Week #1 of the NFL season is in the history books. The St. Louis Rams pulled off an exciting 4th quarter comeback, defeating the Arizona Cardinals 27-24. The Rams are on the road this week, facing one of the better teams in the NFL, the Atlanta Falcons. The game will be an emotional one for me, watching Steven Jackson in another uniform for the first time.
Last week was the debut of "Dubs' Pigskin Picks". Each week I will be presenting my picks - both straight up and against the spread - for every game on the schedule. How did I fare in Week 1?
The accompanying chart presents the results of my picks for Week 1:
Wins Straight Up Wins vs Spread Rams Straight Up Last Week 12 - 4 6 - 10 1 - 0 Season 12 - 4 6 - 10 1 - 0
Last week was a successful one in picking straight-up winners, as 12 of 16 games (75%) were picked correctly. Against the spread was a different story altogether, as only 6 of 16 games (38%) were picked correctly. The first week of the season always presents difficulties in picking versus the spread. Very little is known about a team this early in the season. That fact alone makes it difficult; for both the odds makers, and the selectors. Let's see if I can improve on those results this week!
The accompanying chart presents the format [and selections], for each game this week: home team - away team - the spread - my straight-up winner - which team covers/beats the spread - and the outcome of the game:
|Home||Away||Spread||Straight Up||Vs. Spread||Score|
|Atlanta||St. Louis||Atl 7||Atlanta||St. Louis||24 - 20|
|New England||NY Jets||NE 13||New England||NY Jets||27 - 16|
|Baltimore||Cleveland||Bal 7||Baltimore||Baltimore||24 - 13|
|Green Bay||Washington||GB 8||Green Bay||Washington||31 - 24|
|Philadelphia||San Diego||Phil 9||Philadelphia||San Diego||31 - 23|
|Houston||Tennessee||Hou 10||Houston||Tennessee||27 - 21|
|Indianapolis||Miami||Indy 3||Indianapolis||Indianapolis||23 - 17|
|Kansas City||Dallas||KC 3||Dallas||Dallas||21 - 17|
|Chicago||Minnesota||Chi 6||Chicago||Minnesota||23 - 21|
|Buffalo||Carolina||Car 3||Carolina||Carolina||24 - 16|
|Arizona||Detroit||Det 2||Detroit||Arizona||21 - 20|
|Tampa Bay||New Orleans||NO 3 1/2||New Orleans||New Orleans||31 - 17|
|NY Giants||Denver||Den 4 1/2||Denver||Denver||27 - 17|
|Oakland||Jacksonville||Oak 6||Oakland||Oakland||17 - 10|
|Seattle||San Francisco||Sea 3||Seattle||San Francisco||21 - 20|
|Cincinnati||Pittsburgh||Cin 7||Cincinnati||Cincinnati||30 - 20|
The Atlanta Falcons play their home opener against the St. Louis Rams this weekend. The Falcons were beaten in Week 1 [23-17] by the New Orleans Saints. Despite the loss, the Falcons are among the best teams in the NFL. The Falcons are very tough at home, boasting a 13-3 record the past two seasons. In addition, Atlanta has not lost back-to-back regular season games since December, 2009. Having lost their first game of the season, expect Atlanta to come out playing with a vengeance. The Rams have a difficult task ahead of them, in attempting to remain undefeated.
The defensive lines will play a key role in the outcome of this game. Robert Quinn and Chris Long must pressure Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan, who can shred a defense if given time to throw. Julio Jones, Roddy White (although slowed by injury; possibly out this week), and Tony Gonzalez are all quality targets, and form one of the best receiving corps in the NFL. The Rams played well against the run in the Arizona game, and must contain Steven Jackson this weekend. The Falcons believe they improved their defensive line in the off season. This was not apparent against the Saints, as they only sacked Drew Brees twice, and applied little pressure throughout the game. As a result, Brees torched Atlanta for 357 passing yards and 2 touchdown passes.
Given time to throw, Sam Bradford may be able to exploit a young Atlanta secondary, who replaced both of their corner backs in the off season. The Rams have played tough teams very well on the road during Jeff Fisher's reign, and this game should be no exception. Many mistakes were made by the Rams in the Arizona game [especially penalties]. These must be minimized for the Rams to have a legitimate shot at an upset. This will be a close, well-played game; with big plays, and turnovers ultimately deciding the outcome.
Other Important Match Ups
Washington @ Green Bay - Any game involving the Redskins is of importance to Rams fans, as the Rams hold Washington's first round pick in the 2014 draft. Can RG3 work his magic, like Colin Kaepernick did last week against Green Bay? The loser of this game will be 0-2, and has an uphill climb to reach the playoffs.
Detroit @ Arizona - Detroit appears to be rejuvenated, and will be a difficult opponent for the improved Cardinals. Matthew Stafford should be able to move the offense, although Arizona's defense will keep this game very close. Expect Detroit's defensive line vs. Arizona's offensive line to be the difference in the game.
San Francisco @ Seattle - This is the game of the week. Both teams are Super Bowl contenders. Although both teams won their openers, San Francisco did so in a more convincing fashion. Home field will be the difference in this game. Seattle sported a perfect 8-0 record at home in the 2012 season. Here's hoping the game ends in a tie for a bit of irony, not to mention it would be beneficial for the Rams' playoff aspirations.
Against The "Experts"
NFL Pickwatch is a site devoted to tracking the straight-up picks of the so-called experts, on a weekly basis, throughout the NFL season. 82 prognosticators are listed for tracking by Pickwatch. Among those 82 are names like: Mike Florio (PFT), Adam Schefter (ESPN), Marshall Faulk, Kurt Warner, Mike Ditka, Clark Judge (CBS), Michael Irvin, Pete Prisco (CBS), and Steve Mariucci (NFL). Even a mild-mannered accountant can be ultra-competitive, and I am just that. To me, winning isn't everything...it's the only thing. As noted, I finished the first week with a 12-4 record. That is good for a 2nd place tie among all the heavyweights. The accompanying chart (from Pickwatch) presents the top 25 in the standings: