Thursday, September 13, 2012

NFL 2012: Week 2 -- What Experts?

With so many programs covering the NFL in exhaustive detail, football fans have access to the most amazing information about each team, every game, and all the players, should one want to know what the backup cornerback on the Seattle Seahawks has on his iPod, to a member of the Redskins' disdain for Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream, to just about every last detail imaginable. Between databases, websites, and blogs, it's all there; however, what the talking heads can't do is predict the future, and are surprisingly sloppy in sizing up teams' strengths and who the real powerhouse teams are.

Last year, they were drunk on the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys were a miserable team last year and it showed. So this year, the New York Giants might have made some believers they are the team to beat, not the Cowboys, but "America's Team," an insulting media coinage for every American who has a favorite team that doesn't have a blue star on its helmets. Still, the Cowboys were in the spotlight. Thus the season's opening night became the "we knew it all along" upset when Dallas beat the New York Giants in the season's opening game.

Despite having come as close as a dropped pass for a trip to the Super Bowl or possibly a missed field goal to move into overtime to move on, the Baltimore Ravens have been given perhaps just obliging respect in all the preseason hoopla, but nothing like the magic of a nationally televised game to turn that around. For some reason, they seem to like the Cincinnati Bengals but have overrated them frequently in the past. Some were boasting the Bengals would pull the upset and the Ravens were getting old. The Ravens went right to work but the game was close until midway into the 3rd quarter and then the Baltimore Bruisers went into hyper drive and despite Joe Flacco's new offense looking very strong through out the game, it was Ed Reed's interception for a touchdown that made it clear, the Ravens are a true (if not the) AFC powerhouse. This week on ESPN and the NFL network, not only were the Ravens saluted as perhaps the team to beat, Joe Flacco was enshrined as one of the NFL's truly elite quarterbacks as if we knew it all along.

Okay, this column loves the Ravens. We're from Baltimore, Hon, but we can certainly come up with about ten teams that look quite impressive and a few that are real duds, but talking of possible championships, who the true dominant team could be or if Joe Flacco's time has arrived, the big hairy uni-brow will become a new fashion item is a little crazy. If the Ravens are so great, then why is Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles favored to beat Ravens albeit not surprising the homefield bonus, a 2 1/2 point advantage.

This is the week the NFL's newest innovation becomes evident, year long Thursday night football. It's a good thing this hometwon's baseball team plays a rare weekday afternoon game. Starting Thursday night football after the World Series in the past few seasons was pretty cool, but could the great game of pro-football reach an over saturation point?  Perhaps that depends on the strength of the pennant races.

Didn't the baseball cutout seem especially ancient in the second Monday night game with San Diego visiting Oakland? There are, at least in the near future, some NFL teams playing in stadiums that once hosted baseball (San Francisco, San Diego, Minneapolis) but Oakland is the only team left where teams don't each have their own stadium for each sport unless one wants to include Toronto that hosts one Buffalo game and the CFL Hey, it's another land up there.

The season starts to settle into gear, and surely much will be made of the teams that wind up at 2-0 and and 0-2 especially since ESPN already ran a segment on which 0-1 teams are already finished? Yes, they're that desperate for chit-chat.

Follow our picks and see for yourself, who we expect to be 2-0 and 0-2. We'll let you know if we think any are significant as there are some teams who we really don't think could go deep without a life preserver.

Green Bay didn't look too hot in their opener against a growing strong 49ers to for the Thursday night game, but for what improvement Chicago has made, stick with Green Bay. Here's the whole schedule and our esteemed picks.

Chicago @ Green Bay (-6)
   Green Bay should win comfortably.

Baltimore @ Philadelphia (2.5)
      Ravens madness takes the short ride up I-95 to Philadelphia and should make a shambles of Michael Vick's dog and pony show. Vick doesn't train horses does he?

Kansas City @ Buffalo (-3)
     Some say Buffalo is much improved. At very least, they play well early in the season then choke. Give them the edge at home against a team that must reassert itself.

Cleveland @ Cincinnati (-7)
    Home cooking and the Cleveland Browns should help the Bengals recover from their ass-whipping at the hands of the Ravens.

Minnesota (-1) @ Indianapolis 
   It's too early for Andrew Luck to be the Colts lucky charm, but that day is coming.

New Orleans (-2.5) @ Carolina 
   The bounty scandal and its toll will give Cam Newton a chance to take the home field edge against the team that lost to the Washington Redskins in week 1.

Houston (-7.5) @ Jacksonville
   Houston is a team on the rise with 2012 supposed to be the year they are capable of advancing in January. Beating Jacksonville is one task that will lead them there.

Oakland (-2.5) @ Miami
    Here are two teams that must prove themselves to regain respectability. Carson Palmer still hasn't proven himself for real in Oakland, but this should be a chance to do so in beating Miami.

Arizona @ New England (-13.5)
    Hey, it's way too soon to start engraving New England on the Lombardi trophy, but they' ll look like champs in week 2. Just don't swallow the hype too soon.

Tampa Bay @ New Giants (7.5)
     The defending champs will put their first week loss behind them with a tune up game for their home opener.

Washington (-3) @ St. Louis
     The Redskins will be 2-0 after week two. Woo-woo!!!

Dallas (-3) @ Seattle
    The Cowboys will be a 2-0 team too. America's team on the roll -- no matter how weak their opponent is the hype machine will be singing.

New York Jets @ Pittsburgh (-6)
    The great QB debate, Sanchez/Tebow -- blah-blah-blah and a few scoops of Rex Ryan bluster. The Jets need to win this game to prove anything and the Steelers might not be all they've been in the past, but they'll beat the Jets in this one.

Tennessee @ San Diego (-6)
    It's early in the season and a weak opponent, no talk of firing Norv Turner, yet.

Detroit @ San Francisco (-6.5)
    Imagine this, Detroit and San Francisco in PRIME TIME when a couple years ago, some would have just assumed to pretend they're invisible. Detroit is a good team, but San Francisco is becoming  one of the game's best teams and will prevail.

Denver @ Atlanta (-3)
   Peyton Manning in an orange jersey returns to the country where he once dominated the SEC in college. Denver should exceed Atlanta, a team that over the last couple years has to be considered a team that has yet to live up to expectations.

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