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LiveBall Sports Week Two NFL Picks

More picks and discussion from those who write a lot without being right a lot.

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Ravens at Bengals Starting a season playing the Ravens and the Patriots would be a difficult draw for any team with high expectations, but for the Bengals, it’s more likely than not that those expectations were misplaced.  Experts like Chris Mortensen and Pat Kirwan picked the Bengals to go to the Super Bowl.  I don’t know what qualifies as a good super bowl pick (I mean, hardly anyone had the Colts and the Saints last year), but I’m thinking that if results in week one can make the pick look looney, it wasn’t a strong pick to begin with.  Ravens win this one.

Bears at Cowboys The Bears struggled to block Kyle VandenBosch and Cliff Avril last week, so this week’s match-up of Anthony Spencer and DeMarcus Ware is going to cause the Bears a lot of problems.  The Cowboys offense hasn’t looked good this year, and this this week won’t be an exception to that rule, but unlike last week, the Cowboys can do just enough on offense to come out on top, narrowly.

Eagles at Lions In the past, this is the kind of game the Eagles always put away early.  But last year, they went to Oakland and lost to the Raiders.  That gives me pause: for the second week in a row, the Lions defense is going to get into the kitchen and harass the opponents’ quarterback without allowing a big day to the running back.  Still, with Shaun Hill starting for the Lions, this Eagles defense is the dominant unit on the field in this game, and should provide enough pressures and hits to win the game, however ugly the process may be.

Cardinals at Falcons This is a fairly fascinating Week 2 match-up.  The Cardinals defense looked great in Week 1 against Sam Bradford and the Rams, and the Falcons offense looked out of sync against a very competitive Steelers team.  If history repeats itself from a week ago, the Cards will win a defensive battle.  But there’s reason to believe that the Falcons can use the week in between to fix holes in their offensive gameplan, restore balance, and score a couple of touchdowns against the Cards.  That should be enough for the Falcons to comfortably defeat Derek Anderson’s Cardinals.

Chiefs at Browns Seneca Wallace is getting the nod for the Browns, and I liked what I saw from this team last week, independent of Jake Delhomme’s mistakes.  The Browns play good defense, and they run the ball really well.  I don’t know if their offensive coaching is good enough to get them over the hump in the AFC this year, but Matt Cassel is bound to struggle with the Browns’ coverages, and while Wallace’s play is one of many ‘X’ factors in this game, I’ve seen enough to take the Browns to win.

Bills at Packers Not the Bills.  Not this week, at least.  Packers.

Steelers at Titans Dennis Dixon got his first quarterback win last Sunday, but the OL for the Steelers did not perform very well.  That wasn’t a big issue against the Falcons front, but in come the Titans who just embarrassed the Raiders’ passing offense last week.  Rashard Mendenhall is going to have his chances to really stick it to the Titans in this one, but that defense is too fast to mount anything against.  Vince Young and Chris Johnson will be on display this week, putting the Steelers defense in a bind.  It’s Young who will carry the day for the Titans.

Buccaneers at Panthers The Panthers’ passing attack is a work in progress, but it’s unclear if the team is actually making any progress.  They don’t have a line that can block for longer-developing plays, and they don’t have receivers (plural) who can do anything with shorter developing plays.  That puts Matt Moore in a bind at quarterback, and Moore was dreadful last week against the Giants.  Obviously, the focus of the gameplan every week is going to be the running game: they can still do that.  But here come the upstart Buccaneers, who will be one of two NFC South teams to reach 2-0 this week.

Dolphins at Vikings This has to be one of the more fascinating games on the slate, as these two teams almost never play.  The Vikings need to find away to avoid dropping to 0-2 against a defense that shut down the Bills rushing attack last year, and can do the same to Adrian Peterson.  The Vikings need to find a way to force young Chad Henne into a mistake or two on the road, and in doing that, they can come out on top.  The Dolphins could deal a devastating blow to the Vikings by playing a great game, and can announce that they belong in the discussion for best team in the AFC East.

Rams at Raiders The Raiders couldn’t throw the ball at all on Tennessee last week.  This week, they’ll have to get Chris Long blocked, who is really blossoming into a top pass rusher in his third NFL season.  But unlike last week, they won’t have to worry about six pass rushing defensive lineman as good as Long.  That should give Jason Campbell more time to throw down the field, and give the Oakland Raiders their first win of the season.

Seahawks at Broncos It’s an old AFC West rivalry!  Well, there will be four of those this season for the Seahawks.  That’s just the way the schedule falls.  They looked great as a team last week, but they are eight years removed from playing in Denver every year, and that altitude climate is tough on all visitors.  Seattle benefited from a weak effort by the 49ers last week, and with their backs against the wall, they will get the Broncos very best.

Texans at Redskins It’s zone stretch-bootleg fun this week, and everyone’s running naked!  Arian Foster is going to go from the penthouse last week to an afterthought this week.  It’s the nature of the beast.  Matt Schaub threw 17 times last game, and just five times in the second half.  This is his team, and this is his game to win.  Foster was nice in week one, and he’s not going away for the season, but the Redskins don’t even have to make stopping him a priority this week.  If Schaub goes off, the Texans will win, but the Redskins know that and they’ll be ready.

Patriots at Jets It would be devastating for the Jets to play at home for the first two weeks of the season and come up winless, but if they can’t beat the Patriots, that’s the reality of the situation.  The fact that both teams, the Patriots and the Jets, have spent all offseason gameplanning to beat the other makes this matchup all the more intriguing.  The Jets have a small advantage because the Patriots have also spent time studying the Dolphins to protect their title, where as the Jets have been all about catching the Patriots.  But the Patriots have the biggest, most important advantage of all: being the better team.

Jaguars at Chargers Last week, I picked the Chiefs over the Chargers saying that the Chargers would fall in their first three games.  That’s all the reasoning you need to understand the selection here: the Jaguars scoring more points than their opponent, getting to 2-0.

Giants at Colts I agree with the angry masses: it’s time to be concerned about the Colts.  Forget the dreaded “Super Bowl Hangover”.  Here’s the issue: the Colts don’t have an offensive line to protect Peyton Manning or give him a running game, and under no circumstances can the Colts stop an opponent’s rushing attack.  The Colts can continue to be a winning machine if they make teams throw to catch them, but the last time their defense couldn’t stop the run (2006), they had a great offensive line and an unstoppable offensive juggernaut.  Something is going to have to give.  In this game, that “something” will be the Giants passing defense.  The Colts get to a very unimpressive 1-1.

Saints at 49ers This Niners team could be in trouble, considering just how poorly they played in a divisional road game against the Seattle Seahawks.  Here come the World Champs to San Francisco, a team that can really pressure a defense that is weak versus the pass by tossing it around on them.  Unless the Niners draw up the best gameplan of their season, their options for holding off the Saints in a close game are limited to baseless hope and unexpected development in Alex Smith as a passer.  They best hope a deity is listening.

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