With the Bengals’ win over the Steelers, week 2 is in the bag. It was a pretty decent week for the models. Luigi was 8-8 overall against the spread, but would have passed on two of those games for being too close (it had Detroit winning by 2 when Detroit was favored by 2, and Denver winning by 4.5 when Denver was favored by 4.5). Taking those two games out, Luigi was 8-6. Similarly, Yoshi 1 was 9-7/9-6 (skipping on Monday night) and Yoshi 2 was 7-9/7-7 (skipping on Detroit and Monday night). Looking at Bill Simmons’ picks, Bill was 7-8-1, with the Falcons-Rams game being a push. The models were 9-6-1, 9-6-1, and 8-7-1 against Bill’s spreads, so each has a little bit of a lead. Luigi was 8-7 picking moneylines for a positive week; Yoshi 1 and 2 were 8-8 with losing weeks; the main difference was Luigi passed on Giants-Denver and liked the Bengals even as a favorite. If you look at games where the three models agreed, there were ten spreads they liked and the picks were 6-4, and 12 moneyline picks that were positive overall (6-6, but came out ahead thanks to underdogs). Finally, in terms of SuperContest picks, all three models were 4-1 despite picking slightly different games. Luigi and Yoshi 2 missed on the Browns, who blew their cover despite having a 6-0 halftime lead, and Yoshi 1 missed on the Giants. How about some thoughts on the actual games?
The Pats won an ugly one that was as close as the models thought it would be. Yes, they’re missing some guys, but so far New England has not played well. I haven’t looked at the predictions for next week yet, but I expect the Bucs to give them a fight. As for the Jets, they’re going to be a mess all year unless Smith learns on the job pretty quickly.
The Rams managed to turn an early blowout into a respectable final score, but Atlanta was simply the better team. It’s hard to say where the Rams stand with a win over Arizona and a loss to the Falcons, and similarly Atlanta could be anywhere depending on what you think of the Saints. It’s simply a little too early in the season.
The Bills are looking pretty feisty with their close loss to the Pats and last-minute win over the Panthers. On the other hand, Carolina is in tough shape with two losses already, although only by 6 points total and one of them against the Seahawks. If the Panthers truly are a bad team in close games, this could be a long year, but if they can scrape something together they could still be interesting. A home game against the Giants will be informative.
Chicago won with a last-second touchdown, but obviously can’t be too happy about it. They held the Vikings to one offensive touchdown, which is good, but they can’t assume that other teams will kick field goals in the red zone. That being said, you won’t give up a kick return and fumble return touchdown in the same game too often. In short, who knows?
Green Bay had their way with the Redskins, adding to the noise about RGIII. I think what we’ve really learned is that he’s a second-year QB coming off injury. They’ve played a team with an innovative new offense that no one has tape on, and a perennial Super Bowl contender. Maybe it’s a little early to count them out. If they can handle the Lions at home, things might quiet down a little.
The Dolphins are looking interesting while the Colts are looking iffy. I’m going to speculate that Miami puts up a pretty decent fight at home against the Falcons, if not winning outright, while the 49ers take out their anger on the Colts in the afternoon.
The Chiefs are justifying their preseason hype so far with a 2-0 start. Their Thursday night game against the Eagles might be a bit much for them though. The Cowboys are doing Cowboy things, and I don’t know what to guess for a game against the Rams.
The Eagles lost to the Chargers, which some people are taking as evidence that the new offense is flawed. That seems a little silly given that they’ve put up 61 points in two games. On the other hand, they’ve given up 53 (the missing 9 points are a fumble return against and a safety for). If you aren’t an Eagles fan, this is good news because it points towards super-entertaining shoot-outs most weeks. As for the Chargers, we’ll see if they’re good San Diego or bad San Diego after their road trip to Tennessee.
The Ravens-Browns game sounded ugly. Lets not dwell on it other than to say that I’m not optimistic about Baltimore going to Houston next week.
Speaking of Houston, they gave themselves a rough time against the Titans. They did this a few times last year as well. I’m sure they (and others) will feel a bit more relaxed if they can handle the Ravens. As for the Titans, they get their first home game next week, which I’m sure they’ll enjoy, although the Chargers might be more than they want.
Oh, my Lions. Between this game and the Michigan game on Saturday, I’m happy I was out of the house and not watching the TV. The good news is that Reggie Bush wasn’t seriously injured, but the bad news is that he keeps coming out of games and the Lions don’t know how to play without taking penalties. They have an opportunity to get a good win when they travel to DC, but it won’t be easy.
Tampa Bay now has two losses by three points, and their reward is an away game against the Pats. I could see them pulling one out, but they need something in the passing game. The Saints weren’t impressive, but combining this with their win over Atlanta is good news. A solid win against Arizona would have them headed towards a good season.
Bill Simmons asked how the Raiders can be favored by 6 over anybody. He apparently hadn’t watched the Jaguars recently (though who can blame him?). The Jaguars are obviously terrible, but it’s hard to pin down the Raiders with a close loss and a win that any NFL team should get. They get the Broncos on Monday night, which they should lose, and we still won’t know too much more. Week 4 against Washington will be a little more fair.
Speaking of Denver, they look pretty amazing. What’s most impressive is their defense, which forced four turnovers, when they were supposed to be decimated by injuries and suspensions. Yes, they’ve given up 50 points, but they’re playing like a track meet with all the points they score; the other team is getting plenty of opportunities and has to play aggressive all game just to keep up. The Giants, on the other hand, have to win in Carolina or see their season essentially over after only three weeks.
Seattle was very impressive against the 49ers after being not so impressive against the Panthers. You can count another win when they get the Jaguars next week. The 49ers will be ok, so you don’t have to worry about them too much, but given that they could play the Seahawks two more times, you hope that they do a better job in the rematch in San Fran.
Finally, the Bengals ended up beating the Steelers as expected, but it took longer than I thought it would. I’m not very high on the Steelers, but a good game at home against the Bears could change my mind. The Bengals, on the other hand, need to prove they’re better than a good bad team. A win against the Packers would certainly do that, but it’s a tall order.