Last week’s record: 3-2 Season to date: 6-4 Although we wanted to stay away from the NFC East given their total ineptitude this season, we find ourselves with one selection from that putrid division. It’s our first Best Bet this week and we’re hopeful it will begin a winning trend this weekend.
Home team in CAPS
1. Giants over the PANTHERS- This is almost a deja vous game given that the G-Men went into Charlotte after a so-so 1-1 beginning to last season and completely overwhelmed Carolina 36-7. Fearing that they could conceivably be 0-3 after this meeting, we expect more of the same this Sunday. Several of the Panthers defensive backs are playing with some sort of handicap which will allow Eli to have his prototypical kind of game. If Ramses Barden can have a career day against Carolina last year, then imagine what a healthy Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, and Reuben Randle can do. Expect the Giants to play a bit harder hoping to grab a win for their coach who lost his 63 year old brother John earlier this week in a freak accident while stepping out of a cab.
2. Chargers over the TITANS- San Diego, our second underdog selection in as many picks, has shown little defense over the first two weeks but Philip Rivers has been off to one of his best starts in years throwing for seven touchdowns against just one lone interception. The Chargers have put up 61 total points in the first two games which were decided by 3 points each week. In his career Rivers has a 5-0 record against the Titans and we look for his sixth win on Sunday.
3. VIKINGS over the Browns- The Vikes, looking for their first win of the season as they faced and lost to two of their division rivals on the road in Weeks 1 and 2, will have a much easier time of it in their home opener on Sunday against the “rebuilding” Cleveland Browns. The debut of newly acquired Willis McGahee will be overshadowed by what we think will be Adrian Peterson’s best game of the season to date. The Vikings need this game because they play their next contest across the pond in London vs the Steelers and then will have to play 12 consecutive games after their week 5 bye to end the season.
4. SAINTS over the Cardinals- Although the Saints have opened the season at 2-0, they haven’t shown the offensive explosiveness that they are accustomed to. Over their first two games this season they are averaging a pedestrian 19.5 points per game while last year, by the time game three rolled around, they were averaging 29.5 PPG. The Cardinals have two key players that have minor injuries going into this game in Larry Fitzgerald (hamstring) and Rashard Mendenhall (toe). The Saints who missed the playoffs last season for the first time since 2008, will have Sean Payton on the sidelines and their home crowd in the stands plus a healthy Drew Brees, which is all they’ll need to put away the Cards.
5. Bears over the STEELERS- All signs point to the Steelers winning this game. They have the home crowd, they’re hungry after losing their first two games, and Ben Roethlisberger is 15-1 straight up at home against the NFC in his career. However, we are sticking with the visiting Bears and sacks are one of the reasons why. For starters, the Steelers have only one sack so far this season while last year they averaged almost 3 per game. Jay Cutler on the other hand, a quarterback that usually ends up on his posterior, has only been sacked once in his two home games as the offensive line has been shored up and are protecting Cutler who has been effective and efficient with wins over the Bengals and the Vikings. If he can keep his interceptions down (he has 3 over his first 2 games and had 14 last season), then we think the Steelers can be had with a less than potent running game, the loss of Heath Miller, and a quarterback that’s been sacked 7 times in two games.