Week Four Primer

Each Sunday morning during the season, I’ll be bringing you my picks for each game and some last-minute fantasy football advice for you league legions out there. As always, enjoy and I hope it helps you with your picks/leagues!

Week 4 Picks

Baltimore 27 – Buffalo 13

We’re beginning to see the Ravens right the ship after a shaky start, and with or without Ray Rice, the Bills and their banged up defense will be the least of their worries as the Ravens D hassles E.J. Manuel into another learning experience.

Cincinnati 30 – Cleveland 17

The first Battle of Ohio takes place on the Browns’ terms, coming off of an impressive win and playing their next door rivals on their own field. None of that will matter when the game is over, as the best team (who is coming off of a much more impressive win over the Packers) takes this one handily.

Chicago 34 – Detroit 24

This one could tip in the other direction is Reggie Bush can be as much of an X factor as he was in week one, but there’s something about these ‘new’ bears under Trestman that feels much improved over their 2012 version, and it’s not just in the 3-0 record.

Seattle 20 – Houston 17

This juuuust might be where Seattle is truly put to the test; on the road, where they’re nowhere near as consistent as they are at home, against a solid team. But I’m not going to bank on it until I see it, and neither should you.

Indianapolis 31 – Jacksonville 17

Anyone playing against the Jaguars should feel good about their chances, “trap game” or no. The mouse traps coach Chuck Pagano spread around the team’s practice facility during the week should be an ample enough reminder that the better team still needs to show up and prove it regardless of the opponent.

Kansas City 23 – New York 20

No repeat performance of last week’s debacle, but the Giants will most likely be staring at the sort of record that teams simply don’t rise up from after Andy Reid and his knowledge of his former NFC East foes gives them a little Midwestern hospitality.

Minnesota 17 – Pittsburgh 10

The trip to London will sap both 0-3 team in terms of stamina and energy, but I’ll take the team with the beast in the backfield over the team with the least in the backfield. If the Vikings can’t get to Roethlisberger, this one tips in Pittsburgh’s favor.

Arizona 28 – Tampa Bay 20

The troubles in Tampa are just starting, and unless Mike Glennon comes out and looks like Andrew Luck from game one, the Cardinals should find a way to pull this one out.

Tennessee 16 – New York 13

In a battle of evenly matched teams, I usually tip the scales in the home team’s favor, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Rex Ryan’s defense absolutely batters Jake Locker and manages to keep Chris Johnson from being a game-changer.

Denver 41 – Philadelphia 31

The Eagles will harass Denver for most of this game, regardless of what the critics say, but Chip Kelly needs to learn to adapt his high-speed offense further and switch-hit every once in awhile with something we like to call “keep-away”. The recipe for beating Peyton Manning is a defense that has 12 men on the field and a running game that can work for four quarters; sadly, the Eagles only have one of these elements, and even that is in doubt because of their head coach’s need for speed.

Washington 34 – Oakland 24

This has to be the week the Redskins get back on track. If they’re looking at 0-4 after playing a team as shaky as Oakland, regardless of the cross-country trip…well, Jim Haslett is going to be looking for work elsewhere soon enough, and the organization is going to have to bring in defensive help immediately.

San Diego 30 – Dallas 27

This one will go down to the last seconds I believe, but I’m giving the Chargers the edge for one reason and one reason only: home field advantage. See the Tennessee – NYJ matchup.

New England 27 – Atlanta 21

At 3-0, the critics want to say New England hasn’t faced a “real challenge” yet. Every NFL game is a challenge, especially when your top-tier QB is not in sync with his offensive weapons. No Gronk, no Amendola, but the Patriots defense will limit the banged up Falcons much like the Dolphins did last week and pull this one out.

New Orleans 35 – Miami 24

Yeah, I just don’t see this going in my team’s favor, regardless of what direction I look at it in. It would take an incredible amount of overachieving by a team that’s not as accustomed to winning big games on the big stage, and that dome is feared by every team in the league. Brees is going to have a monster stat line, whether or not Cameron Wake manages to get on the field. I believe I mentioned that I wouldn’t be picking against my team again after we pulled off the upset in Atlanta, but…I have to go with logic over emotion.

Fantasy Start ‘Em/Sit ‘Em

Start ‘Em

Phillip Rivers – QB – San Diego Chargers
Michael Vick – QB – Philadelphia Eagles
Trent Richardson – RB – Indianapolis Colts
Alfred Morris – RB – Washington Redskins
Dwayne Bowe – WR – Kansas City Chiefs
Marques Colston – WR – New Orleans Saints
Dallas Clark – TE – Baltimore Ravens
Martellus Bennet – TE – Chicago Bears
Cincinnati Bengals D/ST
Rob Bironas – K – Tennessee Titans

Sit ‘Em

Andy Dalton – QB – Cincinnati Bengals
Matt Schaub – QB – Houston Texans
David Wilson – RB – New York Giants
Reggie Bush – RB – Detroit Lions
Andre Johnson – WR – Houston Texans
Greg Jennings – WR – Minnesota Vikings
Jermaine Gresham – TE – Cincinnati Bengals
Kyle Rudolph – TE – Minnesota Vikings
Miami Dolphins D/ST
Randy Bullock – K – Houston Texans

 

 

 

Friday Flashback: When The Zero Made Them Heroes

17-0. From the opening snap of week one to besting the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII, the 1972 Miami Dolphins never tasted defeat. This accomplishment, this perfect season, has not yet been matched (however close certain teams have come), and was recently celebrating in Washington D.C. as President Obama, noting that the ’72 Dolphins never received the now-customary visit to the White House after their Superbowl victory, invited the team into his home and reminded a couple of generations of NFL fans what perfect looked like.

Potus-1973-dolphins

How Perfect Was Perfect?

Over the years, an incredible amount of debate has surrounded that historic season. The most common argument against it being a truly monumental achievement was the Dolphins’ schedule; 1972 was the last year the NFL chose it’s schedule on a rotating basis, not focusing on the prior year’s accomplishments in determining next season’s challenges. Miami’s regular season opponents had a combined winning percentage of just under .400, and they faced only two teams that finished the year with winning records. Certainly a bit of a blemish at first glance, but the underlying adversity is easily overlooked.

First, and foremost, is the “Every Given Sunday” mantra that you hear more often than you’d probably like. It has always held true, as upsets in the NFL are very much commonplace. No team is an “easy win”, regardless of how many times you hear the experts use a form of the phrase.

Miami was coming off of a fantastic season where they came up one game short of a Superbowl title. Don Shula’s arrival in Miami just a year before completely turned the young franchise (born in 1966) around, and including the loss to the Cowboys in Superbowl VI, the Dolphins would play in three straight title games, winning the last two.

Shula’s approach was dependent on two things: a powerful offensive line to key the running game, and a defense that could do its job and keep points off the board. In some ways, the 1972 dolphins were very similar to the Patriots teams that won their Superbowls in the early 2000’s. They were far more run-oriented, however, so much so that on their course to perfection, they became the first team in league history to feature two 1,000-yard backs (Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris), and also included Jim Kiick, who was the team’s clutch 3rd down back and utility man. The 1972 Dolphins sent the majority of their offensive line to the Pro Bowl, and later would send two of them (Center Jim Langer and guard Larry Little) to the Hall of Fame.

The defense, which was known as the “No-Name Defense” due to the large focus paid on the offense, was solid at all three levels, with special players in abundance. The defensive line was keyed by the outstanding play of Pro Bowlers Bill Stanfill at DE and Manny Fernandez at DT, the latter of which allowed fellow Pro Bowl selection Nick Buoniconti to wreak havoc from his MLB position. Behind them all were the best safety tandem in the league at that time, and perhaps of all time; Jake Scott (who would go on to win a Superbowl MVP and Hall of Fame honors) and the horribly underrated Dick Anderson, who was perhaps a better all-around player than his fellow safety. The No-Namers led the NFL in defense in 1972, and when you look at some of the scores of those games (especially in the postseason), you realize how pivotal they were to reaching perfection.

Adversity, However Marginal, Is Still Adversity

Budding star QB Bob Griese broke his ankle in a week 5 matchup against the San Diego Chargers. While the passing game wasn’t the focal point of the offense, Griese and WR Paul Warfield made for a dangerous duo, the latter of which was an underutilized talent that rivaled almost any receiver in the league in those years. Griese wouldn’t see the field again until the AFC Championship game.

Today, to have your starting QB lost for that much time would sink most teams. And as insignificant as it seems when you consider how effective Miami was in other phases of the game, the play of backup QB Earl Morrall (aka ‘Father Time’, a nickname given to him for his 21 seasons as a quarterback and occasional punter) was an understated factor in Miami continuing their winning ways.

While Miami’s schedule was definitely soft, what they did in the postseason that year was phenomenal. Against three very good teams, including a matchup against the emerging Pittsburgh Steelers on the road in the AFC Championship game, the Dolphins held opposing teams to a combined 38 points, including shutting the Washington Redskins down totally in the Superbowl (their only score coming from an infamous botched play by Miami kicker Garo Yepremian). On the other side of the ball, Miami combined for a total of 575 rushing yards. In three games. Playoff games. They also beat the Steelers on their own home turf during the same playoff series that the “Immaculate Reception” took place, which had to make that Pittsburgh team feel destined for glory. There was no stopping perfection that year, though.

Focus On The Facts

The 1972 Miami Dolphins are still the last team to lose the Superbowl and then win it the very next year. That is an incredible feat in and of itself.

When all was said and done, the team sent nine players to the Pro Bowl, and if you include Don Shula, featured seven future Hall of Famers.

While many of their regular season games were nail-biters (winning close games is sometimes considered a more formidable task than blowing a team out, depending on who you ask), the team dominated their fair share of opponents along the way. Between wins of 34-13 (Houston Oilers), 23-0 (Baltimore Colts) and 31-10 (St. Louis Cardinals), the Dolphins absolutely demolished their division rival New England Patriots 52-0.

There is a myth that has been mostly discounted by members of the 1972 Dolphins that says some of the team gets together at the end of each season to celebrate the fact that another year has passed without a team matching their perfect year. While it has happened at certain times (perhaps most notably after the 1985 Miami Dolphins were the only team to beat the Superbowl champion Chicago Bears that year), the idea that these men are still living in the past and focusing solely on that one season is a bit ludicrous. Not a lot of people realize that they turned around and won the Superbowl again in 1973, in much more convincing fashion, trampling the Minnesota Vikings en route to a 24-7 final score.

If you include the 1973 season, the Dolphins lost only two games out of a combined 34.

Finally, and this is not a fact so much as a well-informed and strong opinion…I feel the NFL should seriously consider renaming the Lombardi trophy. I think you can guess what head coach I feel deserves to have his name on that trophy. You know, the guy who won more games than any other head coach, won Superbowls with two different teams and led the only perfect team in NFL history. That guy.

Will It Ever Happen Again?

I think I’ll see it in my lifetime, and the 2007 New England Patriots convinced me of that. Despite all the NFL has done over the years to create true parity amongst its teams, dynasties and consistent winners remain. It takes a very special and very complete team, with luck on their side and the will to persevere through any and all adversity, to even sniff at the perfection the 1972 Miami Dolphins obtained. I still think I’ll see it, though, and when I do, it’ll be a bittersweet thing.

That perfect season is one of the best things I can hold over the heads of my NFL-loving family during our regular discussions/arguments, after all.

perfection

Tuesday Morning Double-Back

We here at Kevbo Industries are currently (still) working on a proper, professional logo for this column. Please excuse the absence of flash and appreciate instead the awesome substance of the words below.

Go Fins Go!

Being wrong is never as sweet as it is when you pick against your team. We’re getting the job done in all three phases, all four quarters. We’re not closing teams out early, but we’re winning, and so many teams in NFL history have won like this, and won consistently as well. I’m starting to believe in the 2013 Dolphins…but Drew Brees and the Saints are going to be a bigger challenge than the banged up Falcons.

What We Learned On Thursday

There is very little doubt that Philadelphia needed a change at head coach. Andy Reid’s tenure had run its course, his glory years were far enough behind him, and the fan base who wanted more than five NFC Championship game appearances and a Superbowl loss were fed up well before last year’s 4-12 collapse.

That being said, we all have to think there’s a small part of Reid that is smirking inside after his Chiefs had their way with his old club.

Kansas City is winning with smart football and tough defense, a formula that works more often than a high-flying passing game and a suspect defense does. If they weren’t working in the same division as the Broncos, there might actually be a race for the top spot in the works. A race for a wildcard spot? Reid has his team right where they want to be after three weeks.

Chip Kelly is going to learn, and learn fast, what NFL football is all about. This season is going to be a learning experience where his team explodes for 30+ one week, and struggles to do more than kick field goals the next. The Eagles still have to feel pretty good about their chances this year, in a division that includes two 0-3 teams and a certain group from Dallas that is notorious for looking good until it’s time to look great.

What We Learned On Sunday

For starters, we learned to appreciate the underdogs. There were few who expected the Ravens, Panthers, Bengals, Browns, Titans, Dolphins, and Colts to win their matchups. They all did, and regardless of how much each win actually meant in the long term, these games are EXACTLY why you watch football every Sunday, all day. No matter how clear cut a game may look, in each 60 minutes of football there are chances for either team to succeed.

Then, of course, there are the Jaguars. Officially the worst team in the league, Jacksonville has such a long way to go to relevance that I don’t think there’s a fan in the world who can see that light at the end of the tunnel.

After watching Seattle take it to the 49ers, and then confidently and convincingly win a game we all knew they had no right to lose, I’m almost (but not quite) ready to appreciate the hype they’ve been receiving since the end of last year.

San Fransisco getting physically dominated by the “finesse” Indianapolis Colts feels like a bad omen towards all that Seahawk hype being justified, as well. Whatever’s going on in San Fran, Big Baby Harbaugh needs to show his coaching prowess and get his team turned around in a hurry, because Seattle isn’t going to wait behind for them to catch up.

There were about three games’ worth of confusing, befuddling, hard to believe plays in the Packers-Bengals matchup, and in the end the team who took better advantage of those opportunities won the game. Notice I didn’t say “the better team won the game”.

Those coaching hot seats are starting to warm up, even if Mike Tomlin (Steelers), Mike Shanahan (Washington) and Tom Coughlin (Giants) will get a year pass for their past successes. 0-3 is 0-3, and each of these teams have glaring holes in their rosters, holes that are hard to envision being filled by a sudden jump in performance by players already on their respective teams.

This year’s version of the Chicago Bears are going to give the Packers an extremely serious run for the NFC North. Especially if the Packers continue to gift-wrap turnovers…no team in the league feeds off of them like da Bears.

What We Learned On Monday

I’m not sure we learned anything, to be honest. The Broncos are still the class of the AFC, the Raiders are still a team who needs to improve internally and in bringing in more talent. Pryor’s concussion was on a seemingly idiotic designed run when the game was already out of reach…young coach, young team, a loooooong way to go.

It was frightening to see Eric Decker find his stride. Any given week, one of Manning’s weapons are going to shine, making all of them fantasy studs and duds in the same breath. That’s what we call a paradox wrapped in an enigma, folks.

It’s The Numbers, Stupid (Part 1)

The Panthers were three sacks away from breaking the Giants’ own record for most sacks in a half when they either took down (or scared him into falling down) Eli Manning six times in the first two quarters.

Ouch.

I’m sure most people cringed when they heard about Cardinals safety Rashad Johnson losing the tip of his left middle finger during their game against the Saints. That didn’t do it to me, this quote from teammate Patrick Peterson, however, did:

“That’s nuts,” Peterson said. “Especially the way the trainers were explaining the incident when he came out to the sidelines and his gloves were drenched in blood and it was leaking like a faucet.

“I can’t imagine that. I can’t even imagine feeling and seeing that as if I was Rashad.”

Neither can I, Pat. Neither can I.

What Are You Doing, Christian Ponder?

If anyone was watching, you saw the play I’m thinking of: driving down the field, time winding down, you need a touchdown. Ponder takes the snap, drops, runs up into the pocket, and….if you watch replays, you see the right side of the field is 100% wide open for him to take off, maybe get the first but definitely get to the sideline to stop the clock and a grab a chunk of yards in the process. Instead he throws it to (I believe) Kyle Rudolph, in the middle of the field, while he’s surrounded by Browns defenders. He made the catch (unfortunately), and took away any chance the Vikings had of efficiently moving down the Browns’ half of the field to score a game-winning touchdown. Each week it seems Ponder gives the Vikings more and more reason to start scouting next year’s QB draft class.

What Are You Doing, Josh Freeman?

Gearing up for a career as a backup QB is the correct answer. I’m on the record as saying something isn’t right in Tampa, and that it begins with ownership and trickles down into bad relationships between players and coaches…but there’s almost no excuse for how inefficient, inaccurate and inconsistent Freeman has been so far this year. He’s shown in the past (with less to work with) that he can be a damn good player, but it’s fast becoming apparent that those moments (games, years, whatever) are a mirage. He’s past the point where you’re allowed to say “give him another year to progress”. This is that year, and progression is a fast fading memory.

It’s The Numbers, Stupid (Part 2)

The 49ers have given up a combined 84 points throughout three games, averaging 28 per. In 2012, they gave up just over 17 points average per game. At the pace they’re going, they’ll give up close to 200 more points this year than last. What gives? Seriously, someone explain this to me. I’ve got nothing.

What Are You Doing, Ndamukong Suh?

An apparently clean week for Suh, but the NFL is reviewing a play during last week’s loss to the Cardinals were Suh clearly threw an elbow at an Arizona lineman’s head. You can see the replay here. That cancels out last week’s vote of clean, giving him a 33.3 percent clean-to-dirty game ratio after three weeks. With everyone’s attention on every snap he plays, this portion of TMDB is going to continue to shine in the weeks to come.

Weekly Awards

QB Of The Week: Ryan Tannehill. Knowing that Matty Ice was on the other sideline, the young man playing only his 4th season at the QB position was poised, confident and extremely efficient, especially in leading that game-winning drive in the 4th quarter. It’s about time the talking heads who follow the NFL to at least start mentioning Tannehill in the same breath as Alex Smith.

RB Of The Week: DeMarco Murray. This is that balance Jason Garrett has been talking about for two years. The Cowboys have a bad tendency to get away from their running game when it stalls early in a game. Murray didn’t stall until he sat down in front of his locker after a 175 yard performance against a pretty damn good defense.

WR Of The Week: Jordan Cameron. Since we don’t have a TE column, and since without him, the Browns probably don’t beat the Vikings, we’re making an exception this week. Minnesota had absolutely no answer for him, and his 3 TDs were the most for any pass catcher in week 3. Gronkowski the 2nd?

Offensive Line Of The Week: Dallas Cowboys. I don’t know how you don’t give it to them, when they held firm against two of the league’s best pass rushers and cleared the way for the league’s week 3 rushing leader along the way. Solid effort from a group that hopefully is starting to find their stride.

Defensive Performance Of The Week: Cincinnati Bengals. I was so worried about this matchup that I went and found replacement defenses for them in both of my fantasy leagues, and paid the price in each instance. They gave Rodgers fits and essentially won the game with turnovers, including Terrance Newman’s game-winning fumble return for a score.

Goat Of The Week: Tom Coughlin. When your team is terrible in all three phases, but look like they shouldn’t be on paper, where else do you cast the blame? I don’t actually believe any of it is truly Coughlin’s fault (underachieving to the maximum and glaring holes on the roster are the culprits here), but the sh*t usually rolls to the guy who runs the team before it hits anyone else. Between his team’s performance Sunday and the unexpected loss of his brother earlier in the week, the man has my heartfelt sympathy.

Coaching Performance Of The Week: Andy Reid. His inside knowledge of Vick’s tendencies, wise offensive gameplanning and emotional disengagement from facing his former team all played pivotal in the Chiefs controlling the Eagles for about 55 of 60 minutes.

Kev’s Fantasy/Pick ‘Em Standings

Another bad week all around. Lost in both fantasy leagues, and one of them was after scoring a grand total of 38 points. Things have to change in this department. I should have known that first week sweep was a mirage.

Not much better on my picks, although I still am proud of myself for going with Baltimore over Houston. 9-7 on the week (remind me to pick against the Giants, Vikings and Redskins for the rest of the year…a joke for my family, not serious) and taught a lesson that the underdog deserves more appreciation than what I gave ’em this week.

A side note: my mother got the most wins right this week. Her football knowledge is, to put it as nicely as I possibly can, limited. Just goes to show you that Pick ‘Em, just like Fantasy Football, is 50% knowledge and 50% dumb luck.

What’s Next?

If the 49ers want to avoid a deep hole, they’re going to have to get past a team in St. Louis that they couldn’t top in 2012. Should make for a good Thursday Night matchup (which is rare since they’ve been doing Thursday nighters every week).

We’re guaranteed that at least one 0-3 team will come out with a victory when the Vikings host the Steelers on Sunday. I’m putting my money on Adrian Peterson.

The Redskins need to come out of Oakland with their first win, or Shanahan can make the same speech he did last year a lot earlier, and expect it to hold true.

Seahawks at Texans, Bears at Lions and Patriots at Falcons are three fascinating games. All the road teams are coming off of solid, convincing wins, and only one of the home teams (Detroit) won this week. Home field advantage might mean precisely squat in these games, which matchup-wise should also be the games to watch next week.

If the Dolphins beat the Saints, at least one grown man will be crying in the world.

Final Thoughts

This was something a friend of mine touched on, and something I’ve noticed as well throughout the first three weeks; the NFL instated a new rule that states a running back cannot put his head down and lead with it while making contact with a defender. I’ve seen this rule broken approximately 24 times since week one, and I haven’t seen a flag called for it yet. Did I miss the memo where the NFL decided to do away with this rule, or were they just trying to divert teams into passing more like they’ve been doing via rule changes for the past decade plus?

Jim Harbaugh is an obnoxious, infantile and hypocritical human being. His rants about HGH and possible steroid abuse by other teams during the offseason were turned absolutely laughable after he allowed Aldon Smith to play a couple days after nearly killing himself (or, God forbid, somebody else) while driving while intoxicated about twice over the legal limit. Yes, I’m aware HGH and booze aren’t the same thing, but substance abuse is substance abuse and Harbaugh proved that he cares more about winning that he does about the integrity of his team.

Well, he proved that at the end of the Superbowl last year, too, but it’s nice to see him continue to be a juvenile in man’s clothes. When he stopped to shake Andrew Luck’s hand after his old Stanford pupil led the team that dismantled Harbaugh’s this week, you almost want to believe Luck said something to the tune of “That’s how you play QB for the Colts, Harbaby.”

His brother is twice the man he is, and twice the coach as well.

The NFC East may have an 0-3 team win the division. I need to do some research to see if this has ever happened before. My best guess is no, but you never know until you know, right?

Until next time, a joke I recently heard:

How many Vikings does it take to win the Superbowl?
Answer: Nobody knows.
(Insert Bills for Vikings if you’d like).

Week Three Primer

Each Sunday morning during the season, I’ll be bringing you my picks for each game and some last-minute fantasy football advice for you league legions out there. As always, enjoy and I hope it helps you with your picks/leagues!

Week 3 Picks

Baltimore 24 – Houston 21

I’m going with my gut on this one, and the gutsy, ugly way the Ravens are capable of winning will likely surface in a game that could easily go either way. These are the games that Baltimore has a better recent history of finding a way to win.

New York 34 – Carolina 28

This has to be the week the G-Men turn things around, right? Eli is facing a secondary that is absolutely riddled with injuries and inexperience, and whether or not the running game gets going, he should slice and dice the Panthers. If the Giants lose this game, the rest of the season starts to look rather bleak.

Green Bay 31 – Cincinnati – 20

The Packers first two games were shootouts where their defense was looking across the field at an unconventional offense, with QBs that could just as easily beat them with their feet as their arms. Against a more conventional, vanilla offense, the pash rush will come to life while Rodgers does his thing against a stout defense.

Dallas 24 – St. Louis 20

In a game the Cowboys could easily lose, I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt for two reasons. First and foremost, they’re more potent on offense. Second, home field advantage. But it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if the talking heads of postgame, halftime and NFL Network start chants of “Same old Cowboys” after this one.

Minnesota  27 – Cleveland 9

Without Trent Richardson, the Browns offense suddenly looks like a disaster area. The Vikings, despite Christan Ponder’s uninspiring play, will handily beat the Browns and kickstart a bit of a revival towards relevance in the NFC North.

New England 20 – Tampa Bay 10

The inevitable collapse of the Buccaneers will continue this week, as they stumble into Foxborough and are taken advantage of by a Patriots defense that feeds off of turnovers. This isn’t the week the Patriots offense suddenly explodes, but they’re winning games the way they did when they used to win Superbowls…and the ‘W’ is all that matters in the end.

New Orleans 27 – Arizona 20

They won’t need the last-minute heroics of Sean Payton and Drew Brees to take this one, but it’ll still be a close shave. The Cardinals aren’t cutting anyone breaks this year, but then again, neither are the Saints.

San Diego 31 – Tennessee – 21

The resurgence of Philip Rivers will continue against a team that just can’t seem to find a balance or an identity. The injuries are piling up for the Chargers, but once again my gut tells me they take to the road and get things done this week.

Washington 38 – Detroit 31

The defense will still look like hammered sh*t by the end of the game, but this is the week for the Skins to begin turning things around. The Lions are going nowhere, and it’s as baffling now as it has been for the past several years…they find a way to get in their own way better than any team in the NFL.

Atlanta 30 – Miami 24

I am a homer, but I have my limits, and my Fins beating the Falcons, despite all of Atlanta’s injuries, is pushing those limits. Would a Miami win surprise me? More than a little, but at the same time, this is the week where we sort of determine where we’re truly heading in 2013. Closer than last year, but still not quite capable of pulling out these kind of wins…that’s my feeling on it.

Buffalo 20 – New York 17

Another bit of last-minute heroics for the better of the two rookie QBs on these teams? Sure, why not? The Jets will mostly limit the Bills defensively, but with a shaky offense and the inevitable C.J. Spiller breaks for big chunks, the Jets won’t have the answers in a close one.

Seattle 31 – Jacksonville 3

If the Seahawks are as good as they decided they were last Sunday, then this game is going to be the 2nd easiest to pick in week 3. Marshawn Lynch fantasy owners, prepare to win your games.

49ers 27 – Indianapolis 21

The Colts won’t make it easy, and the 49ers are starting to show some holes on their defense that simply didn’t exist (or were more easily covered up) last year. Still, the trip into Candlestick will not fare well for the Colts, with or without Trent Richardson. Ultimately, it’ll be the Luck that runs a little too low this week.

Chicago 28 – Pittsburgh 17

Anyone, and I mean anyone, who thinks the Steelers’ woes will suddenly reverse course against this Bears team is simply living in denial of what I’ve been saying since before the season began; Pittsburgh is heading in the wrong direction, and they’re doing it at a speed that is going to cost more than one person a job. Paging Todd Haley…and bring your ridiculous playbook.

Denver 45 – Oakland 20

No doubt the easiest pick of the week, the Broncos will keep on (steam)rolling against the lowly Raiders. Darren McFadden has been a thorn of sorts in the Broncos’ side throughout his career, but that won’t be anywhere near enough to keep up with Mile High Manning ™.

Fantasy Start ’em/Sit ’em

Most ‘experts’ do this by position, but I’m just going to throw up 10 guys for each side that I think will have great/terrible weeks statistically. I’m right more often than I’m wrong, folks! Give me Fabiano’s job.

Start ’em

Jay Cutler – QB – Chicago Bears
Robert Griffin III – QB – Washington Redskins
Marshawn Lynch – RB – Seattle Seahawks
Chris Johnson – RB – Tennessee Titans
Matt Forte – RB – Chicago Bears
Anquan Boldin – WR – San Fransisco 49ers
Eddie Royal – WR – San Diego Chargers
Julius Thomas – TE – Denver Broncos
Matt Prater – K – Denver Broncos
Seattle Seahawks D/ST

Sit ‘Em

Andy Dalton – QB – Cincinnati Bengals
Tom Brady – QB – New England Patriots
James Starks – RB – Green Bay Packers
Maurice Jones-Drew – RB – Jacksonville Jaguars
Dez Bryant – WR – Dallas Cowboys (you almost can’t, but If I had him, I would without hesitation this week.)
Marques Colston – WR – New Orleans Saints
Jermichael Finley – TE – Green Bay Packers
Ed Dickson – TE – Balitmore Ravens
Rob Bironas – K – Tennessee Titans
Tampa Bay Buccaneers D/ST

Flashback Friday: A Dolfan Is Born

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I got that jersey when I was 12 years old. Still fits (barely), and more than anything, it signifies why I’m a Dolphins fan.

Pick And Stick

My actual fandom began before receiving that jersey, somewhere around the age of seven if I had to guess. In my home, me and my brother were raised by my mother, her brother and their mother. It was the five of us until I was in my late teens. My uncle was like a father to me and my brother, and it just so happened that his biggest passion in life was NFL football. He was, is and always will be a Minnesota Vikings fan, whom he picked as a child during their Purple People Eaters heyday.

I remember packs of football cards, back when they still game with the cheap stick of bubblegum on top. I remember countless games of catch and being taught the particulars of passing, catching, running, blocking and tackling. The first actual game I can remember watching was the 49ers and…somebody else. It was certainly a playoff game, and I remember Joe Montana, Jerry Rice and how the announcers seemed to think they were the greatest team ever.

At some point (like I said, around seven if my memory serves) it came time for me to pick a team. My uncle instilled in me a sort of vital importance in the choice I made: rooting for any team is fine, but “your” team is “your” team. You live and die, laugh and cry for them, for life. It left an impression on my mind, and I do remember taking a good deal of time with the choice.

What ultimately led to my choice was, first and foremost, the way my uncle talked about Dan Marino. #13. He used to say that he had the quickest release he’d ever seen, that he was maybe the best QB to ever play the game, and despite Montana’s rings, probably the better of the two when it came to pure passing ability.

So I started paying closer attention to this Marino guy, and the team he played for. I noticed the aqua, orange and white jerseys were totally cool and seemed unique amongst other teams. I noticed, whether on television or on the backs of my ever-growing football card collection, guys like John Offerdahl, Louis Oliver, Richmond Webb. History lessons from my uncle taught me that their coach, Don Shula, had been there since way before I was born, and led the only team to ever finish a season undefeated, from opening day to the Superbowl. I learned names; Bob Griese, Larry Czonka, Mercury Morris, Paul Warfield, the No-Name Defense, Jake Scott and Larry Little and, later on, the Marks brothers. I learned that Dan Marino had taken the league by storm in his first three seasons, breaking a bunch of records and leading his team to the Superbowl, where Joe Montana and a well-coached 49ers team finally showed the league how to shut down the juggernaut passing attack Miami had at the time.

I took all this in, along with names, histories and close attention paid to uniforms and current players for all the other teams. At first, I thought it would be the coolest thing to do to proclaim myself a Vikings fan; they were my uncle’s team, after all, and I always thought the purple and gold uniform somehow outclassed every other team’s.

But I came to my senses. Looking at a photo of all the NFL teams and their divisions (this was before the divisional reassigning that took place later), I pointed my finger out at the white helmet with the dolphin jumping towards the outline of the sun.

I was a Miami Dolphins fan, and I knew I always would be.

Hometown team? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Hometown Team

We grew up in central New Jersey, closer to Philadelphia than New York, so the Eagles were considered our hometown team. We lived about an hour from Philly, but it never even occurred to me that I might want to be an Eagles fan. That Kelly Green looked like boogers to my seven year old mind, and besides, all everyone seemed to do was complain about them. Their fans most of all.

My uncle grew up in the same area, so there was no local pride in him riding with the Vikings all his life. When it came time for my younger brother to pick his team, I don’t think the Eagles ever crossed his mind either. He ended up pointing at the same picture hanging in my uncle’s bedroom…only he pointed at the helmet of the Washington Redskins. Why? Oddly enough, I don’t really remember, but it very well could have been sibling rivalry; the Dolphins and Redskins had played one another in the Superbowl twice, with the Dolphins taking the earlier of the two (and capping our perfect season in the process), and a guy named John Riggins and the infamous Hogs offensive line bruising my Fins the second time around.

Whatever his reasons, or my uncle’s, or my own, we were now officially fans of teams that were nowhere within our area. Throughout my life, I’ve gotten so many responses of “you used to live in Florida?” or some similar question reflecting disbelief in who my team is, but to the three of us, it was perfectly natural. You picked the team that was closest to your heart, not the team that was the closest to you. If one happened to be the other, so be it, but it most certainly wasn’t the case for us.

No Ring For #13

By the time I started rooting for them, I came to understand that, despite having a future Hall of Fame QB and head coach, there was a team in our division that had our number more often than not. Yeah, the team that went to four straight Superbowls and lost each and every one of them: the Buffalo Bills. I was probably no older than 8 when I came to understand what a division rivalry meant, and to this day, I cannot tolerate the Bills. I pity them now, but they had more chances than #13 did and squandered them all. Bitterness ensues to this day.

It seemed like we were in the playoffs every season, or at least competing for them. New faces came, old faces went, but Dan the Man and the Don were the constants, and something told me it was going to happen sooner or later; they’d get that ring, hold that Lombardi trophy up for the world to see who was the best. But it never happened. Don left first, but when he did, he did it as the coach with the most wins in the history of the NFL. I still maintain that a reasonable debate can be made for calling the Lombardi trophy the Shula trophy, as I honestly believe the latter was the better coach overall.

I can still remember the last game #13 played. A playoff game against the upstart Jacksonville Jaguars. I watched some of the game at home, but was forced to listen to most of it on the road with my grandmother and uncle. Cannot recall exactly why we were out at the time, but I will never forget the feeling in the pit of my stomach as I listened to Marino and my Fins get decimated to the tune of 62-7. I was in a state of disbelief for the next few months, as our apparent savior (Jimmy Johnson) resigned the very day after that debacle of a loss, and Marino finally called it a career that March.

To this day, we haven’t found replacements for either.

Laugh And Cry, Laugh And Cry

Ricky Williams. Zach Thomas. Jason Taylor.
Jay Fiedler. Ray Lucas. Daunte Culpepper. Chad Henne.
Ronnie Brown. Jake Long. Sam Madison. Patrick Surtain.

Big names, smaller names, came and went from year to year. Our defense was something to behold with Thomas and Taylor in their prime, but our offense never could keep pace. By the time Ricky Williams showed up and took the league on a two-year ride for the ages, all that was stopping us was the guy under center…the football Gods had decreed, all pieces were to be in place after the main piece had been removed.

21 years of cheers, tears, bitter hatred (the Monday Night Miracle, Burn Ricky Burn, Bill Bellichek, etc), amazing moments (Run Ricky Run, going from 1-15 to 11-5 division champs the very next season, etc) and a constant feeling of “we’re getting better…aren’t we?” later, and I’m a Miami Dolphins fan. I bleed aqua and orange.

I hate the Jets with a passion. I respect the hell out of the Patriots, but they could have went and started a dynasty in another division (or conference for that matter), and I will always harbor a bitter resentment at the Bills somehow besting #13 during what should have been the peak of his career. The Colts used to be in our division, but were so terrible while they were that I cannot recall anything that made me dislike them. They were an easy win.

I’m a Dolphins fan. Dan Marino, unique uniforms, and a handful of awesome players from the distant and not-so-distant past are some of the reasons. But the ultimate reason? The words of my uncle, who made it perfectly clear: you pick one, and you never give up on them, even if they seem to give up on you sometimes.

(By the way, I root for the Eagles. The Andy Reid era, and the change from that hideous color of green, were great for me. But if they ever played the Dolphins (don’t recall it ever happening, honestly, but I’m sure it did), you know damn well who I was rooting for.

Go Fins Go!

Monday (Tuesday) Morning Double-Back

We here at Kevbo Industries are currently working on a proper, professional logo for this column. Please excuse the absence of flash and appreciate instead the awesome substance of the words below.

Go Fins Go!

I admit, I had my reservations about this game. The Colts, and Andrew Luck in particular, got the better of us only a season ago, and Mr. Luck certainly looked primed for another outstanding season after his ultra-efficient first week. The final score was as close as I predicted (go back and check, a four-point difference was my call), and Miami finally let Mike Wallace go to work. The running game took a big step forward, and with our defense now officially playing consistent football, my early prediction of Miami possibly being a wildcard team looks even better as we sit at 2-0.

What We Learned On Thursday

These are not the Patriots we’ve grown accustomed to. What many are failing to recognize, however, is that they look more like the Patriots that won those Superbowls back when Tom Brady first arrived on the scene. They’re winning by playing solid defense, and waiting for the young receivers and a healthy Rob Gronkowski to provide the balance the team will need to take the AFC East yet again. Yes, as a Dolphins fan I am about as tired of it happening as anyone else is, but I can’t help but respect the hell out of a team that continues to maintain as upper-echelon for so long.

The Jets have never been an easy out in divisional games in the Rex Ryan era, so the final score didn’t surprise me. Neither did Geno Smith’s mistake-prone performance. Neither did a defense that will probably end up in the top ten by the end of the season. If their offense didn’t look like my old high school’s, I might actually consider the Jets an underdog for a wildcard slot. But it does, and they’re not, but they should be a tough matchup so long as the defense keeps it up.

What We Learned On Sunday

Week 1 is essentially a preview week, a glimpse of what might be, what definitely isn’t, and the beginning of the mystery that each of the 32 teams represent. Week 2 is the official start of the clarification process, the unraveling of the mystery. By week 6, you’re going to have a solid feel on what the NFL is shaping up to be in 2013. If things continue the way they are, the Broncos are going to the Superbowl, and the NFC is going to fight tooth and nail for the honor.

My main focus this week, beyond my Dolphins, was what I’m dubbing “hotseat watch 2013” for a handful of head coaches around the league. I am not afraid to proclaim that Greg Schiano is officially toasting his own buns in Tampa Bay, losing two games that they should have won in a fashion that screams “discontent”. Something is brewing on that team that is going to spill over before long, and I think you’re going to see an entirely new look to the Buccaneers. Schiano, Josh Freeman and most of the staff are going to be seeking new employment by the team next year begins, mark my words.

While their situation seems slightly more hopeful, Ron Rivera is gone sometime between now and 2014. I can hardly blame the man for the Panthers inability to close out these games, but the proverbial sh*t rolls downhill, and it starts with the HC. The real problem in Carolina? The new offensive system is stifling Cam Newton’s natural abilities, and the secondary is most likely amongst the 5 worst in the league, and was before injuries began to take their toll. If you saw the last play of the game against Buffalo, you realize Chris Berman could have gotten the ball to Stevie Johnson on that pass. Most embarrassing play of the week, and a perfect synopsis of why the Panthers are going to struggle mightily in a division with Drew Brees and Matt Ryan.

Beyond the hotseats beginning to simmer, the main topic of discussion with many analysts at this point is the Washington Redskins 0-2 start. The schedule was unkind to them, make no mistake, as they followed up facing Chip Kelly’s mystery offense with Aaron Rodgers’ Greatest Show In The North. But, much like Carolina, this secondary is a major weakness. I fully expect the entire team to improve as the season progresses, but they’re already in a hole that seems deep enough to keep them out of the playoffs. Lucky for them, they’re in the one division where an 0-2 start means the least.

Ask the Giants about that. Also, somebody ask anyone on the team not named Eli Manning, Hakeem Nicks or Victor Cruz to make something happen. Brandon Jacobs is not going to fix the running game; David Wilson calling Tiki Barber and asking him how not to fumble is, and until Wilson learns this vital trait, the offense will remain one-dimensional, predictable and ultimately beatable so long as the opposing team can keep up for about two quarters.

Ravens fans, don’t worry. Stay healthy, keep playing solid defense (nobody playing Denver will be accused of this in 2013, so call that a pass) and you’ll get where you need to be. Just don’t expect the season to end like it did last year.

Minnesota, you have my sympathies. The amount of great plays you made in that game would equal a win in about 80% of games, but the Bears are clicking on all cylinders, and Jay Cutler isn’t “seeing ghosts anymore” (direct quote), and as I predicted, the Bears are going to be the team battling with the Packers for the North this year.

It certainly isn’t going to be the Lions. Something has to change in Detroit, and soon.

Chip Kelly is going to have to learn when to let off of the gas. Hopefully, he’s being sincere when he’s blaming himself for not running the clock on that last drive. Situational football is a big part of the NFL, a small part of the college game; you can’t expect him to learn that lesson without firsthand experience. Let’s see if it sticks. We just saw Michael Vick do what he’s been capable of since he entered the league, and shame on every coach who ever had him at their disposal and couldn’t figure out how to use him. A tough loss, but these Eagles are for real. Just turn your head when their defense is on the field, and you’ll start seeing things my way.

Sunday Night was one of the absolute worst officiated games I’ve ever watched. I wish I could say it benefited Seattle as I was convinced Colin Kaepernick would work his stuff and quiet the infamous 12th Man of Qwest Field. The calls went against both teams, and the majority of them were ridiculous at best and utterly laughable the rest of the time. In between all the flags, the Seahawks dominated their division rival in a fashion that makes me a little uncomfortable about calling them overhyped. I still don’t see them in the Superbowl, but the next month will be more telling.

What We Learned On Monday

Remember when I said this was going to be a long year in Pittsburgh? Well, they have fight in them, I’ll give them that. Of course, that’s what you say about every team in the league who loses close games more often than they win them, and Steelers fans better get used to the taste. There is a hole bigger than Roethlisberger’s bank account around him in terms of talent, and Todd Haley is proving quickly to not be the answer as an offensive playcaller. I swear I saw an end around to Jericho Cotchery, who couldn’t outrun Vince Wilfork if Wilfork spotted him a few seconds. What?

The Bengals are for real, but they should have been more convincing tonight. Dalton’s stellar week one performance was followed up by a 25-45 day, representing the inconsistency that has plagued him so far in his short career. Hey, 14 more games to work on it, right? You’re certainly on the right track, Red Rifle, and you’ve got the supporting cast to make up for your bad days.
It’s The Numbers, Stupid (Part 1)

After two games, Alex Smith has more rushing yards than the entire New York Giants team. That’s Alex Smith, the quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs.

What Are You Doing, Richard Sherman?

I’m not a fool, and I’m not going to dismiss the man’s talent; he’s at the very least a top-5 CB at this point in his career. But can this man open his mouth without making an absolute fool out of himself? Putting a microphone and camera in front of him is akin to filming a train wreck; if you don’t cringe at the results, you need to reassess some things.

What Are You Doing, Nmdamakong Suh?

Nothing. We’re going to be keeping a tally on Suh this year, folks. So far, he’s one for two in terms of getting through 60 minutes of football without a deliberate attempt to maim, insult, or end another player’s career. Is his glass half empty, or half full?

It’s The Numbers, Stupid (Part 2)

The top defense in the league after two weeks (Seattle) is giving up a whopping 5 points per game. The worst defense (Washington) is giving up 35.5.

It’s The Numbers, Stupid (Part 3)

Between the three of them, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Philip Rivers (!) have thrown a combined 23 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. In two games. Two of these teams have played the Washington Redskins.

Weekly Awards

QB Of the Week: EJ Manuel. I can’t imagine a better scenario to get your first NFL win for a QB. I think you just might have found your guy this time, Buffalo.

RB Of The Week: Marshawn Lynch. Beast Mode wasn’t in full swing, but against the 49ers defense, that stat line looked awfully impressive. Without him, Seattle might still have won, but to a less impressive tune of 9-3 or something silly like that.

WR Of The Week: Julio Jones. Questionable all week, game-time decision on sunday? 11 Receptions, 182 yards and a TD. When do we start calling him Atlanta’s #1 target?

Offensive Line Of The Week: Seattle Seahawks. It ties in with the Lynch pick, but they also played the majority of the game without their stud LT and (mostly) manhandled the vaunted 49ers D regardless.

Defensive Performance Of The Week: Kansas City Chiefs. I honestly don’t care what the pundits say, that Dallas offense is dangerous, and holding it to one touchdown is an impressive feat. Dontari Poe may not be the bust we thought he was last year after all.

Goat Of The Week: Eli Manning. Hell, I feel terrible about this pick, but 4 interceptions against a defense that certainly isn’t as good as that number might seem just…the lack of a running game generated all those throws, but Eli is supposed to be the calmer, cooler Manning brother, and this was obviously the biggest game of the year so far for the Giants.

Coach Of The Week: Sean Payton. Remember John Harbaugh’s words: “It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t perfect, but nothing ever is.” The playcalling on that game-winning drive could not have been more perfect if it was scripted in Hollywood. In a game that close, knowing how to deliver the knockout punch at the last second is something that was missing from this team without Payton on the sideline in 2012.

Kev’s Fantasy/Pick ‘Em Standings

Big fantasy letdown after a 3-0 start in all leagues, as I turned around and lost big in all three leagues, including a particularly embarrassing beatdown courtesy of my brother.

An impressive 11-4 this week picking winners, 20-11 on the year after two weeks. There are people who get paid to do this who have worse numbers (it’s true, I looked it up). In the goofy words of Deion Sanders, “Pay That Man”. That man being me.

Just as an aside, I apologize to anyone who started Jared Cook or sat Matt Ryan in fantasy due to my advice. I’m not always right, but when I’m wrong, especially when advising my readers, I feel a sense of responsibility to at least offer an apology. Seeing as how I lost in three different fantasy leagues, however, don’t expect any sympathy from me this week. That well is dry at the moment.

What’s Next?

Dolphins are 2-0 on the road to start the season, but I am dreading our home opener. Atlanta is not a team to trifle with, and are by far the toughest test so far. It sickens me to pick against my team, but I’m leaning towards Atlanta (but it’ll be close, I promise you that).

Thursday night matchups are, generally speaking, terrible and get progressively worse as the season goes on. Andy Reid’s Philadelphia homecoming may be the best Thursday game of the year, so don’t miss it. Those fans are going to be bouncing, one way or another, for four quarters and then some.

The Giants and Redskins will have prime opportunities to patch their sinking ships this week, with favorable matchups against the Panthers and Lions, respectively. I know the Lions can rack up the points, but they’ll be traveling this week, and they’re not exactly a force to be reckoned with on the road. If either of these teams fall to 0-3, it’s time to start seriously considering major changes across their rosters going forward. The NFC East can be won by a team that starts 0-3, of that I have no doubt…but do you really want to have to win it like that?

To me, the most intriguing game this week will be Cincinnati and Green Bay. If the Bengals take that game, and Baltimore looks as ugly as they did in their 14-6 win over the lowly Browns in this week’s game against the Texans…well, it’s never too early to start thinking my preseason Power Rankings may have been incorrect.

The 49ers already got the doubt train rolling on that front.

Final Thoughts

The NFL is a pass-first league, but if you can’t run the ball at least averagely, you’re not going to go far. The majority of Superbowl winners in the past decade have had running games that ranked in the top half of the league during that particular regular season. Anyone who watches playoff football closely knows especially how important it is to control the clock, keeping the ball out of the hands of the likely elite QB on the other sideline. Just something to keep in mind as the season progresses, and certain playoff hopefuls struggle to get their ground games going.

I love the NFL Network, but I also have my criticisms. The most obvious is their desire to utilize former players as analysts. If you’re going to do this, try to choose those who can do more than look good in front of a camera. Anyone who tells me Deion Sanders, Michael Irvin or Warren Sapp are good at their new jobs can buy a bridge off of me. Dirt cheap.

Larry Fitzgerald, if you’re reading this, I own you in each of my three fantasy leagues. If you’re up for it, I can get you the HGH you need. I’m not a trained doctor or rehab specialist, but I’ll also fly to Arizona and spend the flight reading books on hamstring injuries and how to treat them, and do whatever I can to get you back to where you need to be. Just let me know.

Never forget the butt fumble. Never forget.

Until next time, remember this: Eli is a one sharp punch to Peyton’s shoulder away from getting even for what happened Sunday. Anyone with a brother will understand how and why it works this way.

Week Two Primer – Picks And Fantasy Advice

Each Sunday morning during the season, I’ll be bringing you my picks for each game and some last-minute fantasy football advice for you league legions out there. As always, enjoy and I hope it helps you with your picks/leagues!

Week 2 Picks

Atlanta 20 – St. Louis 17

With Roddy White hobbled and Julio Jones questionable, Atlanta will lean on Steven Jackson and end up with as many field goals as TDs in a hard fought victory.

Baltimore 28 – Cleveland 13

Baltimore has a history of coming back strong off of defeats, averaging over 20 points in victories following losses. Cleveland is coming off of a thorough beatdown at the hands of the Dolphins’ defense, and will still be reeling once week 2 is in the books.

Carolina 24 – Buffalo 14

Expect a heavy dose of DeAngelo Williams as the new-look, ‘balanced’ Panthers rebound from an ugly loss to Seattle in week 1. EJ Manuel will continue to progress, but a solid pass rush will stop him and Buffalo from keeping pace.

Chicago 30 – Minnesota 24

While the Vikings could hold the Bears to less points, I see a huge game in store for the Cutler-Marshall connection, which most teams have no answer for. With Christan Ponder a true liability and a tough defense in front of them, Adrian Peterson will grind the team along, but ultimately won’t be able to overcome a more balanced team.

Green Bay 38 – Washington 28

RGIII simply wasn’t himself on Monday, not stepping fully into his passes or utilizing his obviously hampered mobility. Whether or not he’s back too soon is a moot point, as a suspect Redskins secondary will look like swiss cheese after Aaron Rodgers gets done with it. A strong effort from Washington’s pass rush could tip the scales in this one, but I don’t see it happening.

Houston 31 – Tennessee 10

After giving up 21 first-half points to San Diego on Monday Night, the Texans will gear themselves up defensively to run rabid over a Titans team that won’t have an answer for it. Expect Houston’s running game to find itself in this one as well.

Dolphins 28 – Colts 24

If Miami brings the same defensive performance they showed in Cleveland last week, Andrew Luck is going to spend more time on his back than not. This one will still be close up until the final whistle, but I expect an improved rushing effort, and more targets for Mike Wallace, to result in a Dolphins victory.

Dallas 24 – Kansas City 20

The Cowboys couldn’t have won an uglier game if they tried last week, and something tells me the Chiefs will give them a run for their money. Romo finds a way to tip the balance in Dallas’ favor, and Jamaal Charles puts up a monster stat line for fantasy players in the loss.

Philadelphia 38 – San Diego 31

With both teams suspect on defense and seemingly firing on all cylinders offensively after one week, a bit of a shootout might occur in Philly this week. The difference maker will be LeSean McCoy, who will continue to lead the league in rushing after the game.

Arizona 20 – Detroit 14

Many will consider this a huge upset, but somehow Detroit finds a way to lose to teams that have no right beating them. Sunday will be no different, as Carson Palmer hooks up with Larry Fitzgerald for another couple of TDs and take one from the league’s most confusing team.

New Orleans 34 – Tampa Bay 20

These are not last year’s Saints, and I think they did just enough to prove that in week 1. The Bucs are a team with some major behind-the-scene issues that are just beginning to fully surface, and this spells disaster for Tampa Bay as Drew Brees manages to have his way despite the improved secondary he’ll be facing.

Denver 40 – New York 38

I expect this to be the most exciting game of the week, with the Manning brothers both putting the ball in the air early and often, trading shots back and forth until the team who has more weapons at their disposal takes the final drive of the game and turns it into a W for the elder brother and his Broncos. Don’t miss this one, folks.

Oakland 10 – Jacksonville 6

In a contest that might help decide who’s drafting 1st overall in 2014, Oakland edges Jacksonville on the strength of a handful of Terrelle Pryor scrambles, McFadden gallops and mostly just not having to show up defensively against an absolutely embarrassing Jaguars offense.

San Fransisco 27 – Seattle 21

Far too many people are looking at this game as if it’s a battle of Superbowl contenders. Seattle is overhyped in my opinion, but the rivalry between the teams, and the talent on both sides of the ball, will make for an exciting and close game nonetheless. Most pundits are giving Seattle the edge due to their fantastic home field advantage, but I’ll take Kaepernick over Wilson, and hope beyond hope they live up to their bet and Wilson shaves off an eyebrow.

Cincinnati 31 – Pittsburgh 6

Yeah, I’m officially that down on the Steelers after one week. Everything about the team feels off to me, and I expect them to collapse on a weekly basis, particularly against divisional foes. The Bengals will have their way with Pittsburgh on both sides of the ball, and you’ll start to hear the absolute faintest hint of whispers about Mike Tomlin’s job security.

Fantasy Start ‘Em/Sit ‘Em

Most ‘experts’ do this by position, but I’m just going to throw up 10 guys for each side that I think will have great/terrible weeks statistically. I’m right more often than I’m wrong, folks! Give me Fabiano’s job.

Start ‘Em

Peyton Manning – QB – Denver Broncos
Aaron Rodgers – QB – Green Bay Packers
Steven Jackson – RB – Atlanta Falcons
Doug Martin – RB – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
A.J. Green – WR – Cincinnati Bengals
Brian Hartline – WR – Miami Dolphins
Jared Cook – TE – St. Louis Rams
Greg Olsen – TE – Carolina Panthers
Chicago Bears Defense/Special Teams
Blair Walsh – K – Minnesota Vikings

Sit ‘Em

Russel Wilson – QB – Seattle Seahawks
Matt Ryan – QB – Atlanta Falcons
Frank Gore – RB – San Fransisco 49ers
Maurice Jones-Drew – RB – Jacksonville Jaguars
Roddy White – WR – Atlanta Falcons
Torrey Smith – WR – Baltimore Ravens
Kyle Rudolph – TE – Minnesota Vikings
Tony Gonzalez – TE – Atlanta Falcons
Green Bay Packers Defense/Special Teams
Rob Bironas – K – Tennessee Titans