiefs managed to gain 4.4 yards per carry with Larry Johnson. Damon Huard was consequently sacked only once. It doesn?t seem like Denver has the personnel to keep Tom Brady and company from scoring.
This is a big game for the Patriots; thanks to five turnovers, Denver was able to beat them in the playoffs last year. For Broncos fans, that seems like a long time ago. For New England fans, have fun enjoying your revenge.
The Trends. Edge: Patriots.
- Revenge Situation Broncos beat the PATRIOTS in the playoffs last year.
- Emotional Win Alert: Teams are 49-73 ATS after an emotional win since 2001; BRONCOS kicked a game-winning field goal in overtime.
- Broncos are 3-8 ATS in outdoor night games since 2000.
- Patriots are 30-17 ATS at home under Bill Belichick.
- Tom Brady is 70-20 as a starter (57-32 ATS).
- Opening Line: Patriots -7.
- Opening Total: 39?.
- Weather: Thunderstorms, 62 degrees. HEAVY WIND: 20 mph.
- Start Em: Tom Brady, Corey Dillon, Laurence Maroney, Ben Watson, Patriots Defense.
- Sit Em: Jake Plummer, Tatum Bell, Mike Bell, Broncos Defense.
Prediction: Patriots 27, Broncos 10. (Patriots -6?).
Bonus Double Money Pick.
Incorrect: Broncos 17, Patriots 7.
Falcons (2-0) at Saints (2-0). Line: Falcons by 4?. Over-Under: 43.
Monday, 8:30 ET
Walt's Projected Line (Before Week 2 Games): Falcons -3?.
Walt's Projected Line (After Week 2 Games): Falcons -3?.
The Game. Edge: Falcons.
Injuries: Falcons: OUT: WR Brian Finneran (IR). QUESTIONABLE: WR Roddy White, DE John Abraham, LB Edgerton Hartwell. Saints: OUT: FB Mike Karney, G Jermaine Mayberry (IR), LB Tommy Polley (IR), LB James Allen (IR), P Mitch Berger (IR). QUESTIONABLE: DT Brian Young.
Last year, there were two games where a team was playing with an extreme amount of emotion. In Week 1, the Saints, without having enough time to look at game film, went into Carolina and beat the Panthers for every victim of Hurricane Katrina. In Week 8, a few days after late owner Wellington Mara died, the Giants demolished the Redskins in his memory. Even the Northwestern Wildcats crushed Miami of Ohio a few weeks ago as a tribute to their late coach.
This is another very emotional game. The Saints are playing at home for the first time since Hurricane Katrina. The entire building is sold out. The players are talking about some guy whose fake leg was carved into a Saints symbol. Which team do you think this contest means more to?
That said, I don?t know how New Orleans will stop the Falcons from running the ball. Atlanta has wisely transitioned itself away from the West Coast Offense and to a spread-option attack. If neither the Buccaneers nor the Panthers could prevent Warrick Dunn and Michael Vick from trampling their defense, how will the Saints, who have one of the weaker defenses in the NFL?
Atlanta?s stop unit has also established itself as a powerhouse in the early going. The Falcons have surrendered nine points and three yards per carry, and have generated four interceptions. The Saints will not be able to run the ball, meaning they?ll have to turn to Drew Brees in long-yardage situations. Brees? main concern will be avoiding Atlanta?s hectic pass rush.
Look, there?s no doubt that Atlanta is the superior team. But don?t get suckered into a whirlpool of emotion where the Falcons could be the drowning victims. Either bet the Saints, Saints (first half), or stay away from this contest entirely.
The Trends. Edge: Falcons.
- History: Falcons have won 16 of the last 22 meetings.
- Saints are 13-24 ATS at home since 2001.
- Saints are 7-15 ATS as a home favorite since 2001.
- Opening Line: Falcons -2.
- Opening Total: 41.
- Weather: Dome.
- Start Em: Michael Vick, Warrick Dunn, Alge Crumpler, Falcons Defense.
- Sit Em: Deuce McAllister, Saints Defense.
Prediction: Saints 20, Falcons 17. (Saints +4?).
Correct: Saints 23, Falcons 3.
My Team-by-Team ATS Record
This section shows how well I do when picking each team. The purpose is to see how well I read each team. Pushes are not displayed.
Divisional Games: 7-9
Trend Edge: 5-7
Game Edge: 7-5
Game & Trend Edge: 1-2