Here's one man's Week 2 NFL picks ...
Pittsburgh at Tennessee (-5)
The Titans are a Super Bowl sleeper, right? They're now 9-2 since the 59-0 loss to the Pats last year. Couple of solid skill guys -- including the best back in the league -- good offensive and defensive line and one of the half dozen or so best coaches in the league. It all comes down to Vince Young. He's not as good as he was in Week 1 vs. the Raiders (13-of-17, 154 yards two TDs, 142.8 passer rating) but he doesn't need to be. Just stay out the way for the most part and occasionally make a play. There are a couple of other teams in the league that only need that from the QB -- Jets, obviously, the Dolphins and even the Vikings to an extent.
The Steelers were that kind of team a couple of years ago, but they need Ben Roethlisberger to put up 3,500-yard, 25 TD seasons now that the defense is aging. Dennis Dixon is OK enough to hang in vs. average defenses (see last week) but he's an INT waiting to happen when he gets pressure.
Titans 28, Steelers 17
Best Tweet from a player on either team this week:
"Is it just me or do everyone feel the same about traffic? It sucks."
- Vince Young
Sorry, Vince. It's just you. Don't you notice how the rest of us get out of the cars and dance and sing and make love on the hood when we hit a traffic jam? It's the best.
Miami at Minnesota (-5.5)
Tough spot for the Dolphins, who probably would have been OK with a Week 1 win at Buffalo and a, "hang in until the middle of the fourth quarter" kind of loss here if they were asked before the season started. They'll play hard in Minnesota but the Vikings NEED this game. If they lose you are looking at 0-2 with a brutal October schedule looming:
Vikings 24, Dolphins 20
"Don't hate on me and my wife. Or actually my wife and I. I will let u slide this time. Don't make a habit of dissn' da Lewcrew"
- Vikings WR Greg Lewis
I grew up with a Lewis family three houses away from me, and I never thought of calling them "The Lew Crew." And how about Greg Lewis correcting his grammar in a Tweet? Historic.
Chicago at Dallas (-7)
This would have been a Madden-Summerall special in 1985, complete with a botched "Murder, She Wrote" promo and three Danny White INTs.
Almost the same storyline as Miami/Minnesota: Road team comes in quasi-fat and happy after a Week 1 win vs. a lousy team while the home team -- a preseason Super Bowl pick by many -- wants to avoid an 0-2 start. The Cowboys try and take Matt Forte (seven catches, 151 yards) away from Jay Cutler and use more Felix Jones (only eight carries in Week 1, Jason Garrett?) to get back on track.
Cowboys 31, Bears 17
"I see u supporting the cowboys tonight @kingjames. Wish we could have brought home a W."
- Cowboys WR Miles Austin
LeBron James is a Yankees and Cowboys fan. There is literally nothing else you need to know about him.
Baltimore (-2.5) at Cincinnati
With five minutes to go in the second quarter on Sunday the Bengals had as many punts (three) as points and rushing yards put together. Lesson: When you only have five months to put together a game plan things can get tricky.
Ravens 24, Bengals 20
"At the house looking at FEDS sister magazine called SWEETS and the person on this cover is #seeforyoself #damn, I'm starting a magazine."
- Mike Brown, Monday.
OK, it was actually Ochocinco on Wednesday. Had to use him. He's the Jackie Robinson of Tweeting athletes.
Arizona at Atlanta (-6.5)
Derek Anderson is only 27 years old and has been with three different franchises. He's not good enough to be your starter for more than a year or so (a guy till they find a guy kind of guy) but he is good enough to be a quality No. 2, wouldn't embarrass you if the starter missed six weeks. I could see him in the league in seven or eight years. So if I set the career franchise over/under and 6.5 which way are you going?
Falcons 34, Cardinals 21
"Both sides do not want a lockout. Let's hope cooler heads prevail and we can get a deal done."
Oh, that's actually a really smart, levelheaded Tweet. No snark works in this spot. Why can't they all be like Vince Young? File that under "Questions never asked by a stripper."
Buffalo at Green Bay (-13)
Or, the one game that Everyone in a Knockout League Will Be Keeping Their Eye On. I had to use the Pats in Week 1, just had no faith in the other front row teams.
Trent Edwards has started 30 games in his career, throwing 25 TDs and 25 INTs. Aaron Rodgers has started 32 games in his career, and he's thrown 61 TDs and 23 INTs. That's one of about 326 reasons why this will be a 34-6 game in the middle of the third quarter.
Packers 40, Bills 14
"I'm goin' off like the shows over, RIP to heath ledger but I'm no joker, I ll slow roast ya, no holsta, wet glass on ya table no coaster.."
- Packers LB Desmond Bishop
That, of course, is a lyric from "Play Me," a top 20 hit in 1972 and along with "I am, I said" one of my two favorite Neil Diamond songs.
Philadelphia (-6) at Detroit
Here's the thing about Michael Vick. We don't know how good he is, right? Haven't seen enough in the last three years. And P.S., he wasn't all that good the last couple of years before he went to prison.
But would you rather have Vick or Sanchez at QB? How about Vick or Alex Smith? Or Derek Anderson, Jason Campbell, Trent Edwards, Matt Moore, Jake Delhomme, Matt Cassel or Kyle Orton? He's still one of the 20 or so best QB's on the planet and will be a No. 1 somewhere in 2011.
Eagles 21, Lions 14
"Oprah is taking her entire audience to Australia and John Travolta is the pilot...300 ppl. now that's big time."
- Eagles DE Darryl Tapp
Highlight of the week for me. Oprah announces to her crowd that they are going to Australia. The women go bats--t crazy like only women on Oprah can, shaking and hugging and stomping. The plane rolls out into the studio. More whooping. And out of the plane -- in full pilot uniform -- is John Travolta. Oprah tells the crowd that he's flying the bird. The first camera shot is on a 50ish woman who stops screaming and clearly begins to wonder if it's worth it to put her life in the hands of man who once starred in "Perfect."
Kansas City at Cleveland (-2)
So Shannon Sharpe is back at CBS -- the woman dropped the restraining order. Turns out she might be half a loon, according to some reports. Whatever it the truth is, I'm just happy that we have Shannon's insight back on TV this Sunday. Here's hoping this woman stays away from my other TV favorites. I would hate for, say, Stuart Scott to get caught up in a bogus legal issue that would force him off the air for a long, long stretch. Goes double for Skip Bayless.
Chiefs 17, Browns 10
(2-0 Chiefs! Romeo and Charlie getting it done! See, they really are the reasons why Belichick won those Super Bowls. Borges was on it all along.)
"We can't go 16-0 but 15-1 still sounds good, today it was browns vs browns, & the browns lost... WE WiLL GO HARDER... We PROMISE, GO BROWNS"
- Browns WR Josh Cribbs on Tuesday
"We can't go 3-13 but 2-14 still sounds good."
- Josh Cribbs, 12/26/10
Tampa Bay at Carolina (-3)
Look, every year a double-digit loss team from the year prior makes the playoffs. And it's an almost impossible guess in the preseason. For all we know it could be a team like the Bucs. Maybe Josh Freeman figures it out, maybe the young defense is already better than we thought, maybe Raheem Morris is the next Chuck Noll (see what I did there? Who did you think I was going to compare Morris to?) It's so early that we have no clue, none. But that team is lurking. There's no way that team is the Bucs, but you know what I mean.
Panthers 27, Buccaneers 10
"I know it's gonna be a great day when kid n play "ain't gonna hurt nobody" is the 1st song to play on my iPod."
- Panthers RB Tyrell Sutton
Also the last words of Howard Zinn before his passing in January.
Seattle at Denver (-3)
I'm going with the Good Ship Pete on this one. Pete is the Vince Lombardi of hugging. But we remember how each season starts with Carroll, everyone is on board early. But once the adjustments and injuries and all the stuff that goes into an NFL season kicks in things sink in a hurry. Lucky he has Will Ferrell to dress up and play a wacky character if they really need a lift. That always makes 35-year-old tackles who have had nine knee surgeries feel better in December.
Seahawks 30, Broncos 24
"Shout out to them females who be out here w/ them purses that look like horse saddles... Indiana Jones looking ass.."
- Seahawks WR Mike Williams
Nice shout out to an often overlooked group.
St. Louis at Oakland (-3.5)
We saw Sam Bradford in the preseason make every throw in the book vs. the Pats. I watched some of his first game on Sunday and I think he's for real, no question. What a relief that would be for the Rams, because it's all guess work with QB's. If they can keep him healthy and he makes some progress this year is a success for the Rams regardless of their final record.
If St. Louis can go into Oakland and win Sunday I think Tom Cable is out by Monday afternoon. There is a serious bad moon rising with the Raiders right now, they just seem on the verge of blowing up. In case you were wondering, the latest walterfootabll.com 2011 NFL Mock Draft has the Patriots taking North Carolina DE Robert Quinn with the fourth overall pick. Something to maybe watch, and if the Rams win Sunday it's not too early to start wondering how high that pick might be. This is that big a game for the Raiders.
Raiders 17, Rams 14
"Why is it that no matter what hotel I stay in the grilled cheese sandwich from room service is always on point?"
- Raiders S Michael Huff
One of the best parts of having a kid is the reintroduction of grilled cheese sandwiches to your life. Wait, that doesn't sound right. The best part of having a kid is the reintroduction of grilled cheese sandwiches to your life. Better.
Houston at Washington (-3)
I like the NFL Network, I really do (the top 100 player specials is treeemenodus -- a must watch every week) but the postgame show on Sunday isn't my favorite. A buffet of hyperbole. Last week I've got the guys telling me that Colts-Texans is now a rivalry, that "it's on." Sure, a September win wipes out the fact that the Colts have won 15 of of the previous 16 games between the two.
This is a sneaky underrated game, no? You've got the Kubiak-Shanahan factor with two teams seemingly on the rise. I think Houston wins this game pretty easily at home but it feels like a field-goal game in Washington. But if the Texans are going to make the jump from eight, nine wins to a legit playoff team these are the games they'll have to win.
Texans 37, Redskins 31 (OT)
Jacksonville at San Diego (-7)
You can do worse than David Garrard, you know that? He has a 69-39 career TD-INT ratio (surprised me too) and as a full-time starter has never had a season with a completion percentage under 60 percent. If the Chargers (really overrated defense, some of the players might be the same but this isn't 2007) can't get to Garrard he'll make some plays. This is going to be a game for 60 minutes, the Jaguars will show up. But Philip Rivers does enough to get the win in a game that is blacked out in San Diego (10,000 or so short of a sellout for the home opener of a team that went 13-3 last year -- what a terrible sports city).
Chargers 28, Jaguars 24
"I think all men should respect women at all times no matter what. And women should be able to work."
- Chargers LB Shaun Phillips
Inez Sainz (pause for Google search -- welcome back) is a joke, OK, but even if she shows up naked in the locker room she shouldn't be subject to any kind of harassment. But this is the real world. Players are never going to change, so it's probably better just to be realistic about the whole thing instead of acting like this could be an agent of change.
Dress code talk is silly -- this isn't third-grade at St. Anne's -- but I'm still a proponent of having to pass a 10-question test in order to get a press credential. If you want the right to cover a Celtics game you should know who coached the team to the title in 1981. Is knowing who Jim Lonborg or Stanley Morgan is such a tough ask? Ten questions -- just medium in difficulty -- and you have to get eight right to get the pass. Seems fair to me. We'll miss the TV guys, but life goes on.
New York Giants at Indianapolis (-5)
The Giants allowed 427 points in 2009, 30th in the league. Opposing QB's threw 31 touchdowns against 13 INTs, and I don't see where this group is demonstrably better. Peyton Manning (433 yards, three TDs in Week 1) will have his way with the Giants defense, Eli Manning will play well but fall short and Cooper Manning will switch shifts with Cindy at Bennigan's so he can catch the second half of the game.
Colts 35, Giants 24
"Radio ad this morn says women who breastfeed burn about 500 Calories each time .. Ladies if u wanna lose weight here's what u do."
- Giants OL Shawn Andrews
Come on, how could the female reporters resist these guys? Pure catnip. Checkmate, Clinton Portis.
New Orleans (-6) at San Francisco
The 49ers were 6-8 last year, beat the 2-12 Lions and 1-14 Rams to finish at .500 and for some reason became everyone's pick to win the NFC West (I guess by default to an extent). But they get blown out by a so-so Seattle team in Week 1. Again, what has this team done to make me pick them over the Saints?
Saints 24, 49ers 17
Tweet of the Week:
"I hope that kids and upcoming youth can look at me and use this story as an example and learning tool. Challenges are a part of life."
- Saints RB Reggie Bush
Remember kids, when you are the best player in college football never -- ever -- accept a free house or cars from an agent. Got it? OK, I'll turn Dora the Explorer back on now.
New England (-3) at New York Jets
First, this is just a regular season game. It's more fun with Revis and Rex and Moss and Brady calling out the fans, but this means as much as next weeks game vs. Buffalo in the big picture. Is it a test? Sure, as much as the Ravens game will be in a couple of weeks, and the Vikings game a few weeks later, and then there's the Colts test and the Jets again and Green Bay looks pretty good. No shelf life to a Week 2 game in terms of lessons learned. The Pats lost a Week 2 game at New York last year and I don't recall it being referred to the week leading up to the playoff game. Why? Because it was (correctly) viewed as dated and irrelevant.
Hard to believe that the Pats are going to get much from the running game (Ravens had 49 yards on 35 carries), and you know Revis will contain Moss, so Wes Welker, Kevin Faulk and the tight ends could play a big role. Lots and lots of talk about Rex Ryan and the Jets as frauds this week. The Ravens are one of the three or four Super Bowl favorites, a team that smashed the Pats last year. If not for a very shaky PI call on Kyle Wilson they don't score a TD vs. the Jets on Monday. The Jets were reckless, sure, but this defense is as good as it thinks it is. If I'm the Pats, I'd take 21 points and run.
But I'm going with the Patriots (against my preseason pick) because I think Mark Sanchez is A) not a very good quarterback and B) a not very good quarterback with absolutely no confidence. His mind is all over the place right now, which is shocking because I was half-convinced that he was legally brain-dead after watching him drool through "Hard Knocks." Again, we still don't know if the Patriots young defense is good (sorry, one week vs. Cincy isn't a sale) but there's clearly some increased athleticism. I'm banking on a couple of turnovers from Sanchez and a pretty safe game plan from the Patriots offense. Winning ugly time, but it'll be the first test passed.
Patriots 20, Jets 10
"Is Steve Harvey hosting Family Feud now?"
- Darius Butler
Gotta love the focus.