Week two has always been a tricky week for me when it comes to picking winners in the NFL. That shiny first date newness of Week 1 has worn off and it's time to settle in for the long grind of the season. But here's the thing, it's still too early to really know what kind of talent these teams have. One full game from the starters, for many their first full sixty minutes of work in nine months, is not the best barometer. I try to make knowledgeable picks based on what little information I cobbled together in Week 1. But all of my prognosticating is only as good as that first oh-so-important cornerstone, the linchpin of my NFLducation. This week, my corerstone was as sturdy as that pig's house made of straw.
It all started with the Thursday night game on CBS. (By the way, how confused were all the folks who tuned in expecting a new episode of The Big Bang Theory? Instead of another witty Sheldon quip, they got inundated by Ray Rice recaps and Steelers miscues.)
Based on that shoddy Pittsburgh performance, I assumed that their squad was not up to snuff this year and since they had beaten the Browns in Week 1, I extrapolated that the Browns must be equally crappy. Picking the always strong Saints to prevail against the Dawg Pound seemed like a no-brainer. Indeed, I felt like I had no-brain as the perennial cellar-dwelling Browns not only covered the spread but won the game outright (which knocked me out of my big-money Survivior pool in the process!) I love a good underdog story as much as the next guy, but not when it kicks me in the stones and takes my wallet.
My research also took me back to one of the more surprising upsets of last week, when the Dolphins manhandled the Patriots in the second half for the victory. I took that game to mean that the Fins were a team on the rise and the Pats were finally starting to show their age. Wrong again, boy-o. The Patriots looked young and spry as they absolutely destroyed the QB who got his big break filling in for Tom Brady back in the 2008 season. He must still be holding a torch for his old team since he handed them six sacks and four interceptions. The only thing he didn't give them was a giant piggy bank with my name on the side (but that would have been a purely symbolic gesture.)
The Fins I believed to be improving looked lackluster against the now 2-0 Bills. I've been averse to betting on Miami the past few years and this game reminded me why. Actually the main problem I have with the Dolphins is their quarterback Ryan Tannehill. He's an okay passer, has a decent arm and for all I know could be the Mother Theresa of the NFL, but here's what still bugs me about the guy. Remember when the Dolphins were on Hard Knocks in 2012? The rookie Tannehill was shown not knowing what NFL teams were in each division. He wasn't even close. I was flabbergasted. He has probably spent all but the first five years of his life on a non-stop path to the NFL and that important piece of info never stuck in his craw? That's like working your whole life to run for President and once you finally make it to the Oval Office being surprised that there are actually fifty states. I'm done betting on any Tannehill -led teams. Forever. Or until the spread convinces me otherwise.
Those were all crippling losses where my assumptions were just fundamentally and wildly wrong. The one game I absolutely predicted right was the Jets vs. Packers. Based on the Packers sleepy opening night performance against Seattle, I thought they were due for a disappointing season. The Jets on the other hand looked dominant against the Raiders last week, especially on defense. Yes, they did give up that garbage time touchdown to give Oakland a backdoor cover but I was willing to look past that, especially since NY was the road dog in Lambeau.
My only hiccup was that the spread dipped down. It had held at seven for most of the day, but just as I locked in my whopper before gametime it dropped down to 6.5 points. A little troubling, but it told me I was onto something since it meant the smart money was coming in on the Jets and lowering the spread. It seemed a moot point (or moot half point if you will) when the Jets blasted out of the gate and scored TDs on their first three drives. Finally, an easy game for Stevie! I even peeled myself out of the chair I'd been in for five straight hours and went upstairs to play with my sons for a little bit. Ten minutes of Daddy time later my ass was back in my seat and I was back to work.
The Green Bay touchdown before the half worried me a bit. Then the Rodgers TD in the third to give them the lead made me fear a full-on Jet implosion, but they actually fought back. A nice drive and a Nick Folk field goal gave me a tied game and a competitive Jets squad. I was hoping they would just trade blows and keep the game tight the rest of the way. Those hopes faded one play later when little Jordy Nelson caught a pass in stride and scampered eighty yards to the house. A total breakdown by the defense. It would have been the most embarrassing play of the game if not for what happened late in the fourth when NY appeared to have tied it with a 37-yard completion. That play didn't count because the Jets had called timeout. Of course they did. What seemed like the easiest game of the day a few minutes in, turned into a heartbreaking half point loss.
Is it hockey season yet?