Friday, September 16, 2005

Hoping For Improvement In Week Two

Not a whole lot of time to get my thoughts on paper – well, the digital equivalent – so I’m going to keep it short and sweet.

Pat on the back to the Yanks for finally stringing together some wins against the D-Rays. A good start to the final 20 games, and we’re three games closer to the goal of 20-0. Playoffs, baby! Can’t ya feel it?

Now onto the NFL, where my Week One picks were dismal at best. Thankfully, I haven’t set up a gambling account this year, and as such didn’t drop a real dime last Sunday. Betting on Week One is like betting on college football: it’s uber risky business. Emotions are running rampant, and everyone is out to prove something.

I’m going to stick to my guns for Week Two. If I made a preseason prediction that is egregious (i.e. the Jets), I might change my pitch a bit. But all in all, I think that most surprises Week One (i.e. the Vikings) can be coughed up to aberrations.

On to the picks:

New England (-3) over Carolina: The Pats had impeccable pass protection against Oakland, and with Kris Jenkins done for the season, the Panthers are going to have a fair amount of trouble breaking through. Bringing Dan Morgan and/or Will Witherspoon on passing downs is an option, but that leaves opens up Kevin Faulk out of the backfield for screens and quick over the middle passes. Definitely see the Pats by more than a field goal.

Kansas City (-1) over Oakland: Yes, I know I had Oakland tabbed for grand heights this year. But that was before I watched last Thursday’s game. Corey Dillon had a field day, making Oakland’s run stop look a bit more vulnerable than I had anticipated. This week, they’re facing Priest Holmes AND Larry Johnson. If the latter can beat the Oakland D like he beats his girlfriend, this one could get ugly fast.

There is a key here, however. I’m a believer that Kansas City will put up 28-37 points in this game, if for nothing else than the D being so focused on the run that Trent Green is going to have ample time to work a short passing game, possibly stretching the field at times. Hey, that’s what a double-barreled running attack will do for you. On the other end, Norv Turner’s reaction is going to gauge how this game goes. If he panics after being down and calls pass to Moss after pass to Moss, the Raiders are going to find themselves in the same hole as last Thursday: KC’s going to figure out what they need to stop and stick with that. If, however, they hand the ball to LaMont Jordan more than 18 times, they might be able to keep themselves in it. I’m also not opposed to using Justin Fargas a bit as a speedier option out of the backfield.

Minnesota over Cincinnati (-3): Sorry, but the Vikes were just off last week. I can’t see them turning in a repeat performance, especially against the Bungles, who just added fat, out of shape linebacker Nick Luchey to their ranks. While I don’t think Fred Smoot can shut down Chad Johnson, I don’t think CJ is going to run circles around him. Antoine Winfield (why isn’t he on Johnson??) can ably shut down Houshmandazeh, with Corey Chavous and Darren Sharper backing them up. Combine this with a beefy D-line (the Williamses, Udeze), and Carson Palmer could be in trouble all day long. Easily the underdog pick of the week.

Time to go read Bill Simmons’s new book, Now I Can Die In Peace. It doesn’t matter if you hate the Sox (as the bulk of my limited readership), this should be a hi-larious read.