Pigskin Pick’Em: Ravens open tonight after tough week

  • By Nolan Rose
  • Wednesday, September 10, 2014 10:16pm
  • Sports

I don’t like to jump into social issues but I can’t help but address this Ray Rice ordeal. Obviously, there is no place in our society for domestic violence. It’s a transgression that should never take place, but this pervading stereotype, pushed by some talking heads on television, that labels NFL players as a bunch of wife-beating goons is ridiculous.

Wednesday morning, the President of the National Organization for Women called for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to resign for his mishandling of the Ray Rice domestic violence incident. The following is a quote from the NOW statement, “The NFL has lost its way. It doesn’t have a Ray Rice problem; it has a violence against women problem”. That’s a very unfair position to take against the NFL and a misrepresentation of facts. Certainly, Mr. Goodell was not firm enough in his initial punishment for Ray Rice, and the video released Tuesday is awful. Ray Rice deserves whatever punishment he gets, but the reality is there are only a handful of domestic violence cases each year involving NFL players.

There are 32 teams in the league, each with 53 players on the active roster. That means there are at least 1,696 active players on NFL rosters each year. Disregarding practice squad players and roster changes the percentage of incidents per employee (a player is an employee of his NFL team) is between 0-2%, a mark lower than the national average. There is a great article on fivethirtyeight.com that explains all that.

OK, I’m off the soap box. The Prince of Prognostication started the season off right with a positive 9-7 mark against the spread. The first few weeks of each NFL season are always challenging to predict. We’ll gladly take a winning record and move on to the next slate of games this time of year. Speaking of which…

PITTSBURGH STEELERS @ Baltimore Ravens -2.5

Pittsburgh is closer to the team that jumped out to a 27-3 halftime lead last week against the Cleveland Browns than the group that puked all over itself in the second half. Baltimore is reeling from a poor opening performance and the Ray Rice video. On a short week, with so many non-football storylines surrounding the team the Ravens enter with clipped wings. Steelers win 27-16

Miami Dolphins @

The fighting fish scored 23 unanswered points against the Brady Bunch last Sunday resulting in a surprising 33-20 victory. The Buffalo Bills travelled to Chicago and upset a hibernating Bears team in overtime. Something has to give in this battle of undefeated AFC East doormats. There’s an old gambling adage I’m about to say for the first time. If both teams are bad at football, side with the bad team playing at home. Bills win 24-23

Washington Redskins -5.5

What happened to the Jungle Kittens? Jacksonville jumped out to an early 17-0 lead against the Philadelphia Eagles last Sunday before losing 34-17. Did the Jaguars run out of catnip? I’m convinced that Robert Griffin doesn’t excel at throwing a football. The Redskins struggled to score six measly points against a Houston Texans team that won two games last year. That hardly inspires confidence. Redskins win 17-14

Tennessee Titans -3.5

Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo handed the ball (and the game) to the San Francisco 49ers a week ago in a truly ugly performance. Romo was awful, and the Cowboys looked like a team coached, not owned, by Jerry Jones. I wouldn’t be surprised if the fancy suits at the Clarion revoke my writing privileges for siding with Dallas again, but defying all logic, that’s exactly what I’m about to do! Expect Jerry’s plastic surgeon to give the offense a facelift this Sunday when the Boys visit Tennessee to face the Titans. Cowboys win 28-21

Side note: Taking shots at Jerry Jones is really fun. Has an NFL owner ever been an easier target? I encourage everyone to try it. It’s easy and uplifting. See? I just did it again.

New York Giants +1

This is the green light game of the week! The Arizona Cardinals, fresh off a come from behind victory over a strong San Diego Chargers team on Monday Night, are only a one-point favorite against the New York Small Persons? The Giants are really bad. I said it last week, this is the year Tom Coughlin gets fired. New York’s anemic effort against the Detroit Lions a week ago hammered that point home. The Cardinals are a much better team. Cardinals win 30-14

New England Patriots @

If the Patriots struggled to stop the run a week ago against the Dolphins how will they fare against Adrian Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings? This Vikings team feels different than its most recent renditions. The question is, are the Vikings this good or are their week one opponents, the St. Louis Rams, that bad? Matt Cassel, a longtime Tom Brady understudy, will do just enough to keep things interesting. Patriots win 20-17

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS @ Cleveland Browns +6.5

The New Orleans Saints defense was shredded for 37 points a week ago in a narrow defeat at the hands of their rival, the Atlanta Falcons. A deflating loss for a team expected to compete for the top seed in the NFC playoffs. Expect a strong bounce back performance this Sunday against a Cleveland Browns offense that struggles to move the football forward. The Browns, to their credit, staged a wild comeback last Sunday in their opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers before falling by a field goal. There won’t be any late heroics this time around. Saints win 33-16

Cincinnati Bengals -5

The Falcons were flying high week one against the New Orleans Saints. Quarterback Matt Ryan looked particularly sharp throwing to a flock of talented receivers. The Bengals have a strong defense but stopping Julio Jones, Roddy White, Harry Douglas, and Devin Hester will prove to be quite a challenge. Cincinnati has a talented receiver of their own in A.J. Green and a raucous crowd will be a positive factor favoring the Bengals. I want to take the home side but five points is just too many. Bengals win 27-24

Carolina Panthers -2.5

The New York Giants are going to make a lot of teams look really good this season, and the Detroit Lions certainly benefited from the Giants poor play in week one. With that said, Detroit has a lot going for it early in the season. Quarterback Matthew Stafford looks great chucking the ball up for grabs to All-World receiver Calvin Johnson. The Lions have a pair of good running backs and a scrappy defense. Even their new head coach, the mild mannered Jim Caldwell, seems like a great fit. All that adds up to a week two road win over a Carolina team led by a hobbled Cam Newton. Lions win 21-14

St. Louis Rams @

Can the Rams apply for membership in Conference USA or another lower tier NCAA Football league? Someplace where the team could be competitive? St. Louis has to be the most disappointing team from the opening weekend. 34-6? At home? Against a very average Minnesota Vikings team? That’s embarrassing. Tampa Bay looked nearly as bad losing at home to the injury depleted Carolina Panthers, but I how can anyone possibly side with the Rams right now? Bucs win 17-9

San Diego Chargers +6

The Seahawks crushed San Diego in week two of the preseason 41-14. Is there any reason to expect a different result this Sunday? I like this Chargers team, and I have them winning their fair share of games this season, but this is a bad matchup for the home side. Seattle was dominant in the season opener against the Green Bay Packers last Thursday. The early start provided the Seahawks with extra time to prepare for a Chargers team coming off a short week following their matchup with the Arizona Cardinals on Monday night. Seahawks win 34-13

Houston Texans @

This matchup has a twilight zone feel to it. David Carr, drafted by the Houston Texans in 2002 with the number one overall pick, was one of the biggest draft busts in NFL history. Over a decade later the Texans travel to Oakland to face rookie quarterback Derek Carr (David’s younger brother) and the Raiders. Word count restrictions won’t allow me to go into great detail, but the Universe owes the Carr family a victory this Sunday. Raiders win 23-20 on a last second touchdown pass.

Green Bay Packers -8.5

Jets quarterback Geno Smith is terrible, and siding with a terrible quarterback on the road is one of gambling’s great no-no’s. Especially when the opposing quarterback is a future Hall-of-Famer. There isn’t a single good reason to side with New York, which makes them a great play. If you’ve worked in a Vegas Book before, that makes perfect sense. Packers win 28-21

Kansas City Chiefs @

The last time the same two teams met in consecutive Super Bowls was in the early 1990’s when the Buffalo Bills faced the Dallas Cowboys. You can’t help but feel like the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks are on a collision course to repeat that feat. Spooky stat warning! Both the Cowboys and Seahawks won the first contest by 35 points. The Cowboys topped Buffalo 52-17 and Denver fans surely remember the 43-8 beatdown last February. The similarities don’t end there. The early 90’s Buffalo teams were one of the first to implement a no-huddle passing attack led by Hall-of-Fame quarterback Jim Kelly. The vaunted K-Gun offense confounded opponents just like Peyton Manning is doing today. Dallas was led by one of the great defenses of all-time and a punishing rushing attack. Sound familiar? Seahawks win… Oh wait, that’s for later. Broncos win 37-16

Chicago Bears @

Even spookier? When the 90’s Cowboys won three of four Super Bowl’s to earn the “Dynasty” label their greatest obstacle wasn’t their championship opponents from the AFC. It was the Steve Young led San Francisco 49ers. Dallas defeated San Francisco in the NFC Championship game prior to winning the Super Bowl in 1993 and 1994. Who did Seattle top a year ago to reach the Big Game? 49ers win 30-17

Philadelphia Eagles @

Week two ends with a great matchup of high powered offenses on Monday Night Football. The Eagles rebounded from a slow start a week ago to post a 34-17 victory over the Jungle-Kittens. The Colts are coming off a seven point loss in Denver against the Broncos. It’s hard to imagine Andrew Luck and the Colts starting the year off 0-2. Colts win 31-27

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