The 2010 NFL Picks
Week Two


That was a fabulous week one for all of us (as a group)… while no one ran away with a dominating performance, everyone finished with a winning record… only 2 games separate the top from the bottom in our standings… and basically what you have is that with 16 weeks of games still left to go, representing more than 200 contests… it’s alot of fun and too close to call.

Mike Jr. leads the way with a 9-4-3 record. Molly and Terry got off to good starts… and at different points on Sunday, both looked like potential top finishers. Gus and Sam delivered good openings as well.

Great stuff.

Week two is a fun place in the NFL, because it may the biggest week of potential overreactions that the season provides. Are the Bengals done? Are the Patriots dominant? What happened to San Diego? …to San Francisco?

It becomes all too easy to look at a club like Minnesota, make a prediction entering that first game that their offense might have some troubles given the overall health of everyone, see the results against New Orleans, and then hold that opinion against the Vikings this week as if it’s been proven rock solid. It’s a valid question. It’s one I raised. Rock solid? No. Not yet.

Do yourself a favor… for your first glance, look at each and every one of these games as if it is still week one of the season. Pretend last week never happened for a moment. Then, after you’ve thought about the game, bring in last week’s effort for consideration. Some teams played exactly the way you expected. Some perhaps a bit better… some a bit worse. And a few were off the charts in one direction or the other.

The important thing to remember is that someone that stunk last week is going to look awesome this week… and someone that delivered big is going to look like crap. If you automatically believe in Seattle because they thumped the 49ers, you may be in for a surprise.

We’ve got a few large favorites at home this week… and it is worth noting that last season in weeks 3 and 4 the large home favorites went 7-0 after going 2-2 in weeks 1 and 2. It fluctuated a bit for the rest of the year, but that was where the big swing took place. Even if week 2 and not 3, I think it’s worth considering when you see a Green Bay club returning home… even when favored by 13. Worth considering when you see an embarrassed Dallas club returning home… even when favored by 8½. (That game features the man… myth… legend… Cutler on the road.)

This week I thought we’d change things up a bit and head to visit Zombieland. Great movie… you may not have seen it… and if you haven’t, go find it now and then come back… I’ll wait.

Kansas City at Cleveland (2)“They’re in the back, aren’t they?” “Just me.” “I’m really sorry. She was a good crouching tiger...” “You got taken hostage by a 12-year old?” Strange game here. For instance… let’s go back to the idea I expressed in kicking off this column. Forget game one. If I tossed you the schedules in August and asked you to pick a team, would you be leaning more toward Kansas City or Cleveland? Confusing, right? Neither club possessing much “best player on the field” talent worthy of note. Neither club looking to be a major achiever in 2010. So let’s bring week one in to the mix. And there we find that the world makes sense… Kansas City defeated San Diego on the road, Cleveland lost to Tampa Bay on the road, and here we have Cleveland favored. (Yeah, that was sarcasm. It makes no sense at all.) Interesting note worth mentioning… after this weekend, the Browns face a string of the Ravens, Bengals, Falcons, Steelers, Saints, Patriots, Jets and Jaguars. 0-10 is definitely starting to look possible. (And, if you saw the full schedule, they aren’t many mistakes from 0-16.) Word on the street is that the Browns might start Angie Smith, a 3-year veteran of their cheerleading squad, at quarterback for an ailing Jake Delhomme.
Bob: Kansas City
Terry: Kansas City
Mike: Cleveland
Mike Jr: Kansas City
Molly: Cleveland
Gus: Cleveland
Sam: Kansas City

Buffalo at Green Bay (13)“Where are you, you spongy, yellow, delicious bastards?” There really is no Angie Smith cheering for the Browns. (Does Cleveland even have cheerleaders? I don’t think they do. Maybe it’s a Facebook page or something. Cold weather city too. That screws things up. Oh… wait… we’ve moved to Buffalo at Green Bay… sorry about that.) Wow. Two touchdowns. It’s awfully tempting to say Buffalo can keep that spread low, isn’t it? Ryan Grant out… and so on… and so on. Last year Buffalo didn’t look hideous on the road… 3-5 was their record. But a deeper look shows that they defeated the Jets, Panthers, and Chiefs while traveling. While a couple of losses were close, 3 were just monstrous blowouts, and honestly this club only did well against quality opponents when they were divisional rivals. Edge… Green Bay. In 2009 the Packers pretty impressively took care of business. Sure… they lost a couple of games to playoff teams (2 to Minnesota, then Cincinnati) and on the road (Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay). Get this though… 11 wins, every one of them by at least 6 points, 8 by at least 10 points, and 6 by 20 or more. Edge… you already know.
Bob: Green Bay
Terry: Green Bay
Mike: Green Bay
Mike Jr: Green Bay
Molly: Green Bay
Gus: Buffalo
Sam: Green Bay

Baltimore (1½) at Cincinnati“There’s a box of Twinkies in that grocery store. Not just any box of Twinkies. The last box of Twinkies that anyone will enjoy in the whole universe. Believe it or not, Twinkies have an expiration date. Some day very soon, life's little Twinkie gauge is gonna go... empty.” This is exactly the kind of game Cincinnati won in 2009. Quality opponent… close score… surprise ending… move on. And guess what? I expect them to rebound and play well in this game. The Ravens defeated the Jets… but that game should never have finished with that score. Amazingly, in a way I came away from it more concerned about Baltimore than I did New York. The trick is… you simply can’t play against the Ravens from behind. I know that isn’t a 100% certainty… but it’s true enough. If they score the first 10 or so points, the defense kicks in and they will shut you down. The Bengals have to continue to play better than they did in the first half against New England, likely score first, and hopefully score often. I’m predicting a 20-17 win for the home team.
Bob: Cincinnati
Terry: Baltimore
Mike: Baltimore
Mike Jr: Baltimore
Molly: Cincinnati
Gus: Baltimore
Sam: Cincinnati

Pittsburgh at Tennessee (5)“Who’s Bill Murray?” “I’ve never hit a kid before. I mean, that’s like asking who Gandhi is.” “Who’s Gandhi?” Last year the Steelers survived a scare from the Titans in the opener, and promptly lost the next 2 on the road. Overall in 2009 they went 3-5 away from Pittsburgh, with the most impressive victory being a total domination of Denver. We should note though that one of those road losses was against Baltimore… with one Mr. Dennis Dixon playing quarterback for them. Dixon… Dixon… why does that name ring a bell? Tennessee is coming off of a solid opener where they coasted to victory over the Raiders. They went 8-2 in the final 10 games of 2009. And… if we combine those 10 games with this year’s first contest, well… Tennessee is scoring 28 a game while giving up 20. You would think that the big question is can Pittsburgh stop Chris Johnson. (Can anyone, really? What counts as stopping him? 140 combined yards and 2 touchdowns?) And that is a good question. But when you check out the records you find that somehow, with Vince Young at quarterback, the Titans are putting up 4 or more scores per game, and getting into the end zone. And I don’t know if the Steelers can keep pace with that.
Bob: Tennessee
Terry: Tennessee
Mike: Pittsburgh
Mike Jr: Tennessee
Molly: Pittsburgh
Gus: Tennessee
Sam: Tennessee

Philadelphia (4½) at Detroit“That guy down there... is me. I’m in Garland, Texas. And it may look like zombies destroyed it, but that’s actually just Garland.” On principle, I want to pick Detroit. I hate… hate… hate this match for the Lions though. Their quarterback… Stafford is out, Hill in… is hit and miss. At best. Sure they won 2 home games last year… they were against Washington and Cleveland. And while they did at times look ok at home, none of the others were ever really close enough to scare the opposing club. Philly often plays as well on the road as they do at home. I know… I know… Oakland shut them down last season. Still, they went 5-3 and the other losses were to Dallas and San Diego. It’s not quite as ugly as the Raiders make it seem. Last week, after scoring a field goal, the Eagles gave up 20 unanswered, but still rallied to make a game of it. Now… if you sense some flip-flopping… here we go with the true fun. The Lions lost to the Bears… a Bears team that gave up 4 turnovers… a Bears team that had 23 first downs and 463 total yards. I mean… sure… you could even argue the Lions did win the game. The reality is, in every area of play except turnovers they were beaten.
Bob: Philadelphia
Terry: Philadelphia
Mike: Philadelphia
Mike Jr: Philadelphia
Molly: Philadelphia
Gus: Detroit
Sam: Philadelphia

Chicago at Dallas (8½)“In those moments where you’re not quite sure if the undead are really dead dead, don't get all stingy with your bullets. I mean, one more clean shot to the head, and this lady could have avoided becoming a human Happy Meal. Woulda... coulda... shoulda.” Jay Cutler on the road. Warning… warning… warning… danger Will Robinson, danger! He almost blew it last week at home against Detroit, and was saved by a simply horrible finish. Hmm… a ticked off Dallas team, looking to shake off last week, visited by a questionable Chicago team. Since I have nothing else to really say beyond the Cutler warning, here’s a funny, stupid thought. A couple of years ago, as my fading memory recalls, Tony Romo was leading the Cowboys against the Rams. Dallas was favored by something like 47-points. I figured there was no way they could cover. Only they did. Is it a big spread? Yeah. Have you seen Jay Cutler wearing a Chicago road uniform? It’s not an unreasonable spread.
Bob: Dallas
Terry: Dallas
Mike: Chicago
Mike Jr: Dallas
Molly: Dallas
Gus: Chicago
Sam: Dallas

Tampa Bay at Carolina (Pick)“Thank God for rednecks!” No spread by Thursday morning, here at In My Backpack that creates a pick ‘em. The Bucs got very lucky last week to defeat the Browns. That was at home. I think Carolina is going to run wild this week.
Bob: Carolina
Terry: Carolina
Mike: Tampa Bay
Mike Jr: Carolina
Molly: Tampa Bay
Gus: Tampa Bay
Sam: Carolina

Arizona at Atlanta (6½)“You should actually limber up as well. Especially if we’re going down that hill. It is very important.” “I don’t believe in it. You ever see a lion limber up before it takes down a gazelle?” Isn’t this spread too high? I mean… sure… two or three weeks ago, when everyone was talking about how the Cardinals were going to be running quarterback-for-a-day radio promotions and looked a bit sad and disorganized. Then it kind of worked. And over the full season, I think the Cardinals will suffer by fielding an average to below average quarterback each week. But a touchdown? Now? Funny thing though… Matt Ryan tends to have a very short memory. And when Atlanta looks good… they can look very good. Last week Arizona defeated St. Louis in one of those great all-things-are-not-what-they-seem games. Ugly… turnovers and fumbles and a 17-13 victory that shouldn’t have been that close, only maybe it should have. Derek Anderson is good for completing just over half of his passes. And… well… his efforts last week actually were above his career numbers, and also were, well, nothing more than average.
Bob: Atlanta
Terry: Atlanta
Mike: Atlanta
Mike Jr: Atlanta
Molly: Arizona
Gus: Arizona
Sam: Atlanta

Miami at Minnesota (5½)“Are you...? What’s with the get-up?” “Oh, I do it to blend in. You know. Zombies don’t mess with other zombies. Buddy of mine, makeup guy, he showed me how to do this. Corn starch. You know, some berries, a little licorice for the ladies. Suits my lifestyle, you know. I like to get out and do stuff. Just played nine holes on the Riviera. Just walked on. Nobody there.” Last year I watched the Dolphins take leads against quality teams (New Orleans), score in unusual ways to win games (New York (Jets)), and not get fazed when behind (New England). Basically, it may not be pretty, and may not be what you expect, but they manage to win. I will say that the stories of Minnesota not having an offense are premature, even though I definitely think it’s a worthwhile question to consider… and it is something I thought was true before the season started. Simply put, this spread is too high. The Dolphins are going to control the ball, keep the game close, and… if Favre can’t connect with someone… win.
Bob: Miami
Terry: Miami
Mike: Minnesota
Mike Jr: Minnesota
Molly: Miami
Gus: Miami
Sam: Miami

St. Louis at Oakland (4)“You have just survived the zombie apocalypse and drove half way across the country. Where are you gonna go?” “I’m going to Pacific Playland! Woo!” Last week Sam Bradford didn’t complete 60% of his passes… 55 pass attempts by the way… threw for 250+ yards and tossed 3 interceptions. The Rams lost by 4. Oakland got clocked by Tennessee. As near as I can tell, the Oakland offensive game plan is to hand the ball off to McFadden and get out of the way, or, throw the ball to McFadden and get out of the way. Honestly, you can’t argue the concept when it works so well for Tennessee. But… as shown last week, head to head… McFadden is not Johnson. See how well an argument can be made for the Rams? The trouble for me though is that the Rams generally do not keep things close. 15 losses last season, and 9 were by 10 or more points. Sure… I could see this being similar to last year’s 9-7 game between St. Louis and Washington. But I don’t expect it to be.
Bob: Oakland
Terry: Oakland
Mike: Oakland
Mike Jr: St. Louis
Molly: St. Louis
Gus: Oakland
Sam: St. Louis

Seattle at Denver (3½)“Oh, my God. Oh, my God, I can't believe I shot Bill Murray.” This is one of the best examples I can give you of week one results giving you a confusing time with the spread in week two. Seahawks won… big… so good for them. Broncos lost… bad for them. The obvious read of the situation is that Seattle is much better than you would think, and Denver has started this year the way they finished 2009… inconsistent and worse than expected. And the Broncos are favored? It’s not that crazy though. Seattle travels in mysteriously bad ways. 1-7 in 2009… only defeating St. Louis, and every loss by at least 11. 2-6 in 2008… defeating St. Louis and San Francisco, and 5 of the 6 losses by 10 or more. (Keep that in mind… because in reviewing the division theme and trend, Seattle should get swept on the road in 2010. We’ll worry about that later. Back to Denver.) I’d love to tell you Denver looked good at home in 2009… because we all remember that they knocked off Dallas and New England… but at 4-4, they didn’t look good at home. They just had moments. Still, I have more faith in their ability to play a good game than I do in Seattle on the road.
Bob: Denver
Terry: Seattle
Mike: Seattle
Mike Jr: Denver
Molly: Denver
Gus: Seattle
Sam: Denver

Houston (3) at Washington“You think you might pull through?” “No.” “If it means anything now, I am so sorry. It was just instinctive.” “It was my bad. I was never a very good practical joker.” “So do you have any regrets?” “Garfield, maybe.” If the Texans want to be taken seriously, they have to win this game. Yup… last week was a huge victory. But a loss this week removes virtually every shred of significance from the win. I wasn’t impressed by what we saw of the Washington offense last week… which was, as I recall, primarily supplied by their defense. And I had misgivings about them before we began week one.
Bob: Houston
Terry: Washington
Mike: Houston
Mike Jr: Houston
Molly: Washington
Gus: Washington
Sam: Houston

Jacksonville at San Diego (8)“You see? You just can’t trust anyone. The first girl I let into my life and she tries to eat me.” Better head coach… better running back… I’m leaning toward the Jaguars here. Really. I don’t think San Diego is feeling any sense of urgency… which is what normally kicks them in the pants in recent years. And their inability to beat the Chiefs screams disorganized to me. By the way… the Chargers have lost the second game of the season every year Norv Turner has been their head coach. (Last time they won game number two was in 2006, with Marty coaching.) Denver didn’t play horribly last week… they just didn’t play well… and the more I try to find out exactly what happened, it seems that the Jaguars outright won the game.
Bob: Jacksonville
Terry: San Diego
Mike: Jacksonville
Mike Jr: Jacksonville
Molly: San Diego
Gus: Jacksonville
Sam: Jacksonville

New England (2) at New York (Jets)“You know there’s a place untouched by all this crap?” “Back east, yeah?” “Yeah. Yeah. You heard the same thing?” “Out west, we hear it’s back east. Back east, they hear it’s out west. It’s all just nonsense. You know, you’re like a penguin on the North Pole who hears the South Pole is really nice this time of the year.” “There are no penguins on the North Pole.” “You wanna feel how hard I can punch?” I didn’t see much of the New York Jets reality show this summer, but one moment I did see stood out. It was when Rex Ryan was talking about how they knew they had the right formula for winning. On the surface… and in his argument for supporting that statement… since he almost got to the Super Bowl, he could have a point. But my reaction when I saw it was a bit different. (And immediate.) Formula? Umm… does that formula include the schedule? Because Indianapolis rolling over and Cincinnati not showing up gave New York a nice last two weeks in 2009. And on top of that, things change very quickly in the NFL. The Lombardi idea of everyone knowing what the Packers were going to do, but just being completely unable to stop it… see, that’s gone. Do the same thing over and over… you know, a formula… and eventually people catch up. So yeah… a month ago I would have had this game flipped… Jets by 2, Pats a bit better, but New York getting the edge at home. And something tells me it could be a close game. Could be. But as I go over the options, I simply don’t see a way the Jets win. The emotions just don’t seem as palpable coming from New York. The swagger is being attempted, but it’s not nearly the same. The Jets are not in the zone. And that Patriots swagger… taking care of business, one game at a time… may be returning to glory days. In fact… a bit of true critical analysis, based of course on gut instinct. Let’s take New England out of it. (The offense at least.) How many points do you see New York scoring? 10? 14? 17? 20 or more? They’ve been having trouble protecting the football, from preseason to now. We still haven’t established if they can pass the ball (and I mean not just this year… last year too). And last year one of my observations… I’m not looking it up, but remember a few stats backed it up at the time… was that they were kicking a ton of field goals and not scoring touchdowns. I think 9 to 16 points is really the target you are aiming at for the Jets in virtually every game this season, regardless of the opponent. And getting over 14 this week should involve alot of help from the defense. Against them we find an elite offense. And I expect a methodical, systematic victory for New England. Could be by 1 or 2 points… might be by 20. But I see the Patriots winning.
Bob: New England
Terry: New York
Mike: New England
Mike Jr: New England
Molly: New York
Gus: New England
Sam: New England

New York (Giants) at Indianapolis (5½)“Are you one of those guys who has to constantly one-up everyone else?” “Hell, no! I knew a guy once who was a lot worse at that than me.” Indy… no, no… New York… no, don’t be an idiot… Indy… hold on, hold on… New York. Honestly, does anyone care about this game as much as NBC does? There’s a reason the Colts have consistently won a ton of regular season games over the past several seasons. They’re good… and consistent. New York played nice in the second half last week, but I refuse to be taken in by that. (Now… if you want to argue that Eli has a history of getting the Giants close (or better) in big games… at least for that argument I’d listen.) In this contest though… coming off a rough loss… I expect a big Colts win.
Bob: Indianapolis
Terry: New York
Mike: New York
Mike Jr: New York
Molly: New York
Gus: New York
Sam: Indianapolis

New Orleans (4½) at San Francisco “When Tallahassee goes Hulk on a zombie, he sets the standard for not-to-be-f**ked-with.” Another game that really matters to the Saints. Honestly… after starting out quite impressively, they didn’t look that hot as the game against the Vikings moved along. And with an opportunity to play potential 2010 division-winning clubs like Minnesota and now San Francisco to start the season, they have a chance to take control of the race for the top seed in the NFC. But you have to expect San Francisco to be ticked off. They didn’t show up for last week’s game, and an 0-2 start will be placing them somewhat near where they were last year… stepping in holes. For every step forward and gain they made last season, they seemed to create another challenge. Minnesota beat them last minute… they played well against Indianapolis… but in the end, they lost and couldn’t make up ground when they won. Now they get decked by Seattle only to see New Orleans arriving. Something is ringing in my head not to predict the Saints will score 35 or more. That taking New Orleans is too easy. Hey… maybe it is too easy. But as I said, don’t be suckered in by week one.
Bob: San Francisco
Terry: New Orleans
Mike: New Orleans
Mike Jr: New Orleans
Molly: San Francisco
Gus: San Francisco
Sam: San Francisco

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Mike Jr: Last week 9-4-3, currently 9-4-3
Molly: Last week 8-5-3, currently 8-5-3
Terry: Last week 8-5-3, currently 8-5-3
Bob: Last week 8-5-3, currently 8-5-3
Mike: Last week 7-6-3, currently 7-6-3
Gus: Last week 7-6-3, currently 7-6-3
Sam: Last week 7-6-3, currently 7-6-3

If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at