'Mr. Overtime' hopes to keep it in regulation
Around the News Tribune office I am known as Mr. Overtime, and it's not exactly a term of endearment. So many sporting events that I covered over the years went into an extra session, causing panic on the copy desk and delays in the press room. S...
Around the News Tribune office I am known as Mr. Overtime, and it’s not exactly a term of endearment.
So many sporting events that I covered over the years went into an extra session, causing panic on the copy desk and delays in the press room.
So I shouldn’t have been surprised Sunday, when watching two games I figured would go my way, that both teams I selected lost in overtime.
We’ll try to stay away from overtime in this week’s picks:
New England (0-1) at Minnesota (1-0): Vikings fans could be in for history Sunday. Not only is this the first regularly scheduled outdoor home game in the past 33 years, but fans could see the beginning of the end of a dynasty. Chinks didn’t just begin to show in the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady suit of armor in last week’s loss at Miami, there were full-fledged cracks. The Patriots don’t have the overall talent to overcome an 0-2 start. Minnesota looked impressive in all three phases of the game in its 34-6 win at St. Louis, but consistency is the name of the game in the NFL. Will Matt Cassel be as efficient again? Will Cordarrelle Patterson be able to surprise the defense out of the backfield again? And will the league’s worst defense from a year ago stop a Hall of Fame quarterback for four quarters. The Vikings are close, but not quite there yet.
Line: Patriots by 3
Rick’s Pick: Patriots 27, Vikings 23
Pittsburgh (1-0) at Baltimore (0-1): Las Vegas oddsmakers apparently aren’t factoring in what happened in that Atlantic City casino last February. Maybe they’ve seen it before in their own casino elevators. But take Pittsburgh’s fast start and fortunate Week 1 finish and the reverse for the Ravens, mix in the entire Ray Rice episode on a short week, and you get the recipe for disaster in one of the NFL’s best rivalry games. But nine of the past 10 regular-season games have been decided by three points or less.
Line: Ravens by 3
Rick’s Pick: Steelers 19, Ravens 16
N.Y. Jets (1-0) at Green Bay (0-1): It’s hard to believe Geno Smith outplayed Aaron Rodgers in Week 1, but then again the Jets played Oakland while the Packers dealt with Seattle’s defense. The tables will be turned at Lambeau, though Rodgers needs to circumvent another legitimate defense that allowed only 25 yards rushing Sunday and might need to do so without RB Eddie Lacy.
Line: Packers by 8½
Rick’s Pick: Packers 23, Jets 16
Detroit (1-0) at Carolina (1-0): The Lions are real - at least in September. Short of a hamstring injury, the Matthew Stafford-to-Calvin Johnson combination cannot be stopped. But Carolina’s defense might be one of the few that hang with the offensive juggernauts, and Detroit never makes anything easy for itself. Lions squeak out a rare road victory even if Cam Newton returns to the lineup.
Line: Panthers by 3
Rick’s Pick: Lions 24, Panthers 20
Miami (1-0) at Buffalo (1-0): These teams have split their past six, eight and 10 meetings and the spread doesn’t help differentiate a winner, so this might come down to heads or tails. I’m not enamored with either starting QB, so it will come down to which makes fewer mistakes. Bills fans received a boost this week when an owner was found and the team’s future in Buffalo settled.
Line: Dolphins by 1½
Rick’s Pick: Bills 20, Dolphins 16
Dallas (0-1) at Tennessee (1-0): The NFL has a long history of evening things out and frustrating even the most modest of gamblers. That’s why I have the sneaky suspicion that the Cowboys aren’t as awful as they showed in Week 1 and the Titans aren’t as good as they looked vs. K.C. If Tony Romo picks out the right-colored jerseys on his downfield throws, Dallas can win.
Line: Titans by 3½
Rick’s Pick: Cowboys 31, Titans 24
Arizona (1-0) at N.Y. Giants (0-1): I refuse to believe in a Carson Palmer-led team that looks horrible for three quarters and then finds enough magic to pull out a game at the end. It was the Cardinals’ methodology a year ago when they won 10 games and worked again Monday. The Giants? As much as Tom Coughlin has done for the franchise, he may walk away from the embarrassment if his team starts 0-6 again. Arizona’s winning margin will mirror the number of interceptions Eli Manning throws.
Line: Cardinals by 1
Rick’s Pick: Cardinals 23, Giants 20
New Orleans (0-1) at Cleveland (0-1): If 34 points a game aren’t enough to win, as was the case in Atlanta, the Saints are in trouble. Half that might be enough this week, though the Browns blitzed Pittsburgh for 24 consecutive points to force the game to the final seconds and cemented Brian Hoyer as the starting QB. The Saints have too many weapons.
Line: Saints by 6½
Rick’s Pick: Saints 31, Browns 20
Atlanta (1-0) at Cincinnati (1-0): Don’t be surprised by the Falcons’ upset of the Saints. Atlanta is virtually the same team it was in 2012 when it won 14 games and will contend in the NFC South. Matt Ryan is still an elite QB and has a bevy of healthy, playmaking receivers. But the Bengals showed their moxie in coming back to top the Ravens on the road after blowing a 15-point advantage. The Andy Dalton-to-A.J. Green hookup quickly is becoming feared by league DBs.
Line: Bengals by 5
Rick’s Pick: Bengals 34, Falcons 24
Jacksonville (0-1) at Washington (0-1): Considering how each team fared last year and in their openers, this could be for the top pick in the 2015 draft. The Jaguars won’t have to worry about blowing a 17-point lead in this one because they won’t ever lead by that much. QB Chad Henne is doing OK at fending off the inevitable loss of his job to Blake Bortles, while Washington hopes it doesn’t start its own QB controversy.
Line: Washington by 6
Rick’s Pick: Washington 23, Jaguars 13
St. Louis (0-1) at Tampa Bay (0-1): That No. 1 pick could land in the lap of the loser of this game as well. No matter where the Rams pick, a QB will be on their wish list. After the Shaun Hill/ Austin Davis fiasco, St. Louis might be better off running Tavon Austin from the Wildcat. Josh McCown displayed grit in a failed comeback try against Carolina, but must do better at finding his big receivers.
Line: Bucs by 6
Rick’s Pick: Bucs 16, Rams 13
Seattle (1-0) at San Diego (0-1): The defending Super Bowl champs looked the part in a blowout of Green Bay. With Pete Carroll having extra time to prepare and the Chargers having little time to forget botching their opener Monday, the only drama here is if Philip Rivers will decide to test Seattle CB Richard Sherman.
Line: Seahawks by 5½
Rick’s Pick: Seahawks 24, Chargers 13
Houston (1-0) at Oakland (0-1): This is such a bad matchup that
DirecTV’s Sunday Ticket might not air it. Heck, the teams would have to be in the red zone first before they could be on the Red Zone Channel. The Texans, who broke a 14-game losing streak in their opener, make it two in a row behind J.J. Watt, Brian Cushing and the rest of the Jadeveon Clowney-less defense.
Line: Texans by 3
Rick’s Pick: Texans 23, Raiders 17
Kansas City (0-1) at Denver (1-0): The Chiefs’ preseason woes carried over into the regular season in a pathetic loss to the Titans. Does anyone seriously think they will be able to rectify those woes against Peyton Manning and the Broncos? Denver will harass Alex Smith into more turnovers and make it five wins in a row in the series.
Line: Broncos by 12½
Rick’s Pick: Broncos 34, Chiefs 19
Chicago (0-1) at San Francisco (1-0): One team established itself as a Super Bowl contender and one showed itself to be a fraud on opening weekend. The Bears, despite 349 yards passing by Jay Cutler, proved to be the latter in an overtime loss to the Bills and will struggle against a 49ers team that is solid at QB, RB and wideout. Bay Area fans will usher in their new stadium with an easy Sunday night victory.
Line: 49ers by 7
Rick’s Pick: 49ers 30, Bears 13
Philadelphia (1-0) at Indianapolis (0-1): Chip Kelly is a scary coach. Will his hurry-up offense reproduce the stinker first half against Jacksonville or the glorious second half? With Nick Foles, LeSean McCoy and Jeremy Maclin, all the parts are in place to make a Super Bowl run, but when will the clunker hit? The lack of a running game cost the Colts an upset shot at Denver, but Andrew Luck again showed he’s never out of a game. Expect lots of points.
Line: Colts by 3
Rick’s Pick: Colts 34, Eagles 27
Last week - straight-up: 9-7; against the spread: 8-8