Pigskin Pick’Em: Things change quickly

  • By Nolan Rose
  • Wednesday, September 23, 2015 11:49pm
  • Sports

Expect the unexpected! That line could definitely be the NFL’s marketing slogan. Everybody had the Seahawks, Colts, Ravens, and Eagles starting the year 0-2, right? It’s no surprise that the New York Jets are 2-0. The Falcons winning their first two games of the year was an easy call. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has a broken clavical. Drew Brees can’t throw a football. Jay Cutler hurt his feelings. Andy Dalton appears competent. What in blue blazes is going on around here!

Emerging from the madness is a salty Sultan of Sides. A 9-7 mark in week two leaves us at an uninspiring 17-14-1 ATS on the season. We would like to have opened the year in better form, but we’ll happily take the positive tally into week three.

Remember Clarion faithful, this is an “against the spread” column. We’re not just picking the team that wins the game. My pick ATS is in all caps.

Washington Redskins @
NEW YORK GIANTS -4

The Blueberries can’t possibly blow double digit leads in every game, right? After an epic meltdown in Dallas, Big Blue doubled down with another mysterious performance against Atlanta. Now the 0-2 Giants are faced with an early season “must win” game Thursday night. Surprisingly, the Native Americans haven’t been awful behind a strong rushing attack led by Alfred Morris and Matt Jones. If RG3 replacement Kirk Cousins proves capable, the ‘Skins could be a factor in the NFC East. Surely the Giants will sell out to stop the run. Can the Redskins passing attack, minus DeSean Jackson, carry the day? Giants win 27-17

Chicago Bears @
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS -16

Minus-16?! Aren’t the Seahawks 0-2? How could they possibly be a 16-point favorite, they haven’t even won a game yet! Look, call me a homer, but the reality is Seattle has led both games on the road in the fourth quarter. The schedule makers certainly didn’t do the Hawks any favors. Starting the year in St. Louis (Seattle never wins in St. Louis) and then travelling to Green Bay to play the best quarterback in football is about as tough as it gets. The sky is not falling, hell is not freezing over. The Seahawks are fine and they’ll show that this week against a Bears team that very well could be the worst in the NFL. Oh, Kam Chancellor is back. Seahawks win 38-7

ATLANTA FALCONS @
Dallas Cowboys even

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett deserves a lot of credit for guiding Big D to a 2-0 start. Already without the NFL’s leading rusher from a season ago, DeMarco Murray, the Cowboys have lost Dez Bryant and Tony Romo to significant injuries. To make matters worse, tight end Jason Witten is nursing an injury of his own. At some point all the losses have to catch up to the Fighting Jerry’s. That happens this week. The Atlanta Falcons passing combination of Matt Ryan and Julio Jones is on fire, and the Falcons defense, led by Seattle Seahawks ex-Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn (Seahawks fans don’t miss him at all…) has surprised. Falcons win 31-17

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS @
Tennessee Titans +3

I’m siding with the road team because I just can’t wrap my mind around Andrew Luck starting the year 0-3. Indy’s offensive line has been brutal, the Colts have no run game, and the defense is as average as it’s always been. Tennessee’s wunderkind passer Marcus Mariota has six touchdown passes and zero interceptions through two contests. That’s a decent start to a professional football career. The Titans absolutely could win this game and if that happens all bets are off with the Horseshoe. Fire the coach? Fire the General Manager? Join the Canadian Football League? Colts win 28-21

OAKLAND RAIDERS @
Cleveland Browns -3.5

I like this Raiders team. That’s not a typo… I don’t know what happened week one, but the Raiders bounced back to post 37 points in a stirring come from behind win over the Baltimore Ravens last Sunday. Sophomore passer Derek Carr has a number of good players around him. I know it’s hard to believe, but Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree and Latavius Murray can play. This is an NFL offense. Still not buying stock in Johnny Football, apparently the Browns aren’t either. Raiders win 26-21

Cincinnati Bengals @
BALTIMORE RAVENS -2.5

The Ravens were a popular pick to represent the AFC in this year’s Super Bowl. Things change quickly in the NFL. The Nevermore’s enter this week’s matchup with the undefeated Bengals desperate to avoid a crippling 0-3 start to the year. I’m certain some European Astrophysicist has proven that it’s impossible for Andy Dalton to play three consecutive games well. That doesn’t bode well for the Jungle Kittens, especially since star running back Jeremy Hill has an extreme case of fumble-itis. Baltimore will play their best ball on Sunday. Ravens win 21-17

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS @ New England Patriots -14.5

It’s hard to spot a team two plus touchdowns and cover. We’re already siding with the Seahawks minus-16, I just can’t get myself to do it again. Tom Brady has looked incredible to start the season. Gronk is unstoppable and Julian Edelman is the latest short white guy to be productive in the Patriots offense. New England could run away with this one, but we’re banking on a late, meaningless, Jaguars score to be the difference in a dramatic backdoor cover. Patriots win 33-21

New Orleans Saints @
CAROLINA PANTHERS -3

The Saints aren’t marching in. How can a team with Drew Brees at quarterback lose to the Tampa Bay Bucs at home? The same Bucs team that got waxed 42-14 against the Tennessee Titans the week prior. With news emerging that Brees has been fighting a shoulder issue, you may be inclined to give New Orleans a pass. The problem is Brees’ shoulder isn’t going to miraculously heal before Sunday. The Panthers have one of the top defenses in the NFL. They’re at home, and there’s blood in the water. Panthers win 27-13

Philadelphia Eagles @
NEW YORK JETS -1

Chip Kelly’s Eagles have had their wings clipped. I don’t know what’s wrong with Philly, the team generated a lot of hype in the preseason, leading the NFL in practice game points. Sam Bradford looks like the same crappy quarterback that played for the Rams the last few years. DeMarco Murray, the prized free agent signing, has 11 yards on 21 carries! The Eagles are bad at football. Jets quarterback Geno Smith got punched in the face by his own teammate, resulting in a broken jaw. That’s the best thing to happen to the Jets in years. Smith’s replacement, Ryan Fitzpatrick, hasn’t been terrible, which is a huge upgrade. Jets win 24-17

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS @ Houston Texans -7

Jameis Winston was better in his second professional start leading the Bucs to a road victory over the New Orleans Saints last Sunday. Star wide receiver Mike Evans pairs with Vincent Jackson to give Tampa plenty of fire power. Winston doesn’t need to be great, he just needs to throw the football to his own team. Houston has started the year 0-2. This is a desperation game for the Texans. I’m just not convinced Houston, without top rusher Arian Foster, can run anyway from any opponent. Take the points. Texans win 21-17

San Diego Chargers @
MINNESOTA VIKINGS -1

Adrian Peterson had his first breakout performance for the Vikings last week after a yearlong sabbatical. That bodes well for sophomore quarterback Teddy Bridgewater who excels at running play-action. A late Philip Rivers interception sealed the Lightning Bolts fate in Cincinnati after an opening week win against Detroit. Both these teams enter the contest at 1-1 with victories over the Lions. Exciting! Vikings win 27-20

PITTSBURGH STEELERS @
St. Louis Rams even

I warned Clarion faithful not to overvalue the Lambs after their opening week victory against the Seahawks. St. Louis always beats the Seahawks! The Rams did well, promptly losing to the Washington Redskins in lackluster fashion the following week. Pittsburgh’s offense is on fire right now, and the return of star running back Le’Veon Bell will make the Steelers even more potent. A talented Rams defense will keep the score close late into the second half, but it won’t be enough. Steelers win 23-14

San Francisco 49ers @
ARIZONA CARDINALS -7

Bizarrely, the San Francisco 49ers won their opening week matchup with the Minnesota Vikings before getting crushed in Pittsburgh last week. Don’t be confused, this is a bad football team, capable of losing any game on its schedule. Arizona is not bad. The Cardinals are good, and now that Carson Palmer’s return has revitalized star pass catcher Larry Fitzgerald, the Desert Bats fancy themselves the favorites to win the NFC West. Keep an eye on David Johnson, the Cardinals rookie running back is a monster. Cardinals win 31-14

BUFFALO BILLS @
Miami Dolphins -2.5

Miami was a trendy pick to finally unseat the New England Patriots in the AFC East, but after two weeks of football the positive vibes have disappeared. The Canned Tuna have struggled mightily against NFL also-rans Washington Redskins and Jacksonville Jaguars. The brash Buffalo Bills, led by infamous foul-mouthed coach Rex Ryan, were humbled by the Patriots in week two. The Bills were competitive though, and did well staging a late 4th quarter rally. The play here says the Bills parlay the positive momentum into a win this Sunday over a Dolphins team that appears lost at sea. Bills win 23-20

DENVER BRONCOS @
Detroit Lions +2.5

Peyton Manning looks like a shell of his old self trying to run new coach Gary Kubiak’s offense. Last week against the Chiefs the Broncos were terrible for the first 25 minutes. It wasn’t until late in the first half, when the team went no huddle, that Manning gained a rhythm. The question this week. Do the Broncos scrap Kubiak’s slower paced offense, one that relies on quarterback movement, and stick with what worked a week ago? If they do, the Broncos will roll a depleted Lions team. Broncos win 28-17

Kansas City Chiefs @
GREEN BAY PACKERS -7.5

Alex Smith vs. Aaron Rodgers… Let’s not make this more complicated than it needs to be. Packers win 34-20

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