NFL Sunday Predictions - Week 2
by Josh Nagel - 9/17/2009
Game: Carolina Panthers (0-1, 0-1 ATS) at Atlanta Falcons (1-0, 1-0 ATS)
Spread: Falcons -6.5.
Overview: It appears each of Jake Delhomme's four interceptions in Carolina's disastrous 38-10 Week 1 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles gave bettors about a point in value as they head to Atlanta to take on the Falcons in Week 2.
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Oddsmakers have said they adjusted the spread from Atlanta -3.5 to -6.5 in response to each team's Week 1 performance.
Delhomme's days as the starting signal-caller in Carolina might be numbered as well. While it's rarely appropriate to point the blame on one player for a loss, it's fair to say Delhomme single-handedly took Carolina out of the game against the Eagles. He had a fumble returned for a touchdown and gave the Eagles a short field on many other occasions.
As a result, Carolina's 38 points yielded and 185 rushing yards allowed were among the league's worst Week 1 marks, and its 169 yards total offense was dead last.
Delhomme's struggles are difficult to explain given that Carolina has one of the best one-two backfield punches in the league in DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. You would think this would lead to some high-percentage play-action passes when the Panthers do choose to throw.
Instead, it's been a high percentage of completions to the opposition. Delhomme repeated his performance of last year's playoff loss to the Arizona Cardinals, and you can bet coach John Fox will have little patience if his quarterback struggles early.
Delhomme is playing for his job in this game, and the Panthers already are fighting for relevancy in the NFC South.
The Falcons had a solid all-around showing in their 19-7 win over the Miami Dolphins, but this week they will be facing a desperate and determined divisional foe.
Trends: The Panthers are 8-1 ATS in their past nine following a straight-up loss, and are 6-1 ATS following a game in which they scored 15 or fewer points. The Falcons are 2-7 ATS in their last nine against NFC south opponents.
Pick: Carolina +6.5.
Game: Seattle Seahawks (1-0, 1-0 ATS) at San Francisco 49ers (1-0, 1-0 ATS)
Spread: 49ers -1 ½.
Overview: Both teams played the spoiler on the other's turf last year, and now they will be battling to take the early upper hand in the NFC West.
Last year, each won as a significant underdog away from home; San Francisco scored a 33-30 overtime win in Week 2 as a touchdown underdog, while Seattle gave bettors the money as a five-point dog in the winning the Week 8 rematch, 38-14.
The Seahawks won the previous two meetings by a combined score of 47-3 and have generally dominated the series over this decade.
Even so, this season marks the start of a new era for each team, as coaches Jim Mora of Seattle and Mike Singletary of San Francisco enter their first full years as the top men in their organizations.
Week 1 told us more about the 49ers than it did the Seahawks. The 49ers' 20-16 win over the defending NFC champion Cardinals showed that they have a playoff-caliber defense. It also showed they might have to rely on it heavily to win games. Opposing teams are destined to stack the line to stop Frank Gore and dare journeyman quarterback Shaun Hill and his limited targets to beat them. Hill made just enough plays, including some crucial conversions on the game-winning drive, to beat the Cardinals. Whether he can keep it up over the course of the season remains to be seen.
This much is certain: Singletary's influence on the team is clear, as the 49ers appear more disciplined and fundamentally sound than they have in years.
On the flip side, it's hard to judge the Seahawks from their 28-0 romp over St. Louis because it appears the Rams are again among the league's worst teams.
But they showed a solid running game with Julius Jones and the aging Edgerrin James carrying the load, and the defense should be much improved with the addition of rookie linebacker Aaron Curry and emerging defensive end Lawrence Jackson.
Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck seems to be his old, erratic self, throwing for 279 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions in the opener.
If the 49ers can force Hasselbeck into some turnovers, the Seahawks are likely in for a long day. But if Seattle can find a way to post another 28 points, or somewhere in the neighborhood, it's doubtful the 49ers can keep pace.
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Trends: The Seahawks are 9-3 ATS in their last 12 against the NFC West and 4-1 ATS in their last five overall. The 49ers are 4-1-1 ATS in their last six overall, and 7-15-1 ATS in their last 23 against teams from the NFC.
Pick: Seattle +1.5.
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