In typical fashion, week 1 was full of surprises (as the pick'em records show).
I won't be reviewing every game, but rather I'll steal some inspiration from Peter King and bullet-point some football and non-football thoughts each week.
I'm flying to San Francisco this week for Golden Gate Ruby Conference. Sadly, I'll be on a plane back to Texas during much of this Sunday's action.
Golden Asterisk Performer of the Week:
Lost in the Jaguars' defeat to the Vikings was the all-world performance against Jared Allen that Jaguar left tackle Eugene Monroe turned in. Allen, who was one sack shy of the NFL record last season, was completely shut out by Monroe, recording straight 0's across the board for sacks, hits, and pressures, and earning his lowest ProFootballFocus performance grade in 4 years. Monroe was a borderline Pro Bowl performer last season, and appears to be taking the next step into elite status.
A Name You Need to Know:
Daryl Washington, LB, Arizona Cardinals. A 2nd rounder two years ago, Washington has quickly become one of the game's top interior linebackers. The Cardinals wisely signed him to a 6-year extension this week. Given that he plays in Arizona, it'll take years before anyone recognizes him.
Stat of the week:
Since being drafted in 2010, when Gerald McCoy plays, the Buccaneers have gone 12-8. When out of the lineup, they have gone 3-10. McCoy racked up a sack and two tackles-for-losses in Tampa's win over Carolina.
The "all home teams!" ticket was a losing one for the army of players who played it, coming in at 1-3 (and was 20 seconds away from being 0-4 - dammit, Jags). Players can take heart that the oddsmakers were right down in the dirt with the rest of us, recording a 1-3 record.
NOTE: Starting this week, picks will need to follow a format. You will need to list your five (thanks, Jolly Bill) selected teams in bold. It doesn't matter what the rest of your post looks like, but a valid pick'em must have five team names bolded - no more, no less. I am writing a script that will be scraping these threads and collecting the votes. Any post that doesn't have five NFL team names in bold will be ignored. (Also, don't get too cute with team names. I'm writing it to recognize some common nicknames, like Skins for Redskins or Cards for Cardinals, but don't push it.)
With this bit of automation, I'm going to see about doing a couple of cool stats with the data.
This week, I did the counting by hand, so if I messed up your total, let me know.
Finally, I'm adding a fifth game to the pick'ems. I'll choose four games, and the fifth game will be determined by a die roll. The roll results correspond to:
1: the remaining game with the smallest point spread
2: Phone a Boogle - I call Boogle and he picks the fifth game
3: the Jaguar game
4: one of the remaining games featuring a rookie starting QB
5: the remaining game with the highest over/under
6: the remaining game with the largest point spread
Let's get to this week's picks:
Ravens at Eagles: Philly eeked out a win against an imploding Browns team, taking some of the sting off of what was a horrendous week 1 performance. Baltimore was firing on all cylinders against Cincinnati. Yet Philly is still a 2.5 point favorite at home. Ray Didinger reviewed the Philly tape and placed a lot of the blame on Vick's lousy fundamentals. Vick has never been the most technically sound quarterback, but he'll need to right that ship in a hurry to challenge a much more menacing Ravens defense. Ravens
Chiefs at Bills: Two defenses that got 40+ points hung on them in week 1 get a chance to get back on track against each other's offenses. The Bills have lost Fred Jackson for at least 3 weeks, but if week 1 was any indication, C.J. Spiller might finally be ready to become the guy they spent a high 1st round pick on. The Chiefs hung in there against the Falcons for the first half, but Cassel turnovers derailed their attempt to keep pace with the Falcons air attack. I don't know why, but I'm feeling a KC rebound in this one on the road. Chiefs
Saints at Panthers: The NFC South is a brutal division this year, and both of these clubs want to avoid falling to 0-2 to start the season in what is going to be a tight race. Carolina's offense was aenimic, but they'll get a chance this week against a defense that was lit up by Robert Griffin III. The Saints offense was off to a very slow start in that Redskins game, but they came charging back late. They might have won if football games went 5 quarters. They'll look to carry that momentum into this road game. Saints
Jets at Steelers: Pittsburgh is licking their wounds after getting shown up by the Manning-led Broncos at Mile High, but now they get to gear up for a home game against a Jets team who surprised everyone with a 48 point offensive explosion. For one week, no one is calling for Mark Sanchez's head. Is Sanchez responding to the pressure of Tebow's presence? Perhaps he's finally turning the corner in his 4th season in the NFL, after having been only a 1-year starter in college? Possible, but I expect he'll find the road game against an eager Steelers team to be a much tougher environment. Steelers.
And the dice pick:
Broncos at Falcons: The die roll gave us a 5, so we get this matchup, currently set with an over/under of 51 points. Both offenses are coming off of impressive week 1 performances, and this game has shootout written all over it. I can't say enough good things about Manning's first game in another uniform, and it's a lot easier to say those things with him off in the AFC West now. That said, I think Atlanta's firepower is primed for a deep postseason run. I'm putting my pick on them until they give me a reason not to. Falcons
Last week's results:
Jolly Bill: 2-2
Vegas Line: 1-3
Secret Asian Man: 0-4