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Week 2 NFL Picks

The Matt Ryan-led Atlanta offense was unstoppable in Week 1. Will a talented Cincinnati defense slow the Falcons in Week 2? (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) 

Prior to reading about the NFL, please be aware of the following:

1. The NFL is apparently now responsible for raining down justice on criminals.

2. According to the president of NOW, the NFL fosters domestic abuse.

3. Golfing during the NFL offseason is an unimaginably horrific act.

Season:       10 – 6 – 0
Last Week:  10 – 6 – 0

Thursday Recap

Steelers 6 at Ravens 26
An impressive outing by the Baltimore Ravens, to say the least. The Steelers never really recovered after Justin Brown fumbled inside the red zone on Pittsburgh’s opening drive. Meanwhile, Joe Flacco and the offense put up points on Baltimore’s final four drives of the game. The Raven defense smothered the Steelers, holding Pittsburgh’s offense to 46 yards of total offense in the 2nd half before a desperation drive in the final minutes of an already-decided game went for 72. I didn’t expect such a focused and clean effort from Baltimore. As for Pittsburgh, that’s six straight sloppy quarters in which they totaled about 250 yards and nine points. That’s what you’d call, “not getting it done.”

Early Games (1:00PM ET)

Dolphins at Bills
Miami’s defense is good. They flummoxed Tom Brady and the Patriots the entire 2nd half. I’m still undecided about the offense. Outside of Knowshon Moreno, I thought the Dolphin offense was bipolar in Week 1. Buffalo’s defense played well against a potent Chicago offense and EJ Manuel was… serviceable. Buffalo was unbelievably feisty at home in 2013. I expect the same in 2014. BILLS If I were Charles Barkley: Bills pick ‘em

Jaguars at Redskins
I’m still somewhat shocked at how bad the Redskins were in Week 1. I thought it was a little outlandish for some of the media to pick Washington to win the NFC East, but even I didn’t expect such a horrific outing. If Robert Griffin III never recoveries from this funk, does that trade go down as the second worst trade in NFL history behind, of course, the Herschel Walker nuclear bomb? REDSKINS If I were Charles Barkley: Redskins -6

Cowboys at Titans
The NFC East was absolutely, positively, unequivocally the worst division in football last weekend. It wasn’t even close. The Dallas offense may be a top tier unit but only if Tony Romo plays sober. Whatever he was last week, he certainly wasn’t sober. For Dallas to beat anyone the offense must be on point because that defense gives them no chance. TITANS If I were Charles Barkley: Titans -3.5

Cardinals at Giants
Funniest thing I read all week: Victor Cruz thinks the Giants offense would be more effective if he got the ball more. Uhhhh, sorry Victor, but you can’t come out and say that after you drop multiple first downs on Monday Night Football, including two in critical situations.
Travel back with me to 2010, 2011, and 2012. In 2010, Hakeem Nicks caught 79 passes for 1,052 yards and scored 11 touchdowns. In 2011, Nicks: 76/1,192/7. Cruz: 82/1,536/9. Jake Ballard also showed promise throughout the 2011 season. In 2012, Cruz: 86/1092/10. Here’s what’s so amazing; both receivers (and Ballard too) put up those excellent numbers before they were 25 (Cruz turned 25 in November 2012). If you’re Eli Manning in 2011, you probably love the promise of your receiving corps over the next five years. Fast-forward to 2014 and Nicks is a shell of himself fighting for snaps in Indianapolis. Ballard is out of the league after tearing his ACL in the 2012 Super Bowl. Cruz is still in New York, but has only put up pedestrian numbers since signing a big contract in the summer of 2013. Compare the drop off at the receiver position with Manning’s struggles and it makes more sense why the Giants offense has been such a disaster. Now, here’s the fun question: Is Manning’s drop in play due to the decline of the receivers or is the decline of the receivers a result of Manning? CARDINALS If I were Charles Barkley: Cardinals -2.5

Patriots at Vikings
The cliché: The Patriots don’t start a season 0-2. Not under Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. I’m not sure I believe it right now. Something went horribly wrong in that 2nd half in Miami. Brady always seems to struggle in Miami, so perhaps we can chalk it up to a typical Miami outing. However, Minnesota is no pushover. They bullied a solid, albeit injury depleted, Rams team IN St. Louis. Mike Zimmer had great defenses in Cincinnati and appears well on his way to building another one in Minnesota. Will it be up to the task of slowing an angry and perhaps embarrassed Brady in only its second outing of the year? Probably not. [UPDATE: Adrian Peterson was just deactivated so the Vikings chances just dropped dramatically.] PATRIOTS If I were Charles Barkley: Patriots -6

Saints at Browns
I saw Draft Day this week. I wonder if Cleveland fans watch that movie and get excited about the future before remembering it’s fiction and their real life future revolves around a party boy QB who hangs out with LeBron James too much. Given LeBron’s level of…let’s say…self worth, there’s probably a whole posse of folks blowing smoke up Johnny Football’s rear end 24/7. Good luck, Mike Pettine. SAINTS If I were Charles Barkley: Saints -6.5

Falcons at Bengals
It’ll be interesting to see if Atlanta’s offense can sustain its potency when it moves outdoors against a daunting defense. Visiting Cincinnati isn’t quite the same as playing on the fast track inside the Georgia Dome against a Saints defense short on elite talent. I’m high on Atlanta’s offense. Julio Jones should have his way against any secondary. As I mentioned last week, Matt Ryan is now severely underrated. Still, I can’t shake the “soft” stigma that sticks to Mike Smith’s Falcons. “Soft” won’t hack it against the Bengals. BENGALS If I were Charles Barkley: Falcons +5.5

Lions at Panthers
The Lions feel overvalued after pummeling a decrepit Giants team. If they can go into Charlotte and leave victorious I’ll reconsider. Until then, I’m sticking to my preseason declaration that Carolina’s defense is good enough to keep the Panthers in playoff contention. Obviously, the Panthers will need a near perfect defensive effort to give their developing offense a chance in this one. How about Kelvin Benjamin? He looked quite promising in Week 1. Will that continue with Cam Newton under center? Given Detroit’s injury situation in the secondary, Cam and Benjamin could have a very eventful afternoon. PANTHERS If I were Charles Barkley: Panthers -2.5

Afternoon Games (4:05PM ET)

Rams at Buccaneers
After Sam Bradford’s season-ending injury, I thought, “Well, a nearly identical situation worked out well for the Rams 15 years ago.” If you recall, Trent Green went down in the preseason and St. Louis inserted a guy named Kurt Warner under center. Six months later the Rams were Super Bowl champs. I think it’s safe to say that’s not happening with Shaun Hill or Austin Davis. BUCCANEERS If I were Charles Barkley: Buccaneers -6

Seahawks at Chargers
There’s no ifs, ands, or buts about it; Philip Rivers choked a win away Monday night in Arizona. He muffed a snap and cost San Diego a field goal that would have pushed the lead to 8 with just under seven minutes remaining. On the Chargers ensuing possession, now trailing by one, Rivers went into full-fledged panic mode and failed to register a 1st down despite three opportunities to gain a measly two yards. Rivers came out this week and said he’ll go after Richard Sherman, but after seeing him crumble under the pressure of that final drive in Arizona, I’m not sure this one will be close given Seattle’s relentless pass rush. SEAHAWKS If I were Charles Barkley: Seahawks -6

Texans at Raiders
I know I picked Houston to win the AFC South, but I’m not feeling great about it after Week 1. Houston’s offense was tough to watch. Remind me again why I picked a Ryan Fitzpatrick-led offense to win a division title? RAIDERS If I were Charles Barkley: Raiders +3

Jets at Packers
Many have said this game was over the moment Green Bay was embarrassed on opening night in Seattle. I do not disagree. PACKERS If I were Charles Barkley: Packers -8

Chiefs at Broncos
I picked the Chiefs last week because there are two things Andy Reid does exceptionally well. 1. He wins after a bye week. 2. His teams generally play well in Week 1. Clearly, I missed the boat this year. I’m a Reid apologist, but it’s hard to defend him when he continually makes the same mistakes. 11 touches for Jamaal Charles? A 17/39 run to pass ratio? Andy, Andy, Andy. When will you learn? BRONCOS If I were Charles Barkley: Chiefs +13

Sunday Night (8:30PM ET)

Bears at 49ers
We never got a real look at the 49ers in Week 1 after Tony Romo gift wrapped them a W before halftime. San Francisco appeared content to coast to the victory. It’ll be interesting to see how the 49ers secondary holds up against Chicago’s monster receivers. Having Colin Kaepernick and the offense play with some urgency for 60 minutes should be exciting, too. Also, San Francisco giving seven points is too high. 49ERS If I were Charles Barkley: Bears +7

Monday Night (8:30PM ET)

Eagles at Colts
Nick Foles struggled M I G H T I L Y with Jacksonville’s pass rush in the 1st half last week. He looked flustered. He looked slow. He missed open receivers over, and over, and over again. He had zero feel for the pocket. Lucky for Foles (and the Eagles), Indianapolis has very little pass rush, if any at all. I’m not ready to judge the Eagle defense after one lousy half and one stellar one, especially against Jacksonville, but Sunday night will be a huge test. Andrew Luck isn’t seasoned like Drew Brees or Peyton Manning but he’s wily enough to make defenses pay in a variety of ways. Most importantly, as we’ve witnessed before, no lead is safe against Luck and the Colts. I’m taking the Colts simply because I have no idea what to expect from the Eagle defense. COLTS If I were Charles Barkley: Colts -3

*****

If I were Charles Barkley…
Season:        7 – 9 – 0
Last Week:   7 – 9 – 0

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