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Tuesday, July 17 2018

nFL Predictions 2012: Week 3 (part 2)


 oops - posted the previous one in biz and I can't edit there!

Jacksonville (0-2) @ Indianapolis (1-1): Two weeks is not much time to figure out which teams are going to do what across an entire season, but I get a feeling the Jaguars will struggle offensively most of the year. Already these teams have a mutual opponent with the Jaguars losing at Minnesota and the Colts beating them here last week. Both games were decided by a field goal and scored in the low 20’s so I have a pretty good idea where this game is headed. Andrew Luck decided not to leave Stanford for the draft when he could have and Blaine Gabbert benefited financially from that decision. Now, however, Luck is the superior player because he wasn’t pummeled on an awful team, draining his confidence. It does appear that Gabbert is better than his dreadful rookie campaign and he does have the better lead rusher in Maurice Jones-Drew. He has inferior passing options though and on the road will be dealing with dome crowd noise. At least he has the experience from the opener, and if MJD can run the ball a bit they should make a game of it. Playing at home and with a bye week on deck I see the Colts putting it all on the line here though. The Texans just mugged the Jags and while they are desperate at 0-2 sometimes a desperate team is really a hopeless team. As much as they are trying to avoid that 0-3 hole it’s not within their power here. Gabbert’s mistakes are costly: Indianapolis 24, Jacksonville 20 (IND -3/over 43)

Buffalo (1-1) @ Cleveland (0-2): Very little was expected from the Browns this season, but they have hung tough against two competitive teams in the opening two weeks of the season. I expected the Bills to be improved and while they fell flat in their first game at the Jets they came back to whip the Chiefs. In those two games they put up 63 points and allowed 65, but I’m looking for points to be at a bit of a premium here. Yes, I know the Battle of Ohio was a 34-27 game last week meaning three of the four games these teams have been involved in have gone over 60 total points. Call me crazy, but I think the defenses show up here. Neither quarterback is off to a good start as both are struggling with accuracy. For Buffalo, Stevie Johnson has caught just 6 passes, albeit 2 of them for touchdowns to keep his fantasy owners appeased. For Cleveland there is no No. 1 receiving option. Their offensive hopes rest on rookie rusher Trent Richardson. He is looking tough, and as explosive as C.J. Spiller has been I actually like Richardson to rush for more yards here. I see a bruising battle. Buffalo is awful on the road though, and the Browns are due. As much as this pick gives me pause I think they squeeze this out: Cleveland 21, Buffalo 20 (CLE +3/under 44.5)

NY Jets (1-1) @ Miami (1-1): I actually think the Dolphins winning last week will hurt their chances here. Yes, it gives confidence, but it also puts the Jets on high alert. The element of surprise is gone so to speak. This should be a typical low scoring battle of bitter AFC East rivals. Warm up the legs for the kickers and punters I say. Heck, maybe even warm up Tim Tebow’s arm in yet another return to the Sunshine State for the polarizing backup quarterback. Last year he had a little “Tebow Time” against the Dolphins here directing a dramatic win as a member of the Broncos. For now it is Sanchez’s team and Tebow has yet to throw a pass in the regular season. I expect that to change. Tony Sparano is going to have something special in mind for his former team, and Rex Ryan’s defense will make life difficult on rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Last week Tannehill was able to abuse a reserve cornerback for the Raiders. This week he will have no such luxury. Perhaps a special teams play or two will make a difference in this one. I really don’t see too much scoring in the Florida heat. Turnovers always throw things out of kilter and a handful here would not surprise me. New York should come in focused and ready for this rivalry game, but it’s a coin flip for me. I like to ride with the home team in these situations, unless the home team has a rookie quarterback taking on a dangerous defense: NY Jets 20, Miami 14 (NYJ -1/under 41)


Kansas City (0-2) @ New Orleans (0-2): The Saints clearly are dealing with too many issues off the field and are not focused. Eventually the “us against the world” thing will kick in for them and I believe this is the week. Drew Brees has plenty of offensive firepower at his disposal, but the defense has allowed 75 points in two losses. The Chiefs are also winless and desperate, having given up the exact same number of points in their defeats. Their offense has put up only 41 points though and the Saints have scored 59. The dome environment was not helpful in the opener for New Orleans as rookie Robert Griffin III led a stunning upset. Here I think it does help because the Chiefs are not going to be able to keep up in a high-scoring affair, which I think this will be. They do have a few offensive weapons, including all-purpose threat Dexter McCluster who will enjoy playing in SEC country. Right now I don’t believe the Saints are ready to blow anyone out, especially with their porous defense: New Orleans 34, Kansas City 28 (KC +9/over 53)

Cincinnati (1-1) @ Washington (1-1): At first blush I think the Bengals have a very good chance here. This is a team that just made the playoffs going up against a squad led by a rookie quarterback with a lot of turnover on the roster. The thing is, a lot of that turnover is for the better. The Redskins have Alfred Morris running well to balance the offense and Robert Griffin III is distributing the ball when he throws it and moving the chains when he runs it. He must feel like he is still in college at Baylor with these high scoring affairs. Washington’s two games have totaled 131 points and they have both scored and allowed at least 28 points in both contests. In the opener Cincinnati was crushed 44-13 by Baltimore, but recovered to outlast Cleveland 34-27 so their games have also been high scoring. In general scoring is up in the NFL, but I don’t think every game can be a shootout. The defenses will have their say at times in this one and I see both teams trying to run which keeps the game clock moving and limits possessions. Andy Dalton is trying to avoid a sophomore slump and although he does not have a deep group of receiving threats he has gotten the ball to three receivers at least 9 times already. Griffin has hit 11 different players. I’ll back the home team here because it is the dynamic rookie’s home debut. He should be fired up and the team is totally behind him: Washington 24, Cincinnati 17 (WAS -3/under 50)

Detroit (1-1) @ Tennessee (0-2): There are a few other teams who are 0-2 having been outscored by a healthy margin, but for me the Titans stand out as a team in trouble at -49 already. Chris Johnson is not getting any help from the offensive line and young Jake Locker is not exactly throwing to future Hall of Fame receivers. Plus, he’s banged up and behind this line trying to block the front line of the Lions I smell trouble. One thing working against Detroit is being deflated and tired after their primetime loss in San Francisco. It will be tough to get motivated against a crummy opponent on the road. However, Tennessee’s offense is struggling so I don’t see the visitors falling behind by enough to get in too much trouble. The Lions could gun their way out of it with Matthew Stafford and Calving Johnson anyway. Normally it would give me pause backing a dome team on the road, but in this instance I don’t feel too worried. I see the visitors coming in here and taking care of business: Detroit 27, Tennessee 21 (DET -4/over 47.5)

San Francisco (2-0) @ Minnesota (1-1): Are the 49ers in the NFC North? I guess it just seems that way. This is their third straight against the division having already dispensed with the playoff entrants from a season ago. Now they get a bottom feeder and hope not to suffer a letdown. Meanwhile the Vikings have just split two battles with the teams expected to struggle in the AFC South, led by young quarterbacks. Alex Smith might not be elite, but he is a lot better than Blaine Gabbert and at least for now superior to Andrew Luck. He is starting to get the ball in the hands of Michael Crabtree (13 receptions) and has hit new additions Randy Moss and Mario Manningham a dozen times. Oh, and he has not turned it over in 57 pass attempts or lost a fumble on any of the 16 times he was sacked or ran the ball. Maybe the dome environment and “trap” setup will work against the 49ers, but they are a vastly superior team. I do think Adrian Peterson has the chance to keep Minnesota in the game for a while. Christian Ponder might work the ball to Percy Harvin enough to keep things interesting into the second half. Eventually, however, the better defense is going to take control of the outcome, probably via turnovers. I don’t see the Niners letting this one slip away because they know how important home field in the playoffs will be. They already have a leg up on the Giants and Packers in that department: San Francisco 24, Minnesota 20 (MIN +7/over 42.5)

St. Louis (1-1) @ Chicago (1-1): Da Bears have had extra time to be ticked off after losing to the hated Packers. Now they are in a very good spot at home against a dome team. I do like the spunk of the Rams the past two weeks, but both games were indoors. Here I think they are in trouble against a team ready to lay the wood to them. Jay Cutler might be a punk, but he is still a good quarterback. Even if Matt Forte is out, that just means Michael Bush is ready to roll. I don’t see Danny Amendola repeating last week’s huge effort with Sam Bradford trying to avoid Julius Peppers taking his head off. It has been a good start to the season for Bradford who definitely suffered a sophomore slump. However, Chicago is going to hone in on Amendola and let someone else try to catch the ball. I have no idea who that might be. Steven Jackson is rested after his benching and I never count him out when it comes to keeping his team in it. However, I just see too many signs pointing to the home team smashing out a comfortable win here: Chicago 28, St. Louis 13 (CHI -7/under 43)

Tampa Bay (1-1) @ Dallas (1-1): The Cowboys finally get their home opener and I think it will motivate them. Last week’s debacle in Seattle probably woke them up. On the flip side the Bucs blew a golden opportunity to go 2-0 letting a huge lead against the Giants slip away on the road. Now they have to travel again and will be a little worn out. For me this result is pretty easy. Dallas can cover Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams straight up. Rookie Doug Martin is at this point just a competent running back. He’s not going to take over the action. Josh Freeman will struggle to move the chains against this defense. Conversely, Tony Romo has too many options for Tampa Bay’s defense to deal with. He should be able to throw the ball at will and let DeMarco Murray chew up yardage on the ground to balance the offense. It’s a blowout: Dallas 27, Tampa Bay 13 (DAL -7.5/under 46)

Atlanta (2-0) @ San Diego (2-0): I’m not sure I can figure this game. The Falcons are in a tough situation playing outdoors on a short week and having to travel across the country. However, they have the better team and just shook the “outdoors” thing in the opener whipping Kansas City. Their starting receivers and legendary tight end Tony Gonzalez are all in double digits for receptions. However, the running game is a question mark. Michael Turner is averaging just 2.6 yards per carry and got a DUI following the MNF win. His backup Jacquizz Rodgers is at 2.5 and combined they have just 99 yards on 38 carries for the season. Still, this is a passing league so it might not matter, especially since Matt Ryan has not turned the ball over in 67 pass attempts and has taken just 2 sacks. The Chargers aren’t running the ball either with Ryan Mathews sidelined. They aren’t really passing it either. Malcom Floyd has 10 catches and backup tight end Dante Rosario just snared 3 touchdown passes in last week’s blowout. The bad news is that other than their two running backs no other player has more than 4 receptions or a touchdown catch. If this becomes an offensive game I like Ryan’s chances better. More than that, San Diego has not played great competition and the best that can be said for them is they are rested having not left the state of California. They are also confident. I’m out on a limb here a bit because it makes me uneasy taking a dome team traveling on a short week, but I think the Falcons are ready to break out this year. Like the 49ers they know how crucial home field in the playoffs is. Every week is critical for them: Atlanta 24, San Diego 21 (ATL +3/under 47.5)

Philadelphia (2-0) @ Arizona (2-0): This is a tough spot for the Eagles. First of all the desert is rough for visiting teams. They are coming off two exhausting last-minute wins, especially last week’s physical battle with the Ravens. Arizona has likewise won two close games and could be flat after shocking the Patriots. However, that is less likely with the home crowd pumping them up. At some point people will recognize that the Cards have a good defense. The Eagles might be a little overrated on offense, especially with Jeremy Maclin out. LeSean McCoy is definitely a weapon, but Michael Vick has become too careless with the football having already recorded a ridiculous 7 turnovers. These teams are pretty evenly matched even though public perception is heavily in favor of the visitors. Kevin Kolb has a bit of a revenge factor on his mind as well trying to beat his former team. If he can keep his mind off his wife giving birth any day now this is a good position for him to shine: Arizona 23, Philadelphia 20 (AZ +3/over 42)

Pittsburgh (1-1) @ Oakland (0-2): Supposedly the Steelers were going to start running the ball a bit more this season. Rashard Mendenhall has been hurt, and the combination of Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman has produced just 116 yards on 44 rushing attempts for a dismal 2.64 average. Luckily for them, they have a trio of athletic receivers and the Raiders don’t have anyone capable of covering them. If you think last week was ridiculous when Brian Hartline abused them, just wait until Ben Roethlisberger starts extending plays and throwing deep to Mike Wallace. The only way the Raiders stay in this is if their offense wakes up. Darren McFadden has gotten a ton of touches, 41 to be exact, but has a long run of just 8 yards and his longest reception has covered 17. He has yet to score and with the offense so reliant on him that’s a big reason the team is 0-2. Carson Palmer has thrown for a bunch of garbage yards and the only positive for him is that he has just 1 turnover. He also won’t face two of Pittsburgh’s toughest defenders with Troy Polamalu and James Harrison sidelined. Still, I look for the Steelers to get ahead with the pass and finally get their running game going once they build a lead. The Raiders might make a game of it with a big play or two, especially if their defense forces turnovers, but their confidence has to be circling the drain following last week’s beat down in Miami. They are not ready to beat a playoff-caliber team, or even compete with them: Pittsburgh 27, Oakland 13 (PIT -3.5/under 45.5)

Houston (2-0) @ Denver (1-1): The Texans thought they were done with Peyton Manning, but apparently not. Manning had a dream opening win over Pittsburgh, but a nightmare loss in Atlanta. Now that he has his first home and away game out of the way he finally gets to play out of primetime. The defenses should dictate this outcome. I look for a low scoring game with both teams trying to run if they can. Obviously the Texans run the ball effectively and have two solid options. The Broncos might be too reliant on Willis McGahee at this point, and as good as Manning is, his primary receivers are young and the opposing defense can really attack him. I don’t know if he can deal with the pressure here if he has to fight from behind. Houston should be able to build the lead running the ball. Thus far their only problem might be overconfidence having blown out two weak opponents. If they believe the Super Bowl hype this could be a trap game. I like their defense to keep that from happening. The familiarity with Manning is going to work to their advantage in more ways than one. They will be motivated to beat him: Houston 20, Denver 17 (HOU -1.5/under 45)

New England (1-1) @ Baltimore (1-1): After both teams turned in routs in their openers it looked like this would be a battle between 2-0 squads, but instead the rematch of last year’s AFC Championship Game is going to result in one team exiting with a losing record. Needless to say the intensity will be ramped up under the SNF lights. The Ravens are now huge rivals with the Patriots. They are hungry to beat them. New England just got embarrassed at home by the Cardinals, and lost tight end Aaron Hernandez in the process. Stubbornly, they are also phasing out Wes Welker, which might be a financial decision. I like where the running game is going with Stevan Ridley, but it’s not going to be a factor here. It will also be easier to deal with Rob Gronkowski with Hernandez out. Offensively the Ravens still lean heavily on Ray Rice. He was bottled up in the playoff loss last year totaling 78 yards on 22 touches and did not score. New England lost the total yards battle 398-330 and the turnover battle 3-1 yet still won the game thanks to a dropped pass and missed field goal. The anger following that defeat is certain to motivate Baltimore. Neither team is in the habit of losing consecutive games, but barring a tie it’s going to happen. I’ll roll with the home team in a thriller: Baltimore 24, New England 23 (NE +3/under 50)

Green Bay (1-1) @ Seattle (1-1): I think people are sleeping on the Packers too much right now. They are very well rested for their road trip and unlike the Cowboys last week have the added focus of being under the MNF lights to motivate them. The Seahawks certainly played well in getting rookie Russell Wilson his first win, but let’s not get crazy here. When last seen Green Bay’s defense was making a mess of Jay Cutler who has been around the block. They have been given extra days to examine how to deal with Wilson who now has two NFL game tapes to dissect. If we’re being realistic, Wilson has thrown for 304 yards in two games and run for another 48. Those are hardly record-setting numbers. If not for Marshawn Lynch being in early “beast mode” this offense would be in real trouble. Having the twelfth man definitely helps, but they might need an extra player on the field to move the chains. I don’t see them scoring with the Pack here. Aaron Rodgers is an elite quarterback and is not about to lose on national television to a rookie. It’s just that simple: Green Bay 28, Seattle 21 (GB -3/over 44.5)

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