The Reuters global sports blog
The Lineman’s NFL Picks — Week 2
Just like the New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers it was a decent if unspectacular start to a new season for the Lineman, who was a respectable 4-2 in Week One.
But still room for improvement so here we go with another Six-Pack for Week Two.
Record: 4-2. Last week 4-2. Pick of the Week: 0-1
PICK OF THE WEEK
Houston Texans (1-0) at Washington Redskins (1-0) (Line Texans minus-2.5): The Washington Redskins continue their Texas two-step start to the season following up a shock Week One win over the Dallas Cowboys with a visit from the Houston Texans.
It seems weird that Houston would represent the tougher game of a Texas doubleheader but there is a power shift going on in the Lone Star state with Dallas on the decline.
The Texans roll into D.C. bristling with confidence after a season-opening win over Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts.
Despite the loss Manning enjoyed one of the best days of his career shredding the Texans defence for over 400 yards and three touchdowns.
Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb is no Manning.
Washington won last week without scoring an offensive touchdown, cornerback DeAngelo Hall’s fumble return accounting for the Redskins only TD.
If one player had a better opening day than Manning it was Texas running back Arian Foster, who rumbled for a team-record 231 yards and three touchdowns.
With Foster running wild, Houston quarterback Matt Schaub did not even have to pull out his big weapon Andre Johnson, who led all receivers last season with 101 catches and over 1,500 yards.
Schaub threw just 17passes completing nine against the Colts, look for Johnson catch more than nine himself against Washington.
Redskins to Houston – we have a problem.
Take the Texans and give up the 2.5.
Philadelphia Eagles (0-1) at Detroit Lions (0-1) (Line Eagles minus-3.5): This will be The Battle of the Backups as both the Eagles and Lions go into Week Two without their starting quarterbacks.
Michael Vick gets the start for the Eagles after Kevin Kolb got knocked out with a concussion and Shaun Hill will be calling plays for the Lions after fragile boy wonder Matthew Stafford injured his shoulder.
Vick looked good in relief against the Packers rushing 11 times for 103 yards and completing 16 of 24 passes for 175 yards.
With Donovan McNabb departed and Kolb wondering where he is, Vick has been gifted a chance to return to the spotlight against the lowly Lions and I expect him to seize the opportunity.
Detroit might also still be trying to shake-off last week’s controversial loss to the Chicago Bears.
The Lions looked as if they had won on the road for the first time in three years when Calvin Johnson made a one-handed touchdown grab with time running out. But the referee ruled no catch and the Lions returned home licking their wounds.
Take the Eagles and give up the 3.5.
New York Giants (1-0) at Indianapolis Colts (0-1) (Line Colts minus-5.5): After losing to the Texans in Week One, the Colts got that unbeaten, perfect season thing that has followed them the last few years out of the way early. So no distractions for the Manning Bowl II as Eli leads the Giants into Indy to take on big brother Peyton.
Much has changed since Manning Bowl I four years ago won by Peyton and the Colts.
Both Eli and Peyton have won Super Bowls and Super Bowl MVP awards. But one thing that hasn’t changed is that Big Bro Peyton is still the best quarterback in the family and maybe one of the best of all-time.
Since we’re into Roman numerals this week – II questions.
Big Question I: Can the Giants defence stop Manning, who had one of the best days of his Hall of Fame career last week tossing for more than 400 yards and three touchdowns but still lost to the Texans?
Big Question II: Can the Colts stop the run? Texans Arian Foster crashed his way to a Houston franchise record 231 yards against Indy last week and Giants like to pound away behind the running of Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs.
Before the end of next Sunday, NBC will make sure you know more about the Mannings than your own family.
Lesson number I. Eli has only ever beaten Peyton once: in a backyard pickup basketball game.
Lesson number II. Never bet against a motivated Peyton Manning.
Big Brother rules.
Take Peyton – oops, I mean the Colts, and give up the 5.5 points.
Miami Dolphins (1-0) at Minnesota Vikings (0-1) (Line Vikings minus-5.5): Brett Favre looked OLD in a season-opening loss to the New Orleans Saints. The 40-year-old future Hall of Famer admitted later he misread plays but hey, eyesight is one of the first things to go as you get older.
Like a classic car put in storage for the winter, it is going to take Favre a while to get his engine humming and shake off some rust.
With Favre’s favourite target Sidney Rice still sidelined look for running back Adrian Peterson to carry a bigger load.
Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne has plenty of offensive weapons at his disposal but mostly shot blanks in a tight 15-10 win over the punchless Buffalo Bills last week.
Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams give Miami a nice one-two punch at running back but Henne will have to make more effective use of pass catching machine Brandon Marshall, who was held to just 53 yards on eight catches by the Bills in his Dolphins debut. Vikings secondary can expect to have their hands full containing the big wide receiver who had 101 catches and 10 touchdowns for Denver last season.
Dolphins are looking to open season 2-0 for first time since 2002 but have lost all three visits to Minnesota 1979. Since becoming a Viking, Favre has never lost at the Metrodome.
Take the Vikings and give up the 5.5.
Buffalo Bills (0-1) at Green Bay Packers (1-0) (Line Packers minus-12.5): This is the Packers home opener and alumni weekend at Lambeau Field. Welcome to Green Bay Buffalo Bills.
I normally don’t like giving up such a big number early in the season but quarterback Aaron Rodgers says he was unhappy with his play in a 27-20 win over Philadelphia last week, which can only be bad news for the Bills.
Green Bay lost starting running back Ryan Grant to a season-ending ankle injury but it should have little impact this week for the pass happy Packers.
The injury riddled Bills have big problems a linebacker with Kawika Mitchell out for the year, Paul Posluszny is sidelined 2-3 weeks and Reggie Torbor questionable.
If the Bills are unable to put pressure on Rodgers, they are in for long afternoon. Look for plenty of Lambeau Leaps from receiver Greg Jennings, Donald Driver and Jermichael Finley.
The Bills like to run the ball but a banged up offensive line going up against a tough Packers defence spells big problems for rookie running back C.J. Spiller.
Packers come out with guns blazing. Not a good day for the Bad News Bills.
Take the Pack and give up the 12.5.
St. Louis Rams (0-1) at Oakland Raiders (0-1) (Line Oakland minus-4.5): The Raiders think they have gone from being a rebuilding team to competitive team. I think not after watching them get blown out 38-13 by the Tennessee Titans in Week One.
To be fair, no one expected the Raiders to beat the Titans but a loss this week to the Rams would likely cause those scary creatures that inhabit the infamous Black Hole to turn in their plastic skulls and face paint.
The Raiders have not won more than five games in any of the last seven seasons but sadly that still leaves them way ahead of the Rams, who counted just one win last year.
Oakland did a good job containing Titans running back Chris Johnson last weekend and must do the same Sunday neutralising Steven Jackson, the Rams only real offensive threat.
Number one pick quarterback Sam Bradford has shown promise and performed well in his NFL debut last week but is a long, long way from carrying this team on his wonky shoulders.
Oakland running back Darren McFadden had 150 yards against Tennessee but quarterback Jason Campbell must step up and prove he can do the job.
Raiders have lost five consecutive home openers.
A sixth straight loss and the Cable Guy, head coach Tom Cable will be thrown into the Black Hole.
Back in Black.
Take the Raiders and give up the 4.5.