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Monday, September 13, 2010

Week 2 NFL Predictions: September 19, 2010

It's an interesting week ahead.  A lot of key week 1 injuries have already post-poned many lines and will impact the final numbers all week.   Look for a few contenders to bounce back after less than stellar performances, while pretenders will continue their fade into irrelevance.  

Odds for these games will change.  Check here for the latest.   I have a couple more plays I like, but I'm waiting on some favorable line movement. 

 Pittsburgh Steelers vs Tennessee Titans: UNDER 37.5

UPDATE: The line has move down a full point to 36.5.   I still feel ok about that number, but feel much better about the early line.

With Big Ben out of the lineup, the Steelers have been forced to return to smash-mouth old-school football.  No one was surprised that they hit on the UNDER in week 1 as that was one of the easier plays of the week.  Things don't change much for week 2.  Dixon is still a project and they will attempt to grind out another tough win on the road against the Titans.  With Polamalu healthy, their D is fiercely confident and will make you earn every yard you get.   Hampton may not go as he left the game on Sunday with a hamstring injury, but they have confidence in Chris Hoke as his replacement.  On the O-line, Adams might replace Starks at LT as they shuffle things around this weekend.   

The Titans have a similar game plan as they will look to play strong defense and rely on the running game to win field position and control the clock.    Their front four did a good job pressuring the QB without blitzing which is not good news for Dixon.   Points will be at a premium and place kickers will take center stage.  The line has already moved down from the opening 38.5, but even at 37.5 it's a strong play.  Prediction: Bank UNDER 37.5.

Arizona Cardinals vs Atlanta Falcons: ATL -7, UNDER 43.5

UPDATE #2: The line is moving back to -7 on some books.  If you can still get it at -6.5 I'd suggest to grab it, but you can choose to watch the line over the next couple days if you want to.  Even at -7, it's a soft number.  The UNDER has dropped a half point, too.  

ATL is coming off a very disappointing loss in PIT.  Last season they came up on the wrong side of all the big games, but the good news is they put away most of the teams they should beat.   In 2009 they were 70% ATS and luckily for them they have a chance to rebound at home against an ARI team that will be spinning their wheels all year.   Most of their problems against PIT were fundamental errors rather than a reflection of their talent level.  These are correctable mistakes and look for them to get back to smart, physical football.

Even though they played a conservative PIT offense, they showed some signs that they can rush the passer this year.  Getting Jonathan Babineaux back for week 2 will only help them even more.  Turner will have a more productive day in the dome and White/Ryan will show why they are an underrated duo in this league.   They continue to develop chemistry, especially in the hurry up offense.  

For ARI, Doucet left the game against the Rams after aggravating his groin injury - he could return for week 2.  However, it should not matter given how ugly they played on opening weekend.  They fumbled the ball 4 times and Anderson barely threw over 50%.  This doesn't shock anybody.  They had trouble sacking Bradford and he had 50+ dropbacks.  Not encouraging if you are a Cardinal fan.   There is simply too much  negative roster turnover to expect anything good from this group.   They have good leadership, but it won't matter much if Anderson is your QB.  Prediction: Bank ARI -7 and UNDER 43.5.

Houston Texans vs Washington Redskins: UNDER 44.5 

UPDATE: This line has dropped a full point since I first posted this play.  These drops are good examples as to why it's smart to play the early overnight lines.  If you are on the right side of these, you will usually finish the week with the best number and essentially the best value.   

This game will be an interesting chess match as the Mike Shanahan' son, Kyle, spent the last two seasons in Houston.   He knows their defense very well and it will be an intriguing game of X's and O's on Sunday.  It ws a big psychological win for both teams as they knocked off the division favorites heading into the season.  However, the win was much bigger for the Texans and you can expect an emotional slide in week 2.  They prepared all offseason for the Colts and winning that game at home was like their Super Bowl.   Don't expect the same kind of production on the road against an underrated WSH defense.   At the same time, don't overlook the Texans defense either.  They were controlling the line of scrimmage and limited the high-powered Colts offense until Manning went into hurry-up mode.   They will have a much easier task against the run-orientated WSH attack.

Mcnabb still doesn't have receivers to throw to so look for them to game-plan for another grind-out win at home.  It will take Mcnabb a few more weeks before he finds his groove in this offense and becomes comfortable behind a questionable offensive line.  They still have questions at tackle and were rotating guards against Dallas.  They will continue to rely on cut-back runs and stretching the edges to wear teams down.   The strength of this defense is in the secondary and that is bad news for the Texans.  Schaub and AJ will still get their plays, but don't hold your breath for a shootout.   Weather also won't be a factor.   Prediction: Bank UNDER 44.5

Philadelphia Eagles vs Detroit Lions: PHI -3

UPDATE #4: This line has moved a full 3 points since it opened.  Obviously it is entirely up to you if you play it or not, but hopefully you jumped on the play when it was -4 or lower.  This is a great example of why to bet early in the week on overnight lines.  

It didn't take long for there to be a QB controversy in Philly.  Vick will get the start against the Lions and if most fans had their way, he would be the starter for the rest of the year.  He showed that he has regained some of his speed from his Atlanta days and is a more dedicated student of the west coast offense now.   Having said that, he also played against a GB defense that played soft as they protected the lead.  PHI also lost their center and fullback for the season.  Normally I would fade a team that has an injured center and DET's front four are no joke.  However, the stars have aligned for the Eagles because in this circumstance, Vick is the much better option at QB and backup C McGlynn saw a lot of reps with the first team offense during training camp and preseason.  Vick will be able to use his legs to overcome some of the offensive line difficulties and limit DET's ability to rush the passer.  PHI also lost their starting middle linebacker to a concussion on Sunday, but there were a lot of promising signs on that side of the ball.  Despite the 27 points, the D generated good pressure without the blitz and limited Rodgers to an average day by his standards.

After the football gods denied DET of their 1st win of the season, things don't get any easier in week 2.  They will have their hands full in their home opener and their pass rush will need to stay much more disciplined in their rush up the field and in their gap-control.   It won't be an easy task to keep Vick under control and hold down all the offensive weapons at the same time.  Expect this D to give up some big plays down the field and on the ground with McCoy.   Offensively, it doesn't get much better.   They have their own fair share of weapons to play with, but with Stafford out those toys will be underutilized.  Hill will have trouble with an Eagles D that loves to bring the pressure so expect more passes to the backs and tight ends.   He also has to worry about the CB with the most picks over the last 3 seasons in Samuel.  

The line opened at -3, but has already moved to -4 and might move even more before game-time.  Prediction: Bank PHI -3.

Miami Dolphins vs Minnesota Vikings: MIN -5.5 

MIN has had an extra few days off to lick their wounds and get to kick off their home schedule with an offensively struggling MIA team.  Favre isn’t looking great and it took him a few weeks to get into his groove last year too, but he won’t be forced to create something out of nothing against a MIA team that isn’t about to run up the scoreboard.   Expect the ole man to play more down to earth ball as the bright lights of Thursday night are behind him.  Now he can concentrate on winning games rather than exacting revenge on the grand stage.  McKinnie’s finger will also be fine so that will not be a concern heading into this game.  Jared Allen and the rest of the D aren't worried about the wild-cat offense and will have a strong game-plan for this type of attack.   

Dansby made big impact for the MIA defense, but don’t get too excited because it came against a pathetic Bills offense.   Don’t expect MIN to take as many penalties or miss as many blocks.  Peterson will bring a whole new challenge to MIA’s new look defense.  On offense, Henne will need to be much better in a hostile environment.  There are already rumors about dissatisfaction within the organization regarding his development and will need to show he’s ready for prime time sooner than later.  They won’t be able to rely as much on the running game against a stout MIN defense.  They also need to prove their offensive line can hold up.   They gave up 3 sacks to a underwhelming BUF defense and MIN will make sure they are tested.  Coach Sparano has a countdown clock in the locker room for every game, but this week the players will be counting down the minutes it takes to get back to the airport.  Prediction: Bank MIN -5.5.

New York Giants vs Indianapolis Colts: IND -5.5

UPDATE: An interesting situation with this one as there was a .5 reverse line movement down to -5.  Obviously this is one to keep an eye on, but I'm not buying into the sharp action.  IND is still the play here.

Peyton vs Eli.   We all know how the Eli Bowl played out in their backyard and nothing will be different when the kid travels to Indianapolis to play his big brother.  Peyton played a phenomenal game against the Texans and their defense gave up 200+ rushing yards.  This is a script that football fans know all too well when it comes to the Colts.  Bob Sanders got injured and HOU ran the ball all day long.   It kept Manning on the bench for long stretches, but he still did major damage when he got his chances.  His pass protection will get better as Saturday and Johnson see more reps in practice.  Both missed significant time nursing injuries leading up to the season. 

Eli did not look good in week 1 with 3 interceptions.  He will need to be much better if he expects to keep pace with his older brother.   The Giants D caused 5 turnovers against the Panthers, but let’s not kid anybody because Matt Moore is still a project.  The G-men turned it over 4 times themselves.   Nothing was really learned about them after week 1 that wasn’t already known.  They will continue to rely on a running game and strong defense to win games and on paper that looks like a favorable matchup against the Colts.  Sanders is out with a biceps injury and sets the stage for a trap game for IND.   However, don’t let the high rushing totals from HOU mislead you.   Half of those yards came when IND was down by multiple scores.  Kevin Boss was injured with a concussion, but he won’t impact things one way or another.   NY will also need to get better special teams play - especially from their punter.  If they hope to stay in this one they can't be giving good field position to Peyton. 

Colts don’t have to worry about resting players or going for an undefeated season at the end of the year now.  They were also 63% ATS in the 2009 and look for them to get back to those winning ways at home on Sunday night.   Prediction: Bank IND -5.5.
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