Carolina at Atlanta. My pick: ATL 35, CAR 23. The Real Deal: ATL 28, CAR 20. The Skinny: On the money ($$$$). At this point, the Falcons are a better team than the Panthers. Matt Ryan is a better QB than Jake Delhomme. The Panthers lost to Atlanta last season on the road, so there is no reason to panic. The Colts got off to a slow start and recovered to win 9 in a row. It’s just time to step it up.Game 2:
St. Louis at Washington. My pick: WASH 41, STL 13. The Real Deal: WASH 9, STL 7. The Skinny: Ouch!! ($$). There was no magic to picking the winner here. This game was fraught with peril for the ‘Skins. They lost this game last season. They were unconvincing yesterday. There is room for improvement in Washington.
Houston at Tennessee. My pick: HOU 19, TENN 17. The Real Deal: HOU 34, TENN 31. The Skinny: Pay the Man ($$$$$). The Texans were not the sexy pick to beat the Titans at home. They were coming off a loss to the Jets. Still, for all the reasons I laid out (except for the Titans inability to score, ahem), the Texans prevailed. Kudos to Houston for winning their last two games vs. the Titans.
New Orleans at Philadelphia. My pick: PHIL 27, NO 23. The Real Deal: NO 48, PHIL 22. The Skinny: They just repo’d my van!! ($$$$$). Damn. I blew this one. My write up totally went against my pick. I invested too much in the home field advantage for the Eagles. I did this even though the Eagles have lost some big games at home in the early going: 2007 vs. Washington; 2006 vs. the Giants. I must have been blinded by their thrashing of my Steelers last year.
New England Patriots at New York Jets. My pick: NE 31, NYJ 17. The Real Deal: NYJ 16, NE 9. The Skinny: Read the MEMO!! ($$$). Repeat after me! The Patriots are who we thought they were. Read your OWN posts, dummy. They’re down to smoke and mirrors. Fred Taylor is their running back. They are no longer what they once were. Brady looks skittish. Read the Memo. End of rant. No more 2004-esque Pats picks until they prove it.
Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs. My pick: OAK 22, KC 14. The Real Deal: OAK 13, KC 10. The Skinny: On the money ($$$$). After the Raiders impressive effort vs. the Chargers, I couldn’t pick against them.
Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions. My pick: MINN 45, DET 7. The Real Deal: MINN 27, DET 13. The Skinny: The Lions weren’t pulverized ($$$). Does this mean that Jim Schwartz and Larry Foote are making progress in changing the culture? AP and the Vikes only managed 4 rushing first downs all day. The Lions actually won time of possession. I see progress in the little things.
Arizona Cardinals at Jacksonville Jaguars. My pick: JAX, 26, Arizona 23. The Real Deal: ARI 31, JAX 17. The Skinny: I could kick myself!! ($$$$). Note to self: If you’re going to write a Pro-Arizona preview, please pick the Cardinals.
Cincinnati Bengals at Green Bay Packers. My pick: GB 26, CIN 20. The Real Deal: CIN 31, GB 24. The Skinny: I could kick myself, Part II. ($$). Note to self: If you’re going to write a Pro-Bengal preview, please pick the Bengals. I saw this coming a mile away — and trusted the Packers to figure out a way to win at home. Note to self II: “When the Bengals are healthy, they CAN WIN shootouts — with ANYONE!!” Either way, I’m not enamored with Marvin’s bunch.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Buffalo Bills. My pick: BUFF 33, TB 20. The Real Deal: BUFF 33, TB 21. The Skinny: Hold me back!!! HOLD ME BACK!!! Cha-ching! ($$$$$$) The “God-phone” works once each week where I come this close to a score. Don’t ask me which game it’s going to be.
Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers. My pick: SF 27, SEA 13. The Real Deal: SF 23, SEA 10. The Skinny: This is getting good to me! ($$$$). The 49ers are in the driver’s seat in the NFC West. They’ve beaten the Cardinals at home and held serve vs. the Seahawks. It’s early, but everyone else is looking up at Mike’s squad.
Game 12: THIS IS GOING TO HURT!!
Pittsburgh Steelers at Chicago Bears. My pick: PITT 30, CHI 10. The Real Deal: CHI 17, PITT 14. The Skinny: Pride Goeth Before the Fall ($$$$) Today, I feel like a USC grad. I’m wondering — “Wha happen??” Congratulations to the Bears on what is likely to be the biggest win of their season. Hopefully, the Steelers will snap out of their Polamalu-less doldrums in the way that Chicago has shook the, er, “no-lachers.”
Cleveland Browns at Denver Broncos: My pick: Elway 2, Marty 1. The Real Deal: Boy Genius 27, Mangini-us 6. The Skinny: In the Battle of Little Billies, There Are No Winners ($$$). The Broncos still have talent. Just because that talent is no longer at the QB position is no reason to sell the ranch. Orton is good enough to win games like this. Brady Quinn is not. Too bad LeCharles Bentley and Kellen Winslow are no longer around for Quinn to rely on.
Baltimore Ravens at San Diego Chargers: My pick: BAL 35, SD 24. The Real Deal: BAL 31, SD 26. The Skinny: Et tu, Jamal? ($$$$$). The Chargers are in for a long ride — on the backs of power runners.
New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys: My pick: NYG 31, DAL 17. The Real Deal: NYG 33, DAL 31. The Skinny: Wait Till Daddy Gets Home! ($$$$). When the Cowboys come to New York, the Giants are going to throttle them. Dallas is still overrated and may not make the playoffs this season. Can Steve Smith runs routes or what?
Indianapolis Colts at Miami Dolphins: My pick: IND 35, MIA 10. The Real Deal: IND 27, MIA 23. The Skinny: Let’s Run It Down Their Throats ($$$). This is the reason why I say, “It’s early.” This game did not go as anticipated for me. I am no longer surprised when the Colts get mauled without Bob Sanders on the field. Last night’s game, however, was a testament to the efficiency and acumen of Peyton Manning. The Colts had the ball for about :30 all night. He managed to put up points in a hurry. Most teams cannot overcome a 239 yard rush attack and such a stark difference in time of possession. Then again, if Chad Pennington doesn’t miss consecutive touchdown passes to Fasano and Ginn, Jr., we’re probably having a different conversation. I believe Joseph Addai probably lost his job last night.