Monthly Archives: September 2010

Week 3 NFL Picks: We Still Don't Know

How crazy is the NFL Season? The Bucs and Chiefs are 2-0 while the Cowboys and Vikings are 0-2. So what does this tell us? We still don’t know much about any of the teams. We think the Texans will be good and the Niners might be bad, but 2 games tell us just about nothing. With that in mind, here are my Week 3 NFL picks; home teams are in BOLD.

Niners (-2.5) over CHIEFS
What happened to Michael Crabtree last week? San Fran’s top receiver was only targeted 3 times and finished the game with one spectacular catch for 32 yards. Winning with Alex Smith at the helm is hard enough, especially when he can’t get the ball to Crabtree. Coach Singletary keeps insisting Crabtree is still in his rookie year after joining the team midseason last year, but Crabtree needs to be more involved. The 49ers need this win, no matter how bad their division is, so I’ll take the desperate road team here.

There's only so much confidence you can have in any of the Browns' quarterbacks.

There's only so much confidence you can have in any of the Browns' quarterbacks.

RAVENS (-10.5) over Browns
For anyone thinking about taking the Browns here, just think about Seneca Wallace heading INTO Baltimore to faced a hyped up defense led by Ray Lewis. That usually doesn’t end up well for a team led by a quarterback the caliber of Mr. Wallace.

Cowboys (+2.5) over TEXANS
Wade Phillips always has a way of losing big games, but winning when his job depends on it. This would qualify as one of those games. Dallas is 0-2 and heading into a bye next week; if a loss today isn’t the perfect storm for Jerry Jones to bring in Bill Cowher, I don’t know what is.

Lions (+10.5) over VIKINGS
The Vikings need this game. The Vikings are at home. The Vikings will win the game. However, the Lions have a habit of logging unreal amounts of garbage time points late in games, even with Shaun Hill at quarterback. 10.5 points is just too many to give away to a division rival, so I’m taking Minnesota for the win, but the Lions to cover with a late score.

PATRIOTS (-13.5) over Bills
Last week we learned that no spread is too big when the Bills are playing. The only thing funnier then watching the Bills play is watching how they handle their runningback conundrum. Fred Jackson is playing the best, but they drafted C.J. Spiller 9th overall last May. Now, they’ve benched Spiller to play former first-rounder Marshawn Lynch, claiming they won’t trade him any time soon. Now Spiller is 3rd string, and management “doesn’t want to” trade Lynch. All I can say is “C’mon now!”

SAINTS (-4.5) over Falcons
Saints at home? Yes Please! Michael Turner is banged up and the Saints D will be psyched for their first divisional game.

Titans (+3.5) over GIANTS
I’m still in shock about why Jeff Fisher yanked Vince Young in a tight game against the Steelers for 38 year old Kerry Collins! Either way, I’d rather have VY then Eli Manning, a player who I still insist is a product of the luckiest play in Super Bowl history and a football family. The Titans are stronger in the trenches, and have a far superior running game. Gimme the Titans, and gimme the points.

Steelers (-2.5) over BUCS
You do realize that these are the Bucs, right? You do realize they are coached by Raheem Morris, right? I don’t care if Pittsburgh is led by pseudo-coach Charlie Batch or Antwaan Randel El, I’m taking the Steelers here.

Bengals (-3.5) over PANTHERS
As much as I’d love to take the Panthers, I just can’t do it. Jimmy Clausen is making his first career start, so expect the Bengals to bring a bull rush just about every other down. The key to the game will be who can win the aerial attack, and I just don’t think Chris Gamble and the Panthers secondary can shut down Chad Ochocinco, T.O., Jordan Shipley, and Jermaine Gresham.

Eagles (-2.5) over JAGUARS
Michael Vick looks like the Michael Vick of old. Well, that probably because he played the Lions and 2 quarters of garbage time against Green Bay. The again, he’s playing the Jags. Yeah, I’ll take Philly.

Redskins (-3.5) over RAMS
When’s the last time the Rams were only favored to lose by 3.5 points? 2006?

Colts (-6.5) over BRONCOS
The Colts have won their last 15 games by an average of 12.6 points. That’s nearly 2 touchdowns. That’s including games against the Jets, Ravens, Patriots, and Houston. Do you think going into Mile High Stadium is going to phase Peyton? Probably not. This is the Bojangles Lock o’ the Week.

CARDINALS (-4.5) over Raiders
Both of these teams are enigmas. The Raiders look alright, but then they bring back Bruce the Plumber. The Cardinals had high hopes going into the year, and now they’re playing Derek Anderson. At least Arizona has Larry Fitzgerald and is playing at home.

Chargers (-5.5) over SEAHAWKS
As the Broncos proved last week, Seattle is not good. The Chargers have a great offense and solid defense, even with Vincent Jackson out and Ryan Mathews at 90%. Antonio Gates, Malcom Floyd, and Legedu Naanee are 6’4″, 6’5″, and 6’2″ respectively while Seattle’s secondary of Marcus Trufant, Kelly Jennings, and Earl Thomas are 5’11”, 5’11”, and 5’10” respectively. Those mismatches are just too much to overcome.

DOLPHINS (-1.5) over Jets
What is dumber the getting a DWI in New York? Braylon Edwards was twice the legal limit at .16% BAC, yet decided to drive with several other teammates. In New York City. There are more cabs in New York City then there are people in Idaho. There are more cabs in New York City then there species of birds. There are more cabs in New York city then the combined weight of Rex Ryan, their O-line, and D-Line. On top of that, Jets’ owner Woody Johnson has a service set up for his players who think they aren’t in the best condition to get home. But the funniest part of all is that Rex Ryan says that Braylon is a distraction. REX says that BRAYLON is a distraction.

Packers (-3.5) over BEARS
Home teams usually way out-perform themselves on Monday Night Football, but you can only do so well with a receiver corps of Devin Aromashodu, Johnny Knox, and Devin Hester. The Packers have too many offensive weapons to lose here, and a win to give them a vicegrip on the division.

Last Week: 7-9

Season: 15-17

Bojangles’ Lock o’ the Week: 1-1

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The Power of Handcuffs

There’s nothing that can quite spark a conversation around this time of year like fantasy football. People yell and complain about how their bench outscored their starters, how Arian Foster went off for 41 points against them, and how they dropped Austin Collie on Friday, only for their opponent to pick him up and ultimately beat their team.

But all complaining and terrible storytelling will get you is zero sympathy in many people’s hearts (oftentimes including myself). We’ve all had that happen to us, and changing the names doesn’t make for a more interesting story. So how do you avoid stories involving Mr. Foster and Collie? Know your stuff! This week’s fantasy insight on handcuffs will get you back on the winning track.

The secret to finding sleeper runningbacks is handcuffs. Basically, the backup to a star runningback can go from unplayable to must-plays. We saw that this week when Ryan Grant went on IR and Brandon Jackson went from being owned in one in every thousand leagues to being owned in nearly 90% of leagues. Typically, the best runningbacks have great offensive lines, so they can be somewhere from 70-80% as productive as their teammate. Here are my four favorite handcuffs, their percent owned in ESPN leagues, and brief descriptions:

Bernard Scott – 44.9% – The most talented of the group, currently getting the most carries.
Rashad Jennings – 26.5% – MJD nearly had knee surgery, could be getting major carries with one hit.
Toby Gerhart – 6.4% – Heisman contender last year at Stanford, backs up perennially injured Adrian Peterson
Javon Ringer – 4.9% – Dominant at MSU, looked great last week vs. Oakland. CJ2K could be worn down with so many carries soon.

If you own Cedric Benson, MJD, AD, or CJ2K (Benson needs a cool initials nickname now), you need to pick up your handcuff since they’ll be far more valuable if your player goes down then the average backup, say, Chester Taylor. Handcuffs can also be valuable to teams who don’t have one of those runningbacks, since they can be double-digit per week scorers at best, while the Chester Taylors of the world will max out around 8 points per week.

Not all elite runningbacks have clear-cut-handcuffs. For instance, Rashard Mendenhall has three potential backups (vet Mewelde Moore, rookie Jonathan Dwyer, and goal line back Isaac Redmond), Atlanta’s backup isn’t certain between Jerious Noorwood and Jason Snelling, and Steven Jackson’s backup Kenneth Darby is not good; neither is St. Louis’ line.

Grab these guys soon, before they become hot commodities like Brandon Jackson. Scott, Jennings, Gerhart, and Ringer could combine for just 40 points combined the rest of the season, but they also could erupt into triple digit points. I’ll guarantee you this: you’ll have a not more potential on your bench with those four handcuffs then Chester Taylor and Leon Washington.

Now its time for my Week 2 picks, of course, with home teams in CAPS.

FALCONS (-6.5) over Cardinals
As bad as the Falcons did last week, the Cardinals looked worse. Derek Anderson could not connect with Larry Fitzgerald and completed barely over half of his passes. Beanie Wells isn’t healthy and Early Doucet is out. The Falcons came off a tough overtime loss in Pittsburgh, so they will dig a humongous hole for themselves if they lose their home opener and fall to 0-2. Giving up a touchdown is hard to do, but I’ll take a highly motivated Falcons team at home.

Ravens (-1.5) over BENGALS
Baltimore is fresh off of an emotional victory at New York on Monday night, but the Bengals lost to the Patriots, including falling behind by 28 at one point. The Ravens, however, have a much better defense then Cincy. If they can take Cedric Benson out of the game, Ray Lewis and Crew will force Carson Palmer to make the big play. Personally, I don’t think Palmer can step up it, so I’ll take the suddenly pass-competent birds.

Chiefs (+1.5) over BROWNS
The Browns are so bad that we’re questioning whether or not they’ll be worse with their starting quarterback out. Jake Delhomme is doubtful, so it looks like Seneca Wallace will be stepping in. Believe it or not, the Browns lost their game versus the Bucs because Delhomme threw 2 picks. The Chiefs do have a short week, but they have competent runningbacks and experienced receivers. Especially since I’m getting points, its Chiefs all the way.

COWBOYS (-8.5) over Bears
Dominant teams need to blow out at least three to four games per year. This has to be one of those games for the Cowboys. Tony Romo has just too many weapons at his disposal to not pick apart a well-below average Bears pass defense. As a side note, its terrible that Calvin Johnson’ touchdown catch wasn’t actually a catch. A rule is a rule, but a dumb one needs to be changed.

How can you not be excited to see Michael Vick's first start since '06? Any way you slice it, he's 10-15 times better then Shaun Hill.

How can you not be excited to see Michael Vick's first start since '06? Any way you slice it, he's 10-15 times better then Shaun Hill.

Eagles (-3.5) over LIONS
What a ridiculous line. Kevin Kolb played terribly until his concussion, and Michael Vick filled in exceptionally. Although the Lions played like they deserved to win, but they were playing the Bears. The Eagles clearly have one of the most explosive offenses in the league with Vick, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and Brent Celek. Put that up against a slightly poor defense and an offense without their franchise QB, and I’ll take the Eagles by a lot. Is this the Bojangles Lock of the Wee? You bet your biscuits!

PACKERS (-13.5) over Bills
Let’s be honest here, this just feels like a 35-10 blowout. The Packers have an elite offense and the Bills — well — have a defense (that’s about the nicest way I can describe their defense). The good news for Buffalo fans is that C.J. Spiller looked good last week…..wait a minute…

Steelers (+5.5) over TITANS
Tennessee won impressively last week, but they did play the Raiders. Against a quality opponent, the Steelers shut down Atlanta in overtime to claim a 15-9 victory. This game comes down to which young quarterback can step up the most: Vince Young or Dennis Dixon. VY has looked better over the last year, but Pittsburgh ultimately has one thing Tennessee doesn’t: Troy Polamalu and his $1 million hair. This game will be decided by a field goal, so I’ll take Pittsburgh and the points.

VIKINGS (-3.5) over Dolphins
The Vikings had very little shot last week against the defending champs (Super Bowl champs have won the last 10 season openers), but will stand a much better shot at victory in their home opener. Miami squeaked out a victory against hapless Buffalo, and heading to the Metrodome is no small order. Since Green Bay looks even better then advertised, Minnesota can’t afford to fall 2 games behind them.

PANTHERS (-2.5) over Bucs
These two stats will tell you all you need to know about the Panthers versus the Bucs: the last time the two division rivals faced off, Josh Freeman had five interceptions, and the Panthers averaged 212 yards on the ground in the two matchups last season.

Seahawks (+3.5) over BRONCOS
Seattle and Denver are two of the most average teams in the NFL. They both have uninspiring quarterbacks, exciting young runningbacks, and very new coaches. I don’t take anything out of the 25 point pounding the ‘Hawks laid on San Fran, since the Niners clearly weren’t ready to play against a hyped up Seahawks team. In the end, both teams are excessively average, so I’ll take the hotter team with the points.

Rams (+4.5) over RAIDERS
How can there possibly be two worse matchups in any week then Chiefs/Browns and Rams/Raiders? The fact that someone is going to have to watch both games for a newspaper or TV station is horrifying. Anyways, I’m never giving points with the Raiders, who only have 4 wins in their last 18 home games.

PATRIOTS (+1.5) over Jets
I’d have to guess that Tom Brady, Randy Moss, and the Patriots would love nothing more then to put the Jets in an 0-2 hole to start the season. The offense is finally clicking like it is 2007, and this team is out to prove the world it is the best of the best. Mark Sanchez looks nervous for New York, and Shonn Greene and Braylon Edwards have not shown up at all. I think Moss has a big day, especially since Darrelle Revis called his a “slouch”, and Brady loves to show up people who talk smack about his teammates.

CHARGERS (-7.5) over Jaguars
Is there a worse stadium to go into the Arrowhead Stadium on a Monday night? San Diego historically starts slower then Albert Haynesworth in a conditioning test, so an early season loss in an emotional game for the other team is acceptable. Now that they’re home against the perpetually average Jags, they’ll open their season with a bang.

Texans (-2.5) over REDSKINS
The Redskins got their big win of the year out of the way, now it’s time for them to go back to being 6-10.

COLTS (-5.5) over Giants
Do you really think Peyton is going to be shown up by his little brother at home on Sunday Night Football? Really?

Saints (-4.5) over NINERS
This game is tough to pick. Usually, home teams play much better on primetime, and San Fran can’t play much worse then they did last week. However, they’re playing against the Saints, so I’d have to imagine they’ll be in a shootout, and I can’t see Alex Smith out-scoring Drew Brees. The silver lining for the 49ers? They can still win the division going 7-9.

Last Week: 8-8

Season: 8-8

Bojangles’ Lock o’ the Week: 1-0

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Football is in the Air

Yes, it’s that glorious time of year. Summer is over and the leaves are browning. Well, maybe not yet for those suffering in the near triple degree weather in Houston, New Orleans, and Tampa. Either way, its time to set our fantasy lineups, grab our favorite bag of chips and sit back to watch the great game of football. The distractions of Brett Favre, Darrelle Revis, and Terrell Owens are over and the real games are about to begin.

This year, I’m sticking with picking against the spread and plan on finishing the season better then 131-111. The Lock of the Week will also stay, and I’m excited to announce its unofficial official sponsorship of Bojangles! I’m aiming to end the year with a record good enough to make the NFL playoffs and my Bojangles’ Its Bo Time! Lock of the Weeks to have a better record then the San Diego Chargers. Without further ado, my Week 1 NFL picks. Home teams in CAPS.

SAINTS (-6.5) over Vikings
This game has Saints written all over it. The Super Bowl Champs opening the season at home. Minnesota’s top receiver out. Percy Harvin has migraines. The Saints will be hyped up to prove to the world that they are over their Super Bowl hangover, and they will ride their crowd to a fairly easy victory.

Dolphins (-3.5) over BILLS
The Bills aren’t just bad; they’re dreadful. We’re passed the stage where we can keep saying, “Oh, well if only Trent Edwards had more time to throw!” or “You’d all see how good Trent Edwards is if he had some real weapons!” He doesn’t have any protections, Lee Evans is his only semi-capable receiver, and he is not a good NFL quarterback. The Dolphins have the three best skill position players on the field, and should cruise for their first division win of the year. This is your first ever …. Bojangles Lock of the Week!

BEARS (-6.5) over Lions
This is an inciting game to take the points and go with the Lions; Ndamukong Suh is making his debut and Jeff Schwartz is becoming one of the premier young coaches in the league. However, the Bears won’t be losing their home opener to a team who has won a grand total of 2 games over the last two years. Expect bounce-back years from Matt Forte and Jay Cutler along with a 50% effort from Julius Peppers.

TITANS (-6.5) over Raiders
An 0-6 start crippled the Titans’ season, Tennessee came back after their bye to win 8 of their last 10 games. Vince Young and rookie Kenny Britt helped to balance a rush-first offense, including leading Tennessee to five wins in November with a 96.9 QB rating. The Raiders, on the other hand, are just dysfunctional. They will be better with a gigantic upgrade at quarterback with Jason Campbell (who can actually complete a pass for over 8 yards and doesn’t down cough syrup in Sprite by the bottle). But, then again, Tom the Cable Guy coaches the Raiders. Give me the Titans by over a touchdown.

PATRIOTS (-5.5) over Bengals
Think about this: the last time Randy Moss was in a contract year, he racked up 1493 yards and an NFL record 23 touch down receptions. Ponder this: Tom Brady’s knee injury takes around a year to recover from and an extra year to get back to full speed. Mull this over: the Patriots haven’t lost an opening day game since 2003 and a home opener since 2001. Consider this: Cincinnati has lost their last opening day games. Yeah, I’ll take the Pats and the Hoodie.

Panthers (+7.5) over GIANTS
I don’t get what all the buzz around the Giants is. If not for the luckiest catch in NFL history and a few uncalled holding penalties, Eli Manning would be known as one of the bigger busts of the past decade, a largely inconsistent leader who largely depended on 6’5″ Plaxico Burress. Their defense went from tops in the league two years ago to middle of the pack. Brandon Jacobs started to run standing up. As for the Panthers, they have the best running tandem not just in the league, but in NFL history. Carolina closed Meadowlands Stadium with a 41-9 thrashing of the Giants. I’m putting my money on Carolina christening New Meadowlands Stadium with a big win.

Falcons (-2.5) over STEELERS
Atlanta and Pittsburgh are two of my favorite sleepers this year, but it all comes down to the quarterbacks this year. I really like Dennis Dixon, but his realistic ceiling is rookie season-Vince Young. Matt Ryan has the potential to be a top-5 NFL QB, and I think he’ll take a big step up this year. Coach Mike Tomlin said Big Ben won’t have his job handed to him in Week 6, but after this wake-up call, it shouldn’t be too hard of a decision.

BUCS (-2.5) over Browns
Who cares? Period.

Broncos (+2.5) over JAGUARS

    Josh McDaniels picked Demaryius Thomas for a reason. Then again, he traded a future 1st for Alphonso Smith, only to ship him to Detroit for a 6th rounder one year later.

Josh McDaniels picked Demaryius Thomas for a reason. Then again, he traded a future 1st for Alphonso Smith, only to ship him to Detroit for a 6th rounder one year later.

Which rookie is going the farthest under the radar? You think I’m talking about Tim Tebow since its the Broncos and Jags (and I’m certainly not going to lecture you about Tyson Alualu’s value), but no, its Demaryius Thomas. The first receiver off the board in this April’s draft, Thomas has size (6’3″, 224) and speed (4.39 40-yard dash time) and great hands. Offensive genius Josh McDaniels picked him over highly hyped Dez Bryant for a reason. Demaryius will become a big-time threat soon and a fantasy stud in the next 2 years.

Colts (-3.5) over TEXANS
How many times have we seen this before? Every year for the last four or so seasons, we think THIS is the Texans year. They have promising you talent and as good of a passing attack as anyone. They feed off the bottom feeders, but when they face the big dogs, they crumble. In fact, they’ve lost their last six matchups against Indy, and 15 of their 16 matchups in franchise history. You can take the points; I’ll take the Colts.

SEAHAWKS (+2.5) over Niners
This is a tough game to pick because the Niners are clearly better, but Seattle has all of the intangible advantages. Qwest Field, already the loudest stadium in the NFL, will be extra rowdy for Pete Carroll’s first game, plus they’ll be hyped to start the season against a division rival. In a much weaker NFC West, I think Coach Carroll can and will finally find success, starting in Week 1.

EAGLES (+1.5) over Packers
This is another really hard game to pick, and could end up being the best game of the week. The Packers certainly have one of the top offenses in the league led by Aaron Rodgers, but their defense is looking more and more suspect. They lost their top pass rusher Aaron Kampman to the Jags and their secondary is depleted with Al Harris and Atari Bigby on the PUP list. Andy Reid and the Eagles are out to prove that they made the right decision by trading Donovan McNabb within the division and giving the keys to Kevin Kolb, so losing their season opener at home is not on the agenda. Jeremy Maclin should be in for a big game in a tight victory.

Cardinals (-3.5) over RAMS
Yes, the Cardinals lost Kurt Warner, Anquan Boldin, Antrel Rolle, and Karlos Dansby, but have you seen these Rams? They’ve won 6 games in the last 3 seasons and drafted just as bad. They’ve punted their last 4 first rounders including two number two picks (Jason Smith, Chris Long, Adam Carriker, and Tye Hill). Also, may have just passed up the best pass rushing lineman since Reggie White. At least Matt Millen hit a homer on Calvin Johnson and a solid double on Roy Williams.

Cowboys (-3.5) over REDSKINS
Usually, I lean towards the home team in a prime time matchup, but I can’t do that here. Dallas is more talented, has better chemistry, and has less Albert Haynesworth-sized locker room problems. Romo is better then McNabb at this point, and he has about twice as many weapons. Between Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, Roy Williams, and Jason Witten along with the combination of Felix Jones, Marion Barber, and Tashard Choice, Romo will have plenty of weapons to choose between to pick apart the average-at-best ‘Skins secondary.

Ravens (+3.5) over JETS
Again, it’s tough to pick against the home team in prime time, but I’m taking Baltimore here. Darrelle Revis probably isn’t in great shape and we don’t know how he’ll fit into the new locker room after sitting out all off-season. The Ravens have the same bloodthirsty defense they’ve always had, just with a very competent offense this time. They go three deep at receiver (Boldin, Mason, and now Houshmandzadeh) with a great runningback tandem in Ray Rice and Willis McGahee. The Jets can definitely talk the talk, but can they walk the walk? Ray Lewis doesn’t think so, and when Ray Lewis speaks, I listen.

CHIEFS (+5.5) over Chargers
Last season, the Chargers went to Oakland for what was supposed to be an easy Monday night win to open the season, but they barely escaped with a 24-20 win. This year, San Diego will be going to Kansas City, but they have a very different team. All-Pros Vincent Jackson and Marcus McNeill are holding out and Antonio Cromartie is a Jet. Kansas City looks like a team on the verge of success with a great run game, solid young quarterback and plenty of young talent on the other side of the ball. So do I think San Diego can march into Arrowhead Stadium and quiet a raucous crowd on national television by beating them by six points? No.

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