Week 2 of the NFL season is in the history books. The St. Louis Rams lost to the Atlanta Falcons 31-24 last weekend. The Rams fell behind by 3 scores in the first half, then mounted a second-half comeback that just fell short. The Rams are on the road this week, playing the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, in a key conference game.
The accompanying chart presents the results of my picks for Week 2, and the season totals to-date:
Week Wins Straight Up Wins vs Spread Rams Straight Up Last Week 11 5 11 5 1 0 Season 23 9 17 15 2 0
Week 2 was a successful one, with an 11-5 record, both straight-up, and against the spread. My prediction of a Rams loss was accurate, although it's one you would rather not pick correctly, as a Rams fan.
How am I faring against the 82 experts Pickwatch is tracking (link)? After Week 1, my record was good enough to be tied for 2nd overall. Despite an 11-5 record straight-up in Week 2, I lost ground on the leaders. My 23-9 record overall is now tied for 14th place in the standings. The chart below identifies the top 25:
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|
|Dallas||St. Louis||Dal 3 1/2||St. Louis||St. Louis||24 17|
|Philadelphia||Kansas City||Phil 3||Kansas City||Kansas City||24 20|
|Baltimore||Houston||Hou 2 1/2||Houston||Houston||21 17|
|Carolina||NY Giants||Car 1||Carolina||Carolina||16 13|
|Cincinnati||Green Bay||Cin 2 1/2||Green Bay||Green Bay||23 17|
|Minnesota||Cleveland||Min 5 1/2||Minnesota||Minnesota||23 16|
|New England||Tampa Bay||NE 9||New England||Tampa Bay||24 16|
|New Orleans||Arizona||NO 7 1/2||New Orleans||New Orleans||30 20|
|Tennessee||San Diego||Ten 3||Tennessee||Tennessee||21 17|
|Washington||Detroit||Was 1||Washington||Washington||21 17|
|NY Jets||Buffalo||NY 1||NY Jets||NY Jets||14 10|
|San Francisco||Indianapolis||SF 10||San Francisco||Indianapolis||24 16|
|Seattle||Jacksonville||Sea 19 1/2||Seattle||Seattle||31 7|
|Pittsburgh||Chicago||Chi 2||Chicago||Chicago||20 17|
|Denver||Oakland||Den 15||Denver||Denver||35 14|
Keys For The Rams vs. Dallas
- Pressuring QB Tony Romo. According to Pro Football Focus, the Cowboys are ranked 14th in pass blocking. This ranking is skewed somewhat, by the sub-par front fours of the Chiefs and Giants (their opponents in the first two games). When "pressured", Romo has thrown for only 144 yards this season.
- The Rams were ineffective in the first half against Atlanta. They had poor field position for much of the half, and were plagued by mistakes, and penalties, at inopportune times. The offensive play-calling could be described as conservative. It's imperative that the Rams get off to a better start in the game against Dallas. The Rams will also need to improve their punt return game, avoid costly penalties, and eliminate the mistakes prevalent last week.
- The offensive line has blocked tremendously for Sam Bradford. It must continue to do so, for the Rams to win this game.
- In Jason Witten and Dez Bryant, the Cowboys have a pair of dangerous receiving threats. The Rams must prepare, and execute, a coverage scheme that limits the effectiveness of Bryant and Witten.
The Rams will come out firing in this game, and will not allow a repeat of last weeks first half performance. Tony Romo will be harassed throughout the game. He will still pass for over 250 yards, but the Rams will stifle the Cowboys in the red zone. Expect the Rams defense to continue their stellar performance against the run.
Prediction: Rams 24 - Cowboys 17
Hot Picks Versus The Spread
Chicago over Pittsburgh - The Steelers are in disarray, and will fall to the Bears, in a close game.
Denver over Oakland - Can Peyton Manning break his own touchdown pass record this week?
Indianapolis over San Francisco - San Francisco is struggling offensively. The Colts will keep this game close.