Last week marked the return of "Dubs' Pigskin Picks and Rams Preview". I'll be predicting the winners - both straight-up and against the spread - for all 256 NFL regular season games. Plus I'll be previewing each Rams game during the season. As an added feature, "Hot Picks Against The Spread" returns for another season. Each week, three games will be highlighted as the best bets for winning against the spread.
Week 1 Results
The accompanying chart presents the results of my picks for Week 1, and the season totals to-date:
|Week||Wins Straight Up||Wins vs Spread||Hot Picks vs. Spread||Rams Straight Up|
|Last Week||10 6||9 7||1 2||0 1|
|Season||10 6||9 7||1 2||0 1|
Last week was a tough one to start the year, as many favorites lost their opening games. The going gets even tougher this week, with closely matched teams - and spreads - in 9 of the 16 scheduled games.
Pickwatch is a site devoted to tracking weekly picks results from NFL experts, analysts, media types, and pundits (link). This year, they're tracking 117 experts on a weekly basis. I'll be competing against them again this year, and will publish the weekly results! How did I fare against the experts in Week 1? My 10-6 record was good for a 25'th place tie in the overall standings, two behind the leaders, who finished at 12-4 for the week. There's plenty of time to catch them. In 2013, it took me until Week 15 to catch - and surpass - the leaders. TST's own Ryan Van Bibber stands in a tie for 92'nd, finishing the week with an 8-8 record (despite picking Minnesota to beat the Rams).
How did my "Hot Picks Against The Spread" fare last week? New England failed to cover the spread in their loss to Miami. Pittsburgh defeated Cleveland, but failed to cover the spread. Philadelphia had a first half scare against Jacksonville, but recovered to win handily and cover the spread. Week 1 Record: 1-2.
2014 NFL Team Records
For reference, the accompanying chart presents the straight-up, against the spread, and over/under records for all 32 NFL teams, after Week 1:
|NFL ATS RANKINGS|
Dubs' Pigskin Picks - Week 2
The accompanying chart presents the format - and my selections - for each game this week: home team - away team - the spread - straight-up winner - which team covers/beats the spread - and the outcome of the game:
|Home||Away||Spread||Straight Up||Vs. Spread||Score|
|Baltimore||Pittsburgh||Bal 2 1/2||Baltimore||Baltimore||23 20|
|Cincinnati||Atlanta||Cin 5||Cincinnati||Atlanta||24 20|
|Cleveland||New Orleans||NO 7||New Orleans||New Orleans||30 14|
|Tennessee||Dallas||Ten 3||Tennessee||Tennessee||24 17|
|Minnesota||New England||NE 3||New England||New England||23 16|
|NY Giants||Arizona||Ari 2 1/2||Arizona||Arizona||24 13|
|Washington||Jacksonville||Was 7||Washington||Jacksonville||21 17|
|Carolina||Detroit||Car 2 1/2||Carolina||Carolina||21 16|
|San Diego||Seattle||Sea 5 1/2||Seattle||Seattle||24 14|
|Tampa Bay||St. Louis||TB 7||Tampa Bay||St. Louis||17 13|
|Denver||Kansas City||Den 12 1/2||Denver||Denver||31 17|
|Green Bay||NY Jets||GB 9 1/2||Green Bay||Green Bay||27 17|
|Oakland||Houston||Hou 2 1/2||Houston||Houston||20 10|
|San Francisco||Chicago||SF 7 1/2||San Francisco||San Francisco||24 16|
|Indianapolis||Philadelphia||Ind 3||Indianapolis||Philadelphia||28 27|
Hot Picks Against The Spread
Seattle over San Diego - Seattle is playing like they're in mid-season form. San Diego lost a close one to Arizona last week, but will be no match for the high-flying Seahawks.
Arizona over the New York Giants - The Giants looked terrible in their season-opening loss to the Lions. The Cardinals came back with a dozen 4'th quarter points to beat the Chargers in their home opener.
St. Louis Rams @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs finished with a 4-12 record in 2013. The Bucs replaced head coach Greg Schiano, bringing in defensive guru Lovie Smith. QB Josh McCown was signed to start at quarterback, replacing Mike Glennon. The team added a pair of big targets to join WR Vincent Jackson, selecting TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins and WR Mike Evans in the 2014 NFL Draft. The Bucs' defense should be tough again this year, despite losing CB Darrelle Revis. Tampa Bay is looking to rebound from a 20-14 season-opening loss to the Cam Newton-less Carolina Panthers.
Keys For The Rams Vs. Tampa Bay
- The Rams must get off to a fast start in Sunday's game. In each of their seven victories last season, the Rams were either tied or leading at the half. In their season-opening loss to Minnesota, the Rams were losing 13-0 at the half.
- Winning the turnover battle. In six of their seven wins last year, the Rams had a positive turnover differential, and a zero differential in the other victory. Last week against the Vikings, the Rams had a minus-2 turnover differential.
- The Rams' offensive line did not perform up to expectations in Week 1. The OL will play a key role in establishing the Rams' rushing attack, which sputtered against the Vikings last week. It's now time for the Rams to get Greg Robinson into the starting lineup.
- With CB Trumaine Johnson out for 4-6 weeks, the Bucs' pair of 6'5" wide outs - Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson - could cause match up problems for the Rams' secondary.
- Minimizing mistakes and penalties. The Rams have the youngest - and most inexperienced - team in the league (for the third consecutive year). The Rams were flagged for 13 penalties in their loss to the Vikings.
- Containing RB Doug Martin. In Week 1, the Panthers stingy defense limited Martin to 9 yards rushing on 9 carries. The Rams were much improved against the run in 2013, finishing 9'th in the league.
- Pressuring QB Josh McCown. The Rams have a pass rush that could give the Bucs' offensive line fits. McCown appeared jittery in his first start for the Bucs, throwing a pair of interceptions. The Rams are noted for their defensive line depth. William Hayes will replace the injured Chris Long, who will be missed for both his strong weekly performances and his leadership.
Prediction: Tampa Bay 17 - Rams 13
QB Shaun Hill is questionable for Sunday's game, still recovering from a thigh injury suffered in the season-opener. The Rams will keep this game close, and will beat the 7 point spread. The result will likely come down to performances from Hill (or Austin Davis) vs. Josh McCown, and Zac Stacy vs. Doug Martin. If Shaun Hill plays, the Rams can pull this one out!