I would like to say I changed my mind between the posting of this column and the start of Sunday’s Week 2 NFL games. I would like to say I saw a big injury and that caused me to dump my top Week 2 survivor pool pick, the New England Patriots at home over Arizona. I would like to tell you that.
Unfortunately, I didn’t and suffered my earliest knockout ever. I still can’t fathom how Tom Brady could suffer his first home opening loss in the NFL, especially against a team that had to travel three time zones East!!! Or how Stephen Gostkowski, the most accurate kicker in Pats history, missed a 42-yarder to win it. Maybe it was payback to the Pats for Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff shanking a 32-yarder in the AFC Championship Game the last time New England was on its home field.
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I honestly did consider getting off the Pats around 11 a.m. on Sunday because I KNEW that nearly everyone in my competitions would be choosing them. Sometimes you have to play against your pool competitors and not just take the biggest lock. I thought about shifting to San Diego vs. Tennessee, but backed off when Ryan Mathews was ruled out again. I looked at the Giants vs. the Bucs for a minute but didn’t feel great there. New York was rather lucky to win.
The good news is that two of the pools in which I was entered already are finished thanks to the Saints’ upset in Week 1 and then New England’s loss. So we all start over. Another pool is allowing me to buy back in at a significant penalty. I’m simply kaput in a fourth competition. My point being, these columns will continue regardless of my good or bad fortune.
On to Week 3 (last one before the byes begin):
Chicago vs. St. Louis: Remember I wrote: TRAP, TRAP, TRAP for the Redskins’ game at St. Louis last week? At least I got something right. The Bears worry me a bit because of how bad Jay Cutler/offensive line looked in Green Bay. But having those three extra days’ to prepare should be enough to win at home against an improved Rams team.
Dallas vs. Tampa Bay: I almost hope the Bucs have the lead and are taking a knee in the final seconds to see if Cowboys defensive coordinator Rex Ryan sends one of his defenders plowing into Tampa Bay’s offensive line like Bucs coach Greg Schiano ordered his team to do last week vs. the Giants. I have decided I will never pick Dallas on the road again because “bad Tony Romo” could always show up as he did last week in Seattle. But he’s usually pretty good at home.
New Orleans vs. Kansas City: If you didn’t use the Saints in Week 1, now is a good time. The team is a mess and obviously badly misses head coach Sean Payton. But if Kansas City has allowed 75 combined points to Atlanta (in K.C.) and Buffalo, what do you think Drew Brees will do? Saints will play with big-time urgency after starting 0-2.
San Diego vs. Atlanta: The Falcons look like second-best team in the NFC after the Niners. But having to travel across country on a short week is bad news. The Bolts get Mathews back this week, but this is too close to call.
Houston at Denver: It’s a short week for the Broncos, but it’s never easy to play in that altitude as Houston will have to do. I doubt Peyton Manning throws three picks again, but there’s a reason Houston is currently the AFC betting favorite. But, then again, Manning is 16-2 all-time vs. the Texans. Too close.
NY Giants at Carolina (Thursday): I hate quick turnaround games because of all the injury variables, although the short rest usually benefits the home team for travel reasons (see Packers last week). I did see New York’s Hakeem Nicks, Domenik Hixon, Ahmad Bradshaw and David Diehl are ruled out, but there are still better choices than Carolina in Week 3 – I’d be surprised if the Cats aren’t favored by kickoff.
San Francisco at Minnesota: TRAP, TRAP, TRAP! The Niners clearly look like the NFL’s best team and have become the Super Bowl odds-on favorites. But can’t you see a letdown here after San Francisco beat 2011 playoffs teams in the first two weeks (only club to do so)?
Detroit at Tennessee: Also a major potential trap game here for the Lions after being battered by that 49ers defense on Sunday night. The Lions should be 0-2. Maybe this is finally the week Titans back Chris Johnson (19 carries, 21 yards) remembers who he used to be. He is poster boy No. 1 for not giving a huge contract to a running back these days.
Philadelphia at Arizona: Are the Eagles good or lucky? Are the Cardinals lucky or good? Not really sure. Philly is the first team ever to win its first two games each by a point. The Cards have actually won nine of their past 11. I don’t believe in either 2-0 team yet.
Washington vs. Cincinnati: Two solid teams but both with questions. RG3 is clearly a stud, but the Washington defense hasn’t been good. Griffin could have a big day vs. the No. 29 Cincy pass defense, but a Bengals win wouldn’t surprise me, either.
Pittsburgh at Oakland: This is my trap pick No. 3 of Week 3. The Steelers had to fly to Denver for Week 1, turn around to back East and beat the Jets and now fly all the way back out to the West Coast. That can get to a team. It’s never a good idea to pick a visiting team that had to travel across the country (thanks again Cardinals!). Oakland has looked like perhaps the NFL’s worst team so far, but I could see an upset with Troy Polamalu and James Harrison likely out again for Pittsburgh.
Baltimore vs. New England: Obviously too close to call. Both are going to be plenty peeved after losing winnable games in Week 2. The Ravens will be foaming at the mouth for revenge of the AFC Championship Game loss and the fact they have never beaten New England in the regular season.
Green Bay at Seattle (Monday): Very quietly, Pete Carroll is building one of the NFC’s top defenses in Seattle. What the Seahawks did to Dallas was very impressive. But the Packers had 11 days to prepare. No result would surprise me here.
Buffalo at Cleveland: Do I even need to explain why here? I wonder if the Browns will be favored in any game in 2012. To be fair, they are 0-2 by a total of only eight points.
NY Jets at Miami: This one has the lowest total of Week 3 (40), and I’d be stunned if it approaches that number. Will the Jets finally unveil Tim Tebow in his home state? If Mark Sanchez is as inaccurate as last week, Tebow could see significant snaps for the first time. Other than that, this is a yawner and essentially a “pick’em”.
Indianapolis vs. Jacksonville: The Colts can’t run and Jags can’t stop the run. Jacksonville can’t throw and Indy is pretty bad (No. 25) against the pass. The sole reason to watch here is to monitor the growth of Andrew Luck and Blaine Gabbert. But that means you have to watch this whole game since they are on opposite offenses. I’d rather watch a documentary on the properties and history of Styrofoam for 3.5 hours.
My top picks have been the Texans and Pats so far just as a reminder. This week it’s New Orleans. Kansas City QB Matt Cassel should be the perfect remedy for the struggling Saints defense.
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